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Friday, February 5, 2010 at 8:53 am

Batavia mother admits she tried to smother baby

post by Howard Owens in batavia, bufflao, crime

Twenty-nine-year-old Marcia Mitchell, a mother from Batavia, admitted in a Buffalo court yesterday that she tried to smother her child while at a Buffalo-area hospital nearly two years ago.

Mitchell entered a guilty plea to the charge of attempted first-degree assault, which carries a possible prison sentence of 15 years.

The Buffalo News reports:

Mitchell was recently hospitalized for her second jailhouse suicide attempt since her arrest. She was found mentally competent to assist in her own defense by two court-appointed mental health experts, even though she has mental problems that court officials and her lawyer refuse to discuss.

Friday, February 5, 2010 at 8:37 am

Man who injured baby given 12-year prison term

post by Howard Owens in batavia, crime, Dietrich Williams

Dietrich Williams, who admitted in December that he abused an infant left in his care last summer, was sent to state prison by Judge Robert C. Noonan yesterday.

Williams was given a 12-year prison term.

The baby suffered severe head trauma after he shook the little girl and slammed her head against a hard surface in what was apparently an attempt to quiet her down.

Williams was reportedly acting as a babysitter for his girlfriend, whom he was staying with at the time.

A week before Williams entered his guilty plea, the little girl's mother wrote to The Batavian and said the child, who has needed much therapy and is likely to need help for many, many years, is doing much better.

Williams was originally charged with assault 1st, which carried a maximum sentence of 25 years in prison, but in order to facilitate a plea without a trial, District Attorney Lawrence Friedman accepted a guilty plea to attempted assault 1st, which carried a maximum penalty of 15 years in State Prison. The minimum sentence available to Noonan was three and a half years.

As part of his guilty plea, Williams had to admit to the factual circumstances of the case.

(WTBA contributed to this report.)

Friday, February 5, 2010 at 1:12 am

Ranzenhofer: GOP remains leery of governor on budget

mug_mike_ranzenhofer.jpgAfter State Sen. Mike Ranzenhofer's press conference today on his jobs bill, I spoke with him for a minute about his position on the governor's budget.

My question was, with all of the proposed spending cuts from Gov. David Paterson, why aren't Republicans falling more in line with supporting the governor's proposed budget. Here's what he said:

I certainly support the cuts the governor has talked about and I don't think there's been a lot of push back from Republicans. But what Republicans are concerned about is that...(if) you actually take a look at the budget -- last year it was $131 billion, this year it's $134 billion -- spending goes up this year. Not withstanding all the comments about cuts, cuts, cuts, he's actually spending $3 billion more this year in his proposed budget than what happened last year.

So that's where the criticism is, that you can't say one thing and then introduce a budget that actually increases spending by $3 billion. When you look at the fine print, that's what what it actually does. If there's been any opposition, that's where the opposition has been.

The criticism and the push back is not from the Democratic Party or the Republican Party. When you talk about his low poll numbers, these are the residents our our state who are saying this -- that's their reaction to what he has done because they've seen what he said and compared it to what he did. I mean last year, he introduced a budget that was not that bad to start off, but at the end of the day, the budget he finally adopted was $12 billion in new spending. So people are very leery about what he actually says and what actually gets enacted at the end of the budget session.

Thursday, February 4, 2010 at 11:20 pm

Photo: 'Welder Guy' works on new sewer system for Batavia Downs

post by Howard Owens in batavia, pictures

welderguy.jpg

Around 6 p.m. I happened across some construction work on Park Road. I stopped and took this picture. The worker only wanted to be identified as "Welder Guy."  He said the company he's working for has a contract to put in a new sewer system for Batavia Downs.

Thursday, February 4, 2010 at 9:47 pm

Today's Deals: T.F. Brown's, Delavan's, Adam Miller and more

post by Howard Owens in Deal of the Day

T.F. Brown's, at 214 E. Main St., Batavia, NY: T.F. Brown's is a great place for a good meal, good friends and to catch up on what's going on in the sports world. "If it happens in sports, it happens at Brown's." We have a $20 gift card for $10.

Matty's Pizzeria, 4152 W. Main St., Batavia, NY: Matty's is another Batavia favorite for pizza and wings. We have a $20 gift certificate for $10.

Jackson St. Grill/Belladessa's, 9 Jackson St., Batavia, NY: When it's time for a great hamburger, Jackson St. Grill will serve you among the best around. We have a $10 gift certificate for $5.

Adam Miller Toy & Bicycles, 8 Center St., Batavia, NY: Feel like a kid in a toy store again, or treat your kids to the greatest toy store they will ever see. We have a $25 gift certificate for $12.50.

Delavan's Restaurant and Tavern, 107 Evans St., Batavia, NY: To me, Delavan's is one of those restaurants where you want to eat frequently until you try everything on the menu. We have a $20 gift certificate for $10.

NOTE: If you've never bought Deal of the Day before, or are otherwise unfamiliar with the rules and process, click here.

SOLD OUT

 

Thursday, February 4, 2010 at 7:52 pm

Third suspect arrested in Le Roy's 'Stolen Pot' case

post by Howard Owens in crime, Le Roy

mug_eric_merritt.jpgA third arrest has been made in "The Case of the Stolen Pot" in Le Roy.

Taken into custody by Le Roy Police is Eric J. Merritt, 20, of 4070 Rose Road, Batavia. Merritt is the man suspected of trying to sell marijuana to two people in a parking lot on Lake Street on Jan. 23.

One of those people is reportedly 16 years old, so Merritt has been charged with endangering the welfare of a child. No other charges were announced by the Le Roy Police Department tonight.

James J. Santiago Jr., 30, of 31 Myrtle St., Le Roy, is accused of stealing the marijuana. Santiago turned himself into police yesterday.

After Santiago allegedly stole the marijuana, the alleged dealer brought friends in from Batavia to confront Santiago at his home at on Myrtle Street. In the ensuing fight, three people, including Ronald G. Carney, 21, of Corfu were injured. All three were hospitalized. Carney has been charged with burglary.

As many as nine people participated in the fracas -- allegedly Santiago and two friends as well as the suspects Merritt and Carney plus four of their friends.

Besides Merritt, Carney and Santiago no other arrests have been made yet.

Thursday, February 4, 2010 at 3:28 pm

Bill by Ranzenhofer would reward employers who hire those getting jobless benefits

post by Howard Owens in career center, economy, Mike Ranzenhofer, unemployment

jobs_ranzenhofer.jpg

Sen. Mike Ranzenhofer (R-61) wants to give New York businesses that hire from the ranks of the unemployed a $3,000 tax credit.

Ranzenhofer announced his proposed legislation today in Batavia at the Genesee County Career Center on East Main Street.

"It's a win, win, win situation," Ranzehofer said. "It helps people who are looking for work. It's good for employers. But it's also good for the economy."

Under the proposal, New York businesses that hire a person currently drawing unemployment benefits will get a $3,000 tax break.

There are currently 300,000 people out of work, Ranzenhofer said, and among those drawing unemployment, they are getting checks averaging $314 per week. Razenhofer said his proposed tax credit will pay for itself in 10 weeks with cost savings on unemployment benefits.

Unemployment benefits can be drawn for two years.

Ranzenhofer also said that by putting more people back to work, those people will have more money to spend, generating more tax revenue for the state.

While the tax incentive itself may not spur some employers to hire -- challenged as they are by other expenses, from health insurance, taxes and the cost of equipment upgrades -- the tax credit may be just what it takes to get other businesses to add new positions.

"To do nothing and not give them this kind of incentive, when it doesn't cost us any money, is not a good thing," Ranzenhofer said.

While it would be better to lower the tax burden on New York businesses, Ranzenhofer said, "I don't see that happening this year."

Scott Gage, executive director of the jobs center, praised the legislation.

"This is going to be an opportunity for people who have retooled their skills during this economic downturn to be hired and maybe they would have got that opportunity if not for the resources created by this tax credit," Gage said.

Thursday, February 4, 2010 at 8:50 am

Tree-trimming truck snags phone lines on Cedar Street, flips over

post by Howard Owens in batavia, accident

treetruck01.jpg

UPDATED THROUGHOUT AT 10:45 a.m.

The crew of a tree-trimming truck apparently forgot to lower the boom on the cherry picker after leaving the County Highway yard on Oak Street this morning.

The boom snagged phone lines on Cedar Street and the truck flipped on its side.

There were no injuries and no other vehicles involved, but it took a team of tow-truck drivers more than an hour to hoist the piece of heavy equipment back on its side.

"That picker should be all the way down and in place," said Officer Ed Mileham, who investigated the accident. "The guys that were working outside didn't put it down."

The truck was marked "Nelson Tree Service, Inc. Dayton, Ohio." The crew is apparently working on a project trimming trees under contract with National Grid and had dumped a load of wood chips at the county yard before heading out to other work.

Two heavy wreckers had to be called in so that one could lift while the other pulled. The crew managed to gently lower the truck back on its wheels, causing no further damage to the vehicle. 

Crews were on scene to deal with hydraulic liquid and oil that leaked from the truck.

Mileham said no citations would be issued.

The phone and cable lines did not appear damaged by the accident.

More pictures after the jump:

Thursday, February 4, 2010 at 8:47 am

Today's Poll: Is Fox News 'Fair and Balanced'?

post by Howard Owens in polls
Wednesday, February 3, 2010 at 11:41 pm

It wasn't an easy year in 2009, but the county got through it, Hancock says in annual address

hancock_speech.jpg

County officials knew at the start of the journey that 2009 would be a rocky road, and there were many valleys to pass through, but the county managed to ride it out without raising taxes or severely cutting services.

That's the state of the county, according to Mary Pat Hancock, chairwoman of the Genesee County Legislature.

Hancock reviewed 2009 and looked ahead some during her annual address in the Legislature chambers Wednesday night.

"In addition to the known and announced reduction in state aid, we had many fiscal surprises, none of them good," said Hanckock. "They ranged from delayed payment for mandated and already provided services, to lower sales-tax revenues and to retroactive cuts in reimbursements. These continue to plague us. I am not an alarmist, this county has good and varied resources and will survive, but not by hiding its head in the sand -- the fiscal crisis is far from over."

Key points from tonight's address:

  • The rising cost of operating the Genesee County Nursing Home. General Fund contributions to its operation are expected to exceed $4.4 million by 2014.
  • GCEDC participated in 23 projects with an investment in the county of $50 million.
  • The number of Genesee County families turning to the Department of Social Services for Medicaid, Food Stamps and Home Energy Assistance continues to grow. Also up are reports to Child Protective Services for investigation. "It’s not an easy task to raise children in the best of circumstances, and the job becomes even harder when so many of our residents are struggling with their financial difficulties," Hancock said.
  • More than 6,000 residents have received seasonal flu and H1N1 vaccines.
  • The downturn in the county has contributed to an ever-increasing caseload for the Office of the Public Defender.
  • Federal stimulus money has meant the Job Development Bureau has seen its budget double. The number of clients in job training has increased 93 percent.
  • Genesee Community College’s enrollment hit an all-time record during the fall 2009 semester with 7,208 credit students.

After listing these and other departmental challenges and accomplishments, Hancock said:

"It is impossible for me to end this address without acknowledging the impact of this difficult year on our constituents. We relate to the high level of frustration and fear experienced as jobs were lost, retirement funds shrank and healthcare costs soared. Change was promised in good faith, but no one anticipated the type of change. It is said that the economy is back on track. Genesee County’s unemployment is the lowest in the area, but it is still too high. Small and large businesses are still struggling. Folks are having a hard time meeting their financial obligations. We hear you and will continue to do everything possible to contain the costs and support and attract and retain 'economy builders.'"

mary_pat_hancock.jpgHancock then called on the State Legislature to clean up its act and start governing with greater fiscal responsibility.

"It is all about jobs," Hancock said. "All efforts should focus on a new and improved economic development plan for New York State. Is it impossible? No. Empower local governments, regional governments like counties, individually or acting in groups, to attract and maintain jobs to turn the state around. Counties should have a say about what industries contribute to their communities."

Hancock closed with a call for all county residents to participate in the 2010 Census.

"It is crucial to return your form," Hancock said. "Take the 10 minutes to be counted. So much depends on the data received from this one effort. Do what you can to make this an accurate count."

Wednesday, February 3, 2010 at 10:39 pm

Man who posed as African immigrant to swindle woman out of $2K convicted by jury

post by Howard Owens in batavia, crime

Yusuf A. Hassem aka Louis L. Reed, 69, came to town in April nattily dressed in a gray wool suit and tan overcoat. He will leave Batavia in shackles.

Following a three-day jury trial, Hassem was convicted today of grand larceny 4th.

Hassem posed as a recent African immigrant who needed help with a transaction at Tonawanda Valley Federal Credit Union. He managed to switch envelopes with a woman, stealing $2,000 cash from her.

Soon after the theft, the Batavia Police sent out a picture of Hassem to local media. The release of the bank surveillance camera photo soon led to Hassem's arrest in Buffalo.

Hassem, who began his career in crime in 1957, according to District Attorney Lawrence Friedman, faces similar charges in Albany and Schenectady. Officials from one of those jurisdictions will likely pick him up at Genesee County Jail following his March 17 sentencing.

"He has a very extensive criminal history for this type of thing and others," Friedman said. "That's unusual right there. I mean, we have a 69-year-old defendant who has been in the system for 53 years."

Judge Robert C. Noonan will have a couple of options in sentencing Hassem to state prison. Now classified as a second-felony offender, he will get either one-and-a-third- to three-years or a term of two to four years in the penetentiary.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010 at 10:10 am

Police Beat: Woman returns to scene of the crime, accused of DWI

post by Howard Owens in batavia, crime

Jessica Lauren Wildey, 19, of 14 Jamie Lynn Drive, Churchville, is charged with DWI and driving with a BAC of .08 or greater. At 6:48 a.m. Monday, Deputy Frank Bordonaro was investigating an assault complaint at a location in Bergen when Wildey reportedly drove back to the scene (she had reportedly been involved in the initial disturbance). Upon further investigation, Deputy Bordonaro determined Wildey had allegedly been driving drunk.

Accidents from the State Police blotter:

8:06 a.m. Feb 1., Galloway Road, Batavia, one vehicle; Driver 1: Jessica L. Worden, 22, of Penn Yan. No injuries, no citations reported.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010 at 9:31 am

Today's Deals: Matty's, Alex's, Blue Pearl, Mane Attraction and more

post by Howard Owens in Deal of the Day

Matty's Pizzeria, 4152 W. Main St., Batavia, NY: Matty's is another Batavia favorite for pizza and wings. We have a $20 gift certificate for $10.

Alex's Place, 8322 Park Road, Batavia, NY: People come from all over the region for a fine dining experience at Alex's. It's best known for its ribs, of course, but Alex's seafood is also a favorite of the restaurant's diners. We have a $25 gift certificate for $12.50.

Jackson St. Grill/Belladessa's, 9 Jackson St., Batavia, NY: When it's time for a great hamburger, Jackson St. Grill will serve you among the best around. We have a $10 gift certificate for $5.

Sallome's Italian Deli, 40 Oak St., Batavia, NY: Wraps, subs, paninis and pasta as well as pizzas -- Sallome's offers a tasty variety of Italian deli items for eat-in or take-out.  We have $10 gift certificates for $5 each.

The Enchanted Florist, 202 E. Main St., Batavia, NY: Now in stock: Of course, flowers are the perfect give for Valentine's Day. We have a $20 gift certificate for $9.50.

Blue Pearl Yoga, 200 E. Main St., Batavia, NY: Exercise your soul as well as your body in a friendly and relaxing atmosphere. We have a gift certificate for a seven-week  session (one class per week), which is a $56 value, for $28. (New sessions start March 1)

The Mane Attraction, 99 E. Main St., Batavia, NY: The Mane Attraction is a spa and salon offering pedicures, manicures, hair styling and massage. We have a $20 gift certificate for $10.

NOTE: If you've never bought Deal of the Day before, or are otherwise unfamiliar with the rules and process, click here.

SOLD OUT

Tuesday, February 2, 2010 at 2:58 pm

Wanted by the Sheriff's Office: Christopher A. Laird

post by Howard Owens in batavia, crime, Le Roy, Wanted

mug_chrisopher-laird.jpg

Wanted by the Genesee County Sheriff's Office for an alleged violation of probation: Christopher A. Laird.

Laird was placed on probation following a charge of burglary 2nd. He has reportedly failed to comply with the terms of his probation.

Laird frequents the Village of LeRoy and the City of Batavia. 

Warrant Officer Eric Olson asks that people with information on the whereabouts of Laird call 911.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010 at 11:17 am

GCC grad sets first indie film in Vietnam, films locally

post by Howard Owens in entertianment, GCC, Joe Black, movies

joeblack_filming.jpg

Genesee County is a long way from Vietnam, both as a matter of time and geography, but for GCC graduate Philip Sacco, it was just the right location to shoot some of his first feature film, "When Soldiers Cry," which will be released on DVD in two weeks.

Sacco, who works professionally as Joe Black, has spent three years on the self-funded project. He said he fell in love with film making after taking a multimedia class at Genesee Community College.

Before that class, he was working on a degree in physical therapy.

joeblack.jpg"I loved photography and film so I wanted to give that a try," Black said. "Five minutes into the program I was hooked."

"Mr. Chow showed me the tools and how to use them, from there it was up to me to bring the tools to life," Black noted. "I think we both sat down one day and said something like, 'don't just take a picture, make one.' To me, that's all you need to start with. Mr. Chow pushed me in media by critiquing my work and projects. He's a tough teacher but also a good friend. He has been my mentor throughout this entire endeavor."

Black wrote the screenplay for "When Soldiers Cry." He also planned the filming, hired the cast, and did the primary shooting and editing.

The movie is based in1965 South Vietnam. Private David M. Church awakes from being rendered unconscious to find all of his squad killed by the Vietcong. During his lonesome journey to the Landing Zone for extraction, Church mistakenly shoots an American Tunnel Rat who is disguising himself as a Vietcong. Mentally broken, Church starts carrying the Tunnel Rat to save his life, fully knowing it may end his own. Trapped in the jungle surrounded by war, the only thing keeping them alive is the promise they made to their families to return home at any cost.

joeblack_movie.jpg"Creating this film has been a tedious process," Black said. "I've learned so much. I've learned that nothing happens overnight, to be cautious each step of the way and that some people make films to make money and some make films to tell their story. I want to tell my story and hopefully the money will follow."

WBTA's Geoff Redick spoke with Black (mp3) who said his biggest goal was securing a good distribution deal.

"You need to go into Best Buy or Walmart so everybody can see it and say, 'this is a piece of crap,' or 'it's pretty good.'"

(Portions of this post rely on a press release from GCC)

Tuesday, February 2, 2010 at 8:55 am

Today's Deals: Adam Miller, Color Salon, T.F. Brown's, Jackson St., and more

post by Howard Owens in Deal of the Day

Adam Miller Toy & Bicycles, 8 Center St., Batavia, NY: Feel like a kid in a toy store again, or treat your kids to the greatest toy store they will ever see. We have a $25 gift certificate for $12.50.

The Color Salon, 35 Center St., Batavia, NY: Susan Francis, the owner and stylist at The Color Salon reminds women, "your hair is your greatest accessory." Francis has more than 20 years of experience helping women get the best hair color. We have a $50 gift certificate for $25.

Alex's Place, 8322 Park Road, Batavia, NY: People come from all over the region for a fine dining experience at Alex's. It's best known for its ribs, of course, but Alex's seafood is also a favorite of the restaurant's diners. We have a $25 gift certificate for $12.50.

T.F. Brown's, at 214 E. Main St., Batavia, NY: T.F. Brown's is a great place for a good meal, good friends and to catch up on what's going on in the sports world. "If it happens in sports, it happens at Brown's." We have a $20 gift card for $10.

Jackson St. Grill/Belladessa's, 9 Jackson St., Batavia, NY: When it's time for a great hamburger, Jackson St. Grill will serve you among the best around. We have a $10 gift certificate for $5.

Delavan's Restaurant and Tavern, 107 Evans St., Batavia, NY: To me, Delavan's is one of those restaurants where you want to eat frequently until you try everything on the menu. We have a $20 gift certificate for $10.

Center Street Smoke House, 20 Center St., Batavia, NY: Authentic Southern BBQ, from ribs to brisket with all the fixin's. We have a $25 gift card for $12.50.

NOTE: If you've never bought Deal of the Day before, or are otherwise unfamiliar with the rules and process, click here.

SOLD OUT

Tuesday, February 2, 2010 at 12:35 am

Nursing home gets short-term revenue boost from feds

post by Howard Owens in Genesee County Nursing Home

Even as Gov. David Paterson plans on cutting $222,000 in funding for the Genesee County Nursing Home, the facility is likely to reap a $490,000 surplus over its projected 2010 budget.

john_demske.jpgThe swing to the positive is the result of the federal government revising Medicaid and Medicare reimbursements for the 2009-10 fiscal year. Thus, an increase of revenue totaling $714,566 will be transfered to the nursing home, according to Administrator John F. Demske.

Meanwhile, the county may also see an increase in IGT (Inter-Governmental Transfer) funding, which was anticipated to come in at $2.185 million.

"I expect that we'll get more than what we put in the budget for our IGT," Demske said. "I believe it may get up to almost $3 million."

That could be a problem for the county, because the county must match the federal IGT, providing about 30 percent of the overall IGT funds.

County Manager Jay Gsell told the committee that "it's a careful balance" to get the right amount of IGT funding and not put the whole county budget in the red.

After hearing the report during today's Human Services Committee meeting, County Legislature Chair Mary Pat Hancock said, "Good for you. Not terrific for us."

The county relies on IGT funds to meet the nursing home's operational expenses because revenue from patients -- both Medicaid funded and private patients -- tends to fall well short of the facility's needs.

In an e-mail conversation between The Batavian and Gsell recently, Gsell said the nursing home hasn't technically been profitable for years, relying as it does on IGT funding to close revenue gaps.

"In the true sense of an enterprise fund in municipal accounting, the Genesee County Nursing Home is not 'profitable.'" Gsell said. "It does not generate enough of its own revenue to meet all its expenses in any given budget year."

Demske said today the IGT funds are essential to operating the nursing home and were designed specifically to assist county-run nursing homes, which must deal with the high costs associated with a union labor force.

Late last year, county officials put out a bid proposal to explore options for dealing with rising costs of the nursing home, including the potential loss of IGT funding after 2012 and whether to sell the home to a private company or nonprofit corporation.

The county is now reviewing eight proposals from consultants and a committee will make a ranked recommendation to the Legislature, Gsell said.

Photo: John Demske gives his report today to the Human Services Committee on the state of the nursing home.

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