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Wednesday, January 15, 2014 at 6:27 am

Three-car accident reported on Route 63 near East Road, Bethany

post by Howard B. Owens in accident, Bethany

A three-car, head-on accident is reported on Route 63 near East Road, Bethany.

Injuries are reportedly minor, with one person complaining of hip pain and another with a leg injury.

Bethany fire and Mercy EMS responding.

UPDATE 6:28 a.m.: Traffic is being shut down at Transit and East roads.

UPDATE 6:33 a.m.: A deputy on scene says just two vehicles are involved.

UPDATE 6:58 a.m.: Patient number one has been extricated.

Sunday, December 22, 2013 at 4:56 am

More than 2,100 residents east of Batavia without power

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Bethany, Stafford, weather

More than 2,100 National Grid customers are without power and have been since about 2 a.m.

Freezing rain apparently caused some transformer issues.

The outage area is triangle-shaped with the western tip near Clinton Street Road just north of East Main Street and spreading east nearly to Le Roy with the northern boundary just north of the Thruway and southern edge running along Route 63 to East Bethany.

National Grid expects power to be restored by 5:30 a.m.

UPDATE 5:17 a.m.: Earlier this morning, the power outage affected 4,538 customers. And, emergency dispatchers are aware there are people in the county without power. No, they can't help you get your power restored. It's best to restrict calls to dispatchers in situations like this to actual emergencies or others calls for service.

UPDATE 5:50 a.m.: There are multiple reports throughout the county of wires down, wires arcing and flooded basements. Town of Batavia's chief has requested all available manpower to the two fire halls to be ready for new incoming calls.

UPDATE 10:35 a.m.: There are at least a dozen power outage areas in Genesee County. The two largest at the moment are in the Elba area, with 317 customers without power. Power has been out since 4:49 a.m. and a repair crew is not yet assigned to the outage. In Bergen, 1,060 customers are without power. The outage started at 7:04 a.m. and there's no ETA for repairs. Fire departments from throughout the county are still handling calls for power lines down, trees down and cellar pump details.

UPDATE 12:19 p.m.: The largest power outage reported in the county now is in the Byron area, 838 customers. Power reported out at 5:01 a.m. A repair crew is assigned. No ETA for repairs.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013 at 10:16 am

Truck driver lost control on icy road on Route 63 in Monday morning accident

post by Howard B. Owens in accident, Bethany

A semi-truck driver hit an icy patch on Route 63 near Transit Road early Monday morning causing the truck to leave the roadway, strike a utility pole and overturn.

The driver, Benito A. Taveras Fernandez, 43, of North Bergen, was transported to Strong Memorial Hospital.

Taveras Fernandez was driving a 2004 Freightliner northbound at 3:42 a.m.

The accident was investigated by Deputy Matthew Fleming.

(Initial Report)

Monday, December 9, 2013 at 10:36 am

Law and Order: Alleged drunken driver accused of hitting two parked cars at Batavia Downs

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Bethany, crime, elba, Le Roy

Pamela Morrow, 53, of Linwood Road, Le Roy, is charged with DWI, driving with a BAC of .08 or greater and leaving the scene of a property damage accident. At 8:35 p.m., Sunday, Sheriff's Dispatch received reports of an erratic driver heading west on Route 5 through the City of Batavia. The car reportedly moved right several times and struck curbing. A witness reported the car turning left on Park Road about the time Sgt. Ron Meides was leaving the Sheriff's Office complex, though Meides did not see the vehicle. The car proceeded to the Batavia Downs parking lot where Meides located the car a short time later. Two witnesses told Meides that they had seen the car strike two parked vehicles before parking. Meides located Morrow inside Batavia Downs and brought her back to the car.

Frank Lynn Morrison, 32, of Bridge Road, Elba, is charged with sexual abuse, 2nd, and endangering the welfare of a child. Morrison is accused of subjecting a female child under age 14 to sexual contact. Morrison was jailed on $15,000 bail.

Lorraine Ellen Pillo, 48, of Summit Street, Batavia, is charged with petit larceny. Pillo is accused of shoplifting from Walmart.

Marion Jermaine Spivey, 31, of Elmhurst Place, Buffalo, is charged with harassment, 2nd. Spivey is accused of punching another person in the face while at the Clarion Hotel in Batavia at 6 p.m., Nov. 30.

Kevin J. Compton, 52, of Clipnock Road, East Bethany, is charged with resisting arrest and harassment, 2nd. Compton was arrested by State Police for an alleged incident reported at 4:56 p.m., Nov. 24. No further details released.

Monday, December 9, 2013 at 4:10 am

Big rig rollover at Texaco Town, driver trapped in cab

post by Billie Owens in accidents, Bethany, Pavilion

A tractor-trailer accident is reported in Texaco Town. The driver is semiconscious and has an arm injury. He needs to be extricated. They need a small ladder to get up to the cab and pop the door open. The roadway is "extremely slick." Fuel is leaking; the product being hauled is unknown.

Sheriff's deputies are on scene along with Pavilion fire and Mercy medics. The junction of routes 20 and 63 will be closed; Bethany fire is asked to shut down southbound East Road at Route 63. As in several places in the county, highway maintenance crews are requested to salt the roads ... "It is nothing but a skating rink..."

Friday, December 6, 2013 at 12:17 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 2:34 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 12:57 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 3:05 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 9:49 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

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