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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

Friday, November 8, 2013 at 3:40 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.

Thursday, November 7, 2013 at 11:05 pm

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 9:41 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 8:47 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 2:15 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.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013 at 1:31 pm

Possible house fire on Telephone Road, Pavilion

post by Billie Owens in batavia, alexander, Bethany, fire, Le Roy, Pavilion, Stafford

A possible house fire is reported at 7635 Telephone Road. The homeowner called dispatch and said the house was full of smoke. Pavilion Fire Department is responding along with mutual aid from Le Roy. The location is between South Street Road and Asbury Road.

UPDATE 2:34 p.m.: The first responder says "I've got a lot of smoke." A second platoon is called.

UPDATE 2:35 p.m.: Mercy medics are also called along with mutual aid from Stafford, which is sending a tanker to the scene and a fill-in crew at Pavilion Fire Hall. The occupants are out of the home. The first floor is fully involved.

UPDATE 2:43 p.m.: Bethany is responding, too. National Grid is called. A power line is down and dangerously close to firefighters -- "about five feet away."

UPDATE 2:50 p.m.: Bergen is called as well as Town of Batavia. Caledonia, which is to fill in for Le Roy, will also be asked to help access or set up apparatus to aid the firefighters.

UPDATE 2:53 p.m.: National Grid is asked to expedite the response because "there are power lines down all over the place.

UPDATE 2:56 p.m.: National Grid has a 15-minute ETA. Firefighters can't access part of the structure until power is shut off. "There's a power line right in front of it, can't access the east side at all."

UPDATE 3:01 p.m.: National Grid is on scene.

UPDATE 3:04 p.m.: Wyoming County dispatched Perry to the scene. The power is cut off.

UPDATE 3:10 p.m.: Firefighters are told there is gunpowder inside the home along with guns and propane cylinders.

UPDATE 3:21 p.m.: Alexander is on scene.

UPDATE 3:41 p.m.: The American Red Cross is called to provide emergency assistance to one adult. Churchville is called to fill in at Le Roy's Fire Hall.

UPDATE 4:12 p.m.: Inmates from the Wyoming Correctional Facility are being transported to the scene to help.

UPDATE 4:20 p.m.: Brothers James Lawrence Bearce and Kenneth Vincent Bearce lived in the house, along with a couple of dogs, which they saved. Along with brother Jack, they were traveling musicians years ago and had a recording studio in the structure. Ken said he's not sure how much of their inventory of recording tapes are salvageable, ditto for tools that were kept in the basement.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013 at 8:24 pm

Photos: A morning and afternoon drive through Bethany

post by Howard B. Owens in Bethany, photos

Slow news day. I had some business to conduct in Le Roy this morning, so naturally I took just about the longest route I could without leaving Genesee County. That took me through Bethany. In the afternoon, I was going to cover a story in Pavilion, but that didn't pan out, and as the late afternoon sun bent toward the West, I found myself again in Bethany.

Above, telephone poles on Brown Road.

Again, on Brown Road.

From Brown Road.

Jerico Road and East Road.

East Bethany Le Roy Road.

The Little Tonawanda off Mill Road, Linden.

I was fascinated by this large leaf I found on the ground next to the Little Tonawanda. I brought it home to Billie.

A little flower by the roadside of Mill Road.

Friday, September 27, 2013 at 9:58 am

Photo: Old truck next to cornfield

post by Howard B. Owens in Bethany

Well, the morning started out nice. Then the sun disappeared. Here's a picture from Cook Road, Bethany, from my short drive this morning.

Friday, September 20, 2013 at 7:40 am

Law and Order: Another shoplifting arrest at Kmart

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, alexander, Bethany, crime

Tracy Lynn Damato, 47, of Horsehoe Lake Road, Batavia, is charged with petit larceny. Damato is accused of stealing $19.99 in merchandise from Kmart.

Jordon Elizabeth Prescott, 19, of Ellicott Street Road, Bethany, is charged with criminal trespass, 3rd, and criminal contempt, 2nd. Prescott is accused of being at College Village after being barred from the property. She is accused of violating an order of protection by coming into contact with the security guard that was on duty at College Village.

Travis S. Bartz, 37, of Alexander, is charged with a violation of probation and criminal contempt, 2nd. Bartz was allegedly located at a residence on Route 98, Town of Attica, Wyoming County, by State Police in violation of probation conditions and a current stay-away order of protection.

Kimberley A. Smith, 36, of Alexander, is charged with felony DWI, felony driving with a BAC of .08 or higher and failure to stop at stop sign. Smith was arrested at 6:27 p.m. Wednesday on Brookville Road, Alexander, by State Police. Following her arrest, she was released to a third party.

Lamar Iteef Randall, 28, of Spruce Avenue, Rochester, is charged with criminal possession of a controlled substance, 5th. Randall was arrested on a warrant out of Stafford Town Court upon his release from Monroe County Jail where he was being held on an unrelated charged. He was jailed on $5,000 bail.

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