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Thursday, December 19, 2013 at 12:40 pm

Car accident with minor injury at Oak Orchard and Lockport roads, Elba

post by Billie Owens in accident, elba

A two-car accident with minor injuries is reported at Oak Orchard and Lockport roads. It is not blocking traffic. Elba Fire Department and Mercy medics are responding.

UPDATE 11:42 a.m.: One person is complaining of back pain and another is declining medical treatment. Oak Orchard Road will be shut down at the intersection to accommodate responders.

Friday, December 13, 2013 at 12:59 am

The Notre Dame boys basketball team wins big at home

Notre Dame 83, Elba 39

Tim McCulley scored 25 points and had 10 rebounds to lead the Fighting Irish to their second win of the season.

The Elba Lancers opened up the scoring in the first quarter when John Hochmuth put up three points, but they quickly found themselves behind later in the second quarter.

The Lancers were not able to stop Tim McCulley as he scored 21 points on 18 shots in the first half. Notre Dame held a 37-15 lead at halftime.

In the third quarter Notre Dame went on a scoring streak. Scoring 29 points to Elba's 10. By the fourth quarter the game was out of reach.

Notre Dame's Josh Johnson and Elba's John Hochmuth each had 15 points.

Notre Dame's next game will be at home next Wednesday against Lyndonville.

Elba is 1-3 on the season.

Thursday, December 12, 2013 at 9:49 am

Two-car accident in Elba

post by Alecia Kaus in elba, mva

There is a two-car accident on Bank Street Road and Batavia Elba Townline Road with one person having a possible head injury.

Elba Fire Department and a Mercy Medic are responding.

Two patients are complaining of lower back pain in one vehicle.

The accident is not blocking.

UPDATE 8:55 a.m.: A second ambulance has been requested to the scene non-emergency.

UPDATE 9:18 a.m.: Two people have been transported to UMMC and Elba fire is back in service.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013 at 11:00 am

Torreys keep farming all in the family

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

This is the fifth 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. I've got one other story that I started at the same time as this and hope to finish in the next week).

When you farm 11,000 acres -- growing cucumbers, green beans, zucchini, yellow squash, cabbage, pumpkins, winter squash, onions, potatoes, carrots and tending milk cows -- you always have something to sell.

Whether you always have a buyer is another matter.

Each work day -- spring, summer, fall and winter -- Maureen Torrey arrives at the main office of Torrey Farms in Elba at 8 a.m. to start marketing the products grown on the farmland owned by her and her brothers John and Mark.

She talks to potential buyers not just in the Northeast, but as far away as Texas and California, trying to get the best price, and sometimes just trying to set a reasonable price, to move perishables before they spoil.

Torrey is a graduate of Iowa State University with a degree in journalism. She was a Cornell Extension agent for awhile then worked in merchandising for Chiquita for four years. The merchandising job gave her a taste of how she could contribute to the family farm.

"I realized I really liked the wheeling and dealing," Torrey said. "The markets are different every day. It's all by your gut. You're looking at weather patterns and what's available and what your gut is telling you. You look at whether to raise the market or lower the market and look at who's short around the country."

The roots of Torrey Farms goes back to the founding of the nation. In 1626, the Torrey family left England and settled in Connecticut. But the rocky soil of The Nutmeg State wasn't great cropland, so as pioneers moved West, so did the Torreys, looking for better farmland.

John Torrey arrived in Bethany in 1803, and while there are still Torreys farming in the Bethany area, Torrey Farms as we know it today began in 1948 when Elbert Torrey, the grandfather of Maureen, John and Mark, purchased the 375-acre Higley Farm in Elba.

Don't let the size of today's Torrey Farms fool you -- it's as much a family farm as the one with 100 acres and 40 cows. Besides the three offspring of Charles Torrey running operations today, Mark's children also work in management roles on the farm.

Jed is charge of grain crops, Travis, daily labor, Lucus, harvest and planting, Shannon, marketing and sales, Molly, human resources and Jordon in accounting and marketing.

"We're very much a hands-on operation," said Maureen, whose three daughters are all in college. Jill is at Cornell, Julie is at Florida State and former Elba Onion Queen Jamie is a freshman at the University of Arkansas.

The farm employs 80 workers throughout the four seasons and brings in as many as 220 workers for the spring through the early fall.

Most employees, as is the case in agriculture throughout the United States, are migrants and immigrants.

After the weather -- if not before -- ensuring the farm has enough labor to plant and harvest is the biggest difficulty Torrey Farms faces. Both John and Maureen agree on that point.

"More than 70 percent of all the food in this country is planted and grown by immigrants," Maureen said. "That's pretty significant. Without them, we'd be pretty hungry."

Yet, there's an endless supply of politicians in Washington -- and it's been this way since the 1980s --  seemingly intent on trying to make it as difficult as possible for farms to get the labor they need to feed Americans.

"Our biggest challenge is the labor, the immigration issue," John said. "You're always going to have the variables of the weather, but the last several years, what we're most uneasy about is immigration."

Fighting against hard-headed politicians in Washington has put Maureen Torrey on a national stage. She's testified before Congress and worked with both labor and agricultural groups trying to bring about sensible immigration reform.

It hasn't been easy.

"We're trying to get some people in Congress to stand up and be fair and do what needs to be done for the country," Maureen said. "They need to make strong decisions and stop worrying about elections. They hear from some advocacy groups, from people who are well organized and use social media and send tons of letters, but they need to look at the meat of the issue and see what it means for the country and who is doing the work and how it's getting done.

"We've always got to educate a new batch of congressmen," Maureen added.

Like just about any farmer you talk to, the Torreys have tried hiring native-born workers, but it never works out. After six hours, maybe two days, the domestic workers leave or don't come back.

The work is hard and dirty, and there are too many handouts from the government to it make worthwhile for citizens stoop and bend in farm fields.

Misinformation spread about immigrants sucking money from that same social services system is what drives border crack downs and makes it harder for farmers to bring in crops, Maureen said. People come here from Mexico to work, Torrey said, not collect welfare.

And often their wages get poured back into the local economy.

"They talk about (immigrants in) the schools, but this farm land and our housing all generate school taxes," Maureen said. "They're also the best shoppers for our retailers. Three weeks ago, 42 brand-new TVs went back on the bus to Mexico. Talk to the store owners in Albion. They love these guys. It makes their business for them."

Monday, December 9, 2013 at 11:36 am

Law and Order: Alleged drunken driver accused of hitting two parked cars at Batavia Downs

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Bethany, crime, elba, Le Roy

Pamela Morrow, 53, of Linwood Road, Le Roy, is charged with DWI, driving with a BAC of .08 or greater and leaving the scene of a property damage accident. At 8:35 p.m., Sunday, Sheriff's Dispatch received reports of an erratic driver heading west on Route 5 through the City of Batavia. The car reportedly moved right several times and struck curbing. A witness reported the car turning left on Park Road about the time Sgt. Ron Meides was leaving the Sheriff's Office complex, though Meides did not see the vehicle. The car proceeded to the Batavia Downs parking lot where Meides located the car a short time later. Two witnesses told Meides that they had seen the car strike two parked vehicles before parking. Meides located Morrow inside Batavia Downs and brought her back to the car.

Frank Lynn Morrison, 32, of Bridge Road, Elba, is charged with sexual abuse, 2nd, and endangering the welfare of a child. Morrison is accused of subjecting a female child under age 14 to sexual contact. Morrison was jailed on $15,000 bail.

Lorraine Ellen Pillo, 48, of Summit Street, Batavia, is charged with petit larceny. Pillo is accused of shoplifting from Walmart.

Marion Jermaine Spivey, 31, of Elmhurst Place, Buffalo, is charged with harassment, 2nd. Spivey is accused of punching another person in the face while at the Clarion Hotel in Batavia at 6 p.m., Nov. 30.

Kevin J. Compton, 52, of Clipnock Road, East Bethany, is charged with resisting arrest and harassment, 2nd. Compton was arrested by State Police for an alleged incident reported at 4:56 p.m., Nov. 24. No further details released.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013 at 1:41 am

Elba Lancers take Albion to closing seconds of season opener

post by Howard B. Owens in basketball, elba, high school sports, sports

A pair of 23-point performances by Jesse Pflaumer and Brandon Naylor wasn't enough to secure victory Tuesday night for the Elba Lancers in the team's season opener against Albion.

After Elba jumped to an early double-digit lead by pulling down defensive rebounds and getting easy baskets in transition, foul trouble in the first quarter and a rash of turnovers let the Purple Eagles grab a lead it never relinquished the rest of the night.

"When switched to zone, we gave up some defensive rebounds and they (Albion) ended up cashing in on them," said Head Coach Mark Beeler.

The Lancers battled back, erasing a 10-point deficit late in the fourth quarter and when Pflaumer hit all net on a three-point jumper from the top of the key with just 26 seconds left in the game, Elba trailed by only two points, 71-69.

"That's when I really had a feeling it was going to go our way, but give Albion credit, they executed down the stretch to close it out," Beeler said.

On the in-bound pass, the Lancers fouled Albion to kill the clock and then grabbed the rebound on the missed free throw. Chad Kowalik got behind the defense and had an open path to the basket, but the pass was just a little beyond his reach and traveled out of bounds.

Albion would inbound two more times in the game, drawing fouls each time, leading to more free throws, which lead to two more points and seal the victory for the Eagles.

"I was just really happy to be in it at the end after being down 10 in the fourth," Beeler said. "The guys showed a lot of character tonight, sticking with it."

As exciting as the game was, it was also sloppy. Both teams got into foul trouble early and Albion rang up a number of fouls early in the second half (Elba slowed the pace a bit for their fouls in the third period).

The Lancers had 30 turnovers, with more than a dozen of them coming on in-bound passes, while the Eagles coughed the ball up 27 times.

"I'd like to blame it on first game jitters, but we had four scrimages so we shouldn't be that nervous," Beeler said. "Thirty is a lot. They had 27, so I'm sure (Albion's head coach) is not happy either. The third and fourth quarters were helter skelter and the intensity was amped up, and when it gets to that pace and the kids aren't used to it, turnovers are going to happen. But, yeah, you're not going to win many games with 30 turnovers."

Despite the loss, Beeler likes what he sees of his team so far and thinks with five seniors in the starting line up, a run at a sectional title is not out of the question.

"I think as these guys play and the season goes on and we eliminate some of the errors, I think we'll be right there," Beeler said "We've got good size. We've got a lot of seniors. That's going to help us down the stretch."

Beeler also has a secret weapon on the bench -- Tom Nowak, the recently retired former coach of the girls team, the coach with eight sectional titles and a state championship to his credit.

Nowak has been filling in as a part-time assistant for Beeler, whose first coaching job was working for Nowak as a girls JV coach.

"He taught me lot and continues to teach me a lot," Beeler said. "It's been great to have him in practices and definately on the bench. It's like hitting the coaching jackpot as far as getting an assistant on the bench with you."

The team responds well to Nowak's presence, Beeler said.

"When I tell the kids he's coming to practice ahead of time and as soon as I tell them he's coming in, they get excited because they know they're going to get better that day," Beeler said.

Besides the 23 points apiece for Pflaumer and Naylor, Dan Scott had 14 points. For Albion, Dez Blackmon had 20 points and Manny Thompson had 15.

Top photo: Jesse Pflaumer driving for the basket.

Albion's Alex Bison.

Brandon Naylor at the free throw line.

Head Coach Mark Beeler

Naylor

To purchase prints of photos, click here.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013 at 10:48 pm

Hoops Preview: New Elba coach feels lucky to follow a legend

post by Howard B. Owens in basketball, elba, high school sports, sports

Tom Redband is feeling like perhaps the luckiest first-year varsity basketball coach in the State of New York.

He's taking over an established program with a long history of success and is able to call on two coaching mentors who are among the best in the business -- Tom Nowak, his predecessor, and Buddy Brasky, whom he worked for in Batavia prior to moving to Elba to teach business and coach the Lady Lancers.

"It's rare to take over a program like this," Redband said. "You have to get a little lucky. You have to be in the right place at the right time. It has to be good timing and a good fit. And to have them both (Nowak and Brasky) here, where I can call them up, I can go to either of their houses right now and watch film, it's just a tremendous resource to have."

Redband was a special education aide in Batavia and coached seventh-, eighth- and ninth-graders and assisted with the basketball program before he was offered the job in Elba. Redband is also the older brother of Jeff Redband, the junior forward for Batavia High School who sunk that all-important buzzer beater in last year's regional championship game.

Under Nowak, the Lady Lancers won eight section titles and a state title and was ranked among the top 10 Class D programs in the state each of the past eight years (the furthest the records go back). 

Rather than feeling intimidated to step into such big shoes, Redband is feeling excited and fortunate.

"There's so much passion for basketball here," Redband said. "The girls love it. There's a system all set up. There's a ton of postives. There's a youth program. Having him (Nowak) as a resource is amazing. He wants to spread his knowledge to anybody who wants to listen."

In many ways, Redband doesn't see much changing. He shares the philopsphy of Nowak and Braksy, that building winning varsity teams begins with players in the third grade.

"You don't just hope the girls come to high school ready to play," Redband said.

Redband said he will certainly have his own way of doing things, but the core values will remain the same.

"We're blending a lot of what they know," Redband said. "I 'm learning a lot about what they know and then blending in what I know. Hopefully we can get a great fit."

One aspect of the Batavia program Redband is used to is there's almost always some hoops going on somewhere, even in the off season and he will look for an opportunity to get the girls more involved in basketball -- so long as it doesn't interfere with other athletic pursuits -- in the spring, summer and fall.

"That's one thing I learned from Coach Brasky in Batavia," Redband said. "If you want to be good and you want to be good compared to the best, then you've got to put the time in."

How good will Elba be in 2013-14? It's hard to say.

The team graduated five seniors, losing four starters, so it will be a young team. 

"We lost a lot but we still have a lot of talent," Redband said.

The Lady Lancers will be the only Class D team in the Genesee Region, so they will spend most of the regular season playing mostly against larger schools, which makes for a challenging schedule but also preps them for sectionals.

Kelsey Bezon, a starter on the 2012 state champion team, returns as a senior and the point guard.

"We're going to rely heavily on her," Reband said. "That's no secret."

Alex Reigle, Haley Brown, Alyssa Bogue, Bri Pangrazio are also all returning players and Redband said there is a lot of talent in that core group of players.

He praised Reigle, a guard, as smart and strong, a player who loves the game and has a good attitude.

"We're going to be competitive," said Redband, who will be assisted this year by Nathan Shirk. "There's no reason (reaching sectionals) shouldn't be our goal."

Redband also expects the team will benefit from the strong support the Elba community always gives its basketball teams.

"I'd rather coach some place like this where there's an expectation and where people come and they're into it and they watch and it's a community thing rather than some place where it's not that big of deal," Redband said.

Kelsey Bezon

To purchase prints of photos, click here.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013 at 10:18 pm

Car hits deer and then tree on Ford Road, Elba

post by Howard B. Owens in accident, elba

A car reportedly hit a deer and then a tree in the area of 5641 Ford Road, Elba.

Elba fire and Mercy EMS is responding.

UPDATE 9:27 p.m.: Elba has enough manpower on scene. No need for further response.

UPDATE 9:43 p.m.: Patient being transported to UMMC.

Sunday, November 17, 2013 at 4:08 pm

Wires down on North Byron and Oak Orchard roads, Elba, traffic shut at Lockport and Route 98

post by Billie Owens in elba

Elba Fire Department and fire police will be shutting down Lockport Road at Route 98 because of wires, possibly high tension wires, down on the roadway at North Byron and Oak Orchard roads. National Grid has been contacted, unknown ETA.

UPDATE 4:08 p.m.: The roadway is clear. The roads are reopened. The Elba assignment is back in service.

Sunday, November 17, 2013 at 1:56 pm

After 26 years, 587 wins, 10 sectional titles and one state championship, Tom Nowak honored at retirement party

post by Howard B. Owens in basketball, elba, football, high school sports, sports

In a room filled with friends, fans and supporters last night, former Elba Lady Lancers Head Coach Tom Nowak was all smiles.

"It's really special," Nowak said. "It's a little bit, I don't know, I want to say the word, 'imposing,' because you want to be in the background as a coach. It's difficult when you come out here and you're the person, but it's really nice to see."

Nowak was honored with a retirement party at the Elba Fire Hall that featured a collection of memorabilia and lots of memories from 26 years of serving the community by teaching young people how to compete and win.

In 1977, after two years at Dundee, Nowak joined Elba Central as a history teacher. He also became the varsity football coach and the varsity girls basketball coach.

His football record over 22 years was 130-60-6 with two sectional titles.

Leading the Lady Lancers, Nowak compiled a 457-132 record, eight sectional titles and, most significantly, a state title in 2012.

"Just that one precious one," Nowak said of the state championship. "It was special. We went in 2000 and lost in the finals. I always thought I'd never get a chance to go back and I got a chance to go back and the girls came through."

Teaching and coaching in Elba was a perfect fit, he said.

"I've always considered myself a shallow person," Nowak said. "I like history and I like sports. I first got to be a history teacher at Elba and then I got a chance to coach, so it really worked out well for me."

It takes time and dedication to be a successful varsity coach in any sport, and that means, Nowak acknowledged, that he maybe wasn't home as much as his wife might have liked over the years.

"We're going to do some things for my wife," said Nowak, who retired from teaching in 2009. "She spent so many years staying home on a Friday night watching Dallas and Falcon's Crest while I was out gallivanting around scouting football games. It will be nice to give her the opportunity to do some of the things that maybe we didn't get to do when I was a coach."

With all those wins and all those titles, surely young coaches could learn something from Nowak, and here's his advice:

"Find a mentor," Nowak said. "Find the people who are successes and spend some time and find out why they're successful.You will see something you can incorporate into your own plan. That's something I did. I looked at some role models because as a young coach you really don't know what to do and that was really beneficial to me."

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