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Sunday, April 6, 2014 at 1:11 pm

Teen who didn't come home on time gets cell phone taken away

post by Billie Owens in batavia

A 15-year-old called dispatch and asked that an officer respond to her home in the city where she is being punished and she is not happy about it. She stayed out past curfew and her mother confiscated her cell phone as a result. She thinks this is unreasonable parenting.

Saturday, April 5, 2014 at 5:22 pm

Photos: Civil War Tea and Fashion Show at HLOM

post by Howard Owens in batavia, history, hlom

The Holland Land Office Museum hosted a Civil War Tea and Fashion Show this afternoon. Dona LaValle (gray dress) lectured in detail about Civil War fashion, mostly in the South; a model did show off a typical dress from the North during the era.

Participants included Melissa Landers, Kaitlyn Landers, Candice, Rachel and Elien Bachorski, Mary Joe Eddy, Rita Reichle and Anne Marie Starowitz.

Vocalist Amy Savino, accompanied by Jeffrey M. Fischer, performed (bottom photo).

Saturday, April 5, 2014 at 8:47 am

Restoration work was in progress, landlord says, when city condemned apartment building on Jackson

post by Howard Owens in batavia, 113 Jackson Street, Jackson Street, landlords

The four-unit apartment building at 113 Jackson Street has been condemned by city officials and its residents relocated, but the owner says things sound a lot worse than they really are.

The most notable problem is the south wall, according to Guy Pellegrino, which is clearly bowed out, but Pellegrino said it was that way when he purchased the building 15 years ago and was in that condition years before he bought it.

It's never been an issue with city officials until now, he said, and it may not even be necessary to repair. He will need to hire a structural engineer to make that determination and present findings to the city.

The 4,000-square-foot building is 180 years old. The property is assessed at $115,000.

City Manager Jason Molino said 113 Jackson was closed for electrical, mechanical and structural code violations.

Molino said the Red Cross assisted, at least for the first day, the two tenants living in the complex after the building was condemned.

City officials only acted on the property after there was a report of a possible fire in one of the apartments Tuesday, Molino said. Firefighters found suspected code violations and a code enforcement officer was called to the scene.

According to Molino, tenants at the apartment were living in "deplorable conditions." The building was condemned, he said, because it was unfit for human occupancy.

Pellegrino has a different version of what city inspectors found at the complex.

First, the second-story apartments have been vacant since the Fall and are currently undergoing a complete restoration. The apartments have been gutted. The floors have been removed, the walls are being repainted and all the junk left by previous tenants thrown out.

"My plan has been once Spring rolls around is to finish the apartments and turn them into better quality units," Pellegrino said.

Pellegrino believes that it was the former upstairs tenants who have been the source of suspected criminal activity in and around the apartment building. After there was an armed robbery of a pizza delivery driver reported at that location, Pellegrino evicted both tenants, having them physically removed from the property.

A lifelong Batavia resident with a large family locally and other business interests, Pellegrino said the reports of criminal activity at the address, especially the suspected armed robbery, were a real embarrassment.

"That's not who I am," Pellegrino said. "I don't want people to have that impression of me. Once I thought they had something to do with it, I got rid of the tenants."

What Pellegrino didn't know, he said, was that one of his downstairs tenants was a hoarder and was stealing electricity from a neighboring apartment.

"The only person living in deplorable conditions was the hoarder," Pellegrino said.

The woman who lived in the other apartment kept her place clean and there was no problem with that unit, Pellegrino said.

The man had lived in the apartment for 10 years, according to Pellegrino.

"His rent was $600 a month and he paid it like clockwork," Pellegrino said. "I had no reason to believe he was a problem and I had no cause to go into his apartment."

The resident, Pellegrino said, created the alleged electrical code violations by removing electrical panels so he could tap into the power lines of another apartment, and running extension cords into his apartment.

Each apartment has its own electric meter and tenants are responsible for their own utilities, so Pellegrino doesn't get the electric bills and had no idea the tenant no longer had his own electric service to his apartment, he said.

One thing people don't understand, Pellegrino said, is that when a landlord rents to Section 8, HUD or any other social services tenant, the apartments are inspected by the government before the tenants move in. There's never been a problem with his apartments, Pellegrino said.

Other than the issue with the south wall, everything the city says is a code violation will be easy to fix, Pellegrino said. If a structural engineer clears the long-standing bowed south wall, then it will no longer be an issue, Pellegrino said.

There's a dumpster behind the apartment that's half filled with junk and garbage bags. The dumpster was originally brought in to help with the gutting of the two upstairs apartments. It's also being filled with the decades-long accumulation of junk left in the basement by former tenants, and, Pellegrino said, the hoarder has already started cleaning out his apartment and throwing stuff in it.

After 15 years in the residential rental business, Pellegrino is ready to get out. All of his properties are going up for sale, he said.

He was leaning in that direction before 113 Jackson was condemned, he said, but he's been "just sick" about what happened with the property and he's had enough. He thinks a lot has changed about the kind of tenants a landlord has to deal with in Batavia over the past 15 years. It's just not a good business to be in, he said, especially for someone who values his reputation in the community.

Saturday, April 5, 2014 at 12:08 am

Photo: Erin Sydney Welsh performs at City Slickers

post by Howard Owens in batavia, City Slickers, entertainment, music

Ken Mistler has been booking more live music into City Slickers. Friday night, Erin Sydney Welsh performed. While I was there, at least six people came up to me and said something along the lines of, "Doesn't she have a beautiful voice? Are you going to take her picture and post it on The Batavian?" Welsh does have a beautiful, strong, clear voice. She performed a variety of covers and original songs. Welsh is 18 and a senior at Clarence High School.

Friday, April 4, 2014 at 11:37 am

GCEDC board approves Koolatron and Premiere Credit projects

post by Howard Owens in batavia, business, GCEDC, Koolatron, Premiere Credit

Press release:

The Board of Directors of the Genesee County Economic Development Center (GCEDC) approved applications for two projects at its April 3 meeting.

Mega Properties, Inc., (Koolatron) will implement a 20,000-square-foot expansion to its current facility in Gateway I Corporate Park in Batavia. The company was approved for a sales tax exemption of approximately $39,200, a mortgage tax exemption of approximately $6,250 and a property tax abatement of $144,648 based on incremental increase in assessed value. The planned capital investment will total an estimated $775,000 and is projected to create 5.5 new full-time equivalent jobs in three years after a certificate of occupancy is issued.

Mega Properties, Inc., is a Canadian company headquartered in Brantford, Ontario, with locations in the United Kingdom and the United States. The company began business with its flagship product line of 12-volt portable thermoelectric coolers and has expanded to manufacture, market and distribute a wide range of items through dealer/distributor network and the Internet. 

Premiere Credit was approved for a sales exemption of $32,000 to expand is call center in the City of Batavia. The capital investment of the expansion project is $400,000 and the company has pledged 25 additional jobs, bringing the facility’s total employment up to 150 full-time equivalent employees.

In 2012, capital expenditure of Premiere Credit was $350,000 with 100 pledged jobs. In 2013, capital expenditure was $325,000 with 50 additional jobs pledged, resulting in the creation of 134 positions at the Batavia location.

“Companies in our county keep expanding operations at their facilities due to the increasing success they’ve experienced with the business climate here. The growth of these companies will continue to positively contribute to our job creation efforts,” said Wally Hinchey, GCEDC board chairman.

Thursday, April 3, 2014 at 9:17 pm

Paul Battaglia named honorary chair of centennial celebration

post by Howard Owens in batavia, Batavia Centennial, Vibrant Batavia

Press release:

The City of Batavia is turning 100! The City of Batavia along with Vibrant Batavia have announced that they are forming the Centennial Celebration Committee to begin with the planning for the 2015 year birthday celebration.

An outline of events has already started to develop. The Centennial Committee will be the primary lead for an opening ceremony December 2014 and closing ceremony December 2015. In between, we will engage a variety of citizen groups to honor the businesses, people and history of Batavia since 1915. The committee has taken that concept and molded it into a yearlong list of ideas looking for partner organizations to assist. A large birthday cake, banners, Century Club New Year’s Eve party, legacy item installation, memorabilia and more are in the making.

Leadership has also been identified for the Centennial. After hours of deliberations, the Vibrant Batavia Committee identified numerous worthy candidates to lead the festivities as the Honorary Chairperson. The group considered women and men that have family lineage within the City, passion for the history of the community, leadership qualities, respect of the residents, school connections, business relationships, commanding presence and more.

Paul Battaglia, a longtime resident of Batavia, was selected. He is currently the managing director of Freed Maxick’s Batavia practice. Battaglia is involved in many different organizations, from Batavia Rotary to UMMC to the Business Education Alliance and thr Genesee County Economic Development Center. In 2005, Battaglia received the Community Builder’s Award from the Council of Community Services of New York State in recognition of exemplary charitable board leadership with nonprofits. Paul and his wife, Mary, were born, raised and have spent their entire lives in Batavia. They graduated from Batavia High School as did their four children. They live on Ellicott Avenue in the City.

“I was surprised by the request and feel privileged to accept this position as Honorary Chairman of the City’s Centennial celebration,” noted Battaglia. “I am flattered and excited to be a part of celebrating old and new traditions. I’m looking forward to lighting the fireworks in December and cutting the City’s birthday cake next summer!”

Krysia Mager, a City of Batavia resident, has been named as the Centennial Committee chairperson. She is a marketing business partner at Tompkins Bank of Castile and is very active in the community. Mager previously served on the Batavia Business Improvement District committees and board of directors. She is also involved with the Chamber of Commerce Annual Awards ceremony. Krysia and her husband, Jonathan, have two daughters, Emersyn and Evelyn.

“I am very honored to represent our community as the Chairperson for this prestigious event,” Mager said. “I am really looking forward to working with the wonderful volunteers in our community to make this Centennial Celebration something to be remembered for another hundred years.”

The Centennial Committee will meet the first and third Tuesdays of the month at City Hall at 8:30 a.m. All interested participants should fill out a City of Batavia Committee/Board Volunteer Application that can be found on the city Web site (http://www.batavianewyork.com/sites/bataviany/files/file/file/committee_...).

Please complete the application and send any ideas, thoughts and or suggestions for this upcoming event to centennial@vibrantbatavia.com.

Vibrant Batavia is a community network organized to celebrate the past, build on the present and to create a more vibrant future. The volunteers work side-by-side with the City of Batavia, NeighborWorks® Rochester and the business community to strategically improve the City's neighborhoods and to promote a livable community of choice.

Thursday, April 3, 2014 at 9:10 pm

Photos: Ag Teacher of the Year award presented to Christine Bow

post by Howard Owens in batavia, agriculture, education, Jackson School, schools

At Jackson School today, Christine Bow received her official certificate and recognition for being named 2014 New York Agriculture in the Classroom Teacher of the Year from Cornell Cooperative Extension.

Above, Bow shares her bouquet of flowers with some of her students.

Barb Sturm, Cornell Cooperative Extension, handed out seeds to teachers to give to their students. Above, Bill Calandra collects seed packets for his class.

Thursday, April 3, 2014 at 8:56 pm

Photos: Third Annual Fine Arts Festival at GCC

post by Howard Owens in arts, batavia, entertainment, Fine Arts Festival, GCC

GCC hosted its third annual Fine Arts Festival this afternoon, allowing students and area residents to try their hands at various artistic endeavors, including drawing, painting, origami, printmaking, and weaving.

Above, DiDi Martin draws a portrait of Chelsea Burkhartzmeyer.

Betty and Frank McGlaysson learn origami with instructor Kyoko Roszmann.

Jenny Spychalski.

Below, chainsaw sculptors Rick and Dustin Pratt and an owl they created form a tree stump.

While on campus, we also visited the Roz Steiner Gallery and took in the student art show.

Thursday, April 3, 2014 at 11:56 am

After 65 years in Batavia, Boyles Motors keeps on trucking

post by Howard Owens in batavia, Boyles Motors, business

Boyles Motors has survived for 65 years because of faith and family, says Eva Fanara.

Fanara, who turns 91 years old next week, still works four days a week as a receptionist in the family business at the corner of Oak Orchard Road and West Saile Drive, Batavia.

"Oh, I'm just baggage now," Fanara said. "I'm just here to make sure they behave."

Her grandson, Jimmy Fanara, said Eva is really the foundation of the trucking parts, service and sales business.

As you would imagine, a lot has changed for Boyles Motors over seven decades, and the times haven't always been easy, but the Fanaras have stayed together and kept the business humming like a well-tuned engine even when the road got rough.

"Our customers know who we are," Eva said. "We've worked hard and we just keep working at it."

Eva's late husband, Vincent, was a regional sales manager for International trucks when the recently married couple moved from Buffalo to Batavia in 1949.

Two successful muck farmers, Roy Rowcliff and Bill Stuart, wanted to buy Boyles Motors after one of the original owners had a nervous breakdown. They asked Vincent Fanara to run the business for them.

At the time, Boyles was located on West Main Street, about where McDonald's is now. The dealership mostly sold light trucks and the International Scout along with some heavy trucks.

After the deaths of Rowcliff and Stuart, Vincent Fanara, a World War II vet, acquired the business.

"We just kept the name, Boyles Motors," Eva said. "We were known as Boyles Motors from here to California, so why change it?"

As the business grew, so did the family. The Fanara's had three boys, James, Paul and John. As the boys grew older, Eva pursued her career in teaching.

In 1971, the dealership moved to its present location, with a bigger emphasis on bigger trucks, though light trucks and Scouts were still part of the sales mix.

Things changed for Boyles Motors in 1973. Paul, then 19 and a student at Genesee Community College, was killed in a car accident.

Paul's death was hard on Vincent, Eva said.

"Vincent Fanara was having a hard time pulling it together here," Eva said. "He wanted to close. He didn't want to stay, but we had two other boys."

Eva decided to give up teaching and enter the business to help keep it going.

"I came in to meet the public," Eva said. "I'm a people person. I was no more an office person than the janitor of the place. I didn't know anything about the business. I was just going to go into permanent teaching at the time."

When Vincent died in 1987, James Fanara took over day-to-day operations.

"He had no choice," Eva said. "He had to do it."

In 1990, the Fanaras opened a second location with the encouragement of International in Jamestown. John Fanara runs that location along with Jimmy's brother Vincent.

Jimmy is in charge of parts and service at the Batavia location. His wife, Brandi, works at the store part time along with their daughter, Jenna. One of John's children helps in Jamestown.

The business also employs about 20 people.

At one time, Boyles employed a lot more people, Jimmy said, but the business has changed.

In the 1980s, International stopped making light trucks and the Scout. Then in the late 1990s, the company was sold to Navistar.

Around 2000, Navistar decided to eliminate many of its dealers across the country, so now Boyles is an affiliate dealership. It facilitates new truck sales still, but the new truck dealer for the region is in Rochester.

Jimmy said Boyles survives on parts and service and used truck sales as well as sales and service for Oshkosh snowplows and military equipment (primarily in Jamestown).

The company continues to thrive because of decades of providing great customer service, Jimmy said.

He recalled two stories about how the company strived to take care of its customers.

"We have a longtime customer in Elba and he told me once he needed an engine but at the time, he didn't have the money to pay for it," Jimmy said. "My grandfather said, 'pay me as you go,' and the farmer told me if not for that, he never would have made it."

Then there was the Elba farmer who sent a big bouquet of flowers to Eva when she was in the hospital once.

"He said when they were nothing, before they became the big farm they are today, he needed some parts, but he didn't have any money," Jimmy said. "She said, 'don't work about it.'  He paid her off, but he said that meant a lot to him at a time he needed it."

The family are members of Ascension Parish and attend St. Joe's. The children have attended, or attend, St. Joe's and Notre Dame. Eva goes to church every day.

She seems to have boundless energy and Jimmy said customers are often amazed to learn she's 90.

"They think she can't be older than 65," Jimmy said.

"Faith, family and work are my mottoes," said Eva, who just retired from delivering for Meals on Wheels after 50 years.

But she expressed no desire to quit her work at Boyle Motors any time soon.

"When you're working, you meet the young people and you know what's going on," Eva said.

Top photo: Brandi, Eva and Jimmy in a 1913 International that the original owners of Boyle Motors had left in one of their barns. It once served as the chariot for the Elba Onion Queen.

Thursday, April 3, 2014 at 8:39 am

Law and Order: BHS student accused of assault at school

post by Howard Owens in batavia, crime

A 17-year-old resident of Alexander Road, Batavia, is charged with third-degree assault and endangering the welfare of a child. The youth allegedly punched another student at Batavia High School. The victim required sutures for a laceration.

Bill Anton Thomas, 54, of State Street, Batavia, was arrested on a bench warrant for alleged failure to appear. Thomas was arraigned in City Court and released to a family member after paying the remainder of a fine from the original charge.

Justin David Cotter, 21, of Lehigh Avenue, Batavia, was arrested on a warrant. He turned himself in at Batavia PD headquarters. Cotter posted $100 bail and was released.

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