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Monday, January 13, 2014 at 6:27 pm

Accident reported on West Main Street

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, accident

A motor-vehicle accident is reported in the area of 379 W. Main St., Batavia.

Unknown injuries.

City fire and Mercy EMS dispatched.

UPDATE 5:29 p.m.: It's reported as a T-bone accident.

Monday, January 13, 2014 at 6:08 pm

Proposed city budget holds line on taxes, looks to address neighborhood issues

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, budget

The city's proposed 2014-15 budget holds the line on taxes while helping foster programs City Manager Jason Molino said will help improve the quality of life in Batavia.

The $16.6 million spending plan calls for a 3-cent decrease in city property taxes, lowering the rate from $9.30 per thousand to $9.27 per thousand.

At the same time, city spending will increase 4.4 percent, or $675,000 over 2013-14.

City Council President Brooks Hawley said he doesn't yet have a feel for how the rest of the council will respond to the proposed budget, but he's looking forward to the budget discussions, which begin with a budget presentation by city staff at tonight's meeting.

"We just received this budget on Friday, so I'm very excited to talk with other City Council members and see what they think," Hawley said. "I'm looking forward to the budget meetings and seeing where we go from there. Right now, this is just a starting point. We are excited, just by looking at the first couple of pages, that what council wanted, this budget lays out, such as neighborhood revitalization, addressing quality of life and keeping the tax rate down."

The budget proposal brings back the position of assistant city manager, which was eliminated years ago as a cost-saving measure.

Molino said it's needed now to help the city move forward on several projects that will mean lower costs for both the city and for residents.

One of the primary duties of the new assistant city manager will be to get the city participating in the National Flood Insurance Program.

Working out of a 600-page book of guidelines, it will be up to the new assistant city manager to implement plans and programs that will mitigate flood issues and help improve the city's flood insurance rating.

The city's rating is currently a Class 10 -- the highest rating because the city doesn't currently participate in NFIP -- and for each point the city can shave off the rating, the cost of flood insurance for property owners in the city will drop 5 percent.

The rating can improve by doing simple things such as ensuring certain kinds of public information be available to complicated matters like moving buildings. There are, in all, 18 different topics the city can study, and possibly address, to improve Batavia's flood insurance rating.

Currently, the average cost of flood insurance in the city is $900 annually, based on the price of the home.

"That's more than your average City of Batavia tax bill -- city property taxes for that property on a home that's assessed at $90,000," Molino said. "How do we combat that? If we can lower those premiums by 5, 10, 15, 20 percent through actions we can take through the community-rated service program, we're going to be able to provide relief to our residents."

Molino believes that high cost is one reason some residents won't invest more in their homes, or buy houses that are worthy of restoration if not for their location in a flood plane.

The new assistant city manager will also handle risk management for the city, which can help reduce the city's annual $2 million expenditure on various insurance policies.

The new position will pay in the range of $63,000 to $77,000 and whomever is hired will be required to move to the city if not already a city resident.

"When the position was eliminated several years ago it was because the city was in a finanical position that warranted making cuts, scaling back on services, which it did," Molino said. "I think that now when we're on more stable footing, we're in a position now where the council is looking to take on initiatives that are going to help progress the community forward. We're talking about quality-of-life initiatives, neighborhood initiatives. In order to provide these services, you've got to have staff to do it."

A big part of the city's focus the past couple of years has been the implementation of a strategic plan, which calls for neighborhood improvements, revitalizing commercial areas, converting brownfield locations into once-again useful and productive properties and addressing quality-of-life issues, such as abandoned homes and high-crime neighborhoods.

One of the biggest initiatives planned by the city for the spring and summer are what Molino calls "neighborhood sweeps."

The sweeps will involve closing down a neighborhood for two or three hours so nobody gets in or out and the police, parole and probation officers, along with code enforcement officers, will endeavor to contact every person in the neighborhood. Individuals who cause problems might be identified and dealt with appropriately under the law and residential units that don't meet code standards will receive notices and have deficiencies documented.

There will be no prior notice to neighborhoods subject to a sweep.

"It's a way of trying to do several things," Molino said. "One, working with the residents who might be able to provide information about what's going on in their neighborhood; combating some of the issues that we're seeing, some of the increased activity; addressing property maintenence and criminal activity, all in one shot. It's taking our resources and focusing on the areas that need that assistance."

City leaders from Buffalo met with local officials a month ago to discuss how that city has implemented a similar program.

"It's taking what they're doing (in Buffalo) and applying it in a way that's a better fit for our community," Molino said. "It's taking these nuisance areas and addressing quality-of-life complaints and trying to combat them, either working with the landlords to get these problem tenants out of the neighborhoods, or working with the residents to identify the problems in the neighborhood."

Over time, perhaps, those residents who are generally content to do more harm than good will find Batavia inhospitable enough that they will leave the city, if not Genesee County, Molino said.

"It's not a hostile position," Molino said. "I would say it's a position of being a nuisance to nuisance individuals. If it's people who are engaging in criminal activity, if it's people doing things they shouldn't be, we're going to be addressing those.

"Keep in mind, when you're addressing little issues like nuisance and quality-of-life issues, minor issues, if you address those with a hard-line approach, it's going to be a deterrent to undesirables who are in those neighborhoods," Molino added. "They're not going to want to be bothered with that and it's going to have them disperse elsewhere."

The program is designed to empower people to take their neighborhoods back so they're once again a safe place for children to play outside, Hawley said.

Chief Shawn Heubusch said he's hopeful the program will help the community address some of the kinds of criminal activity we've seen recently in the city, such as shots fired on State Street, shots fired on Jackson, and the recent armed robbery on Jackson.

"This will hopefully get us to a point where we can address some of those issues before they occur," Heubusch said. "It allows us to get into the neighborhoods and get a more personal look at things and get the neighbors comfortable with us and being more willing to contact us. Do I think it's going to solve everything? Absolutely not."

The proposed 2014-15 budget also takes a couple of small, but potentially significant steps, in the technology region.

Working with National Grid, the city is planning a recharging station for electric cars located somewhere Downtown. The recharging station will handle two cars at a time that can plug into the power grid for free.

The hope is the station will attract electric car drivers from the Thruway into Downtown for shopping and dining.

The annual cost to the city, even if the stations are used to capacity every day, would be no more than a few hundred dollars.

"It's a marginal cost to the municipality, but it's an attraction to get visitors Downtown," Molino said.

The budget also calls for a few Wi-Fi hotspots to be installed at Downtown locations, such as Jackson Square. The pilot project will help the city evaluate the need and benefits of providing wireless Internet connectivity to smartphone and tablet users.

One of the biggest expenditure hits the city has taken over the past several years is the skyrocketing cost of funding pensions through the state's retirement plan. Each year, the state sets what the city will have to pay into the fund. For the first time in five years, the city is being told to contribute less than the previous year.

Another important component of the city's plan for neighborhood improvement is trying to obtain title to vacant and abandoned homes, and working with nonprofit agencies to renovate the houses and turn them over to responsible owners who will reside in the homes they acquire.

There are currently as many of 50 such abandoned houses in the city.

The city will use $229,000 from equipment reserve funds for police, fire and DPW vehicles and machines.

On the reserve fund front, $50,000 is being set aside for an anticipated renovation, or replacement, of the police headquarters building. A consultant is currently evaluating the current station and the needs of the department.

The police budget is up 4.1 percent, or $158,505 for additional personnel costs.

The city plans on spending $7,500 on "a neighborhood video surveillance camera," but no word on where the camera might be installed.

Union contracts dictate raises for CSEA members of 2 percent and for police of 2.75 percent. Management employees will receive a 2.5-percent pay increase. The fire personnel contract is currently under negotiation.

The city's part-time parking enforcement/recycling officer and the part-time ordinance enforcement officer will be combined into a single, full-time job.

There is a proposed 9-cent increase in the city's water and sewer rate to $4.71 per thousand gallons. There is also a proposed $12 annual fee to fund capital projects to replace aging infrastructure.

The city will replace 1,950 feet of sewer line on Trumbull Parkway. The project includes sidewalk replacement, road restoration, and upgrades on water service and fire hydrants.

A grant request to reconstruct Summit Street was rejected by the state, so in the meantime, the city will resurface the street.

In all, more than $1 million will be spent on sidewalk and street repairs and replacements.

Photo: Jodie Freese prepares copies of the 2014-15 proposed city budget for distribution to members of council and other members of the community.

Monday, January 13, 2014 at 4:29 pm

Accident with minor injuries reported on Richmond Avenue near Oak Street, Batavia

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, accident

A two-car accident is reported on Richmond Avenue near Oak Street, Batavia.

One person is complaining of back pain.

City fire and Mercy EMS dispatched.

UPDATE 3:49 p.m.: One patient being transported to UMMC with a complaint of neck pain.

Monday, January 13, 2014 at 11:38 am

Car wreck with injuries at West Main Street Road and Kelsey Road

post by Billie Owens in batavia, accidents, east pembroke, indian falls

A motor-vehicle accident with injuries is reported at West Main Street Road and Kelsey Road in the Town of Batavia. East Pembroke and Indian Falls fire departments and Mercy medics are responding, with two ambulances. One person has a back injury and three others have minor injuries, according to a medic at the scene. The vehicles are blocking traffic.

UPDATE 10:39 a.m.: A third ambulance is requested.

UPDATE 10:58 a.m.: Three patients are being taken to UMMC. They are an 81-year-old male who was a back seat passenger and he has a four-inch cut on the back of his head, a 65-year-old female with unspecified injuries, and an 82-year-old female with chest pain.

UPDATE 11:10 a.m.: The East Pembroke assignment is back in service.

Monday, January 13, 2014 at 10:32 am

Law and Order: Batavia man accused of identity theft

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, byron, corfu, crime, elba, Le Roy, pembroke, Stafford

Bruce J. Brade, 33, of Galloway Road, Batavia, is charged with identify theft, 2nd, and grand larceny, 4th. Brade is accused of fraudulent use of a debit card. Brade allegedly used the card to purchase items over the Internet. Following arraignment in Batavia City Court, Brade was released under supervision of Genesee Justice.

Douglas Robert Brown, 45, of South Main Street, Elba, is charged with criminal possession of a weapon, 4th. Brown was arrested following an investigation into a complaint of an irate truck driver who made a delivery to Automotive Corp., Inc. Brown was allegedly found in possession of a billy club.

Thomas James Rose, 18, of Ford Road, Elba, is charged with criminal possession of a controlled substance, 7th, criminal possession of a hypodermic instrument, criminal use of drug paraphernalia and unlawful possession of marijuana. Rose was found to allegedly possess drugs and paraphernalia during an investigation by Deputy Joseph Corona and Deputy Howard Carlson of an incident at a residence in Byron at 2:30 a.m., Saturday.

Arthur Mack Osborne, 47, of West Main Street Road, Batavia, is charged with criminal contempt, 2nd. Osborne is accused of violating a complete stay away order by going to the residence of the protected person and being in contact with that person.

Paul Joseph Kirch, 27, of Angling Road, Corfu, was arrested on a warrant out of the Town of Amherst related to a disorderly conduct charge. Kirch was located when a deputy checked on a vehicle parked on the shoulder of a roadway. Upon investigation, Kirch was identified as a suspect with an active arrest warrant.

Cynthia Louise Reschke, 50, of Transit Road, Stafford, is charged with DWI, driving with a BAC of .08 or greater, failure to keep right, moving from lane unsafely. Reschke was stopped at 1:36 a.m. Sunday on Morganville Road, Stafford, by Deputy Joseph Corona.

Stephen A. Getty, 43, of Gilbert Street, Le Roy, is charged with DWI, driving with a BAC of .08 or greater, moving from lane unsafely and drinking alcohol in a motor vehicle on a highway. Getty was stopped at 5:11 p.m. Friday on Main Road, Pembroke, by Deputy Kevin McCarthy.

Louis Levon Wooden, 28, of Salina Street, Rochester, is charged with petit larceny. Wooden is accused of shoplifting at Walmart. Also charged with petit larceny is Tymekia T. Gaskin, 39, of Champlain Street, Rochester.

Ann Lee Cox, 42, of Main Street, Attica, is charged with criminal possession of a controlled substance, driving while ability impaired by drugs, driving while ability impaired by combined drugs and moving from lane unsafely. Cox was arrested following an investigation by Deputy Kevin McCarthy into a single-car accident on Route 98, Alexander, at 4:22 a.m. on Oct. 20.

Emily Grace Lemen, 19, of Lake Street, Le Roy, is charged with DWI, driving with a BAC of .18 or greater and moving from lane unsafely. Lemen was allegedly driving a vehicle at 4 p.m. on Jan. 6 that went down an embankment at the 490 off-ramp at Route 19. The accident was investigated by Deputy Matthew Butler.

Monday, January 13, 2014 at 9:35 am

Batavia resident lands new gig as morning show host for WCJW

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business

Press release:

WCJW-FM, “CJ Country”, a country music station servicing Genesee, Wyoming & Livingston counties has tapped a local Batavian, “Jimi Jamm” (real name Frank Collins) to take over hosting the morning show on the station. Jimi has been doing weekend airshifts, sports reports and play by play of high school football for 2 years and he replaces Trevor Carey who accepted a radio job in Virginia. Jimi will be on air from 6-10am Monday-Saturdays beginning this week.

A 1987 graduate of Notre Dame High School, Jimi has been an award winning music director and DJ for radio stations in Detroit, Omaha, New Haven and Buffalo, among others as well as being a former recording artist for Buffalo-based Amherst Records. He returned to the Batavia area in 2011 with his wife, Margot because of his love of Western New York and desire to be back home where most of his family resides.

“Radio jobs are harder to find than ever, especially if you don’t want to relocate.”, says Jamm. “I am absolutely thrilled to be back working at the job I love for CJ Country in the region I love. Radio exists to serve the community and I hope to serve the audience, entertain with the music and have fun!”

WCJW, based in Warsaw can be heard in Batavia at 105.5 FM and other areas at 104.3, 103.7 and 100.9, online at wcjw.com or on the TuneIn app for smartphones and tablets.


Saturday, January 11, 2014 at 11:18 am

Blue Devils overcome flat fourth quarter to snag 57-55 win

post by Howard B. Owens in basketball, batavia, blue devils, high school sports, sports

It's an established pattern for the Blue Devils so far this season: doldrums in the fourth quarter make it hard for Batavia close out a game.

Last night against Odyssey, the home squad turned a double-digit lead into a one-point deficit with 56 seconds left in the final period.

Clutch free throws in those closing seconds sealed a 57-55 victory for Batavia, but not without a few fingernails getting whittled down among the faithful.

"It's what happens every game," said Head Coach Buddy Brasky. "In the fourth quarters we can't score. We had a number of easy opportunities in that fourth quarter in the first four minutes or so, so we can maintain that lead or extend it and we missed them."

Fatigue late in the game for Jeff Redband and Justice Fagan, and defenses designed to thwart the two most consistent scores on the team, are the issues. Typically, the two standouts play nearly every minute of the game. Defenses run either a box and one (putting a man, typically, on Redband combined with an otherwise zone defense) or triangle and two(man on both Fagan and Redband and a three-defender zone).

It's a challenging puzzle for Brasky to solve.

"It's kind of hard because I can't afford to take Jeff and Justice out of the game for very long," Brasky said. "I don't have an answer to that, quite honestly. Other guys have to step up. They keep playing that triangle and two, and other guys are getting opportunities and they have to knock down some shots. That's the answer."

Batavia scored 17 in the first quarter, 20 in the second, 13 in the third and a miniscule seven in the fourth.

Last night, it was Jarrett Laskett who stepped up and took advantage of a lax defense in his vicinity. Laskett finished with 15 points, one more than Fagan's 14.

"Jarrett's capable of scoring," Brasky said. "He hadn't done it much, but he's starting to get a little bit of an opportunity now."

Redband led Batavia with 21 points, including three threes and eight free throws. He and Malachi Chenault had eight rebounds.

As the seconds ticketed away with the Blue Devils down a point, it was Redband the team turned to once again to sink the winning shots.

This time, the offense set Redband up on the near-side wing with a look at a three-point jumper. As he got the shot off he was fouled by an Odyssey player, sending him to the line with three opportunities to at least tie the game, if not give Batavia the lead.

Redband missed the first shot.

Were you nervous? Brasky was asked after the game. He smiled. "Yes," he said, "of course."

But with the game on the line, the ball in Redband's hands is never a bad thing. His shooting stroke as sweet and smooth as honey from the comb consistently delivers results.

"Jeff's clutch," Brasky said. "I really anticipated he would make all three. I would have been shocked if he didn't make at least two out of the three. Yeah, I was nervous, but he's clutch, so I didn't really doubt he would make two out of the three."

Two shots made and Batavia is up by one with 18 seconds left in the game. Odyssey fails to score on its possession and then Tyler Crawford is fouled.

Crawford came through at the line.

"Crawford's free throw, that was a big one, too," Brasky said. "That put us up two. All they could do was tie it. We're weren't going to give them a three at that point, so worst case scenario, unless we took stupid pills, it was going to be an overtime game."

Odyssey got the ball back with seven seconds left on the clock. Plenty of time to score. A dash down the court, a scramble under the board, shoot and miss, shoot and miss, and the final buzzer blares and the Blue Devils jump for joy.

Brasky-coached teams are drilled on defense and taught to never give up more than 13 points in a quarter.

Odyssey scored 16 points in the second quarter, but those final three points came on a prayer of a jumper from 20 feet out that hit the backboard and banked into the basket. Braskey said it was almost like it didn't count from a 13-point and under calculation.

"We held them to six or eight in the third (it was eight)," Brasky said. "So it was 57-55. That's three points more than we want to give them, and that's that banked three in the second quarter, so I was happy with the defense."

For Odyssey, a player Brasky said hasn't gotten a lot of playing time this year and has done very little scoring, Jamie Magone, came through big for the visitors, leading his team with 20 points. The only other player in double figures for Odyssey was Jacob Dixon, who had 14.

The win puts Batavia at 6-3 on the year and 2-1 in league play. The Blue Devils next play Eastridge on the road and come home again Jan. 17 for a game against Greece-Arcadia. Game time is 7:45 p.m.

Top photo: Jeff Redband is fouled as he takes a three-point shot in the closing seconds of the game.

Jeff Redband drives to the basket in the first quarter.

Justice Fagan looking for a lane to the basket in the first half.

Tyler Crawford grabs a loose ball during the second quarter.

Cheerleaders during their routine at the half.

Jeff Redband Inbounding the ball in the fourth quarter to Malachi Chenault.

Jarrett Laskett

Victory celebration

To purchase prints, click here.

Friday, January 10, 2014 at 11:51 am

Car crash at Main and Bank streets in the city

post by Billie Owens in batavia, accidents

A motor-vehicle accident with injuries is reported at Main and Bank streets. A 79-year-old female complains of chest pain and trouble breathing. City fire, Mercy medics and police are responding.

UPDATE 11 a.m.: Main at Ellicott will briefly be closed to eastbound traffic until a tow truck removes the vehicle.

Friday, January 10, 2014 at 10:44 am

Batavia, Notre Dame to meet for Rotary Tournament Crown

The 25th edition of the Rotary Club of Batavia Basketball Tournament has certainly been eventful.

After the tournament was postponed because of the blizzard earlier this week, the teams finally took to the court at Genesee Community College and for the second straight season, Batavia and Notre Dame will meet in the finals.

The Lady Blue Devils were forced to play without leading scorer and rebounder Tiara Filbert due to injury, but they prevailed, defeating Alexander 44-36 in the first game of the night.

The two teams appeared evenly matched after two quarters of play, as Batavia took a four-point lead into halftime.

The Trojans came out hot in the second half, eventually tying the game at 23 midway through the third quarter.

The Blue Devils responded though, using a 14-2 run to end the frame, and at one point extended their lead to 14.

Batavia looked to miss Filbert in the fourth quarter though, as Alexander cut the lead to five with just under two minutes to play.

“To lose one of your top players, you’re not the same team,” said Batavia Head Coach Marty Hein. “But the defense shouldn’t have let down. I’m disappointed we didn’t play 32 minutes of defense.”

Madison McCulley came up big though, as she knocked down a three-pointer to extend the lead to eight  and the Blue Devils would not look back.

Sophomore Sam Cecere came up big all night for Batavia, as she scored a game-high 16 points on the night.

“I told Sam that this was a real big stepping stone game for her,” Hein said. “Tiara wasn’t here and it was time for her to step up, and she did that. The last three or four games she has been progressively getting better.”

McCulley pitched in 11 points for Batavia, which improves to 7-1.

Prior to this week’s snowstorm, Perry was scheduled to take on Notre Dame in the second game, but when the games were postponed, they had to drop out due to conflict. So, C.G. Finney stepped in to take on the Fighting Irish.

Unfortunately, they were overmatched by the defending state champions.

Notre Dame opened the game on a 34-0 run and continued onward, cruising to an 87-13 victory.

“I thought we got a lot of good minutes out of a lot girls,” said Notre Dame Head Coach Dave Pero. “Down the road, you never know. We might need some of those girls. We have been getting good bench play all year and this helps.”

Mel Taylor led the way for Notre Dame, scoring a game-high 16 points, grabbing five rebounds and adding seven steals.

Rebecca Krenzer chipped in 12 points and six rebounds, while Shea Norton added 10 points and six rebounds and Burgundy Bartlett scored 11 points for Notre Dame (7-0).

Batavia and Notre Dame will meet in the championship game for the second consecutive season, as the Lady Irish took home the title with a 41-38 victory.

“Batavia is going to give us all we want,” Pero said.

“They will be ready for us. We played them last year in the finals and had a three-point game, and I don’t see it any different this year. They have good shooters and rebounders. We have to come out to play if we are going to take home the title again.”

The Blue Devils won the title back in 2012.

Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m. on Saturday at Genesee Community College.

Photos by Howard Owens.

To purchase prints, click here.

Friday, January 10, 2014 at 10:13 am

All your snowmen are about to melt

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, weather

This snowman on Walnut Street may have survived the Blizzard of 2014, but it's not likely to fair well Saturday when temperatures hit the high 40s and we get a bit of rain.

A flood watch remains in effect from 7 a.m. Saturday to 1 p.m., Sunday.

Photo submitted by Steve Ognibene.

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