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Howard B. Owens's blog

Sunday, November 9, 2008 at 10:00 pm

FAQ and Help for The Batavian

post by Howard B. Owens in help, thebatavian

The following links are designed to help you better understand how things work on The Batavian.

 

Wednesday, October 22, 2014 at 8:11 am

Law and Order: Batavia man accused of cashing forged checks

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, crime

Benjamin J. Bullard, 27, of Franklin Street, Batavia, is charged with possession of a forged instrument 2nd and grand larceny 4th. Bullard is accused of cashing forged checks at Five Start Bank. He was jailed on $5,000 bail or $10,000 bond.

Sarah E. Hughes, 22, of Oak Street, Batavia, is charged with harassment 2nd.  Hughes is accused of threatening another person who was walking down Walnut Street at 2:40 p.m., Monday.

Katherine Schaeffer Thomas, 41, of Ross Street, Batavia, is charged with unnecessary noise. Thomas is accused of playing music loud enough to disturb her neighbors at 12:12 a.m., Friday.

Kimberly M. Douglas, 32, of Hutchins Street, Batavia, is charged with public appearance under the influence of drugs and endangering the welfare of a child. Douglas was allegedly under the influence of Suboxone while with her children at a public place at 5:22 a.m., Saturday.

Samuel F. Russo, 33, of Pearl Street, Batavia, is charged with endangering the welfare of a child. Russo turned himself in following an alleged domestic incident at 2:31 a.m., Saturday.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014 at 8:01 am

Arrest made in case of stolen calves

post by Howard B. Owens in crime, Le Roy, Stafford
Janet Knauss

A former Le Roy resident has been charged with four counts of burglary and one count of grand larceny for allegedly stealing calves from local farms.

Janet M. Knauss, 49, of Caledonia, is accused of stealing 16 calves during four separate burglaries in July.

The calves were valued at $3,164.

Investigators contend that Knauss stole the calves and raised the calves and other livestock at a location in the Town of Stafford.  

Four calves were reportedly recovered at that location and returned to the owner. The other calves were allegedly sold at auction and not recovered.

Following her arrest and arraignment, Knauss was released under supervision of Genesee Justice.

Conducting the investigation were Investigator Timothy Weis and deputies Brad Mazur, Howard Carlson, John Duyssen and Chad Minuto.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014 at 7:17 pm

Former Corfu clerk who stole $10K in court funds close to dismissal of conviction

post by Howard B. Owens in corfu, crime

After a year on probation that a prosecutor described as "stellar," a former Corfu court clerk who admitted to stealing more than $10,000 in court funds has another year of good behavior and substance abuse rehab to complete before her criminal record is wiped clean.

A year ago, Brandi Watts entered a guilty plea to one of the 64 counts on a grand jury indictment -- first-degree tampering with public records -- and was placed on interim probation with the understanding that if she made restitution, got help with substance abuse, and stayed out of trouble, she could have the felony charge reduced to a misdemeanor.

Then, if she did well for another year -- the year coming up -- she could have that charge dismissed under what's known as a conditional discharge.

"Everything we've heard from the probation department indicates a stellar probation report, so we came back today and she was given the benefit of the bargain that she negotiated back last October," said Eric Schiener, an assistant district attorney in Wyoming County, who was filling in for Donald O'Geen, the special prosecutor in the case.

Schiener spoke with reporters following a short hearing in County Court, where neither Watts nor her attorneys made a statement. One of her three attorneys told reporters the legal team had no comment on the case.

Watts should have completed a rehab program through Horizon, Noonan said, but through no fault of Watts, she never got into the program and is now slated to complete a program with GCASA. As a requirement of her conditional discharge, Watts must successfully complete the GCASA program. She must also refrain from using illegal or unauthorized drugs and not break the law.

She's already made restitution. 

The theft of court funds came to light in a state comptroller's audit and was a significant event in more than 24 months of turmoil in Village of Corfu government, which eventually led to the resignation of Mayor Ralph Peterson.

Watts is the daughter of Robert Alexander, who was a village judge while Watts was court clerk. Alexander was charged with official misconduct and coercion. Those charged were dropped as part of the plea agreement with Watts, and Alexander had to resign as Town of Pembroke justice (he was already out of office in Corfu).

Noonan said Watts appeared to be on the right course, but told her, "I certainly hope you have learned your lesson from this event. You took a responsible job and totally abrogated your responsibility in that job, lost that job and created a lot of havoc in a lot of people's lives."

From the special prosecutor's point of view, Schiener said the disposition of the case is an appropriate outcome:

"It was a negotiated plea bargain agreement. Given the facts of the case, the facts and circumstances of the crime, the goals of the criminal justice system were all met here. Someone who obviously had a substance problem that may have been the primary factor in her commission of crime, she's addressed it. She did well on probation for a year, so she's receiving the benefit of that bargain."

Tuesday, October 21, 2014 at 6:04 pm

Thieves steal hundreds of bronze markers from the graves of veterans in Byron-Bergen area

post by Howard B. Owens in bergen, byron, crime, veterans

The way Jim Neider sees it, stealing markers from the graves of men and women who served their country through military service is "as low as you can go."

Neider was reacting to news that more than 400 bronze markers -- perhaps many more -- have been stolen from the graves in at least a half-dozen cemeteries in the Byron-Bergen area.

The case is being investigated by both the State Police and the Sheriff's Office.

The markers are placed by families and veterans service organizations and, in many cases, were pushed into the turf beside the headstone of a veteran decades ago.

The markers are designed as flag holders and include a bronze medallion designating a veterans group, such as the American Legion or Veterans of Foreign Wars. The medallion typically weighs about a pound and the current replacement value is $32 each.

"They're very expensive," said Nieder, a local veterans leader. "I do discourage people now from getting them because they do have a tendency to walk."

Nieder said since the 1990s, veterans and families have been more likely to buy aluminum markers, which have no scrap metal value to speak of, or less commonly, plastic.

Whoever is involved in the theft of the markers is facing a charge of grand larceny, said Trooper Victor Morales, public information officer for Troop A.

Nieder pointed out that there is a law now on the books that covers both the sale and purchase of markers used on the graves of veterans. Section 450-A of the state's general business law says "it shall be unlawful for any person, firm, association or corporation to engage in the buying or selling of metal cemetery markers and flag holders bearing the insignia of any veterans' organization placed upon the graves of veterans."

Each violation of the law is punishable by a $500 fine or 15 days in jail or both.

Morales said the State Police are investigating the left of markers in four cemeteries in the Byron-Bergen area. More than 400 markers were stolen from these cemeteries. The Sheriff's Office is investigating thefts from other cemeteries, but Morales didn't know how many other cemeteries or how many additional markers were stolen from those locations.

We've been unable to contact the investigator with the Sheriff's Office handling the case.

The disappearance of the flag holders was discovered over the weekend. It's unknown when they might have been taken.

When asked for his reaction to the thefts, Neider said his first thought wouldn't be publishable. He said this isn't like stealing something from somebody's front lawn. The thieves are going into graveyards and stealing from those who unselfishly served and are dead and buried and unable to defend themselves. 

"It's the ultimate slap in the face to these veterans and their families," Neider said. "They earned these markers by their service. It's akin to the problem in Batavia earlier this summer of people going in and desecrating headstones. It's almost beyond that because these markers are earned by these veterans, and it's a cemetary for crying out loud. ... It's pretty low. As low as you can go."

Anyone with knowledge of the whereabouts of these items, or, who may have information on the larcenies is asked to contact the State Police in Batavia at (585) 344-6200 or the Genesee County Sheriff's Office (585) 343-5000.

UPDATE 7:40 p.m.: We just spoke with Tom Williams, with the American Legion in Bergen. He said local Legion leaders are trying to figure out what to do. It would cost $16,000 to replace all of the markers. 

"That's a lot of money," Williams said. "You know how hard that is to come by."

He doesn't have a count on how many total markers were stolen. There's still an inventory taking place of all the graveyards in the Byron-Bergen region.

Among the more than 400 known to be stolen was the one that marked his father's grave, said Williams, who served in the Seabees from 1963 to 1966.

He doesn't think much of the perpetrators who lifted the markers of America's heroes.

"Those are people who made sure we were kept free," Williams said. "They did their job. They left their homes, their families. I did that, the same as my dad. It's just the idea that whoever did this is a real son of a bitch. It just bothers me. Why would they come here? Why would they do that? There are people who are nuts. They don't understand. They have no clue."

Photo: For the purpose of illustration, a picture of a marker in a local cemetery. If you see these, made of bronze, and they're not in a cemetery, contact local law enforcement.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014 at 5:00 pm

Collins honored by Farm Bureau for effort to ditch new EPA waterway rule

post by Howard B. Owens in agriculture, chris collins, EPA, NY-27

Rep. Chris Collins was honored today by the American Farm Bureau for his efforts on behalf of the agriculture community, not only in Genesee County and New York, but throughout the United States.

Collins spearheaded an effort to get the EPA to back off waterway rule changes that farmers -- and others -- say will drive up the cost of business, if not put them out of business.

It's a top legislative priority of the Farm Bureau, said New York bureau President Dean Norton, to convince the EPA to "ditch the rule," which he says would change the definition of navigable waterways to include small ditches and puddles, which are common on farms.

Norton presented Collins with an award from the Farm Bureau at a gathering at Post Farms in Elba.

Jeff Post thanked Collins for taking up the cause.

"If you look across the back of our farm, which we've been farming for 100 years, we have a lot of ground that would fall into the rule to be permitted," Post said. "It would have a large impact on a small producer like us."

At the urging of Norton, Collins took up the cause with the goal of getting 100 members of Congress to sign a letter urging the EPA to ditch the rule. Collins had 100 signers in a week. In another week, Norton said, he had 200. Eventually, 240 members of Congress, Republicans and Democrats signed the letter.

"This goes to show you just how flawed the rule is," Norton said. "Then when you have other organizations like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce coming out and saying, 'ditch the rule,' and when you have the small business administration telling their partner agency, 'you need to rewrite this thing, it's really flawed,' it tells you it is flawed."

Collins also said the fact the letter would garner such bipartisan support shows how seriously off track the EPA has gotten on the proposed rule change.

"I was able to get majority of Congress, which is very hard to do today, Republicans and Democrats alike, over 240 members, to send a letter to the administrator to the EPA asking, demanding, that they withdraw the rule and start over," Collins said. "There was too much ambiguity, too much worry in a rule that was out for comment."

In a hearing, Collins said, a deputy at the EPA "effectively admitted" that the proposed rule is flawed. The official said the comment period, which has been extended again, to Nov. 15, is designed to give the EPA information to fix any flaws in the rule.

"They said, we can fix it after the comments are done," Collins said. "My comment to them was, 'we don't trust you. No one trusts you. The public doesn't trust you. Farmers don't trust you. Congress doesn't trust you not to overreach yet again.' "

Collins, left, Post and Norton.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014 at 1:50 pm

Incoming medical director briefs first responders on Ebola protocols

Every fire department in Genesee County was represented at a mandatory briefing Monday evening by Dr. Sara Connolly, the incoming medical director for the county.

Connolly briefed the chiefs and department representatives on protocols for dealing with Ebola patients.

It's a long shot that there will ever be a person carrying the Ebola virus in Genesee County, but county and state officials agree it's better to be prepared, trained at thinking ahead than to be caught off guard.

Such briefings are mandated for all first responders by the NYS Department of Health.

Connolly said she addressed triage and isolation issues and answered questions. EMS responders are instructed to ask patients at emergency scenes if they've traveled to West Africa within the previous 30 days. 

If the answer is yes, then first responders need to find out if the patient has had any of the symptoms of Ebola, such as high fever, diarrhea or vomiting. If yes, then the patient needs to be isolated as quickly as possible and the first responders need to avoid further contact with the patient.

Some misunderstandings were cleared up during the Q&A session at the end of the talk, Connolly said. For example, not everybody who gets Ebola dies, and we don't even have any idea how lethal, or not, it would be in the U.S. since there's been only one case of a person in this country who has died from it.

"We don't know what it's mortality rate would be in this country, with a good sanitation system and developed healthcare system," Connolly said.

Connolly is not yet officially the new county health director. That appointment could be finalized as soon as today.  

She is a physician at UMMC and specializes in emergency department medicine. She's a graduate of Princeton University with a medical degree from the University at Buffalo.

Every county is required to have at least one medical director, accounting to Emergency Management Coordinator Tim Yaeger, who overseas emergency response medical personnel. The position is responsible for training and ensuring that policies and protocols from the Department of Health are implemented and properly followed.

The director works closely with the Emergency Management Office and the county's Department of Health.

The Ebola briefing was required by the state, but Yaeger said it is a wise thing to ensure all emergency responders are prepared to deal with an Ebola patient, no matter how remote the possibility.

"We want to be prepared," Yaeger said. "Hopefully, nothing occurs here, but if it does, we want the public to know that we are prepared and ready to respond, and primarily to make sure those first responders are safe."

Tuesday, October 21, 2014 at 9:55 am

Vehicle reportedly stolen in Stafford

post by Howard B. Owens in crime, Stafford

Troopers are investigating the report of a vehicle stolen from a location on West Main Road, Stafford.

No further information available at this time.

Monday, October 20, 2014 at 3:55 pm

Law and Order: Darien resident accused of not turning in lost wallet at Walmart

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, crime, Darien, Oakfield

Stephen Douglas Urban, 37, of Walkers Road, Darien, is charged with grand larceny, 4th. Walker is accused of picking up a wallet that contained two debit cards from the floor of Walmart that was dropped by another shopper. Rather than turn the wallet in to customer service, Urban allegedly searched through the wallet and discarded it, rendering it unrecoverable by the wallet's owner.

Luis Ortiz, 42, of Batavia, is charged with DWI, driving with a BAC of .08 or greater. Ortiz was stopped for allegedly speeding on Southwestern Boulevard, West Seneca, by State Police as part of a DWI detail in conjunction with the Buffalo Bills game on Sunday.

Coretta Pitts

Coretta M. Pitts, 46, of Batavia, is charged with acting in a manner injurious to a child less than 17 years old; endangering the welfare of a child; and criminal possession of a controlled substance, 7th. Pitts was arrested by State Police as a result of an investigation into an alleged domestic incident involving a 13-year-old child. In the course of the investigation, troopers allegedly found two glass pipes containing cocaine residue. Pitts was jailed on $1,000 bail or $2,000 bond.

Harold Chinn, 49, of North Main Street, Oakfield, is charged with petit larceny. Chinn is accused of taking the mobile phone of another customer at Walmart after the customer left the phone behind on a counter top at checkout. 

Jennifer Lynn Sprague-Clark, 31, of Vine Street, Batavia, is charged with assault, 2nd, criminal possession of a weapon, 3rd, and menacing, 2nd. Sprague-Clark was arrested by Niagara Falls PD on a warrant for alleged failure to appear on the listed charges. Sprague-Clark was jailed pending arraignment.

Joseph Michael Marranco, 43, of Walnut Street, Batavia, is charged with petit larceny. Marranco is accused of shoplifting $209.96 worth of merchandise from Kmart.

Michele Antonia Martinez, 45, of Applegate Drive, Medina, is charged with petit larceny. Martinez is accused of shoplifting at Kmart.

Andrea Marie Gray, 36, of South Main Street, Batavia, is charged with two counts of criminal contempt and resisting arrest. Gray allegedly used profanity and became combative while being escorted from Batavia City Court. While being arrested, she was allegedly combative and had to be restrained.

Monday, October 20, 2014 at 2:34 pm

UMMC honors long-time employees at annual dinner

post by Howard B. Owens in announcements, business, UMMC

Press release:

United Memorial Medical Center honored the years of service of more than 70 employees at its annual recognition dinner on October 1st, at Terry Hills Restaurant in Batavia. Employees were recognized for their years of employment at 5-year milestones.

Shirlene Edwards CNA, 2nd Floor Medical/Telemetry Unit; Anna Green RNFA, Surgery; and Patricia Young, Medical Records achieved the 45 year milestone. Patricia Cable RN, Health Educator with Healthy Living was honored for 40 years of dedicated service. Celebrating 35 years were Christine Hall RN, Pre/Post Surgery; Gwendolyn Seweryniak RN, Surgery; Joann Matla and Harold Mitchell of the Laboratory Department.

Honored for 30 years of service included Thomas Finn, RN Quality Assurance; Kathleen Heywood RN, 2nd Floor Medical/Telemetry Unit; Kathleen Porter RN, Pre/Post Surgery; and Deborah Taylor RN, Emergency Department

Achieving 25 years were Darcia Barone CNA, and Stacy Culver Pre/Post Surgery; Rosanna Butler RN, 3rd Floor Medical/Surgical Unit; Laurel Carney and Darla Dawson-Decker of Radiology; Mary Ells, Switchboard; Sheri Ferris and Renee Long from Food Service, Jean Hutchinson, Medical Records; and Marylou Townsend RN, Hope Haven.

Those celebrating 20 years of service include Patricia Brunner, Food Service; Sonja Gonyea, Human Resources; Michelle Maniace NP, Corporate Health; Lori Schultz, Patient Accounting; Kathlyn Williams, Hope Haven; Charyl Wood, Radiology; and Diane Ziemba RN, 2nd Floor Medical/Telemetry Unit.

There were 50 employees who received recognition for 5, 10 and 15 years of service. Each employee received dinner for themselves and a guest, flowers and a gift certificate. Employees with 25 years or more of service were honored individually by their manager and senior leader with a presentation highlighting their contributions.

United Memorial is the largest private employer in Genesee County with approximately 800 employees and an annual payroll and benefit expenditure that exceeded $43.5 million in 2013.

Monday, October 20, 2014 at 2:27 pm

STOP-DWI announces DWI enforcement detail for Halloween

post by Howard B. Owens in STOP-DWI

Press release:

Genesee County STOP-DWI coordinator Matt Landers announced today that the Genesee County Sheriff’s Department, City of Batavia Police Department and Village of Le Roy Police Department will participate in a special enforcement effort to crackdown on impaired driving.

While we spend Halloween trick-or-treating and hosting parties with our loved ones, law enforcement officers across New York State will take to the roads in an effort to stop impaired driving, prevent injuries and save lives. The statewide STOP-DWI Crackdown efforts start on Oct. 31st and will end on Nov. 2nd. New York State Police, county Sheriff and municipal law enforcement agencies across the state will be out in force.

Research shows that high-visibility enforcement can reduce drunk-driving fatalities by as much as 20 percent. Sobriety checkpoints play a key part in raising awareness about the problem. Undersheriff Sheron is a believer when it comes to the positive effect extra patrols have on holiday weekend safety.

“Holidays are a time of relaxation and celebration," Sheron said. "Part of our job is to make sure that the celebration doesn’t spill over onto our highways. DWI continues to be a leading cause of accidents, injury and death. For this reason, we will have extra patrols out on and around Halloween.”   

The STOP-DWI Halloween Weekend Crackdown is one of many statewide enforcement initiatives promoted by the New York State STOP-DWI Association. Throughout the remainder of the year the Statewide STOP-DWI Crackdown Campaign will also target the national Holiday Season in December.

While STOP-DWI efforts across New York have led to significant reductions in the numbers of alcohol- and drug-related fatalities, still too many lives are being lost because of crashes caused by drunk or impaired drivers. It is significant to note that in 2012, 19 percent of the fatal pedestrian crashes on Halloween involved drunk drivers. Stay safe this Halloween, don't drink and drive -- get a ride. Highly visible, highly publicized efforts like the STOP-DWI Crackdown Campaign aim to further reduce the incidence of drunk and impaired driving.  Have a safe and happy Halloween Weekend!

Monday, October 20, 2014 at 1:29 pm

Batavia woman, partner, accused of $200K heist in Greece

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, crime
Jessica Moscicki
Greece PD photo

A 24-year-old woman from Batavia is facing federal charges following an investigation into a robbery in Greece earlier this month where the suspects got off with more than $200,000 in cash, diamonds and luxury watches.

Jessica Jane Moscicki is charged with possession and brandishing of a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence, obstructing commerce by robbery and aiding and abetting a federal offense. She faces from seven years to life in prison, if convicted, under federal sentencing guidelines.

Also arrested was Clarence Lambert, 22, residence unknown. He is charged with obstructing commerce by robbery, and possessing and brandishing a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence. 

The duo is accused of going to a jeweler's location in Greece and using a firearm to steal more than $200,000 in cash, diamonds, and luxury watches.

The victims were allegedly pistol whipped and locked in a closet.

Moscicki was picked up by federal authorities following a period of police surveillance. She was pulled over while driving on Niagara Falls Boulevard in Amherst. 

According to investigators, Moscicki went the jeweler's place five days prior to the robbery and asked for a person unknown to the victim. 

Lambert allegedly tried to sell a stolen Rolex watch at a pawn shop in Rochester on Oct. 14, and Moscicki was reportedly with him at the time. 

Rochester Police responded to the pawn shop and attempted to apprehend Lambert, who allegedly fled on foot. He was located later hiding in a box in a garage on Frankfurt Street and was later identified by the jeweler as one of the alleged robbers.

When she left the pawn shop, Moscicki was reportedly driving the same vehicle she was in when stopped in Amherst. 

Both Moscicki and Lambert are being held by federal authorities without bail. 

Monday, October 20, 2014 at 12:47 pm

Lost beagle found in Byron

post by Howard B. Owens in animals, byron, pets

Bobbie Jo M. Klycek found this beagle wandering in her backyard this morning. She lives on Lymon Road, Byron. She left a message with the animal shelter, but took the dog to work with her this morning (she works in Batavia). If this is your beagle, call her at (585) 507-5656.

UPDATE: It appears the owner has been located.

Monday, October 20, 2014 at 11:28 am

City firefighters and Mercy medics arrive at Batavia home just in time to deliver baby

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia

Press release:

SPECIAL DELIVERY: On Thursday October 16th at 1:56 p.m. City of Batavia Firefighters were dispatched to a woman in labor. Firefighters Marinaccio and Gowanlock arrived with Mercy EMS Paramedic Cieri and EMT Alwardt at 1:57pm. Once inside the residence it became clear they were not going to make it to the hospital in time and were able to successfully deliver a baby boy. Dispatchers and others listening to the radio were able to hear the baby crying in the background as firefighter Gowanlock asked Genesee County Emergency Dispatchers to mark the time of birth: 2:03pm. Please join us in congratulating both crews on a job well done.

Monday, October 20, 2014 at 11:20 am

Sign-ups announced for Junior Blue Devils hoops program

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Batavia Junior Blue Devils, sports, youth sports

The Batavia Junior Blue Devils Boys Basketball program, for grades one through six in City Schools, opens Nov. 8.

The Saturday programs at John Kennedy School are free, though there is a fee for league play.

The program is coached by Jim Fazio, youth coaches, and current Blue Devils varsity players. It will focus on offensive fundamentals, including shooting, passing, dribbling and ball handling. There will be contests with full and half-court games. 

Participants will have the option to join league play, which runs January through March.

For more information, contact Jim Fazio at (585) 356-0901 or [email protected].

Download: Sign-up form (pdf)

Monday, October 20, 2014 at 11:02 am

Hydrant flushing announced for Wednesday, south of East Main Street

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia

Press release:

The City of Batavia Fire Department will be flushing fire hydrants on Wednesday, Oct. 22, from approximately 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the general area south of East Main Street and east of Jackson Street. Homes and businesses nearby will be affected. These tests may result in a temporary discoloration of water in that area. As in the past, please do not attempt to wash any clothing if your water appears discolored.

Monday, October 20, 2014 at 10:26 am

Raffaele Ponti announces this is his final season as conductor of GSO

post by Howard B. Owens in arts, batavia, Genesee Symphony Orchestra, music

Conductor Raffaele Ponti, who has been the musical director of the Genessee Symphony Orchestra for 15 years, announced yesterday prior to the start of the season-opening concert, that this will be his final season with the GSO.

Ponti recently relocated from Rochester to Florida as his career continues to advance.

The GSO board will announce soon plans for hiring a new conductor, its 14th in its 67-year history.

Above, Ponti with GSO Board Chairman Paul Saskowski.

Below, some photos from yesterday's performance at St. James Episcopal Church, Batavia.

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