Popular Webster diner to close due to ongoing COVID pandemic

Maa’s Diner in Webster will close at the end of the month.

The family-owned restaurant, 2215 Empire Blvd., will permanently shutter on Oct. 31, the owners announced over the weekend on social media, citing “unforeseen circumstances” in relation to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

“The Maa’s Family has not come to this decision easily, and we would like to thank you all for the support these last eight years,” the post read. “We will miss all of our loving and supportive customers and value the time we were able to share with you all.”

The 50’s-style diner, which serves breakfast and lunch, opened in December 2013. Until the end of the month, the diner is open Wednesdays through Sundays, from 7 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

Owner Soula Grann named the diner after her three children, placing the first initial of her three children’s names together (Maria, Ashlee and Andrew), adding an apostrophe and the first initial of her own name.

Maa’s Diner, located across the road from the AMC movie theater on Empire Boulevard, is known for its generous meal portions, including its popular candy shop-flavored pancakes, and its family-friendly atmosphere. 

Contact Victoria Freile at vfreile@gannett.com. Follow her on Twitter @vfreile and Instagram @vfreile. This coverage is only possible with support from our readers.  


U.S. News & World Report names Rochester one of the best places to live in NY. Here’s why

U.S. News and World Report recently ranked New York’s best places to live in 2021-2022. Rochester made the top five.

The list was composed to help readers make the most informed decision about finding a place to settle down.

Ranking fourth, Rochester is described as a unique blend of history and innovation. The article mentions that Rochestarians have opted to live in the suburbs for decades, but recent downtown development may be drawing people back to the city.

Another reason people are choosing to live in Rochester may be its affordability. Though property taxes are near the highest in the nation, the cost of living is significantly lower than the national average.

In 2020, the average cost to buy a house in Rochester was $246,692. The national average was $315,743.

A spring day in Highland Park.

Because of the low cost of living and high-ranking schools, Rochester is described as a great fit for families with approximately a quarter of the population under 20 years old.

The rankings were evaluated using data from the U.S. Census bureau, the FBI, the U.S. Department of Labor and U.S. News’ internal resources.

This data was categorized into five indexes. The percent weighting for each index reflects the answers from a May 2021 public survey in which people from across the country voted for what they believed was the most critical factor to consider when choosing where to live.

Nationally, Rochester ranked:

  • #72 in best places to live
  • #63 in best places to retire
  • #17 in best places to live for quality-of-life

Here are some other quick stats complied by the study:

  • Metro Population: 1,072,877
  • Median Home Price: $246,692
  • Median Monthly Rent: $902
  • Median Age: 40.2 years old
  • Average Annual Salary: $52,170
  • Unemployment Rate: 8.2%
  • Average Commute: 21.6 minutes
  • Average High Temps: 57.05° F
  • Average Low Temps: 39.25° F
  • Average Rainfall: 34.27 inches

Contact Robert Bell at: rlbell@gannett.com. Follow him on Twitter: @byrobbell & Instagram: @byrobbell. This coverage is only possible with support from our readers.


About 1,300 died in NY state prisons in the last decade, research shows

The number of people have died while incarcerated in state prisons in the last decade exceeds those who received capital punishment in New York over hundreds of years, research from Columbia University shows. 

A report released this month by Columbia University’s Center for Justice found around 1,300 people died in state prisons in the last 10 years. Comparatively, 1,130 people were executed in the state between 1608 and 1972.

In 2018, Black people accounted for 45% of deaths in the custody of the state Department of Corrections and Community Supervision, the report found. Black people make up around 14% of state residents. 

In the last 10 years, incarcerated people 55 and older made up 40% of all deaths behind bars. Around 25% of the incarceration population is 50 or older as of early October, according to state data.

Melissa Tanis, a co-author of the report, said the research shows the abolition of the death penalty did not slow death behind bars. Instead, she argued, capital punishment was repurposed into “death by incarceration” sentences, particularly for older populations. 

A Correctional Officer walks the length of A Block, a four tier, two football fields long maximum security section of Sing Sing Correctional Facility in Ossining.

“The recent and drastic increase in deaths of older people and those serving long sentences tells us that it hasn’t always been this way, (and) it does not have to continue to be this way,” she said. 

DOCCS said in a statement that it does not “sentence individuals” and that those incarcerated at its facilities have been convicted of a crime. 

Inmate deaths:Reports show lapses in medical care, raise questions about preventability

Further, the department said it was responsible for the confinement and rehabilitation of around 32,000 incarcerated individuals and supervises more than 32,000 people on parole. 

In 1999, the department reached its highest number of people incarcerated when the figure climbed above 72,000. 

Other findings highlighted in the report: 

  • A person in state prison dies every three days on average. In 1976, that rate was one in every 12 days. 
  • More than half of the people who died in prison over the last decade were 55 or older.
  • People who have been incarcerated for 15 years account for nine times more of the total deaths behind bars, compared with the 1980s.
  • In the last decade, roughly one in three people who died behind bars served at least 15 years. That figure was one in 29 in the 1980s.

The research comes amid scrutiny over the conditions at New York City’s Rikers Island jail complex, an uptick in gun violence across many American cities and a slew of legislative efforts aimed at reforming incarceration in the state. 

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul, seated, hands the first pen, during the signing of the

Last month, Gov. Kathy Hochul signed the Less is More Act, which seeks to curb reincarceration for technical parole violations such as missing an appointment with a parole officer. 

The report from Columbia’s Center for Justice also called for the passage of a pair of bills: Elder Parole, and Fair and Timely Parole.

The Elder Parole legislation would allow incarcerated people who are over 55 and have served at least 15 years the opportunity to have their case go before the parole board. 

NAACP member Kyle Conway speaks at a rally for parole reform in the city of Newburgh, NY on Wednesday, May 26, 2021.

The Fair and Timely Parole Act would center parole standards on the person’s rehabilitation while incarcerated instead of the person’s original crime. 

DOCCS said it does not comment on proposed legislation.

Still, some in the legal field have expressed concern about people convicted of violent crimes being released and whether there would be enough parole officers to handle the increase in cases.

Rep. Jerrold Nadler, chair of the House Judiciary Committee, said that New York’s prisons should not be a “geriatric ward” and that too many “people are languishing behind bars until the end of their lives with no meaningful opportunity for release.”

State Sen. Jessica Ramos, D-Queens, said Tuesday that the measures should be seen through the lens of public safety and that making the prison industrial complex worse “isn’t getting us anywhere.” 

Tiffany Cusaac-Smith covers race and justice for the USA TODAY Network of New York. Click here for her latest stories. Follow her on Twitter @T_Cusaac


Bills’ top-ranked defense handled Mahomes but now face another star in Titans RB Henry

ORCHARD PARK – Given the explosive rushing totals Tennessee’s Derrick Henry has produced throughout his five-plus years in the NFL, the Buffalo Bills have actually done a relatively fine job of keeping the locomotive-like back under wraps.

Henry has won the league’s rushing title the past two seasons, and last year was particularly special when he became just the eighth player in history to surpass 2,000 yards.

Once again, through five weeks, Henry leads the NFL with 640 yards and he has soared past 100 yards in each of the last four weeks to give him 24 such games in the 83 he has played since coming to the Titans as a second-round pick out of Alabama in 2016.

“I prefer not to have to think about Derrick Henry right now,” Bills defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier said with a smile on Monday, wishing he could spend a little more time reflecting on the tremendous job his unit did against Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs rather than look ahead to Monday night’s game at Tennessee.

Derrick Henry averages less than 65 yards in the 3 games vs Buffalo Bills

Derrick Henry is coming off a three-touchdown performance against the Jaguars last week.

However, all due respect to Henry, in three games against Frazier’s Buffalo defense, Henry has been somewhat underwhelming. In a 13-12 Buffalo victory in 2018 Henry managed only 56 yards; in a 14-7 Bills victory in 2019 Henry had 78 yards; and then last year, even though the Titans routed Buffalo 42-16, Henry had a mere 57 yards though he did score twice.

Add it up and the 6-foot-3, 247-pound chunk of menace has averaged only 63.7 yards per game, 3.82 yards per attempt, and has scored three TDs. Buffalo’s containment of Henry is impressive when you consider that since the start of 2018 which was Henry’s first 1,000-yard season, he has averaged 101.3 yards per game and 5.1 yards per carry.

“Derrick is playing at a high level, probably if not the best, one of the best backs in the league,” said Bills coach Sean McDermott. “And so we go from one challenge to another challenge this week in playing at their place, in front of their fans. So it’ll be a big test for us.”

There are only a handful of teams in the league who rely as heavily on their running game as the Titans. They rank third at 167.8 yards per game, trailing only the Browns (187.6) and Cowboys (172.8). 

The next two teams in the rankings are positioned not so much because of their running backs but because of their quarterbacks. They are the Lamar Jackson-led Ravens (148.8) and the Josh Allen-led Bills (140.4).

What this indicates is that the Tennessee offense the Bills will face is rather unique in that it is running back driven rather than quarterback driven. 

You can certainly do worse than Ryan Tannehill at quarterback, and the Titans have some dangerous passing game targets in A.J. Brown and Julio Jones (though he’s been hurt and may not play Monday night). Nonetheless, Henry is the key to their offense.

Combining his rushing yards and 125 receiving yards, Henry represents 39.3% of the Titans total yardage, and that’s what makes defending the Titans so different than most other teams. For context, Allen is responsible for 75.9% of Buffalo’s total yardage.

“He’s a really, really good back and we’re going to have our hands full trying to contain him,” Frazier said. “Completely different style of offense that’s centered around their running back as opposed to their receivers and quarterback, so it will be a challenge, for sure.”

Buffalo Bills defense shaping up to to best in McDermott era

Titan's running back Derrick Henry looks for running room.

What should help the Bills in this latest matchup is that this is very likely the best defense Frazier has had since he came here with McDermott in 2017. 

The 2019 unit was very good as it ranked second in the league in points allowed, and fourth in total yards and passing yards, but the 2021 version has been better. The Bills rank No. 1 in points and yards allowed and have forced 13 turnovers in five games.

Against the run they are reaping the benefits of having DT Star Lotulelei back in the middle after he sat out last season and his presence against Henry will be critical.

“Star played well for us (against the Chiefs),” Frazier said. “He played a lot. … and we’re gonna need him this coming week as well. He can be a dominant interior player because of his force and ability to stop the run. He’s added a lot to our team, our defense.”

Against the pass, it has been a team-wide effort that made Jacoby Brissett, Taylor Heinicke and Davis Mills look incompetent, and made Mahomes look human.

The pass rush hasn’t been awe-inspiring, but it is generating a decent amount of pressure without over-relying on blitzes; linebacker Tremaine Edmunds is starting to show signs of a breakout; and in the secondary, if you can find a more cohesive and talented group than Tre’Davious White, Levi Wallace, Taron Johnson, Micah Hyde and Jordan Poyer, by all means, let’s hear it.

“I would just say that we’re coming together as a defense,” McDermott said. “I think we continue to find out a little bit more each week of who we are and the different options we have available to us in terms of active guys every week. I love the fact that guys have been very unselfish in their approach and yet competitive week to week to try and make the active roster for game day.”

Sal Maiorana can be reached at maiorana@gannett.com. Follow him on Twitter @salmaiorana. 


Feds: Hilton and Brockport men pepper sprayed police during January 6 U.S. Capitol riot

Two Monroe County residents face charges in connection with the Jan. 6 riots at the United States Capitol building, according to court documents unsealed Wednesday.

Cody Mattice, 28, of Hilton and co-defendant James Mault, 29, of Brockport, face seven charges including assaulting, resisting or impeding certain officers using a dangerous weapon or inflicting bodily injury, and engaging in physical violence with a deadly or dangerous weapon while in a restricted building.

Mattice is accused of ripping down a police barricade and then emptying a canister of pepper spray on police officers. Authorities said Mault also sprayed a chemical irritant at police.

Mattice appeared in U.S. District Court in Rochester Tuesday for a detention hearing. Magistrate Judge Mark W. Pedersen reserved judgment until Friday, allowing him to review some of the video evidence presented by the government. Mault was arrested last week in North Carolina.

The criminal complaint states Mault is from Rochester and public records indicate he lived in Brockport recently before moving to North Carolina.

Cody Mattice, right, shown here in a gray helmet unloads a canister of pepper spray toward police officers standing in this tunnel at the western edge of the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, according to a criminal complaint filed against him and co-defendant James Mault. Mault is shown with his back to the camera in the red hard hat, prosecutors said.

Mattice and Mault were identified through the help of tips received from the FBI and from online sleuths. “Mault’s hard hat was covered in union stickers to include Mault’s union Ironworkers Local 33 of Rochester, NY,” while authorities were led to Mattice through one video circulating on social media where he identified himself as “Cody from Rochester,” according to the criminal complaint.

The pair bragged about their participation in the events on various text messages, the filing said. In one text message to a friend or family member, Mattice allegedly said, “I also maced a cop,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Brett Harvey revealed during Tuesday’s detention hearing.

Harvey said the dangerous weapon in question here was a canister of pepper spray, which Mattice is seen unloading in both video and photographs taken at the Capitol.

Harvey said Mattice, who didn’t enter the building but was present on the grounds, is charged in the same sealed complaint as Mault, his friend with whom he planned, traveled, and acted on Jan. 6.

Throughout the duration of the hearing Tuesday, Mattice held his head in his hands and was wiping away tears. At least 15 members of his family attended the hearing, including his fiancé and mother. 

Before the detention hearing began, Mattice’s family circled up and prayed. “We’d love to have him home, but we trust Your will, God,” they said.

“Cody from Rochester” and the man in the hard hat

Mattice identified himself as “Cody from Rochester, New York” in one widely circulated video from Jan. 6 where he is fighting away tears after he said he something was sprayed in his eyes.

“In the video, Cody is pouring water in his face to rinse the pepper spray from his eyes. Cody said he did not want to fight anyone and was pushed,” the complaint stated.

Someone sent an anonymous tip to the FBI to implicate Mault. The tipster described the hard hat Mault is seen wearing in many of the images and videos cited in the complaint.

The United States Secret Service turned over information to the FBI on Jan. 13. The information included two Reuters news service photographs from Jan. 6 that show an individual wearing a red hard hat with union stickers utilizing a water bottle to rinse out the eyes of another man who had been exposed to pepper spray, according to the complaint. The photos were taken near an area on the western side of the Capitol.

James Mault’s mother was interviewed by the FBI on Jan. 18, according to the complaint, and said Mault’s father drove a bus with five people, including her son, to Washington, D.C. on Jan. 6. She identified her son from photos and provided authorities with his cellphone number. Mault was interviewed that same day and said he wore his helmet, because “he was aware of ANTIFA attacking Trump supporters.”

James Mault, pictured in the red hard hat, is shown holding a pepper spray canister that he sprayed at police officers in the western tunnel at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, prosecutors said.

Mault denied entering the Capitol, assaulting anyone, or destroying any property, however.

Mault’s phone records helped authorities identify Mattice and indicated the pair communicated before and after the riot. 

Through text messages recovered from Mattice’s cellphone, Harvey said Mattice and Mault outlined their plan and the efforts made to collect gear needed to carry it out, Harvey said. The cellphone was recovered inside Mattice’s home after authorities executed a search warrant there on Oct. 7.

Harvey said Mattice’s fiancé confirmed the phone belonged to Mattice. The phone also contained text messages where Mattice bragged about his actions and at least three videos where he seemingly narrates his path from a nearby rally for President Donald Trump to a west entrance of the Capitol building.

This photo from the complaint shows Mattice fighting back tears after he was pepper sprayed and then also identified himself as “Cody from Rochester” in a video that circulated on social media, according to the criminal complaint.

Evidence shows Mattice removing a police barricade/fence, which gave access to advancing protesters. Harvey said Mattice later bragged that he and Mault were the first through and that they encouraged others to follow, acting as “de-facto leaders.”

Police bodycam footage shows Mattice climbing up a ledge near that west tunnel and spraying a canister of pepper spray at officers who are inside the tunnel. Mault is alleged to have done the same thing. 

Mattice told someone about “standing victorious” and how he fought off four or five cops to gain access, Harvey said.

When asked by someone why he participated, Mattice allegedly said, “Trump told us to because of the fraud,” and added, “…even the Proud Boys thanked us. It felt like a movie.”

Mattice’s mom told him on Jan. 7 that the FBI would be investigating. He responded, “We went there to stop the count and that’s what we did.”

The assistant U.S. attorney added that of the nine defendants accused of pepper spraying police on Jan. 6, all nine remain in custody. 

Mattice “not a complicated person”

Wedade Abdallah, the federal public defender representing Mattice, said her client is “not a complicated person.” He’s a graduate of Brockport High School and worked as an automobile mechanic before becoming a stay-at-home father, Adballah said during Tuesday’s hearing.

Cody Mattice, as shown in an image provided by the FBI as it sought to identify those present at the U.S. Capitol riots on Jan. 6.

Because his fiancée is an essential worker in the health care field, they decided Mattice would remain at home with his 11-year-old daughter and 4-year-old son.

“He is a nurturer,” Abdallah said. “He is not a violent person.” She said his daughter wrote a letter in support of her father’s release. Abdallah added that Mattice is not a member of any anti-government groups and doesn’t present a flight risk or danger to the community.

Pointing to his conduct since Jan. 6, Abdallah concluded that running is not an option for him. She said like many others, Mattice was duped by the former president. She also argued there were other options such as GPS monitoring to ensure her client remained in the area.

Mattice and Dominic Pezzola, a member of the Proud Boys who is accused of using a stolen U.S. Capitol Police riot shield to break open a building window, are the only two known Rochester-area defendants in the Jan. 6 investigation.

Pezzola faces 11 charges, including conspiracy, and has been kept in jail since his arrest in the spring. His new attorneys most recently argued that he should be released prior to his trial. A federal judge has yet to issue a ruling in the matter.

Federal authorities have now charged more than 625 people in connection with the riots.

Contact Will Cleveland at wcleveland@gannett.com. Follow him on Twitter @willcleveland13Thanks to our subscribers for supporting quality local journalism. If you aren’t a subscriber, please consider a digital subscription.


Woman killed, man seriously injured in motorcycle crash

A woman was killed and a man was seriously injured in a crash in Arcadia, Wayne County, on Monday afternoon, according to the Wayne County Sheriff’s Office.

The crash occurred around 3:50 p.m. on Sutton Road, as Albert Webber, 66, of Lyons was driving a motorcycle east on Sutton Road. Webber attempted to avoid a vehicle in the road driven by Gary Rothfuss, 68, of Newark, as Rothfuss backed a trailer into a driveway, deputies said.

As Albert Webber attempting to stop, he lost control of his motorcycle and laid it down on its side, ultimately colliding with a rock embankment on the side of the road, deputies said. His passenger Edith Webber, 57, also of Lyons, was pronounced dead at the scene.

Albert Webber suffered severe injuries and was taken to Strong Memorial Hospital via Mercy Flight, deputies said. Rothfuss was not injured in the crash.

Deputies are continuing to investigate the crash.

Contact Victoria Freile at vfreile@gannett.com. Follow her on Twitter @vfreile and Instagram @vfreile. This coverage is only possible with support from our readers.  


Bills rookie first-round pick Greg Rousseau made some flashy plays against Chiefs

ORCHARD PARK – During his Monday afternoon session with reporters, Buffalo Bills coach Sean McDermott was asked two questions regarding the play of rookie first-round draft pick Greg Rousseau.

He answered the first one, a general “what did you think of his performance against the Kansas City Chiefs,” this way: “He made the big splash play. I thought he had some other good plays in there and the thing I love about Greg is he comes in hungry every week to work and improve. That’s how he’s wired, and I think that’s for the most part how our team is wired and that again is driven by our leaders.”

When pressed a few minutes later for more juice on Rousseau, well, that’s when McDermott threw up the proverbial stop sign on the hype train.

Buffalo Bills defensive end Greg Rousseau (50) runs a route during the first half of an NFL football game against the Houston Texan, Sunday, Oct. 3, 2021, in Orchard Park, N.Y. (AP Photo/Adrian Kraus)

“Can we just hold our horses a little bit there,” he said. “These guys are rookies, and I mean yeah, he made some really good plays. I don’t want to take that away from him and those plays made a big difference in the outcome of the game. But there’s still so much to be had yet in terms of his growth and development, physical play and all those things. So respectfully if we could just kind of slow our roll here. These young guys got to learn that it’s a week-to-week league and when you think you’ve arrived, you haven’t.”

No word on how Rousseau felt after that cold bucket of water was dumped on his head.

Defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier doles out individual praise a little more frequently than McDermott who tends to frame his comments within the concept of team, so it was no surprise that when Frazier was asked about Rousseau, he said he was “outstanding throughout the game.”

McDermott isn’t off base, though. Rousseau played his best game yet in Kansas City. He was in on five tackles including two excellent plays where he moved down the line toward the sideline while engaged with a blocker and was able to shed and take down the ballcarrier; he had a zero-yard sack of Patrick Mahomes; and then he made one of the plays of the night, his interception of Mahomes at the Buffalo 8 to take certain Chiefs points off the board late in the third quarter.

However, after a very nice two-sack game in Miami, Rousseau had been largely invisible in the wins over Washington and Houston. In other words, typical stuff for NFL rookies where the rollercoaster rides up and down, often game to game, sometimes even play to play.

When the Bills used the 30th overall pick on Rousseau, there were some questions about how much he’d be able to contribute as a rookie because he had opted out of playing for the University of Miami in 2020 due to the pandemic.

Also, with his long and light 6-foot-6, 260-pound frame, you had to wonder, at least early in the season, whether he’d be able to compete against NFL offensive tackles, some of whom would have 40 or 50 pounds on him. Sure, he has speed, but if a lineman got his hands on Rousseau, would he have the strength to get loose?

Thus far, Rousseau has proven the worrying was mostly unfounded. He earned a starting job in training camp over veteran Mario Addison and only two defensive linemen – Ed Oliver and Jerry Hughes – have played a higher snap percentage than Rousseau (51.1%). Pro Football Focus has him with 10 total pressures, third on the team behind Hughes (15) and A.J. Epenesa (13).

Sunday night, Rousseau explained that his interception was just a product of implementing the coaching he gets during the week.

“Really just doing everything our coaches preach,” Rousseau said. “Saw that it might have been a quick pass, and they always tell us hands up late, and when the ball comes off the QB’s hands, we put our hands up. So, just followed through with that, and I was able to tip it up. I was looking at the ball – I felt like it was up there for years – but it came down, and I made the pick.” 

Bills Greg Rousseau closes in on Washington quarterback  Taylor Heinicke.

Rousseau immediately went to the ground and didn’t try to advance the ball, and that drew some good-natured ribbing from safety Jordan Poyer.

“Hands up was a huge thing throughout the week and Greg, obviously, long, giant, he was able to get his hands up and make a play, a huge play,” Poyer said. “I don’t know what he was trying to do after he caught the ball in his hands.”

Safety Micah Hyde then chimed in, with a smile, “He just went down and gave up.”

Rousseau said what he was concerned about was making sure first and foremost that he held on to the ball.

“I wish I had kept my feet, but it is what it is,” Rousseau said. “I was focused on catching it, and then I just caught my feet a little bit.”

Actually, it was the smart thing to do for a guy who’s not used to running with the ball in his hands.

“That was a big-time play,” linebacker Tremaine Edmunds said. “That was really big and I’m happy for him. He just keeps getting better and he takes his job seriously. He’s a rookie but you see him do things in the building as far as staying late, taking care of himself and just trying to put his body in the best position to come out here and make plays.”

Sal Maiorana can be reached at maiorana@gannett.com. Follow him on Twitter @salmaiorana. 


Tyquan Rivera sentenced to 15 years on drug charges

Tyquan Rivera, who as a 14-year-old shot a Rochester police officer in the head, was sentenced Tuesday to 15 years in state prison on drug charges.

Rivera, now 27, agreed to the sentence when he pleaded guilty in September and admitted to selling fentanyl to an undercover State Police officer.

Rivera was 14 years old in 2009 when he shot 24-year-old Anthony DiPonzio in the head. He was convicted of attempted second-degree murder and first-degree assault and was sentenced to 3⅓ to 10 years in prison, due to his status as a youthful offender.

Rivera spent eight years in prison and was released in 2016. He returned to prison on a parole violation, and was later released.

He has continued to face a bevy of criminal charges, including drug-related charges and others stemming from an alleged violent domestic assault incident.

According to prosecutors, Rivera sold 40 decks of fentanyl to an undercover member of the New York State Police on Sept. 12, 2019.

Rivera was sentenced as a Second Felony Drug Offender previously convicted of a Violent Felony. This sentence also satisfied additional charges pending against him. 

“I want to thank the New York State Police and the Rochester Police Department for their investigation that led to the arrest of and ultimate plea by Tyquan Rivera,” said Assistant District Attorney Matthew Schwartz, Chief of the Special Investigations Bureau. “Our community is safer with Tyquan Rivera in the New York State Department of Corrections, instead of promoting deadly narcotics.”

Monroe County District Attorney Sandra Doorley expressed relief that Rivera would spend the next 15 years in prison.

“Tyquan Rivera has proved time and time again that he has no interest in being a law-abiding citizen,” said Doorley. 

Contact staff reporter Sean Lahman at slahman@gannett.com. Follow him on Twitter @seanlahman


Popular Rochester venue reverses proof of vaccination requirement

Radio Social no longer is requiring patrons to provide proof of full COVID-19 vaccination, according to a statement on its website.

The change is “in response to the rising rate of vaccination and the stabilization of Delta variant cases in our region and nationally,” the statement reads.

It was Sept. 8 when the bar, restaurant and bowling alley announced that guests 18 and older, as well as staff, vendors and anyone attending private events, would have to show proof of full vaccination to enter the premises at 20 Carlson Road. The reversal of that policy went into effect Oct. 6.

As of Tuesday, more than 67% of Monroe County residents had received at least one dose of vaccine, and more than 63% were fully vaccinated.

The county reported 1,395 new COVID cases and 11 deaths for the week ending Sunday. A week prior, it reported 1,496 cases and four deaths.

Radio Social is at 20 Carlson Road in Rochester.

As of Friday, the risk of transmission was still high in Monroe County, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which advises people to wear masks in indoor public settings.

New York ended its COVID state of emergency and lifted most restrictions in June after 70% of adult residents statewide had gotten at least one vaccine dose.

More:You will need to be vaccinated to enter these popular restaurants and bars in Rochester.

Reporter Marcia Greenwood covers general assignments. Send story tips to mgreenwo@rocheste.gannett.com. Follow her on Twitter @MarciaGreenwood.


Farmington companies meeting the demand for earth-friendly construction

Shawn Wyjad spent 25 years in the restaurant business. Then, he traded his chef’s knife for a chisel. Now, he is part of a team of skilled woodworkers and timber-framers at the national headquarters for sister companies New Energy Works and Pioneer Millworks in Farmington.

While many of the 100 or so workers at the site in Ontario County are veterans to the craft, some, like Wyjad, are newer to the skilled trade and green technology buzzing on a 13-acre campus tucked behind the Comfort Inn and Suites on Route 96.

Pioneer Millworks over three decades has salvaged and repurposed over 31 million board feet of wood from rot and landfills. At the mill, wood from old factories, barns and countless other sources takes on new life as flooring, siding, paneling, cabinetry and more. 

New Energy Works — focused on highly crafted timber frames — designs, crafts, and builds custom homes, buildings and enclosures across North America. The handiwork seen in homes and commercial buildings across the country is evident near its headquarters and around the Finger Lakes.

Examples include Lyons National Bank’s Farmington branch, which pays tribute to the adjacent 228-year-old Hathaway House, and the nautical-themed Sand Bar and timber frame event barn at The Lake House on Canandaigua.

Seen here is the XXXX at XXXX in Farmington

Megan Larmouth Avila, communications director for New Energy Works and Pioneer Millworks, said the companies are continuously recruiting new employees to keep up with demand. Those with longevity at the campus include Calvin Stiner, of Palmyra, 27 years; Jake Webster, of Gorham, nearly 20 years; and Andrew Tack, of Marion, 15 years.

The global reclaimed lumber market in 2020 was valued at nearly $50 billion and is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 4.6% from 2021 to 2028, according to Grand View Research.

The market research and consulting company gave “raising environmental awareness, increasing inclination towards recycling, and intensifying provisions to deal with waste management-related issues” as driving factors. 

Avila said repurposing salvaged wood is a lot more involved than some would think. A careful process begins with each timber checked by hand to remove nails and any other metal. The wood is also kiln dried, ripped straight, and milled.

Teams skilled at grading and separating each board into the appropriate product line must know the difference between a settlers’ plank board, an American Gothic board, and scrap. 

Shawn Wyjad is seen at work at New Energy Works in Farmington.

Timbers can later be customized with additional textures such as wire brushing circle-sawn marks, and Shou Sugi Ban burning (a Japanese method of preserving antiquing wood) or a smooth planing.

In the growing momentum for green buildings, the Grand View Research report noted the emerging trend of sustainable construction using Cross-Laminated Timber. CLT is state-of-the-art hybrid construction by gluing together multiple layers of lumber.

The result is a massive sheet of wood, an economically and environmentally conscious alternative to steel and concrete construction.

That’s right up their alley at New Energy Works, which in 2017 became home to New York state’s first complete CLT building. The eye-catching, timber-frame CLT megastructure houses New Energy Works’ fine woodworking division, NEWwoodworks.

The structure includes timber reclaimed by Pioneer Millworks from its Portland, Oregon location, the Centennial Mills campus. After the CLT opened in fall 2017, architect Ty Allen described how the structure was built from 38-foot panels that came from a company in Austria. New Energy Works passed over several other producers in the U.S. and Canada because the carbon footprint was less to ship over water as opposed to land.

Timberframe work is seen in process inside New Energy Works in Farmington.

Examples of planet-friendly operations at Pioneer Millworks and New Energy Works include use of solar power and a high-efficiency boiler fueled by wood scraps. A sawdust collection system, which was repurposed from a company that closed in the Midwest, collects sawdust that is then shipped to a manufacturer of wood pellets.

Solar canopies, among New Energy’s earth-friendly products, are designed to cover parking spaces so a vehicle can charge all day. The canopies come in varying sizes, to cover one or more vehicles, and can be set at the proper orientation and angle to maximize solar gain. 

Alan Lamparella, Pioneer Millworks’ operations manager, said when the pandemic struck in early 2020, operations shut down for a brief period due to COVID safety restrictions. Construction materials across the board became harder to come by and prices have gone up, which presents challenges. 

Staffing is one of those challenges Lamparella and Avila pointed to, adding the companies provide incentives that include a strong benefits package among other plusses. Running on one, daytime shift makes for attractive hours to balance work and life outside of work, Avila said.

Benefits include 70% company-paid medical coverage, paid holidays, paid time off, and a matching 401(k) plan. Pioneer Millworks and New Energy Works are 30% employee-owned, with the goal of becoming fully employee-owned in 2022 through an Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP). 

Lamparella, whose background includes running a paper mill and a luxury furniture company, said he finds rewarding what the companies offer customers and employees.

“You can learn and grow here,” he said.