UPDATE: 2:12 p.m.: Minor fire. According to Asst. Chief David Winters, the homeowner was trying to heat frozen water pipes with a propane salamander heater when flames shot from it and ignited the underside of the trailer. The fire was contained to under the trailer. There were no injuries.
I fully understand the feelings of the EMTs and no one on Council was happy to have to come to a decision to end county wide ambulance service as of September 1st. There is no question that our city medics have provided and continue to provide a high quality service for all county residents. Although, recently the union has brought forth information from a questionable paid source that they describe as "fact". I want the public to understand that the use of fabricated information, fear tactics and targeting of Council is not going to shake our resolve. Council has taken every imaginable step we could find to make the city based service viable. This financial decision was made based on years of public discussions as well as input, with all the information we required being presented.
The county has made it clear that they have a process in place to see that the entire county will have ambulance service by September 1st. There is no reason to believe the hysteria being asserted by the union that there will be no one to provide ambulance service after September 1st. Moreover, there have been at least five ambulance providers that have contacted the County or the City that are interested to providing ambulance service to this region. Should one of these providers be selected they would be responding to ambulance calls from within the City just as they currently do now.
As directed by Council, I have sent a letter to all county municipalities terminating all our inter-municipal ambulance agreements as of September 1st. These are the agreements that allowed the city to provide ambulance service county-wide. During the last public meeting of the GAM, Council as a whole publicly informed all the members that the city is not getting back into the business of providing ambulance service. Council has made it clear that we will not under any circumstances "go at it alone" by entering into an agreement with a private provider. The city is just one of many municipalities that is looking to the county to provide a county wide ambulance service and that decision about a provider is one for the county as a whole to make.
Please be advised that the Charter Review Commission for the City of Batavia will hold a meeting on Monday, March 2, 2009. The meeting will begin at 6:30 p.m. in the Community Room on the second floor of the Batavia City Centre.
The public can speak at the meeting by signing in prior to the start of the meeting.
John, can you add more detail on what might be discussed tonight?
Five people were arrested early Sunday morning for allegedly entering the United States illegally. The five people were found by police during an investigation into suspicious activity in Town of Bergen. Arrested were Efrain Jose Cruz-Hernandez, 22; Jose Morolas-Perez, 18; Hector Perez-Rameriz, 42; Mateo Torres-Ramos, 24; and, Valentin Campos-Baltazar, 32. All five individuals were handed over to the Border Patrol.
Christopher Ball, 26, of LeRoy, was arrested following a single-car traffic accident on Batavia-Stafford Townline Road on Sunday morning. Ball was charged with misdemeanor DWI, a violation for driving lef of pavement marker and speed not prudent, and aggravated DWI with BAC of .18 percent or higher. Police were called to the scene of the accident and discovered Ball was not in his vehicle. He was later found Ball at a nearby relatives house.
Joseph M. Armstrong, 51, of Medina, was arrested and charged with misdemeanor DWI following a two-vehicle accident at Route 5 and Route 63. The Sheriff's office reports that Armstrong was reportedly attempting to make a left-hand turn when his vehicle struck another car.
Mark E. Yasses, 48, of Bethany, was arrested early Sunday morning for harassment, 2nd degree, after allegedly getting into an fight with another individual. Yasses allegedly pushed the other person to the ground. The incident occurred at Yasses' residence.
Brett Blair, 25, of Batavia, was charged with criminal possession of a controlled substance (hyrocordone) and aggravated unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle, alcohol related after being stopped on Oak St. Saturday afternoon after officers noticed his vehicle with a broken tail light and loud exhaust. Officers report that Blair was driving with a revoked drivers license because of a previous DWI conviction. Blair was arraigned and remanded to Gensee County Jail on $750 bail.
Robert W. Mitchell, 30, of Pittsford, was charged with unlawful possession of marijuna Friday. Police arrested Mitchell during an investigation into suspicious activity. After contacting Michell, police discovered he was wanted on an arrest warrant from the Rochester Police Department. During a search of Mitchell, Mitchell told police he had a small amount of marijuna on his person.
Arielle R. Orlikowski, 19, of Batavia, was charged with speeding and DWI on Saturday after being stopped for speeding on Pearl Street.
James D. Kavanaugh, 19, of Batavia, was charged with "driving while ability impaired by alcohol" after being stopped on E. Main Saturday for driving without headlights. Kavanaugh was also charged with failure to notify DMV of an address change.
Sara E. Schimley, 19, of LeRoy, was arrested for tresspass Thusday after a homeowner in Pavillon told Schimley to leave his or her residence and Schimley refused. Schimley was released on an appearance ticket.
Robert Cummings, 22, of Pembroke, was arrested in Corfu Friday and charged with unlawful possession of marijuna.
Ruben BeCoates, 55, of Rochester, was arrested Saturday after he was allegedly spotted driving erratically. BeCoates was charged with driving while impaired, unlawful lane change and consuming alcohol while in a motor vehicle.
About $2.5 million will flow to Genesee County schools, including nearly a million dollars to Batavia schools.
Philip asked Patrick Burk for a response, and we received this via e-mail:
I am thrilled and excited that our district is receiving this investment in our City of Batavia Schools. It will allow us to continue our level of excellence in the areas of educational programming and student services as well as employee training. We will be able to maintain a higher professional/student ratio that has been extremely successful in promoting higher test scores and outcomes. Rest assured this investment will be used wisely to do what we do best, educate ALL the children of the City of Batavia.
This cannot be dismissed as greenwashing. It's actually far more dangerous than that. Wal-Mart's initiatives have just enough meat to have distracted much of the environmental movement, along with most journalists and many ordinary people, from the fundamental fact that, as a system of distributing goods to people, big-box retailing is as intrinsically unsustainable as clear-cut logging is as a method of harvesting trees.
Here's the key issue. Wal-Mart's carbon estimate omits a massive source of CO2 that is inherent to its operations and amounts to more than all of its other greenhouse-gas emissions combined: the CO2 produced by customers driving to its stores.
The post asserts that big box stores encourage us to drive further -- an average two miles longer each trip -- to do our shopping.
I've taken over The Batavian as my full-time and only job.
Over the next week, I'll be moving the site to a new server. I don't anticipate any disruption in service.
I want to thank Philip Anselmo and Brian Hillabush for all the great work they've done on the site. They're a huge part of the site's success. Philip is moving on to another reporting position. Brian and I are discussing how we'll be able to continue working together.
Next week, I'll be in our Batavia office ready to cover the news and sell advertising. As time goes by I'll have more announcements about what we'll be doing with the site. I still have new features to add, many of which will please local advertisers.
My wife and I are listing our house in Pittsford for sale and as soon as it sells, we will rent a place in Batavia (or maybe elsewhere in Genesee County). I expect we'll see my wife's byline in The Batavian before too long.
People often debate the benefit of big box stores moving into "hometown" neighborhoods. Books have been published on the subject of Wal-Mart, in particular, running locally-owned shops out of business and replacing what may have been well-paying jobs with minimum wage, "exploitation" labor.
Whether or not you believe Wal-Mart is a malignant or beneficial force in a community, it is too much of a presence not to alter the overall figure. With a 111,000-square-foot Wal-Mart store expected to be up and running by June, LeRoy will soon learn what it's like to have the retail megalith in town.
From an article in the Democrat & Chronicle this morning:
A spokesman for Wal-Mart said the Genesee County store, which could open in spring 2010, would create 200 new jobs, plus another 100 jobs during construction.
The store will be a smaller version of a Wal-Mart Supercenter, with the same variety of products but smaller quantities.
The standalone building will feature a full retail section, groceries, an optical center, a pharmacy and a garden center, said the spokesman, Philip Serghini.
McCulley said he believes most residents support the project. "There was some dissent against it, but it was a small minority," he said.
"People are looking for options of shopping locally. People don't want to travel too far to do their shopping."
Derek G. Thomas, 32, of 400 E. Main St., Batavia, was charged with a felony count of first-degree criminal contempt and a felony count of third-degree criminal possession of a weapon. Thomas is accused of striking a female acquaintance with his hands and hitting her in the head with a beer bottle. The victim had previously been granted an order of protection against Thomas. He was sent to Genesee County Jail without bail pending a court appearance later this morning.
Ronda M. Kern, 27, of Basom, was charged with felony driving while intoxicated Thursday, Genesee County sheriff's deputies said. Kern was located at the scene of a motor vehicle accident on Sandhill Road in Alabama. She was also ticketed with consumption of alcohol in a motor vehicle and moving from the lane unsafely.
The Batavia girls basketball team made some great strides this season under coach Bill Wade, who came out of retirement to take over the squad.
But an off shooting night against a tough No. 13 Aquinas team means that season came to an end Thursday night, with a sloppy 49-41 loss on No. 8 Batavia's home court in the second round of the Section 5 Class A playoffs.
"(Aquinas) is a very good team," Batavia coach Bill Wade said. "I saw that when I scouted them a week and a half ago. This is a tough team in the second round. I thought we could have won but we didn't make our baskets when we needed to."
The Blue Devils have been able to have players pick up their games when other's were off, but there were a bunch of stretches Thursday that it didn't happen - where nobody could hit a shot.
It was probably Batavia's most poor shooting effort as a team all season long.
"We had our looks, we had our chances and we had our opportunities," Wade said.
Neither squad came to play in the first quarter.
Marieli Ramirez scored five straight points to put the Lil' Irish up 7-3, but Brittany Wormley scored with three minutes left to make the score 7-5 Aquinas. Nobody else scored in the period.
Michelle Jordan scored a basket and had a 3-pointer early in the second quarter for Batavia, but Aquinas went on a 9-0 run to take a 19-11 lead. Kelly Legg scored three consecutive baskets in the run.
Wormley killed the Irish scoring with five straight points, but Aquinas had a 26-17 lead at halftime.
Shun-Della Williams had a big third quarter for the Blue Devils. Her rebounding was huge in the frame and she had both she and Wormley had four points apiece to cut the deficit to 32-29 after three periods of play.
"I thought she really stepped up and got us going in the third quarter," Wade said. "We could have folded and didn't."
Carly Cellura drained a pair of 3-pointers to put Aquinas up 42-34 midway through the fourth quarter, but the Blue Devils didn't quit. Wormley had a basket with 1 1/2 minute left and trailed by just four points.
But on Aquinas' next trip down the floor was the nail in the coffin. Legg - a 6-foot-1 forward - pulled up and hit a 3-pointer.
That gives the Irish (8-12) a shot to play top-seeded Pittsford Mendon in the semifinals.
Wormley scored 15 points to lead Batavia, which ends up 15-7. Only two players -Brittany Mazurkiewicz and Jaycee Shirk - are graduating, so the Blue Devils could be strong again next season.
Shirk had five points and Mazurkiewicz had seven in their final high school game.
"We will get together on Monday and have a meeting, talk about how we are going to work for next year," Wade said. "But Brittany and Jaycee were great leaders and whoever our captains are next year I can only hope will fill their shoes half way. They were great."
Batavia city police issued the following press release and photographs:
The Batavia Police are asking for the public’s assistance in identifying the person pictured. This person used stolen checks to make purchases exceeding four thousand dollars at businesses in the surrounding area. Please contact Detective Richard Schauf at 585-345-6312 or call the confidential tip line at 345-6370.
We in the city have several issues to deal with; our problems are not unusual for a small city in upstate NY. We suffer from a decaying infrastructure and a shrinking population that puts stress on our ability to provide cost effective services to our residents.
The cities sidewalks, roads, water and sewer infrastructures have seen better days. A lot of our infrastructure is depression era work that was done in the 1920’s. Our recent financial problems have left us with very little money for these necessary repairs. Currently our water system has several points that are leaking water into the ground. Water that doesn’t make it to your tap is wasted and still must be paid for through an increase in the cost of water rates. There is also another problem with our aging water system; the old pipes we have are smaller 4’ pipes that do not have enough capacity for fire protection.
Financially it has been a long hard road back to stability for our city. The numbers show that our tough choices in recent years have secured our footing on solid ground. The success of Batavia Downs has been a big help for our city. For the last several years the state government has given communities that host tracks money. This money is not something we believed would continue so, up to this point the city has only used this money for debt reduction. In the last two years close to a million dollars of this VLT money has helped pay down our debt. This year’s numbers will show our city back in the black and financially solvent. Our new budget is also more business like and was created with long term planning in mind. The use of contingency funds to put money aside for replacing equipment and future repairs will help us in the long run and keep your tax rate level.
As you probably have heard by now, the federal government has passed a bill they believe will create jobs and help get our economy moving again. Our city staff and Council have been watching the events leading up to this bill very closely and taking proactive steps to assure that our community is not left behind. Myself as well as Marianne Clattenburg have just returned from a series of meetings in Albany . These meetings were designed to inform mayors from around the state about the grant money for infrastructure repairs available as part of this stimulus aid. We were able to secure several private meetings, chief among them were with representatives of the governors office.
The information we obtained has given us a clear understanding of what the city needs to do to compete for this very large pool of money. The federal government is interested in giving our economy an immediate boost and is looking for projects that are call “shovel ready”. A shovel ready project is one that is already planned, has a design, and is ready to start. It has been made very clear to us that any project that is to be considered must be able to have the first shovel in the ground within 180 days. This month council acted to invest this year’s state VLT aid money to create the designs necessary to make sure that our city and county benefit from the federal stimulus bill. We will actively pursue any avenue necessary to ensure our city speaks with a voice loud enough to be heard. This bill and securing our share of the stimulus aid is a prime concern of the City Council.
Could the city's claims that the ambulance service was losing money and had to be nixed have been a "deceitful attempt" to get rid of some of the city's firefighters? That's the conclusion following an independent audit of the city's finances that allegedly shows that the ambulance has been in the black every year except one for the past five years. The decision to end the city ambulance service as of September 1 was made at a City Council meeting last month. The vote was unanimous.
Greg Ireland, president of the Firefighters Local 896, met with us today outside the city fire hall to talk about that audit.
"It's plain and simple: the numbers don't lie," he said. "Revenues exceeded expenditures, period."
If you visit the new Batavia ambulance Web site you can get a closer look at those numbers. Ireland had the audit put together by Kevin Decker, president of the Albany-based independent firm, Decker Economics. In his report, summarized in a memo that Ireland gave to us today, Decker shows that in the fiscal year 2003-04, the city ambulance fund "recorded an operating surplus (revenues minus expenses) of $529,766." In 2004-05, the fund posted a surplus of $414,006. In 2005-06, the fund posted a surplus of $570,807.
That's the year that things start to change, according to the report.
"To compensate the General fund for resources expended by fire department personnel directly related to ambulance services, the City provided for a transfer from the Ambulance fund to the General fund (of) $921,609."
This shift of expenses from one fund to another—a typical city budget includes several funds, including: general, fire, sewer and water—is known as an interfund transfer, by which expenses or revenues generated within one fund are used to offset those of another.
So, in the following year, 2006-07, Decker's report explains that the ambulance fund posted a deficit of $454,799. That deficit is explained in these terms on the Web site:
"Since people were beginning to question the inter-fund transfers, the city created a better way to hide their ambulance money. Instead of just picking a number out of the sky, City Hall decided to remove 35% (approximately $1 million) of Firefighter's wages and benefits from the General Fund and put those expenses against the Ambulance Fund. So without the "transfer", but adding $1 million of "false" expenses, the Ambulance Fund showed a deficit of $454,799."
The interfund transfers continued in 2007-08, but the ambulance fund still posted a surplus of $286,038, according to the report.
The bottom line is that the ambulance service helps subsidize the cost of the City's fire department. In fact, in FY 2007-08, the City's Ambulance fund generated an operating surplus even with a significant portion of fire department wages and salaries included.
If we assume that the level of staffing for fire suppression personnel cannot be reduced any further, eliminating the ambulance service will require the City to come up with other sources of revenue to finance the payroll costs for City firefighters that are currently being subsidized by the Ambulance Fund. This fact has been recognized, and reported to the City, by both the City's auditors and the State Comptroller's Office.
Absent a complete lack of understanding on the part of City leaders, it would appear that this move to eliminate the ambulance service is a back door and deceitful attempt to reduce the size of the City's firefighting force.
"We want a new vote taken," said Ireland. "We want to educate the public. Then we want a new vote taken."
In a video interview with Ireland taken at the union's informational picket outside City Hall last week, he said that the city rushed the decision to end ambulance service before anyone had a chance to speak out on it.
Ireland said he is open to negotiations with the city. Of course, that would all take place "behind closed doors."
"I'm more than willing to sit down and talk openly with anyone," he said.
On a side note, our appointment this afternoon was to meet with Ireland at the city fire hall on Evans Street. We had to conduct that meeting outside on the sidewalk. Not a bad situation on a nice day like today. But you may ask why. Well, Ireland apologized and explained that the city manager, Jason Molino, called this morning and told him not to meet with the press inside the fire hall. In fact, Ireland's meeting earlier with Dan Fischer of WBTA and Joanne Beck of the Daily News had to be moved to the WBTA studios, he said.
BATAVIA, N.Y. — We're following reports coming through on the scanner right now of a young child, approximately 4-years-old, who was found walking around in the middle of the street in downtown Batavia. Officers on scene report that the child is asking for his mother and father, neither of whom are reported to be in the area.
Update (Friday at 9:04 a.m.): The parents of the lost child have been identified and further investigation into the incident will be shared between Child Protective Services and Batavia city police, Lt. Eugene Jankowski said in an e-mail this morning. It is not known if charges will be placed at this time. No names have yet been released. The investigation is ongoing.
Nearly $1.7 billion in education aid will make its way to New York schools from the stimulus package, Sen. Charles Schumer announced today. That $1.7 billion will be direct aid, he stressed, in addition to another $4.7 billion "in additional education and other aid to New York State schools."
Of that, the Western New York districts will see $102 million. We have not received the details on a county-by-county breakdown, but we hope to have the specific figures for you later this morning.
Details from the press release:
The U.S. Department of Education estimates that the economic stimulus package will include nearly $22 billion in direct education aid through the Title I and Special Education/ Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) federal formulas nationwide. Upstate New York is estimated to receive a total of approximately $320 million in new funding for Special Education and approximately $176 million in Title I grants, according to the Congressional Research Service (CRS) and the Department of Education respectively, for a total of $496 million in new direct funding to Upstate New York schools. This funding will give New York’s school districts the flexibility and tools they need to keep serving and educating our children.
Here is how the funding will break down across the state:
* Capital Region schools will receive an additional $36 million in Special Education/IDEA funding and $14 million in Title I grants for a total of $50 million in direct school aid.
* Central New York schools will receive an additional $37 million in Special Education/IDEA funding and $25 million in Title I grants for a total of $62 million in direct school aid.
* Hudson Valleyschools will receive an additional $94 million in Special Education/IDEA funding and $37 million in Title I grants for a total of $131 million in direct school aid.
* North Country schools will receive an additional $21 million in Special Education/IDEA funding and $11 million in Title I grants for a total of $31 million in direct school aid.
* Rochester-Finger Lakes schools will receive an additional $48 million in Special Education/IDEA funding and $32 million in Title I grants for a total of $79 million in direct school aid.
* Southern Tier schools will receive an additional $24 million in Special Education/IDEA funding and $13 million in Title I grants for a total of $38 million in direct school aid.
* Western New York schools will receive an additional $58 million in Special Education/IDEA funding and $44 million in Title I grants for a total of $102 million in direct school aid.
Updated (11:55 a.m.): We received the full report from Sen. Schumer's office. Genesee county will receive a total of $3 million in direct aid stimulus funding. That will be divided as follows:
• Alexander Central School District: $265,618
• Batavia City School District: $983,317
• Byron-Bergen Central School District: $340,026
• Elba Central School District: $172,529
• Oakfield-Alabama Central School District: $309,421
• Pembroke Central School District: $332,549
• Pavilion Central School District: $258,944
• Le Roy Central School District: $371,503
Michael J. Lenhard, 23, of Corfu, was charged with driving while intoxicated Wednesday, Genesee County sheriff's deputies said. Lenhard was stopped for an alleged traffic violation on West Main Street Road in the town of Batavia. He was also ticketed with driving left of the pavement markings.
Timothy Grice, 47, of Oakfield, was charged with a felony count of driving while intoxicated and first-degree aggravated unlicensed operator, state police said. Grice was stopped for an alleged traffic violation on Route 33 in Bergen. He was sent to Genesee County Jail in lieu of $5,000.
The Alexander girls basketball team earned the top seed in Class C because the team has so many solid players. Rachel Pettys is without a doubt one of them.
The senior forward led a big second half rebounding effort to lead the Trojans to a 65-44 win over No. 9 Lyndonville Wednesday.
Pettys had 11 points, 14 rebounds and six assists in the contest.
"Rachel is everywhere," Alexander coach Marcia Hirsch said. "She had an amazing game tonight and really is the heartbeat of our team, along with Anna Dominick. They work and do what it takes. They are on the floor and fighting for every rebound."
Alexander was on the losing side of the rebounding numbers at the half by 10, but had an eight board advantage after the third quarter.
"They haven't been outrebounded yet this year," Hirsch said. "We have a sticker board in the locker room and they get a sticker every time they outrebound somebody. They take a lot of pride in their rebounding."
The Trojans had a very slim 12-11 lead after the first quarter and a 27-20 lead at halftime, but outscored the Tigers 20-9 in the third to pull away.
Dominick led all scorers with 15 points as all five Alexander starters finished in double figures.
Anni Lehtola had 13 points, nine rebounds and five assists with Katie Kochmanski and Chelsea Turcer getting 10 points apiece.
Samantha Skryp and Molly Burgess had 10 points each for Lyndonville, which ends up 10-12.
Alexander (16-4) will face No. 4 Lyons (11-9) in the semifinals at Pittsford Sutherland.
Hirsch hasn't seen the Lions play this season, but will be doing her homework over the next couple of days. But she also says that once you get to this level, it is all about how your team performs.
"Sometimes you just have to play and not worry about the other team," Hirsch said.
Sonny Giuliano's name gets tossed around as one of the top players in the Genesee Region League for good reason.
The junior point guard - that looks and plays like a forward - had a huge game in leading Elba to a 53-50 win over visiting Wheatland-Chili in the first round of the Section 5 Class D1 tournament Wednesday.
Giuliano dropped in a game-high 23 points with 10 rebounds and three assists to lead the Lancers on to the second round.
"He had a nice basketball game," Elba coach Rick Pcionek said. "He was solid all the way through and hit some clutch free throws when we needed him to come through. He's been clutch all year."
Elba didn't have a pass in the opening round as a 16-12 first quarter lead turned into a 30-29 deficit at halftime. But Elba had a 14-11 advantage in the third quarter and 10-9 in the fourth.
The win came right down to the wire and Elba's big stars turned in clutch performances. Phil Ostroski hit one of two foul shots and Giuliano hit both in the final minute of play to turn a 50-50 game into a win.
The Lancers were definitely tested in the opening round.
"They have some guys that can play," Pcionek said. "I think they have some guys that are young and that plays a lot into their record."
Ostroski had another solid game with 11 points and six rebounds while Dan Ramsey added 12 points.
Garhett Varin had 16 points with Alex Stryker adding 13 for the Wildcats (4-15).
Elba (12-9) will face either Keshequa or Genesee Valley on Saturday. No results from that game are available Wednesday night.
"Each round definitely gets harder," Pcionek said. "Teams don't want to lose and everybody is trying that much harder. Nobody wants their season to end. I take my hat off to Wheatland-Chili because they didn't want their season to end tonight."
Another Daily Newsarticle by Joanne Beck that takes up the issue of the assistant city manager's salary has got tempers flaring on the newspaper's Web site. Beck authored an article a couple weeks back in which she was accused of sexism for questioning why Sally Kuzon is being paid $24,000 more per year than past assistants.
In today's article, Beck writes:
City Councilmen Bob Bialkowski, Bill Cox and Rose Mary Christian say they want answers about how the assistant manager's salary was established. The total of about $84,000 includes a $2,820 car allowance, according to information provided to The Daily News.
There has never been a car allowance for an assistant manager before, Christian said. She questions why there's one for Assistant Manager Sally Kuzon, a Williamsville resident who was granted a residency waiver.
The article, which is interesting and well-written, has already garnered more than a dozen comments (and climbing) on the site.
We have still not received the information we requested from the city two weeks ago, when we filed a Freedom of Information Law request to view the salaries for all city employees for the current year, the project year and the past year. We were informed that it would take until March 30 to compile the information.