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Saturday, May 10, 2014 at 9:20 am

Clarification: Part of Bethany home owner's complaint is that town pumped water onto his property

post by Howard B. Owens in Bethany

In our story Thursday about Jerald Shea and the winter flooding of his property, we failed to clearly state that part of Mr. Shea's complaint is that the town pumped water onto his property.

Mr. Shea feels this is a significant action by the town that contributed to the damage to his house.

Bethany Highway Superintendent Paul Fleming confirmed the town did pump the water, however, it was to prevent Paradise Road from flooding. The drainage pipe under Paradise Road was frozen solid, Fleming said, so instead of the water flowing under the road as it normally would, it flowed over the road. Either way, Fleming said, the water would flow south to north onto Mr. Shea's property.

Friday, May 9, 2014 at 8:02 pm

GCC photography students display environmental portraits at Interpretive Center in Bethany

post by Howard B. Owens in Bethany, GCC, Interpretive Center

Photography students at Genesee Community College have created a series of photographs called "environmental portraits." The photos are currently on display at Genesee County Park and Forest Interpretive Center in Bethany. Above, students Jason Dieter and Lynn Homer hold examples of their work during a reception held this evening.

The students were assigned to photograph a subject in an environment that helped illuminate that subject's life and surroundings.

"Creating a portrait of a subject in its natural surroundings adds elements to their character, and therefore portrays the essence of their personality, rather than merely a likeness of their physical features," said instructor Joe Ziolkowski. 

The works will be on display through August.

Friday, May 9, 2014 at 7:55 pm

Photos: Bethany Center Bridge suffers more visible damage over the winter

post by Howard B. Owens in Bethany, bethany center bridge, infrastructure

A lot of snow and ice meant a lot of salt use on roadways this winter, and the nearly century-old Bethany Center Bridge over Route 20 didn't fare well.

The damage is said to be cosmetic, but the sidewalk is chewed up enough that the State Department of Transportation posted a sign and put up barricades closing the bridge to pedestrian traffic.

The bridge isn't scheduled for replacement until next year at the earliest and a spokeswoman for the DOT was out of the office this afternoon and said she couldn't provide immediate information on the bridge's current status.

We also spoke with County Highway Superintendent Tim Hens. He also wasn't in his office at the time and couldn't double-check the paperwork, but said he wasn't aware of any change in plans.

Hens said he doesn't believe the bridge is in any danger of falling down.

Thursday, May 8, 2014 at 6:40 pm

Winter storms caused flooding and property damage for Bethany homeowner on fixed income

post by Howard B. Owens in Bethany

Jerald Shea would sure like the Town of Bethany to do something about the way his property floods and the damage flooding did to his house this winter.

To the degree the town has a position on the issue, it's that the problem wasn't created by the town.

Shea bought his house at the corner of Bethany Center Road and Paradise Road four years ago.

A retired truck driver, he suffered back and neck injuries when his truck was rear-ended while he was driving through North Carolina a few years ago. He was living in a retirement home in Oakfield when he was awarded custody of his teenage granddaughter (since moved from his house), so he used his insurance settlement money and bought the house in Bethany.

What he didn't know or didn't notice was that his property is lower than the parcel on the south side of Paradise Road. That parcel is a bit of a swamp and there's a small culvert under Paradise Road that drains the swamp into Shea's back yard.

He wasn't happy when he figured that out and asked the town for help, but it wasn't a big issue until this winter when frozen ground topped with heavy precipitation caused his yard to fill with two or three feet of water.

The cement foundation of his house raised two or three inches, causing some damage to the building (no known structural damage).  

"I've always had problems with this, but I could live with it," Shea said. "If I had to flush the toilet, I could just use a pail of water if I had to, but now, (geez), I'm telling you. It seems like nobody (cares) because every time I talk to anybody all I get is I'm not going to get involved because of politics. What the hell is so big about this town that they've got to be afraid of politics?"

There's evidence of the exterior of the house being damaged along the north exterior wall, with faux brick popping off in places. The paneling in a back room has warped and some of it has popped off, exposing framing and insulation. His septic system is damaged, he said, and muddy, dirty water backs up into his bathtub.

Shea always had problems with his yard filling with water, but his house was largely undamaged from flooding until this winter.

The town is in a bit of a transition right now. Supervisor Louis Gayton died April 14 and that has left things a bit unsettled.

In fact, Shea believes Gayton promised him two days before he died that the town would fill in his back yard and make it less susceptible to flooding. 

Town Highway Superintendent Paul Fleming said he doesn't see the town giving Shea dirt and rock for his yard. That just isn't something towns do.

As far as Fleming knows, the culvert under Paradise Road has been there for 50 years, and probably a lot longer. 

The problems Shea is having with his property aren't from "anything abnormal the town did," Fleming said.

Fleming said years ago the property wasn't residential. It was a mechanic's shop. Some of the structures on the property could be more than 100 years old.

In our short talk today, he wasn't really sure what if anything the town should or could do for Shea.

Shea said he's on fixed income -- $1,000 a month -- and though his home is paid for, he doesn't have the means to move or fix the damage that's been done.

"I didn't know about this when I bought the house or things would have been very different," Shea said.

When the foundation of the house rose, the siding of the house pushed down on a pair of yard tools Shea had leaning against the house, causing small indents in the siding.

Photo provided Jerald Shea he took in February showing a portion of his back yard flooded.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014 at 1:42 pm

Bethany Republican Committee seeks candidates for town supervisor and board member

post by Billie Owens in announcements, Bethany

The Town of Bethany Republican Committee seeks candidates for their endorsement meeting on at 6 p.m. on Monday, May 12, in the Bethany Town Hall. Candidates are sought for town supervisor and town board member.

Interested candidates please contact Chairman Gregg Torrey by Friday, May 9.

<[email protected]> or call 585-507-8139

 

Friday, April 25, 2014 at 3:14 pm

Car vs. pole accident with injuries in Bethany

post by Billie Owens in accidents, Bethany

A car into pole accident, with injuries, is reported at 10661 East Bethany Road. Bethany fire and rescue on scene.

UPDATE 3:27 p.m.: Bethany ambulance is transporting a patient to the hospital in Warsaw. Other units are returning to service.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014 at 3:49 pm

Helmet and coat stolen from mourning display for Louie Gayton at Bethany fire station

post by Billie Owens in Bethany

A cherished tradition among firefighters is honoring a departed comrade by flying mourning flags on each side of the fire station and displaying a helmet and turnout coat on a folding chair, with a set of boots in front.

And so it was after the unexpected death Monday, April 14, of Bethany Town Supervisor Louis J. Gayton, whose dedicated service to his community was well known and respected. It included more than 50 years as a volunteer firefighter.

The loss of Louie, who was 75, is deeply felt, not only by family and friends, but also many residents in Bethany and the entire firefighting community.

Now there is a lot of outrage, too.

Outrage that someone stole the helmet and the turnout coat from Mr. Gayton's mourning display. (The chair and boots were left there.)

The theft was discovered at about 8 o'clock the next day, Tuesday, and subsequently reported to law enforcement by Bethany Assistant Chief Jeff Fluker. (The chief is out of town for two weeks.)

No suspects as of yet.

The dollar value is estimated to be $350. But you can't really put a price on a gesture of bereavement.

"I've never heard of these items being stolen before," said a dumbfounded Deputy Sheriff Gordon Dibble. "It's a respect thing. I liken it to tipping over gravestones."

Monday, April 14, 2014 at 10:58 pm

Town of Bethany set to sell old Town Hall to Landmark Society of WNY

post by Howard B. Owens in Bethany

After many years of trying to find a proper use or proper buyer for its old Town Hall -- built in 1836 -- the Town of Bethany is prepared to transfer the property to the Landmark Society of Western New York on a $10 purchase price.

The board passed a resolution 4-0 Monday night that will help make transfer of the property to the society.

Officials hope the Landmark Society of WNY is better suited and will have better luck finding a buyer who will preserve the historical character of the building.

Monday, April 14, 2014 at 10:43 pm

A sad day in Bethany after passing of Supervisor Louis Gayton

post by Howard B. Owens in Bethany

People in Bethany are mourning tonight following the unexpected death of Town Supervisor Louis J. Gayton.

News of Gayton's death spread shortly after volunteer firefighters and medics were dispatched this morning to his home on a report of a 79-year-old unresponsive male.

Town Clerk Debbie Douglas heard the call on the radio and couldn't believe it.

"He worked hard and he did a lot for this town that people will never know," Douglas said. "He was an awesome guy."

The town board had a regularly scheduled meeting tonight and met as planned. Deputy Supervisor Walter Wenhold opened the meeting with a moment of silence and a short prayer.

Afterward, board members remembered Gayton fondly and said he was a great supervisor for Bethany.

"I think Louis was a very compassionate type of guy," Sue Neer said. "He always listened to everybody. He never came out with an opinion and said, 'This is it. We're not going to talk about it.' He listened and listened and listened and wanted everybody's opinion, then he formed his decision."

Ed Pietrzykowski said Gayton pulled the town through some tough times, particularly when he took over as supervisor around 2005 when the fight was on over windmills in the town.

"It was a hard time and it was hard on him," Pietrzykowski.

But he always kept his cool, Wenhold said.

"He was always cheerful," Wenhold said. "I never seen him get crossed, no matter what happened."

Paul Fleming said, "He liked helping the people of the community. He cared about the community."

Most recently, Gayton was a big proponent of public water for Bethany and Gayton was pushing hard to make it happen for the town's 1,800 residents.

"The town has no industry and he always said, 'if you want industry you've got to have public water," recalled Pietrzykowski.

His obituary hasn't been released yet, so biographical details are scarce, but people who knew him said he came to Bethany nearly 50 years ago from Perry, where he still has family.

He was a member of the Bethany Volunteer Fire Department from the 1960s and served as chief around 1988. He was highway superintendent for a number of years before becoming supervisor.

Wayne Walker, also a former Bethany chief in the 1980s and volunteer going back to the 1960s, was at the fire hall tonight and recalled Gayton as a man dedicated to his community who would do anything to help people.

"He wanted to be there for people," Walker said. "He was the same way as highway superintendent. If people needed something he was there to help."

We happened to talk on the phone with former Elba Town Supervisor Lucine Kauffman tonight and she recalled Gayton as one of her favorite people to run into at GAM meetings.

"He was one of those guys who always had a smile on his face," Kauffman said.

Gayton did a lot for the Town of Bethany, Douglas said, but his biggest contribution was putting the town on a strong financial footing.

"He put this town in a fantastic financial situation," Douglas said. "We've had no debt to speak of. We pay off everything in cash. He did a great job with our finances and I think that's very important in this day and age."

Douglas teared up more than once while talking about Gayton, saying she would miss him terribly.

"This town is like family, which is why we all get along so well and we work together so well and he's a family member who's gone," Douglas said.

Thursday, April 10, 2014 at 12:08 pm

Rollover accident with injuries on Ellicott Street Road, Bethany

post by Billie Owens in accidents, Bethany

A rollover accident with injuries is reported at 5461 Ellicott Street Road in the Town of Bethany. Bethany and Stafford fire departments are responding. The location is between Mayne and Clapsaddle roads.

UPDATE 12:11 p.m.: Law enforcement is on scene and reports there are no injuries.

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