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Thursday, July 16, 2009 at 1:21 pm

Jelly Belly RV Tour rolls into Oliver's Candies in Batavia

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Oliver's Candies


It's been non-stop kids since 11 a.m. at Oliver's Candies, where the Jelly Belly RV made a stop today.  The RV will be at Oliver's until 3 p.m.


Wednesday, July 15, 2009 at 2:11 pm

Driver hurt in single-car rollover accident on Route 63 Monday night

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


The driver of a 1996 Pontiac was injured Monday night in a single-car rollover accident on Route 63 near Galloway Road in Batavia.

C.J. Friesma, 24, of 27 S. Pearl St., Apt. 3, Oakfield, reportedly told Deputy C.A. Parker that he lost control of the car for reasons unknown. He was driving southbound on 63 when the car began a counter-clockwise rotation. The car traveled across the northbound lane and down an embankment, where it overturned.

Friesma reportedly suffered a shoulder injury and was transported to UMMC.

The Pontiac's owner, Nicole E. Friesma, of Oakfield, told Parker that she called Friesma about 11:15 p.m. to pick her up from work, and he was asleep.

The accident occurred about 11:25 p.m.

(Picture submitted by Chief Robert Hunt, Town of Batavia Fire Department)

Wednesday, July 15, 2009 at 9:03 am

Mercy Flight CEO tells local leaders he expects excellance in new ground service

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, ambulance, genesee county, Mercy Flight

Employees of Mercy Flight's ground ambulance service in Genesee County can expect to be held to high standards, CEO Douglas H. Baker told a gathering of local leaders last night in a meeting the Fire Training Center.

"I'll probably be in Genesee County more than you want to see me," Baker said. "I'll be here nearly every day. I'm going to make sure that this is either done my way, or it's not going to be done at all. We're not going to be embarrassed."

Baker made it clear that Mercy Flight employees will be expected to be professional, compassionate, courteous and enthusiastic. He said while the job is hard at times and enthusiasm can wane, he expects employees to reflect his enthusiasm for the profession.

"When our crews respond, they will be kind and responsive," Baker said. "If they're not, I don't care how good of an EMT they are, they're not going to work for us."

Baker said he expects the level of service in the county to be the same or better under Mercy Flight.

The organization has ordered four new ambulances that are in production now.

While it remains Mercy Flight's goal to retain as many city ambulance service personnel as possible, all potential employees will need to pass a background check and make it through an interview process.

"We're not going to hire somebody just because they're working now," Baker said.

But he also assured leaders that the new service will seem very familiar to them because they will see a lot of familiar faces and many of the same policies and practices that current personnel are using will remain in place.

"In general we will keep doing what you've been doing for all these years, unless you want us to change," Baker said. "We intend not to change, not even the people."

Indicating that Mercy Flight's goal is to be responsive to community concerns, Baker said that if officials aren't happy with anything that Mercy Flight is doing, it's their responsibility to make sure Mercy Flight managers or executives know about the problems so they can be addressed.

Ambulances will be based at UMMC North Street, UMMC Bank Street and at the airport, with another kept on standby. If it proves that that configuration isn't working for the community, and the statistics back up any issues identified, Mercy Flight will move ambulances to new bases as needed. And if necessary, Mercy Flight will add a fourth, or even a fifth crew, if it turns out more resources are needed to meet guaranteed response times.

"I don't want to be making decisions about where the ambulances should be," Baker said. "I want the community to decide where the ambulances should be."

Each municipality is being asked to sign a contract with Mercy Flight, but if officials from a particular town or city don't sign, Mercy Flight will still respond to emergencies in those communities. The only difference is the local leaders will not be able to hold Mercy Flight to guaranteed response times.

"I'm thrilled for an opportunity for a contract," said Town of Batavia Supervisor Greg Post after the meeting.  "I think they carry the greatest degree of professionalism. And I'm pleased there's another step in getting government out of the ambulance business."

Batavia City Councilman Sam Baron also said he feels good about Mercy Flight coming into Batavia. He said city residents can feel confident that the level of ambulance service under Mercy Flight will be just the same as what they've had in the past.

AUDIO: After the meeting, I recorded a separate interview with Mr. Baker.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009 at 1:46 pm

Fire alarm at Dunkin' Donuts on West Main

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia

City fire crews are responding to a general fire alarm at 137 W. Main St., the Dunkin' Donuts location.

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Tuesday, July 14, 2009 at 1:51 am

Victim of fiery afternoon crash on Route 98 in Batavia identified

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, accident

P7130020.JPGA twenty-year-old Attica woman suffered burns on her legs in a three-car crash The Batavian reported on yesterday afternoon.

Amanda L. Gilhooly, of 1432 Nesbitt Road, Attica, managed to escape from her 2004 Saturn sedan before it burst into flames. She suffered burns on her legs and was transported to UMMC after the 4:37 p.m. crash.

According to the Sheriff's Office report prepared by Deputy C.J. Minuto, a 2006 Subaru SUV driven by Amie L. Gray, 26, of 62 Leydecker, Apt. 2, Seneca, was heading northbound on Route 98 when Gray was unable to stop or avoid a Jeep driven by James Delvin, 66, of 4452 Shortsville Road, Shortsville. Devlin stopped in the road to make a left-hand turn into a driveway of a construction site. 

Upon impact, according to the report, Delvin's Jeep spun counter-clockwise into the southbound lane, where it was hit in the back a second time by the Saturn driven by Gilhooly.

Photo above submitted by Deputy Chief Paul Barrett of the Town of Batavia Fire Department. For more photos, see the original post.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009 at 1:32 am

Council asks attorney to prepare proposal for selling Falleti Ice Arena

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Falleti Ice Arena

The City of Batavia might sell Falleti Ice Arena. Then, again, maybe not.

The City Council instructed City Attorney George Van Nest on Monday night to prepare an RFP (request for proposal) that would allow private investors to bid on the property, but council members also expressed some skepticism that in the current environment, any investors who would offer a realistic price could be found.

"In the current credit crunch, the chances are that any RFP is going to bring in bids in the low end," said Councilwoman Marianne Clattenburg.

But council members Bill Cox and Frank Ferrando protested that the city doesn't have any business being in business and that the ice arena should be privately owned.

Issuing an RFP doesn't guarantee the city will sell the facility.  Some minimum requirements would need to be met by the successful bidding, including a minimum price.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009 at 12:59 am

Council gets testy -- wants quick action on ordinance to clean up properties

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, neighborhood improvement

bob bialkowski.jpgWhen Batavia City Manager Jason Molino suggested Monday night that an ordinance proposed by the Neighborhood Improvement Committee to force landlords to better maintain their properties couldn't be quickly implemented, he found stiff opposition from council members who are tired of repeated constituent complaints about poorly maintained properties.

"We can't have any more bull," said Councilwoman Rose Mary Christian. "We can't push this aside any longer."

Some council members wanted Molino and his staff to act on the proposal within 30 to 90 days, even though the NIC's request gives the council until the end of the year to implement a new ordinance.

"This is not a turnkey piece of legislation," Molino said. "There is a lot of staff impact."

The proposed legislation would require city staff to inspect every rental property every 36 months, and every owner-occupied home each time it is sold. Once inspection requirements were met, a Certificate of Occupancy would be issued.

Items that could be inspected would include smoke alarms, CO2 detectors, plumbing fixtures, heating, appliances, wiring, safe exits and that the exterior is safe and sanitary.

Additionally, landlords would be required to register tenants with the city and ensure an agent of the property resided in Genesee County.

Molino maintained that it would take a good deal of research and study to determine the impacts on city resources, and whether additional resources would be needed.

Every council member spoke to the need for quick action to deal with a long festering issue in the city, but Councilman Frank Ferrando pointed out that NIC requested a deadline for action that might allow Molino enough time for research and ensure a new ordinance could be brought forward in a reasonable amount of time.

NIC requested that the council vote on a new ordinance by the end of the year.

"Let's follow the recommendation of the committee and give Jason and his staff the time necessary to do it right," Ferrando said.

After a bit more debate, the council agreed to instruct City Attorney George Van Nest and Molino time to figure out the impacts, write the proposed law -- which could include implementing the proposal in stages, such as tenant registration first, and annual inspections later -- and bring back a recommendation to the Council before current terms that expire this year end.

Pictured: Bob Bialkowski, who initially raised the idea of the proposed ordinance with NIC.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009 at 12:10 am

Revised ordinance could land weed scofflaws in jail for 15 days or more

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, weed abatement

Time to start cutting or poisoning those weeds and cleaning up that debris on your property Mr. Slumlord or absentee land owner or other property owner who just simply neglects to maintain your land in accordance with City of Batavia standards.

The standards -- especially as pertains to weeds and debris -- are clearly spelled out in section 96 of the city municipal code.

The only difference is, after a vote of the City Council Monday night, the fines are a little stiffer, and if you persist and don't pay your fines, you could find yourself in Batavia City Court and possibly in jail.

The new enforcement mechanism calls for a $250 fine plus the expense of cleaning up the mess for those land owners who fail to cut or remove weeds as well as debris.

If the fines go unpaid or the problem uncorrected, tickets could be issued, which then require the land owner to appear in court. The potential penalty there is 15 days in jail for each separate offense -- the kicker is, each day of non-compliance is a separate offense.

So you need to ask yourself, how many days do you want to spend in jail?

Monday, July 13, 2009 at 11:36 pm

Enthusiasm for volunteer firefighters wanes among council members

rose mary Christian.jpgWe need to check -- Has Adam Miller started selling backpedals?  It seems so. A few were put in use at tonight's Batavia City Council meeting.

Suddenly, the idea of taking a good hard look at converting the Batavia Fire Department to an all volunteer force doesn't seem as attractive to as many council members as it did May 26, when City Council President Charlie Mallow raised the issue in a fiery speech about the high cost of the current paid-professional service.

At that meeting, council members Marianne Clattenburg, Bill Cox, Bob Bialkowski and Rose Mary Christian all expressed support for looking more closely at the idea, with Clattenburg endorsing Mallow's call to arms with a hearty, "here, here."

Tonight, only Mallow kept the flame lit.

"I could foresee a problem with volunteers because of all the tall structures we have in the city," said Clattenburg. "I have real concerns if something disastrous happens."

clattenburg.jpgClattenburg said what she really meant at the previous meeting is that there should be some study on how the city can save money on fire service, such as looking at what cities of similar size as Batavia, with similar structures, do for fire service and how they keep costs down.

Christian, who wasn't quite as vocal in her support of Mallow's proposal in May, was more adamant in her opposition tonight to the idea of switching to an all volunteer force.

Christian made the repeated point -- disputed by Mallow -- that only paid professional fire fighters are trained in how to clear a building in an emergency, that volunteers are not allowed to get evacuation training.

"400 Towers is in my ward, and we have hospitals in the other wards," Christian said. "When you can prove to me that they have the training, then I can agree with it. Until then, I can't."

Christian also raised concerns about how quickly volunteers would respond, noting that current fire personnel can respond to an emergency anywhere in the city within three minutes.

When Bialkowski suggested that the City Council set some goals for what it hopes to accomplish with a reconsideration of the fire service, Christian interjected, "Goals are about money, and my goals are safety.  Money isn't always an issue."

And the theme was set for the discussion: This isn't all about money. We need to consider the safety issues as well.

"When we had that fire at Christina's, if not for the immediate response of the fire department, that whole block could have gone down," said Councilman Frank Ferrando.

Mallow reminded council members that terms of the current union agreement doesn't necessarily put safety first. Before any volunteer firefighter can be dispatched to a fire in the City of Batavia, all paid personnel must be called in, even if it means overtime.

"If we're going to talk about safety, let's really talk about safety," Mallow said. "Let's talk about these restrictions."

Mallow also said that there are bigger cities in New York, with bigger structures, that have all-volunteer fire departments.

"Just because we've always done it this way in Batavia doesn't make it right," Mallow said.

Council members are going to form a subcommittee to further study cost saving measures, including potentially coming up with a scheme to include volunteers with paid staff in a single department.

Christian (pictured top in file photo) is a candidate for a seat on the County Legislature and Clattenburg (file photo) is looking to move up from her Ward 2 council seat to a Council At Large seat.

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