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Thursday, April 8, 2010 at 10:08 pm

Wind Tamers starting to sprout in Genesee County

post by Howard B. Owens in conservation, energy, Le Roy, Pavilion, Wind Tamer

Wind Tamers -- the bright white and blue, jet-engine looking wind energy devices -- are catching on in Genesee County.

wilsonfarm02.jpgThere's already one installed in Le Roy (the picture on this post is of the one we mentioned in March), and Thursday evening, the Genesee County Planning Board recommended approval of two more and a company representative said a fourth unit was recently sold in Pavilion.

In all, Wind Tamer, Inc., has sold 40 of the turbine wind machines in New York, Ontario, Canada, and Pennsylvania since the company started selling them last year, according to Glenn Steed, installation coordinator.

"We’re trying to bring wind energy to people, to areas that might not be able to support large towers or open rotor designs or anything with noise and really bring a kinder energy to wind," said Steed following Thursday's meeting.

Approved were applications from Wayne and Jane Smith at 10744 South Street Road, Pavilion, and Joseph Falcone at 10213 Perry Road, Le Roy.

The Wind Tamer was designed by Jerry Brock and it achieves greater efficiency and produces more energy than traditional windmills because of its jet-engine like design.

The design is also quieter and can be mounted at lower heights for less visibility.

These advantages, Steed said, are proving very attractive for small businesses, agricultural uses and rural residents.

"Thre’s no noise at all," Steed said. "We just had a noise study done and the results are on our Web site. They’re just really quite. There’s really no increase in the ambient noise from the surrounding area."

Prices start in the $15,000 range, but Steed said the return on investment, because of the greater energy production, is much faster than traditional windmills.

Wind Tamer is based in Geneseo and Steed said most of the materials and all of the labor so far comes from New York.

“It’s a lot of good dollars in New York State," Steed Said. "It’s a good, growing business in New York.”

Thursday, April 8, 2010 at 3:06 pm

Batavia Tops notified of weight issue on one brand of fish fillets

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, agriculture, business, food

NOTE: This is an updated version of the story that corrects the implication from the Albany Times-Union story that the Batavia Kmart was involved, and the error in the TU story that warning letters were sent to the stores.

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Six grocery stores in New York -- including one in Batavia -- were notified by the state that some fish products the were selling were apparently overpriced.

The allegation is that the stores were selling seafood packed in ice, and the ice was being weighed so that consumers were paying not just for filets and shrimp, but ice as well.

The Batavia Tops was one of the six stores asked to remove products from its selves and either re-label the packaging or return it to the distributor, a company out of New Jersey, according to Jessica Ziehm, spokeswoman for the state Department of Agriculture and Markets.

Tops reportedly sold fish fillets packed in ice that was counted as part of the weight.

Press release available here.

Thursday, April 8, 2010 at 2:43 pm

CORRECTED: City appears to have reached agreement with employees union

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, CSEA, unions

The City of Batavia and the union representing many its workers have apparently reached a tentative contract agreement.

Details of the agreement with the Civil Service Employees Association have not been released.

The new five-year contract, which will run from April 1, 2010 to March 31, 2015, will give union workers graduated raises (no raise in the first year, but a $1,000 bonus and compensation instead), and 2-percent raises in the fourth and fifth year.

The total impact of the raises over the next five years will be $79,000 in additional expense.

New hires will not be able to accrue sick leave to use to purchase health care upon retirement. They will not be able to purchase health care from the city when they retire.

Health care contributions for current workers will increase, with the first-year contribution being 10 percent, then 12.5, then 15, then 17.5, then 20 percent. There are cash incentives, up to $1,000 per employee and spouse, for participation in wellness programs.

New hires will contribute 30 percent to health care, an amount that can be reduced if they participate in wellness programs. If both spouse and employee participate, the total health care contribution by the employee would be reduced by 25 percent.

Information on the settlement is contained in the Batavia City Council's agenda for Monday night. The council will be asked to approve the agreement.

The council meets Monday at 7 p.m.

The Batavian apologizes for the incorrect information in the original version of the story.

Thursday, April 8, 2010 at 11:28 am

Car fire reported at house on Bernd Road

post by Howard B. Owens in Le Roy, Pavilion

A car fire has been reported at 9606 Berned Road, Pavilion.

It is parked in a driveway and is not near a structure, however the caller just called back and reported the car fire has now started a grass fire.

Le Roy Fire is responding.

UPDATE: It appears the fire is under control. No more units need to respond to the scene.


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Thursday, April 8, 2010 at 11:17 am

Photo: Cherry Blossoms behind Upton Monument

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, photos, Upton Monument

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The cherry blossoms (or I assume they are cherry blossoms) are in bloom behind the Upton Monument outside the Old Court House at Main and Ellicott streets.

BTW: We still might get thundershowers today and tonight, and there's still a chance of snow on Friday night.

Thursday, April 8, 2010 at 8:26 am

State's Chief Judge paying rare visit to Batavia

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, courts

judge_jonathan_lippman.jpgNew York's top jurist, Jonathan Lippman, will be in Batavia April 23 for Law Day at the Genesee County Courthouse.

It may be the first time a Chief Judge of the State of New York has visited Batavia.

County Court Judge Robert C. Noonan said a chief judge has never visited Batavia in the 35 years he's been involved in the local legal community, and he doesn't believe a chief judge visited during his father's time practicing law in Batavia, which goes back another 35 years.

"It is possible that this is the first time the Chief Judge EVER came here (of that, I am not certain), but this is a big event and we in the legal community are excited at the prospect of Judge Lippman's visit," Noonan told us in an e-mail.

Noonan anticipates a large turnout, with members from the legal community in Genesee, Wyoming and Orleans counties expected to attend. The event is open to the public, but space will be limited.

The Chief Judge will make a presentation at 9:30 a.m., and the one-hour session is likely to include time for questions and answers in a Town Hall format.

Lippman was appointed to his current position in January 2009 by Gov. David Paterson. Before that, he was Presiding Justice of the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court, First Department. His legal career spans six decades. A full biography is available here.

Recent news items involving the Chief Judge:

  • Lippman wrote the opinion on a unanimous decision limiting the scope of police search warrants, prohibiting, in certain cases, the search of persons who just happen to be in a house subject to search.
  • Lippman has called the lack of pay raises for the past 10 years for State judges "demoralizing."
Thursday, April 8, 2010 at 7:26 am

State Budget News: Union givebacks, Wall Street taxes, and still no budget

post by Howard B. Owens in budget, new york, taxes

Some members of public employees unions in New York are bucking their union bosses and saying they should give back their 4-percent raises, according to Associated Press.

"I talked to my friends and neighbors who are losing their jobs and taking pay cuts and for me to get a raise, I functionally have to ask them to pay for it," Regan said in an interview with The Associated Press. He said he hasn't heard from anyone who opposes his view.

In other budget news, a group calling itself Better Choice for Budgeting Campaign, is calling on higher taxes and closing tax loopholes for Wall Street financiers and hedge fund managers.

“When you look at hedge fund managers making millions and millions of dollars and Wall Street having caused a great deal of the economic turmoil we find ourselves in, they should really help pay for it,” said Sen. Neil Breslin.

And while New York's budget is a week late today, Albany's Democrats and Republics are squabbling over procedure, according to the Times-Union.

Senate Democrats gathered on Wednesday to roll out an ambitious set of reforms to New York's budget process. Republicans shot back that the majority would do better to devote their time to the work at hand, and lambasted Democrats for failing to follow budget reforms that are already on the books.

Thursday, April 8, 2010 at 6:23 am

Wanted suspect faces charge for allegedly running from police

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

The 17-year-old who was allegedly the subject of a manhunt in the City of Batavia on April 2 has been charged with an additional crime stemming from the search.

Christopher Allen Laird, of 30 South St., Le Roy, has been charged with obstructing governmental administration, 2nd.

Batavia Police and Sheriff's Office police, at least one State Trooper and a State Police helicopter were out looking for Laird the morning of April second in the area of State and North streets.

Laird was not captured that day, but was arrested in Le Roy on April 5. Laird was wanted on a warrant for alleged violation of probation stemming from a burglary charge.

Laird was the subject of a manhunt, also involving the State Police helicopter, on Sept. 23, 2008, following a burglary, 3rd, charge. Laird reportedly went missing a few days before, and was spotted in Elba. He was eventually found, according to reports, at a Transit Road residence where he had been accused of stealing a Polaris Trail Blazer off-road four-wheeler.

The Sheriff's Office put out a wanted notice for Laird on Feb. 2. He apparently remained at large until his arrest a few days ago.

Laird is being held without bail. His next scheduled court appearance is April 14.

Thursday, April 8, 2010 at 6:08 am

Canoe trip down Tonawanda Creek

post by Lynette McGiveron in outdoors, pembroke, Tonawanda Creek

On Tuesday, four friends from Pembroke ventured out on a canoe trip down the Tonawanda Creek.  It was the perfect way to celebrate Spring weather and Spring recess. The boys weren't at all concerned about the rain in the forecast, they looked forward to their trip regardless.  The six hour trip started from South Main St. in Batavia and ended on Phelps Rd. in Basom.  

 Back: Max Fisher, Morgan McGiveron

 Front: Jake Smallwood, Russell Schmidt

Wednesday, April 7, 2010 at 9:12 pm

Consultant's memo makes clear, sale not the only option being considered for nursing home

post by Howard B. Owens in Genesee County Nursing Home

The county wants to look at a range of options for dealing with its financially troubled nursing home, according to a memo written by a consultant the county plans to hire.

The scope of work planned by the Center for Governmental Research in Rochester is detailed in a memo from its director of human services analysis, Donald E. Pryor. The memo was released at the Ways and Means Committee meeting on Wednesday.

The study will involve numerous interviews with key stakeholders, an examination of past operational and financial history and comparisons with other facilities around the state.

CGR will look at least a dozen options for changing the status of the nursing home, including both keeping the operation as it is or selling it. Even closing it will be an option considered.

"CGR now understands clearly that the County is not currently considering the 'sell' option, and that there are many options that you wish to explore in more detail before you do consider that option, if you indeed ever do," Pryor writes.

"Thus this memo reframes the original proposal in that spirit, with the intent of exploring the implications, pro and con, of a number of options the County may wish to consider along a continuum of possible change, ranging from no change (status quo) to closure of the Nursing Home facility, and many options in between."

Among the other options Pryor discusses are bed licenses to a third-party operator, conversion of the nursing home to a free-standing, not-for-profit facility, renegotiating agreements with the employees union, creation of a public benefits corporation, and better marketing of the facility.

"Rather than focus on an RFP process designed to determine the possible interest and viability of entities who may be interested in the possibility of purchasing the County Nursing Home, our revised proposal deletes all reference to that RFP process," Pryor writes. "Instead, the focus of this revised proposal is on an objective assessment of the strengths, limitations and overall implications of a wide range of options for the operation, management and possible disposition of the Nursing Home and its companion Adult Home."

The memo was part of the final contract provided to the Ways and Means Committee for review and approval. The committee unanimously approved sending the contract to the full legislature for review and possible approval.

The memo states that the $62,000 consulting fee will cover all in costs, including travel and any other expenses.

For previous nursing home coverage, click here.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010 at 8:40 pm

County could see a jump of $3 million in retirement benefits over next two years

post by Howard B. Owens in genesee county, Scott German

The number of retiring Genesee County workers over the next two years could increase county expenses by as much as $3 million.

That's according to figures released Wednesday by County Treasurer Scott German at the Ways and Means Committee meeting.

Afterward, he said the looming increase is troublesome.

"I’m very concerned about that because I’m not sure how we’re going to be able to come up with that kind of money without raising taxes," German said.

In other items German shared with the legislators:

  • The recent tax foreclosure auction turned a slight profit for the county of $6,900.  Initially, German didn't think the auction was profitable -- the amount spent by auction winners compared to the amount of property taxes owed -- but the early figures included interest payments on the back taxes, which did not need to be included.
  • The county has a fund balance of $9 million for 2009. This is up $397,022 from 2008. The fund balance is a measure of all money either collected or due the county from various sources, such as property taxes and state and federal sources. It doesn't necessarily mean the money is in the bank or that it has even been received.
  • The county's bond rating was bumped two grades to AA-. German noted that a two-grade bump is very rare and is "reflective of financial policies being practiced by the County Legislature and Treasurer's Office."
  • Interest earnings continue to decline. Earnings in 2009 dropped to $412,000, which is half the earnings of 2008, at $700,000. And 2008 was half of 2007, which was $1.4 million.
  • Revenue from sales tax dropped in 2009, which is the first drop since 2003 and only the second drop since 1991. Sales tax revenue is expected to be flat in 2010.
Wednesday, April 7, 2010 at 8:12 pm

County job bureau positions elminated

post by Howard B. Owens in Jobs Development Bureau, unemployment

Four people who are charged with helping unemployed workers get back on their feet are now looking for jobs themselves.

Today, the Ways and Means committee authorized the elimination of two full-time and two part-time jobs with the Genesee County Job Development Bureau.

The layoffs were necessary because of cutbacks in state funding for the program.

"If those funds are replenished and restored to the county, we would certainly look at reinstating those jobs," said Ways and Means Chairman Hollis Upson.

The two full-time jobs are employment and training counselors. One job was eliminated effective April 1. The other position terminates April 21.

The other positions eliminated were part-time clerk-typist positions.

The layoffs reduce the county budget by $76,990.

The Job Development Bureau will, however, continue to provide services to the area's unemployed.

“This is just a shrinking of staff," Upson said. "The same services will still be available, the same contacts are there, the same liaisons between the Department of Labor, Genesee Community College, local employers, are all still there."

Genesee County's unemployment rate stands at 9.1 percent, and recently as many as 100 local residents who have been unemployed for 99 weeks or more started losing benefits.

The resolution authorizing elimination of the positions must still be approved by the full legislature.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010 at 5:39 pm

Batavia man trapped under car rescued by local trio

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, accident, Swan Street

swanheroes.jpg

Fast action by three people on Swan Street this evening saved a Batavia man from possible serious injury after a car he was working on slipped off a jack and trapped him.

The man, Dean Case, started yelling and two men nearby heard him as well as two boys.

The boys, Peter and Philip, ran to get their mom, Kim Koziol, who called 9-1-1. Jeremy Fitzsimmons and his friend Josh Fye, who was visiting from Darien, rushed to see what was going on.

They said all they could see was Case's legs sticking from under the car. Fitzsimmons ran to get a jack and Fye pushed the car from behind to keep it from rolling back further onto Case. Koziol then came with two wheel ramps and pushed them behind the rear tires to help hold the jacked-up vehicle in place.

Case, who was working on his transmission, stood up immediately after he was pulled from under the vehicle, and he was fully conscious. Fitzsimmons said his first words were, "Next time, I'm calling L&L."

A short time later, Officer John Zola and Batavia Fire personnel arrived on scene. Mercy EMS transported Chase to UMMC for evaluation.

Fitzsimmons and Fye demurred when asked if they were heroes. "We were just in the right place at the right time," Fye said.

swanstreet_rescue.jpg

Wednesday, April 7, 2010 at 12:27 pm

Pet-of-the-Week: Penelope and Smudge

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penelope_and_smudge.jpg

Hello fellow pet lovers, I am returning to my duties as Pet of the Week correspondent for The Batavian. I have been busy handling some PR business following our recent award, including posing for portraits, mailing Thanks You, answering fan mail, etc., and enjoying a brief vacation at the lodge. Your patience has been appreciated!

My pick this week is a two-for-one -- Penelope (fawn-colored) and Smudge (white). They are boxers, otherwise known as Gasserdogz/Gasserdogs. I like them because they like drag-racing. In fact, they travel to these kinds of races frequently and are part of the pit crew for a Nostalgia Gasser Class drag car, a 1938 Chevy Coupe. They really keep an eye on things, though you wouldn't suspect them capable of it by their picture.

Their "driver" is Michael Scarborough. He says that the dogs also promote adoption since there are sooo many pups waiting for a second chance at a new forever home, either in rescue or local animal shelters. Through no fault of their own, there are boxers waiting in foster care through Second Chance Boxer Rescue or SCBR. Some boxers were strays, some had to be given up due to financial hardships or abuse/neglect.

According to Scarborough, "Smudge and Penelope are very good during the races ... the cars are loud but that does not bother them one bit. You can see videos of the car and other cars in the Nostalgia Gasser Class on youtube if you search "gasserdogs." Boxers are not for everyone since they are very active and require daily exercise. Some folks might not have the time, but for the right people, boxers are the best fit ever!!! They love kids, are smart, loving and play, play, play."

Wednesday, April 7, 2010 at 10:38 am

Nobody really knows how bad deficit is, says state's finance chief

post by Howard B. Owens in budget, new york

The official deficit number is $9 billion, but years of accounting tricks aimed at hiding deficit spending masks New York's true fiscal picture, according to Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli.

For years, governors and legislators used a grab bag of fiscal gimmicks to cover up the growing gaps between revenue and expenditures. Those gimmicks are now so widespread and so embedded in Albany budgeting, DiNapoli said, that they have essentially rendered the state’s balance sheet immaterial.

One common device is the “sweep,” where the state grabs a surplus from an another entity — say, the Battery Park City Authority — to cover recurring expenses in the general fund, the state’s main bank account and the one that is required to be kept in balance.

Officials have also moved many day-to-day operating expenses out of the general fund and into other funds, hiding spending growth and hiding the true cost of running the government. For example, Governor Paterson’s proposed budget uses $40 million from the state’s Environmental Protection Fund, which is supposed to pay for parkland acquisitions, to pay salaries and other expenses of the state’s environmental and parks agencies.

Read the whole story.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010 at 6:58 am

State Police still investigating case in Alabama of dogs shot at woman's home

post by Howard B. Owens in animals, Alabama, crime

A State trooper is still investigating the case of two dogs that were found shot dead by their owner Saturday night on Bloomingdale Road in Alabama.

State Police spokeswoman Rebecca Gibbons said a person has admitted shooting the dogs (his name is not being released at this time), but said he did so because the dogs had health problems.

The man is somebody the woman knows.

The dogs were turned over to the Department of Environmental Conservation for examination.

Gibbons said the case remains open.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010 at 11:51 am

Two car accident, minor injuries, on West Main, Batavia

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, accident

A two-car accident on West Main Street, Batavia, reportedly caused minor injuries.

The two cars have pulled into the Parisee's parking lot and West Main is not blocked.

City Fire and Mercy EMS are responding.

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