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Tuesday, January 13, 2015 at 4:36 pm

Child found safe on Washington Avenue after leaving Jackson School without permission

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

A kindergartener at Jackson Street School apparently misunderstood instructions from a nurse today and left school grounds instead of waiting for his father to pick him up, according to officials.

The child was missing for only a few minutes, Officer Eric Hill told WBTA.

At about the same time the nurse was calling Batavia PD, a child was located, dressed in hat, gloves and coat, on Washington Avenue. 

The school district issued the following statement about the incident:

Today at Jackson Primary School, a kindergarten student who was being dismissed from school early, walked out of a side door as per his normal dismissal procedures and started walking home rather than going to the school office for release. School officials immediately instituted their Emergency Procedures and contacted the police. The child was located shortly thereafter and returned safely to school and his parent.

The District will be reviewing its procedures to determine how today's incident occurred and make changes as necessary. As always, we place the safety of our students first and will take the necessary measures to protect  them.

Our news partners WBTA and 13WHAM contributed to this story.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015 at 2:48 pm

Crash with injuries on Summit Street in the city

post by Billie Owens in batavia, accident

A motor-vehicle accident with injuries is reported at 101 Summit St. near Washington Avenue. City fire is on scene and Mercy medics are responding.

UPDATE 2:50 p.m.: Command reports two vehicles involved; three people will need to be evaluated.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015 at 2:43 pm

Bob Harris Realty acquired by Buffalo-based firm

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business

After 29 years of Gerace family ownership, Bob Harris Realty, has been sold to RealtyUSA, a company with 2,100 agents in offices from Albany to Buffalo.

The merger was announced at the Bob Harris offices on Ellicott Avenue this morning by Merle Whitehead, president, CEO and sole owner of RealtyUSA, with Joe and Lois Gerace at his side and their sons John and Robert standing nearby.  

"We acquired the assets of Bob Harris Realty, but more importantly, we acquired a household name in Batavia in realty," Whitehead said. "What a great asset for RealtyUSA to enter this market with such a strong family name and reputation, so we're really excited."

Founded in Williamsville in 1959, RealtyUSA grew to be the market leader in the Buffalo area and has expanded over the years through acquisition, Whitehead said, to become the market leader in Rochester, Syracuse, Albany, Corning and Elmira.

Last year the company handled $3.6 billion in transactions.

Lois Gerace said she will remain active in the business and doesn't plan to retire just yet. 

"I'm looking forward to at least another five years, easily," Gerace said.

John Gerace will be the manager of the RealtyUSA office.

Whitehead said his company will be able to bring resources to Bob Harris that the company didn't have on its own, such as training and the ability to hire more agents. The corporate office will also take on many tasks involved in running a real estate business, including marketing.

Lois Gerace said the new technology RealtyUSA is able to provide will benefit the business.

"We think we're going to provide better service to our customers, and we're excited," Gerace said.

While recognizing that the Bob Harris brand is well established in Genesee County, Whitehead said given the strong market presence RealtyUSA has to the east and to the west, changing the local name of the business only makes sense.

"We have an incredible Web site," Whitehead said. "It's been named the fourth best real estate Web site in America, so we want to use realtyusa.com to market in this area."

The acquisition is effective today.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015 at 1:47 pm

Batavia PD looking for missing teen last seen at BHS yesterday

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, missing persons

Olivia A. Rivera-Ellis is missing and is considered a runaway.

The 16-year-old was last seen at Batavia High School at 11:30 a.m., Monday. 

She was wearing a black and silver scarf, a black and pink cosmetology sweater, black yoga pants and white Jordan high-top sneakers. 

She was carrying a cheetah-print backpack.

She may still be in the local area.

Tips on her whereabouts should go to Batavia PD, (585) 345-6350.

"As in all cases of runaway youth, people who knowingly harbor these individuals are committing a crime," said Det. Rich Schauf.

UPDATE 4:30 p.m.: Olivia A. Rivera-Ellis has been located.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015 at 9:41 am

Spending cut proposed in city budget, but so is property tax increase

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, City Budget

A conservative look at sales tax revenue for the city is driving a proposal to raise property taxes by 16 cents per $1,000 of assessed value, City Manager Jason Molino told City Council members Monday night during his 2015-16 budget presentation.

The drop in fuel prices benefits consumers, but plays havoc on local government, which derives 18 percent of sales tax revenue from fuel sales.

Sales tax accounts for 40 percent of the city's overall general fund revenue.

Molino projects $15,848,884 in general fund spending for 2015-16, a 1.08-percent reduction (or $253,001) in spending from the current fiscal year.

Even with the reduced spending, the projected shortfall in sales tax means local property owners will be asked to help pick up the slack.

The new city tax rate would be $9.30 cents.

On a home assessed at $90,000, the property owner would pay $69.75 per month, up $1.20 over this year. 

For property taxes that are roughly half what many households pay these days for mobile phone service, residents receive a bevy of city services, including police and fire protection, road and sidewalk maintenance and parks. The value, he suggested, was just as great or greater than mobile phone service.

"I thought it (the analogy) would help put things in perspective," Molino said after the meeting.

While the local economy is improving, and by some measures is stronger than the state or national economy, there is a lot of room for improvement, Molino noted.

There is the potential for even better job growth, especially if plans for the Genesee Valley Agri-Business Park and WNY STAMP continue to come together, but in the here and now, the city needs to be conservative in its budgeting process, Molino said.

The city also needs to take a close look at its aging sewer and water infrastructure.

He is proposing a revised rate structure -- one that does away with the current two-tier system -- and includes a projected $1 per month increase for the average consumer to help pay for maintenance and upgrades to the system.

The proposal calls for $22 million in capital investment in sewer and water over a 10-year period.

Without the changes, not only will needed replacements and upgrades not take place, the city's sewer and water system will soon start losing money.

As modern, water-saving appliances become more common in local homes, local water consumption has decreased. That's a trend, Molino said, he expects to see continue.

However, it costs just as much to deliver two million gallons of water as it does three million gallons. The reduction in consumption doesn't reduce the cost of the system that delivers the water, but reduced consumption does decrease revenue.

The city will need to increase water rates, he said, to keep pace with water delivery costs.

What Molino presented Monday is a budget proposal. It will now be up to the council to go through the budget, ask questions and potentially suggest changes. There will be a public hearing on the budget before it is adopted.

The proposed budget will be posted on the city's Web site later today.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015 at 5:03 am

Five Genesee County fire departments called to house fire in Town of Covington

post by Billie Owens in batavia, Bethany, fire, Le Roy, Pavilion, Stafford

Five Genesee County fire departments are responding, mutual aid, to the Town of Covington in Wyoming County for a working structure fire with a person still inside the residence. The location is 864 Perry Road. In addition to Covington fire, responders requested include Le Roy, Pavilion, Bethany, Stafford and the City of Batavia Fast Team.

UPDATE 5:28 a.m.: The person inside got out safely. The fire is out. The assignment is back in service. The resident told firefighters he normally throws debris from his heat stove outside his back door, and did so this time but forgot about a wooden pallet he put there. It caught fire and smoke came up through the back porch into the house, waking the resident. The fire burnt a portion of the back porch.

Monday, January 12, 2015 at 10:45 pm

Driver involved in Sunday night accident charged with DWI

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

A driver involved in an accident Sunday night on Ellicott Street near Jackson Avenue that sent two people to the hospital has been charged with DWI.

Reid E. Scott, 23, of Bear Road, Cowlesville, is also charged with driving with a BAC of .08 or greater, leaving the scene of an injury accident, reckless driving, speeding and consuming alcohol in a motor vehicle. 

Scott's vehicle was northbound on Ellicott Street, allegedly at a high rate of speed, according to investigators. A second vehicle was in the left-turn lane, intending to turn into Kwik Fill, and Scott allegedly attempted to pass the vehicle on the left by driving in the wrong lane toward oncoming traffic.

Scott's vehicle struck the turning vehicle. His vehicle then continued north striking a railroad crossing sign and utility pole.

Scott allegedly fled the scene of the accident on foot and was later located in Jackson Square. He suffered a hand injury.

Batavia PD did not release the names of the occupants of the other vehicle or provide information on their injuries.

UPDATE Tuesday, 4:50 p.m.: The driver of the second vehicle was Frances Riggs, of Brockport, and the passenger was Mattie Cole, of Albion. Both were transported to UMMC, but neither suffered a significant  injury, according to Sgt. Chris Camp. 

Monday, January 12, 2015 at 2:49 pm

Photo: A bit of local history and gun safety

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, history

Tony Mancuso sent in this photo of his father, Joseph Laurence Mancuso, handing out NRA junior diplomas many years ago.

Tony's father did gun safety training and started Batavia Archers.

Tony said he doesn't know the other folks in the photo, but said it would be great to find out who they are. Recognize anybody? Leave a comment, if so.

Monday, January 12, 2015 at 9:37 am

Law and Order: A pair of weekend DWIs

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, bergen, crime, Le Roy

Jason Gerard Heineman, 42, of Batavia Oakfield Townline Road, Batavia, is charged with DWI, driving with a BAC of .18 or greater, failure to keep right, driving left of pavement markings and refusal to take breath test. Heineman was stopped at 12:59 a.m. Saturday on Phelps Road, Pembroke, by Deputy Andrew Hale.

Edward William Zastrow, 33, of Town Line Road, Bergen, is charged with DWI, driving with a BAC of .18 or greater, moving from lane unsafely. Zastrow was arrested by Sgt. Eric Seppala after his vehicle reportedly went off the roadway on Buffalo Street, Bergen, at 1:14 a.m. Sunday.

Devon James Schulman, 19, of Walnut Street, Batavia, is charged with petit larceny. Schulman is accused of stealing merchandise from Walmart.

Curtis L. Williams, 34, of Central Avenue, Batavia, was arrested on a warrant for alleged failure to appear on an aggravated unlicensed operation, 3rd, charge. Williams turned himself in on the warrant.

Gregory Marcus Munroe II, 26, of Harvester Avenue, Batavia, was arrested on a warrant for alleged failure to appear on a disorderly conduct charge. Munroe turned himself in on the warrant.

Kim M. Sobczak, 52, of Batavia, is charged with petit larceny, controlled substance not in original container and criminal possession of a controlled substance. Sobczak was arrested at Kmart at 12:30 p.m. Friday by State Police. No further details released. UPDATE: NYSP has released additional information on this case. According to police, Sobczak was caught leaving Kmart with a shopping cart full of assorted items with a value of more than $300. She was allegedly found during her arrest with a pill bottle containing acetaminophen/oxycodone and acetaminophen/hydrocodone pill tablets.

Ethan T. Ellis, 30, of Brockport, Mark J. Friga, 29, David A. Morre, 26, Victor F. Martinez, 26, all of  Rochester, were charged with trespass. The four men were allegedly found by State Police riding ATVs on private property off Circular Hill Road, Le Roy, last week. The property is owned by Hanson Aggregates.

Monday, January 12, 2015 at 8:00 am

Get inked for charity this weekend

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business, High Voltage Tattoo

High Voltage Tattoo and Piercing is hosting its annual tattoo and piercing event to benefit local charities Friday and Saturday from noon to 8 p.m. on both days.

Tattoos, based on available selections, are $35 each and piercings are $15 each.

Proceeds benefit Volunteers for Animals, HomeCare & Hospice, and Justice for Children.

The event always draws a big crowd, so you want to arrive early.

High Voltage is at the corner of West Main Street and Thomas Avenue in Batavia.

Pictured are James Gommenginger, Jeremy Fridman and Mark Fanara.

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