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Howard B. Owens's blog

Tuesday, March 24, 2015 at 4:08 pm

Council Notes: New City Court judge appointed; Memorial Day parade discussed

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia

New City Court Judge:
By unanimous vote Monday night, the City Council selected local attorney Durin Rogers to become the new City Court judge.

Rogers is Deputy County Attorney, is active in the Genesee County Bar Association, and a graduate of Cleveland-Marshall College of Law and the University of Florida.

He replaces Michael Del Plato, who resigned effective the end of his six-year term.

Memorial Day Parade:
Plans are coming together for the city's Memorial Day Parade with a couple of new twists for 2015.

The committee is planning on changing the parade route so the procession comes further west on Main Street and turns north on Bank Street, with the parade ending at the War Memorial. Marching bands would enter with drum taps sounding only, which Rose Mary Christian described as a solemn, moving remembrance.  

There will also be a request for parade participants not to toss candy to children. There's concern throwing candy is more festive than respectful of those who have made the ultimate sacrifice on behalf of their country.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015 at 11:41 am

Council told of strategy for dealing with stray cats in Batavia

post by Howard B. Owens in animals, batavia, cats

A small platoon of volunteers could deal with the army of stray cats in Batavia, the City Council was told during a long discussion of the issue Monday night.

Three representatives of the pro bono animal program at the SUNY Buffalo Law School recommend a trap, neuter, vaccinate and return program that they say has been successful elsewhere, even in small towns in Western New York.

West Seneca provides an example, said Joseph Smith, a law student working with the pro bono program. That community instituted TNVR and it made a huge difference.

"You can have as fast as a year turnaround," Smith said. "You can get direct results and significant results within a year."

The results include fewer nuisances from cats and fewer stray cats.

Problem cats fall into two categories -- community cats, which are cats who were once domesticated, but somehow became ownerless, and feral cats, which are cats born to a homeless cat and never domesticated.

Smith, along with fellow student Nicole Komin and Vice Dean Kim Diana Connolly, outlined the program's benefits, especially when compared to alternatives.

Stray cats will always be with you, both Smith and Komin emphasized. If you try to capture them and keep them, they'll overwhelm any such system. If you try to kill them, other strays will just move into the territory.

Cats tend to go where they can get food and shelter, be it a cat lover who feeds them, scraps from a restaurant or plentiful prey. If all the cats are removed from an area of food and shelter, other cats will just take their place.

TNVR solves that problem by returning non-breeding cats to those their former haunts.

Once fixed, cats fight less, howl less and spray less, making them much less of a neighborhood nuisance.

And if you can eliminate the breeders, there are fewer feral cats and eventually fewer community cats. They never disappear from a community, but over time, their numbers are greatly reduced.

The life expectancy of a homeless cat is seven or eight years.

Assistant City Manager Gretchen DiFante invited Smith, Komin and Connolly to speak with the council because she's been tasked with coming up with a program to deal with stray and feral cats.

Council members expressed an interest in learning more and supporting a task force to study the proposal further. 

Such a program could be implemented at no cost to the city because there are volunteer and community groups that can be tapped to help set up the program and take care of the task of trapping cats and getting them neutered and vaccinated before they're returned to the location where they're trapped.

Cats who have been through the program get a notched ear so they're identifiable as neutered, and once released, they've learned about the trap and will never allow themselves to be captured that way again, Smith said.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015 at 9:19 am

Today's Poll: Should Batavia adopt a trap, neuter, vaccinate and return stray cat program?

post by Howard B. Owens in polls

Answer this question later today on the smartphone app Reacht for a chance to win a $5 gift certificate from Southside Deli. To download Reacht on your smartphone, click here

Monday, March 23, 2015 at 5:16 pm

Public documents reveal deep financial hole for local medical business

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Advanced Imaging, business

A Batavia-based medical business has piled up a long list of financial woes, according to public documents obtained by The Batavian.

There are mechanics liens, money judgments, property seizures and demands for back pay to employees against Advanced Imaging, 35 Batavia City Center, Batavia.

The current owner even has pending criminal charges against him for allegedly issuing bad checks.

All told, the pile of debt exceeds $1.3 million.

Advanced Imaging was once owned by Dr. Mitchell Chess, and it's uncertain which if any of the debts were accumulated during his ownership tenure, during the tenure of Mark Zdrojewski, or both.

Attempts to contact Chess and Zdrojewski were unsuccessful.

Zdrojewski has been charged with issuing a bad check at least four times, both to a local contractor and to an employee.

The Department of Labor investigated complaints of unpaid wages to employees and concluded, according to a letter sent to one of the employees, "We have found that your employer owes wages and/or fringe benefits to one or more current or former employees."

As a result, the department issued a formal "order to comply," demanding payment to employees.

Zdrojewski still has time to appeal the ruling.

Former employees also complained that Zdrojewski took checks sent to Advanced Imaging for health insurance premiums under COBRA and used the funds for other expenses instead of paying the premiums.

There are mechanics liens from local contractors exceeding $14,000.

The real eye-popping sums come, however, from the list of money judgments against Advanced Imaging:

  • $966,598 to General Electric
  • $108,988 to Phillips Healthcare
  • $105,145 to Caritas Medical Arts Building
  • $69,410 to Caritas Medial Arts Building
  • $35,792 to Insight Health Corps
  • $3,699 to the Commissioner of Labor
  • $794 to the Commissioner of Labor
  • $13,229 to the Commissioner of Taxation and Finance
  • $13,242 to Turnbull Heating and Air
  • $4,475 to the Commissioner of Taxation and Finance
  • $600 to the Commissioner of Labor
  • $1,343 to the Commissioner of Labor
  • $6,789 to Medrad

The City of Batavia issued tax liens for more than $47,000 in back property taxes according to filings with the County Clerk's Office.

The three parcels of property in City Centre once owned by Advanced Imaging have been seized by the Sheriff's Office on behalf of Philips Healthcare and will be sold at auction at 10 a.m., May 4, at 165 Park Road, Batavia.

Some of the other money judgments may already be satisfied through other means.

Meanwhile, Advanced Imaging remains open for business.

Monday, March 23, 2015 at 4:12 pm

Law and Order: Driver charged with DWI after leaving scene of reported argument in Bergen

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

Alexander Natal, 28, of Lake Street Road, Le Roy, is charged with DWI, driving with a BAC of .18 or greater and aggravated unlicensed operation, 3rd. Natal allegedly left the scene of an altercation in Bergen and drove a vehicle on Buffalo Road at 2:42 p.m. Saturday while intoxicated. Natal was stopped by Deputy Joseph Corona.

Ryan N. Pyatt, 22, of Washington Avenue, Batavia, was arrested on a warrant for alleged failure to appear on an unlicensed operation, 3rd, charge. Pyatt posted $250 cash bail.

Seth R. Doster, 23, of Alleghany Road, Darien Center, was arrested on a warrant for alleged failure to appear on a parked on sidewalk charge. Doster turned himself in and was issued an appearance ticket.

McKayla J. Kosiorek, 20, of South Jackson Street, Batavia, was arrested on a warrant for alleged failure to pay fine imposed by City Court. Kosiorek turned herself in and posted $100 cash bail.

Maria K. Frieday, 41, of Franklin Street, Batavia, is charged with reckless endangerment, 2nd, and tampering with physical evidence. Frieday was allegedly involved in an incident at 1:45 p.m. March 12 at 127 North St., Batavia.

Kory R. O'Grady, 42, of River Street, Batavia, is charged with harassment, 2nd. O'Grady was charged following an alleged domestic incident reported at 4 p.m., Sunday. He allegedly pushed another person and threatened to kill everyone if his daughter was removed from the residence.

Brock Thomas Barry, 27, of Blackwell Lane, Henrietta, is charged with DWI, driving with a BAC of .08 or greater, aggravated unlicensed operation, 1st, and failure to stop at stop sign. Barry was stopped at midnight Sunday on Route 77, Pembroke, by Deputy Joseph Corona.

John Joseph Simmons, 42, of Bedford Street, Rochester, is charged with unlawful possession of marijuana, failure to dim headlights, aggravated unlicensed operation, 2nd, and driving without an interlock device. Simmons was stopped at 2:02 p.m. Sunday on Route 77, Pembroke, by Deputy Michael Lute.

The Grand Jury of Genesee County also released the following indictment:

Justin L. Pyatt is indicted on a count of menacing a police officer or peace officer. It's alleged that Pyatt, on Feb. 16, while at 113 Jackson St., Batavia, did attempt to place a police officer in reasonable fear of physical injury or even death by displaying a knife.

Monday, March 23, 2015 at 1:49 pm

Stray cats on tonight's Batavia City Council agenda

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, community cats

Tomcats, alley cats, stray cats, may strut around howling at the moon, but don't call them feral.

They're community cats and a community problem.

The Batavia City Council will be asked tonight to look at a possible community cat ordinance that has reportedly worked well elsewhere to help reduce the unowned cat population and made them less of a nuisance.

The proposal is the result of research into the issue by Assistant City Manager Gretchen DiFante.

The most successful method for deal with stray cats, tail in the air and otherwise, is the trap, neuter, vaccinate and release method, according to a written report provided to the council.

"Properly managed sterilization-vaccination programs do not create cat overpopulation -- the cats are already there," according to the report, prepared by the Humane Society. "The choice is between making progress or continuing to experience an unmanaged problem. Well-designed and implemented community cat programs are in line with public opinion and can mobilize an army of compassionate, dedicated people who care about cats, wildlife and their communities."

Also on the agenda for tonight's 7 o'clock meeting:

  • City fire has an opportunity to receive a $515,000 Homeland Security grant to fully fund six firefighters for two years. The funding will help fill vacancies that have increased over time as City fire has struggled with unfilled openings. The grant fully funds the positions for those two years, but the city will responsible for the expense once the grants expire.
  • The council will receive an update on the city's efforts to deal with vacant and abandoned properties.
  • Councilman Eugene Jankowski has requested a council discussion on the process for adopting budget resolutions.
  • The water plant needs a roof replacement.
Monday, March 23, 2015 at 1:16 pm

Photo: Work begins to replace Oliver's Candies sign

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business, Oliver's Candies

The steel frame for the new Oliver's sign was anchored in place today.  The concrete foundation needs to set for as much as four weeks before the new sign is put on the frame. The same day the new sign is installed, the old Oliver's sign will be removed and taken to storage.

Previously: Oliver's Candies planning new neon sign with message board

Monday, March 23, 2015 at 1:03 pm

City School teachers picket against governor's education budget proposal

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, education

Batavia City School teachers held what they dubbed a "positive picket" outside Batavia Middle School for about 30 minutes this morning as students were arriving for classes to call attention to their concerns with Gov. Andrew Cuomo's budget proposal for education spending.

Union President Mary Ann Marley said the governor's proposals are hurting local school districts since aid to schools hasn't been increased and Cuomo is withholding funds as leverage to change teacher evaluations.

The governor isn't even giving school districts an estimate of anticipated aid, Marley said.

"Our district is having a hard time establishing a budget for next year when they don't know what numbers to work with," Marley said.

Monday, March 23, 2015 at 12:34 pm

Photos: Benefit for the family of Alyson Krzanak

post by Howard B. Owens in pembroke

Folks in Pembroke organized a fundraiser Sunday for the family of Alyson Krzanak.

Krzanak died of injuries sustained in a motor-vehicle accident on Route 20 in Bethany in late February.

Photos by Rebecca Grela.

Alyson's parents, David and Renee.

The Clevelands consider their choices.

Reese likes basket 114.

Monday, March 23, 2015 at 9:04 am

Today's Poll: Should teacher evaluations be tougher?

post by Howard B. Owens in polls

New York TimesCuomo Fights Rating System in Which Few Teachers Are Bad

Answer this question later today on the smartphone app Reacht for a chance to win a $5 gift certificate from Southside Deli. To download Reacht on your smartphone, click here

Sunday, March 22, 2015 at 6:27 pm

Two-car accident reported at West Main and Oak, Batavia

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, accident

A two-car accident with unknown injuries reported at West Main Street and Oak Street, Batavia.

City fire and Mercy EMS responding.

Saturday, March 21, 2015 at 10:53 pm

Photos: Crossroad House basket raffle

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, crossroads house

The Crossroads House hosted a basket raffle today to help raise money for the hospice.

CORRECTION: This event was a vendor blender. More than 35 local crafters, artisans, and small businesses were featured.

Photos by Rebecca Grela.

Saturday, March 21, 2015 at 10:36 pm

Photos: Civil War Ball

The Daughters of the American Civil War sponsored a Civil War Ball on Friday evening at the Clarion Hotel.

The event commemorated:

  • 200th Anniversary of the War of 1812
  • 200th Anniversary of the Holland Land Purchase
  • 150th Anniversary of the End of the Civil War
  • 100th Anniversary of the City of Batavia

Saturday, March 21, 2015 at 10:27 pm

Photos: Muckdogs Boosters annual Hot Stove Dinner

post by Howard B. Owens in baseball, batavia, muckdogs, sports

The Batavia Muckdogs Boosters held their annual Hot Stove Dinner Saturday night at Sacred Heart.

Club President Brian Paris gave a state-of-baseball-and-the-Muckdogs speech and talked about his trip recently to the Negro Leagues Hall of Fame in Kansas City.

The trip, he said, had him reflecting on the major transition baseball went through in the 1950s as Negro League stars and rising stars were finally admitted into Major League Baseball, and the transition facing baseball now as it tries to appeal to younger generations.

The way to ensure continued interest in the game is to bring children to baseball games. As an act of symbolism he surprised his son Zach with a gift from the Negro Museum, a jacket, that he said represented both baseball's past and its future by honoring its past in a memorable way.  

Bill Kauffman discussed Bill Dougherty's book about the history of baseball in Batavia.

Previously: Batavia's rich baseball history recalled in new book by Bill Dougherty

Hal Mitchell, representing the boosters and local Vietnam vets, along with Paris for the Muckdogs board, made donations to the PTSD program for women at the VA Hospital. Accepting the donations was Caryn DiLandro, the program manager.

Todd Jantzi, owner of Bontrager's Auctions, conducted the live auction.

Saturday, March 21, 2015 at 4:21 pm

Farm safety course culiminates in testing day at Empire Tractor

post by Howard B. Owens in 4-H, agriculture, education, Empire Tractor

Greg Merrell gets ready for his tractor safety test while instructor and evaluator Tim Adams looks on this morning at Empire Tractor, where students participating in the 4-H Youth Development Tractor and Machinery Certification program were put through their paces. The eight-week course provides 14- and 15-year-olds the opportunity to learn how to safely operate farm machinery.

Saturday, March 21, 2015 at 4:07 pm

Possible apartment fire on Waldon Creek Drive

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, fire

A possible structure fire is reported at 337 Waldon Creek Drive, an apartment complex, City of Batavia.

There is smoke coming from the residence.

Engine 11 is on scene.

The caller reports the it's probable there is nobody home at this time.

City Fire dispatched. The second and fourth platoons are requested to the scene.

UPDATE 4:09 p.m.: Fire is knocked down.

UPDATE 5:20 p.m.: City Fire is back in service.

Friday, March 20, 2015 at 10:40 pm

Law and Order: Wanted suspect accused of heroin possession at time of arrest

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

Kirk Arnold Thomas Jr., 30, of Oak Street, Batavia, is charged with criminal use of drug paraphernalia, criminal possession of a controlled substance, criminal possession of a hypodermic instrument, criminal possession of a controlled substance, 7th, and escape, 1st. Thomas was the subject of an investigation by Le Roy PD and the subject of a Town of Batavia Court warrant and was located by Batavia PD at Days Inn. At the time of his arrest he allegedly possessed a large quantity of heroin and drug paraphernalia.

Peter John Olander, 41, of Rochester Street, Bergen, is charged with obstruction of governmental administration, 2nd, and resisting arrest. Olander was arrested after deputies responded to a report of a disturbance in the Village of Bergen. Olander allegedly failed to comply with numerous lawful orders and/or warnings from deputies and physically resisted arrest when they attempted to place him in custody. Olander was jailed on $2,500 bail or $5,000 bond.

Christopher M. Colantonio, 35, of South Swan Street, Batavia, is charged with possession of a forged instrument, 2nd, and petit larceny. Colantonio was arrested as a result of an investigation in April 2014 into a complaint of stolen, forged and cashed checks. Colantonio is also charged with criminal sale of a firearm, 3rd, criminal possession of a weapon, 2nd, and grand larceny, 4th. The charges stem from a criminal complaint in November 2013 in which a family member reported a gun was stolen and sold.

Bryon Gilbert Keller, 20, of Sumner Road, Darien, is charged with criminal contempt, 1st, and harassment, 2nd. Keller was allegedly involved in an altercation with a family member, which was also a violation of a court order. Keller was jailed on $10,000 bail or $20,000 bond.

Samantha Jean Glendhill, 24, of Chapel Street, Mt. Morris, is charged with petit larceny and possession of burglar tools. Glendhill is accused of shoplifting from Kmart and using a bag to conceal the stolen items.

A 17-year-old resident of York Road, Pavilion, is charged with harassment, 2nd. The youth allegedly struck another person during an argument.

Erick Antonio Castaneda, 18, of Redman Road, Brockport, is charged with two counts of petit larceny. Castaneda is accused of shoplifting from Kohl's.

Friday, March 20, 2015 at 10:11 pm

Photos: Family Fun Night at Elba Central School

post by Howard B. Owens in elba, Elba Central School, schools

Friday, March 20, 2015 at 9:59 pm

Photos: 10th Annual HLOM Batavia Antique Show & Sale

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, hlom

Holland Land Office Museum is hosting its 10th Annual Batavia Antique Show & Sale at Batavia Downs.

The event continues Saturday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m..

Friday, March 20, 2015 at 10:44 am

Batavia City Schools looking at reduced budget

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, City Schools, education, schools

From The Batavian's news partner, WBTA:

Batavia City School District is looking at a reduction in their budget in comparison to last year’s. Benefit costs to retirement systems have decreased, allowing the school to save money in those areas.

Business Manager Scott Rozanski says the school is changing their philosophy on savings since their current reserve is expiring.

"The board has authorized the creation of a new capital reserve and has set the level at a 10-year reserve for $7.5 million. That's the maximum amount of money that can go into it. It's not how much it's going to be funded or funded initially. It will be funded through surplus or future-year budgetary appropriations," says Rozanski.

If the school has a surplus of money, it will be stored in the fund.

Rozanski says the board wants a flat tax levy.

In terms of administration, the school does not anticipate any major changes outside of three expiring board seats.

The budget vote will occur May 19th.

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