Quantcast
Skip to main content
Friday, December 6, 2013 at 1:17 pm

Two people were injured Wednesday in collision on Route 63

post by Howard B. Owens in accident, Bethany

A driver reportedly over corrected after her passenger side tires left the roadway on Route 63 on Wednesday, leading to an accident that injured two people.

The accident was reported at 2:23 p.m. Wednesday in the area of 5647 Ellicott Street Road, Bethany.

Isabel E.Cicero, 86, of Main Street, Leicester, was driving a 2011 Mercury sedan east on Route 63 when her vehicle left the roadway.

Aaron M. Titus, 40, of Wyoming Road, Wyoming, was behind another vehicle in the eastbound lane.

The first vehicle was able to pull to the shoulder and avoid a collision with Cicero, but Titus apparently could not.

Neither Cicero nor Titus were seriously injured.

Cicero was issued a citation for alleged failure to move safely from lane.

The accident was investigated by Deputy Andrew Hale.

(Initial Report)

Wednesday, December 4, 2013 at 3:34 pm

Two-car accident reported on Ellicott Street Road, Bethany

post by Howard B. Owens in accident, Bethany

A two-car accident with injuries is reported at 5647 Ellicott Street Road, Bethany.

Bethany and Stafford fire departments are both dispatched along with Mercy EMS.

There was initially a report of a vehicle fire, but the first responder says there is no fire and possibly only minor injuries.

UPDATE 2:40 p.m.: Pavilion Fire Police requested to Texaco Town to shut down traffic on Route 63.

UPDATE 3:41 p.m.: Route 63 was reopened about 20 minutes ago.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013 at 1:57 pm

No employees will be out of work in wake of devastating fire at Baskin Livestock

post by Howard B. Owens in Baskin Livestock, Bethany, business, fire

The Friday morning after a fire destroyed key components of the feed-making process at Baskin Livestock, one of Bill Baskin's newest hires walked into his office. He was certainly wondering if he still had a job starting Monday morning.

"I said, 'Joe,' " Baskin said, " 'Don't worry about it. Come here Monday. You've got a job.' "

Baskin hired two new workers last week and both, like his other 50 employees already on the Baskin payroll, all have jobs, he said. There will be no layoffs even though it will be months before the feed operation is fully operational again.

The feed portion of Baskin's business involves collecting waste from large bakeries operating throughout the Northeast, drying it (if it's not dry), separating it from packaging (if it's packaged) and grinding it into grain that can be used as feed for cows.

Baskin Livestock processes 1,500 tons of feed each week.

The company has hardly missed a beat since Thursday night's fire. Trucks keep bringing in waste product and Baskin has lined up agreements with three other similar operations to buy the waste Baskin collects and sell him back the finished feed, which he can then sell to his customers.

There's been some lost sales in the immediate aftermath of the fire, Baskin said, but the procurement side of the business has continued nonstop.

"Procurement is important because a place that is making cookies or donuts or cakes, if they can't get rid of their waste, they have to shut the plant down," Baskin said.

We may never know how the fire started.

The ignition point was somewhere in the area of the equipment that screens and separates material for feed.

"Was it in the fan, was it in the cyclone, was it in the compactor motor? I can't tell you, but that's where the fire started," Baskin said.

Ironically, Baskin was just four weeks from finishing the installation of new equipment that would have pretty muck taken the equipment where the fire started out of production.

"If that was the case (the new equipment in place), the part that failed, whatever part it was that failed, would not be in use," Baskin said.

Baskin hasn't sat down and totaled up the cost of the damage yet, he said, but it's probably approaching seven figures and could exceed a million dollars.

That doesn't count temporary lost sales and the big cut into profit margins while his feed is being processed in out-of-state plants.

The big unknown is how much damage the main building, the warehouse, sustained. It will take a battery of structural tests on the I-beams and foundation to determine if the building is still structurally sound.

"Our structural engineer who designed the building said it's all a function of how hot it got and how fast it cooled," Baskin said.

"You don't want to have a two-foot snowstorm," he added, "and have your roof sitting on your equipment."

The other irony of the fire, Baskin said, is it started in the screening area of the process, not with the burners.

The fire that severally damaged Baskin Livestock five years ago started in the burner and the current system is built with state-of-the-art fire-suppression technology.

If the burner detects even an errant spark it ejects the product being dryed onto a cement pad outside the building and the system is deluged with water.

"We've got so many safety features built in on the drying end because you figure you're running 1,400 or 1,500 degree burner to dry this feed, 25 million BTUs, with all kinds of opportunities for failure there, so everything is designed around that," Baskin said. "Then we've been running this (the screening area) for years without a problem and that's where the failure was."

Baskin had just climbed into bed when he got the call from an employee that there was a fire and when he and Susan looked out their window, they could see the glow.

Baskin jumped in his car and rushed to the plant. He immediately got an a skip loader and created a fire break in the warehouse, moving product on the floor away from the burners and the north side of the building to slow the opportunity for the fire to spread to those pieces of critical and expensive equipment.

When firefighters were on scene and had sufficient water supply, he implored them to fight an interior fight in the warehouse to keep the fire from spreading north, and the strategy appears to have worked.

Baskin is grateful for the support of so many people in the community, the close friends he and his wife, Susan Blackburn, have made in the 21 years they've lived here. He also praised the Bethany Fire Department in particular, but all of the departments that responded to the fire, for their hard work and dedication to their jobs.

Even his customers have set aside hard-nosed business negotiation to offer their support and express their desire to keep doing business with Baskin Livestock.

"The bakery people say we're glad you're OK because you're really important to us," Baskin said. "I've had customers say we can cut back a little bit but we really want to keep your product in our product flow. What can you so to help us get through until you're back full steam? It's gratifying that at the end, after you're done fighting over price, fighting over product, there's that kind of concern."

He's told his employees not to worry about their jobs, that Baskin Livestock will be a bigger and better company once the plant is fully functional again.

Baskin estimates the plant will be 75 percent operational by Christmas and up to 100 percent by March 1.

In an interview Monday, Bill Baskin was all business talking about his business, but when asked what was different or what was the same about this fire and the fire five years ago, Baskin said there was a key similarity between the two fires -- and this is when he got a tad emotional -- that nobody was hurt.

"I couldn't have been through it once, much less twice if anybody got hurt," Baskin said. "The rest of it can be replaced. It can be rebuilt and be bigger and better or whatever, but for me, that's the take home. Nobody got hurt."

Top photo: Bill Baskin, right, meeting with an insurance adjuster Monday afternoon.

Here's the slide show we published Friday morning of Thursday's fire:

Friday, November 8, 2013 at 4:05 pm

Cause of the Baskin Livestock fire not yet determined

post by Howard B. Owens in Baskin Livestock, Bethany, business, fire

There isn't much new to report from the overnight fire at Baskin Livestock in Bethany.  I was out to the property this afternoon and firefighters were on scene dealing with hotspots and flare-ups.

Bethany Fire Chief Jeff Fluker hadn't even been home since arriving on scene shortly after 11 p.m. last night. He started to leave early this morning and then there was a small fire that broke out in the cyclone (it separates packaging from discarded baked goods).

I interviewed Fluker, but my phone died in the middle of the conversation, so no direct quotes here, working off memory.

The cause of the fire has not yet been determined.

The main structure is largely intact, but it's too soon to estimate the extent of the damage and how much of the feed-processing equipment was damaged, but some of it was damaged.

We spoke about the water supply, which was definitely a problem, but for a fire this size, he said, with three ladder trucks going, even a public water supply would have a hard time keeping up. It takes 10 tanker trucks to service one ladder truck.

Friday, November 8, 2013 at 10:49 am

St. Joe's School spearheading assistance drive for Baskins after devastating fire

post by Howard B. Owens in Baskin Livestock, Bethany, St. Joe's

St. Joe's School in Batavia is organizing an assistance drive for the Baskin family following last night's massive fire at Baskin Livestock.

Electricity to the property was cut because of the fire and the school is primarily looking to make a food donation to the family, said Karen Green, principal of St. Joe's.

The daughter of Bill Baskin and Susan Blackburn attended St. Joe's.

“We are reaching out to the community to see if they can help  us in providing some food for the Baskin family," Green said. "They are without electricity, they have 100 50 employees, we would like to see if we can gather food together from area businesses and we will take them out to the Baskins around noon today.”

Green said volunteers from St. Joes would pick-up donations or donors could leave their contributions at St. Joe's at 2 Summit St. in Batavia. The school's phone number is (585) 343-6154.

Previously: Major fire causes severe damage to one of Genesee County's largest ag businesses

Friday, November 8, 2013 at 4:40 am

Major fire causes severe damage to one of Genesee County's largest ag businesses

post by Howard B. Owens in agriculture, Baskin Livestock, Bethany, business

A lack of public water along Creek Road, Town of Bethany, hampered firefighting efforts at Baskin Livestock on Thursday night after a barn fire was reported just before 11 p.m.

Bethany, Town of Batavia, Alexander and Pavilion fire departments all responded quickly after their fire tones sounded, but as the Baskin barn burned, most of the firefighters on scene could only watch while they waited for tankers to arrive and porta ponds to be erected.

Baskin is one of the largest ag-related employers in Genesee County, with more than 100 workers. The company specializes in converting waste baked goods into animal feed.

Owner Bill Baskin is popular in the local business community, beloved by his employees and was named 2011 Agriculture Business of the Year.

The fire appears to have started in a barn-like structure where trucks pull in to be loaded with feed.

The structure was completely destroyed.

While the fire spread into the adjoining production facility, it's unclear how much damage was done.

At one point during the fire fight, Baskin was pleading with fire chiefs to send in a hand-line crew through a doorway on the north side of the processing building.

"I know my building," he said. "You can save it if you send a crew in here."

It took some minutes, but crews were sent into the building through that door. The fire was pretty much stopped at that point.

Paul Kennedy, a former Dansville firefighter, was among the first people to see and report the fire. He and a friend had been out hunting when they saw the smoke.

"The heater between the two big buildings was on fire," Kennedy said. "It wasn't much at first, but it turned into something quick with the wind."

Minutes after Kennedy arrived on scene Baskin arrived, and Kennedy helped him pull trucks away from the building and close the doors on the back of the building.

Bethany Assistant Chief John Szymkowiak said a lack of water definitely played a role in making the fire harder to fight and contain.

"This fire had a big head start on us," Szymkowiak said.

This is the second major fire at Baskin Livestock in just about five years. In 2008, Baskin suffered a serious fire, but did rebuild.

Fire companies from five counties -- Genesee, Livingston, Orleans, Wyoming and Monroe -- responded to the fire or provided fill-in support at local fire halls. All but three departments in Genesee County -- Alabama, Pemborke and Indian Falls -- responded to the fire scene.

Ladder trucks for the town and City of Batavia along with Le Roy helped fight the fire.

The cause of the fire has yet to be determined.

UPDATE Friday 9:07 a.m.: Bethany Fire is dispatched to Baskin Livestock for a cyclone fire.

UPDATE 10:29 a.m.: The fire was put out about 20 minutes ago but they are still working on dousing some hot spots.

UPDATE 11:33 a.m.: Mutual aid is called from Town of Batavia Fire Department to assist Bethany in fighting a sawdust fire in the rafters of a structure.

UPDATE 11:40 a.m.: A tanker from Attica is called to respond.

UPDATE 11:52 a.m.: A tanker from Stafford is requested.

UPDATE 12 p.m.: Aid from Alexander is requested.

(Initial Report)

Bill Baskin pleading with firefighters to use a hand-line crew on the north side of the building.

Baskin, far right, and an employee showing a chief the situation inside a doorway on the northside of the building.

Perhaps one of the largest porta pond operations ever assembled for a fire in Genesee County.

Friday, November 8, 2013 at 12:05 am

Structure fire at 9778 Creek Road, Bethany

post by Billie Owens in batavia, Bethany, fire

A fully involved structure fire is reported at 9778 Creek Road in Bethany. Bethany and Town of Batavia fire departments are responding. It is near Putnam Road.

UPDATE 11:07 p.m.: Mutual aid is called from Byron, Alexander, Pavilion, Stafford, the City Fast Team, and others.

UPDATE 11:30 p.m.: Calls are out for East Pembroke, Le Roy, and Elba.

UPDATE 11:34 p.m.: A tanker from York is called to the scene and an engine from there to the Bethany hall, along with the same equipment from Caledonia. National Grid is notified about power lines at the site and there's a 15-20 minute ETA.

UPDATE 11:45 p.m.: The lack of public water is hampering the firefighting efforts at Baskin Farms and the main structure(s) on the property are in peril. South Byron is also on scene and National Grid has arrived.

UPDATE 12:24 a.m.: Oakfield is at Town of Batavia Fire Hall filling in. National Grid has cut all power to the grounds. A tanker out of Gainsville, Wyoming County, is called to the scene.

UPDATE 12:27 a.m.: The mandate -- more tankers, more water, more tankers, more water.

UPDATE 12:34 a.m.: Mutual aid from Perry Center is requested to fill in at Pavilion's fire hall.

UPDATE 12:36 a.m.: Equipment from Perry Barre is called to stand by in Elba.

UPDATE 12:38 a.m: Equipment from Clarendon is requested to fill in in Byron.

UPDATE 1:45 a.m. (by Howard): The fire is largely knocked down. A firefighter reports that there are no flames showing at this time. There's still lots of smoke. It's hard to say at this point how much of the main feed processing facility was saved.

UPDATE 2:12 a.m.: Bethany command reports the fire is out. Overhaul starting. Tankers will start breaking down.

UPDATE 2:26 a.m.: South Byron, the first company to be released from the scene.

Saturday, November 2, 2013 at 10:41 pm

Photo: Fall at Genesee County Park pond

post by Howard B. Owens in Bethany, Genesee County Park

Dylan Brew sent in this photo from Genesee County Park.

Saturday, November 2, 2013 at 9:47 am

Letter: Douglas family thanks community for saving their house from DOT wrecking ball

post by Howard B. Owens in Bethany, Suicide Corners

Letter:

The unbelievable has happened! The Roundabout for East Rd. and Rt. 20 in Bethany is officially cancelled. The DOT has withdrawn the plans for the roundabout and went with what the public wanted, a more practical, fiscally responsible and incremental approach.

Debbie and I wish to whole heartedly thank all of our family, friends, neighbors, strangers, officials and the media who supported us during the past 5 years as we opposed this project and fought to save our home.

Thanks to the almost 10 thousand people who signed our petitions or the facebook page to support our effort.

Thank you to Senator Michael Ranzenhofer & Assemblyman Steve Hawley, who with NYS DOT representatives Eric Thompson and Kevin Bush crafted a compromise to benefit the public. I think Washington could learn a lesson here.

Thank you to Genesee County Legislators and all of the other County officials who, with the Town of Bethany Supervisor and Town Board members would not let our fight die and kept the pressure on.

We wish to extend a special thank you to Jamie McClurg for creating “Save the Douglas House” Facebook page.

Again, a thousand thank yous to all for your help in saving our 200 yr old home while still improving the safety of the intersection. We are so grateful for all the support we have received.

Sincerely
Tom and Debbie Douglas
 

Wednesday, October 30, 2013 at 3:15 pm

Breaking: DOT cancels plans to build roundabout at Suicide Corners

post by Howard B. Owens in Bethany, Suicide Corners

A group of local officials met with staff members of the NYS Department of Transportation in Bethany today and learned the state is dropping plans to turn Suicide Corners -- the intersection of Route 20 and East Road -- in Bethany into a roundabout.

Tom and Debbie Douglas would have lost their home -- a former hotel more than 200 years old -- if the state had gone forward with building a roundabout.

Tom Douglas called The Batavian after the meeting, ecstatic to learn he and his wife  won't lose their home, which they've put so much time and effort into restoring.

"I'm really amazed," Douglas said.

He said the DOT will release a formal announcement today.

The new plan is apparently to increase signage and lighting at the intersection.

Legislator Esther Leadley said she spearheaded bringing today's meeting together to lobby one last time against the roundabout, but gave a lot of credit for bringing things together to Legislature Chair Mary Pat Hancock.

"Mary Pat's got a lot of clout," Leadley said.

Both Douglas and Leadley expressed a sense of surprise that the state actually listened to the concerns of Bethany residents.

"I have represented the folks in Bethany and all those who drive along Route 20 and I'm pleased that it's worked out this way," Leadley said. "I have problems with people who, or who at least I think, don't hear. They call a hearing and it's just kind of whistling Dixie. Very clear, though they conveyed at the hearing that they were not listening to us, in fact they did listen. I'm delighted. I'm happy for Bethany."

UPDATE: Press release from the DOT:

The New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT) today announced it will enhance signage as part of safety improvements at Route 20 and East Road in Bethany, Genesee County.

In response to public comments, agency officials have decided not to construct a roundabout there. They met with community leaders today to discuss the decision and next steps.

NYSDOT originally proposed a roundabout to reduce the frequency and severity of motor vehicle accidents at this intersection. After receiving comments from local residents and community leaders, NYSDOT is developing a new plan that will include enhancing approach signs that warn drivers of the stop signs on East Road.

“This project is a great example of how public involvement works,” NYSDOT Regional Director Bob Traver said. “We informed the community about this intersection and our recommended improvements. In response, the public commented and drove our decision to change our plan.”

NYSDOT presented the safety needs and a recommended solution to the community at a public hearing on Sept. 12 at the Bethany Town Hall. Information was also available online at www.dot.ny.gov/20eastroad

NYSDOT will continue to emphasize the importance of motorists to follow the rules of the road when approaching all intersections. Motorists should not drive distracted or under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

UPDATE: Assemblyman Steve Hawley called and said that he and Sen. Ranzenhofer also lobbied the DOT to change its position on the roundabout.

"We didn't think that it was A, something that was going to work, and B, the cost of the project was onerous and expensive, and C, the taking of a house that old was objectionable, and D, the board and town residents had been quite clear about their concerns," Hawley said.

Hawley said his office became involved in the issue in the fall of 2012, when it was clear that redistricting was going to put Bethany in his district.

"There were many people working on this. DOT has listened and has done the right thing," Hawley said.

Premium Drupal Themes