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Friday, August 26, 2011 at 5:44 pm

Police Beat: Le Roy resident accused of two 'Leandra's Law' violations

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

Sara K.L. McCabe, 26, of Lincoln Avenue, Le Roy, is charged with felony DWI, aggravated DWI (children under age 15 in the car), driving without an interlock device and consumption of alcohol in a motor vehicle. McCabe was stopped by Le Roy Police on Thursday after a witness complained of seeing a person in a car consuming alcohol. McCabe was jailed on $10,000 bail.

Geoffrey Charles Saxton, 28, of North Byron Road, Elba, is charged with DWI, driving with a BAC of .08, failure to reduce speed and moving from lane unsafely. Saxton was charged following a one-car accident at Mullen and Morganville roads, Stafford, at 11:59 p.m., Monday.

Shuvon J. Williams, 36, of 5 Lewis Place, Batavia, and Rochelle V. Tomlin, 35, of 2 Lewis Place, Batavia, are charged with petit larceny. Both are accused of shoplifting from Tops Market on Wednesday.

Barbara Jean Alessi, 52, of Rand Street, Rochester, was arrested on a warrant stemming from a petit larceny charge. Alessi is accused of stealing from a business on Lewiston Road. She was taken into custody by the Rochester Police Department and turned over to the Genesee County Sheriff's Office.

Friday, August 26, 2011 at 5:34 pm

Batavia PD breaks up fight, looking for at least two suspects

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, crime

Batavia police are looking for two males allegedly involved in a fight behind the board of education building on Washington Avenue.

One is described as wearing a white shirt and red shorts and the other male is reportedly wearing a blue shirt and blue jeans.

The initial call had 30 people involved in the fight. When the first police car arrived on scene, everybody took off running.

Friday, August 26, 2011 at 5:24 pm

Head-on collision reported on Route 5

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, accident, east pembroke

A head-on collision, with one victim complaining of chest pain, has been reported on Route 5 at Powers Road in the Town of Batavia.

The road is blocked.

East Pembroke Fire and Mercy EMS responding.

UPDATE 6;30 p.m.: A second ambulance is requested to the scene.

Friday, August 26, 2011 at 4:12 pm

Bail remains the same for Level 3 offender charged with in new sex abuse case

post by Howard B. Owens in crime, Oakfield

A Level 3 sex offender who is accused of committing new criminal sex acts against a child was denied his request for lower bail today.

Anthony L. Nicosia Jr., 54, of Albion Road, Oakfield, is being held in the Genesee County Jail on $15,000 bail or $30,000 bond.

The bail was set in the Oakfield Town Court.

Judge Robert Noonan gave both the prosecutor and defense an opportunity to speak to the bail issue, but then seemingly cut off the discussion saying that as a matter of law, the only thing he could do at this stage of the proceedings against Nicosia is decide whether the bail set by the lower court was excessive.

It's not, Noonan ruled, and he can't lower it at this stage.

Assistant District Attorney Will Zickl argued that bail certainly shouldn't be reduced, if anything it ought to be raised.

Zickl said the alleged victim has been interviewed further since Nicosia's arrest and detailed more alleged assaults. There is the possibility, Zickl said, of further criminal charges.

It's also possible, Zickl indicated, that there may be additional victims.

Nicosia, who was arrested earlier this week and charged with criminal sex act, 3rd, forcible touching and endangering the welfare of a child, was convicted of sexual abuse in the first degree in April, 1995.

Friday, August 26, 2011 at 3:18 pm

New book highlights the famous and not so famous who have lived in or been through Genesee County

post by Howard B. Owens in books, entertainment, genesee county history

Just about everybody knows the story of the day Frank Sinatra stopped in Batavia, but what about the day Johnny Cash stopped in Corfu?

It was mid-March, 1985 and the Cash tour bus pulled into the former Super Duper and John and June loaded their carts with groceries, stopping for autographs and pictures along the way.

The story is one of hundreds reprinted in Entertaining Genesee, a new book by County Historian Susan L. Conklin (photo, right) and research assistant Judy Stiles.

The book covers Genesee County residents who sought fame and fortune on stage, screen and in music as well as recounts the famous and nearly famous who passed through the area.

It's the 11th book published by the county's history department -- each paid for by the procedes of the sale of the previous book and funds from the Genesee County Historians Society.

The book is $20 and available at the history department in the old fire house on West Main Street in the City of Batavia.

Using reprinted stories from local newspapers (mostly the Batavia Daily News), letters, telegrams and other periodicals, the book recounts local brushes with the entertainment industry.

Of course, Tom Beers and Joey Pero are in there, but so is Harry Crosby, an actor who garnered some fame in New York City in the early 20th Century, and Miss Mary M. Howard, who wrote a march played by John Philip Sousa.

There's also articles on the times Benny Goodman, Louis Armstrong and Tommy Dorsey came to Batavia. Some of the stories are of the "wish I could have been there type," such as Armstrong's appearance. Satchmo arrived late because his bus broke down, and then played for 700 fans until 5 a.m. Admission was only a buck fifty (tax included).

The next book from the history department, scheduled for 2014, will be called "Criminal Genesee."

Friday, August 26, 2011 at 12:50 pm

Photos: Bus breakdown on Main Street, Batavia

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, West Main Street

A tour bus returning from dropping off passengers at the Buffalo Airport broke down this morning on West Main Street at the intersection with Ellicott Street.

The call came in at 9:04 a.m. and the bus wasn't moved until after 11 a.m., causing a bit of a traffic jam for eastbound travelers.

The driver reportedly told Officer Eric Dibble that he was concerned the bus was experiencing mechanical difficulties, which is why he didn't drive on the Thruway back to Rochester.

No passengers were on the bus at the time of the breakdown.

Thursday, August 25, 2011 at 10:03 pm

Council approves sewer plan for agri-park that could have big benefit for city ratepayers

The plans for growth are aggressive, even lofty, according to Batavia City Manager Jason Molino, but if GCEDC is successful in building the Genesee Valley Agri-Business Park to capacity, it could be a boon for Batavia's sewer system and the ratepayers who support it.

The increase in revenue could potentially allow the city to both lower rates -- already among the lowest sewer rates in Western New York -- and fund replacement of aging sewer lines.

Even though the agri-park is in the Town of Batavia, the sewer effluent flows at some point through the city to the city-operated wastewater plant. The town pays the city a fee to ship effluent from the town to the plant. Every thousand of gallons of effluent that flows to the plant will generate $2.81 for the city. (NOTE: Paragraph re-written to clarify the agreement between the town and the city.)

It would take only one O-AT-KA Milk Products-sized plant to make a huge difference, Molino said.

"If you were to see something like another O-AT-KA come in overnight, you could see a huge benefit," Molino said.

The city manager's remarks followed a special meeting of Batavia City Council where the council unanimously approved a plan to provide sewer service to the agri-business park (Councilman Bill Cox recused himself because of a potential conflict of interest).

The development of the park received a significant boost this spring when Alpina Products agreed to build a new yogurt factory on the site. Escrow on the sale of that parcel is expected to close Monday.

The sewer agreement between the city, Town of Batavia and the Genesee County Economic Development Center is key to closing the Alpina deal. 

It calls for the GCEDC, with a contribution from O-AT-KA, to use state grants to build a sewer system for the agri-business park and the O-AT-KA facility. The system would include two new pump stations -- one within the jurisdiction of the town and the other within city limits on O-AT-KA's property. The city and town would take possession of the completed pumps and sewer lines.

Just expanding capacity for O-AT-KA is a huge benefit to the city, Molino said.

"O-AT-KA is our biggest sewer user, our biggest water user," Molino said. "It is one of the largest employers in the county. It gets a larger sewer line to discharge into, so they’re not constrained anymore and they have the opportunity to grow. That infrastructure is coming to us free, no cost to the city users. The other thing is that Ellicott Street (sewer line) is going to be open now for greater growth. So we’ve got two opportunities there."

Some of the sewer lines in Batavia are up to 50 years old. 100 years old, many more are at least 50 years old. It's infrastructure that needs to be replaced pretty soon. And while the city has one of the most aggressive capital improvement projects for its sewer and water systems in the state, there is still a huge need to move quickly to replace old lines.

"To me, that’s really exciting (if the agri-park is successful), to be able to do sewer line after sewer line project, to replace aging infrastructure," Molino said. "That's really exciting."

During the council meeting, Steve Hyde, CEO of GCEDC (inset photo), told the council that the current gravity system on the Ellicott Street line, the one currently used by O-AT-KA, can only handle 500,000 gallons per year and O-AT-KA needs significantly more capacity to grow. The expansion will give O-AT-KA up to 2.5 million gallons per year of potential flow.

He said the agreement with Alpina is a huge step forward for the project and Genesee County.

"When is the last time we saw a major manufacturer come into the greater Batavia area?" Hyde said. "Maybe 40 or 50 years? We’ve seen a lot of them move out, but not too many move in. Maybe this is the start of something good for our community."

It could also be the basis for pushing forward consolidation between the town and city, one council member observed.

The joint agreement has the Town of Batavia buying sewer capacity from the city and reselling it to agri-park tenants.

The town and the city already have a joint agreement in place for processing effluent in the city's wastewater plant, but the agri-business park highlights the difference in sewer rates between the town and the city.

The town's rate is $5.35 per thousand gallons. If the city and town consolidated, town landowners, including agri-park tenants could potentially pay the city's current retail rate of $3.14 per thousand gallons.

An agri-business park plant producing 15,000 gallons per day would save nearly $12,000 annually paying the city's rate.

Regardless of the rate paid by agri-park tenants, the effluent is all flowing to the same treatment plant, and the quality and efficiency of that plant is the main reason city rates are so low, Molino said.

"That plant is a resource that I don’t think people understand," Molino said. "It’s a special plant. It’s 350 acres. It’s one of the largest lagoon plants east of the Mississippi. It doesn’t use chemical treatment. It’s natural treatment, so there’s no chemical cost. Only four people run it, seven days a week. You find me a sewer plant that has low labor costs like that, low treatment costs -- that's why our sewer rates are some of the lowest in Western New York."

Thursday, August 25, 2011 at 8:47 pm

Photo: Foster children donate funds to Child Advocacy Center

post by Howard B. Owens in Child Advocacy Center, Kiwanis

Lawrence Friedman, president of the Batavia Kiwanis Club, accepts a $350 donation from Bleyke Culver for the Child Advocacy Center.

With some grant funding being cut, local Kiwanians have stepped in to try and fill any potential budget gap. Batavia Kiwanis set a goal of raising $100,000 for the center, which provides assistance to abused children. Other area Kiwanis clubs are being asked to raise another $50,000.

Bleyke, a 16-year-old Batavia resident, was representing the Genesee County foster care program. The county's foster care program provides a number of field trips for foster children throughout the summer.

Typically, the foster children raise funds for their own field trips, but this year, the program received an unexpected donation from a former county employee. The foster children decided to donate some of the extra money in the program to the CAC.

Thursday, August 25, 2011 at 4:19 pm

Le Roy police warn of bottle bombs on the west side of the village

post by Howard B. Owens in crime, Le Roy

Le Roy police suspect somebody has been making "bottle bombs" and letting them explode in an area on the west side of the village.

An investigation began after complaints of gunshots or fireworks heard on the west side of the village.

"Bottle bombs," also known as "works bombs," can be exceptionally dangerous and the Le Roy Police Department is looking for information to help determine who is making them.

Officials also warn residents not to approach any sports drink or 2-liter pop bottles found laying on the ground.

Touching a fully charged bomb can cause it to detonate.

Bottle bombs are made of Drano and tinfoil mixed together in a plastic bottle that is then sealed. Pressure builds up inside the bottle until it explodes. The chemicals inside become a boiling liquid that can cause severe burns and other serious physical injuries.

The bombs are not hard to make and numerous videos of homemade bombs are posted on YouTube.

If a suspected bottle bomb is found, you should move away from it and call 9-1-1 immediately.

The Le Roy Police Department advises that anyone found making these explosives may face criminal charges.

To report information about the possible manufacture of bottle bombs, call 343-5000.

Thursday, August 25, 2011 at 4:14 pm

Skinny-dipping again in the Oatka Creek

post by Billie Owens in crime, Le Roy

Apparently, Le Roy police just received a call about nude swimming in the Oatka Creek off Mill Street.

It's a complaint heard before, most recently about a month ago, according to one officer who spoke to another one about the matter over the scanner.

"I've heard it before but haven't personally seen it," the officer tells his coworker.

"Did the previous complaint involve 12- to 14-year-olds and a 16-year-old?"

At that point, the officers opted to discuss the details over the phone.

Thursday, August 25, 2011 at 3:55 pm

More information released on 9/11 exhibit at city hall

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia

Press release:

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo, the New York State Museum, and the National September 11 Memorial & Museum selected the Batavia City Centre to display one of 30 exhibitions as part of a statewide remembrance of the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

The governor’s office said, “The exhibitions will give New Yorkers a place to remember the victims of September 11th and to honor the countless heroes who came from all corners of the state to help in clean-up and recovery efforts. The exhibitions will feature historical artifacts from the collections of the State Museum and National September 11 Memorial & Museum. Many of the artifacts being exhibited have never been seen by the public.”

The exhibit at the Batavia City Centre includes a Port Authority Police Car that was recovered from the World Trade Center site. The Port Authority Police Department was the first law enforcement agency to respond to the terrorist attacks.

State Assemblyman Stephen Hawley said, “This exhibit reminds us of that tragic day and how we have been able to persevere and value the freedoms we have even more every day. I would encourage everyone to view the exhibit and remember the Americans who lost their lives on September 11, 2001."

"As the 10th anniversary of September 11th approaches, we should never forget the 3,000 lives lost in the attacks. The 9/11 Memorial Exhibition at Batavia City Hall is a fitting and appropriate tribute, not only to those lives lost but also to the many first responders from across the State who rushed to the World Trade Center to serve their county and fellow Americans," said State Senator Michael H. Ranzenhofer.

City Council President Marianne Clattenburg said, “The City of Batavia is honored to have been selected to host one of the 9/11 exhibits here at City Hall. I would like to invite every resident from Genesee County and beyond to view this important artifact, as we reflect on the 10-year anniversary of the events of September 11th."

The Batavia City Centre exhibit will be on display in the corridor near city hall now until the end of September. The City Centre hours are: 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday; 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Thursday and Friday; and 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday.

Although City Centre is closed on Sundays, it will be open on Sunday, September 11th for a remembrance ceremony. The details of the September 11th ceremony will be announced.

Thursday, August 25, 2011 at 3:52 pm

Secondary, nonemergency number at Batavia PD not working

post by Howard B. Owens in Batavia PD, police

Press release:

The Batavia Police Department dispatch office is experiencing a problem with one of the secondary nonemergency phone numbers. For police emergencies the public should call 9-1-1.

To reach police dispatch for nonemergencies, the public should call 345-6350. If a dispatcher does not answer the 345-6350 number the public can re-call 343-5000 to reach a Batavia Police dispatcher.

The administrative number for police headquarters remains the same 345-6444.

Thursday, August 25, 2011 at 3:46 pm

Bergen woman accused of slashing person's face after Rascal Flatts concert

post by Billie Owens in bergen, crime

A 33-year-old Bergen woman is charged with second-degree assault following an investigation by the Genesee County Sheriff's Office into an altercation after the Aug. 12 Rascal Flatts concert at Darien Lake.

The arrest report released today alleges that Carolyn Marie Smith, who lives on McCabe Court, was in the parking lot and struck another person in the face while holding her iPhone. This allegedly caused the victim to suffer a severe laceration.

She was arrested Wednesday and arraigned in Darien Town Court before Justice Gary Graber, then released on her own recognizance until a later court date.

The incident was investigated by Sgt. Thomas Sanfratello with the assistance of Deputy Patrick Reeves.

Thursday, August 25, 2011 at 2:06 pm

Sprinkler and water flow alarms sounding at 56 Harvester Ave. in city

post by Billie Owens in batavia

It is reported that sprinkler and water flow alarms are sounding at 56 Harvester Ave., building 23, in the City of Batavia. City of Batavia Fire Department is responding.

UPDATE 3:08 p.m.: The alarm company has informed dispatch that it is working on the alarm system and there is no emergency.

Thursday, August 25, 2011 at 1:30 pm

Portion of Elba's Watson Road to close for three months

post by Billie Owens in elba

Officials announced a moment ago that Watson Road in Elba, between Arnold and Strouts roads, is being closed (to through traffic) for the next three months for infrastructure work.

Thursday, August 25, 2011 at 1:17 pm

Batavia Area Jaycees' seeking sponsors, participants for annual Labor Day Run & Walk

post by Billie Owens in announcements

The Batavia Area Jaycees will hold their 25th Annual Labor Day 5K Run & Walk on Sept. 5 at MacArthur Park in Batavia.

Registration begins at 8 a.m. and the race will begin at 10. The race fee is $12 for runners and $10 for walkers, with the fee going to $15 for the day of the race.

Medals and prizes will be given out to the top male and female runners afterward. Sign up early to receive a free T-shirt.

The Batavia Area Jaycee’s 5K course is USA Track & Field certified #NY-06038-JG.

The Batavia Area Jaycees are also still looking for sponsorships for this event; if interested in participating or being a sponsor call 585-343-5775 or email us at [email protected].

Thursday, August 25, 2011 at 11:42 am

Final Sheriff's Office report on death at Darien's 'Ride of Steel' contains new details

post by Howard B. Owens in Darien, darien lake theme park

Sgt. James Hackemer, who died July 8 after being ejected from the Ride of Steel at Darien Lake Theme Park, boarded the roller coaster wearing a Brown Fox racing hat.

As the ride crested a hill on the east side of the ride, Hackemer's hat flew off his head. Witnesses described Hackemer reaching for the hat just before he was ejected from the ride.

Witness statements were obtain by The Batavian along with a complete Sheriff's Office report on the death of Hackemer through a Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) request.

They provide a few new details of the events surrounding Hackemer's death, including information that seems to contradict the official findings by the Department of Labor (DOL) that ride operators failed to comprehend ride rules and instructions.

Though there is still no explanation for why operators allowed Hackemer to board the Ride of Steel at about 4:30 p.m. that day.

The DOL report released Aug. 16 states:

After exhaustive review of all the documentation and interviews, it appears that the ride operator and ride attendent training materials met the requirements of the manufacturer; However, issues concerning the employees' comprehension of the training material and their ability to retain the associated requirements of their positions, specifically in reference to rider restrictions, became apparent.

Sheriff's Office investigators obtained written statements from all five Darien Lake employees associated with the ride at the time of the accident. The statements, written in each employee's own hand, demonstrate no inability to comprehend English.

Four of the employees are from Western New York and while a fifth is a Jamaican student in the United States on a student work visa, his statement doesn't demonstrate any inability to communicate in English.

Each employee was also required by Darien Lake management -- sometimes more than once in 2011 -- to sign statements indicating they had completed and comprehended required training.

According to a report prepared by lead investigator Sgt. Steve Mullen, the DOL's safety and health inspector -- Brian C. Kock, assigned to the industry inspection bureau -- informed him that all of the employees had taken and passed written exams on ride safety.

The training checklists shows the employees were trained in, among other things, height-checking procedures, ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) loading and boarding procedures and standard operating procedure.

The training manual, as well as rules posted at the entrance and exit to the Ride of Steel, state explicitly that a person must have two legs to board the coaster.

The coaster has no shoulder harness, only a T-bar lap restraint and seat belts.

The DOL report said the restraints are designed to hold a patron in the ride not only at the lap, but also at the shin.

Hackemer, an Iraq War veteran, lost both of his legs, including one leg up to his hip, to a roadside bomb.

On July 8, Hackemer, along with his sisters, a nephew and his 4-year-old and 3-year-old children, checked into rooms at the Darien Lake Hotel two hours before Hackemer and nephew went to the theme park.

Upon entering the park, employees directed Hackemer to the guest information booth for ride safety instructions. Hackemer was offered a brochure on safety procedures at each ride, but claimed to already have a copy and refused it. He was then given instructions on how to board rides at the park.

Hackemer, wearing white shorts and a neon green T-shirt, and his 19-year-old nephew who was visiting from Maryland then proceeded directly to the Ride of Steel.

Three of the ride attendants write in their statements that they saw Hackemer board the ride -- being lifted into his seat by his nephew -- and noticed that he was missing both legs.

The statements give no indication that any of the operators thought any further about his handicap, discussed with him his ability to ride the roller coaster, sought out a supervisor's advice or otherwise took any steps to question whether Hackemer should be allowed on the ride or detain him in anyway.

The statements also indicate that the attendants knew nothing about Hackemer's situation, that he was a disabled Iraq War vet, at the time. He is described merely as a handicapped man seen getting on the ride.

Two attendants checked safety restraints for each of the riders in the cars. A third attendent checked an operation board that would display a red light if any of the T-bars were not locked in place. With all lights green, the two operators at two different control panels gave the all-clear signs and pressed their respective buttons to start the ride.

When the ride returned, passengers were screaming that a rider had fallen from one of the cars. All three operators on the boarding platform immediately noticed that Hackemer's seat was empty but that the restraints were still in place.

Witnesses on the ride all described seeing Hackemer's hat fly off his head and him reaching for it before seeing his body fly from his seat.

Hackemer's nephew described the ride coming to the crest of the hill and that he, the nephew, felt his own body lift out of the seat and then he saw his uncle fly from the car.

Evidence gathered at the scene indicate that Hackemer hit the front of the car and that Hackemer died instantly of blunt force trauma to his head.

An emergency medical response from the Darien Lake Fire Department and Mercy Flight was cancelled before law enforcement arrived on scene.

The veteran's dog tags were found on the ground near his body.

When the car pulled into the Ride of Steel boarding platform, one of the attendants said Hackemer's nephew was sitting in the front of the car not moving or saying anything.

Mullen did not request a written statement from the nephew because of his emotional and physical state. The nephew's statements contained in the report are from a verbal interview with him while he was at the theme park's medical station.

The ride attendants were an 18-year-old from Silver Lake, a 21-year-old from Lockport and a 23-year-old from Hamburg. 

The Jamaican exchange student, a 21-year-old living in Batavia for the summer,  was posted at the ride entrance and was in charge of ensuring riders were at least 54-inches tall. The Jamaican also saw Hackemer board the ride and noticed Hackemer was missing both legs.

Since Hackemer came in through the exit, which is point of entry for disabled patrons, there was apparently nobody in place to check his height. Hackemer was 47-inches tall on his left side and 39-inches tall on his right side.

The last employee to give a statement was a 24-year-old supervisor from Spencerport who arrived at the Ride of Steel just as Hackemer's car was arriving at the boarding platform. She did not witness Hackemer boarding the ride.

The Batavian is not releasing the names of the operators because there are no criminal charges anticipated. 

The Ride of Steel was closed for the season last week after an unrelated mechanical failure earlier this month.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011 at 8:38 pm

Severe thunderstorm watch issued for Thursday morning

post by Howard B. Owens in weather

A severe thunderstorm watch has been issued for Genesee County starting at 5 a.m., Thursday.

UPDATE 10:56 p.m.: The National Weather Service is now issuing a severe thunderstorm warning from NOW until midnight. Winds up to 60 mph are expected.

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