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Thursday, February 26, 2015 at 9:24 am

Water main repair underway on Treadeasy Drive

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, infrastructure

The City of Batavia's Water Department is making repairs to a broken water main in the area of Treadeasy Drive this morning. Water service is interrupted on Industrial Boulevard and Treadeasy Drive, primarily south of the railroad tracks.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015 at 6:40 pm

Photos: NCO Club dedication at the VA Hospital in Batavia

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, va center, VA Hospital, veterans

The VA Hospital in Batavia has a new NCO Club on the third floor thanks to the efforts of residents, staff and several area veterans groups who donated money and material to make it possible. The club will be a place for veterans to gather and socialize while at the VA.

The new club, a converted storage room, was dedicated today with speeches and a ribbon cutting.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015 at 2:56 pm

Law and Order: Driver of car found on snow bank charged with DWI

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, crime, pembroke

Anthony W. Janda, 37, of Gasport, is charged with DWI, speed unreasonable, failure to use designated lane and driving across hazardous markings. Janda's vehicle left the south shoulder of Route 5 in Pembroke and struck a snow embankment. Upon a trooper's arrival, Janda was in a Mercy EMS ambulance. The trooper said he detected "an overwhelming odor of an alcoholic beverage." The trooper administered two field sobriety tests and a breath test, which indicated alcohol consumption. Janda was transported to ECMC as a precaution and reportedly refused a blood test for the trooper, though the hospital had already drawn blood.

Vanessa Lynn Silvernail, 29, of Meadow Farm North, North Chili, is charged with DWI, aggravated DWI, aggravated unlicensed operation, moving from lane unsafely and drinking alcohol in a motor vehicle. Silvernail was arrested following an investigation into a one-vehicle accident in which the vehicle left the roadway on North Road, Town of Le Roy, and went into a ditch at 12:30 a.m. The accident was investigated by Deputy Joseph Loftus.

Annie E. Johnson, 86, of Milbank Street, Rochester, was arrested on a warrant for alleged failure to appear on an overnight parking ticket in the city. Johnson turned herself in and was released on $100 bail.

Christina M. Sanchez-Anderson, 26, of Bank Street, Batavia, was arrested on a warrant for alleged failure to appear on a possession of stolen property, 5th, charge. Sanchez-Anderson turned herself in, was arraigned in City Court and released on her own recognizance.

Lee Edward Richeson, 53, of 8th Street, Canisteo, is charged with possession of more than 400 untaxed cigarettes. Richeson was stopped at 11:50 a.m. Tuesday on Route 77, Pembroke, for an alleged traffic violation by Deputy Patrick Reeves.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015 at 5:24 pm

Pictures: Community art displays from Jackson School students

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

Ella, Mrs. Shuknecht’s First Grade
My Snowman
My snowman’s name is Krystal. She is fancy and happy.  She likes to wear bows and a hat. Her favorite food is ice cream cake. When it is cold outside she likes to have snowball fights and go snowboarding. 

Parris, Mrs. Bigsby’s First Grade
My Grandma’s House
I went to my grandma’s house. It was a special place. First, I ate dinner with my grandpa and grandma. It was good. I had turkey and mashed potatoes with them. Next, I played at the park with my friend, Emma. We played on the monkey bars. Last, I went to feed the ducks. I fed them bread.  I had a great time at my grandma’s. I hope I can visit them again soon. 

Martha, Mrs. Bigsby’s First Grade
My Papa’s House
I went to my papa’s house and it was a special place. First, I ate dinner with my papa and my grandma. It was delicious. Next, we watched the Croods. It was a funny movie. Last, they took me to the park. I went on the swings. I had fun at the park. I had a great time at my papa’s house. I hope I can visit him again soon. 

Jay’lee, Mrs. Mattice’s Kindergarten
Penguins
Penguins can swim. 
Penguins have blubber. 
They have claws. 
They have beaks. 

Trey, Mrs. Wolff’s Kindergarten
Seasons
My favorite season is summer because I play baseball with my brother, mom and my dad.

Brandon, Mrs. Colvin’s First Grade
How to Build a Snowman
To make a snowman I would first roll three snowballs. One big, one medium and one small. Then, I would stack them. The biggest on the bottom, then the medium and finally the smallest on the top.  I would decorate. My arms would be sticks. My nose would be a carrot. My eyes would be coal.  My mouth would be rocks. I would do a scarf with a zigzag design. I would name my snowman Snowy and give him a hug. 

More after the jump:

Tuesday, February 24, 2015 at 3:03 pm

Sentencing delayed for woman in animal abuse case

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, crime

Nina Kelso isn't sure she should have entered a guilty plea in October to one count of animal cruelty, the Batavia woman indicated in City Court today as she wiped away tears.

She told Judge Robert Balbick that she wanted a new attorney before being sentenced on the conviction.

"I need somebody more suitable for somebody who attends mental health and needs more help with the case to be able to show their innocence and not be pretty scared into taking a plea," Kelso said.

Under no circumstances, Balbick told her, would she be allowed to withdraw her guilty plea, nor would he assign a new county-paid attorney to her, but he did give her two weeks to hire her own attorney.

In October, Kelso entered a guilty plea on an Alford basis, meaning she admits she would likely be found guilty by a jury, but did not admit to the facts of the case.

It's been a year since Kelso was first accused of mistreating her former dog, Fox'r. Fox'r was found by an animal control officer extremely malnourished at Kelso's residence.

Kelso maintained that Fox'r had eaten something that made him sick.

Today, Kelso said she felt pressured to enter a guilty plea because she said her attorney -- her second attorney on the case -- had told her if she didn't plead guilty, she would likely be found guilty by a jury and sent to jail once convicted.

Balbick reminded Kelso that when he accepted her plea, she questioned her about her understanding of the plea and her confidence in her attorney.

"If you had given any indication you were not making the plea voluntarily, I would not have taken the plea," Balbick said. "We went through the entire plea process very, very clearly."

The plea deal required Kelso to surrender ownership of Fox'r, who had been languishing in the animal shelter for eight months, so he could be adopted by a new family. It also came with a stipulation that Kelso would not be sent to jail.

Kelso is scheduled to reappear in City Court for sentencing in two weeks.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015 at 1:16 pm

City set to auction off houses for unpaid taxes, turn three over to Habitat for Humanity

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Habitat for Humanity

The city's tax lien auction list for 2015 includes 12 parcels, with five single-family homes and two commercial buildings.

City staff is also recommending the sale of three vacant homes in poor condition to Habitat for Humanity for rehabilitation and sale to a low-income family.

There's also a piece of vacant property on Law Street next to the city's current yard waste collection center -- the center is on leased land -- that may be suitable for a new yard waste facility.

These four properties aren't included on the list of properties slated to be auctioned off March 14 at Bontrager's on Wortendyke Road, Town of Batavia.

In a memo to City Council, City Manager Jason Molino noted that the city has previously sold seven single-family homes to Habitat for Humanity, and these homes have been successfully rehabilitated and occupied, increasing the average assessment by 38 percent.

The three properties to be offered to Habitat this year are:

  • 54 Oak St., which has been vacant since March 2011, for $2,500
  • 131 Pearl St., which has been vacant since August 2012, for $1,000
  • 240 State St., whose owner died, for $2,500

The foreclosed properties slated for auction are:

Address Type Delinquency Value
214 Ellicott St. Commercial $13,396 $70,000
Ellicott Street, rear Vacant land $2,923 $31,000
Hall, City Centre Commercial $1,146 $10,000
30 Hutchins Place Vacant land $2,458 $3,600
26-28 Hutchins Place Vacant land $17,421 $35,000
South Main St. Vacant land $88 $100
159 Bank St. Single family $22,017 $72,000
33 Clinton St. Single family $37,630 $79,000
42 Lyon St. Single family $24,479 $69,000
27 Oak St. Single family $31,817 $60,000
210 Ross St. Single family $32,532 $68,000
214 Swan St. Two family $32,532 $68,000
141 Liberty St. Vacant land $9,325 $6,800

As in previous years, buyers will be reviewed by city staff and the city reserves the right to reject a purchase a buyer it believes is not qualified to maintain the property.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015 at 12:42 pm

City, mall merchants appear ready for mediation on long-simmer disputes

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business, city centre, mall merchants association

So far, attorneys have been paid a combined $207,000 for the City of Batavia and the Mall Merchants Association to battle in court over who is responsible for what in the rapidly deteriorating structure.

There's a chance now the case may go to mediation, the City Council was informed Monday night.

After losing a motion for a summary judgement, City Manager Jason Molino said the MMA is willing to submit to mediation. 

A final agreement on mediation has not be completed.

The city and MMA have locked horns over responsibility for concourse maintenance, major repairs, ownership and governance.

In 2009, the MMA filed suit against the city.

Since then, the city has spent $104,199 on legal fees, while the suit has cost the mall merchants $103,317, according to Molino's memo.

"A thriving and healthy City Centre is critical to the City's downtown revitalization, and the City is very interested in an overall resolution that will best support long-term and prosperous solutions for all parties involved," Molino wrote.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015 at 12:26 pm

City set to receive funds to provide grants to small businesses

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business

A $200,000 federal grant could help create from five to 10 new businesses in Batavia, the City Council was told Monday night.

The "micro-enterprise" grant program is designed to help fund businesses with fewer than five employees either through a start-up or growth phase.

The minimum federal requirement for the program is that five business owners receive benefits and five new jobs are created.

Recipients would be required to attend classes at GCC's Best Center covering the fundamentals of owning and operating a business, including planning, legal issues, accounting and financing. 

The program would be supervised by the Batavia Development Corp. with the assistance of a grant administrator.

In total, $150,000 would be available for grants to small business owners, with $31,300 for program delivery, $10,000 for grant administration, and $8,700 for classroom instruction.

The money given out would be in the form of grants, not loans.

City Manager Jason Molino told council members that it's his understanding the federal government would require some sort of claw back for businesses that fail or move out of the city within the first three years after receiving the grant.

The City Council will vote on a resolution to accept the federal money at its March 9 meeting.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015 at 11:13 am

Councilman makes '11th hour' plea for vote on assistant city manager job

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, City Budget

Councilman John Deleo opposes including money for an assistant city manager in Batavia's budget for 2015-16 and wants his vote on the record.

In what one of his colleagues characterized as an 11th-hour plea, Deleo asked near the end of Monday's City Council meeting how he goes about proposing a budget amendment.

Deleo said his constituents don't want him to drop the issue.

"We talked about it at budget time, but it never came up," Deleo said. "It was never put on the agenda here, but I made a promise to the voters that they wouldn't grease the rails and slide this though. I would make sure I would bring it up."

The council approved the addition of an assistant city manager position in the 2014-15 budget and over the summer, local resident Gretchen Difante was hired to fill the role. Since then, she's worked on a variety of issues for the city, including flood insurance, problems with the emergency communications system, administrative services, including finance, the clerk-treasurer, personnel, information technology, the youth bureau and assessment. She's even been called on to help city residents deal with feral cats.

Her annual salary is $75,950.

While Deleo maintains the majority of the people he's heard from say the city should eliminate Difante's job, Councilman John Canale said he is hearing a completely different message.

The feedback he's getting, he said, is the job is needed.

Couching his words with phrases like "in all due respect" Canale was critical of Deleo's request for a vote after the council has already been through budget work sessions and a public hearing on the budget.

The budget needs to be approved by April 1 and making a substantial change at this stage would require a second public hearing, which could potentially jeopardize timely passage.

At any point in the process, Deleo could have made a motion to eliminate the job, but didn't. 

"This is a knee-jerk reaction," Canale said. "We had this discussion many, many times. We had several budget sessions and nowhere did you ask Mr. Molino to take it out of the budget."

Canale called on Deleo to show some leadership and do what's right for the city.

"I voted against this job from the get go," Deleo said, "because that's what the people said. I still work for the people. I'm still against this and I want to get it on the record that I'm still against it and that's what I'm asking for."

At one point, after much discussion, Deleo made a motion, seconded by Briggs, to schedule a budget workshop session for Friday evening.

At such a session, Deleo could make his motion and if it passed -- and even Deleo conceded it wasn't likely to pass -- a public hearing on the amended budget could be scheduled.

After further discussion, City Manager Jason Molino said he had run some calendar calculations, and if the council waits until its March 9 meeting for a vote on Deleo's proposed budget amendment there would be a day or two of wiggle room to get in a public hearing before a final budget vote.

With that, Deleo withdrew his motion for an early meeting.

At several points during the discussion, Molino told council that at no point has the council expressed a request for him to do a budget analysis on the impact of removing the position, both for its impact on the tax rate and its impact on city operations.

By the end of the meeting, no council member made that request.

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