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Tuesday, January 19, 2010 at 6:26 pm

State could lose federal funds over failure to OK new charter schools

post by Howard Owens in legislature, schools, state

A legislative roadblock could jeopardize New York’s ability to win a federal lottery of sorts – President Obama is ready to hand out $4.5 billion in education funding to select states that demonstrate a solid plan to improve education.

One of the criteria in Obama's "Race to the Top" competition is a commitment to increasing the number of a state's charter schools. That’s the biggest obstacle the New York Legislature faces in coming up with a winning application.

The state is heading toward a legislative package that increases the cap on charter schools from 200 to 400, but also makes it much harder to get a charter school approved. The Legislature refused to act last night on a compromise bill offered by Gov. David Paterson that would have made another 200 charter schools more likely.

Critics of the legislation – such as New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg – have blasted the Legislature for risking New York’s chance at hitting a $700 million jackpot.

Batavia City School District Superintendent Margaret Puzio is not among the critics.

First, she said, charter schools are just one of the criteria in the competition; second, charter schools are not necessarily a great thing for education.

“States may loose points (for not increasing the number of charter schools), but the bigger question is what has the state done in the past and what is it doing in the future to improve failing schools,” Puzio said. "If we have really effective public schools, we would have less need for 400 charter schools."

Charter schools, Puzio indicated, actually detract from the ability of public schools to improve.

“Charter schools are very controversial,” Puzio said. “People say that public schools are a monopoly, that they are controlled by the teachers' union, that they can’t be truly innovative. That’s just not true.”

There have been no attempts to start a charter school in Genesee County, at least as far as Puzio knows, and she's been in the area since 2002.

If there were such a school in the county, it might draw students from not only Batavia, but Elba, Pavilion, Corfu or any part of the county, and the federal dollars for each of those students would follow the students, Puzio said.

That puts public school districts at a disadvantage, Puzio said, because charter schools can be selective in their admission criteria while public schools must take all students.

“Unless they are held to the same standards, it seems unfair to take funds from public schools and give them to charter schools,” Puzio said.

The lack of interest in charter schools in Genesee County is one of the things that indicates local residents are largely satisfied with the quality of the area's public schools, Puzio said.

"My general takeaway is that what happens with school budget votes and what we see in surveys is that the people of Genesee County find our public schools are very responsive to their needs," Puzio said.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010 at 1:09 pm

Motorcyclist flown to Strong yesterday out of hospital

post by Howard Owens in accident, alexander

An Alexander man who was taken to Strong Memorial Hospital by Mercy Flight yesterday following a motorcycle accident was treated and released, according to a patient information clerk at Strong.

Landen P. McCormick, 21, was northbound on Sandpit Road in Alexander when he reportedly failed to negotiate a curve and struck a guard rail, according to State Police.

McCormick was ejected from the motorcycle and according to reports yesterday, suffered a possible head injury.

No tickets were issued.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010 at 8:51 am

Batavia woman reportedly tries suicide while in Erie County jail

post by Howard Owens in batavia

A Batavia woman awaiting trial in Erie County jail for allegedly trying to suffocate her baby tried to commit suicide, the Buffalo News reports.

Even though she was on suicide watch and reportedly under constant supervision, Marcia Mitchell, 29, somehow managed to swallow the entire contents of a bottle of aspirin.

The News reports Mitchell is in critical but stable condition at a hospital in the Buffalo area.

Mitchell is accused of trying to suffocate her baby in May 2008 while in a Buffalo-area hospital following a fire at her family's home.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010 at 8:30 am

Today's Deals: Belladessa's, Sallome's, Mane Attraction

post by Howard Owens in Deal of the Day

Belladessa's Pizzeria/Jackson St. Grill, 9 Jackson St., Batavia, NY: Here's a deal -- half off on a Family Meal Deal from Belladessa's, which is a large 1 topping pizza, 24 wings and 2-liter bottle of soda. It's a $25 value for $12.50.

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.

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.

The Mane Attraction

Tuesday, January 19, 2010 at 8:20 am

Advisory: Roads could be slick this morning

post by Howard Owens in weather

Expect slick roads this morning.

The National Weather Service has issued a winter weather advisory for much of Western New York.

A freezing drizzle over night is expect to continue and keep roads icy until 11 a.m.

The weather service advises caution on untreated roads and urges commuters to allow extra time to get to work.

Monday, January 18, 2010 at 6:28 pm

Audio: Interviews with three Genesee County Chamber winners

post by Howard Owens in business, chamber of commerce

WBTA has interviewed three of the winners of the Genesee County Chamber of Commerce annual awards.

Listen to the MP3s:

Monday, January 18, 2010 at 4:54 pm

Motorcyclist reportedly suffers head injury on Sandpit Road, Alexander

post by Howard Owens in accident, alexander

A motorcycle accident has been reported at the intersection of Sandpit and Dry Bridge roads, Alexander.

The driver reportedly suffered a head injury.

Mercy Flight is being put in the air.

Alexander Fire and Mercy EMS dispatched.

UPDATE 4:04 p.m.: Mercy Flight in the air. Four minute ETA

UPDATE 4:20 p.m.: Mercy Flight 5 in the air, transporting to Strong Memorial.

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Monday, January 18, 2010 at 3:52 pm

Bonarigo & McCutcheon welcomes new staff member

jenna_engle.jpgJenna Engel has joined the law office of Bonarigo & McCutcheon as a paralegal.

Born and raised in Batavia, New York, Ms. Engel is a 2005 graduate of Batavia High School and a 2009 Graduate of Hilbert College with a degree in Legal Studies.  Her previous employment was as a litigation secretary with Nixon Peabody, LLP in Buffalo, NY. A resident of the City of Batavia, Jenna is a volunteer assistant volleyball coach at her alma mater, Batavia High School as well as for The Batavia Club Volleyball team.  She is an active member of the WNY paralegal Association having received its 2008 scholarship. 

Ms. Engel is assigned to the real estate department at Bonarigo & McCutcheon however, she will be available to assist clients in all aspects of the services provided.  Bonarigo & McCutcheon is a successful law firm, established in the City of Batavia with and has provided legal assistance for over two decades.  The firm’s specialty areas are: business and corporate; criminal; family; matrimonial; municipal; DWI; custody; visitation; civil litigation; real estate; vehicle and traffic; wills and estate planning. 

Bonarigo & McCutcheon is located at 18 Ellicott St., Batavia. Phone is (585) 344-1994.

Monday, January 18, 2010 at 2:39 pm

YWCA hosts luncheon in honor of Martin Luther King Jr.

post by Howard Owens in batavia, holiday, Martin Luther King Jr., YWCA


Elisa Dipietro, left, and Lynn McKeown prepare a lunch in the YWCA kitchen for a special meal in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. today while Gordo Gonyo works in the background.

Monday, January 18, 2010 at 1:12 pm

New Today: Fastec Automotive Service

post by Howard Owens in Deal of the Day

Fastec, 7184 West Main Road, Le Roy. Fast, friendly service, specializing in foreign cars, but Fastec can service any make and model. We have a $22 gift certificate for $11 that is valid for up to six months from date of purchase. It's good for an oil change or state safety/emissions inspection.

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: Valentine's Day is just around the corner, and flowers are a great way to show love.  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.

Margarita's Mexican Restaurant, 15 Jackson St., Batavia, NY: When you're looking for an authentic Mexican meal, Margarita's is the place to go. The food and atmosphere are perfect and the service is always outstanding. We have a $20 gift certificate for $10.

Carlson's Studio, 39 Jackson St., Batavia, NY: Family photos are more than just photographs. When you need photos for that special occasion, Carlson's is a great choice in Genesee County. This is a great Valentine's gift. We have a $100 gift card for $50 (+$2 PayPal Service fee). The card expires in April.

Oliver's Candies, 211 W. Main St., Batavia, NY. Oliver's, a Batavia landmark, offers the finest chocolate and confections in the area. We have a $20 gift card for $10. Just in time for Valentine's!

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.

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.

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

Monday, January 18, 2010 at 9:53 am

Police Beat: Woman accused of stealing prescription pain killers

post by Howard Owens in batavia, alexander, crime, Pavilion, pembroke

Diane G. Geary, 44, of 4036 West Main St., Apt. #8, Batavia, is charged with two counts of petit larceny and possession of stolen property. Geary was arrested by Det. Kevin Czora following an investigation into the theft of prescription hydrocodone (pain pills) and a social services check from another individual. Geary was jailed on $1,000 bail.

David W. Wells, 21, of 6962 Townline Road, Bergen, is charged with DWI, driving with a BAC of .08 or greater, consumption of alcohol in a motor vehicle, unlicensed operation, improper left turn and failure to stop. Wells was stopped at 1:44 a.m. Saturday by Deputy Jason Saile on Route 19 in Bergen.

Gene Robert Schmidt, 42, of 3150 Dodgeson Road, Alexander, was picked up on a warrant for an alleged violation of probation. Schmidt was stopped for an alleged traffic violation on Dodgeson Road by Deputy Jason Saile and it was discovered there was a warrant for his arrest. Schmidt was jailed on $5,000 bail.

Rebecca Jo Cornell, 35, of 439 Sandhill Road, Caledonia, is charged with petit larceny. Cornell allegedly left the Target store in Batavia without paying for $101 worth of merchandise.

Robert M. Hopkins, 27, of 234 North Spruce St., Batavia, and Jason W. Lebar, 24, of 8170 Batavia-Stafford Townline Road, Batavia, are charged with trespass. Hopkins and Lebar were reportedly on the grounds of the New York State Veterans Home without permission. They were jailed on $250 each.

Kimberly A. Brodsky, 18, of 4 Elm St., Batavia, is charged with DWI, driving with a BAC of .08 or more, operating with one headlight, operating with one headlamp and unlawful possession of marijuana. Brodsky was stopped by Officer Dan Coffey at 2:44 a.m. Sunday on Jackson Street.

Joshua R. Gebhard, 22, of 279 Palmer Road, Churchville, is charged with unlawful possession of marijuana. Officer Dan Coffey reported finding a small quantity of marijuana during a traffic stop.

Reported accidents from the State Police blotter:

4:34 p.m., Jan. 10, Route 98, Batavia, one vehicle; Driver 1: Susan A. Haight, 20, of Albion. No injuries. No citations.

4:00 a.m., Jan. 11, Route 5, Indian Falls, one vehicle: Driver 1: C.C. Bennett, 23, of Corfu. No injuries. No citations.

1:40 p.m., Jan 15, T/A Truck Stop, Route 77, Pembroke, two vehicles; Driver 1: John R. Stellingwerf, 41, Fulton; Driver 2: Murphy Maurice, 44, of Denver, Colo. No injuries. No citations.

5:41 p.m., Jan. 15, Roanoke Road, Stafford, one vehicle; Driver 1: Kevin P. Heiman, 27, of Pavilion. No injuries. No citations.

6:34 p.m., Jan. 15, Shanks Road, Alabama, one vehicle: Driver 1: Cody L. Pahuta, 18, of Corfu. No injuries. No citations.

Monday, January 18, 2010 at 9:03 am

Missionaries return home from earthquake-ravaged Haiti

post by Howard Owens in Churches, Haiti, religion, St. Paul Lutheran Church

haitia.jpgTwo members of St. Paul Lutheran Church in Batavia who were on a mission in Haiti when Port-au-Prince was struck by an earthquake returned home yesterday.

WBTA's Dan Fischer was at the Buffalo airport when Zach Ashley and Sharon Wolf returned safely with the rest of the missionaries. He spoke with Wolf at the airport (mp3).

More coverage.

Sunday, January 17, 2010 at 4:25 pm

Oakfield family finds out about sister in Kentucky they didn't know they had

post by Howard Owens in Oakfield

Six Oakfield residents found out recently that they have a sister in Bowling Green, Ky., whom they never knew anything about until the woman's daughter connected the siblings through Facebook.

The Bowling Green Daily News has a story.

Philip Semar, Sandy Berrios and Cindy Kline all made the drive this week from Oakfield to Bowling Green to meet 61-year-old Linda Richardson.

Richardson never knew her real father, William Semar, and didn't find out about him until she was 15. She then spent the following decades searching for him and hoping she would find out she had brothers and sisters.

On the day her mother died, her daughter told her about finding the Semar family in Oakfield.

Her other three half brothers are John, David and Willy Semar, all of Oakfield, but they couldn't make the trip to Bowling Green.

“It’s pretty neat,” said Richardson’s son, Teddy Freeman, of Bowling Green, “I had two aunts and now I have four.”

After warm embraces all around, the new family stood misty-eyed and chatting together for the first time in Walker’s front yard, the resemblance unmistakable.

“You all look so much alike, each in a different way,” Walker said, “the eyes especially.”

Sunday, January 17, 2010 at 2:14 pm

Bring out your inner artist at Art Ah La Carte

post by Howard Owens in Art Ah La Carte, batavia, business, Harvester Center


If you think you don't have a creative bone in your body, you haven't been to Art Ah La Carte yet.

Kimberly Argenta says she can teach anybody to create art.

"People have come in and said, 'I have no talent. I don’t know how to do anything,'" Argenta said. "I’ve actually had people come in and watercolor for the first time and their work comes out beautiful. They say they don’t have any creativity, yet I can pull it out of them. I believe everybody has creativity, you just have to find the right medium.”

artalcarte03.jpgArgenta has turned her passion for art and teaching into a business at the new Artisan Center at 56 Harvester Ave., Batavia.

Classes started this week and cover a range of mediums, from painting to paper mache. Art Ah La Carte also has classes on altered tins, beading, drawing and turning old junk into art.

Caledonia artist Robert Garland is helping Argenta and teaching drawing. He said getting involved in Art Ah La Carte has sparked his own creativity.

Among the students in class on Friday evening was Linda Carson, who raised her hand when Argenta spoke about students coming in thinking they had no talent. She completed two watercolors so far, one in class and one at home, and she seemed to think the second one turned out pretty good.

"I thought I would just enjoy expressing myself in painting," Carson said. "I always wanted to try it, but ... " at which point Carson just shrugged.

Art Ah La Carte is open to individual students as well as groups. Argenta said people can form groups for a girls' night out or a guys' night out or any special event, such as a bridal shower.

artalacarte02.jpg“I just really felt that the community needed an inexpensive way to come out and enjoy an evening without breaking the wallet, yet they’re learning something," Argenta said.

Art Ah La Carte is part of the new Artisan Center being created by Patricia Hawley for Mancuso Business Development Group at the Harvester Center.

Hawley has been in talks with a number of artists, multimedia companies, writers and others about taking space in the new center.

Saturday, January 16, 2010 at 9:54 pm

Rollover accident with fire reported on Thruway

post by Howard Owens in accident, pembroke, thruway

There is a one-vehicle rollover accident reported in the westbound lane of the Thruway at mile marker 399.1 in Pembroke.

The vehicle is reportedly on fire and one person may have been dragged from the roadway.

Pembroke and Indian Falls fire are being dispatched along with Mercy EMS.

UPDATE 8:55 p.m.: First responder reports the car is fully involved.

UPDATE 9:11 p.m.: The fire is out. The Thruway is closed. Firefighters are now searching the area for possible passengers. It still unknown how many occupants were in the car.

UPDATE 9:39 p.m.: Fire units are leaving the scene. No further information available at this time.

UPDATE 10:58 p.m.: East Pembroke just cleared the Thruway and went back in service.

UPDATE Sunday morning: The Buffalo News reports this was a fatal accident. Mark Deacon, 53, of Buffalo, sustained head injuries in the accident and died at ECMC. He had been ejected from his 1997 Chevy Blazer after it overturned. Deacon apparently over corrected after his vehicle drifted onto the left shoulder. There is no report of other accident victims.

Saturday, January 16, 2010 at 7:53 pm

Four generations show up for haircuts

post by Howard Owens in batavia


Four generations of Scarboroughs were at the Cutting Shack on Center Street today for haircuts.

For Gunnar Scarborough, it was his first hair cut.  He's on his father Nick's lap.  Nick will soon be redeployed to Afghanistan.

Also pictured, from left, Grandfather Mike, Patty Fragnito and Great-Grandpa Gary.

Saturday, January 16, 2010 at 7:32 pm

Akron man accused of assaulting ex-girlfriend in Pembroke

post by Howard Owens in crime, pembroke

mug_charles_william_schilling.jpgAn Akron man faces six criminal charges and has been jailed on $50,000 following an alleged domestic dispute with his ex-girlfriend in Pembroke.

Charles William Schilling, 26, of 9 Exchange St., Akron, is accused is of breaking into his ex-girlfriend's home at 6 a.m. today and assaulting and threatening her in front of her 7-year-old son.

Schilling was arraigned on three felony and three misdemeanor charges.

He is charged with burglary 2nd, coercion 1st, criminal mischief 1st, menacing 3rd, endangering the welfare of a child and resisting arrest.

Saturday, January 16, 2010 at 6:15 pm

Possible fire in wall of house in Elba

post by Howard Owens in elba, fire

Elba Fire is being dispatched to 13 Chapel St. for a possible house fire.

There may be a fire in one of the walls of the residence.

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