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Thursday, July 11, 2013 at 9:34 pm

Press release announces 'Corfu Citizens Committee'

post by Howard B. Owens in corfu

Press release:

The newly formed Corfu Citizens Committee has scheduled its first organizational meeting for Tuesday, July 16 at 5:30 p.m. at the Corfu Fire Department meeting room. This ad hoc committee will provide a forum for attendees to get involved in the community and express their concerns outside of the board meetings and public hearings. 

Thursday, July 11, 2013 at 7:13 pm

Photo: Freeline skating on Bank Street

post by Howard B. Owens in Bank Street, batavia, freeline skating

Ray Williams, of Batavia, skates down Bank Street on freeline skates.

Thursday, July 11, 2013 at 6:53 pm

Local author claims to have solved the infamous Linden Murders

post by Bonnie Marrocco in author, linden murders, local

It's WNY's most notorious cold case -- the Linden Murders.

It's gone unsolved for 80 years, until now, or so says local author Rob R. Thompson, who spent a year meticulously researching and writing his book, “The Linden Murders...Solved.”

In 1917, 1922, 1924 and 1934 six people were butchered and the killer was never caught. Studying the existing case files and using modern profiling techniques, along with the aid of a former FBI profiler, Thompson claims to have solved the murders and names the killer.

Thompson is a native of Livonia in Livingston County and spent 12 years working as a mental health caseworker in Memphis, Tenn.

When Thompson moved to Attica in 2006, it was his wife, Kendra, who told him about the infamous murders in the tiny hamlet of Linden, near Bethany, between Attica and Batavia. 

"While working in mental health, I worked with some of the most violent of mentally ill individuals one could imagine…in doing so I most certainly gained an insight into human behavior,” Thompson said. "I became intrigued by the Linden murders and I spent countless hours at Genesee County History Department and Holland Land Office. I immersed myself in boxes of files containing evidence from the District Attorney’s Office.”

Thompson enlisted the help of Mark Safarik, a retired FBI agent and media expert on serial killers, whose NBC Universal show “Killer Instinct” explores notorious crimes as seen through the eyes of an FBI criminal profiler.

“Based on all existing materials still available from those crimes and based on the profiling of those suspected, I believe Linden local, Andrew Michel, was the Linden murderer,” Thompson said.

"He was the only one who had means, motive and opportunity and who fit the psychological description of a psychopath...98.6% sure he killed Frances Kimball, Hattie Whaley, Tom Whaley, Mabel Morse and Ben Phillips in Attica as M.O. and signature of the crime were identical. Quite sure he killed 'Ruth' in 1917 as well."

“He was a manipulative, deceitful man who knew the difference between right and wrong and he just didn’t care. He possessed all the traits of a psychopath and felt success in life by keeping others in a constant state of fear."

"It was about control. These were not murders committed for financial or sexual gain. He also struck fear into the hearts of the other residents of Linden, likely preventing them from telling authorities enough to result in his arrest.”

Thompson believes that by today's standards, with modern profiling techniques, Michel would be convicted of the murders.

“Andrew Michel, in my opinion, can be credited with at least six kills...it's hard to believe that 'Ruth' in 1917 was his first. I am working on recreating his life between 1890 and 1915 and do believe when all is said and done, he will be found out to be one of the most prolific serial killers in NY state history,” Thompson said.

He is currently working on two books including one on Buffalo’s 3rd Catholic Bishop, James Quigley. He’s also working on developing a TV pilot, which begins filming in October.

Other books written by Thompson include:
  • The Bills Are Due
  • From Hell -- The Final Days of Jack The Ripper
  • Attica Gateway to The West
  • Attica Gateway to Time and Tales
  • Attica Gateway to The Civil War -- The Story of The Dragoons

Thompson will be signing copies of "The Linden Murders...Solved" from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. this Saturday, July 13, at Coffee Culture in Batavia. Copies are $20.

Photo by Bonnie Marrocco

Thursday, July 11, 2013 at 4:57 pm

Bandmates kept the faith for more than 40 years

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, entertainment, Le Roy, music

Before the gray hair, before the jobs, the mortgages, the children, they were the boys in the band.

At age 15 and 16, from about 1967 to 1969, Geno Ceccato, Greg Deck, Andrew Martorana, Jerry Keating, Bob Baker and Tim Martin (top photo, in that order) were known in Western New York as The Middle Class and later, after a change in sound and Tim leaving the band, Faith.

The boys stayed in touch and the families always heard the stories of those glory days, but the former bandmates had nothing from that pre-digital time that showed "this is what we did."

No long ago, Martorana decided maybe a reunion was in order so there could be a little more documentation that they once were a band.

"We realized we didn’t have any kind of legacy to leave our families," Martorana said. "They would hear these stories, but there were no recordings, no videos, just a couple of snapshots here and there."

All week The Middle Class/Faith have been rehearsing in space at the Harvester Center and tomorrow they will go in the studio to record a CD.

Martorana's wife has been making a video, interviewing band members and taking snapshots to include on a DVD of this week's "reunion tour."

None of this is for any commercial/public release. It's just a family thing, a living memento that these six men were once, in fact, a band.

While Jerry, Tim and Greg all carried on with musical pursuits after the band split in 1969, Martorana, who lives in Le Roy, put away his drums, stowed his sticks and pursued a career as an electrician. Before starting to practice for the reunion, he hadn't played drums in 43 years.

After he had been practicing a while, he posted a couple of videos on YouTube of him playing and sent the link to a couple of drummer friends.

"They said, 'oh, man, you've gotta keep playing after this,' " Martorana said. "I talked with my wife and she said I should keep playing. So I'm shopping for a band."

It was Greg, he said, who made the point that the music never dies.

"You may have to relearn it, but it's always in your soul."

Thursday, July 11, 2013 at 3:57 pm

Today's Deals: O'Lacy's, Sweetland Pines Golf, Oliver's Candies, Bourbon & Burger, and more!

post by Billie Owens in Deal of the Day

Oliver's Candies, 211 W. Main St., Batavia, NY: Oliver's, a Batavia landmark, offers the finest chocolate and confections in the area. We have a $20 gift card for $12.

Blue Pearl Yoga, 200 E. Main St., Batavia, NY: Stretch your body and soul with yoga. This offer is for a discount on one private yoga session, a $60 retail value. We have a $20-off gift certificate for $10.

Center Street Smoke House, 20 Center St., Batavia, NY: Authentic Southern BBQ, from ribs to brisket with all the fixin's. We have a $20 gift card for $10.

Sweetland Pines Golf Course, 5795 Sweetland Road, Stafford, NY: Sweetland Pines is a par 3 golf course, great for beginners and experienced golfers working on the short game. Relaxed golf game, average play is about 1 hour and 20 minutes, leaving the golfer time to enjoy rest of the day. We have a $25 gift certificate for $12.50.

O'Lacy's Irish Pub, 5 School St. Batavia, NY: In Irish pubs, it doesn't get more authentic than O'Lacy's. Be sure to try the homemade chips. We have a $20 gift certificate for $10.

Pudgie's Lawn & Garden Center, 3646 W. Main St. Road, Batavia, NY: Spring is here and Pudgie’s has everything you need to enjoy the season -- hanging baskets of beautiful flowers, lawn care products, shrubbery, gardening supplies, and more. We have a $25 gift certificate for $12.50.

Sweet Pea’s Cupcakery Café, 23 Jackson St., Batavia, NY. We are a full-service Cupcake Bakery and Café. Now serving soft-serve ice cream! We offer a variety of baked goods, mainly varieties of specialty and traditional scratch-made cupcakes, as well as other bakery items such as cookies and brownies. We also serve a variety of hot and cold coffee beverages. Check out our location, or place an order for parties, gatherings or any other reasons you can think of to enjoy some cupcakes. We have a $10 gift card for $6.

Present Tense Books and Gifts, 101 Washington Ave., Batavia, NY: Whether your taste runs to local authors, the finest in fiction or nonfiction or you're looking for a unique and special gift, this charming store in a cozy Victorian house on the edge of downtown is a great place to stop and shop. We have a $25 gift certificate for $12.50.

The Mane Attraction Salon and Spa99 Main St., Batavia, NY: offers "Affordable Luxury" in downtown Batavia. We pride ourselves in the great customer service we give to the entire family. Men, women and children are all welcome either by appointment or walk-in. We offer all hair care services including cuts, color, highlights, lowlights, perms, styling/updos, facials, leg and back waxing, Shellac Polish System, manicures and pedicures. We are the only salon in Batavia that has an airplane chair for kids' cuts! Hours are 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday. We have a $20 gift certificate for $10.

Dave's Ice Cream, 3872 W. Main Street Road, Batavia, NY: Dave's offers only locally purchased products, including Perry's hard ice cream in a wide variety of yummy flavors, with a wonderful assortment of toppings and homemade waffle cones. Different soft-serve flavors are offered weekly. We have a $10 gift certificate for $6.

Adam Miller Toy & Bicycles, 8 Center St., Batavia, NY: Feel like a kid in a toy store again, or treat your kids to the greatest toy store they will ever see. We have a $25 gift certificate for $12.50.

Bourbon & Burger Co., 9 Jackson St., Batavia, NY: Batavia's newest burger joint offers more than two dozen different types of tasty hamburgers. Our menu also includes a variety of sandwiches, appetizers and an extensive beer list, plus a full bar. We have a $20 gift certificate for $12.

Greg'ry's Bakery, 13 N. Lake Road, Bergen, NY: The bakery offers a variety of the finest cakes, cookies, pies, cupcakes, breads, breakfast and lunch sandwiches and so much more. Each treat is made the same as it has been for decades and baked right here. Come in and sample some for yourself! We have a $10 gift certificate for $6.

The Enchanted Florist, 202 E. Main St., Batavia, NY: Whether you need just the right gift or a memorial or just want to brighten your own home or workplace, The Enchanted Florist can put together just the right floral arrangement for you. We have a $20 gift certificate for $10.

Settler's, 353 W. Main St., Batavia, NY: Settler's has a 25-year history of serving great, affordable breakfasts, lunches and dinners to Batavians. We have a $20 gift certificate for $12.

Viking Valhalla Restaurant & Rose Garden Bowl21 Buffalo Road, Bergen, NY: Open for lunch Monday through Sunday, and dinner Friday and Saturday evenings. Dinner favorites are our succulent prime rib and Friday fish fries! We are always happy to help plan your special occasion -- wedding, shower, rehearsal dinner, stag party, graduation, company function, banquet, family or class reunion. We have a $20 gift certificate for $12.

Alex's Place, 8322 Park Road, Batavia, NY: People come from all over the region for a fine dining experience at Alex's. It's best known for its ribs, of course, but Alex's seafood is also a favorite of the restaurant's diners. We have a $25 gift certificate for $15.

Alli's Cones & Dogs, 7063 Lewiston Road, Oakfield, NY: Full breakfast, lunch and dinner menu; all-you-can-eat salad bar; ice cream served year-round; eat-in or take-out. We have a $20 gift certificate for $12.

Ficarella's Pizzeria, 21 Liberty St., Batavia, NY: Dine-in, drive-thru or delivery. Featuring fresh, hearth-baked pizza since 1985, plus wings, pasta and more. We have a $20 gift certificate for $12. (Good only at the Batavia location.)

Sweet Ecstasy Bakery, 201 E. Main St. (Seymour Place), Batavia, NY. A retail and special order bakery located in Stafford. Offering a wide variety of items such as cookies, filled cupcakes, quick breads, pies, breakfast pastries, daily. On Fridays, Sweet Ecstasy Bakery offers fresh artisan bread like baguettes, sourdough and rye starting at noon. The custom cakes are out of this world with 3D characters or gorgeous wedding cakes to suit any budget. For all your sweet treats, we have a $10 gift certificate for $6.

T.F. Brown's, 214 E. Main St., Batavia, NY: T.F. Brown's is a great place for a good meal, good friends and to catch up on what's going on in the sports world. "If it happens in sports, it happens at Brown's." Stop in and check out our Jumbo Chicken Wings, Roast Beef on Weck and Friday night fish fry. The original family spaghetti sauce still adorns all of our Italian specialties. The other popular selections from our menu range from Super Salads, butcher cut Strip Loin and South of the Border items. We offer daily lunch and dinner specials as well as a full adult and children’s menu. We have a $20 gift certificate for $12.

Santino's Pizza, 2 Main St., Oakfield, NY: We're pizza and a whole lot more! Voted #1 pizza in Genesee County in blind taste test! Santino's features pizza, wings, subs, wraps, ice cream, and more! We have a $20 gift certificate for $12.

Bohn's Restaurant, 5256 Clinton St., Batavia, NY: Fine dining in an atmosphere of casual elegance. Lunch and dinner, steak, prime rib and seafood. Ask about Bohn's catering services and banquet facility. We have a $25 gift certificate for $15.

Daphne's Restaurant, 241 Swan St., (Off Rt. 63/Ellicott St.) Batavia, NY. Daphne's is destined to become a favorite for any who enjoy something special in a dining experience. Formerly the old St. Nick's Social Club, now unrecognizable to those who used to frequent the club, Daphne's provides you with a warm, inviting atmosphere and decor, which complements the array of wonderful dishes. We offer homemade seafood and pasta dishes, meatballs that are addicting as well as large salads, hot sandwiches & homemade potato chips. Fresh desserts are prepared in our own kitchen (tiramisu has been the top seller so far). We have a $20 gift certificate for $12.

Palm Island Indoor Water Park, 8250 Park Road, Batavia, NY: The newest family fun center in Genesee County, featuring a hot tub, monsoon lagoon pool and play area, tipping buckets, water slides, arcade with 15 games and birthday party rooms. We have a pair of gift certificates worth $40 in merchandise or services for $20.

Smokin' Eagle BBQ & Brew, 9 Main St., Le Roy, NY. The kind of downhome, laid-back and comfortable place that just feels right. Open daily for lunch, dinner and drinks, this eatery and bar features a variety of eats and drinks that are outstanding. Specializing in smoked meats -- each meat is dry rubbed with a proprietary mix of seasonings, then smoked slowly in their on-site smoker for maximum flavor and tenderness. With a variety of appetizers, burgers, sandwiches, wraps, combo platters and entrées, there's always plenty of choice for even picky eaters. Great food, frosty brews and some of the best folk around call the Smokin' Eagle BBQ & Brew their favorite -- make it your favorite today! Don't forget to ask about our catering! We have a $20 gift card for $12.

Andy’s Pizzeria, 4434 Ford Road, Elba, NY: We have been in business over 30 years and offer pizza, subs and wings. Our Everyday Special: Large cheese plus 1 topping pizza, 24 wings and a 2-liter Pepsi -- Only $29 (tax included). Other places tell YOU how great their food is…. At Andy’s: WE LET OUR CUSTOMERS DO THAT FOR US! Phone is 757-6699. We have a $20 gift certificate for $12.


Get $325 in gift certificates to local businesses for $50. For more information, click here.


Thursday, July 11, 2013 at 2:27 pm

Photos: Downtown businesses holding Thursday sidewalk sales

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, BID, business, downtown

Merchants are lining the streets in Downtown Batavia today for the first of three Thursday sidewalk sales sponsored by the Business Improvement District.

The other sidewalk sales are also on the second Thursday of the month -- in August (Aug. 8) and September (Sept. 12). Time is 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Above, Chris Merrian, Don Brown and Bryce Rogers with Charles Men's Shop, and below, John Roche, Adam Miller Toy & Bicycles.

Thursday, July 11, 2013 at 1:55 pm

Batavia Downs closing temporarily Monday to accommodate construction work

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Batavia Downs, business

Press release:

Batavia Downs Gaming will be closing at 10 p.m. on Monday, July 15 and reopen no later than 3 p.m. on the following day, Tuesday, July 16 to accommodate construction work.

Management is confident that the facility will reopen prior to 3 p.m. that day. Those wishing to find information on the reopening of the facility should check Batavia Downs’ Web site (bataviadownsgaming.com) as well as their social media pages on Facebook (facebook.com/bataviadowns) and Twitter (twitter.com/bataviadowns) for up to date information that day after 11 a.m.

The newly expanded gaming floor is scheduled to open on Aug. 30.

Thursday, July 11, 2013 at 12:53 pm

Changes ahead at Batavia Downs as contruction project proceeds and new racing season approaches

post by Billie Owens in Batavia Downs, harness racing, sports

Press release:

Racing fans will notice some changes when the 2013 live racing season gets under way at America’s oldest lighted harness track, Batavia Downs. The 67th season July 22, with a new post time of 6:30 p.m.

The historic track is in the midst of a $27 million construction project to move and expand the gaming floor to the ground level. The projected opening is Aug. 30.

Racing fans wishing to enjoy the races on the track apron or in the paddock room must enter through the north gate, located where a new cross walk has been installed. Racing fans wishing to dine in the clubhouse or view the races from the enclosed grandstand can continue to enter through the main entrance.

“We’re excited about nearing the completion of phase one of the expansion project,” said William White, vice president of Administration. “We have been working closely with Todd (Haight, GM of Live Racing) to put this facility back together in time for racing.

"I’m confident both our racing and gaming customers will enjoy the benefits from having both venues on the same level.”

Among the improvements on the racing side are a new paved track apron, redesigned paddock room mutuel betting windows and walk about tellers in the clubhouse.

Thursday, July 11, 2013 at 12:08 pm

GCC board reelects three trustees

post by Billie Owens in announcements, batavia, elba, GCC, Pavilion

Press release:

On Monday evening, the Genesee Community College Board of Trustees reelected Maureen T. Marshall as board chair for the 2013-2014 year. The Board also reelected Diane D. Torcello as vice-chair and Laura J. Bohm as secretary.

Marshall, of Elba, is owner and operator of Torrey Farms, also based in Elba. Torcello, of Pavilion, is a Bank of Castile branch manager. Bohm, of Batavia, is a retired housing administrator.

Trustees met at the Batavia Campus for their annual meeting.

The 10-member volunteer Board of Trustees is the governing body of Genesee Community College.

Thursday, July 11, 2013 at 8:18 am

Law and Order: Rochester man jailed for alleged shoplifting at Walmart and Kmart

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, crime, Darien, Le Roy, pembroke

Steven Douglas Crandall, 50, of Driving Park, Rochester, is charged with petit larceny and trespass. Crandall allegedly stole an air conditioning unit at Walmart with a $479.08 value. Crandall is allegedly banned from all Walmart stores because of a prior shoplifting allegation. Crandall also had an warrant for his arrest out of Town of Batavia Court for a prior shoplifting charge at Kmart. Crandall was jailed on $500 bail.

Daryl R. Hamler, 19, of Wescott Road, Le Roy, is charged with criminal possession of marijuana, 4th, and speeding. Also charged with criminal possession of marijuana was Rebecca E. Cook, 19, of Caldwell Road, Groveland. Hamler and Cook were allegedly found in possession of more than two ounces of marijuana during a traffic stop by Deputy James Diehl at 12:02 a.m. on Route 19, Le Roy.

Andrew Alexander Halloran, 48, of Northwest 7 Street Road, Miami, Fla., is charged with criminal possession of a controlled substance, 7th, DWI, refusal to take breath test, speeding and failure to keep right. Halloran's vehicle was stopped at 11:43 p.m. Tuesday on Route 20, Darien, by Deputy Joseph Corona.

Cheryl L. Behm, 53, of Alden, is charged with DWI, driving with a BAC of .08 or greater, moving from lane unsafely, failure to use designated lane and consumption of alcohol in a motor vehicle. Behm was stopped at 1:24 a.m. Wednesday on Main Road at Back Street in Pembroke by State Police.

Earl S. Lockhart, 20, of Batavia, is charged with petit larceny. Lockhart is accused of stealing from Kmart.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013 at 5:59 pm

'A Knight's Journey' will tell the tale of Le Roy football through the stories of those who played

post by Howard B. Owens in football, Le Roy, sports

There is a toughness, according to Jim Bonacquisti, that defines what it means to be an Oatkan Knight.

The stories of those tough kids, the ones who were heroes and the ones who always put in a good effort, are what Bonacquisti and research partner John Mangefrida want to capture for a book they're writing on the history of Le Roy football.

"When I talk to the old timers, the word tough keeps coming up," Bonacquisti said. "There's something about this community that the kids are just tough. When I ask people, why is that, they talk about the Irish, the Italians, the blacks, just something about the makeup of the community. Just tough, tough kids and it's still that way."

In an effort to leave no stone unturned, Bonacquisti and Mangefrida will be at the Oatka Festival this weekend in their own booth looking to talk with former players about their time in red and black.

Bonacquisti figures he already has five hours of interviews taped and has written five chapters of "A Knight's Journey," but he wants to get as many stories as he can about the people and events that shaped more than a century of football in Le Roy.

"We don't want to leave something out," he said. "There's going to be somebody who gets left out somehow, but that's why I think it's important (to hear from people)."

It's not unusual for storied high school programs to be the subject of a local history book, but Bonacquisti wants to get beyond the usual dry fare of those books -- stats, won-loss records and game recaps. "A Knight's Journey" will be about the boys who played the game and the community that they helped define -- and which helped define them.

"It's all about the kid," Bonacquisti said. "It's all about that kid when he's this tall and his dad brings him to a football game and he's thinking, 'I want to do this. I want to be a part of this.' I don't know if every community has that."

Bonacquisti said he was that kid once, and so was his dad. It's been that way for many families for many generations in Le Roy.

To pick up the game program Mangefrida puts together every year and flip through the names of players who have worn red and black through the decades, it's like a who's who of Le Roy's prominent and not so prominent familes. Antinore, Bower, Condidorio, Crocker, Lapp, Lathan, Loftus, Longhany, O'Geen, Paladino, Panepento, Pangrazio, Rider, Scott and Whiting.

On the field, the names that stand out, Bonacquisti said are Shaughnessy, Miller and Scott.

While the Shaughnessy and Millers have produced generation after generation of top Section V players, the Scott name is the only one that is draped across the balcony of a professional football stadium.

That would be the name Boomer Scott, who was a varsity fullback and defensive lineman for the Red and Black (before they were the Oatkan Knights) in 1940, '41 and '42. He was recruited by Notre Dame at a time when there were maybe seven top football programs in the nation and Notre Dame was one of them.

After college, Scott had a Canadian Football Hall of Fame career from 1949 to 1960 in Hamilton, Ontario.

It's the story of guys like Scott that the young players need to learn about, Bonacquisti said. Here was a guy right from Le Roy who not only had a great football career, but made a difference in his adopted community of Hamilton (after he retired, Scott became a successful businessman in Hamilton and eventually served one term on the city council).

The kids need to learn about Ed Walsh, too, he said.

Walsh coached in Le Roy in 1946 and 1947, with a record of 5-2 his second year.

The next year, Walsh was head coach in Manhasset on Long Island when he spotted a freshman in the hallway one day and asked him if he ever played football. The shy boy who had just moved to Manhasset from Georgia said he never had.

Walsh became that boy's mentor and the father figure he never had, and that youngster, Jim Brown, would not only go on to lead Manhasset to a 20-1 record over four seasons, averaging more than 12 yards per carry, he would become a standout athlete in lacrosse, basketball and baseball before becoming one of the all-time great running backs in nine seasons with the Cleveland Browns.

No story of Le Roy's coaches would be complete, though, without including at least the names Ray Jamalkowski and Brian Moran.

Jamalkowski ended six straight seasons of futility in what had otherwise always been a proud program and in just one season -- when the Knights went 6-1 in 1965 -- turn the program around and started a streak of winning seasons that would to go until 1979 (the year, coincidentally, when Bonacquisti was captain).

"He came from Batavia," Bonacquisti said, "and he saw in these kids that toughness and he brought it out of them."

Moran's 177-58-2 record over 23 seasons makes him somewhat of a living legend in the annals of Le Roy football, and he's not done yet. With the kids coming up through the program, Bonacquisti said Moran should be able to notch quite a few more victories in the coming years.

Then there are people associated with Le Roy football who are best remembered not for their exploits on the gridiron, but what they did away from the field.

Today, outstanding Le Roy students receive awards named after John Armino and Gary Scott.

In 1960, Armino sacrificed his life by lying down on top of another boy on the track tracks near Buttermilk Falls to protect him from an oncoming train.

The second student to ever receive the John Armino award was Gary Scott, who was killed in action in Vietnam in 1968 while saving the lives of fellow soldiers.

When Bonacquisti posted about Scott on a Facebook group he set up for the book, a former student who once won the Gary Scott Award said the post prompted him to find out more about Scott.

"He sent back a reply to me about how humbled he was," Bonacquisti said. "He felt kind of bad because he didn't really look into who Gary Scott was and then he said when he saw how significant the award was and how he felt to think that his teachers thought that much of him to give him that award."

In telling these tales, Bonacquisti believes he can help preserve the tradition of what it means to be a Knight -- that toughness, but also the humility, the honor, the desire to prove oneself and showing mercy to a conquered enemy.

That tradition is one of the things that helps bind Le Roy and define Le Roy, Bonacquisti said.  There may be things that have at times pushed the community apart, but on Friday nights, football always brings them together.

"When we get those 30 kids out there, we don't care where you live," Bonacquisti said. "You could live on Mill Street or you could live on East Main Street. The best players and the toughest kids are going to play.  

"That really helps kids," he added. "Maybe they don't come from the greatest background or families, but they know they're going to get a fair shot to be part of something pretty significant if they put the work in."

Over and over, during our talk at Ron Rossi's barbershop, Bonacquisti said he only knows Le Roy football and that's the story he wants to tell.

"Are we different from any other community? I don't know," he said. "I can only judge by what we have here."

Photo: Bonacquisti, Rossi and Mangefrida.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013 at 4:02 pm

Rain coming with pockets of severe thunderstorms predicted

post by Howard B. Owens in weather

A severe thunderstorm watch is in effect for all of Western New York now through 10 p.m.

Rain is moving in, according to the National Weather Service, and there may be pockets of thunderstorms that develop bringing possible strong winds and hail.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013 at 2:09 pm

State denies targeting flight schools for special enforcement or changing the rules on sales tax

post by Howard B. Owens in Bob Miller Flight School, business, taxes

On July 2, we published, Aviation school owner says NYS Taxation and Finance driving him out of business. At the first opportunity the next morning, we sought comment from the NYS Taxation and Finance. After much unnecessary wrangling, we received answers to the following questions from the department's spokesman, Geoff Gloak.

Is Miller's general assertion true that the state has reinterpreted rules regarding sales tax on planes leased to flight schools? 

No. Any charge that DTF has suddenly reinterpreted rules regarding sales tax on planes leased to flight schools is inaccurate. There hasn’t been any recent change in the Tax Law on this matter, nor any court decisions we’re aware of that affects the matter. We have always taxed aircraft rental for flight training.

Is it true that over the past 40 years, there has been no sales tax on private planes used by students at flight schools and now there is?

No. An aircraft purchased for flight school training is not, and has not been, exempt from New York State sales tax. There has been no change in practice here.

Is it true that auditors are demanding payment of back taxes from plane owners for up to five years?

Your question seems to suggest that there’s some systematic campaign against people who own airplanes – and any such charge is categorically false. Our focus when it comes to audits is always exactly the same: Was tax due, and was it paid? This is the case for any business, in any industry.

Is it true that auditors are systematically going around to the state's flight schools and looking at whether sales tax has been paid on student's flight hours?

No. That's incorrect. There hasn’t been any change in our audit procedures, which is to examine in some form every tax return filed with the State – whether it’s personal income, corporation, or sales tax. That has been and continues to be our standard audit posture. 

If these assertions are true, what is the rational by taxation and finance? Not applicable.

Is taxation and finance concerned that private plane owners are choosing to end their association with flight schools because of this allegedly new enforcement?

There isn’t any “new enforcement.” Our goal is and always has been to help taxpayers understand the laws and regulations and to enforce those laws and regulations across the board in a fair and equitable manner.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013 at 1:45 pm

Alleged assault case at Kid Rock concert grows more complicated with news of serious injuries

post by Howard B. Owens in crime, Darien, darien lake performing arts center

Craig Lawson

The suspect in the alleged assault following the Kid Rock concert July 6 at the Darien Lake Performing Art Center has probably learned by now that his alleged victim is in serious condition, but District Attorney Lawrence Friedman said he has no reason to believe the Canadian resident won't make his scheduled court appearance July 30.

Craig Malcolm Lawson, 34, of Talbot Street, Courtland, Ontario, Canada, was initially charged with just a misdemeanor, assault in the third degree, so bail was only set at $1,000.

Indications are, however, that Lawson, who according to sources has a good job in Canada, is taking the case seriously. He's hired a private attorney, who happens to also be a state senator, Michael Ranzenhofer.

"He has retained an attorney who has appeared on his behalf," Friedman said. "The defendant is scheduled to appear in court on July 30 and at this point I have no reason to believe that he won’t be there."

If Lawson were to fail to appear, the District Attorney's Office would need to work with Canadian authorities to obtain his arrest and extradition, which could delay progress of the case.

The alleged victim, Jason McNeil is in a coma, according to friends, at ECMC.

A few days ago, media in Alabama reported on the 43-year-old McNeil's condition and described the Tuscaloosa resident as a "prominent businessman." His coworkers set up a fundraising campaign on his behalf with a goal of raising $25,000 (now $50,000, with more than $18,000 raised so far). There's also a Facebook page set up for McNeil.

McNeil is the owner and operator of Synchronous Industrial Services and has a wife and two children. He's originally from the Alden area and besides going to see Kid Rock he was in WNY for a few days to visit with family.

The fundraiser and media coverage of McNeil's condition could likely alert Lawson that the case is more serious than he might have thought after his initial arrest, but Friedman said he believes Lawson will meet his obligation to appear in court.

"As I said, it appears to me that the defendant has retained counsel and will do the right thing and he will address these charges as he needs to," Friedman said. "I’m not going to speculate on any problems in that regard."

Last August, the District Attorney's Office went through a similar case, which is still pending, against Kelly L. Alcorn, who was initially charged with harassment for allegedly hitting another patron at the Jason Aldean concert.

The alleged victim went to Buffalo media and claimed she was more seriously injured than might warrant a misdemeanor charge. The woman sought a felony charge against Alcorn, a police officer in Niagara Falls.

Friedman's office reviewed the accounts of events, the available evidence and the medical records and eventually sought a grand jury indictment against Alcorn, who is now facing a charge of assault in the second degree.

The same process could be followed in the Lawson case, Friedman said.

"We need to get a handle on what occurred, statements of witnesses, police reports, things like that, and follow the victim's medical condition before we make any decision," Friedman said.

When Darien Town Justice Gary Graber arraigned Lawson the night of July 6, he was presented with a document called an accusatory instrument that specified the charge against Lawson -- the misdemeanor of assault, 3rd -- and a very brief narrative of what police believed happened. He also was given, in this case, two brief witness statements.

From the penal code:

A person is guilty of assault in the third degree when:
1. With intent to cause physical injury to another person, he causes such injury to such person or to a third person ...

The accusatory states that Lawson, "did punch Jason McNeil in the head with a closed fist causing him to lose consciousness and fall to the pavement."

There were also two witness statement's in Lawson's court file.

One witness, who said she is a cousin of McNeil's, said that as she was coming out of the concert, "some guy came up to my cousin, Jason McNeil, and punched him in the face with a closed fist. Jason proceeded to fall backwards and hit his head on the pavement and did NOT MOVE. Jason was not arguing with anyone and I have no idea why he was punched."

Another witness, a Depew resident working for the concert venue, also said he saw the alleged incident.

"I saw a man wearing a red tee shirt arguing with a male that was younger than him," he wrote. "The man in the red pushed the younger kid. The younger looking male was walking backwards and the male in the red pulled his arm way back and punched the younger looking kid. I heard the punch hit the kid in the face and I also heard the younger kid's head hit the ground."

At the time Graber set Lawson's bail at $1,000, he would have had no direct information on McNeil's condition or the fact that McNeil was taken by Mercy Flight to ECMC.

To sustain a charge of assault in the second degree, the prosecution would need to be confident that it could prove the defendant intended to cause serious injury. For example, the need to prove intent eventually lead to the dismissal of one of the felony counts against Jacquetta Simmons in the Walmart Christmas Eve assault case. Simmons was convicted by a jury of a single felony involving the assault on a person over age 65, rather than straight assault, 2nd.

Top photo via giveforward.com.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013 at 11:14 pm

ABO report contains data on GCEDC's work and staff compensation

post by Howard B. Owens in GCEDC

The Authorities Budget Office has released an annual report, along with several spreadsheets, that contain a range of data about the state's multitude of public authorities, including industrial development agencies, such as the Genesee County Economic Development Center.

Here's what the report shares about GCEDC:

  • Total staff compensation for GCEDC's 12 employees was $772,360 in 2012, the third highest in the state behind Erie County, with 19 employees at $1.2 million and Yonkers with 20 employees at $1.14 million. Yonkers and Erie also have the largest staff of IDAs in the state, followed by Genesee and Jefferson with 12 apiece.
  • Eighteen authorities in the state paid performance bonuses in 2012, but only three were IDAs, and only GCEDC among IDAs paid bonuses in excess of $10,000. In all, six employees received bonuses of $10,000 or higher, including Steve Hyde, whose bonus of $142,000 put his total compensation for the year at $312,388.
  • The 51 other authority employees in the state that received performance bonuses in excess of $10,000 all work for health care agencies, such as the Roswell Park Cancer Institute, and pulled in total compensation packages two and three times Hyde's compensation. The president and CEO of the Westchester County Health Care Corporation was paid $1.4 million in total compensation.
  • GCEDC has 11 projects that were approved in 2008 with total tax exemptions awarded of $2 million. Those projects were supposed to create 66 new jobs. There were actually only 14 jobs created, according to the ABO report. That's far from the worst performance in the state, however. The Albany IDA's projects came up 2,138 jobs short on promises and 14 other IDAs had greater deficits than GCEDC's projects.
  • In the list of new IDA projects for 2012, GCEDC ranks third with 13. Topping the list is Monroe County's IDA with 33 followed by New York City with 16.
  • On the same list, GCEDC is third in total net exemptions, having awarded  $3.6 million, behind Jefferson County with $5.34 million on six projects and Westchester County with $4.2 million on 11 projects. Monroe's 33 projects received $2 million in exemptions and NYC's $1.5 million.
  • Those 13 projects for GCEDC are expected to net 341 new FTE positions, which is the seventh highest projection in the state. NYC is number one with 1,409 estimated FTEs followed by Monroe County with 501.
  • Jobs created by IDA-funded projects are a self-reported number from the employer to the sponsoring IDA. As the sponsoring IDA, GCEDC reported 244 jobs created for its 2012 projects, which is 137 new FTE positions that didn't exist before the projects were approved, but still 97 fewer jobs than promised by the projects.
  • Those 137 additional jobs are enough to place GCEDC fourth in the state for IDAs creating jobs from approved projects. Tops is Monroe County with 1,369 new jobs, followed by NYC, 206, and Syracuse, 198.
  • Erie County actually lost 56 jobs on its 10 projects that received $1.18 million in exemptions.
  • Orleans County had one project in 2012 that received $3,000 in exemptions that promised three new jobs and three new jobs were created.  
  • The Genesee Gateway LDC gave out $5.8 million in loans for projects expected to create 244 jobs with 99 FTEs positions reportedly created in 2012. That's $58,435 of loan money per new FTE position, 10th on the list for highest loan amount per job. Topping the list is Washington County LDC, which gave out 33 loans totaling $3.4 million and had two FTEs created for an average of $1.7 million per job. At the other end of the scale, Livingston County gave out 16 loans totaling $1.1 million and those projects created 243 positions, for an average of $4,501 loaned per job.
Tuesday, July 9, 2013 at 10:47 pm

Motorcycle rider suffers possible arm injury at end of alleged high speed chase

post by Howard B. Owens in Alabama

Medics and Alabama fire are responding to a location at Judge and Feeder roads, Tonawanda Indian Reservation, to assistant a patient with an apparent arm injurying following a high speed chase that started in a neighboring county.

The pursuit involved a motorcycle and the rider reportedly laid the bike down at Judge and Feeder.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013 at 10:11 pm

Father and son in Pavilion plead guilty on charges related to storing disabled cars

post by Howard B. Owens in code enforcement, crime, Pavilion

Jacob and Steven Weber, father and son, entered guilty pleas in Town of Pavilion Court to 45 and 15, respectively, violations of the state's property maintenance code.

Under the plea deal, Jacob Weber will avoid jail time, but Steven Weber could still be incarcerated if he does not rid his property of the remaining seven disabled, unregistered vehicles on his property at 11076 Lake Road.

Weber admitted in court today that he had 16 unregistered, disabled vehicles on his property -- one more than the law allows. He made a point of clarifying before pleading guilty that he was allowed one vehicle on the property.

The 46 vehicles on property owned by Jacob and Mary Weber at 11256 Perry Road are also apparently the property of Steven Weber.

The Webers are scheduled to appear for sentencing at 3 p.m., Aug. 13.

Town of Pavilion Attorney Jamie Welch said the agreement includes no sentence cap and doesn't limit any possible fines beyond what is allowed under the law.

Previously: Town of Pavilion begins enforcement effort on two properties with alleged code violations

Tuesday, July 9, 2013 at 8:40 pm

GCEDC staff in San Francisco promoting STAMP

post by Howard B. Owens in GCEDC, STAMP

This week, staff members of the Genesee County Economic Development Center are at SEMICON West, the largest trade show globally for the semiconductor industry, held at the Mascone Center in San Francisco.

The staff is there to promote WNY STAMP, the high-tech/nano-tech industrial park in the Town of Alabama that GCEDC hopes will some day be home to at least one large technology company employing thousands of people.

Joining the GCEDC staff are representatives from Greater Rochester Enterprise, Buffalo Niagara Enterprise, Rochester Institute of Technology, and the University at Buffalo.

The photo is from GCEDC's Facebook page. At left is Chris Suozzi and second from left is  Rachael Tabelski. IDs are not provided on the other people in the picture.

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