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Tuesday, February 4, 2014 at 4:57 pm

Three-vehicle crash south of Daws Corners

post by Billie Owens in batavia, accidents, elba

A three-vehicle accident, which is blocking traffic, is reported at 7797 Oak Orchard Road. A tractor-trailer, SUV and van are involved. Two Mercy ambulances are called in. Extrication of a patient in the van will be required. Town of Batavia fire is responding along with mutual aid from Elba's rescue unit. Elba Fire Police are asked to shut down southbound traffic at Daws Corners and northbound Route 98 traffic will be shut down at West Saile Drive.

UPDATE 4:02 p.m.: The patient from the van has been extricated.

UPDATE 6:25 p.m.: The Town of Batavia's assignment is back in service. At least one person was taken to UMMC -- an adult female with a small puncture wound on her lower leg.

Saturday, February 1, 2014 at 1:41 pm

Elba Central School Drama Club presents The King and I

post by Michelle Case in drama club, elba, musical

February 21st and 22nd

7 pm

ECS Auditorium

57 South Main Street, Elba

Tickets: $6 student/senior   $8 adult

Available in District Office or at the door on show nights

Info: (585) 757-9967

Event Date and Time

February 21, 2014 - 7:00pm - February 22, 2014 - 7:00pm
Monday, January 13, 2014 at 10:32 am

Law and Order: Batavia man accused of identity theft

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, byron, corfu, crime, elba, Le Roy, pembroke, Stafford

Bruce J. Brade, 33, of Galloway Road, Batavia, is charged with identify theft, 2nd, and grand larceny, 4th. Brade is accused of fraudulent use of a debit card. Brade allegedly used the card to purchase items over the Internet. Following arraignment in Batavia City Court, Brade was released under supervision of Genesee Justice.

Douglas Robert Brown, 45, of South Main Street, Elba, is charged with criminal possession of a weapon, 4th. Brown was arrested following an investigation into a complaint of an irate truck driver who made a delivery to Automotive Corp., Inc. Brown was allegedly found in possession of a billy club.

Thomas James Rose, 18, of Ford Road, Elba, is charged with criminal possession of a controlled substance, 7th, criminal possession of a hypodermic instrument, criminal use of drug paraphernalia and unlawful possession of marijuana. Rose was found to allegedly possess drugs and paraphernalia during an investigation by Deputy Joseph Corona and Deputy Howard Carlson of an incident at a residence in Byron at 2:30 a.m., Saturday.

Arthur Mack Osborne, 47, of West Main Street Road, Batavia, is charged with criminal contempt, 2nd. Osborne is accused of violating a complete stay away order by going to the residence of the protected person and being in contact with that person.

Paul Joseph Kirch, 27, of Angling Road, Corfu, was arrested on a warrant out of the Town of Amherst related to a disorderly conduct charge. Kirch was located when a deputy checked on a vehicle parked on the shoulder of a roadway. Upon investigation, Kirch was identified as a suspect with an active arrest warrant.

Cynthia Louise Reschke, 50, of Transit Road, Stafford, is charged with DWI, driving with a BAC of .08 or greater, failure to keep right, moving from lane unsafely. Reschke was stopped at 1:36 a.m. Sunday on Morganville Road, Stafford, by Deputy Joseph Corona.

Stephen A. Getty, 43, of Gilbert Street, Le Roy, is charged with DWI, driving with a BAC of .08 or greater, moving from lane unsafely and drinking alcohol in a motor vehicle on a highway. Getty was stopped at 5:11 p.m. Friday on Main Road, Pembroke, by Deputy Kevin McCarthy.

Louis Levon Wooden, 28, of Salina Street, Rochester, is charged with petit larceny. Wooden is accused of shoplifting at Walmart. Also charged with petit larceny is Tymekia T. Gaskin, 39, of Champlain Street, Rochester.

Ann Lee Cox, 42, of Main Street, Attica, is charged with criminal possession of a controlled substance, driving while ability impaired by drugs, driving while ability impaired by combined drugs and moving from lane unsafely. Cox was arrested following an investigation by Deputy Kevin McCarthy into a single-car accident on Route 98, Alexander, at 4:22 a.m. on Oct. 20.

Emily Grace Lemen, 19, of Lake Street, Le Roy, is charged with DWI, driving with a BAC of .18 or greater and moving from lane unsafely. Lemen was allegedly driving a vehicle at 4 p.m. on Jan. 6 that went down an embankment at the 490 off-ramp at Route 19. The accident was investigated by Deputy Matthew Butler.

Thursday, January 9, 2014 at 3:13 pm

House fire on East Shelby Road, Oakfield

post by Billie Owens in batavia, Alabama, elba, fire, Oakfield

A house fire is reported at 2884 E. Shelby Road, between Burns and Crane roads. Fire is "in the wall with flames seen." Oakfield Fire Department is responding, along with mutual aid from Alabama, Town of Batavia and Elba.

UPDATE 2:17 p.m.: Upon arriving, the fire chief reports no fire seen.

UPDATE 2:21 p.m.: The chief is holding everything to equipment already in route. Cancelling Town of Batavia.

UPDATE 2:29 p.m.: Alabama and Elba units returning, in service.

Saturday, January 4, 2014 at 3:10 pm

Car strikes tree on Batavia Elba Town Line Road, head injury reported

post by Billie Owens in batavia, accident, elba

A motor-vehicle accident with possible serious injuries is reported at 4167 Batavia Elba Town Line Road, west of Route 98. Elba Fire Department is responding along with Mercy medics and Town of Batavia fire. Mercy Flight is on standby. Two ambulances are needed. "Car into tree, head injury," says responder on scene.

UPDATE 2:11 p.m.: It's determined to be in the Town of Batavia's fire district. Extrication will be needed. Traffic police are asked to shut down traffic at Pekin Road. State troopers and deputies are also on scene.

UPDATE 2:14 p.m.: The road will also be closed at Route 98.

UPDATE 2:16 p.m.: Command calls for the helicopter in Buffalo to start flying to the Batavia hangar.

UPDATE 2:21 p.m.: Two helicopters -- one in Batavia and the other coming from Buffalo -- are both called to the scene.

UPDATE 2:27 p.m.: One patient has been extricated.

UPDATE 2:30 p.m.: Mercy Flight #5 has landed. The second patient has been extricated.

UPDATE 2:34 p.m.: Mercy Flight #7 has landed.

UPDATE 2:43 p.m.: Mercy Flight #5 is airborne and headed to Strong Memorial Hospital.

UPDATE 2:51 p.m.: Mercy Flight #7 is airborne and also going to Strong.

UPDATE 3:01 p.m.: Howard at the scene was told the passanger vehicle was westbound on Batavia Elba Town Line Road when it hit a snow drift and the driver lost control of the car and it struck a tree. Authorities urge drivers to be aware that snow drifts are causing dangerous driving conditions on roads throughout the county and they should use extreme caution when driving.

UPDATE 3:06 p.m.: The injuries sustained by both patients are not considered to be life-threatening.

UPDATE 3:12 p.m.: Town of Batavia command is putting the assignment back in service and Elba Fire Police are opening the road.

UPDATE 4:46 p.m.: The driver of the vehicle was a 16-year-old female from Batavia (State Police are not releasing her name). The passenger was Ronald Filbert, 43, of Lockport. Both were taken to strong with non-life-threatening injuries. Both were conscious and alert at the time they were transported.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014 at 11:25 am

Possible chimney fire on Fisher Road, Oakfield

post by Billie Owens in Alabama, east pembroke, elba, fire, Oakfield

A possible chimney fire is reported at 6842 Fisher Road, Oakfield. Flames were seen shooting from the chimney, but no flames or smoke are showing now, says a firefighter. The residence has been evacuated. Oakfield fire is on scene. Mutual aid response was cancelled but units are asked to stand by in their quarters from Alabama, Elba and East Pembroke.

UPDATE 10:41 a.m.: Oakfield fire back in service.

Monday, December 30, 2013 at 9:37 am

Possible electrical fire reported at residence in Elba

post by Howard B. Owens in elba, fire

A possible electrical fire is reported at 4346 Drake Street Road, the lower apartment, Elba.

Smoke is coming from the washer or the dryer.

Elba and Town of Batavia fire dispatched.

UPDATE 8:39 p.m.: Fire is out. Town of Batavia can go back in service, per Elba chief.

UPDATE 8:53 a.m.: Elba back in service.

Friday, December 27, 2013 at 7:11 pm

Mortellaro brothers savor life as onion farmers in Elba

post by Howard B. Owens in agriculture, elba, Genesee County Farms

This is the sixth in our series on Genesee County's farms and farmers. For previous stories, click here. (Obviously, I started this story in late fall and am only now publishing it.)

Onions. It seems simple, right? Plant a seed and a few months later pull up a bulb and soak in the pungent aroma of one America's most essential foods.

Try making a stew or a salad without an onion. Edible? Maybe. Good? Hardly.

But which onion? 

The cook considers white, red, yellow or perhaps green.

The farmer considers Bradley, Walla Walla, Candy, Sterling, Yankee, Sedona, Redwing and Crocket, among hundreds of other varieties.

A rose by any other name may smell just as sweet, but for the onion farmer, the name on the seed bag he plants in the spring has a lot to do with yield he can expect in the fall.

The seed, the weather, the soil depth, the week of planting, the plot location, length of storage and what's going on in onion markets all over the world are the layers an onion farmer peels away each season hoping to rediscover that savory recipe called profits.

"There are dozens and dozens of varieties," said Matt Mortellaro, co-owner with his brother Paul, of G. Mortellaro & Sons, and Elba-based onion farm. "It's hard to know each year which varieties are working well. Every piece of ground is a little different and every season is a little different. You can have varieties growing hundreds of yards apart and get different results. The rain falls more in one location. It floods a little more. There's the wind and the soil. You can have so many different conditions, which is why we grow so many different varieties."

Paul and Matt were born into this, growing onions on the muck.

Paul helped out on the family farm from a young age. Matt being younger was spared by more modern farm equipment the hours of grueling seed and sprout planting and weed pulling under the blistering sun on the black muck.

"Mainly, I remember riding around in the truck with my dad," Matt said.

Matt studied natural resources, conservation and biology at Cornell before deciding to concentrate on ag production and plant biology.

Paul set out as a young man to be an engineer, earning a degree with the University at Buffalo and he worked in that field for a few years before feeling the tug of the family farm.

"It was strange," Paul said. "The engineering wasn't bad, but it really wasn't the lifestyle I was used to. You go to work and you're done at the end of the day. I feel like I'm a farmer twenty-four-seven."

As a farm owner, you get up early to check the weather. You take calls from customers needing to pick up a load of onions at 11 p.m.  You make repairs, check crop reports and answer e-mails long after the guy with an office job has hopped in his car, made the long drive home and is tuning into Sports Center.

"That's typical for employees and I can't say I blame them," Paul said. "Without the ownership interest, they just disappear and there is no way to retrieve them. I guess I don't need that. I don't need to feel like my responsibilities end at five o'clock."

Paul and Matt's grandfather started the family in the onion farming business in 1935 with eight acres of muckland. 

Gerlando Mortellaro didn't speak English and worked other jobs to make ends meet. By the time he handed the farm off to his two sons -- Paul and Matt's father and uncle -- the family owned 110 acres of muckland.

The farm is 260 acres today, and while other family farms in the area have diversified and added crops on the uplands, the Mortellaros stick with with what they know -- onions grown in the dark, decaying organic matter that made Elba famous.

"I think I would like growing anything, but onions is what I know," Paul said. "I've been exposed to onions for 41 years. It's kind of in my blood now. I don't know what else to do."

Paul said he kind of imagines if he was plunked down in a strange country, it wouldn't be long before he started growing onions again.  When he meets strangers, he said, it's hard not to assume they're onion farmers, too.

 "I have actually said it a couple of times, kind of as a joke, 'tell me about your onion operations,' " Paul said.

Matt is just as focused on growing onions on the muck.

"I don't have experience commercially growing other things on mineral soil, so it's hard to compare," Matt said. "I know the frustrations of growing on the muck, but I don't know if that's different from growing different things on other soil types."

Both Paul and Matt have been able to find enough time away from onion farming to get married and raise families.

Paul is married to Tricia and they have two daughters -- Rosalie, 19, an engineering student at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, and Grace, 17, a student at Notre Dame High School.

Matt is married to Stephanie and they have two boys, Mateo, 13, and Tiago, 10.

With the variety of onions the Mortellaros might choose to grow in any one season, there is one trait they all share -- they're what's known as long-day onions.

There are short-day onions and long-day onions. The two types use different triggers for when to form a bulb. For the short-day onion, it's just a matter of time, how many days since the seed was planted. Long-day onions know when the longest day of the summer has arrived and that's its signal to form a bulb.

Long-day onions not only grow better in our region, they make for better storage onions.

The Mortellaros sell onions all year long, even when temperatures outside dip into the teens and no plow can possibly till any soil.

In a good growing season, those 260 acres of muckland have filled the Mortellaros 50,000-square-foot storage facility on Transit Road with enough pungency to last into spring.

When customers need onions, or the price is right, Paul and Matt -- under the brand name Crybaby Onions -- almost always have onions to sell.

"With storage onions, we don't have to discount it to get rid of it," Paul said. "Out West, they sell onions for three weeks and then they're onto melons or something else. Here, you can just wait. If you don't like the price, you can wait. When you get a price you like, you go. That is a much better way to maintain steady customers. That's the beauty of storage, whether it's onions, potatoes or cabbage. You can sell it all in one week, but that's usually a disadvantage."

Storage adds to the pungency of an onion and Paul likes a pungent onion -- hence the Crybaby brand, but Paul warned the home cook not to think that storing a store-bought onion will improve its quality.

By the time an onion reaches the produce section of a supermarket, it's been through cold storage and a warming period, which is the onion's signal to sprout (an onion in its first year produces a bulb; in it's second year, it goes to seed). 

"The onion only knows it's ready to go," Paul said. "There's no turning back. It's really hard to buy an onion that hasn't been through the cold and warm cycle, so my advice is to eat an onion fast. Sprouted onions are actually very good, but you can always buy more."

With onions such a staple of America's diet, Paul and Matt always want to grow the best quality onion possible at the highest profit margin possible, even if Mother Nature doesn't always cooperate.

"Growing onions is somewhat of an art and somewhat of a science," Matt said. "Certain onions are ready for harvest in 95 days, others in 120. Depending on where you're planting, some need more time. Certain varities do better in different ground and some are marginal. Certain varieties produce more tonnage, but the bulb is not that great, and others don't have as high a yield, but have big, beautiful bulbs. So there's a lot of thought that goes into deciding what to plant in a particular piece of ground."

Onion farming, like the onion itself, may look simple from the outside, but then, just start peeling away the layers. The Mortellaros do it, day in and day out, 365 days a year.

Friday, December 27, 2013 at 5:02 pm

Farm truck on fire on Old Oak Orchard Road, Elba

post by Howard B. Owens in elba, fire

The cab of a truck hauling onions on Old Oak Orchard Road is reportedly on fire and stopped just south of Ridge Road, Elba.

Elba fire is responding.

UPDATE 4:08 p.m.: A chief is on scene. The fire is out.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013 at 10:16 am

Two-car accident reported at Oak Orchard and North Byron, Elba

post by Howard B. Owens in accident, elba

A two-car accident is reported at Oak Orchard and North Byron roads.

Traffic is being shut down on Route 98.

Initially, the accident was reported as minor injury, but the Mercy EMS response has been canceled by the chief on scene.

Elba fire is responding.

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