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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.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009 at 1:12 pm

List of city's top 15 wage earners includes 10 union fire fighters

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, ambulance, fire fighters

Ten union fire fighters are among Batavia's higest 15 wage earners, according to documents obtained by WBTA.

Topping the payroll list is Craig Williams, a fire captain, who earned $116,629 in 2008.

Dan Fischer reports that the figures include "base salary, overtime, holiday pay and other cash benefits," but not including health care.

Fischer posted audio quotes from Charlie Mallow. Mallow is also quoted accusing the union of scare tactics.

Fischer reports:

In a paid insert in yesterday’s Daily News the fire fighters union accuses the city council of “targeting” public safety by eliminating the ambulance service.

WBTA posted a complete list of the city’s top 15 wage earners.  City Manager Jason Molino is eighth on the list as the top non-emergency personnel wage earner at $84,449.

Tune into WBTA by 12:30 for more information.

Monday, March 2, 2009 at 1:28 pm

Trailer fire reported on Pratt Road

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, fire

BATAVIA, N.Y. Units have been dispatched to 3207 Pratt Road for a reported trailer fire. Medics are responding, as well.

View Larger Map

UPDATE: 2:12 p.m.: Minor fire. According to Asst. Chief  David Winters, the homeowner was trying to heat frozen water pipes with a propane salamander heater when flames shot from it and ignited the underside of the trailer. The fire was contained to under the trailer. There were no injuries.

Monday, March 2, 2009 at 10:28 am

Hysteria, Fabricated Information, Fear Tactics and the Ambulance

post by Charlie Mallow in batavia, ambulance, city council, union

 I fully understand the feelings of the EMTs and no one on Council was happy to have to come to a decision to end county wide ambulance service as of September 1st. There is no question that our city medics have provided and continue to provide a high quality service for all county residents. Although, recently the union has brought forth information from a questionable paid source that they describe as "fact". I want the public to understand that the use of fabricated information, fear tactics and targeting of Council is not going to shake our resolve. Council has taken every imaginable step we could find to make the city based service viable. This financial decision was made based on years of public discussions as well as input, with all the information we required being presented. 

The county has made it clear that they have a process in place to see that the entire county will have ambulance service by September 1st. There is no reason to believe the hysteria being asserted by the union that there will be no one to provide ambulance service after September 1st. Moreover, there have been at least five ambulance providers that have contacted the County or the City that are interested to providing ambulance service to this region.  Should one of these providers be selected they would be responding to ambulance calls from within the City just as they currently do now. 

As directed by Council, I have sent a letter to all county municipalities terminating all our inter-municipal ambulance agreements as of September 1st. These are the agreements that allowed the city to provide ambulance service county-wide. During the last public meeting of the GAM, Council as a whole publicly informed all the members that the city is not getting back into the business of providing ambulance service. Council has made it clear that we will not under any circumstances "go at it alone" by entering into an agreement with a private provider. The city is just one of many municipalities that is looking to the county to provide a county wide ambulance service and that decision about a provider is one for the county as a whole to make.

Monday, March 2, 2009 at 9:54 am

Charter Review Commission meets tonight

post by Howard B. Owens in announcements, batavia, Charter Review Commission

We received this press release from the city:

Please be advised that the Charter Review Commission for the City of Batavia will hold a meeting on Monday, March 2, 2009.  The meeting will begin at 6:30 p.m. in the Community Room on the second floor of the Batavia City Centre.  

The public can speak at the meeting by signing in prior to the start of the meeting. 

John, can you add more detail on what might be discussed tonight?

Friday, February 27, 2009 at 2:45 pm

Spring Into Nature at Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge

Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) in Alabama, NY, will be holding its Spring Into Nature celebration on Saturday, April 25 from 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. Admission and parking are Free.

 Located at the refuge headquarters on Casey Road the event offers activities for the whole family with over 20 nature related exhibits plus live birds of prey, retriever demonstrations, guided bird walks and door prize drawings. For the kids there will be crafts, face painting and nature activities. Guest speakers include: Wendi Pencille on wildlife rehabilitation (more are being finalized). In addition, spotting scopes will be set up at Cayuga Overlook with volunteers on hand to help identify birds in the area, including bald eagles. 

Planned exhibits include: Ducks Unlimited, the Lower Great Lakes Fisheries Resources Office, Cornell Cooperative Extension Master Gardeners, the New York State Bluebird Society, Ron Pastor – custom flies, Erie Canalway Heritage Corridor, Niagara County Trappers (NYSTA) the Historical Club of the Tonawanda Reservation, New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historical Preservation, the Buffalo Audubon Society and more.

Please contact refuge staff at 585.948.5445 or visit our web site at http://www.fws.gov/northeast/iroquoisfor further information.

Iroquois NWR is located midway between Buffalo and Rochester, NY and is managed by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.

Individuals with disabilities and any other person who may need special assistance to participate in this program should contact the Refuge at 585/948-5445 or at the Federal Relay No. 1-800-877-8339.

The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect and enhance fish, wildlife, plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. We are both a leader and trusted partner in fish and wildlife conservation, known for our scientific excellence, stewardship of lands and natural resources, dedicated professionals and commitment to public service. For more information on our work and the people who make it happen, visit www.fws.gov.
Friday, February 27, 2009 at 2:28 pm

Free Nature Programs at Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge


Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge invites everyone to “Go Outside” and enjoy nature. As spring arrives office hours for Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge will be expanded to include weekends 9:00 am to 5:00 pm from Saturday, March 28 through May 9. This is in addition to our regular office hours of Monday – Friday 7:30 am – 4:00 pm, except holidays. The refuge office/visitor contact station, located at 1101 Casey Road, Alabama, NY has maps and other information about the refuge as well as exhibits of native wildlife. Be sure to stop by the Flyway Nature Store, operated by the Friends of Iroquois NWR, Inc., for unique gift ideas for yourself or the nature lover in your life.
            Weekend hours will coincide with the spring schedule of “Iroquois Observations”, a series of free nature programs which are presented in partnership with the Buffalo Audubon Society. On March 28 the season opens with a bald eagle watch and an owl prowl. Visitors are invited to join knowledgeable volunteers at Cayuga Overlook for the bald eagle watch, 1 pm – 4 pm to view one of our two nesting pairs of bald eagles. Spotting scopes are provided. That evening bring a flashlight and join the nocturnal trek to look for owls, 7:30 pm – 9:30 pm. Pre-registration is required for the owl prowl. Please, contact refuge staff at 585-948-5445 to register. Programs are free and open to the public. 
            The refuge’s nature trails, overlooks and fishing areas are open sunrise to sunset, seven days a week, year-round and provide many opportunities to view wildlife or just relax and take in the natural beauty the refuge has to offer.
            For further information or a schedule of nature programs contact refuge staff at
585-948-5445 or visit our website http://www.fws.gov/northeast/iroquois and click on the link for “annual calendar” and scroll down to “Iroquois Observations”.
            Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge is located midway between Rochester and Buffalo, NY and is managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect and enhance fish, wildlife, plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. We are both a leader and trusted partner in fish and wildlife conservation, known for our scientific excellence, stewardship of lands and natural resources, dedicated professionals and commitment to public service. For more information on our work and the people who make it happen, visit www.fws.gov.
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