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Friday, December 12, 2014 at 3:48 pm

Batavia Middle School students spread holiday cheer to those who support local education

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

Batavia Middle School students took time today to give back to the community that has given all year long to them.  They delivered holiday cards, paper snowflakes and snowman soup to local businesses and charitable organizations.

The students spent the first hour or so of the school day preparing the packages for delivery and then a small group of them got on a school bus and drove around the city delivering holiday cheer.

It's the first time the school has taken on such a project said 7th and 8th Grade Assistant Principal Maureen Notaro, who came up with the idea.

"We wanted to give back to some of the community agencies that give so much to us every day," Notaro said.

Student Genevieve Cutro said she hoped the event would spread a little holiday cheer.

"I like helping people very much," she said. "It's good for making people more happy."

Friday, December 12, 2014 at 1:08 pm

Hold-up alarm at Dick's Sporting Goods prompts big law enforcement response

post by Billie Owens in batavia, crime

A hold-up alarm sounding at Dick's Sporting Goods prompted response from Sheriff's deputies and city police in both marked and unmarked cars. The store is located at 4180 Veterans Memorial Drive.

UPDATE 1:18 p.m.: This was a false alarm and law enforcement has cleared the scene.

Friday, December 12, 2014 at 8:00 am

Oliver's Candies planning new neon sign with message board

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business, Oliver's Candies

Some might call the Oliver's Candies sign iconic, but objects only become iconic with age, and age means expensive to maintain and problem-plagued.

That's the case with this sign, according to Jeremy Liles, general manager of the family business.

The sign really needs to be replaced, Liles told members of the Genesee County Planning Board Thursday night, which reacted initially with kind of a collective gasp.

The planning board was asked to review the proposal because Oliver's is seeking a special sign permit for the replacement sign. While smaller than the old sign, it will still stand 20 feet tall and be nine feet wide.

If you grew up in this community, you grew up with this sign and all that it represents. The sign has been in place since at least the 1950s. Liles is nervous some might react negatively to replacement of the sign, but he said every effort has been made to ensure it maintains its classic character.

The logo will change, the color scheme will change, but it will still be close to the same size and shape, will still be lit with neon and bordered by white light bulbs.

The new sign will be more energy efficient and will also feature a programmable message board, which, by law, will only post a new message in each 24-hour period. The update will mean no longer assigning an employee the task of changing the message on the board by hand on a less frequent basis.

Such a change of a seemingly iconic sign in Batavia isn't anything new. In 2012, Batavia Downs took down its classic neon sign and replaced it with a sign that uses LED lights, but otherwise looks exactly like the old sign. If you didn't know better, it would be hard to tell the difference.

That's the hope of Liles with this sign change, he said. In fact, Oliver's will hire the same company as Batavia Downs to build and install the new sign.

After cutting the expense of maintenance and electricity, the next important reason for changing the sign is for Oliver's to be consistant in its branding. The current logo is the Oliver's name with a cup pouring chocolate, which is not part of the current Oliver's sign.

"Brand recognition is important," Liles told the board. "You all recognize the Nike swish when you see it and when the world sees that logo I want them to think chocolate."

The new sign will also use the brown chocolate color that is part of Oliver's branding scheme now.

The county planning board recommended approval of the new sign permit. The City's planning board must approve it next before work can begin.

Below is an artist's rendering of the proposed new sign.

Friday, December 12, 2014 at 6:45 am

Jackson School students will have creative work displayed at local businesses

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

Local businesses are supporting the education of local kindergarteners and first-graders by displaying framed examples of their drawings and writings in their shops.

The unique program to highlight the creative work of students was created by the administrators and teachers of Jackson School.

Above, Ken Mistler, left, owner of Showtime Cinema in Batavia accepts the framed work of Mark Bomdaruk, pictured with his teacher Ann Marie Koukides.

Here's a list of particpating businesses and institutions and the names of first-graders with works displayed for January.

  • Art a la Cart, Emma Englehardt
  • Southside Deli, Gretchen Redder
  • T.F. Brown's, Mikaylah Sweet
  • Big Pauley's Pizza, Landon Hamilton
  • Kreative Kitchens, Karvel Martino
  • Wendy's, Bryce Nicometo
  • Main Street Pizza, Alexandra Crater
  • The Rack Shack, In February
  • Holland Land Office, Anthony Lecointe-Naegely
  • Bank of America, Liam Walker
  • Five Star Bank, Zofia Bailey
  • Richmond Memorial Library, Marley Santos
  • Alex's Place, Emilio Rosales
  • Genesee Community College, Emma Godfrey
  • City Hall 1, Harry Malander
  • City Hall 2, Helaina Staley
  • Tim Horton's, Julia Plath
  • City Slickers, Michala Faulkner
  • Next Level, Ella Shamp
  • Max Pies, Will Stevens
  • Showtime Cinema, Mark Bomdaruk
  • GO ART!, Sydney Parker
  • YMCA, Kayli Palone
  • YWCA, Drew Stevens
  • Sunny's, Elaina Stringham
  • Dunkin' Donuts, Lila Fortes
  • Sport of Kings, Elijah Fancher
  • T Shirts, Etc., Ethan Bastedo
  • McDonald's, Jacobi Childs
Thursday, December 11, 2014 at 11:55 pm

Genesee County promised $1.8 million in economic development money

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business, Genesee Valley Agri-Business Park

The Cuomo administration is handing out more than $1.8 million in grants to Genesee County projects, officials announced today.

The awards are part of $80.7 million in grants for the Finger Lakes Region of Empire State Development.

The largest award locally -- $1.5 million -- is going to Genesee Biogas, a Warsaw-based company looking to build a biogas generator in the Genesee Valley Agri-Business Park.

Sen. Charles Schumer issued the following statement about the award:

“I was pleased to help make Ch4 Biogas’ first on-farm biodigester at the Synergy Dairy in Wyoming County a reality back in 2011, and I was pleased this year to support their application to ESD to replicate that success with the new Biogas Plant in Batavia. This cutting-edge facility is a win, win, win: it will provide renewable energy to the Ag Park, home to companies like Muller Quaker and Alpina yogurt, reduce the need to send waste to landfills, and help attract new businesses to locate to the Ag Park.” 

Previously: Company pitches idea of plant that converts food waste into energy at planning board meeting

The City of Batavia is also receiving two awards. There is $200,000 for a micro-enterprise fund. The money is to be awarded to 10 local businesses, five of which must be owned by low- to moderate-income people. The program is expected to create 10 new full-time equivalent jobs.

The city is also receiving $75,000 to draft a new comprehensive plan. 

"The plan will include public participation, an assessment of existing conditions and the development of goals and objectives based on LEED for Neighbhorhood Development," states the award announcement. "This project will promote the goals of the Finger Lakes Regional Sustainability Plan and serve as a model for other rural cities."

The Town of Batavia will receive $30,000 for eastside sewer planning.

The Village of Alexander will receive $30,000 for wastewater infrastructure evaluation.

The Village of Bergen will receive $30,000 for collection system study.

All of the projects are meant to spur economic growth.

In 2011, the Cuomo administration established 10 regional economic development areas. The 10 areas compete with each other for funding each year.

The largest chunk of funding this year went to the Southern Tier, which is receiving $80.8 million.

Western New York, which includes Buffalo, but not Batavia, received more than $50 million.

State Assembly Majority Leader Joseph Morelle issued the following statement:

"The $80.7 million in funding awarded today will move us closer to our goal of securing a brighter economic future for Rochester and all of the Finger Lakes Region by creating thousands of new jobs and leveraging hundreds of millions in new investments."

Thursday, December 11, 2014 at 9:49 pm

WNY police officers wives host toy drive at O'Lacy's

post by Howard B. Owens in announcements, batavia

WNY Police Wives had its 2nd Annual Toy Drive on Sunday at O'Lacy's Irish Pub.   The group provided gifts for three local children in the Salvation Army's Angel Tree program and nearly $400 in support of a police family in our region.   WNY Police Wives have begun our second year of providing support to its 130 members from Genesee, Orleans, Erie, Monroe and Chautauqua Counties, and the group continues to grow.  

Thursday, December 11, 2014 at 4:09 pm

Batavia's Brennan Briggs named a Buffalo Bills/National Guard Coach of the Week

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

The Batavia Blue Devils Head Football Coach Brennan Briggs will be recognized on the field Sunday before the Buffalo Bills game against the Green Bay Packers as the Buffalo Bills/National Guard Coach of the Week for week 11.

The school will receive a $1,000 contribution to the football program as a result of the award.

During the game, Briggs will be seated inside the Red Zone section, complements of the Buffalo Bills.

File photo.

Thursday, December 11, 2014 at 3:50 pm

City employees in water and finance receive certifications

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia

Press release:

The City of Batavia is pleased to announce that three employees from the Water Bureau have obtained water licenses issued through New York State Department of Health (DOH) and one employee in the Finance Bureau is being recognized by the New York State Governmental Finance Officers’ Association (NYS GFOA) for completing a professional development program administered by the Government Finance Institute (GFI).

Peter Gravante, a 25-year veteran of the City, has received his Class D water license after completing coursework in water distribution maintenance, disinfection and operations through California State University, Sacramento. In addition to classroom training and laboratory practice, experience in distribution maintenance was required to achieve this license. 

Nelson Weibel, a 10-year employee at the City Water Plant on Leigh Avenue, received his Grade 1A Water License after completing a week of classroom training at the Western New York Water School, as well as course work in administration through Michigan State University. A Grade 1A Water License requires a minimum of 10 years of experience to qualify for this level of licensing. 

Shawn Bigsby, a 10-year employee and newest water plant operator, received his Grade IIA Water License after completing two weeks of classroom training at the Western New York Water School, as well as completing one year of operator training at the City Water Plant.  

In addition to classroom training, Peter, Nelson and Shawn were required to interview with the Genesee County DOH, to receive their endorsements before their applications were forwarded to the New York State DOH for final approval and license issuance.

Lisa Neary, deputy director of Finance and a six-year employee of the City, recently completed NYS GFOA professional development program, Government Finance Institute (GFI) – Foundations Level. GFI Foundations Level graduates complete training in the core competencies of government finance including accounting and financial reporting, cash management, budgeting, human resource management and internal control. Lisa will be recognized for her achievement at the Association’s 36th Annual Conference to be held in Albany in March.

Please join the City in congratulating Peter, Nelson, Shawn and Lisa on their outstanding achievements.

Thursday, December 11, 2014 at 3:00 pm

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Thursday, December 11, 2014 at 11:51 am

Plea deal in arson case will make probation possible for defendant

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, crime
Brian Sprague

A former Batavia resident now living in Henrietta who was arrested for trying to light a fire in the window of a house on East Avenue entered a guilty plea this morning to attempted burglary in the second degree.

It was a unique plea deal that will make Brian Sprague, 25, eligible for a probationary sentence.

He was originally charged with attempted arson, 2nd, a Class C violent felony, and criminal mischief. But conviction on those charges would not give Judge Robert C. Noonan the option of a probationary sentence, if he found it appropriate.

There is no lesser included offense in attempted arson, 2nd, so under the theory that by breaking a window, Sprague was attempting a burglary, District Attorney Lawrence Friedman offered Sprague the chance to plead guilty to that charge.

However, the facts of the case don't entirely support that charge, so under what's known as an Alford Plea -- where the defendent admits the facts of the case would likely mean a jury conviction if the case went to trial -- Friedman recited the facts of the attempted arson charge.

Sprague then entered a guilty plea to the attempted burglary charge, a Class D violent felony.

Sprague was arrested on the arson charge in September after residents on East Avenue were awakened by the sound of glass breaking. When they came downstairs later, they found gasoline had been poured around the window and through the window.

Sentencing will be at a later date and probation is no guarantee. The probation department will conduct a pre-sentence report for Noonan to review prior to sentencing.

The maximum prison time possible for a Class D violent felony is seven years.

The plea also satisfies a criminal mischief charge in the Town of Batavia.

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