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Friday, September 16, 2011 at 11:48 am

Motorcyclist injured after encounter with deer

post by Billie Owens in accidents, Pavilion

A motorcyclist is lying in the roadway with injuries after striking a deer or trying to avoid doing so. The location is 9968 South St. Road in Pavilion, between Black Street and Telephone Road. He is conscious. He apparently "laid the bike down" in an effort to avoid the deer.

Mercy medics are responding along with Pavilion Fire Department. State Troopers are on scene.

UPDATE 1:05 p.m.: Mercy Flight is airborne from Buffalo and the landing zone will be just north of the accident scene on a knoll.

UPDATE 1:09 p.m.: This is a Batavia-based helicopter than was already in the air and homeward bound when this call came in. It has an ETA of less than 10 minutes to the accident scene.

UPDATE 1:18 p.m.: Mercy Flight is on the ground.

UPDATE 1:42 p.m.: Mercy Flight is headed to a hospital, didn't catch which one. The road is reopened. All units back in service.

Friday, September 16, 2011 at 10:09 am

Landing zone for Mercy Flight being set up at UMMC

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, UMMC

City Fire is being asked to set up a landing zone for Mercy Flight at UMMC.

No word on the nature of the medical emergency.

Mercy Flight has a five- to eight-minute ETA.

UPDATE 11:19 a.m.: The landing zone is being moved to the Little League field.

UPDATE 11:26 a.m.: Mercy Flight has landed.

UPDATE 11:35 a.m.: Mercy Flight is in the air.

Friday, September 16, 2011 at 9:48 am

Summer blooms on the wane

post by JIM NIGRO in nature, outdoors, rose of Sharon

Our rose of Sharon bushes range in color from red and white to lavender and red and one is pure white. We started them as small shoots no more than 18 or 20 inches in 2004. Today the largest stretch nearly nine feet. That's not surprising, being that they were planted over heaps of compost.

There was a time when most of the wildlife attracted to the rose of Sharon seemed to be Japanese beetles, which I crushed with relish. As the blooms became more prolific, the visitors became more pleasing to the eye. That was especially the case this year with butterflies, bees and hummingbirds visiting on a regular basis. In the above photo, a pollen-covered bumble bee begins to emerge from a rose of Sharon bloom.

An Eastern tiger swallowtail comes in for a landing... 

and spreads its wings. Don't know if it was gathering nectar or simply taking in the sun's warmth. Maybe both.

We've always enjoyed the rose of Sharon, one reason being they provide color from mid to late summer. Now, with their blooms fading, we know the summer is nearly over and the first frost just around the corner!

Friday, September 16, 2011 at 7:08 am

Main and Bank blocked by an accident

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, accident

An accident at Main and Bank streets in Batavia is reportedly blocking traffic.

There are no injuries reported.

Meanwhile, Town of Batavia Fire Department is responding to an accident on the Thruway in the eastbound lane at mile marker 390 (near the Batavia off-ramp). There are reportedly minor injuries in that accident.

Thursday, September 15, 2011 at 9:53 pm

Photos: Public nature trails off Donahue Road, Batavia

When I did the story on the Batavia Wastewater Treatment Plant I didn't get around to taking a walk on the nature trails off Donahue Road, behind the plant.

The trails are maintained by the treatment plant staff and open to the public for hiking (no hunting, trapping or fishing allowed).

This even, I took Pachuco for a walk and brought my camera along. To give you idea of what's there, here are a few of the photos I took.

Thursday, September 15, 2011 at 4:39 pm

Hochul to meet with Jack Davis for factory tour and discuss jobs and trade

post by Howard B. Owens in free trade, Jack Davis, kathy hochul, NY-26

Rep. Kathy Hochul will tour I Squared R Element in Akron at 11 a.m., tomorrow and meet with Jack Davis, the Tea Party candidate she defeated in May's special election to fill the NY-26 seat.

After the tour, according to a press release from Hochul's office, Hochul and Davis will "discuss America’s manufacturing strategy and the need to stop supporting companies that ship jobs overseas, as well as how to replicate Davis’s American success story throughout Western New York."

Thursday, September 15, 2011 at 3:49 pm

Law and Order: Man accused of stealing a bottle of Bacardi

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, alexander, byron, crime, elba

Jeffrey J. Cervone, 43, no permanent address, is charged with petit larceny. Cervone is accused of stealing a bottle of Bacardi from Mr. Wine and Liquor at 5 p.m., Wednesday. Cervone reportedly left the scene in a pickup truck, which was later stopped on Lewiston Road by a Sheriff's deputy. Cervone was a passenger in the truck and was placed in Batavia Police custody. He was jailed on $1,000 bail.

Scott G. Tooley, 26, of 199 S. Main St., Batavia, is charged with endangering the welfare of a child. Tooley is accused of pushing a woman to the ground while she was holding a child. Neither the woman nor the child were injured. The incident was reported at 10 a.m., Tuesday.

Rebecca Nicole Bethune, 22, of Hundredmark Road, Elba, is charged with harassment, 2nd. Bethune is accused of hitting another person in the head with her fist. The incident was reported at 2:10 a.m., Tuesday.

Jeffrey David Whitmore, 21, of Sandpit Road, Alexander, is charged with menacing. Whitmore is accused of pointing a shotgun at a person during a car repossession. The incident was reported at 6:30 p.m., Tuesday.

Michael Abdullah Jamil, 27, of School Road, Byron, is charged with unlawful imprisonment, 2nd, criminal mischief, endangering the welfare of a child, petit larceny and harassment, 2nd. Jamil was arrested following an alleged domestic incident at 5 a.m., Wednesday. Among the accusations are that he disabled a phone in an attempt to prevent a call to police.

Thursday, September 15, 2011 at 2:38 pm

Le Roy resident accused of punching and kicking another person

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

A former Batavia resident who has had a few run-ins with the law the past couple of years is back in jail, this time with bail set at $15,000.

Robert J. Eppolito Jr., 29, of 61 Church St., Apt. #2, Le Roy, is being charged with one count of assault, 2nd.

Last night, Le Roy Police responded to multiple calls about a disturbance in the area of Bacon and Lake streets.

Eppolito is accused of striking another person several times on the head and face with his fists, knocking the victim to the ground and then kicking the victim in the face with his foot.

The victim reportedly suffered a possible eye socket fracture.

In September, 2009, Eppolito was accused of having sex in public with a woman and in a separate incident of slamming another woman against a wall.

Eppolito lived in Oakfield at the time.

In June, 2010, Eppolito was accused of endangering the welfare of a child and harassment, 2nd, while a resident on Maple Street, Batavia.

This past Monday, law enforcement officials were heard on the scanner chatting about Eppolito being released from jail that day.

Thursday, September 15, 2011 at 2:02 pm

Chris Brown concert at Darien Lake: Four arrests, 19 citations

post by Howard B. Owens in crime, Darien, darien lake

The following people were arrested by the Genesee County Sheriff’s Office in connection with the Chris Brown concert at Darien Lake Performing Arts Center on Wednesday.

Deparis C. Banks, 19, Pelham Road, New Rochelle, is charged with disorderly conduct after allegedly causing a disturbance after being ejected from the venue.  Banks was jailed on $100 bail.

Candise J. McKeiver, 21, Parkway Drive, North Chili, is charged with disorderly conduct after allegedly causing a disturbance after being ejected from the concert.

Passion V. Madlock, 22, Kerns Street, Buffalo, is charged with disorderly conduct after allegedly causing a disturbance while being ejected from the concert.

Nicholas J. Macaluso, 19, Oak Street, Bellmore, is charged with harassment, 2nd, and possession of alcohol with intent to consume after allegedly punching a security guard in the head and being under age 21 in possession of alcohol.

The following people were issued citations for allegedly possessing alcohol under age 21:

Kathryn E. Ziolo, 19, Amsdel Road, Hamburg
Kayleigh J. Forger, 19, Lorric Lane, Spencerport
Paul F. Grabowski, 19, Eaglesfield Way, Fairport
Lauren E. Milione, 19, Wedgewood Road, Newton, Mass.
Michelle A. Kay, 19, Pratt Street, Reading, Mass.
Brandon M. Angelo, 18, Red Hickory Drive, Rochester
Jamie M. Szafranski, 20, Frederick Road, North Tonawanda
Shelby M. Visniesky, 19, Kelvin Drive, Tonawanda
Sarah S. Signorelli, 18, 17th Street, Niagara Falls
Tyler M. Pulli, 18, Upper Mountain Road, Lewiston
Morgan A. R. Chrysler, 18, Mount Hope Road, Lewiston
Crystal L. Jensen, 20, Maple Road, Williamsville
Sean P. Talty, 18, Londonderry Lane, Getzville
Ashley L. Dipietro, 17, Misty Lane, East Amherst
Courtney A. Davis, 18, High Manor Drive, Henrietta
Briana M. Julian, 20, Bronson Hill Road, Avon
Matti M. Kwietniewski, 18, Aldrich Place, Buffalo
Cameron J. Cirincione, 17, Licia Lane, Webster

Thursday, September 15, 2011 at 10:27 am

Puzio explains 'School in Need of Improvement' designation for middle school

post by Howard B. Owens in Batavia Middle School, education, schools

Earlier this week, Batavia City Schools sent a letter to parents of students at Batavia Middle School notifying them that school has been placed on a "School in Need of Improvement" list by U.S. Department of Education.

This morning, Superintendent Margeret Puzio explained to The Batavian what the letter meant.

As part of "No Child Left Behind," passed in 2001, schools that receive federal aid must ensure certain "subgroups" perform adequately on standardized tests.

Subgroups are groups of students considered disadvantaged, such as students with disabilities, minority students, students who speak English as a second language. 

If a school has 30 or more students qualifying for a subgroup, then the school must meet the standardized test requirements for that subgroup in order to receive continued federal aid.

None of the elementary schools, with only about 300 students each, are large enough that any of the so-called disadvantaged groups have 30 or more students, but the middle school, with 500 students, does.

One such subgroup is students with disabilities.

Within the past year, the state stopped giving schools 34 bonus points on standardized tests for students with disabilities, also the raw score to pass the test has been raised, and the test has been made longer.

Puzio called this a "Bermuda Triangle" for school districts and Batavia isn't alone in falling into the trap.

Because the middle school's students with disabilities subgroup didn't meet the requirements of the standardized tests the last two rounds, the district was required to notify all parents of middle school students that the school is now considered a "School in Need of Improvement."

Also, in order to continue receiving federal aid, called Title I funds, the district must divert some of its Title I money into a program to help disadvantaged students, and in this case help students who are economically disadvantaged.

The district will be required to hire a contractor -- perhaps Sylvan Learning Centers -- to come in and offer tutoring and other help to economically disadvantaged students.

Participation by economically disadvantaged students is optional and entirely up to the parents of the students as to whether their children will participate.

Thursday, September 15, 2011 at 9:57 am

Corfu Fire District appoints ethics panel to investigate credit card use

post by Howard B. Owens in corfu, Corfu Fire District

At the end of a sometimes tense meeting, the Corfu Fire District Board of Trustees voted to appoint an ethics panel to look into alleged financial improprities by the district's treasurer and a former fire chief.

The panel will make a recommendation to the district board on how to handle the matter.

The alleged improprieties were disclosed publicly by the NYS Comptroller's Office on Monday in a report that accused the district board of not keeping proper financial records and not reviewing them properly, which led to the board not catching alleged unauthorized use of district credit cards.

The ethics panel will include David Saleh, a volunteer firefighter who often helps the district and the Corfu Fire Department (a separate entity from the district) on legal matters. Saleh is past president of the Genesee County Bar Association.

Pushing hard for the board to take action on the matter was Greg Lang, president of the Corfu Fire Department.

While Lang (in the background of the bottom photo) never explicitly called for the district to fire its treasurer, Shari Salim, he did talk about the fact he has been contacted by the Genesee County Sheriff's Office regarding a possible criminal investigation. He said he was expected to call the Sheriff's Office today and report the results of the board meeting. What happened, he said, could determine whether the Sheriff's Office would open an investigation, or whether he would ask for such an investigation.

"I'm going to have to do what I have to do," Lang said several times.

“I’m telling you right now, if this thing doesn’t go right, we’re going to lose members," Lang said at one point. "There’s no question about it. You guys up there ain't good for nothin' if you ain't got members back here. ...I've had members call me, I've had members come up to me and say, 'I'm not going to be in a fire department where this is going on.”

Salim (in the second photo, far end of the table) is the daughter of district board Chairman Bob Ammon and the brother of Jeff Ammon, the former Corfu chief also named in the comptroller's report for allegedly using a district credit card for personal purchases.

She is a paid staff member of the district, drawing a stipend to serve as treasurer and secretary.

Ammon, a former chief, has also twice been named firefighter of the year for Corfu.

Salim reportedly admitted to the state auditor that she used the credit card for personal purchases. What wasn't clear from the report -- and came out at the meeting -- was that Salim and Ammon paid back the district prior to the audit. However, the board never found out about the purchases or the payback until after the auditor started going through the books.

The district board, while including volunteers for the department, is elected by Corfu residents. The board collects taxes and manages some of the revenue used to help fund the fire department.

At one point during the meeting, Bob Ammon (sitting in the foreground, second photo) became visibly distraught and made an impassioned speech about the toll the finance matter has taken on him. He said it was "tearing him up" over what it meant for his kids, the department and said he'd received threats.

"I thought we were a sisterhood or a brotherhood, but the crap I hear – my phone rings constantly," said Ammon, who's been with the department for 52 years. "'What’s this I read on Facebook?' they say. 'What’s this text message about?' It's terrible.

"I was told I was going to be friggin’ arrested the other night," saying later that if the board failed in its oversight, "we screwed up."

"We do the things we can do and I’m sorry," Ammon added. "I’ll apologize if I’m the guy who is going to get arrested and go to jail. I just turned 70 years old and they’re going to come, with my broken knee, and lock me up? I’m just sick about it."

It was that kind of talk -- the rumors of arrests and threats of arrest -- that drove Saleh (foreground, bottom photo) to get involved in Thursday's meeting, the attorney said.

"There are a couple of things that really crawled under my skin," Saleh said. "For months we've been hearing about allegations of criminal conduct and people are going to get arrested, but I read the audit report and I see nothing in there that indicates any criminal conduct."

Lang wondered how it could not be a criminal matter, saying it seemed to him that using somebody else's credit card without permission would be stealing.

"There's been talk of a credit card policy," Lang said. "Do you really need somebody to tell you not to use a credit card?"

One of the recommendations by the auditor was that the board write a credit card policy, which the board said it would do in its written response authored by Ammon.

As for whether there is criminal conduct, Saleh said in order for the use to be considered criminal there would need to be proof of intent and he said from reading the audit report, he didn't see the intent.

After some more back-and-forth over whether there was criminal conduct, Bruce Fauth basically said, "enough."

"There is a direct implication on the fire district and therefore the fire department," said Fauth (inset photo). "Therefore, I don't care about the criminality of it. I care about whether it's right or wrong and how it reflects on the fire department."

There was a lot of discussion over how much interest and fees was accrued on the credit cards -- the report said $1,600 -- and how much interest has been paid -- the report said $380 has been paid.

It's unclear how the rest of the balance was paid. The report states that Shari Salim and Jeff Ammon repaid the amounts they allegedly charged on the cards.

An examination of interest accrued and payments made will be part of the investigation by the ethics panel, which will require it to examine all of the credit card statements.

The panel will also look at the purchases, whether the district's sales-tax exemption was used, whether the personal use as a "mistake," what documents may have been altered and why the board wasn't made aware of the personal use.

After the public meeting, the district board went into closed session, permissible to discuss personnel issues, and after the closed session announced the formation of the ethics panel with Saleh heading up the investigation.

Lang questioned whether Saleh -- whom he said is friends with Ammon family -- could be impartial.

Saleh said it was his goal to be impartial and he promised an objective examination of the district records.

"I want to do this as a member, not as a lawyer," Saleh said. "I want us as a group to do this right so we set a precedent as to how we're going to handle this if it comes up again in the future. This is too painful for everybody involved for it to be done the way it's been done."

Wednesday, September 14, 2011 at 8:11 pm

Possible gas siphoning at UMMC parking lot

post by Billie Owens in batavia, crime

A caller reports to dispatch that two vehicles in the parking lot of UMMC have their gasoline flaps open and have had fuel siphoned out of them. City of Batavia police are investigating.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011 at 3:42 pm

College hires its first ever sports information coordinator

post by Billie Owens in GCC, sports

Press release:

Genesee Community College has hired Andrew Crofts as its new sports information coordinator. He will serve as the first staff member dedicated exclusively to the position covering all aspects of the college's robust athletic teams. He brings a wide range of experience in the sports communication field, as well as a local appreciation for Genesee Community College and its athletic program.

Crofts has covered sports for WBSU-FM in Brockport and as an intern at 13WHAM Television in Rochester. His experience includes reporting on the Buffalo Bills, Buffalo Sabres, Rochester Red Wings, as well as many local college and high school teams. Andrew also served as a play-by-play announcer for WBSU Radio, calling Brockport College football, basketball and baseball. He was twice named a national finalist for "Best Sports Play by Play," presented by Collegiate Broadcasters, Inc. He was also ranked in the top ten of collegiate sportscasters according to Sportscasters Talent Agency of America in 2009.

A native of Batavia, Andrew attended Batavia City Schools from kindergarten to high school, where he graduated in June of 2005. While in high school, Andrew was a member of the football and baseball teams. He currently resides in Batavia.

Crofts' education includes a year of undergraduate work at Genesee Community College starting in the fall of 2005. He then moved on to The College at Brockport in the fall of 2006, and earned a bachelor's degree in Broadcasting Communications in the spring of 2009, graduating in the communications studies National Honor Society.

Andrew is an avid sports fan. He enjoys both playing and watching all sports. His favorite teams are the New York Yankees, Green Bay Packers, Buffalo Sabres and the Syracuse Orange. He has also coached baseball at the Little League level. When he is not watching or playing sports, Andrew enjoys relaxing and watching movies.

Margaret (Peggy) Sisson, athletics director, explained why Crofts is an important addition to the communications team at GCC.

"Athletics at Genesee Community College are thriving," Sisson said, "Last year, our women's soccer team went to the national championship game, men's lacrosse and men's golf were ranked fourth in the nation, women's basketball and women's volleyball advanced to the national championships in Illinois and Wisconsin, and men and women's swimming and diving advanced to the national championships in Buffalo, New York.

"In total, seven teams advanced to the national championships. Having Andrew on our team will help us bring the latest Cougar news and the accomplishments of student athletes to the community better than ever before."

Wednesday, September 14, 2011 at 3:28 pm

Texting-while-driving simulator at GCC Monday

post by Billie Owens in announcements, GCC

A Distracted Driving Simulator is be on the Batavia campus of Genesee Community College from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Monday, Sept. 19.

Students and community members interested in experiencing a texting-while-driving simulator are invited. It will be in the William W. Stuart Forum.

Experience first-hand the devastating effects of driving and texting. The national "Save a Life Tour" was developed to provide state-of-the-art, interactive driving simulation that truly shows how texting can impair driving skills.

The "Save a Life Tour" also brings a shocking approach to alcohol awareness with tragic video, personal stories of the loss of loved ones by peers and a sobering drinking-and-driving simulation experience.

This tour has earned itself national acclaim from colleges, universities, high schools, and military events nationwide. It's sponsored by GCC's Office of Student Activities. For further information please contact Cliff Scutella at 343-0055, ext. 6261.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011 at 3:13 pm

Car crash with minor injuries at TL and Maple roads, Alabama

post by Billie Owens in accidents, Alabama

A two-car accident with minor injuries is reported at Town Line and Maple roads. Town of Alabama Fire Department and Mercy EMS responding. One person is complaining of a leg injury and requests an evaluation.

UPDATE 4:17 p.m.: An ambulance from Oakfield is also requested to the scene. The accident is blocking the roadway.

UPDATE 4:32 p.m.: A 17-year-old girl is being transported to UMMC complaining of rib pain. There was air-bag deployment in her vehicle and the steering wheel broke. Another patient is also being transported there.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011 at 3:09 pm

Extreme dirt bike races at Batavia Motor Speedway

post by Billie Owens in Batavia Motor Speedway, annnouncements, sports

WNY Extreme Dirt Track will be holding ATV Oval & TT Races Saturday, Sept. 17th at Batavia Motor Speedway (PolarWave), 3500 Harloff Road, Town of Batavia.

Racing on clay and sliding arounds the turns, there will be some exciting, intense racing with the TT Pro top purse at $1,000 and TT Amateur money class at $500, special awards for kids classes.

Practice on Friday from 5 to 8 p.m. On Saturday, gates open at 9 a.m. Racing starts at 5 p.m.

Classes will be available for all machines. For more information www.bataviamotorspeedway.com.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011 at 2:17 pm

Car crash at Lewiston Road and Veterans Memorial Drive

post by Billie Owens in accident, town of batavia

A two-car accident with injuries is reported at the intersection of Lewiston Road and Veterans Memorial Drive. One driver is said to have lost consciousness but is now alert.

Town of Batavia Fire Department and Mercy EMS are responding. A responder at the scene says the vehicles are blocking traffic. Two flatbed tow trucks are called.

UPDATE 3:18 p.m.: A second ambulance is called and there are three patients.

UPDATE 3:22 p.m.: Mercy Flight is called to respond. A second Town of Batavia fire crew is called to set up a landing zone in a field behind BJ's Wholesale Club.

UPDATE 3:36: Mercy Flight has landed in the field. A victim who was trapped inside a vehicle has been extricated.

UPDATE 3:40 p.m.: A 61-year-old woman is being transported to UMMC.

UPDATE 3:43 p.m.: A second patient is being transported by ambulance to Strong Memorial Hospital.

UPDATE 3:55 p.m.: The third patient is on board Mercy Flight, which is headed to Strong Memorial Hospital.

UPDATE 3:58 p.m.: All Town of Batavia fire units are back in service.

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