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Thursday, March 5, 2009 at 7:56 am

Non-union wage increases on Batavia council agenda

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia

The Batavia City Council meets Monday at 7 p.m.

For the Conference Meeting, Councilman Bob Bialkowski, requested a discussion of the Falleti Ice Arena and non-union wage increases.  Councilman Bill Cox requested a discussion of the Walnut Street construction project.

For the business meeting, the council is scheduled to vote on whether to grant a 2.8 percent wage increase for non-union employees.

Thursday, March 5, 2009 at 12:21 am

Batavia hoops on to the finals

post by Brian Hillabush in basketball, batavia, sports

It is often said that basketball is a game of runs.

While there were several runs in Wednesday's Section 5 Class A2 semifinals at the Blue Cross Arena, Batavia's last was the biggest as the Blue Devils won a thrilling 60-57 game over Geneva.

"Coach called a timeout and called a great play, and I hit a 3," said Andrew Hoy, who scored a game-high 27 points. "It is all about runs. Junior Collins doesn't normally shoot like that, even though he's a great player. He banged in two 3-pointers to put them up. We knew we would make our shots."

The second Panther run - and biggest - came after the team had fell behind 14 points midway through the third quarter.

Joe Schlossel scored to put the Blue Devils up 39-25 but Hoy went to the bench with foul trouble.

Geneva ripped off eight consecutive points with Batavia's top gun on the bench.

The Blue Devils held on to a lead, but the Panthers had five straight points at the end of the third quarter and tied the game at 45.

Geneva took a 53-49 lead when Collins hit a pair and Mickel Soloman hit one 3-pointer over a minute stretch.

Timeout Batavia.

"They were shell-shocked when Geneva had that big run," Batavia coach Buddy Brasky said. "I told them basketball was a game of runs and we had to answer."

Batavia answered right back with Andrew hitting a 3, Marcus Hoy dropping one in and Andrew hitting another in just over a minute. The Blue Devils had recaptured the lead, 58-53, with just two minutes left in the game.

"It helps a lot that I was here last year," Andrew Hoy said. "At one point I was like 0-for-10 last year, I didn't even hit the rim. It was good to get that experience last year."

Geneva cut the deficit to 58-56 when Darnell McDuffy scored and had an and-1, then stole the inbounds pass and missed the shot.

Andrew hit two free throws before Shamar Bridges hit a free throw in the closing seconds for Geneva. The Panthers had a look in the closing seconds but Collins missed the trey.

Batavia (19-3) will play Freddie Thomas in the finals on Saturday at 2 p.m.

"Freddie Thomas is as good as anybody in A1 or A2," Brasky said. "They have the fifth leading scorer in all of Section 5. It's a whole different ballgame for them. We'll watch film and get ready for Saturday."

Wednesday, March 4, 2009 at 10:59 pm

Section V B-Ball: Sights & Sounds At The Class A Semi-Finals

post by JIM NIGRO in batavia, High School Basketball, sports

Even if it wasn’t the Section V class A semi final, the courtside press table has to be one of the best seats in the house. And when you’re seated next to a high school sports aficionado you get plenty of insight with the view. Drew Brown, who along with Brian Hillabush and Bill Collmer, is one of the founders of the online high school sports forum, Section V Talks Back. Raised in Brockport, played high school hoops in Vermont, and was an assistant basketball coach at Lima Christian, Drew has apparently done his homework. As the game went on he was quick to point out the skills of various players on the court, including Batavia’s Hoy brothers, Rob, Andrew and Marcus.

Neither did Drew fail to mention the athleticism of Geneva’s Junior Collins. When the senior guard developed a hot hand down the stretch, the senior guard’s quick lateral movement was clearly evident.      

Batavia had numerous chances to put the game away, but just as often they let the Panthers back into it.  

With the Blue Devils down by four late in the fourth quarter, Andrew and Marcus Hoy brothers sank back to back three pointers and the Batavia section responded accordingly. When Andrew made it three in a row the Blue Devil rooters erupted. Then, with time running out and Geneva still in the game, Junior Collins had the ball once again. This time he was guarded by Joe Schlossel.

A year ago at this time, Joe was standing in the Florida surf, wielding a fishing rod and trying to turn the shark that had picked up his bait and ran with it. To no avail, as the shark stripped all the line from his reel without looking back.

Now he was squaring off against one of the best athletes in Section V. - and with much better results. The shark got away. Junior Collins did not.    

As he walked off the court I congratulated Joe and asked if his father was at the game. “He’s in Florida,” said the younger Schlossel.

Being he isn’t the avid fishermen his son is, Joe Sr. is probably golfing. But he will be back for Saturday’s finals.  

Wednesday, March 4, 2009 at 7:16 pm

BataviaAmbulance.com poll currently shows sentiment running against reinstating service

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, ambulance

Supporters of keeping an ambulance service in Batavia set up BataviaAmbulance.com to rally public support for their cause.

Judging by their own online poll, the strategy isn't working.

On the site, the current poll asks: "Do you think eliminating the City Fire-Based Ambulance service is safe?" The possible answers are, "NO!" and "Sure, I'll risk it."

Of the first 203 answers, 65 percent of those taking this very unscientific of polls indicate they're willing to forgo a city-backed ambulance service.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009 at 7:01 pm

Batavia's Bill Kauffman finds new home for his localist writing

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, bill kauffman, localism

An interesting new Web site passed over my desk today -- Front Porch Republic.

The site promotes the kind of localist, libertarian, decentralist philosophy that appeals to me.

It was a pleasant surprise to find that Batavia's resident (well, Elba, now, really) historical writer Bill Kauffman is a contributing editor.

Chief among the founders is Bill's friend Jeremy Beer, whom I met at a Muckdog's game last year. He lives in Phoenix, Arizona.

"The site doesn't really hit the left or right straight jacket," Bill told me today. "It's about exploring alternatives to empire and biggness."

He described the site's contributors as people of various backgrounds interested in localism, decentralization and "restoring human scale."

I asked him if this meant he's now blogging, knowing he hates the word.

"Technology people have given us such great words," he said. "Blog sounds like some unpleasant body function."

Blogging or not, it's always a treat to find another outlet to read Bill's vivid and insightful writing.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009 at 3:44 pm

United Memorial says 14 employees let go in January

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business, economy, United Memorial Medical Center

We just received a press release from United Memorial Medical Center stating that 14 employees were laid off in Januray, and previously 16 vacant positions were eliminated, in response to the economic downturn.

For the past three months, United Memorial has been working to take pro-active steps in positioning the organization to effectively cope with the impact of reduced reimbursements from governmental payers and the effects of the declining stock market. To remain financially viable and protect the high level of service provided to our patients, we have applied organizational changes.

United Memorial began implementing several cost saving strategies in January which included limiting expenses unrelated to patient care, restricting the travel and education budgets and re-evaluating projects and capital purchases. All contracts for supplies, utilities and services were re-examined for cost savings. The Cardiac Rehab program was altered to increase class size and allow fewer days of operation. The Process Improvement Department was restructured under Quality Management and the employee shuttle service was outsourced.

As a part of this process, 16 vacant open positions with the equivalent hours of 12 full time employees were eliminated and since January, 14 employees were let go. While the 14 individuals affected by this action account for less than 2% of our 770 person workforce, they were our colleagues, co-workers and friends. Each possessed admirable work ethics and they have collectively provided the Hospital with decades of respected service. Those that were eligible were offered severance packages and where appropriate, options to extend their healthcare coverage.

The eliminated positions include three in management and 27 support staff.

The Surgical Expansion and Affordable Senior Housing Projects will continue as planned. The Hospital leadership team has worked conscientiously to make decisions that will allow United Memorial to continue to grow and provide quality services that meet the healthcare needs of our community.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009 at 8:18 am

Police Beat: Alexander man arrested for allegedly pointing rifle at woman

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

Jacob J. Meinhold, 18, of Alexander, was arrested Tuesday for 2nd degree menacing after allegedly pointing a rifle at a female and threatening to kill her. The reported incident occurred at his residence at 5:30 p.m. Meinhold was arraigned in Alexander Town Court and released on his own recognizance.

Three teenagers were arrested Tuesday at 7:55 p.m. for alleged shoplifting at K-Mart. Taken into custody were Brandy A. Christopher, 18, Shyla J. Travis, 18, Cynthia A. Zayas, 19. All three are from Batavia.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009 at 6:01 pm

Police warn of 'secret shopper' scam in region

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

Press release from Batavia Police:

The Batavia Police are advising Local residents to beware of a scam that starts with a letter and a personal check for up to $4,500, 

We get reports of one or two of these scam attempts a day. Some of the names on the letters are Shadow Shoppers, Secret Shopper or Shoppers Club. A “grand prize” might be offered to the recipient for participating. Nationally known retail stores names may be displayed on the letter without the consent of companies that are named.

The letter states, with improper grammar, “our company is a ‘SECRET SHOPPER’ employment firm that specializes in conducting research to assist corporations evaluates and improves the quality of customer service provided to their clients.”

The letter goes on to say that as one of the people selected to take part in the program “you will be representing our firm as Research Personnel or Customer Service Evaluator of selected merchant outlets and service providers in your area.”

This is a new spin on old check scams. So far, the majority of these scams have been from Nigeria and are rerouted through Canada and then to the U.S.
The problem is that people might think it’s a scam, but the amount of money the check is written for is so significant that even people who are suspicious are tempted.

The letter that accompanies the check seems legitimate, even to the point of breaking down how the money should be spent in the process of “secret shopping.”
The letter states, “Employee Probation Training Pay + Expenses, $360.94.” It goes on, again with improper grammar, “You’re tasks are as follows: Burger King - $20; Western Union Transfer - $2,165; Service Charge by Western Union - $149; Money Gram Transfer - $1,765; Service Charge by Money Gram - $75; Wal-Mart - $45.”

The scammer makes money because the would-be “secret shoppers” wire more than $3,000 through Western Union and Money Gram Transfer from their bank account with the belief that the checks will clear and cover it.

In fact, the checks are fraudulent, and when people deposit them and spend money in the prescribed manner, they are often out not only the amount of the check when it bounces, but also the amount that they spent of their own money.

By the time this check goes through the system, people have already taken the money out and sent off the fee by Western Union or Money Gram Transfer. The majority of the time they are out the check amount and any money that they withdrew from their account.

The best thing residents can do is to destroy the check. The Federal Trade Commission has a place on their web site to report these scams.  The best way to protect yourself is to be educated on this type of scam, and remember, “if it sounds too good to be true it probably is.”   

Tuesday, March 3, 2009 at 4:56 pm

BID announces 'Jackson Square Inside' concert with Ghost Riders

post by Howard B. Owens in announcements, batavia, BID, downtown, music

We received this press release from Don Burkel at the BID:

Downtown Batavia –  The Square Is Back!  “Jackson Square Inside” Concert will be on Friday, March 13th, Batavia City Centre (former Genesee Country Mall) from 7:00-9:00 pm,  featuring  The Ghost Riders.  This is the first of two “Inside” concerts to bring people downtown and to get everyone ready for the June concert series outside.  This concert is sponsored by: Batavia Business Improvement District and the Batavia City Centre Merchants Association.

The next “Inside” concert will be on Friday, April 24th featuring The OHMS Band (6:30 pm-8:00 pm).  This performance will be in conjunction the Genesee County Chamber’s Small Business Week Showcase.

For more information about this and other downtown events visit the B.I.D. website at   www.downtownbataviany.com  or call 585-344-0900. 


Tuesday, March 3, 2009 at 1:36 pm

Today's Poll: The prospect of passenger rail service in Batavia

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, passenger rail, poll

Douglas Tuner of the Buffalo News speculates that Western New York could be ideally suited for to receive stimulus funds to build a passenger rail system between Buffalo and Albany (hat tip, Dan Jones for the link).

In one month, Obama has proposed sending $13 billion into the cause. And if Rep. Louise M. Slaughter, D-Fairport, has her way, upstate New York should get a good share of it.

Slaughter’s goal is what aides call “a third track” dedicated to passenger rail running 300 miles from Buffalo-Niagara to Albany along the current CSX right of way.

The economic stimulus plan contains $8 billion for engineering, tracks, passenger cars and other infrastructure for intercity rail. This money should be spent in the next three to four years.

Last week, Obama proposed spending an additional $5 billion for high-speed passenger rail in his 2010 federal budget outline.

I don't know my CSX right of ways, but this seems like Batavia would be on the rail line.

That would be good news for commuters who live in Batavia and work in either Buffalo or Rochester, it seems.

It might even encourage more people to call Batavia or the surrounding rural communities home.

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