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Sunday, February 22, 2015 at 5:32 pm

Man complains of side pain after being struck by vehicle on Elm Street, Batavia

post by Billie Owens in batavia, accidents

Mercy medics are evaluating a man struck by a car on Elm Street near the 7-11 on the corner of East Main Street, Batavia. He is complaining of side injuries. The vehicle that struck him is no longer on scene. But whether this was a hit-and-run is not clear.

Saturday, February 21, 2015 at 11:19 pm

Accident with injuries reported in East Pembroke

post by Howard B. Owens in accident, east pembroke, pembroke

A motor-vehicle accident with injuries is reported in the area of 2486 Main Road, East Pembroke.

East Pembroke fire and Mercy EMS dispatched.

UPDATE 11:53 p.m.: We've heard no updates on this accident. 

Saturday, February 21, 2015 at 5:32 pm

Victim of accident in Bethany succumbs to injuries

post by Howard B. Owens in Bethany, corfu, pembroke

An 18-year-old Pembroke resident and student at GCC, has died as a result of injuries she sustained in an overnight accident in Bethany, the Sheriff's Office announced.

Alyson D. Krzanak, who listed her employment on her Facebook page as GCCA Child Care Center and JCPenney, was flown by Mercy Flight to ECMC following the early morning accident at Route 20 and Molasses Hill Road, and was initially listed in critical condition.

The Sheriff's Office release does not list a time of death.

Krzanak was one of six people in a 1997 Geo Prism that was northbound on Molasses Hill Road when it crossed Route 20 and was struck by an eastbound tractor-trailer.

The vehicle was reportedly driven by Hannah Dibble, 21, of Pembroke, who was transported by Mercy EMS to ECMC and treated and released.

Also injured were Brandon Danser, 21, of Batavia, who was taken by Mercy Flight to U of R Medical Center and is listed in guarded condition.

Jamie Scherer, 21, of Pembroke, was transported by Attica Ambulance to WCCH and then transferred to U of R by Mercy Flight, and he is in guarded condition.

Gabrielle Uzarowski, 21, of Pembroke, was treated at the scene and released. Felicia Fazzio, 20, of Darien, was transported by Mercy EMS to ECMC and is in stable condition.

The driver of the truck, Leonard Odums, of Cutburt, Ga., was not injured.

The accident remains under investigation. The Crash Management Team responded to the scene.

Assisting the Sheriff's Officer were State Police, Bethany, Alexander, Attica, and Pavilion volunteer fire departments along with the Genesee County Emergency Management Office.

Saturday, February 21, 2015 at 4:29 pm

Roof said to be near collapse on Bloomingdale Road

post by Billie Owens in Alabama

The "possible eminent collapse of a roof" is reported at 493 Bloomingdale Road on the Reservation. At the rear of the building, the ceilings are quite bowed and water is leaking in, says the caller. Alabama fire is dispatched to investigate.

Saturday, February 21, 2015 at 4:09 pm

Mardi Gras merriment at Batavia Health Care Center

post by Billie Owens in Batavia Health Care Center

The folks at Batavia Health Care Center held a Mardi Gras party last week. The celebrants enjoyed bonhomie, music and good food. The room was decorated for a nice party.

"Everyone had a great time and left with fun bellies!" said activities director Jillian Barnes.

Pictured from left, middle row: Leigh Hurley, Audrey Plouse, John Spencer, Joe Clore, Norrine Keen and Michael Kerwin.

Carol Wannike is standing in back. William Nichols, with the big pom-pom, is out in front.

Saturday, February 21, 2015 at 3:43 pm

Photos: Presentation competition sponsored by 4-H

post by Howard B. Owens in 4-H, Byron-Bergen High School

Nearly 100 members of 4-H turned out at Byron-Bergen High School this morning to make short presentations on any topic of their choosing. The annual program is designed to help members learn about and practice public speaking and presentation. Topics range from Legos to race cars, from sports to sign languages. Each presentation was judged and certificates and ribbons were presented.

Above, Corrine Rhodes.

Dillon Weber talks about how to tan a hide.

After his presentation, Cole Phelps got pointers from judges Mary Edenhard and Sue Eick.

Kelly Ireland during her presentation on sign languages.

Saturday, February 21, 2015 at 3:03 pm

Annual Batavia Muckdogs Hot Stove Dinner is March 21

post by Billie Owens in hot stove dinner

The Genesee County Baseball Club will hold its annual Batavia Muckdogs Hot Stove Dinner and Auction on Saturday, March 21st, from 4:30 to 8 p.m. at the Sacred Heart Church Hall at 17 Sumner St. in Batavia. Tickets are $25 for adults and $15 for children 12 and under.

The evening will begin with a cocktail hour followed by a buffet dinner at 5:30. The Hot Stove Dinner is a time for good food, friendship and baseball talk. The night also features silent and live auctions of baseball-related memorabilia (including signed bats and balls), work by local artists, and gift certificates from a variety of local businesses.

This year’s dinner will also benefit the Center of Hope, the Batavia VA’s new facility for women veterans.

Tickets may be purchased in Batavia at Dwyer Stadium, Gerace’s Hair Care, the Williams Law Firm, the office of Dr. Alan Barcomb, and State Street Animal Hospital.

Saturday, February 21, 2015 at 2:55 pm

Congressman Collins encourages high-schoolers to take part in annual art competition

post by Billie Owens in art, chris collins

Press release:

Congressman Chris Collins encourages local high school students in New York’s 27th District to participate in this year’s Congressional Art Competition.

“Each day, members of Congress and hundreds of visitors to the Capitol walk by the award winning artwork submitted by high school students from around the country,” Collins said. “I look forward to another year with excellent submissions from NY-27 students and the opportunity to welcome our winning artist to Washington this summer.”

Last year there were more than 80 submissions. The winning artist will receive a round-trip flight to Washington, D.C., to see their artwork displayed in the U.S. Capitol, where it will be on display for one year.

Now in its 33rd year, the Congressional Art Competition is open to all high school students in New York’s 27th Congressional District. Submissions are due to one of Congressman Collins two district offices by Tuesday, April 7.

A reception and award ceremony will be held on Saturday, April 11, at Genesee Community College in Batavia. Local high schools have been notified regarding contest rules and submission guidelines. Interested students should see their art teacher for details or contact Chris Catt from Congressman Collins’ office at (585) 519-4002.

Saturday, February 21, 2015 at 2:39 pm

GCC hosts several events to celebrate the arts

post by Billie Owens in arts, GCC

Press release:

Anyone needing to take the edge off this long winter should head to Genesee Community College for unique opportunities that celebrate the performing arts and visual arts!

SHOWCASE 2015 offers a medley of performances designed to illustrate the diverse and dynamic talent of GCC's students including singing, music, dance and choreography, theatrics and original drama.

Two complete shows are scheduled, Saturday, Feb. 28 at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, March 1 at 2 p.m. all at the Stuart Steiner Theatre at GCC's Batavia Campus.

Tickets for SHOWCASE are $8 for general admission, $5 for seniors (55+) or students (16+), and all GCC alumni with ID receive $2 off the general admission price. To reserve a seat, call the Box Office, (585) 345-6814 or [email protected].

In addition, GCC's Fine Arts Committee and Art Club are delighted to present the Third Annual Fine Arts Festival on Thursday, March 5 from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. in the Forum of the Batavia Campus. Art enthusiasts, artists of all ages and persuasions and anyone who wants to have fun exploring the visual arts are invited to share this creative opportunity. Experience art by participating in your choice of numerous workshops demonstrating creative endeavors such as drawing, painting, photography, origami, printmaking and much more!

"This year's Fine Arts Festival promises to be the most vibrant and exciting opportunity to explore the visual arts," Maureen (Moi) Dugan, associate professor of Fine Arts and Ceramics, said. "We hope the wider community will join us!" The Fine Arts Festival is free and open to the public.

Another exciting opportunity for local music lovers is the just-announced performance of The Rochester Gay Men's Chorus on Friday, March 20 at 7:30 p.m. in the Stuart Steiner Theatre. Since 1982, members of the RGMC have pursued the dream of using music and "harmony of voice to create a harmony of the spirit." Today, more than voices share their talent and proudly unite in seeking a better world through the universal language of music. For further information go to: http://www.thergmc.org/

Finally, the Roz Steiner Art Gallery will have Fine Arts Student Exhibit on exhibit from Tuesday, Feb. 24, through April 9. Two artist receptions will be held on Thursday, Feb. 26 at 12:30-2 p.m., and again from 5 - 6:30 p.m.

Among the musical selections of SHOWCASE are:

•    "Till There Was You" from "The Music Man," performed by Samantha Bell (North Tonawanda)

•    "I Dreamed a Dream" from "Les Miserables," performed by Maria Albanese (Kendall)

•    "This is the Moment" from "Jekyll and Hyde," performed by David Wysocki (Hamburg)

•    "O Del Milo Dolce Ardor" performed by Samantha Marchisin (Alexander)

•    "Air Romantique" performed by Maryssa Peirick (Batavia)

•    "Where I Want to Be" performed by David Wysocki (Hamburg)

•    "I Carry Your Heart" performed by Maryssa Peirick (Batavia)

SHOWCASE dance numbers were choreographed by Tara Pocock and Amy Taravella and will be performed by: Kayli Wilson (Canastota), Blake Carter (Batavia), Shelby Waterman (Byron-Bergen), Katerina Lynch, Christian Hoffman (Hilton), Michael Stewart (New York City) and David Wysocki (Hamburg).

SHOWCASE dramatic performances, directed by Maryanne Arena, GCC's director of Fine and Performing Arts, include:

•    "Lives of Great Waitresses," by Nina Shengold, performed by Maria Albanese (Kendall), Alexis Wilson (Rochester), Amiyah Johnson (Kenosha, Wisc.), Shelby Waterman (Byron-Bergen) and Blake Carter (Batavia)

•    "Death Knocks" by Woody Allen, performed by David Wysocki (Hamburg) and Bill Rupp (Batavia

•    "Love in Chains," an original dramatic work written and performed by Jerry Jordan (Bronx) with Kayli Wilson (Batavia)

At the Fine Arts Festival, among the artists and their media who will be participating:

•    Melita Gill – Weaving

•    Lance and Amanda Taylor – OATKA School of Glass

•    Sue DiMartino – Watercolor Painting

•    Shawna Hawkins – Henna Tattoos

•    Nate Hodge – Painting, Mixed Media Demonstrations

•    Debbie King-Frisby – Kirlian (energy field) Photography

•    The Pratts – Chainsaw Carving Demonstration

•    Joyce Chizick – Felting

•    Diana Martin – Caricature Drawings

•    Art Club – Hands-on Art Projects

Saturday, February 21, 2015 at 1:04 pm

Weather advisory warns of snow and freezing drizzle

post by Howard B. Owens in Stafford, weather

A winter weather advisory has been issued for snow and freezing drizzle through 10 a.m. tomorrow.

The National Weather Service anticipates snow through this evening, then areas of freezing drizzle after midnight through Sunday morning.

Look for from two to five inches of snow and then a trace of ice.

Travel conditions could be difficult.

Visibility could drop to less than a mile.

Photos: Taken around noon on Route 33 in Stafford.

Saturday, February 21, 2015 at 2:04 am

Car and truck accident reported on Route 20 in Bethany

post by Howard B. Owens in accident, Bethany

A car and semi-truck have reportedly hit at West Bethany Road and Route 20 in Bethany. 

No word yet on injuries. 

Bethany fire and Alexander ambulance dispatched.

UPDATE(S) by Billie -- 2:10 a.m.: Two Mercy Flights helicopters are requested to the scene, along with Mercy medics. Fire Police are to shut down Route 20 eastbound and westbound.

UPDATE 2:13 a.m.: "I'm going to need triage as soon as you can get here," says a responder at the scene. The road needs to be shut down ASAP, he says.

UPDATE 2:24 a.m.: The second helicopter, coming from Buffalo, has an ETA of 12 minutes. The landing zone(s) will be east of the intersection.

UPDATE 2:28 p.m.: An ambulance has arrived. The big rig has Indiana plates.

UPDATE 2:34 a.m.: One landing zone is set up north of the scene.

UPDATE 2:35 a.m.: One patient is a semi-responsive female.

UPDATE 2:42 a.m.: Mercy Flight #4 is on the ground.

UPDATE 2:51 a.m.: Mercy Flight #5 is airborne and headed to Strong Memorial Hospital.

UPDATE 2:55 a.m.: Mercy medics are transporting a patient to ECMC.

UPDATE 3:01 a.m.: Mercy Flight #4 is airborne and headed to ECMC.

UPDATE 3:07 a.m.: Personnel with Alexander ambulance, including a medic from Attica, stablized a patient to load the person into one of the helicopters but did not transport anyone from the scene.

UPDATE 3:27 a.m.: Westbound Route 20 traffic at Route 63 will be shut down due to the accident.

UPDATE 4:28 a.m. (by Howard): Route 20 is still closed. The passenger vehicle had six people in it. Two patients were transported by Mercy Flight, one to Strong, the other to ECMC. Three patients were taken to area hospitals by ground ambulance. One person was apparently not injured. The driver of the truck was not injured. The truck was eastbound. The sedan was northbound and attempted to cross Route 20 from Molasses Hill Road. The accident is still under investigation. Members of the Crash Management Team are on scene.

UPDATE: The driver of the sedan was Hannah Dibble, 21, of Pembroke. Dibble, Felicia Fazzio, 21, of Darien, and Alyson Krzanak, 18, of Pembroke, were transported to ECMC for treatment. Krazanak was transported by Mercy Flight. Fazzio is in stable condition and Krzanak is in critical condition. Brandon Danser, 21, of Batavia, was taken by Mercy Flight to Strong and is listed in guarded condition. Jamie Scherer, 21, of Pembroke, was transported to Wyoming County Community Hospital and then transported by Mercy Flight to U of R Medical Center. He is listed in guarded condition. Gabrielle Uzarowski, 21, was treated at the scene. The truck driver, Leonard Odums, of Cutburt, Ga., was not injured.

Friday, February 20, 2015 at 8:30 pm

City DPW called upon again to repair water line break on sub-zero night

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, infrastructure

Another sub-zero night and another water line break for city crews to repair.

This time on Union Street (see previous post).

The location is between Notre Dame HS and Robert Morris, near Richmond Avenue.

A worker said they're hopeful it will be a quick repair, but the first order of business is finding the leak. Workers dug a hole first where the road was covered only by asphalt. An easy hole to dig, but no luck. The leak is further south, so they're punching holes through concrete (concrete under the asphalt at that location) to find the link. The concrete makes the work that much more difficult.

At the time this picture was taken it was minus five degrees.

Friday, February 20, 2015 at 7:29 pm

City putting pressure on banks to deal with vacant and abandoned properties

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, abandoned properties

The modest yellow house at 420 North St., Batavia, was probably somebody's dream home in 1930.

Today, it's emblematic of the difficulties the City of Batavia faces in dealing with abandoned and vacant homes.

There are somewhere in the neighborhood of 50 such homes in Batavia and City Manager Jason Molino thinks it's an important enough of a problem that he would like to spend more time during his work days on the issue in 2015.

Vacant and abandoned homes can attract squatters. They serve as eyesores for neighborhoods. They bring down property values for surrounding residents. They are safety hazards. They can contribute to economic decline. They use city resources without contributing revenue or economic impact to the city.

It's important that vacant and abandoned homes be returned to the housing stock quickly. That's one reason the city is getting aggressive with banks that hold mortgages, and in some cases even hold title, by putting pressure on them to deal with code enforcement issues. 

Today, six banks were summoned to City Court to answer to code violation citations.  

Three banks were to be represented by attorneys when their cases were called. One bank previously received an adjournment of its case because the property will soon be sold. And counsel for two banks didn't show at all.

One of those was Bank of America, the bank the city identified as responsible for the quaint 1,600-square-foot house at 420 North St.

After court, The Batavian reached out to Bank of America and our call was returned by Rick Simon, a California-based spokesman for the bank. 

Simon said that Bank of America is not responsible for 420 North St.  

He referred us to Rushmore Loan Management Services in Irvine, Calif.

A spokeswoman for Rushmore quickly returned our call, but said she needed time to research the property before responding to questions.

The confusion over who is responsible for the property is exactly the sort of problem the city runs into as it tries to deal with vacant and abandoned homes.

First, the city must research who the mortgage holder is, whether there's ever been a foreclosure, or if the bank or somebody else ever took title, and then find the right person to talk with about the property.

Often times, Molino said, these big banks aren't even certain what properties they are handling and whether they're now responsible for it.

Simon, with Bank of America, said his company tries to be responsive to municipal governments with troubled properties in their neighborhoods, but it's up to the local officials to contact the bank. They don't know there is a problem unless they're told, he said.

In the case of today's scheduled court appearance for 420 Bank St., Simon couldn't confirm the bank ever even received the summons.

City records indicate the summons was delivered in October to a bank employee in Charlotte, N.C., where Bank of America lists its official headquarters.

The Bank of America employees responsible for these properties, whom Simon could normally check with, the spokesman said, were all off on this Friday afternoon.

After an initial phone conversation, he did further research on 420 North and called back to report bank records show responsibility for 420 North was transferred to Rushmore.

To help smooth away these wrinkles in the accountability process, Molino would like to see the state pass a "zombie law." The law would make it possible for municipalities to hold banks who issued the mortgage on the property accountable for the condition of the property. It would be harder for bankers to throw up their hands and say, "not our problem."

For the most part, however, bankers have been responding to the city's code enforcement efforts.

Of the four properties represented by attorneys in City Court today, all four are either now in compliance or moving toward compliance.

"We are getting some banks to take responsibility for the properties," Molino said. "We're serving papers and finding ways to get them into court where judges are receptive to telling them they have to comply with the code."

Today's successes:

  • 35 Manhatten Ave., with Michale Jabloski representing Wells Fargo. Many repairs were completed Feb. 1, though there is still some work to be done. The case was continued to April when the city expects Wells Fargo to be in full compliance.
  • 129 Summit St., another Wells Fargo property. Wells Fargo was not aware it was responsible for this property until just recently. The bank is awaiting more information from a code enforcement officer on what work needs to be done on the property. The bank was given until May 15 to bring the property into compliance.
  • 6 Manhatten Ave., with Jason Racki representing Ocwen Mortgage. Since Racki's last court appearance on the case, many of the required repairs have been completed, but there is new water damage to the structure that must be repaired. Ocwen has also put the property out for bid and anticipates accepting a bid soon. The matter was continued to May 15.
  • 40 Manhatten Ave., with Richard Fay representing Citi Mortgage. There have been previous appearances on this property and some work has been done, such as repairing and repainting the garage door. The chimney has been stabilized and the bank is now putting siding out to bid. The case was continued to May 15.

Also not showing today was HSBC bank, whom the city is holding accountable for 128 Ross St.

Another bank, J.P. Morgan, had its case adjourned in advance because it's about to sell 42 Porter Ave.

Some of these properties, like many vacant and abandoned properties in the city, are worth a lot less than it would cost an investor to buy and rehab the property.

Even if an investor can get the house for a song, he might be looking at spending $50,000 to fix up a place that he can't sell for much more than that, so he's now upside down on the so-called investment.

To help address that problem, Molino is working on a local law that would allow the city to offer tax abatements to would-be homeowners who buy distressed homes and fix them up.

"For every $1,000 paid in taxes, that's $1,000 that can't be paid on a mortgage or for rehabilitation," Molino said. "We're already not collecting taxes on it and at that valuation, the amount of taxes you would collect are miniscule, so why not redirect those taxes to rehabilitation."

A vacant home, Molino said, doesn't have a family in it who is bringing their buying power to our community.

"This is a process we really have to vet and decide whether it's appropriate for some of these upside-down properties," Molino said. 

He also thinks there are opportunities to work more with groups such as Habitat for Humanity, Neighborhood Works and Pathstone to help identify people who would be productive homeowners even if they can't afford to buy a home without assistance.

"They have the capital, the overhead, to acquire properties and if they can get them cheaply, they are able to screen for good homeowners and arrange for financing, or they have the financing tools to help people get into homes," Molino said.

The first step, though, is bringing vacant and abandoned homes back into the housing stock, and that's only going to happen to the degree the city is successful in identifying responsible parties and getting them to move the property.

Previously: The problem of distressed properties complex and easy solutions elusive

6 Manhatten Ave.

40 Manhatten Ave.

129 Summit St.

Friday, February 20, 2015 at 5:40 pm

City employees responding to water line break on Union Street

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, infrastructure

Press release:

City employees are responding to a water line break on Union Street. Residents on Union Street between Richmond and West avenues will be without water from approximately 5:30 p.m. until 9:30 p.m. this evening while crews repair the leak. If you should experience discolored water after the service is restored, please run a faucet until the water runs clear.

Thank you for your patience as we make the necessary repairs.

Friday, February 20, 2015 at 2:13 pm

By mid-April, what's left of the Wiard Plow factory buildings will exist only in pictures

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business, Wiard Fire, Wiard Plow

Old industrial buildings off of Swan Street that weren't destroyed by arson in 2010 are being felled by code enforcement in 2015.

Tom Mancuso, current owner of what was once the Wiard Plow Factory, appeared in City Court today to update Judge Michael Del Plato on his progress toward bringing the property into code compliance after citations were issued by the City of Batavia.

The case was continued to April 17, giving Mancuso time to complete demolition of the half-dozen brick structures on the property.

The only thing that will be left of what was once one of Batavia's landmark companies will be the former office building, which is owned by Smart Design and undergoing renovation.

Two of the old factory buildings were destroyed in a fire in 2010 that was deliberately set by a 14-year-old resident of the city. (For The Batavian's complete and comprehensive coverage of the fire and its aftermath, click here.)

For decades after Wiard Plow closed up shop, the buildings were used to house several small businesses. The Mancuso family invested money to help bring in business and support those businesses, but the buildings were all vacant by the time of the fire.

Tom Mancuso still had plans for the wood and brick industrial buildings, but the fire was a big set back.

"The arson fire destroyed everything we had invested," Mancuso said. "The insurance proceeds did not cover the loss, so we came out of pocket on the fire and now we're going to be out of pocket again on the demolition."

It took some time to get the necessary demolition permits from the state, but Mancuso is through that process and a contractor is on site, preparing the property to be ripped apart beam-by-beam, brick-by-brick.

Asked how much the demolition is costing his company, Mancuso said, "Too much. More than we have."

Still, Mancuso is looking at the bright side.

"It will make the street better," Mancuso said. "It's a good thing for the community. You hope something good will come of it. For years, we've tried to find somebody to build something or do something there so we can redevelop it. We'll hope this allows something good to happen sooner."

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