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Howard B. Owens's blog

Thursday, August 28, 2014 at 8:09 am

Pedestrian reportedly hit by car in parking lot of Coffee Culture

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, accident

A pedestrian has reportedly been hit by a car in the parking lot of Coffee Culture, off Court Street.

City fire and Mercy EMS responding.

UPDATE 8:19 a.m.: The patient is being transported to UMMC. Bumps and bruises and right shoulder pain. The car was traveling at low speed.

Thursday, August 28, 2014 at 12:40 am

Football Preview: Lancers, a year older and a year hungrier

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

It's hard to find a high school football coach who will predict a winning season during an August practice session, and Elba/Byron-Bergen Head Coach Michael Cintorino is no exception.

But clearly, he has a lot to be excited about.

He's got a starting QB coming into his second year leading the varsity squad who's gotten bigger and stronger in the off season and put in the hard work to improve his skills.

He has two proven veterans to run the ball, and both his offensive and defensive lines are stocked with second- and third-year players.

Last year's 3-5 season was merely a chance to grow and learn for this group of players.

"This year, they're a year old, a year hungrier and they've been extremely competitive in practice and looking forward to the start of the season," Cintorino said.

The offense will be led by Garrett Chapell, who was shaky at times last year, but Cintorino said he's playing now with a whole new level of confidence.

"He looks fantastic this year, Cintorino said. "He put in a ton of work in the off season."

He'll have three first-year receivers, but Cintorino said they look like real weapons for Chapell so far.

The backfield will be bolstered with the experience of Steele Truax and Mike Shanley, who both proved last year they can run for positive yards and put points on the board.

So will this all add up into Ws for the Lancers, maybe a nice post-season run.

Cintorino dosn't want to go that far. Not yet.

"It's tough to say (how good the team will be)," Cintorino said. "Everyone else is probably saying the same things that we are right now, so we have to see what the league is going to look like once the season actually kicks off. Our goal is obviously to compete for a league championship and make it to sectionals and compete in the Class C sectionals, but there are a lot of good teams putting in the same work we are, so we have to wait and see until we get started."

Thursday, August 28, 2014 at 12:01 am

Football Preview: Young players already experienced in winning move into key roles at Notre Dame

post by Howard B. Owens in football, high school sports, Notre Dame, sports

 

With each turn of a new generation of football players at Norte Dame, Head Coach Rick Mancuso usually finds a way to mold the young players into a winning unit.

Mancuso, of course, stops short of making any predictions for the Fighting Irish in 2014, but he does say he has a good group of young men who have been working hard and putting in the time to get ready for another season.

"Last year, our JV team had a successful season, so they're coming in and they had a lot of experience last year towards the end," Mancuso said. "We pulled up some kids for sections who got some playing time, which is a big advantage for them. Hopefully, we can keep them motivated and learning every day."

The offense will now be in the hands of junior Connor Logsdon, who led that JV squad last year to its undefeated season.

He steps into the shoes of record-setting QB Tim McCulley, but Mancuso said Logsdon is now his own man with his own offense to run.

"We're not asking him to fill anybody's shoes," Mancuso said. "We're asking him to execute the offense and do what he can do. Everybody's got to do their 1/11th."

Not much about the offensive scheme will change from recent seasons. Notre Dame will run and it will pass and work at setting up scoring opportunities.

"Unless you've got all the horses up front, you can't run the offense one way or the other," Mancuso said. "We're going to mix it up. We'll pretty much run the offense we've been running right along. We won't be spread as much as we were. We'll be spread sometimes, but we've got the full confidence in this team being able to execute what we put in."

The Irish are coming off a 6-2 season that ended jarringly with a 28-0 loss to Alexander in the first round of Class D sectional play. 

Notre Dame opens the season at home against Oakfield-Alabama on Sept. 6 at 1:30 p.m.

"We've got a great group of guys," Mancuso said. "I think everybody is going to do their best to make the team successful."

Wednesday, August 27, 2014 at 10:57 pm

Photos: Bulldawgs and Blue Devils scrimmage at Van Detta

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Bulldawgs, football, sports

The Batavia Bulldawgs and the Batavia Blue Devils met in a scrimmage this evening at Van Detta Stadium.

Who won?

Who cares. The Mini-Division (8-9 years old) Bulldawgs were clearly thrilled to be on Woodward Field and get a pre-game pep talk in the Blue Devils' locker room from Batavia Head Coach Brennan Briggs.

Briggs told his team that he heard the Bulldawgs defense hadn't given up a score yet this season, so the Blue Devils offense might have a tough time of it.

In the first series, the Bulldawgs stopped running back Dominick Mogavero behind the line of scrimmage and sacked QB Greg Mruczek.

On the first play, the Blue Devils linemen didn't block. Rather they grabbed each of the Bulldawgs in front of them and lifted them in the air over their heads. Above, offensive lineman Gunner Rapone lifts an obviously thrilled Nathaniel Heusinger.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014 at 10:30 pm

Photo: Fishing the Tonawanda behind the courthouse

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, outdoors

When I left the County Courthouse this afternoon, I spotted a family fishing below the falls of the Tonawanda Creek. Above, Zachary Albright, 11, of Albion, gets ready to recast his lure into the creek.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014 at 6:59 pm

Photos: Today in Genesee County

post by Howard B. Owens in BARNS, genesee county, Le Roy, photos, Stafford

The morning in Batavia started out kind of gloomy, but by the afternoon, the skies had cleared a bit and it was another beautiful day in Genesee County.

Above, a tree and barn off Selden Road, Le Roy.

A barn on Thwing Road, Stafford.

The view from Clinton Street Road, Stafford.

And below, three shots of Richard Oderkirk's sunflowers in Stafford.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014 at 6:49 pm

City has seven fire hydrants awaiting replacement

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, City Fire

If you've noticed some fire hydrants bagged with "not in service" messages in the city, Fire Chief Jim Maxwell said it's not something local residents need to be overly concerned about.

"Hydrants are spaced not to exceed a maximum of 500 feet," Maxwell said. "This allows for a fire hydrant to be readily accessible in either direction in the event of an emergency."

Currently, of the 746 hydrants in the city, seven are currently out of service.

Maxwell explained that hydrants are mechanical devices, which means they are subject to breakdowns.

Firefighters regularly test hydrants to ensure they are working properly. If they're not working, the bags being used help firefighters quickly identify an out-of-service hydrant during an emergency so they can quickly locate another one to use.

Of the seven hydrants out of service, one has been out of service since 2011, one since 2012, three since 2013, and two were taken out of service this year.

Out-of-service hydrants need to be replaced with new equipment. Each hydrant costs $2,200.

City workers, from the Bureau of Water and Wastewater, do the replacement work on a time-available basis.

The hydrants could be replaced more quickly if a contractor was hired, Maxwell said, but that drives the cost up to $7,500 per hydrant.

Waiting for available time for city workers to do the work will save taxpayers about $37,100 to replace the current out-of-service hydrants, Maxwell said.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014 at 5:33 pm

Thruway Authority warns of possible traffic slowdowns on portion of I-90 locally

post by Howard B. Owens in thruway

Press release:

The New York State Thruway Authority has announced that emergency repairs to the Wheatland Center Road overhead bridge on I-90 westbound between exit 46 (I-390) and exit 47 (Leroy) are under way.

Thruway maintenance crews began work early this morning and will continue through early Wednesday afternoon, then resume work late Wednesday evening after rush hour in order to complete the work before the Labor Day Holiday weekend work restriction period begins.

Motorists traveling westbound on I-90 should be prepared for possible slow moving or stopped traffic.

The Thruway Authority appreciates motorists’ patience during this emergency work.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014 at 5:29 pm

Hawley earns perfect legislative score from NFIB

post by Howard B. Owens in steve hawley

Press release:

Assemblyman Steve Hawley (R,C,I-Batavia) recently received a perfect score on his voting record from the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB), a group that advocates for policies that help businesses grow and create jobs.

This is Hawley’s second perfect score from a business advocacy group, having received a perfect score from Unshackle Upstate last week. Hawley is thankful for the group’s support and promises to continue working with them to create more job opportunities for Western New Yorkers.

“I have dedicated my service in the Assembly to advocate for policies that help local small businesses and middle-class families thrive right here in Western New York,” Hawley said. “It’s good to have the partnership of groups like the NFIB that share my passion for this goal. We will continue working together to create a business climate that enables people to work in well-paying jobs.”

Wednesday, August 27, 2014 at 5:26 pm

Noonan considering speedy trial motion in Dashawn Butler case

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, crime

A Batavia police officer testified today that there was an extended effort to locate Dashawn Butler after a warrant was issued for his arrest in October 2013.

Butler's defense attorney asked questions and got answers that could suggest the police didn't do all they could.

Today's hearing was on a motion by attorney Tom Burns to have the felony charges against his client thrown out on "speedy trial" grounds.

Every defendant has a Constitutional right to a speedy trial. The clock starts ticking if the police are doing all in their power to locate the suspect. If they are making every effort, then the clock for a speedy trial starts at the time of arrest, rather than when the warrant was issued.

The warrant for Butler was issued in October, but he wasn't located and arrested until June.

Butler is charged with criminal use of a firearm, 2nd, a Class C violent felony, criminal possession of a weapon, 2nd, a Class C violent felony, and attempted assault, 1st, also a Class C violent felony.  He's also accused of firing a weapon at another person Sept. 27 on State Street.

Sgt. Dan Coffey said that after the warrant was issued, police officers checked at least six possible addresses for Butler and looking for Butler was a frequent topic of shift-change meetings.

On cross-examination, Coffey said he had never personally been to the address where Butler was eventually located, though he said BPD had that address under observation for some time. He said he had not contacted State Police to see if troopers had any idea about Butler's whereabouts, and he did not seek utility records in an attempt to track down an address for Butler. He said he did contact Social Services to see if that agency had an address for Butler, but DSS did not.  

BPD also monitored a social media account reportedly belonging to Butler.

Coffey also provided a series of e-mail exchanges as possible evidence of BPD's efforts to locate Butler.

Burns objected to introducing the e-mails as evidence under the hearsay rules.  

Friedman argued that in a hearing such as this, the hearsay rules didn't apply, but even if they did, the e-mails weren't hearsay because they weren't being used as proof of the crimes charged.

Burns cited two prior rulings that found such e-mails were hearsay and that the prosecution has an obligation to call as witnesses the other police officers involved in the exchange.

Judge Robert C. Noonan said he has never read those cases before, so he called for an adjournment to read the cases and consider Burns' motion.

Whether the hearing will continue at a later date will depend on how Noonan rules on the motion.

Butler remains free on bail. There is no trial date set yet.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014 at 2:37 pm

Photo: Route 5 repaving in Le Roy

post by Howard B. Owens in Le Roy

Contractors are continuing work today on the repaving of Route 5 through the Village of Le Roy, creating a bit of a traffic snarl.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014 at 8:30 am

Law and Order: Driver accused of possessing marijuana following accident in Le Roy

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

Gina Lee Colangelo, 22, of Main Street, Caledonia, is charged with unlawful possession of marijuana and failure to keep right. Colangelo was allegedly the driver in an accident where her vehicle failed to remain in its own lane. Colangelo's vehicle was reportedly westbound on West Main Road, Le Roy, at 9:07 p.m. June 17 when it collided with a vehicle in the eastbound lane. In the course of the accident investigation, Deputy Joseph Graff allegedly found marijauna in Colangelo's vehicle.

Eric Joseph Smith, 29, of Gilbert Street, Le Roy, is charged with petit larceny. Smith is accused of stealing $107 in merchandise from Walmart.

A 16-year-old resident of Parsells Avenue, Rochester, is charged with petit larceny. The youth is accused of shoplifting from Walmart.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014 at 11:30 pm

Serviceman returns from Middle East to big hometown welcome in Le Roy

post by Howard B. Owens in Le Roy

Le Roy resident Mike Risewick, returning from his second deployment to the Middle East, got a grand welcome home tonight, including a shuttle pick-up with friends and family at the Rochester Airport courtesy S&S Limousine. The Le Roy Fire Department provided a lights and siren escort from the I-490 into the village.

It's the kind of welcome, Risewick noted, that only happens in a small town. And only in a small town do friends and neighbors look out for the families of men and women deployed overseas.

"It's incredible," Risewick said of the welcome. "I certainly didn't expect it. It's easy for me to go do this, but all the time in the back of your mind, you're always worried about how the family back home is making out. Le Roy, the town, has just been great. The friends, all the carpooling rides, everybody coming together to make sure my wife and kids were taken care of. I couldn't ask for any more than that."

Risewick, who is with Bravo Company 6442 ASB (helicopter maintenance) has been in the military for 32 years, including three years active duty and the rest of the time attached to the National Guard. He was previously deployed to Iraq. This latest deployment -- which started in October with a trip to Ft. Hood in Killeen, Texas -- was to Kuwait.

Risewick with wife Linda and sons Eric and Adam.

Sign outside Spirit's on Lake Street this evening.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014 at 6:15 pm

Frost Ridge case attorneys wrangle with witnesses over what they knew and when they knew it

post by Howard B. Owens in business, frost ride, Le Roy, zoning

Marney Cleere, one of the co-plaintiffs in the pair of lawsuits filed against Frost Ridge over alleged zoning violations and live music at the venue, spent a lot of time on the witness stand today.

Cleere was called to testify in a hearing aimed at establishing when the statute of limitations' clock started ticking on a Le Roy Zoning of Board of Appeals determination that all activities at Frost Ridge are "grandfathered in," and whether that ZBA determination was made properly.

David Roach, the attorney Frost Ridge, and the campground's owners, Greg and David Luetticke-Archbell, called Cleere to try and establish what the Oatka Trails Road resident knew about the Sept. 25 ZBA decision and the day she knew it.

If she knew about it before April 8, it could mean there is evidence to establish that her and her co-plaintiffs did not file their complaint in a timely fashion. Depending on how Noonan interprets the law and case law, that could mean at least a portion of their suit against Frost Ridge could be thrown out of court.

Cleere testified today that she received a copy of the minutes from the Sept. 25, 2013 ZBA meeting on March 26, 2014.

Getting that admission from Cleere took dozens and dozens of questions from Roach and attorney Karl Essler, representing the ZBA, which is a co-defendant in the Cleere/Collins lawsuit.

Frost Ridge is also being sued by the Town of Le Roy.

Roach started his questioning by establishing that Cleere had an e-mail address with a username and password that only she could access.

He then showed her an e-mail from Patty Canfield, the Le Roy town clerk, to her e-mail address.  

Cleere never admitted to having previously seen the e-mail, but said she couldn't say that her e-mail account was hacked or that the e-mail could be fraudulent.

Once, when asked by Roach if the e-mail was sent to her, she responded: "It has my e-mail address on it, yes."

The e-mail is from early October.

It appears to have had three attachments (not included with the printed e-mail used as evidence). Those attachments were supposedly the ZBA minutes from June 11, July 23 and Aug. 27.

Roach quoted Canfield as writing, "I believe they will approve Sept. 25. minutes at next meeting."

Asked if the e-mail from Canfield was in response from Cleere for a copy of the Sept. 25 meeting minutes, Cleere said she would have to review her e-mails to answer the question.

She had no recollection of requesting those specific minutes from the town.

Later in her testimony, Cleere said she didn't request them until March because she didn't know that the minutes existed nor that Frost Ridge was discussed at the Sept. 25 ZBA meeting. Her request was prompted by communications with attorneys from both sides of the dispute, according to her testimony.

Asked several times in different ways if she took any action between October and March to obtain a copy of the Sept. 25 meeting minutes, Cleere responded, "I didn't know of that meeting, so what would have caused me to request those minutes?"

She obtained the copy of the Sept. 25 minutes from Code Enforcement Officer Jeff Steinbrenner, who, according to testimony by himself and other prior witnesses, kept all the minutes in a file in his office.

Cleere also testified -- while being questioned by her attorney Mindy Zoghlin -- that she became angry when she learned about the Sept. 25 meeting in March.

"Obviously, we were furious that we weren't made aware of this meeting," Cleere said. "We didn't understand why we weren't made aware of this, why it took six months."

Cleere said the package of material she received from Steinbrenner contained no application from Frost Ridge, no supporting documents and no notice of public hearing.

Part of what Zoghlin is trying to establish is that the ZBA's determination lacked jurisdictional validity. 

If she can show that the ZBA acted outside the scope of the law, the Sept. 25 determination would be meaningless and, potentially, the statute of limitations question becomes moot.

Zoghlin spent a lot of time today questioning David Luetticke-Archbell about his interpretation of communications from the town, what they meant, what he understood and what he believed, all in an effort to draw a distinction between the campsite zoning issues at Frost Ridge and the issue of live music.

Zoghlin argued that the zoning issues and the music issue are completely separate issues. The zoning issues, according to her, require a zoning variance, while the live music issue requires an area variance, a use variance or a special-use permit.  

If the ZBA wasn't considering live music at its Sept. 25 meeting (and Board Chair Debbie Jackett testified clearly that it did), then the ZBA determination is reduced to only a consideration of campsite placement and use.

As Zoghlin repeatedly asked questions to try and get Luetticke-Archbell to discuss these topics as separate issues, often with objections from Roach, the parade of objections eventually flared up, resulting in both attorneys making lengthy arguments to Noonan about why, or why not, the line of questioning was relevant.

"We can't just pull out of thin air the separation of the two issues because the record already states they're one issue," Roach said.

"The record" being a reference to a couple of documents already in evidence, including a letter from Steinbrenner to Frost Ridge that treats live music as just one in many alleged zoning violations.

"The communication that triggered the ZBA hearing didn't come directly from code enforcement (a reference to a supposed copy-and-paste by Steinbrenner of a message from Town Supervisor Steve Barbeau)," Zoghlin said. "That communication, while inartfully drawn, had the effect of mixing up and confusing two issues. ... 

"When we get to the jurisdictional issue," Zoghlin continued a statement or two later, "NYS town law and Town of Le Roy zoning code requires an application so we can avoid this kind of problem, so when the ZBA considers something, they have some type of idea exactly what they are being asked to rule on.

"There's no application here," she said. "To say the documents speak for themselves doesn't really help. To compound the problem, nothing was published anywhere so that anybody in town had any inkling the ZBA might consider a determination. The entire procedure is flawed from beginning to end so that it doesn't determine anything. I don't understand the thought process that says they're not asking for two things that are totally different in a way that makes any sense."

Noonan overruled Roach's objection, but also expressed skepticism about Zoghlin's line of questioning. 

"Maybe I'm missing something," Noonan said. "I realize zoning is a highly technical issue conducted by lay people who sometimes make mistakes in the process, but I don't see how going through the thought process of people gives us any enlightenment that will help me to decide this case when the case is based on documents."

With the hearing completed today, now we wait.

The attorneys will draft memos of facts and case law for Noonan to consider prior to issuing his ruling. Those documents are due Sept. 29. Noonan didn't indicate how long it would be after that before he issues a ruling on these motions.

Without a complete dismissal of the case, there will be more court appearances before the lawsuits are decided.

In the meantime, the Marshall Tucker Band is scheduled to play The Ridge on Sept. 6.

Noonan continued his order lifting the ban on live music at Frost Ridge, which allows the Sept. 6 concert to go forward as planned.

Two shows that were previously postponed because of the restraining order. John Michael Montgomery and Jason Michael Carroll have been rescheduled to dates near the end of October. The fate of those shows may depend on the status of the legal case at that time.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014 at 5:43 pm

Rotary learns about how the National Weather Service in Buffalo works

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Rotary, weather

Jason Franklin, head meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Buffalo, spoke today at the Batavia Rotary Club meeting. He shared information about the technology the NWS uses to help it measure weather and forecast what might be coming.  

Asked how the Weather Channel gets its forecast compared to the NWS, Franklin said, "We work in partnership with them, provide a lot of information to them, like other media, and they provide us information. We work together because our primary mission is to make sure you're safe. To make sure that the companies are getting the information that they need in order for them to do the best that they can. We're all in this together."

Tuesday, August 26, 2014 at 4:45 pm

Lack of posts today

post by Howard B. Owens in thebatavian

Sorry for the slow flow of news on our homepage today.  I was not expecting to be tied up in court just about all day for a Frost Ridge hearing (and it's a pretty good bet, based on his comments, that Judge Noonan wasn't expecting it to take as much time as it did).

So there's a story coming on that, and I have at least one other post to write.

Monday, August 25, 2014 at 7:18 pm

Onion crop looking good for 2014

post by Howard B. Owens in agriculture, mucklands, onions

There's some big onions growing in the muck of Genesee and Orleans counties.

A photographer lining up his focus on a particularly bulbous specimen observes, "I don't remember seeing any onions this big last year."

"I haven't seen onions this big in 15 years," responds Paul Mortellaro, co-owner of Mortellaro Brothers in Elba.

On the one hand, the heavy rains of spring created near optimal growing conditions, especially for the onions that were started as transplants. On the other, heavy rain caused some flooding and damaged portions of some fields.

"You're not going to get 100 percent of your crop on 100 percent of your land, but I haven't seen a crop like this in 10 years," Mortellaro said.

Over the next few weeks, local onion farmers will be reaping that harvest. Already, several hundred acres of onions have been crated and bagged.

Much of the success so far of the onion crop is really the near ideal growing conditions of the middle of summer, where enough rain fell to feed the onions, but cool weather and enough dry days allowed perfect growing conditions.

The muckland farmers still have potential weather problems to worry about before the growing and harvest season is over. Mortellaro recalled one year when a severe hail storm came through and heavily damaged the crops of a couple of farms unlucky enough to have their fields right in the line of the main part of the storm.

But if conditions remain good, 2014 will go down as an excellent year for local onions.

A Mortellaro field. Once onions are ready for harvest, a machine pulls them from the ground and sets them back on the soil so the onions can dry before being harvested.

A big onion in a Torrey Farms field.

Mortellaro onions ready for harvest. As part of processing, the dry outer skins are removed, so they'll have a nice shine on store shelves.

Dried onions in a Torrey field being harvested.

Workers at Torrey Farms crate harvested onions. At the Torrey plant, workers arrange three rows of 20 crates each, with enough space between to drive a truck through. Trucks come in only minutes apart, giving workers very little time between loads to get the trucks empty. Mortellaro said it's a difficult job, hot and dusty and constant motion.

Crates full of onions at Mortellaro's processing facility.

Torrey Onions

Not onions. Beets. MY-T Acres land at Transit and Chapell roads, Byron.

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