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Monday, March 31, 2014 at 3:38 pm

GCEDC board to consider two projects at Thursday meeting

post by Howard Owens in batavia, business, GCEDC

Press release:

The Board of Directors of the Genesee County Economic Development Center (GCEDC) will consider two projects at its April 3 board meeting.

Mega Properties, Inc., plans to make a 20,000-square-foot expansion to its current facility in Gateway I Corporate Park in Batavia. The projected capital investment is approximately $775,000 and would create 5.5 new full-time equivalent jobs in three years after a certificate of occupancy is issued.

Premiere Credit plans to expand its growing call center in the City of Batavia through an investment of approximately $400,000. The company pledges 25 additional jobs with this project, which will bring total employment commitment at the facility up to 150 full-time equivalent employees. At the end of 2013, Premiere reported employing 134 employees at the company’s Batavia location.

The GCEDC Board meeting will take place at 4 p.m. and is open to the public. Meetings are held at the Dr. Bruce A. Holm Upstate Med & Tech Park, located at 99 MedTech Drive, Batavia, on the 2nd floor, across from Genesee Community College.

UPDATE: Here are project summaries released by GCEDC

Mega Properties, Inc. (Koolatron) - Town of Batavia (final resolution will be considered)
Mega Properties, Inc., (Koolatron) is a Canadian company with headquarters in Brantford, Ontario, international location in the United Kingdom, and U.S. locations in Florida and New York. They began with their flagship product line of 12-volt portable thermoelectric coolers and today they have expanded to manufacture, market and distribute a wide range of items via dealer-distributor network and the Internet. In 2000, they built a 25,000-square-foot facility in the Gateway I Corporate Park. The company is proposing a 20,000-square-foot expansion at their current facility. The total investment is estimated at $775,000 and the project is expected to create 5.5 new full-time equivalent jobs in three years after their certificate of occupancy is issued. The GCEDC Board approved an initial resolution to set a public hearing at the June 6, 2013 meeting. A public hearing was held on June 26, 2013, as the benefits exceeded $100,000, and there were no comments.

Premiere Credit - City of Batavia (final resolution will be considered)
Premiere Credit is expanding their call center in the city of Batavia. The company is investing $400,000 in equipment to support their growing call center. Premiere Credit is pledging 25 additional jobs and with this project that will bring total employment at the facility up to 150 full-time equivalent employees. In 2012, capital expenditure was $350,000 with 100 pledged jobs. In 2013, capital expenditure was $325,000 with 50 more jobs pledged. For 2013, the company reported that 134 positions had been created at their Batavia location.

Monday, March 31, 2014 at 2:58 pm

Ranzenhofer announces increase in VTL funds for local governments

post by Howard Owens in Mike Ranzenhofer

Press release:

State Senator Michael H. Ranzenhofer has announced today that the 2014-15 New York State Budget will increase Video Lottery Terminal (VLT) aid by more than 27 percent to the host communities of Batavia Downs.

Throughout the budget process, Senator Ranzenhofer and his colleagues in the State Senate have been working to secure additional VLT aid.

“I am pleased to announce that I was able to secure more VLT aid – for the Town of Batavia, the City of Batavia, and Genesee County – to help offset expenses for hosting Batavia Downs. This is a huge win for our community. Local governments and taxpayers will now receive a $171,700 funding boost,” Ranzenhofer said.

The 2014 Executive Budget proposed VLT aid remain at the prior year’s funding level. The 2014-15 State Budget will increase VLT aid among the three host communities of Batavia Downs by approximately $171,765.

Breakdown: VLT Aid to Batavia Downs Casino Host Communities


2014-15 Executive Budget Proposal

2014-15 Enacted Budget

Change from Executive Budget Proposal

City of Batavia




Town of Batavia




Genesee County




In 2006, State Finance Law authorized payment of aid to municipalities with video lottery terminal facilities. Funding for host communities was eliminated by Senate and Assembly Democrats in 2009 and 2010. Currently, host communities receive 55 percent of the aid received in 2008-09; the 2014-15 State Budget will restore aid to 70 percent of 2008-09 levels.

Senator Ranzenhofer is a cosponsor of legislation, S2120A, to resore VLT aid to 2008 levels.

Monday, March 31, 2014 at 9:47 am

Law and Order: Two women arrested after report of fight on State Street

post by Howard Owens in batavia, crime, elba, Oakfield, State Street

Melissa R. Piazza, 24, of State Street, Batavia, is charged with reckless endangerment, 2nd. Piazza allegedly threw a stick at a vehicle during an argument on State Street at 6:53 p.m., Wednesday.

Cheryl M. Lyons, 48, of State Street, Batavia, is charged with menacing, 2nd, and endangering the welfare of a child. Lyons allegedly brandished a stick and a knife while threatening another person during an argument on State Street reported at 6:53 p.m., Wednesday. A child was allegedly present to witness the threats.

Dillion Lee James Farley, 22, of Ridge Road, Elba, is charged with DWI, driving with a BAC of .18 or greater, unlawful possession of marijuana, failure to keep right, moving from lane unsafely. Farley was reportedly involved in a property damage accident at 11:14 p.m. Sunday on Lockport Road, Elba. The accident was investigated by Deputy Joseph Corona.

Jason Charles Lusk, 33, of Collegeview Drive, Batavia, is charged with harassment, 2nd. Lusk allegedly hit an acquaintance while in front of two deputies at 2:13 a.m., Saturday.

Harry Thomas Gibson, 49, of North Spruce Street, Batavia, is charged with attempted petit larceny. Gibson was seen by Dollar General staff allegedly placing merchandise in a bag in an attempt to steal it. When confronted, Gibson reportedly dropped the bag and left the scene.

Sara J. Smith, 28, of Fairmont Avenue, Batavia, was arrested on a bench warrant related to a criminal mischief charge. She allegedly failed to appear. Smith posted bail (amount not disclosed) and was released.

Aaron Walter Smith, 26, of Webber Avenue, Oakfield, is charged with unlawful possession of marijuana. Smith was arrested following an investigation by officers Chad Richards and Stephen Cronmiller into a report of a suspicious vehicle left unattended and running in the area of Kwik Fill.

Rebecca E.A. Mulholland, 23, of Ellicott Street, Batavia, is charged with DWI and driving with a BAC of .08 or greater. Mulholland's vehicle was stopped at 3:54 a.m. Saturday on Ellicott Street by Officer Peter Flanagan following a "check the welfare" request for a vehicle matching the description of the one driven by Mulholland.

Sunday, March 30, 2014 at 12:10 pm

Photos: Batavians with dealing heavy, wet snow on a Sunday morning

post by Howard Owens in batavia, weather

This is not how you want to spend a Sunday morning in Spring, clearing snow from your walks and driveways.

Whether using a blower or a shovel, Batavia residents this morning said the snow was heavy and hard to move.

Above, Ben Humes on South Main Street.

Justin Washington on Ellicott Avenue clearing snow from his car.

Jeff Emminizer, on South Main Street, enjoys a cigar while shoveling his drive. Emminizer, who owns a home-based business repairing dings and dents on cars, said he also had the BBQ going, smoking some beef. He said he grills or smokes every Sunday, regardless of the weather.

Jared Chaddock on Roosevelt Avenue with his 1964 Wheel Horse tractor. 

Fred Lord on Kibbe Avenue.

Brandan, 9, and Alissa, 4, were sledding in Kibbe Park with their father Mark Burgess.

A city plow truck on Chestnut.

Sunday, March 30, 2014 at 8:35 am

Photo: Car off the road in Elba, buried in snow

post by Howard Owens in elba, weather

A reader sent in this picture of a car off the road on North Byron Road, Elba. It looks like we got about six inches of snow overnight.

UPDATE: Jeff Allen sent in the picture of Maddie and Goliath a little taken aback by all the heavy, wet stuff in their yard. Below that, a picture from Greg Rada of his father's driveway this morning.

Saturday, March 29, 2014 at 9:33 pm

Former Batavia resident in Texas accused of plotting an insurgency

post by Howard Owens in batavia, crime
Robert Talbot

A former Batavia resident has been arrested by federal authorities in Texas, accused of plotting against the U.S. Government.

Robert J. Talbot, 42, allegedly was plotting to blow up buildings and kill cops once he convinced people to join him in his American Insurgent Movement.

Friday, Talbot was arraigned in Federal Court in Houston, near where he was living, and charged with illegal possession of explosive materials and interfering with commerce by threats of violence.

FBI agents tracked Talbot for eight months, in person and online, apparently going undercover and winning his trust, convincing him he was picking up followers.

That's how you isolate a "lone wolf" one agent told the Houston Chronicle to help contain their activity.

Authorities say Talbot went beyond angry rants.

He allegedlly staked out banks and armored cars and was plotting a possible robbery to fund his movement. He allegedly researched explosives and asked undercover agents for help in obtaining explosives.

Talbot was taken into custody by a SWAT team while allegedly heading to the location of a planned armored car robbery.

"I would say he had the will, said Assistant U.S. Attorney Carolyn Ferko. "He was absolutely determined."

Saturday, March 29, 2014 at 7:42 pm

Photo: Snow on Center Street

post by Howard Owens in batavia, Center Street, weather

Pretty much right on cue, it started to snow in Batavia this evening. Heavy, water-sodden flakes.

Temperatures are below freezing. The roadways are slick. Since the snow started, there've been four motor-vehicle accidents reported in the county.

Icy road conditions are expected to last through the morning.

Saturday, March 29, 2014 at 7:26 pm

Another big crowd turns out for Home Show at Falleti

post by Howard Owens in batavia, business, Home Show

More than 900 people turned out for the second day of the Genesee County Home Show.

The show continues tomorrow, Sunday, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Above, WBTA's Dan Fischer in the radio station's booth at the show.

Saturday, March 29, 2014 at 5:12 pm

Legislators say final state budget will include $33 million for development of STAMP project

post by Howard Owens in GCEDC, STAMP

UPDATED 6:56 p.m. to add comments from Steve Hyde.

State lawmakers are expected to vote on a state budget Monday that will include $33 million in funding for the WNY STAMP project in the Town of Alabama. STAMP stands for Science and Technology Advanced Marketing Park.

The funds will help GCEDC complete land acquisition and make the proposed high-tech manufacturing park "shovel ready lite."

Actual shovel-in-the-ground type of work will no likely begin before the first tenant is secured, said GCEDC CEO Steve Hyde.

"The big thing is the funding being approved, committed and appropriated," Hyde said.

Once at least one company makes a commitment to STAMP, Hyde said, that's when you'll see work begin on infrastructure -- water lines, roads, power lines, gas lines and telecom.

The proposed 1,300-acre high-tech business park could transform the WNY economy, which is why a broad coalition of "partners" (other IDAs, local governments, community colleges and elected officials) came together to advocate for the funding, Hyde said.

"It was a pretty cool undertaking," Hyde said.

The funding is a big win for all of WNY, said Assemblyman Steve Hawley and State Senator Mike Ranzenhofer, who have both been working to help secure the funding.

"This is huge," Ranzenhofer said. This is the biggest site in North America. This is where people will want to come. This is going to be big for Genesee County and Erie County and Niagara County and all the counties of Western New York. It's going to create thousands of of advanced and technical kinds of jobs."

Assembly Majority Leader Joe Morrelle held a press conference in Irondequoit this afternoon to announce the funding.

Hawley said he was assured on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday that the money would be in the final budget proposal, which the Legislature is expected to vote on Monday.

He said dozens and dozens of people, from local elected officials up to staff in the governor's office, worked together to help make the funding possible.

"I can only say this has been a true team effort," Hawley said. "We've been working together for the regional economic renaissance of Western New York. This project when it comes to fruition could create 10,000 jobs. Jobs. Jobs. Jobs. Spreading the tax burden lessens the tax burden on us all."

There's still lots of engineer work and planning to take place for STAMP, Hyde said. There's also land acquisition deals yet to complete. The funding will help move the project along in those areas as well.

Hyde said earlier this month that STAMP is generating real interest among site selectors and Ranzenhofer and Hawley said they've heard from Hyde that there are some strong potential projects in the pipeline. Securing this funding will only help matters.

"Steve Hyde has indicated there are businesses ready to sign on the dotted line," Hawley said. "There are a number that are really close and extremely interested."

Ranzenhofer said the funding is perhaps the last carrot Hyde needs to draw some businesses into the park.

"I would expect once people see the money is in the budget he's going have some great success in closing some of these deals," Ranzenhofer said.

Hyde reiterated this afternoon that there are some solid businesses taking a good hard look at STAMP and this funding will certainly go a long way toward getting final commitments.

"Some (of the potential deals) are getting pretty deep and there's more in the sales funnel," Hyde said. "I'm very excited. What this does is allow us to show a company that the funding is there to finish the infrastructure and gives us the the ability to try hard and close these deals."

Hyde praised Gov. Andrew Cuomo for backing STAMP.

"This is fulfilling his plan to drive high tech and revitalize Upstate New York," Hyde said. "The governor's office has been incredibly supportive and I'm immensely grateful that they would work with us on this."

UPDATE 7:07 p.m.: Statement from Steve Hyde just issued by GCEDC, after the jump:

Saturday, March 29, 2014 at 2:35 pm

Bet you thought winter was over ...

post by Howard Owens in weather

The forecast for tonight: heavy snow.

There's been no warning or watch issued by the National Weather Service, but some forecasters are calling for up to 10 inches of snow in the region overnight.

The Buffalo office of NWS is saying the impact of the approaching storm is uncertain. We could have minor slushy conditions, or we could get a lot of snow. Much depends on how much the temperature drops.

The weather front will start to reach us this afternoon beginning with rain. By 8 p.m., the chance of precipitation is 100 percent, according to the weather service. Heavy snow is also possible from 9 p.m. until midnight.

If you think that's bad ... there is a blizzard in the forecast this week for the upper Midwest.

UPDATE 2:49 p.m.: The NWS has issued a winter weather advisory, in effect from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m.. Storm totals predicted up to five inches. The snow could become freezing drizzles in the morning, leading to ice on untreated roads.

Saturday, March 29, 2014 at 2:21 pm

Photos: Chicken BBQ and thrift sale at YWCA

post by Howard Owens in batavia, YWCA

The YWCA hosted a chicken BBQ lunch and giant thrift store sale today at its location on North Street, Batavia.

Above, Director Jeannie Walton instructs volunteers on preparing chicken BBQ dishes.

The sale is going until 4 p.m. today.

Saturday, March 29, 2014 at 2:09 pm

Photos: Genesee Symphony Orchestera hosts string workshop

post by Howard Owens in batavia, Genesee Symphony Orchestra

The Genesee Symphony Orchestra hosted a string workshop today at the United Methodist Church on Lewiston Road. Music Director and Conductor Raffaele Ponti led the workshop.

Saturday, March 29, 2014 at 1:51 pm

Photos: Easter Bunny Breakfast at the First Presbyterian Church

post by Howard Owens in batavia, Easter, first presbyterian church

Eva, 3, gets an ink stamp applied to her arm this morning during the Easter Bunny Breakfast at the First Presbyterian Church in Batavia.

Children were served a pancake breakfast and could also get their face painted, color Easter eggs and visit with the Easter Bunny.

With Eva is her mother, LuAnn Henry. With Eva and the Easter Bunny in the photo below is her sister Lillian, 9.

Friday, March 28, 2014 at 11:03 pm

Photos: Big turnout on first night of renewed Home Show

post by Howard Owens in business, Home Show

Close to 400 people showed up for the first evening of the Genesee County Home Show at the Falleti Ice Arena.

We spoke to several of the 60 vendors on the floor and they were all thrilled with the turnout. Those who had long histories with the home show said the first night crowd was as big or bigger than some of the best turnouts in shows from years ago.

Guy Clark of Cedar Street Sales and Rentals summed it up best: "You can hear it. If you close your eyes, you can hear the buzz."

The home show continues Saturday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. and from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., Sunday. The cost is $3 per adult.

Friday, March 28, 2014 at 5:30 pm

Law and Order: Woman accused of trying to shoplift from Dollar General

post by Howard Owens in batavia, Alabama, crime

Zoe A. McClure, 44, of Bank Street, Batavia, is charged with attempted petit larceny. McClure was allegedly observed by management at the Dollar General Store trying to conceal several items in her purse, coat and pants.

Sharon E. Herdtner, 51, of Jackson Street, Batavia, was arrested on a bench warrant for alleged failure to appear. She was jailed on $1,000 bail.

Brian D. Fisher, 60, of Washington Avenue, Batavia, was arrested for allegedly failing to answer to a parking ticket (2 a.m. to 6 a.m. on a city street). Fisher was located during an investigation into an unrelated matter and was arrested. He posted $70 cash bail.

Kenneth H. Holley, 24, of River Road, Caledonia, is charged with unlawful possession of marijuana. Holley was arrested by Officer Stephen Cronmiller following a traffic stop by Deputy Joseph Corona on East Main Street, Batavia, at 12:13 a.m. March 23.

Dawn L. Sedita, 50, of Buffalo, is charged with petit larceny. Sedita was arrested by State Police for allegedly stealing cartons of cigarettes from Jan's Smoke Shop.

Friday, March 28, 2014 at 4:59 pm

Hawley shares ideas on lowering winter energy costs

post by Howard Owens in steve hawley

Press release:

Assemblyman Steve Hawley (R,C,I-Batavia) is responding to the extreme spike in electric rates, saying this is further evidence of the need to invest in new, cheaper forms of energy, like natural gas and nuclear energy. The steep rise in electric rates was caused by the increased demand for energy to heat homes during this particularly cold winter. Higher demand without a corresponding rise in supply causes an increase in prices. While energy costs will always rise in the winter, if there had been more energy options to increase the supply, the steep rise in home heating costs may not have been as noticeable.

“Every winter, Western New Yorkers are reminded of the narrow-minded approach our state has to producing energy to heat homes. High energy costs in winter are caused by a lack of options to heat your home,” Hawley said. “Natural gas and nuclear energy provide options that need to be explored so that middle-class families aren’t burdened with extreme home heating costs. We need to put middle-class families first by providing cheaper home heating options.”

Electricity rates are determined by two things; the market for electricity and the cost of delivery. While delivery costs have generally remained constant, the market for electricity can change drastically with supply and demand. Due to the record-breaking winter Upstate New York has experienced, demand for electricity has skyrocketed, and without a corresponding increase in supply, costs go up as well.

Electric consumers who want to do something about their rates can switch to fixed rates offered by some providers. This removes the risk of being hit by rate spikes in winter, but also locks you into the same rate even if prices drop due to low energy consumption. Individual consumers will need to do a cost-benefit analysis to see what works the best for them. Other steps consumers can take include saving energy by unplugging appliances and using compact fluorescent lightbulbs, both of which will reduce energy consumption and lower your bill.

For more information, National Grid has made an online webinar available to anyone who has questions about their rates and how they are calculated. This webinar can be found at https://portal.entermyform.com/packages/index.php?id=VFZSRk5VOVI

Friday, March 28, 2014 at 11:12 am

Batavia PD's emergency response team trains in house on West Main Street

post by Howard Owens in batavia, Batavia PD

Batavia PD's Emergency Response Team made use of a house on West Main Street headed for the wrecking ball for training this morning.

Assistant Chief of Police Rob Yaeger said the team practiced warrant execution, a barricade gunman scenario and hostage situations.

Even though houses may look the same on the outside, they're often different on the inside, so when a real former residence becomes available, Yaeger said, the department jumps on the opportunity to use it for training. Such buildings only become available once or twice a year.

"It's very useful," Yaeger said. "Usually we'll try at the fire training center or we'll try at other buildings, but nothing beats having the real deal, having an actual house that was used as a regular residence."

The house was made available for training -- first for the Fire Department -- by the owners of Castilone Chrysler, Steve Castilone and Greg Strauss. The dealership is expanding at its present location -- rather than moving out of the city -- and the houses at 310 and 312 W. Main St. are slated for demolition starting Tuesday.

Friday, March 28, 2014 at 9:44 am

Byron-Bergen students back bill to make yogurt the official snack of NYS

post by Howard Owens in bergen, business, byron, byron-bergen, education, schools

Press release:

Fourth-graders at Byron-Bergen Elementary School are on track to making a substantial economic impact on their state and their community. The class has created a well-researched rationale for designating yogurt as the Official New York State Snack, based on job creation and promoting healthy eating.

They sent handwritten letters – over 200 of them – to state legislators, farm owners, and yogurt companies. Their idea is now a bill sponsored by New York State Senators Mike Ranzenhofer, Kathleen Marchione, and James Seward and by Assemblymen William Magee and Steve Hawley. The bill is currently in committee.

The 17 members of the “Snack Pack,” led by fourth-grade teacher Craig Schroth, say yogurt deserves the title of Official New York State Snack. Student Madelyn Pimm says, “New York is now the biggest yogurt producing state in the U.S., with over 30 processing plants. Governor Cuomo refers to us as the ‘Yogurt Capital of the Country.’ We are the fifth largest milk producing state. We have three yogurt companies right here in our own community – Alpina, Müller-Quaker, and O-At-Ka. Many of us have family members who work there.”

“We want to support the yogurt industry and help create more jobs,” says student Alayna Streeter. “If this becomes law, there will be more opportunities for farmers who milk the cows, for drivers who deliver the milk, for people who make it into yogurt and other products, for distributors, and stores – jobs all down the supply chain.”

“Making yogurt the official snack will help New York promote healthy eating,” says student Caleb Calhoun. “Yogurt tastes great and is really good for you.”

These students are all highly knowledgeable and engaged in the legislative process they started. Letters of support from their representatives line the classroom wall. “Our whole class came up with the idea to promote yogurt,” says student Carly Bergeron. “We’re learning about government in action.” The class is hoping that they may be invited to Albany if their bill becomes law. Follow the progress of the bill at http://open.nysenate.gov/legislation/bill/S6695-2013.

“We want to get the word out and build backing for our bill. It’s important for everyone to support the yogurt industry because they are also supporting our communities with jobs,” says Alayna.

One yogurt company is already grateful for the assistance being drummed up by the Byron-Bergen students. Chobani plans to send a representative to the school to thank the students in person later this spring.

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