ClarionCall.Com

CLARION PUBLICATIONS
Geneseo, NY

Search ClarionCall.com


The people's choice in Livingston County... and beyond!
You Are Here:
Home»Lake & Valley Clarion»Year in Review»Avon
Go To:
Lake and Valley Clarion NewspaperGenesee Country MagazineClarion Communications

Visit our Sponsors
Best of Livingston
Business Directory


Gold Sponsors


The Bank of Castile



Benson Real Estate

John W. Chanler Agency, Inc. Insurance


Kevin W. Dougherty Funeral Home, Inc.

Ideal Chevrolet & Oldsmobile

SUNY Geneseo


Wyoming County Bank



Avon

Mayor rebounds from life-threatening accident

Avon-on-the-Green faces tax abatement dilemma

Still more water headaches in South Avon

Host sentenced in party alcohol death

Town board and clerk in power struggle

Avon Central School surmounts budget difficulties

East Avon almost gets $150 million plant

School commences building project

Symphony Orchestra established

Village office struck by lightening


Mayor rebounds from life-threatening accident

On February 26 Village of Avon Mayor Richard Burke was involved in a life threatening single car accident on Route 5 & 20 in the Town of Lima. Earlier Burke had performed a wedding ceremony at the Avon Inn, then went to his Honeoye Falls office of Burke Group LLC. He was returning back to his home in Avon at about 11 p.m. when he presumably fell asleep at the wheel. His vehicle crossed the center line, missing an oncoming car, went airborne, and landed in a ditch. He was extricated by Lima Ambulance personnel and Mercy Flighted to Strong Hospital.

In the wake of a highly publicized DWI charge Burke had faced on November 24, 1998 in Henrietta, there was immediate suspicion on the part of the mayor's detractors that the accident was DWI-related.

However, blood tests subsequently indicated that Burke was not legally intoxicated at the time of the accident.

Burke fortunately made a marvelous recovery. Following a six week hospital stay and three day recovery period at home, the mayor was on hand to preside over the April 11 Village of Avon reorganizational meeting.

“I was trying to do too much—and it caught up with me,” Burke told reporters, vowing that he would never again be placing himself in circumstances where he might be susceptable to falling asleep at the wheel.

Shortly thereafter the mayor entered the 136th district assembly race as a Republican contender. After ten more days in the limelight, Burke withdrew his candidacy, throwing his support to eventual election winner Joe Errigo.

«Top»

Avon-on-the-Green faces tax abatement dilemma

In September of 1999 and January of 2000, the owners of the Avon-on-the-Green 34-unit senior citizen apartment were surprised to receive a respective $28,000 school tax bill and $11,000 town-county tax bill.

Prior to construction of the apartment, Avon-on-the-Green had negotiated tax free status with the Village of Avon. The village had agreed to exempt Avon-on-the-Green property taxes in lieu of a relatively high interest rate (3%) the village would alternately be receiving for HUD funding loaned to the project.

The apartment owner Elliot Landsman had erroneously assumed that the tax free village status automatically accrued to all other taxing entities, so Avon-on-the-Green had been built without securing any town, county or school tax relief.

In a dramatic February session of the Avon Town Board, apartment representatives claimed they would be forced to shut the apartment down and turn the elderly residents out onto the street—unless the tax relief was provided immediately. Under this threat, the town board agreed to abate the Avon-on-the-Green property tax. Because the town maintains assessment rolls, the town abatement automatically accrued to the apartment's school and county property taxes as well.

But just six days later, the town board reconvened in special session—minus Supervisor Joe Daley, who was on vacation—and rescinded the apartment abatement. Specially appointed attorney David Henehan told the board that 100 percent tax free status for Avon-on-the-Green would be very unusual (although he also suggested that the owners might need some relief from what seemed to be an excessive assessment on their building.) Concerns were also heard from the Avon Central School District, which was facing a financially precarious year and could ill afford loss of the anticipated $28,000 property tax revenue.

In June the Village of Avon proposed a radical but final solution to the dilemma. Under the pretense of “protecting our investment [i.e. loan to Avon-on-the-Green],” Mayor Richard Burke proposed that the Village would purchase Avon-on-the-Green and be the apartment's landlord. Under municipal ownership, no property taxes could thereafter be collected. Burke added that the village would not deprive the other entities of all of their tax revenue, and would offer some level of payment in lieu of taxes.

As of December, the village had been hoping to engage Landsman in discussions, but no progress on the village purchase had been made. Meanwhile, Avon-on-the-Green still owed 1999 and 2000 property taxes.

«Top»

Still more water headaches in South Avon

In March the Town of Avon terminated maintenance service for the South Avon public water system, after Akzo and its insurer, Zurich American, had failed to reimburse the town for maintenance-related expenses incurred since September, 1999, when the system was built with $80,000 of funds provided through Zurich.

By determination of the New York State Attorney General, Akzo and Zurich are responsible for supplying 14 households in South Avon with water, because the households' private wells were damaged in the wake of the salt mine flooding. In the absenceof the Town of Avon, Akzo has subsequently enlisted the private Culligan company to perform maintenance on the system.

The Livingston County Water & Sewer Authority had earlier withdrawn from South Avon at the encouragement of the Town of Avon. In 1999 the Town of Avon interceded upon Akzo's plans to bring Town of York water across the Genesee River and into South Avon. Subsequently, the water connection was made with the Avon system via Ashantee. The South Avon water service area has never been formally organized into a water district. To date, customers have never been billed for their water. Small diameter lines, incorporated into the system for the purpose of minimizing water stagnation and discouraging development in the area, were a violation of town standards.

Because of its spread-out nature, distance from the treatment plant and small number of customers, the South Avon system has been plagued with unique problems—stagnate water, low chlorine, high THM—since its inception. In an effort to end their responsibilities in South Avon once and for all, in August Akzo and Zurich proposed making a secondary connection with the Town of York system, supplying some water to York, thereby increasing system flow and hopefully diminishing the flow-related problems. However, the idea met with little enthusiasm on the Avon and York town boards.

After some additional ‘tough talk' sessions with Akzo attorney Ken Payment, the Town of Avon has finally received remuneration for its water maintenance service to date. However, the water administrative and engineering problems persist in South Avon.

«Top»

Host sentenced in party alcohol death

The trial of Leslie Welch was set for June 15, timing apparently meant to remind parents of graduating high school seniors of the danger of serving alcohol to young people.

On July 10, 1999, Joseph L. Kingsbury, 20, of Caledonia, died at the graduation party Welch was hosting at her Linden Street home for her daughter. Cause of death was later determined to be acute alcohol poisoning.

Welch faced charges of manslaughter, criminally negligent homicide and eight counts of unlawfully dealing with a child. The manslaughter and homicide charges related to the fact that Avon Village Police officer Michael Miller had been summoned to the Welch party on a noise complaint and had observed Kingsbury in an intoxicated state. Welch sent Officer Miller away, assuring him Kingsbury “was all right,” was of legal drinking age, and would be watched and cared for. But Kingsbury's lifeless body was discovered in the Welch garage the next morning.

Welch was defended by Rochester attorney Felix Lupine. An the eve of the trial, Welch plead guilty to reduced charges. Manslaughter was dropped in a bargaining agreement.

On August 17 Welch was sentenced to four months of weekend jail time by Livingston County Judge Gerard Alonzo. On August 30 Joseph Kingsbury's parents, Louis and Joann, followed the sentencing with a civil lawsuit seeking pecuniary damages from Welch, the Village of Avon Police Department and officer Miller who, the Kingsburys contended, were responsible for their son's death.

In November, the suit against Welch was settled for an undisclosed sum. The suit against the Avon Police Department and police officer awaits resolution.

«Top»

Town board and clerk in power struggle

With the retirement of the last hold outs from the former James Steele administration— long time Town Clerk Beverly Luther and veteran council members Richard Coyne and George Cullinan—Town Supervisor Joe Daley anticipated some clear political sailing at the beginning of 2000. However, Daley and the board immediately encountered the strong will of newly elected clerk Sharon Knight.

Knight raised a variety of ‘clerk's rights' issues, letting Daley and the board know that an elected clerk has a great degree of legal autonomy—and is more than just a secretary to the board. In the wake of disagreements between Knight and the board, the clerk's personal hours and town office hours did not entirely coincide. Knight delayed her appointment of a deputy clerk (Kim Bishop) pending resolution of the office hour issue. In May the board discounted the mailed office hour preference survey Knight was making in the community.

The board had further disagreements with Knight over the specific content of the meeting minutes. Kim Bishop, who was also named secretary to the supervisor, was, for several meetings, enlisted to take alternate meeting minutes which were subsequently incorporated by board resolution into Knight's official minutes.

The disagreements had yet to subside at the end of the year, when Bishop announced her resignation and Daley maintained an interest in ‘farming out' town office duties. Accounting responsibilities had been handed over to the Nunda firm of St. John & Baldwin in 1999. Daley hopes to hand over water billing duties to the Village of Avon in 2001.

«Top»

Avon Central School surmounts budget difficulties

Facing the reality of flawed budgeting from previous years, including a $142,000 accumulating cafeteria debt, the Avon Central School Board emerged from an April 11 session with a proposed $14 million budget for the 2000-01 school year. That budget would have translated into a record 17.6 percent increase in the local tax rate.

In a 954 to 608 vote, the budget was defeated in the May 12 school district election. The election also saw 14 year school board member and 12 year school board president Norm Barrett defeated by newcomer candidate Russell Leberman.

Avon Central School Superintendent Jeanne Dangle told the board the vote was “...a clear message from the community that the expenditure level is not acceptable.” Dangle, school business administrator Patricia Roach and the board proceeded to schedule an intensive series of work sessions in order to produce a revised budget for revote. Public comment was encouraged.

The modified budget trimmed the increase down to 13.5 percent—still a very high figure—and did not attempt to wipe out all cafeteria debt.

Under new State Education Department rules, failure of the second budget proposal would have forced a rigorous austerity upon the Avon District, because only two votes may now take place. However, voters did approve the modified budget on June 26, by a reasonably strong 667 to 547 margin.

When taxpayers received their bills in September, the actual increase was 11 percent, because the district was able to apply an unanticipated $100,000 to the current year budget, obtained from last year's fund balances.

«Top»

East Avon almost gets $150 million plant

From February until May, hopes ran high that East Avon would the site of a major new industrial plant, A-Mold, whose contracts included manufacture of wheels for Chrysler's P.T. Cruiser. A new 390,000 square foot $150 million factory would have employed 400 people.

That is, hopes ran high among the very exclusive group of about 60 individuals who were involved in marketing the East Avon location to A-Mold. Due to the highly competitive nature of the siting, the Livingston County Industrial Development Agency had secretly assembled a team of local government officials, utility representatives, real estate agents and others who made an all out effort to convince A-Mold that East Avon was the ideal location for the new factory. The team operated under the code name of “project siren.”

The effort came very close to being successful. A-Mold's contracted and prestigious site selector, Deloitte, Touche & Fantus Corp., reportedly advised the East Avon location, which was also the preference of A-Mold CEO Russ Davis.

However, the ultimate decision was in the hands of UBA, the Japanese holding corporation which owns A-Mold. Instead of going to East Avon, the new plant went to Sarina, Ontario, allegedly because “...Canada is a friendlier country to the Japanese.”

«Top»

School commences building project

Groundbreaking for a long awaited Avon Central School building project took place March 31. The $14.9 million project is to be completed in the late summer or early autumn of 2001.

The project is bringing a great number of improvements to school facilities: a new gymnasium with seating for 1,000; two new Primary School wings containing eight new classrooms; a new Middle School wing with ten new classrooms; expanded Primary and Middle school libraries; improved cafeterias; renovated science classrooms; new technology rooms; a new band music room; a district learning room; resurfaced drives and parking lots; a six lane track; reconfigured football field; upgraded security systems; Middle School art room and bathroom renovations; a new maintenance building roof; ramps and stairs in compliance with ADA; and drainage improvements for the school grounds.

«Top»

Symphony Orchestra established

2000 was the year that Avon Central music teacher Lisa Toth decided that the Avon community should have a symphony orchestra—and she then proceeded to organize one.

Lisa began auditioning musicians in March and soon had a 40 piece orchestra in place. Membership included both adult and talented high school and college musicians from Avon and the surrounding region.

Following an intensive rehearsal schedule, the symphony's first public performance took place May 15 at the Middle School Auditorium. Another concert followed in October. The symphony's most recent performance was a December 19 Festive Holiday Concert. A February 13, 2001 dance concert is the next scheduled.

«Top»

Village office struck by lightening

A lightning bolt struck the antenna of the Avon Village Fire Department communications room during a May 12 afternoon thunderstorm. The occupants of the room felt the static electric presence, but were fortunately uninjured. The electronic systems and wiring throughout the fire station and connected village hall were not so fortunate.

Most of the village's computers, computer cable connections, the fire station siren, fire station communication equipment, and other building wiring were destroyed by the strike.

Several weeks went by before everything could be returned to ordinary working order. The village's insurance policy covered all or most of the replacement costs.

«Top»

 

According to WebCounter you are the person to answer the Clarion Call
©2000 Clarion Publications, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
This site designed by Clarion Communications.