Afternoon News Brief
Written by Doug Thompson on August 31, 2022
Wesley Thigpen of Batavia admitted to child sex abuse in 2019 and then similar charges in 2021. He had made a plea deal, in which he agreed to a 13-year prison sentence cap. However, in Genesee County Court he learned the plea was rejected. The judge had received many letters from the victim’s family and law enforcement asking for a more severe penalty. Thigpen is now considering an offer of a guilty plea to predatory sexual assault against a child, with a sentence of 10 years to life. He has until early October to decide and if he rejects this offer, Thigpen will go to trial next February.
Robert Morris School will soon have youngsters back in classrooms. The building will be used as the district’s preschool and universal pre-kindergarten site starting next week, when all city schools reopen. Superintendent Jason Smith says that the number of kids needing preschool has almost doubled and they had a hard time finding programs for the students. Robert Morris was closed in 2012 in a money-saving move and the building has since been used as a rental property for BOCES, the ARC, daycares and other businesses. With grant money and the school districts work with other counties in the GLOW region, the school will once again be used to teach kids including those with special needs. Photos by Doug Thompson, WBTA News.
29-year-old Thea Irons of Batavia is charged with petit larceny after deputies responded to Walmart, 4133 Veteran’s Memorial drive, for a larceny complaint on August 29. Irons allegedly stole merchandise from the store and passed all points of sale without making payment. Irons is scheduled to appear in the Town of Batavia Court on September 27 at 10:00a.m. in front of Judge Young.
The next meeting of the Farm Laborers Wage Board will be held virtually at 4:30 p.m. next Tuesday, September 6. The board is expected to deliver its report and final recommendations to New York State Department of Labor Commissioner Roberta Reardon on the proposal to reduce the overtime threshold for farm workers from 60 hours to 40 hours a week. Under the Farm Laborers Fair Labor Practices Act of 2019, farm laborers became entitled to overtime premium pay starting on January 1, 2020, for any work that they perform in excess of 60 hours per week, and for work performed on their designated day of rest. The board plans to address whether or not to reduce the overtime threshold for farm laborers from 60 hours to 40 hours a week, and if so, over what period of time the change is phased in. Once the board delivers its report, Commissioner Reardon will have 45 days to review it and announce her decision. Here is a link for more information about the upcoming meeting: https://dol.ny.gov/farm-laborers-wage-board
Justice Coniglio of Basom has been sentenced to seven years in prison on an assault conviction, something that surprised him. He thought that if he followed the judge’s orders from the time of his guilty plea to his sentencing, he would get a reduced sentence. Coniglio’s understanding from a previous court appearance was that his plea deal was for his sentences on assault and grand theft to run concurrently if he made his court appearances and stayed out of trouble. If he didn’t, then the sentences would run consecutively. As it turned out, Coniglio was arrested during this timeframe for assault; as a result, the sentences will run consecutively; he now acknowledges that he misunderstood the judge’s orders.
A new court date has been set for the man accused of attacking Long Island Congressman Lee Zeldin. David Jakubonis was supposed to be in front of a judge yesterday, but the hearing was adjourned until October 18th at the request of his defense council. Zeldin, who is the Republican nominee in the race for New York governor, was making a campaign stop in Monroe County last month when Jakubonis approached him with a weapon in his hand. He was taken into custody and Zeldin wasn’t hurt.
Genesee and Wyoming Counties now have one of New York State’s lowest unemployment rates, according to data just released. The two counties were tied for the state’s fourth-lowest unemployment rate at 3 percent each as of July 31st; this, according to the state Department of Labor. Only Hamilton, Saratoga, Yates and Columbia counties had lower unemployment rates. About 900 people were unemployed in Genesee County as of July 31st. That compares to about 1,300 unemployed people in July 2021. In Wyoming County, about 600 people were unemployed as of the end of last month. That compares to about 800 unemployed people in July 2021. By the way, The Bronx had the state’s highest unemployment rate of 9.1 percent.
Buffalo Bills fans will have a place where they can gather next week to watch their team take on the defending Super Bowl champions. A block party is going to be happening on Chippewa Street in Buffalo when the Bills battle the Los Angeles Rams on Thursday, September 8th. There will be two large LED video walls set up, a DJ will perform during commercial breaks, and there’s also going to be a halftime show. More information about this event can be found online.
Governor Hochul has announced additional money for childcare providers in an effort to give parents more and cheaper childcare options in New York State. She says there will be 343,000,000 federal dollars from a Childcare Provider Stabilization grant that’ll go to providers to expand their number of seats and improve employee benefits and wages. Hochul is also launching a multimedia marketing campaign to educate folks on childcare assistance. She says only 12% of families eligible for childcare assistance are taking advantage of it.
State Attorney General Letitia James is reminding pharmacies it is illegal to deny customers reproductive health care prescriptions. James sent letters to CVS and Walgreens after she heard reports that employees in other states were refusing to give customers birth control and several other forms of contraceptives. She’s also requesting these pharmacies give her more information about what’s considered timely in fulfilling a prescription and training policies regarding refusals and related policies. The AG recently launched a hotline to provide legal guidance regarding reproductive health care and it can be reached by calling 212-899-5567.
For the eighth time in the last several weeks, the Niagara County Department of Health is again telling swimmers not to enter the water at Olcott Beach. They say people should stay out of the water there for their own safety. A high bacteria count has been detected and the beach will only reopen for swimming once it’s safe. Anyone with questions can contact the principal public health engineer at 716-439-7451.