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Howard B. Owens's blog

Friday, January 16, 2015 at 2:17 pm

Hawley critical of Cuomo's property tax plan

post by Howard B. Owens in steve hawley

Press release:

Assemblyman Steve Hawley (R,C,I-Batavia) today criticized Gov. Cuomo’s proposed property-tax relief plan as having little concrete backing and not addressing the root cause of unfunded mandates. Hawley also said that the plan is simply a temporary fix and does not address the oppressive tax structure in New York State.  

“Gov. Cuomo’s proposal is a convenient way to avoid addressing the root cause of high property and school taxes: unfunded mandates,” Hawley said. “I agree that tax cuts should be a focus during this year’s budgetary process, but Gov. Cuomo’s proposal does not address the rigorous and oppressive tax structure in New York State. Furthermore, this proposal is based on a surplus that does not yet exist and apparently could only exist if the legislature made several billion in cuts over the next few years. A better solution for tax relief would be broad-based tax cuts for all New Yorkers and not just select groups, as Gov. Cuomo has done.”

Hawley’s comments come after Gov. Cuomo released a $1.7 billion property-tax credit proposal that will be included in his budget presentation next week. Hawley has fought for lower taxes and more fiscal responsibility in Albany during his tenure in the legislature.

Friday, January 16, 2015 at 9:10 am

Havenwood Senior Apartments evacuated overnight because of broken water pipe

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia

From our news partner, WBTA:

Some of the 29 residents of the Havenwood Senior Apartments on Richmond Avenue are waking up in a motel this morning.

The residents had to be evacuated yesterday when a pipe burst and damaged part of the facility.

Batavia Fire Chief James Maxwell said the broken pipe was part of the facility's sprinkler system. Repairs to the pipe left the facility with a lack of fire protection which prompted the evacuation.

Maxwell said some displaced residents were taken in by family members while others were taken to a motel. All residents are expected to return to their apartments today.

Friday, January 16, 2015 at 7:57 am

GCEDC announces goals for 2015

post by Howard B. Owens in business, GCEDC

Press release:

The staff of the Genesee County Economic Development Center (GCEDC) unveiled its proposed goals for 2015 at the agency’s board meeting Thursday. Among the goals for 2015:

• Generating $35 million in new capital and/or business investments;
• Creating/retaining approximately 205 jobs; and
• Advancing development of STAMP.

Among the plans for STAMP include continue securing funding to advance critical infrastructure development for the site such as water, sewer, natural gas and electric as well as the remaining land acquisition. According to GCEDC staff, securing this funding will further STAMP toward receiving NYS “shovel-ready site certification” and continue to advance the ongoing efforts to market the Park to corporate site selectors in various industry sectors such as nanotechnology.

“We have set the bar very high, but given the track record of the GCEDC the board is very confident in the staff’s ability to achieve these aggressive economic development goals,” said Wally Hinchey who was reappointed as GCEDC chairman at the board meeting. “Through the years we have created a very positive climate for economic growth and we will continue to build on these successes in 2015.”

The GCEDC also revealed plans to continue infrastructure enhancements as part of Phase II development at the agri-business park and ongoing collaboration with the Town of Le Roy on its potential development of a “greenfield” site located near Route 19 and West Bergen Road, bordering the Village of Le Roy. The GCEDC also plans to enhance its municipal and regional stakeholder outreach program for county and regional stakeholders with a particular focus on municipalities and school districts.

In addition to Hinchey being reappointed as chairman, the GCEDC also announced the appointment of its 2015 officers:

• Mary Ann Wiater, Vice Chairman
• Penny Kennett, Secretary
• Lezlie Farrell, Treasurer
• Steve Hyde, President & CEO

“On behalf of the staff of the GCEDC, we are very excited to embark on another year of significant economic development activity that will continue the growth and prosperity of the region,” said Steve Hyde, GCEDC president and CEO. “We are grateful to the GCEDC board for its support of our efforts and we look forward to collaborating with the public and private sectors in our collective efforts to create and retain jobs and bring new investment to Genesee County.”

Friday, January 16, 2015 at 7:50 am

Law and Order: Hutchins Street resident in jail after argument with girlfriend

post by Howard B. Owens in Attica, batavia, crime

Darrell Smith, 47, of Hutchins Street, Batavia, is charged with criminal mischief, 4th, and harassment, 2nd. Smith was allegedly involved in an argument with his girlfriend and during the incident ripped the shower current and punched, pushed and grabbed her. Smith was jailed on $1,000 bail.

Kyle J. Snyder, 26, of Colony Run, Attica, was arrested on a warrant for alleged failure to appear on an appearance ticket. Snyder turned himself in at Batavia PD. The original charge was aggravated unlicensed operation, 3rd. Snyder posted $200 of his $500 fine, released and scheduled to appear again at a later date.

Robert E. Saari, 33, of Alleghany Road, Attica, was arrested on a warrant for alleged failure to appear on an aggravated unlicensed operation charge, 2nd. Saari turned himself in. He posted $500 bail and was released.

Dustin Guy Nicometo, 27, of Jackson Street, Batavia, is charged with criminal possession of stolen property, 4th, and violation of probation. Nicometo was arrested on a warrant.

Steven James Snyder, 25, of West Avenue, Attica, is charged with petit larceny. Snyder is accused of shoplifting from Kmart.

Thursday, January 15, 2015 at 3:46 pm

Le Roy HS principal alerts parents to Yik Yak use by students

post by Howard B. Owens in education, Le Roy, le roy hs, schools, social media, yik yak

Yik Yak, the controversial social media app that allows users to share messages in complete anonymity to be read by people near their locations, has prompted Le Roy HS administrators to seek parental help in controlling its spread.

Principal Tim McArdle sent a message to all parents today informing them that Yik Yak use has been reported by students and there have been complaints about it already.

"Based on reports by students, individuals in our school community over the last few days have been using this app to bully others and post very degrading comments about students and staff," McArdle wrote in the message. "We have been in contact with other local districts that are experiencing the same situation this week."

The Batavian reported earlier this week that administrators at Batavia HS were aware of the app and monitoring its impact on campus life.

Yik Yak has garnered a good deal of national news coverage because of complaints of bullying and threats by users.

McArdle said administrators addressed students about Yik Yak during lunches today.

"We let them know the negative impacts that social bullying and harassing have on their fellow students," McArdle wrote. "We also encouraged students who may be negatively impacted to come forward and seek help. Students were invited to sign a pledge to delete the app from their phone. In just the first day alone we had a great turnout of students pledging to do this."

The app has been blocked from the school network, but that won't prevent students with mobile devices and their own online access from using the app.

"We now need your help as parents!," the principal wrote. "Please talk about this with your child and discourage their use of this app."

Thursday, January 15, 2015 at 3:36 pm

Molino honored by city management association

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business, Jason Molino, Milestones

Press release:

Jason Molino, City Manager for the City of Batavia, recently received the Credentialed Manager designation from ICMA, the International City/County Management Association. Jason is one of over 1,300 local government management professionals currently credentialed through the ICMA Voluntary Credentialing Program.

ICMA’s mission is to create excellence in local governance by promoting professional management worldwide and increasing the proficiency of appointed chief administrative officers, assistant administrators, and other employees who serve local governments and regional entities around the world. The organization’s nearly 9,000 members in 27 countries also include educators, students, and other local government employees.

To receive the prestigious ICMA credential, a member must have significant experience as a senior management executive in local government; have earned a degree, preferably in public administration or a related field; and demonstrated a commitment to high standards of integrity and to lifelong learning and professional development.

Jason is qualified by more than eight years of professional local government executive experience. Prior to his appointment in 2006 as City Manager of Batavia, he served as the Assistant to the Village Manager for the Village of Port Chester, NY.  In addition, Jason served as a 2nd Class Petty Officer in the United State Coast Guard Reserve from 2000-2007

Highlights of Jason’s ICMA membership include: member of the 2009 Montreal ICMA Conference Planning Committee and most recently the City of Batavia and Jason were recognized by ICMA as recipients for the 2014 Program Excellence Award for Strategic Leadership and Governance.
Jason has also made significant contributions to a number of other organizations, including: serving as Board Member of the New York State City/County Management Association, current member and former President of Genesee County Cornell Cooperative Extension and Graduate of Leadership Genesee – Class of 2008.

Thursday, January 15, 2015 at 1:23 pm

Former flight school owner returning to Batavia to teach flying again

post by Howard B. Owens in business, Genesee County Airport, P&L Air

Pete Lockner has decided retirement is for the birds. He'd rather get back to doing what he loves: teaching people to fly.

Next week, the County Legislature will be asked to sign off on a new one-year lease for Lockner to open -- we should say, reopen -- P&L Air, a flight school, at the Genesee County Airport.

Lockner and a partner (hence P&L) first opened a flight school in Batavia in 1986. Lockner bought out his partner when he took an early retirement from Kodak and grew the school into an operation with 10 aircraft for students to rent and learn in.

"I taught people how to have fun for 17 years and it was great," Lockner said.

After 17 years of fun, Lockner sold the business, but that operator eventually closed up shop and moved to Florida.

A second flight school opened, but was forced out of business 18 months ago in a tax dispute with the State of New York.

While taking in the dry heat of Albuquerque, N.M., Lockner heard of the vacancy at his old airport and saw it as an opportunity to get back to doing what he truly enjoys.

P&L will be a small enterprise to start, with only one single-engine plane, but Lockner is ambitious. He hopes to have a second plane in a year or so and add on from there.

"In a couple of years, I'm hopeful the business grow like it did before," Lockner said.

Lockner's interest in aviation goes back to his college days, but didn't start flying until his wife bought him a gift certificate for ground school for Christmas when he was 40.

Bit by the bug, Lockner is licensed to fly everything from a single-engine plane up to a commercial airliner. 

P&L will provide pilot training for beginners and beyond.

The basic single-engine pilot license without an instrument rating is pretty much all anybody needs to fly to any destination in the world, Lockner said.

He used to fly all over the country on such a license. 

"The private pilot license is most useful because as long you don't worry about bad weather, you can fly anywhere you want," Lockner said.

County Highway Superintendent Tim Hens said Lockner returning is welcome news.

The one-year lease will expire about the time the airport will get a new terminal, and P&L, if successful, could be a nice anchor tenant.

"It's nice to have him back because he knows the airport and he knows the market, so I think he will be successful," Hens said. "He's a good pilot."

Thursday, January 15, 2015 at 12:34 pm

Police looking for Jacquetta Simmons on warrant for alleged harassment

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, crime
Jacquetta Simmons

Batavia police officers have been looking for Jacquetta Simmons since October after she was allegedly involved in an altercation at a church meeting, Chief Shawn Heubusch said today.

Simmons, convicted of punching a Walmart employee on Christmas Eve, 2011, is wanted on a charge of harassment in the second degree.

The charge means she is accused of physical contact with the victim.

Heubusch said he didn't know what that contact involved. The alleged victim is described as a 54-year-old woman.

The warrant was issued Oct. 20 and signed by Judge Robert Balbick, City Court.

Heubusch didn't know the name of the church, but said he believed the alleged altercation occurred during a business meeting. The address he provided is 301 North St., which is the YWCA.

Police do not currently have any information on where Simmons might be.

Simmons last appeared in court in September when her restitution order was modified and she was ordered to make payments of $100 per month on her $2,000 debt.

Originally sentenced to five years in prison for hitting a 70-year-old Walmart cashier, an appeals court vacated that sentenced and ordered she be resentenced to a year in jail.  

Noonan resentenced her a year ago and she was taken to jail at that time, but was expected to be out in eight months or less.

For The Batavian's previous comprehensive coverage of the Simmons case, click here.

Thursday, January 15, 2015 at 11:44 am

Hawley calls for reform reform state aid to school districts

post by Howard B. Owens in education, schools, steve hawley

Press release:

Assemblyman Steve Hawley (R,C,I-Batavia) announced today that he is sponsoring legislation to end the Gap Elimination Adjustment (GEA). Assembly Bill 8720 of 2014 seeks to end the education cuts that took place in 2009 and 2010. Hawley, along with many members of the Assembly Minority Conference, has been outspoken about restoring the GEA for several years. “School districts in New York State deserve to have these cuts restored,” Hawley said. 

“The legislature has had the financial means to restore this education aid for years now, and the apparent surplus this year should go directly to fund our schools. It is unfortunate to see good teachers being laid off and students being placed at a disadvantage because Albany couldn’t balance its budget. These cuts were never intended to be permanent, but the legislature is hesitant to repay them each budget cycle.”

Hawley’s comments come after members of the legislature made clear their plan to reintroduce Assembly Bill 8720 for the current legislative term. The new bill number is not known yet.

Thursday, January 15, 2015 at 8:01 am

Athletes looking to improve performance can get an edge at new facility in Batavia

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business, sports

Getting young athletes ready to compete at a higher level is one of the primary missions of Athletes Edge, a new training facility on East Main Street, co-owned and operated by Ben Buchholz.

Buchholz is a coach with Batavia High's football and baseball programs and he said what he's seeing today is local schools squaring off against Monroe County schools, and those athletes have taken on more challenging training routines during the off-season.

It's no longer enough just to show up on the first day of practice and expect to be ready to go. Young athletes need to train during the off-season.

"We're falling behind what we have to do to help us get better in every aspect of sports," Buchholz said. "We need to do more off-season stuff and this gives kids a chance to really get in here and do it. Now a lot of kids are doing a lot more off-season work and it shows in season. To compete, you've got to do it because everybody else is doing it."

The Blue Devils' deep run in post-season football is an example of how good off-season training can pay off, Buchholz said.

When you walk into Athletes Edge, if you're expecting a gym, you'll be struck by what you don't see. There are no weight benches, universal machines, dumbbells or barbells.

Modern athlete training is no longer about just pushing around heavy slabs of cast iron.

It's about speed, agility and stamina, and that's where Buchholz puts the emphasis.

The training tools at Athletes Edge involve boxes and stretch bands, but much of what is taught and trained is about body weight.

Plyometric workouts, which involve body weight and explosive movements, are a big part now of even the most elite athlete's daily routine.

"It's getting away from lifting huge heavy weights and getting into more athletic movement with strength," Buchholz said.

The facility's batting cage and pitcher's mound might leave the impression on a visitor that there is an emphasis at Athletes Edge on baseball, and that wouldn't be an incorrect perception, but the facility and training is open to all athletes and all sports. Notre Dame hockey, for example, is considering a team training session, Buchholz said.

Le Roy and Alexander's baseball teams have both already been in for a session since the business opened a month ago.

There's training available, also, for younger athletes. Athletes Edge is sponsoring travel baseball teams for youths from 8 and under to 12 years old.

Buchholz also hosts group events, such as birthday parties for youths. Those events might involve activities such as dodgeball or kickball or other activities.

"Whatever parents want to do, we set it up and just roll with it," Buchholz said.

Athletes Edge is located at 214 E. Main St., Suite #3, Batavia. The phone number is (585) 356-5995. The business is co-owned by Sam Antinore.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015 at 3:45 pm

Law and Order: Man accused of stealing and selling rifle

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

Joel David Prouty, 28, of Fisher Road, Oakfield, is charged with grand larceny, 4th, and criminal possession of a weapon, 4th. Prouty was arrested following an investigation by Deputy Chad Minuto into a report of a stolen rifle from a residence in Oakfield sometime between July and August. Prouty is accused of stealing a rifle and selling it to another person. Prouty has a prior felony conviction, leading the weapons charge. The rifle was recovered. Prouty is currently confined in the Genesee County Jail on unrelated charges.

Lauren E. Charache, 35, Myrtle Street, Le Roy, is charged with aggravated unlicensed operation, 2nd, and criminal possession of stolen property, 3rd. Charache was allegedly caught operating a vehicle that had been stolen from a person in Le Roy. Charache was held on $15,000 bail or $30,000 bond.

Steven Anthony Caldarelli, 52, of Portland Avenue, Rochester, was arrested on a warrant for criminal possession of stolen property. Caldarelli is accused of selling stolen property to a business in the Town of Batavia. He was jailed on $2,000 bail. He is also charged with petit larceny. He is accused of stealing power equipment from a vehicle that was parked in a parking lot in the Town of Batavia.

Michael Paul Dickens, 33, of Underwood Avenue, Hilton, is charged with harassment, 2nd. Dickens allegedly struck another person in the head while riding in the vehicle with that person on Route 19, Le Roy.

Jennifer Lynn Stack, 28, of South Main, Batavia, is charged with aggravated unlicensed operation, 3rd, and plate display violation (no front plate). She was also arrested on a warrant out of the Town of Gates. Stack was turned over to Gates PD following her arrest.

Chercal A. Smith, 19, of Bank Street, Batavia, is charged with assault, 3rd. Smith is accused of punching another person in the face with intent to cause injury.

Kristine S. Baker, 27, of Clinton Street, Batavia, is charged with dog running at large. Baker turned herself in on a warrant.

Jerry Tyrone Saddler Jr., 28, of Steel Street, Auburn, is charged with harassment, 2nd, and two counts of criminal contempt, 1st. Saddler was allegedly involved in a fight at 8:13 p.m., Tuesday, at a location on West Main Street in alleged violation of a court order barring offensive conduct around the other person. He reportedly has a prior criminal contempt conviction within the past five years.

An unidentified 18-year-old was arrested on a warrant for criminal obstruction of breathing, endangering the welfare of a child and criminal mischief, 4th. The suspect was located by Niagara Falls PD. The person allegedly did not abide by terms of a release under supervision order. The suspect was jailed on $1,000 bail or bond.

Eileen M. Wilcox, 46, of Brooklyn Avenue, Batavia, was arrested on a warrant for alleged failure to appear on a driving while impaired by alcohol charge. Wilcox turned herself in to BPD and is ordered to court at a later date to pay off her fines.

Grand Jury Report:

Jared E. Fleming is indicted on counts of felony DWI and felony driving with a BAC of .08 or greater. Fleming is accused of driving drunk July 31 on Transit Road, Stafford. He allegedly has a prior DWI conviction from January 2011.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015 at 3:07 pm

Hawley calls for floor vote on Women's Equality bills

post by Howard B. Owens in steve hawley

Press release:

Assemblyman Steve Hawley (R,C,I-Batavia) today called for members of the Assembly Majority to bring the Women’s Equality Agenda to the floor for a vote as separate bills.  Hawley said the Assembly Minority intends to again introduce the package as separate pieces of legislation. 

“The women of New York have waited far too long for these bills to be passed by the Assembly,” Hawley said.  “We are re-introducing this legislation because women’s equality reforms cannot wait another year.  These bills will protect women from matters such as domestic violence, sexual harassment, human trafficking and wage discrimination.  It is time for the Assembly Majority to quit using this issue for political gain and join us in a bi-partisan collaboration that will be an early legislative victory for constituents.”

Hawley’s comments come after Assembly Minority Leader Brian M. Kolb (R,C-Canandaigua) held a press conference Tuesday morning to call for passage of the Women’s Equality Agenda legislation.  The State Senate passed eight separate bills on Monday. 

Wednesday, January 14, 2015 at 3:00 pm

Photos: Batavia beats Notre Dame in hockey, 4-2

post by Howard B. Owens in Batavia HS, high school sports, hockey, Notre Dame, sports

In the second meeting of the year, with another to come, Batavia beat Notre Dame at Falleti Ice Arena, 4-2.

The win evens the season series at 1-1 and improves the Ice Devils record to 4-4-1.

Aaron Feary scored two goals; Cameron Ells had one and two assists for Batavia/Alexander, with Bryce Polito getting an empty-net goal in the closing seconds of the game.

Reid Rademacker gave Notre Dame an early 1-0 lead and Devin Grimshaw scored with eight seconds left.

James Cryer had 15 saves for Batavia and Ethan Conrad had 25 for the Fighting Irish.

The Irish are now 4-8 on the season.

To purchase prints, click here.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015 at 7:59 pm

BHS officials monitoring controversial app catching on with students

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Batavia HS, education, schools, yik yak

Yik Yak has come to Batavia High School and administrators are monitoring the social media site with a wary eye.

Already the subject of national news stories because of reports of bullying, bomb threats and juvenile chatter, Yik Yak provides posters with complete anonymity and an audience of proximity and immediacy.

Recent posts have included invitations (yes, more than one) for people to list the biggest slut at the school, accusations of sexual crimes, and insults directed at specific students and teachers.

And according to a couple of posters, if you think that's bullying, then that's your problem.

"Cyberbullying not real," wrote one anonymous poster in all caps. "If you dont (sic) wanna be 'cyberbullied' then delete the app or turn ya phone off."

On the other hand, there are messages that decry the immaturity of high school students on Yik Yak and defend some of those insulted.

A few posts seem to even use the app as intended -- to post what's going on around them or make funny observations.

"30 likes and I'll show up to school tomorrow in a tutu and high heels," wrote one poster. The post received more than 50 likes. No reports on anybody showing up at BHS in a tutu and high heels, however.

Yik Yak is a mobile app, for use on smartphones and tablets. Messages are shared only within a 1.5-mile radius of the location of where the post was created.

The terms of service require users to be older than 17 and news reports say the company founders are concerned about use by high school students and are trying to find ways to block access on school campuses and prevent underage users from signing on.

In news reports, founders Tyler Droll and Brooks Buffington, who are given credit in some accounts for being responsive to teenage bullying concerns, admit their efforts to limit usage to adults has proven difficult.

So far, Yik Yak has received more than $60 million in venture capital funding.

Asked about the appearance of Yik Yak on the BHS campus, Principal Scott Wilson responded:

Yes, We are aware of Yik Yak. We are monitoring it and it is blocked from the district network. As with all social media sites, we expect students to be responsible. The advice we give students is to not to respond to negative posts. They should report concerns to a responsible, trusted adult. Parents, counselors, teachers and administrators can help by listening to the concerns, investigate and conduct the necessary follow-up. The anonymity of Yik Yak is a challenge for all of us when kids use it irresponsibly.

On the Web:

Tuesday, January 13, 2015 at 6:32 pm

Council meeting features discussion on downtown mall frustrations

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, city centre, downtown, genesee country mall, mall

There was a degree of frustration on all sides in council chambers Monday night over the long-simmering dispute over the state of the downtown mall after a resident raised the issue during public comments.

Some council members initially joined in the call of Richard Richmond to have the state's comptroller's office audit the city's legal fees associated with the city's dispute and the current lawsuit with the Mall Merchants Association.

Molino noted, however, that the city was audited last year and no irregularities related to legal bills were found.

He also asked what the goal of such an audit would be. The legal fees are public record and have been released before.

Richmond said he would like to see an itemized list of attorney fees for the mall, even suggesting audio go back six years to check for any inadvertent double billing.

The city's financial statements are scrutinized every year by an independent accountant, Molino told the council, and "they report any fraud or inconsistencies."

There have been no such reports.

Last year, resident John Roach issued a public records request and received documents showing the city's legal fees related to mall litigation, but some material was redacted if it could reveal information covered by attorney-client privilege. 

An audit, Molino suggested, would not necessarily uncover the kind of information perhaps some think it might.

"The comptroller is not going to provide you with guidance on what you pay for what services," Molino said. "They're not going to come in and tell you you're paying too much for police services, you're paying too much for fire services or you're paying too much for this."

Council members such as John Deleo expressed concern about how much was being spent on mall litigation and compared the years-long conflict with the mall association to a messy divorce that has gone on too long.

More than just the legal fees, perhaps, Deleo said, "people are concerned about the mall and the 57 buckets and how long does this divorce will go on."

After the meeting, Molino hinted at his own frustration with five or six years of disputes over the mall, but also expressed hope that a once-and-for-all solution can be reached during legal negotiations.

The condition of the mall and the disputes over the mall create a perception problem, Molino said, that could hold back redevelopment and brownfield development.

"It does not help the long-term success of the city nor the long-term success of the businesses and the redevelopment potential downtown, so, yes, it does hurt," Molino said. "It hurts everybody. I think everybody's business involved is going to benefit when it's resolved, and the city as a whole, and the community, will be able to get through this, and I hope it's a milestone that we can get past and say we were able to get past that hurdle."

There is an openness, Molino believes, to finding a solution to the disputes that led to the lawsuit, the involves negotiation and not further litigation.

"I think both parties want to resolve this issue and it's just a matter of coming together to find common ground that is going to meet everybody's needs," Molino said.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015 at 4:36 pm

Child found safe on Washington Avenue after leaving Jackson School without permission

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, education, Jackson School, schools

A kindergartener at Jackson Street School apparently misunderstood instructions from a nurse today and left school grounds instead of waiting for his father to pick him up, according to officials.

The child was missing for only a few minutes, Officer Eric Hill told WBTA.

At about the same time the nurse was calling Batavia PD, a child was located, dressed in hat, gloves and coat, on Washington Avenue. 

The school district issued the following statement about the incident:

Today at Jackson Primary School, a kindergarten student who was being dismissed from school early, walked out of a side door as per his normal dismissal procedures and started walking home rather than going to the school office for release. School officials immediately instituted their Emergency Procedures and contacted the police. The child was located shortly thereafter and returned safely to school and his parent.

The District will be reviewing its procedures to determine how today's incident occurred and make changes as necessary. As always, we place the safety of our students first and will take the necessary measures to protect  them.

Our news partners WBTA and 13WHAM contributed to this story.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015 at 2:43 pm

Bob Harris Realty acquired by Buffalo-based firm

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business

After 29 years of Gerace family ownership, Bob Harris Realty, has been sold to RealtyUSA, a company with 2,100 agents in offices from Albany to Buffalo.

The merger was announced at the Bob Harris offices on Ellicott Avenue this morning by Merle Whitehead, president, CEO and sole owner of RealtyUSA, with Joe and Lois Gerace at his side and their sons John and Robert standing nearby.  

"We acquired the assets of Bob Harris Realty, but more importantly, we acquired a household name in Batavia in realty," Whitehead said. "What a great asset for RealtyUSA to enter this market with such a strong family name and reputation, so we're really excited."

Founded in Williamsville in 1959, RealtyUSA grew to be the market leader in the Buffalo area and has expanded over the years through acquisition, Whitehead said, to become the market leader in Rochester, Syracuse, Albany, Corning and Elmira.

Last year the company handled $3.6 billion in transactions.

Lois Gerace said she will remain active in the business and doesn't plan to retire just yet. 

"I'm looking forward to at least another five years, easily," Gerace said.

John Gerace will be the manager of the RealtyUSA office.

Whitehead said his company will be able to bring resources to Bob Harris that the company didn't have on its own, such as training and the ability to hire more agents. The corporate office will also take on many tasks involved in running a real estate business, including marketing.

Lois Gerace said the new technology RealtyUSA is able to provide will benefit the business.

"We think we're going to provide better service to our customers, and we're excited," Gerace said.

While recognizing that the Bob Harris brand is well established in Genesee County, Whitehead said given the strong market presence RealtyUSA has to the east and to the west, changing the local name of the business only makes sense.

"We have an incredible Web site," Whitehead said. "It's been named the fourth best real estate Web site in America, so we want to use realtyusa.com to market in this area."

The acquisition is effective today.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015 at 1:47 pm

Batavia PD looking for missing teen last seen at BHS yesterday

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, missing persons

Olivia A. Rivera-Ellis is missing and is considered a runaway.

The 16-year-old was last seen at Batavia High School at 11:30 a.m., Monday. 

She was wearing a black and silver scarf, a black and pink cosmetology sweater, black yoga pants and white Jordan high-top sneakers. 

She was carrying a cheetah-print backpack.

She may still be in the local area.

Tips on her whereabouts should go to Batavia PD, (585) 345-6350.

"As in all cases of runaway youth, people who knowingly harbor these individuals are committing a crime," said Det. Rich Schauf.

UPDATE 4:30 p.m.: Olivia A. Rivera-Ellis has been located.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015 at 9:44 am

Le Roy PD warns residents about thefts of cars left unattended and running

post by Howard B. Owens in crime, Le Roy

Press release:

The Le Roy Police Department is advising all residents of a sudden increase in vehicle thefts in the Village of Le Roy. Three vehicles have been stolen since Jan. 7th from different locations in the Village, and even though all have been recovered, two have sustained significant damage. It is suspected that all three stolen vehicles may be related to drug use. The method being used is the suspect will wait in an area for a person to drive up and park their vehicle but leaving it unlocked and running due to the cold weather. The suspect will wait until the driver enters a store out of eyesight and then enter the unlocked vehicle and drive away.

The Le Roy Police Department is advising all citizens to please not leave their vehicles running while unoccupied and if they must leave it running, lock it and if there vehicle is stolen to please call 9-1-1 immediately.

One person has been arrested so far in relation to these thefts and a future press release will be issued pertaining to such.

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