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Thursday, March 28, 2013 at 7:23 am

Sun and blue sky brings out furred and feathered critters alike

While the month of March has hardly been spring-like, Tuesday's weather brought forth an abundance of woodpeckers, songbirds and bushytails in the small woodlot that borders our property. And with the emergence of foliage yet a long way off, conditions were ideal for taking their picture.

First on the scene was this female cardinal. In the soft light of early morning and still plenty of chill in the air, she forages along the ground and spots remnants of last year's seed. 

As the sun climbed higher more birds arrived, like the downy woodpecker pictured above and in the top photo. The "downies" were difficult to capture with the camera, as they kept rapidly flitting about, from tree to tree and branch to branch.

It was only a matter of time before the red squirrel population was heard from. On this day there were several working the same area. This one stopped briefly on the trunk of an aged cottonwood.

From an adjacent walnut tree, this red-bellied woodpecker seems to be sizing up the main trunk of the cottonwood and, with the red squirrel present, weighing its options.......

and then deciding to go for it.

A lone gray squirrel showed up -- even with the red squirrels in close proximity.

Despite the chill in the air and patches of snow on the ground, between the blue sky and the arrival of some furred and feathered friends, it was a good day.

Thursday, March 28, 2013 at 7:04 am

A cake for Lt. Steele on his retirement from Batavia PD

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Batavia PD

Emergency dispatchers helped Lt. Greg Steele celebrate his retirement from the Batavia Police Department overnight with a cake.

Submitted photo.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013 at 8:24 pm

No. 3 Cougars get by Alfred State

post by Andrew Crofts in GCC, lacrosse, sports

The No. 3 Genesee Community College men's lacrosse team played through the snow on Wednesday night to defeat visiting Alfred State College, 17-6.

The Cougars got off to a very fast start in the sloppy conditions and found the back of the Pioneers net six times in the opening period. Christian Reiller scored three of the first four goals for Genesee and Jonathan Gill added two of his three goals of the game in the first quarter.

Genesee made it 7-0 early in the second before Alfred State broke through at the 2:53 mark. Chris Rabung, Reiller and Saxon Weil closed out the scoring in the first half to give GCC a 10-1 lead at the break.

(Midfielder Doug Ellsworth (#29, white) works past an Alfred State defender)


The Pioneers answered an early third period goal from Gill with a goal at the 2:28 mark before Ben Madafferi scored his first career goal to give GCC a 12-2 advantage heading into the fourth quarter.

Alfred State fought back with four straight goals in the final period including a two-man up goal and a shorthanded goal to make it 12-6. The Cougars went on to score the final five goals of the game and stay unbeaten on the year.

Reiller finished with five goals and two assists, Gill added three goals and two assists, Weil posted a hat-trick with three goals, Tom Owen tallied two goals and an assist and Rabung finished with two goals.

Pete DiLaura led the defense with six takeaways, eight ground balls and two assits. Jordan McElligott had five takeaways and four ground balls, Bobby Wheeler added four takeaways and four ground balls, Johnny Astrologo had three takeaways and four ground balls and Adam Jacobs recorded three takeaways and five ground balls.

Genesee improves to 7-0 on the season and will host the No. 1 team in the country on Saturday when Onondaga Community College comes to GCC for a 1 p.m. start.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013 at 4:13 pm

Photo: Spring snow shower hits Batavia

post by Howard B. Owens in weather

Periods of heavy snowfall hit Batavia this afternoon, and though the flakes were big and wet, not much stuck anywhere.

More cold, snow and rain is in the forecast through Friday night, but we should see some sun on Saturday. Sunday's forecast -- for Easter -- is cold with a 50-percent chance of rain.

The cold and wet start to spring is expected to continue for another week or so.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013 at 2:46 pm

Sponsored Post: Yngodess Features Easter Wines!

This week at the Yngodess shop we are featuring Fetzer Gewurtztraminer for $8.99! It pairs well with your ham dinner. Stop in today and pick up a bottle! Like us on Facebook to stay up to date on current specials! The Yngodess is located at 73 Main St., Batavia. (585) 343-3170. We'll be open 12 to 4 p.m. on Sunday. From our family to yours, have a blessed Easter holiday!

Wednesday, March 27, 2013 at 1:27 pm

Ninth annual Super Mammoth Sale at St. Joe's will be original organizer's last

post by Billie Owens in St. Joe's, super mammoth sale

Press release:

This year’s Super Mammoth Sale at St. Joe's is expected to be the largest event to date and will also be the last sale organized by longtime volunteer Kathy Stefani. The event, dubbed WNY’s largest indoor garage sale, is in its 9th year and has raised more than $100,000 for Catholic education. Earlier this year, a tearful Stefani told officials at St. Joseph School that she will retire at the conclusion of this year’s sale saying she had been “Called to spend more time with her family.”

In John 6:12, disciples were told to “Gather up the leftover fragments, that nothing may be lost,” and in that fashion, Stefani has turned others’ junk into treasure for the school. Her yearly work includes collecting, storing, cleaning and selling hundreds of thousands of donated items that are stored at seven different sites. Nearly 150 volunteers are utilized, including two dozen cashiers for the one-day sale.

The event has grown from humble roots when Stefani held a community garage sale to benefit St. Anthony’s Church in Batavia in 2005. It has grown every year since and last year raised more than $29,000, with all proceeds benefiting St. Joe’s.

This year’s event will, of course, include stalwart items like antiques, books, artwork, furniture and household goods but in addition, there will be over 250 die-cast cars and trucks for sale, many of them still in their original boxes. The donation that came from a parishioner who had lost her husband and wanted to the see the collection sold for a good cause.

“Kathy does a remarkable job and is irreplaceable,” said Karen Green, the school’s principal. “She has poured her heart and soul into this event and writes personal thank you notes to everyone that donates an item. She has made Mammoth one of our top fund-raisers and we will be hard-pressed to find a successor.”

The Super Mammoth will be held from 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. on Saturday, April 6th at the school located at the corner of Main and Summit streets in Batavia. The doors will be closed from 12:30-12:45 p.m. and the shelves will be restocked. There will also be a chicken BBQ or BBQ ribs available for purchase. For more information call 585.343.6154.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013 at 1:12 pm

Hawley says budget changes to property tax law will not revoke all STAR benefits

post by Billie Owens in STAR, steve hawley

Press release:

In response to widespread correspondence from his constituents, Assemblyman Steve Hawley (R,I,C-Batavia) recently shed light on changes to the Basic STAR program in this year’s state budget.

Many property owners have expressed concern that their benefits will be revoked due to changes to the program in this year’s budget. However, the alterations merely call for those currently enrolled to register with the Commissioner of Tax and Finance through a yet-to-be-created form by April 1, 2014.

The purpose of the registration program is to verify a recipient’s eligibility and to determine if a homeowner is receiving more than one Basic STAR exemption.

“As the economy continues to struggle and property taxes become more of a burden for our families and businesses, it is critical that we ensure those who need and deserve relief are receiving it,” Hawley said.

“The changes to the Basic STAR program are meant to enforce the current requirements for eligibility and will not affect any property owner who currently qualifies. This measure will help protect funding for those who truly need it and deliver sorely needed relief to our families and businesses.”

Wednesday, March 27, 2013 at 12:08 pm

Reminder: Statewide open burning ban through May 15

post by Billie Owens in open burn ban

Press release:

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation reminds residents of the annual burning ban from March 14 through May 15.

During this time period, no open burning shall be allowed. Violators of the open burning regulation are subject to both criminal and civil enforcement actions, with a minimum fine of $500 for a first offense. To report a violation call 1-800-TIPP DEC (1-800-847-7332), or report online on DEC's Web site.

Additional information from DEC: http://www.dec.ny.gov/press/80920.html


Wednesday, March 27, 2013 at 12:02 pm

Assemblyman Hawley's outreach office hours postponed for Good Friday

post by Billie Owens in steve hawley

Press release:

Assemblyman Steve Hawley (R,I,C–Batavia) is preempting his regular outreach office hours for Genesee County residents this week in observance of Good Friday. The weekly Friday meeting at Genesee Community College will resume as scheduled next week.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013 at 11:57 am

Two locals cast in upcoming national reality show set in Hollywood mansion

post by Billie Owens in batavia

Press release:

Batavia resident Jenna Hubbard may have just gotten her big break to become a star. Hubbard, who uses the stage name Jenna Vera, has been selected along with boyfriend/manager Timothy Walton to be two cast members on a new upcoming national television reality show series. It's set to begin filming in September on a premier national station (can't yet be disclosed due to release agreements).

The show, which will be filmed at a large mansion in Hollywood, California, is hoped to be one of the next hottest fashion and modeling television shows. The show will feature eight models who, along with their managers, will all live in one house and be given the opportunity to shape the pathway to success using the guidance of Hollywood's most experienced talent agents, models and actors.

Throughout the United States, thousands of models, actors and actresses push themselves to make it big. Many with goals to be the next big thing. Some have the connections to make it happen, others have the talent, and even fewer just get lucky. "Making a Marilyn" takes eight models and eight managers and puts them in one huge mansion where they will live together for two months and give them all the tools to make it big. 

The house: 
A 10-bedroom, 10,900-square-foot house located in Hollywood. The house contains a party balcony, movie theater, bowling ally, party, walk-in in-ground pool, waterfall hot tub, full outdoor kitchen and patio, and outdoor party games. Each casting couple will have their own room, where they can bring personal belongings to the house and will be the only ones that have access to the room, with the exception of the house maid if you choose. Similar layout to the Playboy Mansion. 

The catch: 
All the aspiring talent will be faced with challenges to see how bad they want to make it. With all the tools in front of them, they will also have all the tools to set them up for failure. Free access to all the hottest party spots, weekly spending and shopping privileges as well as multiple options that the talent will have to choose which path to take to success. 

The drama: 
With all the models living in the same house, there is sure to be some drama. Models will have the opportunities to work together, or not work together, and to make the best decisions as they learn and shape their career path to success or party to disaster. To spice up the action, not only will the gorgeous females share the house with the handsome male talents, but the husbands, wives and boyfriends/girlfriends will be there as well, who have been managers to the talent as they grew their careers to the current point.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013 at 11:47 am

Law and Order: 80-year-old Corfu man accused of stalking

post by Billie Owens in batavia, corfu, crime, Le Roy

Lawrence Bruce Cawker, 80, of Main Road, Corfu, is charged with stalking in the 4th degree. He allegedly followed a female victim around her workplace, sent numerous cards to her, left packages at her residence, and made numerous inappropriate comments to her. According to the Sheriff's Office report, this persistent conduct continued after the defendant was repeatedly told to cease such conduct and has placed the victim in fear of her and her family's safety. He is to be arraigned at 1 p.m. on Thursday, March 25, in Le Roy Town Court.

Darcy Lynn Booth, 19, of Hill Street, Hornell, is charged with unlawful possession of alcohol and fraudulent procurement of alcohol by means of a fake ID, following a physical confrontation that reportedly occurred while at Walmart in Batavia. It is alleged that Booth was in possession of a bottle of liquor and the ID of a person over the age of 21. She was issued an appearance ticket and is to be arraigned at 1 p.m. April 29 in Batavia Town Court.

Margaret Isabel Clancy, 19, of Meadowbrook Road, Arkport, is charged with driving while intoxicated, driving with a BAC of .08 Percent or higher, and consumption of alcohol in a motor vehicle. On March 27, following the investigation of a harassment complaint that happened on Veterans Memorial Drive in the Town of Batavia, Clancy was arrested on the charges after she was allegedly involved in a physical altercation with another person while operating a motor vehicle in an allegedly intoxicated condition. She was issued an appearance ticket for Batavia Town Court and is to appear there at 1:30 p.m. on April 18.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013 at 10:59 am

Statement from Ranzenhofer on passage of state budget

post by Howard B. Owens in Mike Ranzenhofer

Press release:

The New York State Senate has completed passage of the 2013-14 State Budget. State Senator Michael H. Ranzenhofer (R, C, I – Amherst) has issued the following statement:

“The State Senate has finished passage of an early State Budget for the third year in a row – a first in over 30 years. The 2013-14 State Budget is a balanced, fiscally responsible plan that closes a billion dollar budget gap without tax increases.

For middle-class families, the budget provides over $1 billion in tax relief over three years to make up for the value of child tax credits eroded by inflation and ensures the continuation of the lowest personal income tax rates in 60 years.

For senior citizens, the budget fully funds the EPIC prescription drug program, providing 270,000 seniors with help in affording their prescription drugs, and delivers $912 million in property tax relief to senior homeowners as part of the Enhanced STAR program.

For every person with a utility bill – both residents and businesses – the budget will phase out the energy tax surcharge over three years, rejecting the Executive Budget proposal to extend the tax for five more years.   

Under the fiscal plan, businesses will be in a better position than last year to grow our economy and create jobs. In addition to relief from the phase out of the energy tax surcharge, the budget saves businesses almost $1 billion by reforming workers’ compensation and unemployment insurance programs. Hundreds of thousands of small businesses and manufacturers will get a reduction in taxes, too.

While I am disappointed that tax relief – for small businesses, homeowners, seniors, and middle-class families – couldn’t be greater, the budget continues to move our State in the right direction by easing the tax burden for all Western New Yorkers.”

Wednesday, March 27, 2013 at 10:01 am

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Wednesday, March 27, 2013 at 7:56 am

Rollover accident with injuries reported on Route 262, Byron

post by Howard B. Owens in accident, byron

A one-vehicle rollover accident with injuries has been reported on Route 262 at Chapel Road.

A person may be entrapped and is reportedly unresponsive.

Byron and South Byron fire along with Mercy EMS responding.

UPDATE 9:05 a.m. (by Billie): The victim is trapped beneath the vehicle. Mercy Flight was called, then cancelled. Fire police are shutting down traffic at routes 262 and 237. Pembroke is called to provide mutual aid, along with Elba, which is asked to bring air equipment to jack up the vehicle.

UPDATE 9:16 a.m.: Bergen is called to stand by in Byron's fire hall and Oakfield is called to stand by in Elba's.

UPDATE 9:23 a.m.: Mercy medics are back in service.

UPDATE 9:34 p.m.: Responders say they will be at the scene for quite awhile and that it "looks pretty bad" there. Bergen's standby in Byron is cancelled and South Byron will return to stand by in their own quarters.

UPDATE 9:53 a.m.: A coroner is at the scene.

UPDATE 10:02 a.m.: Fire police are shutting down traffic at Transit Road and Chapel Road.

UPDATE 11:53 a.m. (by Howard): Correction: This was a two-car accident.

An SUV southbound on Chapel T-boned a westbound pickup truck. The pickup truck rolled and the driver was ejected and became trapped under his vehicle. The IDs of the drivers have not yet been released. The driver of the SUV was not seriously injured, or not injured at all. He declined transport to a hospital. The driver of the truck was pronounced dead at the scene.

We'll add pictures from the accident scene to this post later.

UPDATE 12:15 p.m.: Route 262 is reopened. Byron and South Byron back in service.

UPDATE 3:29 p.m.: The deceased is Jeremy C. Murray, 28, originally from Hamlin, was living in Clarendon and is the father of a small boy. The name of the other driver is Terry A. Boyce, 57, lives on Lewiston Road in Alabama. Boyce was cited for failure to yield and an additional citation may be pending. Investigators do not think drugs or alcohol were factors.

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Wednesday, March 27, 2013 at 7:52 am

Photo: Barn, Broadway and Smithley Road, Darien

post by Howard B. Owens in BARNS, Darien, photos

Heading back to Batavia from the fire in Darien yesterday, I passed this barn I've passed many times, but this time it seemed like a good time for a picture. This seems like a very well-preserved barn. The location is just east of Smithley Road on Route 20.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013 at 11:07 pm

Firefighters work hard to battle blaze in building built by Speedy Greco

post by Howard B. Owens in Darien, fire

By all accounts at the fire scene today, Speedy Greco was quite a character -- he sold cars and Airstream trailers, collected antiques and raced cars.

He also had a bit of money and built himself one heck of a sturdy building at 1606 Broadway, Darien.

That strong construction made it difficult for firefighters from Darien, Corfu, Town of Batavia, Alden, Bethany, Attica, East Pembroke and Bennington to fight a fire that had climbed into the roof of Speedy's former car dealership.

The wood on the roof was at least four inches thick, possibly six inches in some places. That made it hard to vent the roof and get water onto hot spots.

The building, now owned by M & M Fabricating, Inc., was heavily damaged as a result.

M & M is a metal fabrication business.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation.

There were no reported injuries. The fire was reported at 2:45 p.m.

Assisting at the scene were the Sheriff's Office, City of Batavia's Fast Team, Mercy EMS and Genesee Emergency Management.

To purchase prints of these photos, click here.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013 at 10:33 pm

Bookies sentenced, continue to complain about lead investigator in the case

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, crime

The three Batavia men who admitted taking part in a bookmaking operation received on Tuesday pretty much the sentence Judge Robert Balbick promised them when they were last in court March 5.

The slight variation was that instead of 120 days in a weekend work program with the Sheriff's Office, the three men will work weekends in community service over the next 90 days.

The change was requested by the Sheriff's Office because of limited openings in the program.

Gregory Phillips, Brian Bordinaro and Lance Engel all declined to make statements to Balbick prior to their sentencing.

Phillps and Engel received, as requested, a "release from civil disability" from Balbick. The signed form will allow both men to pursue second careers. Phillips is attending barber school and will graduate soon.

The three men were also fined $1,000 each. They also can't gamble in any form -- online or off -- during their three years of probation. Their computers will be subject to warrantless search during probation.

All three had entered guilty pleas to a Class A misdemeanor charge of promoting gambling, 2nd, which was quite a step down from the original felony charges, especially the Class B felony charge of enterprise corruption.

There's never been a clear public answer from anybody involved in the case about why the charges were so greatly reduced.

Today, District Attorney Lawrence Friedman would only say, "there are a number of considerations that came into play, just like any case. We consider a lot of different things and when all things were considered in this case, all the things that were relevant, we felt this was the appropriate disposition."

Attorney Larry Andolina, representing Phillips, has accused the Sheriff's Office, and in particular, Sgt. Steve Mullen, at one time head of the Sheriff's major crime unit (the Local Drug Enforcement Task Force), of "mishandling the case."

Asked about Andolina's charge, Friedman said, "I'm not going to comment on anything to do with the Sheriff's Office or Sgt. Mullen or the investigation. We came to what we felt was an appropriate disposition to the case."

For the first time since the story of the bookmaking operation -- which Friedman still contends was substantial -- first broke more than a year ago, Phillips spoke with the media after his sentencing.

He didn't say much.

Asked what he thought of his sentence, he said, "I can't comment on the sentence today."

Asked if he had proof that Mullen placed bets with him, Phillips said, "Through legal and civil counsel I'm not able to comment on that right now."

Asked if the DA or the Sheriff's Office were involved in a cover up, Phillps responded, "i'm sure the DA's office and the Sheriff's Office wouldn't have done any kind of cover up. I would hope there wouldn't be any kind of cover-up in this investigation, but I'll let my attorney answer that one, too."

Asked if the case should never have had happened, Phillips said, "there will be other things brought out. I can't really comment other than (through) my legal attorney and my civil attorney. There will be other things that come out and we'll go from there."

Asked if his civil rights had been violated, Phillips said, "That will be for another jury to decide."

After the former city firefighter was reminded that this was his first opportunity to make a public comment on the case since being accused of taking illegal bets, and whether he had anything he wanted to say to the community he once served, Phillips only said, "no comment."

When asked about how the allegations against Mullen probably led to reduced changes against him, Bordinaro and Engel, again, Phillips said, "no comment."

Andolina stepped in at that point and was asked the same question.

"In the grand scheme of things, this case was resolved in a fashion like many gambling cases where the defendants have no prior record," Andolina said.

Andolina did say he believed Mullen had placed bets with one or more of the defendants.

Under repeated questioning, Andolina refused to offer up proof, however.

"I just said to you, we gave them (Friedman and Sheriff Gary Maha) the information and they have it," Andolina said.

Maha has said there was an internal affairs investigation that was terminated when Mullen retired from the Sheriff's Office.

Asked if he thought the District Attorney's Office and Sheriff's Office had handled the situation with Mullen appropriately, Andolina said he did.

"I think he commenced an investigation," Andolina said. "They're both professionals. I have no reason to believe they didn't do their jobs appropriately."

Asked if the outcome involving Mullen was sufficient, or if more should be done, such as bringing criminal charges, Andolina indicated enough is enough.

"I don't know if there's enough for a criminal case and it's over," Andolina said. "The case is over. The sentence is what the judge indicated the sentence would be. He was within his discretion to sentence in that fashion and now it's time for these people to get on with their lives."

However, Andolina did confirm that his client is looking into a civil case based on alleged civil rights violations.

Asked what the basis of the case would be, "the conduct of the Sheriff's Office," was all he would say.

Later Tuesday evening, WIVB's George Richert aired a story accusing Mullen of placing bets and a "conflict of interest" in the case. The only evidence to back the claim offered by Richert was a report by a private investigator hired by the defense who claims Mullen placed -- years before this case arose -- 47 phone calls to the bookies. No gambling records were produced to indicate that Mullen actually placed bets.

UPDATE: The Buffalo News has published a more thorough story on Mullen's alleged involvement in the case.

Photos: Top, Phillips; second, Bordinaro in blue shirt; bottom, Engel.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013 at 10:31 pm

Woman from Hornell in Walmart may have been assaulted, doesn't know how she got there

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia

Police and EMS are responding to Walmart where a cashier has come into contact with a woman who may have been the victim of an assault, but doesn't know how she arrived at the Walmart in Batavia.

She's from Hornell.

UPDATE 11:38 p.m.: A vehicle possibly belonging to the woman was located in the Home Depot parking lot. A deputy is heading back to Walmart with a person located at Home Depot.

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