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Thursday, March 5, 2015 at 5:30 pm

A championship weekend for Genesee County

Genesee County will have four teams playing for Section V championships in their respective classes this weekend.

Elba's Lady Lancers plays Jasper-Troupsburg for the Class D1 crown at Letchworth at 8 p.m., Friday. Elba beat Arkport last night 68-36.

Byron-Bergen's Lady Bees take on Mynderse at 1 p.m., Saturday, at Rush Henrietta after winning last night 42-38 over Gananda.

The Fighting Irish of Notre Dame take on Genesee Valley in the boys Class D1 championship at 7:15 p.m., Saturday, at Blue Cross Arena. Notre Dame beat Mt. Morris 62-45 to advance. Head Coach Mike Rapone asked that fans be advised that officials are going to clear out the stands at Blue Cross Arena following the completion of the 4:15 p.m. game Saturday. Doors will open for the 7:15 game at 6:45 p.m.

The Batavia Blue Devils go for the Class A2 title at 5 p.m., Sunday, against School of the Arts at Blue Cross Arena. (Click here for coverage of their semi-final game). 

Thursday, March 5, 2015 at 4:42 pm

Batavia girls overcome by Mendon in second half, lost playoff game 57-43

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

The size and speed of Pittsford-Mendon caught up with the Lady Blue Devils in the 4th quarter of their Class B1 Section V semi-final game in Penfield on Wednesday night.

Batavia was outscored 20-11 in the 4th quarter after being held to seven in the third.

"Mendon's girls play defense," said Head Coach Marty Hein. "They know where the screens are going to happen. They get around the screens. It's a totally different level of basketball IQ. They're a well-coached team. They've got a great program, a great feeder program. We weren't getting the same looks we get against other teams. It was a lot more difficult."

The final score was 57-43.

Even as she was constantly harassed and hurried, dogged by defenders and given few opportunities to score, Tiara Filbert still managed six field goals and 16 points on the night, making her the game's high scorer.

Batavia's other scorer, Maddie McCulley hit four field goals and had 13 points.

Significantly, neither girl managed a three-point bucket.

Sam Cecere was held to eight points.

Hein said his team would have benefitted by being a little more patient on offense, setting up more open looks for their scorers.

"I think I'd almost rather have taken 30-second shot clock violations than some of the choices we made offensively, but pressure does that to you," Hein said.

It was a great run for the Lady Devils, which is still a young team. Only three players will graduate off the team. The nucleus is all returners, including Filbert, McCulley, Cecere and Taylor Stefaniak, a freshman who played her way into a starting role over the course of the season and shows a lot of promise as a guard, playmaker and gutsy leader.

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Thursday, March 5, 2015 at 2:40 pm

Blue Devils put up numbers in the second half to win Section V playoff at Blue Cross Arena

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

Basketball, when played pure and sweet, is five guys on the court coordinated in a single purpose. It's a team game. Wednesday, the Batavia Blue Devils played as a team to pull away from College Prep in the second half to pull off a 58-48 win in the Section V Class A2 Semi-Final at Blue Cross Arena.

Nerves may have gotten to the Blue Devils in the first half, when they played College Prep even through all 16 minutes and finished the half in a 21-21 tie.

"It was a very hard fought game," said Head Coach Buddy Brasky. "No matter how many times you're here, it's hard the next year the first time you come back. It's the big arena. It's the big stage. I thought we played very tentative early, the entire first half. I thought we were more like a deer in headlights, to be quite honest with you. I got after them a little bit at halftime and asked them to forget where we're playing. 'You've been playing the game your whole life. Just play.' "

Play they did. Jeff Redband, harassed on the perimeter by a swarming defense in the first two quarters, started driving the lane. Trevor Sherwood distributed the ball well, frequently finding Malachi Chenault under the board. Greg Mruzcek disrupted on defense and grabbed rebounds. Jerrett Laskett was a motivational spark throughout the game and was a big reason Batavia was even still in the game in the second half.

"He stepped up big time and that's what seniors are supposed to do," Brasky said. "You know, they're boxing and oneing Jeff. He can barely gets a look and when he gets them. He's got to rush them, so he couldn't get in any kind of a rhythm, and Jerrett just made big plays and hit big shot after big shot. You're right, we wouldn't be standing here talking right now if it was for Jerrett."

Laskett finished with 17 points, two assists, two steals and three rebounds. He was 3-5 on three-point attempts.

Redband led the game with 24 points, going 3-8 from beyond the arch. He had 13 defensive rebounds (14 total) to go along with three blocked shots and a rebound.

Chenault has been coming on strong the past few weeks and scored 11 points, several of them on offensive put backs.

"He's been here before and he knows what it takes," Brasky said. "He was in some foul trouble, but he got some put backs and that was just huge."

Before the game, Brasky told Mruzcek he would need his biggest rebounding performance of the season, and so Mruzcek delivered.

"Greg will do whatever I ask him to do," Brasky said. Greg does not care about anything else except for winning. That's all he cares about. If I were tell him to run down the court backwards the whole game, he would do it, and he wouldn't question me. He would just do it. Yes, Greg was huge, his defense and his rebounding and his physicality. He's been doing that stuff for us all year. He doesn't get a lot of notoriety, but he's a huge part of our success."

In the post-game interview, the first words from Redband, who scored his 1,000th career point in the 4th quarter, were praise for his teammates. 

"All I know Jerret and Malachi played their butts off tonight," Redband said. "They played so good, they played so tough, they rose to the occasion. That was a good team that we just beat right there. We had to fight through a lot of obstacles throughout the game. It was a good win."

Laskett, Redband said, was the difference in the first half.

"He was amazing tonight," Redband said. "He kept us in the game when everybody else was perhaps a little bit nervous, or we were just a little bit thrown off by their defense or something, but he kept us in the game and let everybody else get going. That was big tonight."

The senior guard was clearly fired up from the opening tip off.

"I knew this could be my last time playing basketball," Laskett said. "That's it. It's win or go home."

As for Redband, he played varsity for only a few games his sophomore year and was a starter for only his junior and senior year. At the start of the season, he didn't give himself much of a shot at reaching 1,000 points.

He was surprised when he heard the PA announcement in the 4th quarter.

"I didn't even know I was close to be honest," Redband said. "I thought I needed another hundred.
Just to be on that 1,000-point list is just amazing. I didn't think I would get there. It means a lot that I got it."

The next step, a sectional title, will be tough, but Redband thinks the team has it in them to pull it off.

"We've got to keep going doing what we did all year," Redband said. "We can't get nervous. We can't just be robots out there. We've got to make basketball plays. I feel like we did better towards the end of the game driving and dishing to people who were open. Trevor did some good moves and got Malachi open. We were just doing better basketball plays. We've got to keep doing that."

Batavia (18-2) plays School of the Arts (19-2) at 5 p.m., Sunday, at Blue Cross Arena, for the Section V Class A2 championship.

Several of the Batavia players were part of the football team this past season that won a sectional title and advanced to the regional final. They're aware, Brasky said, that they have a chance to be part of history -- the first players in school history with championships in both football and basketball in the same year.

That championship experience is also an advantage for the players, Brasky said.

"I think that helped in the second half," Brasky said. "You're right, they've been to this stage. They've succeeded on this stage, in a different sport, but it carries over. We fell behind. We weren't playing very well, but they didn't panic. They're winners. It goes hand in hand." 

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Thursday, March 5, 2015 at 10:02 am

Photo: Former shoe store soon to become laundromat

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business

The sign in the window at the former Payless ShoeSource location on West Main Street at Valu Plaza tells it the location will soon become a laundromat.

Thursday, March 5, 2015 at 9:50 am

Water main break reported on Union Street

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, infrastructure

Press release:

City of Batavia Water Department is repairing a water main break on Union Street this morning. Water service on Union Street between Union Square and Oak Street will be affected until repairs are completed.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015 at 5:36 pm

Federal jury finds former truck driver guilty of transporting, sexually abusing minors

post by Billie Owens in batavia, crime

A former truck driver was found guilty by a federal jury in Buffalo today on all counts in an indictment charging him with transportation of minors with the intent to have sex, announced U.S. Attorney William J. Hochul Jr., of the Western District of New York.

David Allen Vickers, 50, was found guilty of transporting two minors in interstate commerce with the intent to engage in criminal sexual activity. According to evidence introduced at trial, the defendant, an over the road truck driver, transported two victims to Canada, New Jersey and Pennsylvania, and repeatedly abused and molested them while he was making deliveries, according to Assistant U.S. Attorneys Aaron J. Mango and Elizabeth R. Moellering.

This abuse occurred in the time frame of 1999 to 2007.

“That this defendant continuously abused numerous children over almost a quarter of a century makes him one of the area’s most prolific and dangerous abusers we have convicted,” said U.S. Attorney Hochul. “Thanks to the courage of four of the victims who testified, today’s verdicts mean that this defendant will never again harm another child.”

He is the brother of convicted child molester and former Batavia resident Sean M. Vickers. Media coverage of Sean's arrest in 2013 prompted other victims to come forward and led to the investigation of David.

Both brothers were investigated for sexual abuse of minors in multiple jurisdictions going back as long as 30 years ago.

Last September, Judge Robert C. Noonan sentenced Sean, who is in his mid-40s, to 107 years in state prison after a jury found him guilty of two counts of sodomy in the first degree, two counts of criminal sexual act in the first degree and sexual abuse in the first degree.

David's trial evidence also disclosed that the defendant abused other children, with the first abuse beginning in 1983. This pattern of abuse included extensive psychological manipulation of the victims (sometimes referred to as “grooming”), and was facilitated through the defendant’s projection of benevolence to the victims’ families. The defendant also established and operated a bed and breakfast on Seneca Lake, “Paradise on the Lake,” to which he took the eventual victims in an effort to manipulate and gain their trust. The defendant also gave the victims alcohol, cigarettes, toys, and access to ATVs.

The defendant’s cover was so successful, in fact, that both of the victims named in the Indictment had at one time been assigned to the custody of the defendant by a Family Court Judge.

The sentencing is scheduled for June 24, 2015. The charges carry a mandatory minimum penalty of 10 years imprisonment, a maximum penalty of life imprisonment, a fine of $250,000, or both.

The trial was the culmination of an investigation on the part of Agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation under the direction of Brian P. Boetig, Special Agent in Charge, and the Batavia City Police Department under the direction of Chief Shawn Heubusch. The evidence was presented to the jury by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Mango and Moellering. The case was heard by United States District Court Judge Richard J. Arcara.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015 at 10:30 am

Batavia man will serve 15 years for armed robberies

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, crime
Mark Maltese

At one time, Mark Maltese was a model citizen, his attorney David Pilato told Judge Robert C. Noonan this morning before Maltese was sentenced to 15 years in prison.

The 44-year-old Batavia resident had a couple of driving under the influence arrests, but otherwise never had any contact with the law until he decided to start robbing and burglarizing local businesses in order to feed a recently acquired cocaine addiction.

He was educated, employed, a father and a son who grew up loving football and caring about his family, Pilato said.

"His addiction is not an excuse for his behavior," Pilato said. "It explains his behavior."

Noonan said, even so, the crimes committed by Maltese, which he was convicted of at a jury trial in January, were "among the most violent crimes in our criminal justice system" and deserved a significant prison term.

The 15-year sentences were handed down on Maltese's conviction of robbery in the 2nd degree.

The armed robberies were committed over a few days period in November 2013 at the Best Western on Park Road, the 7-Eleven in Oakfield, and the Days Inn on Noonan Drive, Batavia.

Maltese was captured after burglarizing Rent-A-Center days after the Days Inn robbery.

The two 15-year sentences were imposed concurrently, as were the series of two-and-one-third to seven-year sentences for his convictions on burglary, 3rd, criminal mischief, 2nd, and grand larceny, 3rd.

Also in court today: Robert W. Plantiko Jr., 29, of Thorpe Street, Batavia, who entered a plea in January to criminal possession of a weapon, 2nd, was sentenced to two to four years in prison. The conviction stems from a Sept. 5 incident on Thorpe Street that led to charges of burglary, 1st, robbery, 1st, menacing, 2nd, assault, 3rd, and criminal mischief.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015 at 9:30 am

City fire responds to Taco Bell

post by Billie Owens in batavia, fire

City firefighters are at the Taco Bell on West Main Street after an electrical outlet was found smoking following a water leak.

UPDATE 9:43 a.m.: An electrical problem was found and will be handled by an electrician.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015 at 9:10 am

City: Trickle of water will help prevent pipes from freezing

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia

From Matt Worth, city superintendent of Water / Wastewater:

Over the past week there has been a few reports of frozen water services in the City, the area of Oak Street and Clifton Avenue in particular. Any residents who might have shallow water service or have had an issue in the past should consider running a “trickle” of water in one faucet until temperatures moderate for a few days to avoid freezing. A stream of water smaller than a pencil will typically prevent any freezing.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015 at 2:43 pm

Snow removal during harsh winter remains a challenge for city

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, downtown, weather

At least one Downtown business owner doesn't think the city is doing enough to address snow removal and he's not convinced the city cares.

Snow piled up on sidewalks and in parking lots costs bars, restaurants and retail shops money, said Derek Geib, owner of Bourbon & Burger Co. on Jackson Street, and the city loses sales tax revenue.

He thinks the city could be more aggressive about finding a solution.

Geib, along with other business owners, met with city officials earlier this winter and were told city work crews act as quickly as possible to remove snow, but there's only so many workers and so many hours they can work.

That isn't a good enough answer, Geib said.

"Accepting this as just the way it is is not an option," Geib said. "It is directly affecting just about every business Downtown. It needs to be addressed and something needs to be proposed as a solution. Reallocate BID funds, raise taxes, cut something else. Jason (City Manager Jason Molino) needs to sit down and address this. That's my only request. We can't just 'deal with it.' This is 2015. I'm sure someone has some solution somewhere."

Molino said, actually, snow pile-up this winter is something every municipality in the Northeast is dealing with this winter.

Unrelenting cold, near record snowfall, and storms spread out at a pace that keeps workers tied up and makes it impossible to keep up with the mounds of frozen water.

"This February has absolutely been challenging to say the least when it comes to snow removal," Molino said. "From Buffalo to Boston, everyone is having the same conversation. It's not just us with this problem. It's the circumstances of the type of weather we're having, and now we're about to get hammered with another snow and ice event, which means our guys will be out far into the night and perhaps into the morning, which means they're not going to be removing snow tomorrow."

The "not enough workers" answers isn't a good one, Geib said.

"We shouldn't as a city accept that things are just the way they are," Geib said. "If there aren't enough employees to actually do the task at hand then people should be made aware of that and budgets should be adjusted. If garbage wasn't getting picked up, it would be an issue. Snow removal is no different. There is a solution, but the City Manager has to recognize there is a problem first."

Molino said he does recognize there's an issue, but without unlimited resources, there's only so much the city can do.

"I understand and sympathize with the frustration business owners feel over snow accumulation," Molino said. "When there's manpower available, we remove the snow from the parking lots and then from the sidewalks. We do the best we can with the manpower we have."

This has been an incredibly difficult and challenging winter for the city's DPW and Water Department workers, as it has been for municipal employees throughout New York, he said.

The constant use of snow-removal equipment also puts a strain on city resources because inevitably, equipment breaks down and needs to be repaired, Molino said.

Under the circumstances, he said, he thinks they've done an incredible job.

Batavia has also been plagued by a series of water line breaks. Typically, those are handled by the Water Department, but the night of the River Street break, Water Department employees were already out helping with plowing and salting, and with the break, the city's already overextended DPW workers had to help with that nasty and complicated break.

"They went from plowing roads to jumping into a water-filled hole on the coldest night of the year," Molino said. "We've had a series of water line breaks in very poor weather and some of these have been large, deep digs that make the job very challenging. Throw on top of that, sub-zero weather, that makes the job very challenging."

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