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Thursday, March 26, 2015 at 10:25 am

Law and Order: Driver arrested on drug charges

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, alexander, crime, pembroke

Deborah E. Lamartina, 34, of Linnet Street, Rochester, is charged with criminal possession of a controlled substance, 7th, aggravated unlicensed operation, 1st, DWAI/drugs, criminal possession of a hypodermic instrument and possession of a controlled substance not in original container. Lamartina was stopped at 3:12 a.m. March 21 on Oak Street, Batavia, by Officer Stephen Cronmiller.

Saphan Touch, 64, of Rochester, is charged with driving while ability impaired by alcohol, failure to stop at a stop sign and improper turn/no signal. Touch was stopped by State Police on Route 33, City of Batavia. Touch allegedly failed a field sobriety test. He was processed at the Batavia Barracks and administered a BAC test, which allegedly registered .07.

Danny J. Torok Sr., 47, of Spencerport, is charged with criminal possession o a weapon, assault and attempted assault. Torok allegedly used a steak knife during an argument in Oakfield with a family member and caused small cuts to the victim. He was jailed on $500 bail.

John Allen Thomas, 50, of State Street, Batavia, is charged with criminal contempt, 2nd. Thomas allegedly spoke to a person he is barred by court order from contacting.

Travis L. Bartz Jr., 19, of Church Street, Alexander, was arrested on warrants for alleged false personation and endangering the welfare of a child, criminal mischief, 4th, and petit larceny. Bartz allegedly gave a false name to police officers in October. He also allegedly tried to break into a car by breaking a window.

Klarissa C. Price, 37, of 22nd Street, Niagara Falls, was arrested on a warrant for alleged failure to appear on an unauthorized use of a vehicle charge. Price was arrested by Niagara County Sheriffs and turned over to Batavia PD. She was jailed on $1,000 bail.

Shaqueta Lashaun Irvin, 23, of Highland Park, Batavia, was arrested on a warrant for allegedly failing to report for weekend jail terms related to a petit larceny conviction. Irvin was located in Family Court and taken into custody and jailed on $5,000 bail.

Teshawn A. Lang-Smith, 18, of Dellinger Avenue, Batavia, was arrested on a warrant for alleged failure to comply with a released under supervision contract. Lang-Smith turned himself in and released under supervision.

Kim Marie Mannix, 46, of Wishing Well Circle, Penfield, is charged with possession of more than 400 untaxed cigarettes. Mannix was stopped at 1:20 p.m. Tuesday on Route 77, Pembroke, by Deputy Patrick Reeves. Mannix allegedly possessed 2,360 untaxed cigarettes.

Monday, March 16, 2015 at 6:24 pm

Emily Helenbrook dreams big, works hard as she seeks career as opera singer

post by Howard B. Owens in arts, alexander, Emily Helenbrook, music

It's a long way from Alexander, New York, to the Metropolitan Opera House, much further than the 536 miles measured on a Google map, but it's the road Emily Helenbrook has traced in her dreams nearly all her life.

At age 20, Helenbrook is building the resume that just might carry her from small town to big city, including a sixth engagement March 27 and 28 with the Buffalo Philharmonic.

A student at Eastman School of Music at the University of Rochester, Helenbrook's aqua eyes glimmer when she talks about what she loves. 

"I'm obsessed with classical music," Helenbrook said. "I can't get enough of it. Even at Eastman, where everybody loves music and that's what they want to do with their lives, I'm still the one who is constantly listening to more music and I love it. My grandpa was the same way. Music was his life and seeing him as I grew and grew into being a musician, I saw how much he was devoted and I wanted to be like that."

That love of classical music began at home. Arias and etudes weren't something she was introduced to. It was what she was born into.  

Her grandfather, Mathew Tworek was an original member of the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra as a violinist, and master musician and a member for more than 60 years. Her aunt, Adrienne Gryta, was a vocalist and frequent performer with the BPO and Helenbrook's first vocal instructor.

Growing up, all three of the Helenbrook children were introduced to music. Older brother Jason, now a local auctioneer, played flute and twin brother Eric played piano.  

For Emily, music quickly surpassed the hobby stage, however, and became the driving passion of her life.

Passion is what carries her through the hard work of learning her craft and building a career.

People tend to think, Helenbrook acknowledges, that singers just get up and sing, but there's so much more that goes into it. Learning the intricacies of vocal technique is grueling and takes years to master. They also need to research repertoire, study languages and diction, and for performance they must learn more than their own parts, but know and understand other characters, the history of the period and the story.

And that's just the singing part of her life. There are the academics that go into earning her music degree as well as her second degree in political science.

None of that is daunting, though, Helenbrook said.

"For a break, it's my practice time," Helenbrook said. "I don't think of practice as a chore. It's still fun for me, even though it's hard work, it's still fun."

When she needs to get away, she comes home, where there's more space, more quiet and more green.

"I really do appreciate being home," Helenbrook said. "Being in the country is a good way to escape the humdrum of city life. I can't stand it after a while and coming back home to something more simple is really important with the sort of speed of classical music and trying to be a musician."

Success came early for Helenbrook. At 17 she won the Barry/Alexander International Voice Competition, which led to a performance at the Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall and an afternoon-long voice lesson with her childhood idol, four-time Grammy winner Renee Fleming.

"She has the most beautiful voice and she's such a nice person," Helenbrook said. "She's a great role model for young singers. I always dreamed maybe some day I could sing for her and maybe she could teach me some things and that's exactly what happened and it was in her house in New York City. It was the craziest thing."

Performing at Carnegie was also a crazy thing, she said.

"That was an out-of-body experience that I don't remember as much as I would like," Helenbrook said. "It was kind of like a dream, in every respect."

It's hard to believe she won't make it back to that great venue. Talented, beautiful, hard working, passionate about her art and establishing the connections that build careers, Helenbrook is doing more than just dreaming.

She also understands, there are no guarantees, which explains the second degree in political science and her plans for law school after graduation. It's a long way from anywhere to the Met.

"Even really, really good singers don't make it," Helenbrook said. "I've seen people at the Met auditions and they're really good, but nothing happens because a lot of it is luck and being the right place at the right time. I know that and I'm trying to be realistic about it. I know what I want. I want to be a singer and I want to at least try to make a career of it, but it's also important to have a backup plan."

For more on Helenbrook's upcoming performance with the BPO and to purchase tickets, click here.

Saturday, March 14, 2015 at 2:13 pm

Alexander responding to house fire in Village of Attica

post by Billie Owens in Attica, batavia, alexander, Darien, fire

A house fire is reported at 4 Genesee St. in the Village of Attica and Alexander fire is responding. A fire chief on scene confirms heavy smoke showing.

UPDATE 2:21 p.m.: Town of Batavia fire is requested to the scene. Mutual aid from Warsaw and Bennington also responding.

UPDATE 2:35 p.m.: Inmates from Wyoming Correctional Facility called in to help. Checking with Attica water utility to make sure hydrants are working correctly. A fire crew from Darien is asked to stand by in Alexander's hall.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015 at 5:28 pm

Crash with injuries and entrapment on Route 98 in Alexander

post by Billie Owens in accidents, alexander

A two-car accident with injuries and entrapment is reported at 9473 Route 98. Alexander and two Mercy medic units are responding along with mutual aid from the Town of Batavia.

UPDATE 5:10 p.m.: Route 98 is shut down in both directions between Pike and Dodgeson roads.

UPDATE 5:19 p.m.: Sgt. Ron Meides tells Howard at the scene that a pickup truck driven by a female was on Route 98 when she lost control of the vehicle in slushy road conditions. The truck spun around and was T-boned by van heading in the opposite direction driven by a male. The pickup truck driver suffered non-life threatening injuries. The van driver was entrapped, possibly suffering internal injuries, and would have been taken to the hospital via Mercy Flight if it wasn't grounded due to weather. Both drivers were taken by ambulance to ECMC.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015 at 2:50 pm

Cows loose and running on Peaviner Road, Alexander

post by Billie Owens in alexander

About nine or 10 cows are running loose on Peaviner Road approximately two miles east of Route 98 in Alexander. No farms are really close by says an officer who called the matter into dispatch. "I don't know how long they've been out here or where they came from." After dispatch did some checking, a resident in the area says he has some cows out that way and will go check it out. The officer is no longer on scene.

UPDATE 1:55 p.m.: It is reported that a farmer is with the cows on Old Creek Road but it's not yet known if he owns them.

UPDATE 2:26 p.m.: An officer says the farmer is securing the animals and will be taking them home, 9950 Old Creek Road.

Thursday, February 12, 2015 at 6:24 pm

Teen accused of selling drugs on school grounds in Alexander

post by Howard B. Owens in alexander, crime

A 17-year-old has been charged with three felonies after being observed allegedly selling narcotics on school grounds in Alexander.

Nicholas David Frayne, of Chick Road, Darien, is charged with criminal sale of a controlled substance on school grounds, criminal sale of a controlled substance, 3rd, criminal possession of a controlled substance, 3rd, and criminal possession of controlled substance as a Class A misdemeanor. 

The alleged sale was reported at 9 a.m. Tuesday at Alexander Central School.

Officials did not say who observed the alleged sale.

The case was investigated by Deputy Patrick Reeves and Sgt. Greg Walker.

Frayne was arraigned in Town of Alexander Court and released under supervision of Genesee Justice.

Saturday, February 7, 2015 at 11:34 pm

Suspect in Attican Motel standoff charged with falsely reporting incident

post by Howard B. Owens in Attica, alexander, crime

A former Marchias resident has been identified as the Attican Motel resident who told authorities he was armed Friday night, leading to a four-hour standoff that ended after the use of teargas. He's been charged with a felony.

Michael A. Balla, 39, was arrested by Attica PD, Chief Dean Hendershott announced this evening, and he is being held in the Genesee County Jail on $10,000 cash bail or $20,000 bond.

Balla is charged with falsely reporting an incident, 2nd. 

Authorities say Balla called 9-1-1 and reported that he had a loaded gun, that he did not want anyone coming there because there would be an explosion when they walked in the door. 

Hendershott was dispatched to the scene and he requested backup from deputies in both counties along with State Police.

A State Police negotiator tried to talk Balla out of the Attican's Room 101 and the State Police robot was used at one point to check the room and as a communications device to try and convince Balla to surrender.

When he didn't teargas was fired into room. 

After being taken into custody, Balla was transported to Wyoming County Community Hospital for treatment of an apparent overdose and a mental health evaluation. 

He was arrested on the charge when he was released from care at 3:30 p.m.

Balla is schedule for a felony hearing at 4 p.m. Feb. 10 in Alexander Town Court.

The investigation is ongoing and additional charges are pending.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015 at 2:57 pm

Body of missing man found in field off Cookson Road

post by Billie Owens in batavia, alexander

The body of an 84-year-old Batavia man was found in a field off Cookson Road late this morning following a search by state troopers and Sheriff's deputies.

Alphonse Spiotta was last seen by a family member yesterday evening, a trooper said. His daughter reported him missing this morning.

At around 10 a.m., a county road maintenance worker reported finding a car off the roadway at 4312 Cookson Road, Alexander, that crashed into a tree. No one was around the vehicle, which was just around the curve where Dorman becomes Cookson. The worker told dispatch he first spotted the vehicle yesterday.

About 10 minutes later dispatch got a call from a woman who said her father was missing and that he was last seen yesterday.

A State Police helicopter was dispatched to the scene, but officers found the body shortly before it arrived. Sheriff's and State Police K-9s assisted in the search.

The man's body was found along a tree line next to the field some 300 yards south / southeast from where the car was found.

Alexander fire and Mercy EMS also responded to the scene.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015 at 11:57 am

Law and Order: A pair of arrests

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, alexander, crime

A 16-year-old resident of Sandpit Road, Alexander, is charged with criminal contempt, 2nd. The youth is accused of confronting a protected person while at Alexander Central School at 7:38 a.m., Tuesday.

Shelley A. Fox, 33, of West Main Street, Batavia, is charged with DWI, driving with a BAC .08 or greater and operating in violation of a conditional license. Fox was stopped at midnight Tuesday on East Main Street, Batavia, by Officer Darryle Streeter.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015 at 1:59 pm

Genesee County firefighters working a house fire in Middlebury

post by Billie Owens in alexander, bergen, Bethany, fire, Le Roy, Pavilion

Several Genesee County fire departments are helping fight a fully involved house fire on Kingsley Road in the Town of Middlebury, which is in Wyoming County. The house is at 566 Kingsley Road.

Bethany, Pavilion and Le Roy are called to the scene, along with a tanker from Alexander. An engine from Alexander is requested to fill in at Bethany's hall. York is asked to fill in at Pavilion. Bergen is asked to stand by in its quarters. Bethany is requested to send an ambulance to the scene.

UPDATE: For coverage from the Wyoming County Free Press, click here.

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