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Thursday, December 11, 2014 at 4:34 pm

'Significantly more jobs available' says director of job bureau

post by Howard B. Owens in economy, employment, jobs

If you're out of work, or underemployed, this is a great time to be looking for a job or a better job, said Scott Gage, director of the county's Job Development Bureau.

The unemployment rate has been at or below 5 percent all summer and now into the winter, which is a period of low employment the county hasn't seen since 2008.

The job bureau currently has 279 job openings listed. A year ago, there were only 199 jobs listed.

"Employers are hot to get new employees," Gage said. "This is a great time to be job searching. If people are unemployed, they should come down to the career center and see us. We can help them find a job."

Gage said they're seeing both people who were underemployed finding new employment that better meets their qualifications, and people who have been among the long-term unemployed are finding work.

For the long-term unemployed, there is a job-training program available that is funded by the federal government through the H1B visa program (the same program that brings foreign workers into the country).

The jobs available aren't just entry-level jobs, Gage said. The list includes $16 and $18 an hour jobs and jobs that pay $35,000 to $40,000 a year.

"There are significantly more jobs available now," Gage said.

PROMOTIONAL NOTE: If you're looking for a job, or need to hire an employee, don't forget about GLOWJobs.net.

Thursday, December 11, 2014 at 4:09 pm

Batavia's Brennan Briggs named a Buffalo Bills/National Guard Coach of the Week

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Batavia HS, football, high school sports, sports

The Batavia Blue Devils Head Football Coach Brennan Briggs will be recognized on the field Sunday before the Buffalo Bills game against the Green Bay Packers as the Buffalo Bills/National Guard Coach of the Week for week 11.

The school will receive a $1,000 contribution to the football program as a result of the award.

During the game, Briggs will be seated inside the Red Zone section, complements of the Buffalo Bills.

File photo.

Thursday, December 11, 2014 at 3:50 pm

City employees in water and finance receive certifications

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia

Press release:

The City of Batavia is pleased to announce that three employees from the Water Bureau have obtained water licenses issued through New York State Department of Health (DOH) and one employee in the Finance Bureau is being recognized by the New York State Governmental Finance Officers’ Association (NYS GFOA) for completing a professional development program administered by the Government Finance Institute (GFI).

Peter Gravante, a 25-year veteran of the City, has received his Class D water license after completing coursework in water distribution maintenance, disinfection and operations through California State University, Sacramento. In addition to classroom training and laboratory practice, experience in distribution maintenance was required to achieve this license. 

Nelson Weibel, a 10-year employee at the City Water Plant on Leigh Avenue, received his Grade 1A Water License after completing a week of classroom training at the Western New York Water School, as well as course work in administration through Michigan State University. A Grade 1A Water License requires a minimum of 10 years of experience to qualify for this level of licensing. 

Shawn Bigsby, a 10-year employee and newest water plant operator, received his Grade IIA Water License after completing two weeks of classroom training at the Western New York Water School, as well as completing one year of operator training at the City Water Plant.  

In addition to classroom training, Peter, Nelson and Shawn were required to interview with the Genesee County DOH, to receive their endorsements before their applications were forwarded to the New York State DOH for final approval and license issuance.

Lisa Neary, deputy director of Finance and a six-year employee of the City, recently completed NYS GFOA professional development program, Government Finance Institute (GFI) – Foundations Level. GFI Foundations Level graduates complete training in the core competencies of government finance including accounting and financial reporting, cash management, budgeting, human resource management and internal control. Lisa will be recognized for her achievement at the Association’s 36th Annual Conference to be held in Albany in March.

Please join the City in congratulating Peter, Nelson, Shawn and Lisa on their outstanding achievements.

Thursday, December 11, 2014 at 11:51 am

Plea deal in arson case will make probation possible for defendant

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, crime
Brian Sprague

A former Batavia resident now living in Henrietta who was arrested for trying to light a fire in the window of a house on East Avenue entered a guilty plea this morning to attempted burglary in the second degree.

It was a unique plea deal that will make Brian Sprague, 25, eligible for a probationary sentence.

He was originally charged with attempted arson, 2nd, a Class C violent felony, and criminal mischief. But conviction on those charges would not give Judge Robert C. Noonan the option of a probationary sentence, if he found it appropriate.

There is no lesser included offense in attempted arson, 2nd, so under the theory that by breaking a window, Sprague was attempting a burglary, District Attorney Lawrence Friedman offered Sprague the chance to plead guilty to that charge.

However, the facts of the case don't entirely support that charge, so under what's known as an Alford Plea -- where the defendent admits the facts of the case would likely mean a jury conviction if the case went to trial -- Friedman recited the facts of the attempted arson charge.

Sprague then entered a guilty plea to the attempted burglary charge, a Class D violent felony.

Sprague was arrested on the arson charge in September after residents on East Avenue were awakened by the sound of glass breaking. When they came downstairs later, they found gasoline had been poured around the window and through the window.

Sentencing will be at a later date and probation is no guarantee. The probation department will conduct a pre-sentence report for Noonan to review prior to sentencing.

The maximum prison time possible for a Class D violent felony is seven years.

The plea also satisfies a criminal mischief charge in the Town of Batavia.

Thursday, December 11, 2014 at 11:20 am

Car strikes Dollar General in Le Roy

post by Howard B. Owens in accident, Le Roy

These are reader submitted photos of a car that struck the Dollar General Store in Le Roy around 10:15 a.m.

Injuries were reportedly minor.

Thursday, December 11, 2014 at 11:17 am

Residents clear paths through the snow after storm passes

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, weather

Somewhere in the neighborhood of a foot of snow fell on Batavia overnight and this morning residents were clearing driveways and sidewalks.

From 13WHAM, The Batavian's news partner, here's a forecast:

Most of the steady snow has now moved west and out of the area. The chance of some scattered snow showers will remain through the day, but not the steady type of snow that we have already experienced. Another inch of snow could fall from any of the snow showers that pass through the rest of today. A Winter Weather Advisory does remains in effect for Genesee and Wyoming counties through 4 a.m. tomorrow. As of earlier this morning, 10 inches of snow had fallen in Warsaw, 4.5 inches in Avon, 6.5 inches near Silver Springs, 10.4 in Wyoming, and 5.5 inches near Dansville.

It will take a while for any melting to begin. Temperatures will remain in the 20s for much of today. Temperatures will rise to about the freezing point for a high tomorrow, but will rise higher, into the 30s and 40s, by this upcoming weekend and early next week.

Top photo: William Palone on East Avenue at Ross Street.

Marilyn Canipe on North Spruce Street.

A bike rider trying to negotiate his way through the snow and slush on North Street.

Thursday, December 11, 2014 at 8:21 am

Law and Order: Five recent arrests

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

Kenneth Michael Gray, 23, no permanent address, was arrested on a warrant out of Le Roy by Batavia PD. He was jailed on $1,000 bail. No details provided on the underlying charge.

Joseph Antwan Fletcher, 18, of Liberty Street, Batavia, is charged with criminal contempt. Fletcher was allegedly observed by a Batavia police officer in the company of a person protected from contact by Fletcher by a court order.

James P. Colantonio Jr., 26, of South Main Street, Batavia, is charged with DWI and refusal to submit to chemical test. Colantonio was stopped at 2:12 a.m. Sunday on West Main Street, Batavia, by officer Marc Lawrence.

Daniel S. Kilner, 46, of Redfield Parkway, Batavia, was arrested for an alleged violation of probation. Kilner was located at his residence by the Probation Department and transported to BPD headquarters where he was arrested. Kilner was jailed on $5,000 bail.

Gurpreet Singh Malhi, 41, of Charit Way, Rochester, is charged with DWI and driving with a BAC of .18 or greater. Malhi was stopped at 7:20 p.m. Wednesday on Lake Road, Le Roy, by deputy Matthew Fleming.

Thursday, December 11, 2014 at 5:46 am

Accident with injuries reported on North Road, Le Roy

post by Howard B. Owens in accident, Le Roy

A two-car accident with injuries is reported on North Road, Le Roy, near the county line.

Le Roy fire and Le Roy ambulance dispatched.

UPDATE 5:59 a.m.: A second ambulance from Caledonia is requested to the scene at 8673 North Road.

UPDATE 6:38 a.m.: North Road being shut down so the vehicles can be moved.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014 at 8:45 pm

Tractor-trailer jackknifed on Clinton Street Road

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, accident

A tractor-trailer has jackknifed on Clinton Street Road and hit a utility pole. A second vehicle may be involved. 

The road is blocked. Power is out in the area.

All occupants are out of the vehicles.

The accident is reported in the area of 5106 Clinton Street Road, near Stringham Drive.

Town of Batavia fire and Mercy EMS dispatched.

UPDATE 9:41 p.m. (back from the scene): An eastbound tractor-trailer that was fully loaded lost traction on a snowy road and jackknifed. A red pickup truck that was also eastbound became wedged under the trailer. The passenger side of the cab was completely crushed. Fortunately, there was no passenger. The driver had a cut on his hand and a complaint of arm pain. There's no suitable tow trucks available in Genesee County, so trucks are coming from Monroe County. A National Grid crew is also needed to replace the utility pole before the truck can be moved. Route 33 will likely be closed for some time yet.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014 at 5:57 pm

Cause of Adams Street fire Sunday remains a mystery

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, fire

There is still no clue investigators can point to that offers even a hint of how a fire started in a garage at 12 Adams St., Batavia, on Sunday night.

There was no electricity nor any other source of ignition in the area of the garage where the fire started. There are no marks on the floor to suggest an accelerant was used by an arsonist (though that in itself doesn't rule out a deliberate fire). Interviews with neighbors have failed to produce any leads.

"So far, we can't figure out what started it," said Capt. Craig Williams, Batavia Fire Department. "It may go down as undetermined."

It will be at least a week before the investigation is completed, Williams said. By then, maybe investigators will have solved the mystery.

The three-car garage was owned by 87-year-old Ken Currier, who spent 30 years working as a mechanic and 25 years building houses, said his son Jerry Currier.

"He had everything you need to work on cars and pretty much everything you needed to work on houses and it's all gone," Currier said.

Among the items lost, two big tool boxes, filled with tools, a milling machine, lathe, band saw and compressors.

Currier and his brother own a contracting business, but didn't work out of the garage. They have their own facility on Route 98, although they do regularly park a work truck at the Adams Street residence.

"We pretty much meet there every morning and have coffee with my parents before heading out to the job," Currier said.

The garage was insured, Currier said, and will be replaced with one just like it.

"Thank God we have a good insurance company," he said. "The adjuster was here yesterday from 10:30 a.m. to 6 at night going over everything," Currier said. "The little section that didn't burn was so smoke and heat and water damaged that it's a total loss."

UPDATE, Thursday morning: Yesterday, we couldn't reach Det. Rich Schauf, Batavia PD, who is assisting in the investigation.  Schauf reiterated this is likely to be a fire of an undetermined cause. He said there are numerous accidental possibilities, such as an old battery overheating, so just because the final determination is undetermined doesn't mean it was anything other than accidental.

The process of elimination pretty much rules out a deliberately set fire, he said. The location of the fire would mean that a person would have had to enter the garage, move stuff, start the fire, and then put stuff back. That's an unlikely scenario for anybody who might have a reason to start such a fire. There would be easier and safer ways to start a fire.  

"I would never say it was a set fire," Schauf said. "There are too many other things that could have been accidental in that fire."

Previously: Garage fire reported on Adams Street, Batavia

Wednesday, December 10, 2014 at 5:25 pm

Genesee County covered in storm disaster area designation by USDA

post by Howard B. Owens in USDA, weather

Press release:

Today, senators Charles E. Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand and representatives Brian Higgins and Chris Collins announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture has approved primary and contiguous disaster designations for seven Western New York counties, due to losses caused by excessive snow, flooding, freeze, and high winds that occurred Nov. 17-24. The Secretarial natural disaster declaration will apply for the following counties: Genesee, Erie, Livingston, Monroe, Niagara, Orleans and Wyoming.

Last month, following the storm, Schumer, Gillibrand, Higgins and Collins urged the USDA to assess damage and be ready to issue this declaration so that emergency loans could be made available to the farmers, flower growers, and local producers that suffered as a result of the historic November snowstorm. The lawmakers said that USDA assistance is available to farmers who experience severe crop, livestock and business loss.

“After weathering several days of brutal weather and record-high snowfall, the USDA’s decision to provide emergency disaster assistance to farmers and growers across seven Western New York counties is welcome news. I visited many communities and saw the damage the snow caused firsthand. Thankfully, this disaster declaration means our Upstate farmers and growers will have access to critical emergency loans and more, at a time when they need it the most,” Senator Schumer said. “I applaud the U.S. Department of Agriculture for swiftly assessing the damage to farms, flower growers, vineyards, wineries and orchards throughout the region following the historic snowfall in November, and coming through with disaster designation.”

Senator Gillibrand, the first New York senator to serve on the Senate Agriculture Committee in nearly 40 years, said:

"I saw firsthand the severe losses Western New York’s agriculture community faced after last month’s unprecedented snowfall. The stories I heard were powerful. This declaration will enable those who lost greenhouses, barns, processing facilities, harvesting equipment, animals, trees, vines and crops to access resources that will help them as they recover and begin planning for a new growing season. I thank Secretary Vilsack and the dedicated staff of the Farm Service Agency who worked so hard to make sure the voices of our farmers were heard and that this much-needed aid is being made available."

Congressman Higgins: “Farm communities in Western New York were hit hard by the November snowstorm, and the federal government has an obligation to respond. This disaster caused loss of crops and business impacting the livelihood of local farmers. We applaud the USDA’s willingness to provide much needed relief to those struggling to recover from damages caused by the storm.”  

Congressman Chris Collins (NY-27): “Western New York's agriculture community took a huge hit during the historic November snowstorm and our local farmers and growers need help. I am pleased that our bipartisan push worked and the USDA is taking action necessary to provide needed disaster assistance.”

The senators and congressmen explained that this Secretarial disaster designation will make farm operators eligible to be considered for Farm Service Agency (FSA) emergency loans. Farmers in the eligible counties will have eight months from the date of the Secretarial disaster declaration to apply for such emergency loans.

The programs available with a USDA disaster declaration are as follows:

·         Emergency Farm Loans -- low interest loans;

·         Disaster Set-Aside Program -- borrowers located in designated disaster areas or contiguous counties who are unable to make their scheduled payment on any FSA debt can set aside one payment after a disaster.

Additionally, the following programs are available through the USDA without a disaster declaration:

·         Tree Assistance Program (TAP) -- provides financial assistance to qualifying orchardists and nursery tree growers to replant or rehabilitate eligible trees, bushes and vines damaged by natural disasters;

·         Livestock Indemnity Program (LIP) -- provides benefits to livestock producers for livestock deaths in excess of normal mortality caused by adverse weather;

·         Forest Restoration Program (FRP) -- helps the owners of non-industrial private forests restore forest health damaged by natural disasters;

·        Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honey Bees, & Farm-raised Fish (ELAP) -- provides emergency relief to producers of livestock, honey bees, and farm-raised fish from other natural disasters that are not adequately covered by any other disaster program.

In their letter to Secretary Vilsack last month, Schumer, Gillibrand, Collins and Higgins wrote: “We urge USDA to dedicate all available resources to complete a damage survey in the most timely manner to assess the need for a USDA disaster declaration to prevent the delay of any needed emergency relief. Additionally, we request that FSA field officers work with farmers to help them accurately document losses, which will enable them to apply for USDA disaster programs.”

Wednesday, December 10, 2014 at 5:20 pm

Father, daughter and friend from Batavia arrested in Macedon on various charges

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, crime

Three residents of Batavia, including a father and daughter, are being held in Wayne County Jail after being identified as suspected shoplifters at the Walmart in Macedon.

Two of the suspects are charged with petit larceny and accused of stealing HP All-in-One Desktop printers, with a retail value of $350 each.

Macedon police say the suspects match those of people seen on the video stealing the printers.

There were not arrested until this week for the alleged crime Nov. 24.

Justine McWethy, 27, and Christina Deluna, 24, were stopped by a Macedon police officer and when asked for identification, they allegedly provided false names. 

The officer was able to determine their identities and found they were both wanted on several warrants in various jurisdictions. 

Justine's father, 46-year-old Mark McWethy, was later located in Macedon Town Court. He was reportedly waiting for a court appearance at the wrong time.

Justine McWethy is charged with false personation, criminal possession of a hypodermic instrument and petit larceny.

Deluna is charged with false personation and criminal possession of a hypodermic instrument.

Mark Mcwethy is charged with three counts of petit larceny and felony burglary. 

All three are being held pending their next court appearance in Macedon on Dec. 30.

Via The Batavian's news partner, 13WHAM.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014 at 4:50 pm

Photo: Snowfall arrives during evening commute

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, downtown, weather

The predicted snowfall for this morning didn't really materialize, but it's coming down pretty good right now, with a prediction of up to two inches by 7 p.m.

Here's 60 seconds of what it was looking like at Main and Center a few minutes ago:

Wednesday, December 10, 2014 at 1:41 pm

Today's Flip Ad winner

post by Howard B. Owens in advertisement, Sponsored Post, thebatavian

Kyle Couchman, of Batavia, is today's Flip Ad winner. Kyle was the seventh person to correctly identify today's secret code, which was "Brisbane." It was flipped under the Turnbull ad.

Reminder: To win you must correctly identify the secret code word. I received a half dozen e-mails this morning before we even put the contest up. Each e-mail was idenifying an existing Flip Ads. That's not how the contest is played.

When playing, remember to include your full name and address to qualify for the prize.

There won't be another code up until some time tomorrow.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014 at 12:13 pm

Turnovers swamp Lady Blue Devils in home opener

post by Howard B. Owens in basketball, batavia, Batavia HS, high school sports, sports

Turnovers bedeviled the Lady Blue Devils in their home-game debut for the 2014-15 season as they suffered their first defeat of the campaign, losing to Mendon 54-33.

This is a better team than they they showed Tuesday night with the four returning starters, Essence Williams, Tiara Filbert, Sam Cecere and Madison McCulley.

"We've got a great group of girls," Head Coach Marty Hein said. "They're all returners. We lost one senior. Our bench is stepping into their jobs. We'll be there. It just wasn't a good night tonight."

It was a sloppy first quarter for both Mendon and Batavia, with both teams struggling to retain possession. Batavia (1-1) took a 15-10 lead. But Mendon started to find its rhythm in the second quarter, scoring 18 points and holding Batavia to nine points.

The game became lopsided in the third quarter, with Mendon scoring 15 while the Lady Blue Devils didn't knock down a single field goal and scoring its lone point on a free throw.

Batavia needs to be more aggressive on offense, Hein said, pushing the ball up the court faster on inbounds and transitions.

"When we push the ball, we're a much better team," Hein said. "In the last five minutes, we were looking ahead, running the floor and we did better. It was the same thing in Albion. We waltzed the ball up the floor, and if you're meeting good pressure, you're not getting into your offense. When we're actually running the floor, at least we're getting their defense below the foul line."

Filbert, a junior, remains the team's offensive fire power. She scored 16 points Tuesday and has 25 on the season along with 13 rebounds and nine steals. 

McCully had seven points and Williams had four.

Now, Hein said, the team knows what it needs to work on.

"There's nothing wrong with a loss as long as we learn something from it," Hein said.

To purchase prints of photos, click here.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014 at 11:14 pm

Heavy snow predicted for Wednesday into Thursday

post by Howard B. Owens in weather

A winter storm warning for heavy snow has been issued for 4 a.m. through 6 p.m., Thursday, replacing the previous storm advisory.

Precipitation will start start tonight and change over to snowfall by the morning.

A storm total of 8 to 14 inches is predicted, with 3 to 5 inches in the morning and 4 to 6 inches Wednesday night and 1 to 3 inches Thursday.

Winds from the northwest at 10 to 20 mph.

Visibility will be reduced to a quarter of a mile at times.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014 at 9:58 pm

Photos: Service of Prayer and Remembrance at Northgate

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, H.E. Turner, northgate free methodist church

A service of prayer and remembrance was held tonight at Northgate Free Methodist Church in Batavia, hosted by H.E. Turner Funeral Home.

The annual service is a chance for those who lost loved ones during the year to honor their memories.

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