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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

Tuesday, November 25, 2014 at 8:05 am

Comcast ready to make concessions to city on fees and studio in new franchise agreement if merger approved

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Cable Television Advisory Board

Comcast, which is taking over Time-Warner Cable if the merger is approved by regulators, has agreed to address the apparent breaches by Time-Warner in its franchise agreement with the City of Batavia.

According to a presentation by City Manager Jason Molino at Monday's City Council meeting, Time-Warner has:

  • Failed to pay $16,345 in franchise fees -- state regulators reported Time-Warner withheld the money following an audit of the cable company's revenue and fees from 2006 to 2008;
  • Time-Warner has continued to under-report gross revenue, according to what the state says the company should report;
  • Failed to operate a community television studio and staff it appropriately.

Molino said Comcast has agreed to address all of those issues in a new franchise agreement once the merger is approved.  

Comcast will also agree to provide free Internet service to City Hall and the public schools in the city. Comcast will also pay $2,590 of city's legal fees associated with negotiating the terms of the agreement.

In exchange, the City Council is being asked to approve, before Dec. 8, a resolution in support of the Comcast/Time-Warner merger.

On the franchise fee issue, Molino said Comcast will agree to calculate revenue in accordance with recommendations laid out by state regulators during an audit published in 2011. The increase in gross revenue will mean higher franchise fees paid to the city.

Time-Warner disputed the revenue adjustment and would only pay the past-due franchise fees after tacking on 22 cents per month to each customer's bill in Batavia. The city decided that arrangement as not in the best interest of local customers and had no other legal means to pursue the unpaid fees.

A memo on the topic to council members does not explicitly say Comcast will itself pay the back fees, but says Comcast will address the issue as part of a new franchise agreement, which will be negotiated after the proposed merger is final.

A letter from Phillip Fraga, an attorney representing the city on the merger and franchise agreement, informed Comcast that he would recommend the City Council oppose the merger without the franchise issue being addressed by Comcast.

Molino also shared with city council a letter from 2007 complaining to Time-Warner about the cable company falling out of compliance with its franchise agreement by laying off production employees and removing production equipment from its Batavia office that was supposed to be available for community access programming.   

This is another issue Comcast has agreed to address.

The council will be asked to vote on a resolution approving the merger at its first meeting in December.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014 at 7:28 am

Police Facility Task Force appointed by council

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Batavia PD

By unanimous vote Monday night, the City Council approved the appointment of a Police Facility Task Force to study the need for a new or remodeled Batavia PD headquarters.

The Task Force is charged with making a critical appraisal of recommendations by city staff and Geddis Architects for either building a new facility at one of four locations in the city or remodeling the current location.

Picking any one of the options could lead to expenditure for the city of $9 million to $17 million.

The current headquarters -- in the former Brisbane mansion -- has a number of deficiencies, officials say.

Appointed to the task force are Durin Rogers, Ashley Bateman, Peter Garlock, Alfred McGinnis, James Jacobs, Marc Staley, Bill Hayes and David Lone.

There's no representative from the Fifth Ward because no volunteers could be found willing to take on the job. One person agreed and at the last minute backed out.

Previously:

Monday, November 24, 2014 at 2:26 pm

Law and Order: Fourth suspect charged with first-degree rape of woman in Elba

post by Billie Owens in batavia, alexander, corfu, crime, elba, Oakfield
Uriel Ramirez-Perez

Uriel Ramirez-Perez, 26, of Oak Orchard Road, Elba, is charged with first-degree rape, a Class B felony. The defendant was arrested after allegedly raping a female victim at an Elba residence. The charge is related to the previously reported charges of rape against three other Elba men. This defendant was allegedly present during the Nov. 16 incident. He is in county jail on $25,000 cash bail or $50,000 property bond. The incident was investigated by investigator Kristopher A. Kautz, deputy Dana Richardson and Angel Santos, investigator with the State Police.

Shannon Ann Caton, 39, of Fisher Road, Oakfield, is charged with: driving while intoxicated with a previous conviction within the last 10 years; resisting arrest; attempted escape, 3rd; speed not reasonable and prudent; and following too close. She was arrested Nov. 19 on the charges after she allegedly rear-ended another vehcile twice on East Main Street near Harvester Avenue in the City of Batavia. While at police headquarters, she slipped out of handcuffs and attempted to escape. She allegedly physically resisted her re-apprehension and was then jailed without bail. She is also charged with refusing to take a breath test. The incident was investigated by police officers Jason Ivison and James DeFreze.

Thomas K. Lee, 51, of West Main Street, Batavia, is charged with resisting arrest and obstruction of governmental administration. He was arrested Nov. 18 after allegedly interfering with a Batavia police officer's investigation into a domestic incident involving Lee. He allegedly resisted arrest and "attempted to kick patrols." He is in jail in lieu of $2,500 bail. The incident was investigated by police officers Jason Ivison and Chad Richards.

Shane Zimblis, 43, of Hutchins Street, Batavia, is charged with: operating a snowmobile with a BAC of .08 or higher, first offense; operating a snowmobile without liability insurance; no/inadequate headlight; operating an unregistered snowmobile; and following too close. The charges stem from an accident Nov. 18 on Pearl Street in the city wherein Zimblis was allegedly operating his snowmobile and struck an SUV. He is to appear in city court on Dec. 3. The incident was investigated by police officers Chad Richards and James DeFreze.

April L. Walradt, 37, of Bank Street, Batavia, was arrested Nov. 11 and charged with second-degree harassment. She allegedly made comments to another person and a youth that caused them alarm. She was issued an appearance ticket for city court. The incident was investigated by police offier Matthew Wojtaszczyk.

Matthew Michael Biggins, 25, of Rail Road Avenue, Alexander, is charged with third-degree forgery and petit larceny. He was arrested Nov. 14 after allegedly stealing three checks, making the checks out in his own name and then cashing them. He was issued an appearance ticket and is to appear in Alexander Town Court on Dec. 2. The incident was investigated by Sheriff's deputy Cory Mower.

Terrance Trae Allen Harley, 18, of Frandee Lane, Rochester, was arrested Nov. 22 on Clinton Street Road in Stafford and charged with unlawful possession of marijuana, speed violation (67 in a 55 mph zone), and having no or inadequate taillights. The charges were issued following a traffic stop for alleged vehicle and traffic law violations. Harley is to appear in Stafford Town Court on Dec. 11. The incident was investigated by sheriff's deputy Joseph Corona, assisted by deputy Andrew Hale.

Jennifer Lynn Stack, 28, of South Main Street, Batavia, is charged with criminal contempt, 2nd. She was arrested Nov. 23 after she entered the Batavia Walmart and remained in the store. These alleged actions violated an active order of protection issued by Batavia Town Court, prohibiting her from being on the premises. She was issued an appearance ticket and is to appear in court on Dec. 18. The incident was investigated by Sheriff's deputy Chad Minuto.

Adam Paul Hoopengardner, 34, of Bank Street Road, Elba, is charged with DWI, driving with a BAC of .08 or more and speeding (52 in a 40 mph zone). He was stopped on Lewiston Road Nov. 23 for allegedly speeding and an investigation revealed he was allegedly intoxicated while driving the vehicle. The incident was investigated by Sheriff's deputy Thomas Sanfratello.

James Russell Kosiorek, 22, of East Main Street, Batavia, was arrested Nov. 20 on a state parole warrant. He responded to the Sheriff's Office to turn himself in and was placed in county jail.

Gloria Susan Moretti, 37, of Main Road, Corfu, was arrested Nov. 7 and charged with unauthorized use of a vehicle. She was a co-renter of a vehicle from Sikes Enterprises, which allegedly has not been returned and has not been paid for. She was issued a computer-generated appearance ticket and is due in city court Dec. 2. The incident was investigated by Batavia police officer James DeFreze.

Monday, November 24, 2014 at 2:25 pm

Photo: Rainbow over City Hall

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, weather

UPDATE: below, a rainbow in Bergen sent in by a reader.

Sunday, November 23, 2014 at 4:57 pm

Weather notes for Sunday evening

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

At Tops, they might be singing "Yes! We Have No Bananas," and no asparagus and no pink grapefruit and no celery -- the produce section is running low on just about everything.

But help is on the way, according to managers. The fresh produce truck is in route, making other deliveries along the way. There's just no ETA.

Blame heavy snow, of course.

Speaking of running low on supplies, Janelle Larsen and Laura Kauppi, both of Batavia, and, Timothy Zorn, of Rochester, spent the day volunteering in the Buffalo area delivering food and other supplies to people who have been trapped in their homes by heavy snow.

Laura writes:

The efforts of the National Guard and police are concentrated on snow removal. Many people are stuck in their house with little or no food or supplies. We purchased water, milk, soup, bread, cereal, granola bars, crackers and peanut butter, Pop Tarts, (infant) formula, soy formula, diapers, cat food, dog food and baby wipes. We also had medicine, but we were thankful no one needed it.

Most people we helped were disabled or had very small children at home. Many roads are still closed, and lots of people are stuck with no food in travel bans. We drove to the edge of the bans, and then we had to walk, even as much as a mile to get to homes. These were people not receiving help anywhere else, and were very grateful.

We were surprised at how honest people were. One women told us she only wanted cat food and one milk (carton), and she wanted us to "keep the rest for people who needed it more." A young dad took Pop Tarts, saying "I just want something for my kids."

Another women took only milk, but told us about a single dad snowed in next door. He was grateful for some cereal, milk and bread. At a trailer park, we made up bags with two soups, one milk, a cereal, bread and several granola bars. We dropped them on the porch of every snowed-in house. Another mom was incredibly grateful for soy formula, diapers, milk and cereal. She was in the driving ban and with two babies was unable to walk the .5 mile to reach the nearest open store. Another women took wipes, diapers and cereal for the seven children she was caring for.

There is a Facebook group, WNY Storm Help 2014, where people have been posting needs for themselves or neighbors. It didn't take much time or money for us to make a difference, and I hope we have inspired others to do so, either to help with this storm, the inevitable flooding or the next storm.

We also received this storm-related e-mail fromReginaKoehler:

My husband is a truck driver and was stranded on the highway during the snowstorm. There were people from Alexander who got him and his truck to a safe warm place, a fire station, where he remained for three days. There were several people there who had also been rescued. The Red Cross brought in food and cots. I just want to say on behalf of my family and myself a GREAT BIG THANK YOU to the Town of Alexander for saving my husband and my son's dad, and my grandchildren's grandpa. It will be a happy Thanksgiving for us. It could have gone very bad had he been stuck out there and run out of fuel. Bless you all and have a GREAT holiday season....

UPDATE 5:25 p.m.: I almost forgot about this picture below. I stopped by the Tonawanda about 4:30 to see if the creek was rising.

Sunday, November 23, 2014 at 2:00 pm

Photo: Vehicle loses wheel on West Main Street, Batavia

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia

A vehicle traveling west on West Main Street lost a wheel at about 1 p.m. causing a bit of traffic congestion, which just cleared a few minutes ago.

Photo submitted by Greg Rada.

Sunday, November 23, 2014 at 9:05 am

A Sunday morning water main break at Trumbull and North

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, infrastructure

This isn't what anybody wants to wake up to on a Sunday morning -- water filling basements, bubbling over onto streets only recently covered with smooth, black asphalt, and the exact location of the water main break a bit of a mystery.

That's the situation at North Street and Trumbull Parkway in the city this morning.

It started with three calls for city fire to pump flooded basements on Trumbull Parkway.

That's when the water main break was discovered, most likely somewhere in the middle of the intersection of Trumbull and North, which was resurfaced this summer.

The leak is likely within the area of the intersection, but exactly where along the line won't be determined until a backhoe cuts into the new pavement, pulls up dirt and uncovers the line.

Water has been shut off, arresting the leak, but that also means four houses on North Street are without water. Other residents in the area may experience water discoloration, said Matt Worth, superintendent of the Bureau of Water & Wastewater.  

The repairs will likely take most of the day, Worth said.

Saturday, November 22, 2014 at 4:36 pm

Weather notes for Saturday afternoon

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, weather

There is a high wind watch in place for Monday morning through Monday night. Winds from the southwest of 25 to 35 mph expected with gusts up to 60 mph. Possible impacts include trees down and power lines down. Travel could be difficult for high profile vehicles. Holiday decorations and loose outdoor items, such as trash cans, could be blown away. Scattered power outages are possible.

A flood watch, the result of melting snow, remains in effect from Sunday afternoon through Wednesday morning.

UPDATE 5 p.m.: The flood watch has been upgraded to a flood warning through 4:15 p.m., Monday.

A high of 60 degrees is predicted for Monday. A high of 37 degrees with snow is predicted for Tuesday.

From UMMC: "The blood drive scheduled for Monday, November 24th has been cancelled by the Red Cross. Their mobile unit requires repairs and the necessary parts are undeliverable from Buffalo due to the recent storm."  The blood drive will be rescheduled to a date in January.

Tim Adams sent in these three photos of pumps and hoses loaded and ready for transport to Lackawanna to assist with anticipated flooding clean-up. The equipment is from Godwin Pumps (Xylem). Making the trip from Batavia are Steve Wenzka, Steve Carmichael, Todd Palmer, Dan Judd, Herb Schroeder and Adams.

The Batavian's news partner 13WHAM has a story about anticipated flooding in Genesee County.

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