Afternoon News Brief
Written by Doug Thompson on October 4, 2022
The trial of a former principal who is accused of sexually abusing over 20 students is now underway. Yesterday, jury selection started in the case of Kirk Ashton who prosecutors say abused the victims while he was the principal at Northwood Elementary School located in Hilton. Since Ashton’s arrest last year, the district has made some policy changes including restricting one-on-one meetings. The trial is expected to last about three weeks.
A state appeals court has upheld a 2019 ruling against a Batavia teenager who shot a man in the leg, after the man had just stabbed and killed someone. Samuel Blackshear was 17 at the time of his conviction of second-degree criminal possession of a weapon. His attorneys appealed the conviction, saying that the court should have granted Blackshear youthful offender status during his sentencing due to mitigating circumstances. Blackshear was sentenced as an adult to three years and six months in prison. He was released from Franklin Correctional Facility on March 1 and is now on parole until February 1, 2024. The state Appellate Division, unanimously upheld the conviction and the ruling. Blackshear never disputes that he was convicted of an armed felony offense but contends that the court should have determined him to be eligible for youthful offender treatment because of the mitigating circumstances in his case, in that he was defending others. However, the court ruled against him; as Blackshear “pursued his target in order to fire the gun at that person at close range.” The court ruled they found no mitigating factors with respect to youthful offender status.
Police tell us that 22-year-old Tarrence Williams, of Batavia, was allegedly carrying a “ghost gun” as he ran from police who were responding to a report of shots fired. The incident began after a complaint of what sounded like gunshots early Friday evening at 200 Ellicott Street. Witnesses observed a man walking nervously with what appeared to be a gun and then saw him again walking on the Ellicott Trail a short distance from the incident location. Officers tried to stop him but he fled on foot. During the foot pursuit Williams allegedly removed his identifiable clothing and discarded a firearm in a bush near M&T Bank on Court Street. The handgun had no make, model or serial number. Williams was charged with felony criminal possession of a weapon. He was committed to Genesee County Jail in lieu of $50,000 bail. The incident is believed isolated and no injuries were reported. Williams is currently awaiting sentencing from a previous court proceeding where he pled guilty to felony third-degree attempted criminal possession of a controlled substance.
The IRS wants you to know there are scammers out there trying to steal your money. The IRS tells us this morning there has been a recent increase in the number of people impersonating IRS agents. Scammers can send out hundreds of thousands of fake IRS emails and text messages in just hours. But there are clear signs that the messages are phony. They include spelling and grammar mistakes, a sense of urgency and the promise of money. Keep in mind the IRS will only ever contact you by sending letters through the US Postal Service. Things to watch out for that could tip you off that the message is from scammers:
*Spelling and grammar mistakes. One common text scam reads, “IRS is filing [sic] lawsuit against you [sic] for more information [sic] call this number on urgent basis” Notice the “a” is missing as are the periods. No professional would send a text as a long run-on sentence.
*A sense of urgency. Some common IRS impersonation scams warn of a warrant and pending arrest if you don’t call immediately.
*The promise of money. Many of these scam IRS messages are tied to the promise of another stimulus payment. Some may even address you by name.
The text includes a number to call or a link to click. That link will either unleash malware on your device or take you to sites that look like the IRS, but instead are designed to steal your personal information.
*Fake websites. There are also fake sites that ask victims for a host of information including their social security number, name, birthday, email and employer. But the first thing you should look for are spelling and grammar mistakes. Here is one example: “Important for every tax payers [sic] to avoid being over charged… [sic]” The word, “taxpayers” should not have been plural, and it’s one word, as is overcharged.
*Finally, the IRS will never contact you by text message, email or by phone. The IRS will always use the United States Postal Service.
Assemblyman Steve Hawley (R,C,I-Batavia) has expressed his displeasure with Labor Commissioner Roberta Reardon’s decision to gradually lower the farm overtime threshold from 60 to 40 hours. With inflation and minimum wage set to rise again, he believes this decision could force hundreds of farms out of business in the very near future. He also noted that farmers and farm laborers rely on the current 60-hour threshold. Hawley said he would continue to work toward overturning the ruling.
The Director of Genesee County’s Office For the Aging, Diana Fox; estimates that the last of the Baby Boomers will be turning 65 by 2030, and that will mean more seniors to serve. Projections of an aging population on the rise put ages 60 and older at around 16,000 people in Genesee County, to increase to nearly 20,000 by 2035, and ages 65 and older at a close second with some 16,000 to 17,000 by that same time period. And these are the age groups that are prime candidates for the services provided by the Office For the Aging. The caseload waitlist is slightly higher than last year’s; 101 versus 90, a year ago — as people wait for caregiver support for an older loved one. There are no wait lists for meal deliveries, which are at about 165 active cases right now. Our news partner, The Batavian, published a comprehensive story discussing the increasing demand on services for an aging population. Here is a direct link:
They’ve sold millions of albums and been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, now The Beach Boys have announced a trip to Western New York later this year. The ‘Tis The Season with The Beach Boys featuring The Holiday Vibrations Orchestra Tour is coming to the Shea’s Performing Arts Center in Buffalo Friday, December 9th. Songs from the band’s 1964 holiday album are going to be performed and tickets go on sale Friday at 10:00am. They can be purchased at the Shea’s box office or through Ticketmaster.
It looks like the Buffalo Bills are going to be without wide receiver Jamison Crowder for the foreseeable future. Head coach Sean McDermott said yesterday that Crowder suffered a broken ankle during Buffalo’s 23 to 20 victory over the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday. Wide receiver Isaiah McKenzie also left the contest and the team later revealed he’s in NFL’s concussion protocol. Buffalo’s next game is scheduled for this Sunday at home against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
The Bethany-LeRoy Road from Route 63 to Clipnock Road is closed until Thursday for culvert replacement. No traffic will be allowed through.