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Howard Owens's blog

Thursday, March 13, 2014 at 5:44 pm

Downtown businesses that keep their sidewalks clear get a little recognition

post by Howard Owens in batavia, business, downtown

A few of these signs popped up along downtown streets today. A couple of the business owners who found them in front of their store fronts this morning didn't know who put them out.

They hare the handiwork of Brian Kemp, of T-Shirts Etc.

Kemp took on the project himself -- not through the BID or Vibrant Batavia -- because he thinks local business owners should be encouraged to keep the sidewalks in front of their establishments. The ones who do so should be rewarded.

"They don't realize you've got to be able to see the cement," Kemp said.

He only made a few signs, so he'll rotate them around tomorrow, making sure businesses that haven't received the recognition yet, but deserve it, will.

Bottom photo submitted by Jessica Budzinack. She wrote, "My husband Christopher Budzinack works at The City Church. He was so happy his hard work was recognized during this rough winter.

Thursday, March 13, 2014 at 11:43 am

Photos: The day after the storm

post by Howard Owens in batavia, weather

A city worker clears away snow from the corner of Ellicott and Court.

The front of the former NY State Armory on Bank State Street.

The snow might stick around for awhile. The five-day forecast has a lot of cold in it.

Thursday, March 13, 2014 at 9:35 am

Former Notre Dame diver headed to NCAA championships

post by Howard Owens in diving, Notre Dame, pembroke, sports

Press release:

Arron Carlson, a freshman from Pavilion, New York will be representing SUNY Fredonia at the NCAA Swimming and Diving Championships to be held in Indianapolis, Indiana by virtue of his performance last weekend.

Carlson won the 3 Meter Diving Event at the NCAA Region 4 Meet contested at Rochester Institute of Technology February 28 and March 1st.  His score of 478.10 topped his nearest competitor by five points. Arron led wire to wire in the 11 dive championship format meet.  He was the first diver to compete among the 15 total divers who qualified for the regional meet.  At no point in the competition did he fall to second place in the rankings. His first place ranking after every dive was the first time it occurred in Region 4 history.  Arron's total of 478.10 bettered Matt Depalo of host RIT and was 23 points ahead of 2013 All-American Matt Morrison of Ithaca College.  In the one meter competition he finished in sixth place with an 11 dive score of 436.10 .

The Notre Dame of Batavia grad's win on the three meter board guarantees his participation at the NCAA Championships March 19 - 22.  He will be diving on both boards during the championship meet. Arron will be accompanied by two teammates as Fredonia is sending three divers to the NCAA Championships for the second year in a row. 

Photo by Jim Fitzgerald, team photographer

Thursday, March 13, 2014 at 9:21 am

Rollover accident reported on the Thruway in Pembroke

post by Howard Owens in accident, pembroke, thruway

A rollover accident is reported on the Thruway in the eastbound lane near mile marker 401.8.

Pembroke and Indian Falls fire departments responding along with Mercy EMS.

The vehicle is in the median.

Unknown injuries.

UPDATE 9:29 a.m.: A Mercy medic reports both patients out of the vehicle. Both likely sign-offs (no medical transport). Pembroke and Indian Falls engines standing by at the hall or at the toll booth.

UPDATE 9:32 a.m.: Pembroke and Indian Falls back in service.

Thursday, March 13, 2014 at 9:15 am

Law and Order: Driver involved in accident last month charged with DWI

post by Howard Owens in batavia, crime, Stafford

Douglas James Hanley, 23, of Batavia Stafford Townline Road, Batavia, is charged with DWI, driving with a BAC of .08 or greater, failure to stop at stop sign and aggravated unlicensed operation. Hanley, while driving a 2013 Chevrolet Cruze, was reportedly involved in a motor-vehicle accident at 10:59 p.m. Feb. 1 on Prole Road, Stafford. Hanley's vehicle reportedly hit a tree. Hanley was transported to Strong Memorial Hospital where he was treated and released. The accident was investigated by Deputy Frank Bordonaro.

Adam Matthew Shultz, 31, of Fargo Road, Batavia, is charged with DWI, driving with a BAC of .08 or greater and speeding. Shultz was stopped at 3:01 a.m. Tuesday on Main Street, Batavia, by Officer Matthew Lutey.

Bonnie S. Oleandi, 44, of Montclair Avenue, Batavia, was arrested on a bench warrant. The reason for the warrant was not released. Oleandi was jailed on $100,000 bail.

A 17-year-old from Batavia was charged with criminal possession of a controlled substance, 7th. The youth was allegedly found with a controlled substance for which he didn't have a prescription following an investigation by school personnel at Batavia High School.

Charles P. Mitchell, 34, of Sanders Road, Stafford, is charged with criminal contempt. Mitchell allegedly violated an order of protection by sending text messages to the protected person.

Thursday, March 13, 2014 at 8:48 am

Reader Photos: More snow pictures

post by Howard Owens in weather

Lauryn Brick, who lives on Slusser Road, East Pembroke, opened her garage door this morning and found this.

Jacob Yasses sent in the two pictures below.

Thursday, March 13, 2014 at 7:45 am

Travel advisory lifted

post by Howard Owens in weather

The travel advisory for Genesee County was lifted at 2:40 a.m.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014 at 9:06 pm

Photos: Our evening snow showers

post by Howard Owens in batavia, weather

Main and Center was pretty eerie at 6:10 p.m. today with very little traffic passing through and no cars parked along the curbs.

The amount of snowfall has slowed, but the weather service is cautioning travelers about blowing and drifting snow and icy conditions on roadways.

The travel advisory for Genesee County remains in effect.

Snow-covered vines on the southside of the Center Street Smokehouse building.

On South Lyon, Ann and Bob Chilano shovel their drive.

City plow trucks on West Main Street.

John Chilano blowing his drive on Redfield Parkway. Yes, John and Bob are brothers. Proof that we live in a small city, getting pictures of Bob and John minutes apart is completely a coincidence and in no way planned.

Batavia Downs in the snow.

Main Street after dark.

A view down Ellicott from Court.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014 at 5:14 pm

Reader Photos: The snowstorm of March 12, 2014

post by Howard Owens in weather

Here are weather photos submitted by readers today -- the first two from Beth Ely.

Sarah Calkind sent in this photo in praise of her bosses at Tompkins Insurance Agency. She says the two people in the parking lot are David Boyce and Timothy Spezzano, Tompkins executives, who brushed off the snow from staff members cars before they were released from work for the day.

From Paul Conklin, North Street, Le Roy

From Brandi Kaplun, Route 98

This photo from Christine Brunell of Lincoln Avenue. She writes, "Just thought I would share some photos from Lincoln Ave. My husband Chet Burnell loves to get out the snowblower and clear the sidewalks as well as several of our neighbors' driveways. I'm hoping this is the last time he will be out this season!"

Erika Sobczak's dog Dutch loves the snow.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014 at 4:55 pm

Photos: Heavy snow and wind hits Genesee County in afternoon

post by Howard Owens in weather

By early afternoon, travel conditions on Lewiston Road, as well as other roads in the county, were pretty treacherous. Where there wasn't drifting snow (up to a foot deep), there was ice.

A postman got his delivery truck stuck and a pair of Mercy EMS medics stopped and helped dig him out and gave him a push. Assisting him were Andy Merkel and William Hockenberry.

The Weather Service warns that snowfall of an inch an hour along with strong winds will make travel conditions hazardous well into the evening.

Two cars lost control on Lewiston Road at about 1 p.m., with the white hatchback T-boning the silver minivan on the passenger side. Michael Lasik and his wife, Weiling, were southbound in the minivan. Weiling was the passanger and needed to be extricated from the vehicle by Town of Batavia firefighters. She was transported to an area hospital with unknown injuries. There were no other injuries. Laura Smith, of Alexander, was driving the white car. Trooper Holly Hanssel said the cause of the accident appears to be treacherous road conditions. No citations issued. (Initial Post)

A vehicle heads north on Lewiston Road, which by 1:30 p.m. had visibility of a half mile or less.

For a weekday afternoon, there was unusually low traffic volume at Main and Oak streets.

A person walking on East Main Street.

By 2 p.m., Empire Tractor was just wrapping up its open house. CEO Tim Call said more than 100 people turned out, with most of them arriving before 11 a.m. and leaving before the worst of the storm arrived.

Kim Hatch, a Batavia High School teacher, took her snow day to keep her driveway free of snow, trying to keep one step ahead of the plow trucks on Ellicott Street that kept pushing more snow onto the drive.

On Jackson Street

At about 2:30 p.m., Jackson hadn't been plowed in awhile and a couple of high drifts had built up along the east side of the street.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014 at 4:10 pm

Stove fire reported at residence in Alexander

post by Howard Owens in alexander, fire

A stove fire is reported at 9865 Route 98, Alexander.

Alexander fire is dispatched. Town of Batavia's ladder truck requested to the scene.

UPDATE 4:09 p.m.: Town of Batavia can go back in service. One responding Alexander engine can continue non-emergency and the other can stage in quarters.

UPDATE 4:23 p.m.: Alexander assignment back in service.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014 at 10:02 am

Sheriff's Office issues travel advisory from 10 a.m. until further notice

post by Howard Owens in weather

From Undersheriff William Sheron:

The Genesee County Sheriff’s Office has issued a travel advisory for all of Genesee County effective at 10 a.m. today and continuing until further notice. While travel in the county is not banned at this time, unnecessary travel is discouraged. Heavy, blowing and drifting snow is making roads slippery and limiting visibility. With the forecast calling for the weather to continue to deteriorate as we move into the afternoon and evening, travel conditions will only get worse.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014 at 9:54 am

Your morning weather photos

post by Howard Owens in batavia, weather

Here's four photos of what things looked like in Batavia around 9 a.m. Looking at the weather radar map, it looks like the worst of the storm won't hit us until 1:30 p.m. Currently, there is no travel advisory from the Sheriff's Office, but Chief Gordon Dibble said one may come later today. County Highway Superintendent Tim Hens has recommended residents stay home today.

If you have weather photos to share today, e-mail them to howard@thebatavian.com. In focus, properly exposed, no camera shake, please.

City plow and salt truck on Porter Avenue.

Centennial Park

On East Main Street

Wednesday, March 12, 2014 at 8:16 am

Law and Order: Alleged beer theft leads to jail on $500 bail

post by Howard Owens in batavia, crime

Phillip Daniel Burrs, 32, of West Main Street, Batavia, is charged with petit larceny. Burrs is accused of stealing a can of beer from the Hess Express at Main and Oak streets, Batavia. Burrs was arraigned in City Court and jailed on $500 bail. (Burrs was charged with DWI following an alleged bank robbery by a passenger in his vehicle in Batavia on Jan. 18.)

Philip J. Grazioplene, 44, of South Lyon Street, Batavia, is charged with DWI, driving with a BAC of .08 or higher and passing a red light. Grazioplene was stopped at 3:07 a.m., on East Main Street, Batavia, by Officer Peter Flanagan.

Darenisha M. Thomas, 18, of Hutchins Street, Batavia, is charged with disorderly conduct and harassment, 2nd. Thomas is accused of attacking a fellow student at Batavia High School.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014 at 7:46 am

Don't let the calm before the storm fool you, officials recommend you stay home

post by Howard Owens in weather

The National Weather Service said it: "Do not let the benign weather conditions this morning lull you into a false sense of security."

Here's the prediction:

Snow will rapidly overspread Western New York by 9 to 11 a.m. and become heavy. Snowfall rates may reach two inches per hour during the peak of the storm this afternoon. Temperatures will plummet through the 20s and into the teens with rapidly increasing northeast winds producing widespread blowing and drifting snow with blizzard conditions from midday through the evening.

County Superintendent Tim Hens had this to say:

With forecasted snow rates of 2 to 3 inches per hour, snow may accumulate up to 6 to 8 inches deep in roadways today before plows can return on a standard plow route. The morning driving conditions will entice people to head out, but conditions will deteriorate rapidly through the day and evening driving conditions will be treacherous. I would recommend staying put today. It will be a quick storm and road conditions should be back to normal tomorrow. I can't emphasize this enough.

The Weather Service concluded in its press release:

Travel will become extremely hazardous or even nearly impossible at times due to the combination of very heavy snow and blowing snow. Those who venture out this morning in the good weather may have a difficult time returning home later today as conditions worsen.

UPDATE 8:23 a.m.: Spoke with City Manager Jason Molino. He's also recommending people stay home if at all possible today. He also asked that people not park their cars on the streets so plow trucks can operate more freely. "When we're getting into several inches per hour, it's going to be a constant battle to keep the roads clear," Molino said. The priority will be on the major thoroughfares such as Main Street and Ellicott Street, Molino said.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014 at 9:08 pm

Announced winter storm closings for Wednesday

post by Howard Owens in closings, weather

We'll add closings to this list as we receive them. E-mail closings to howard@thebatavian.com.

  • Oakfield-Alabama Central School District. This closing includes all afterschool and evening activities.
  • Le Roy Central Schools has announced closures for Wednesday.
  • Pavilion schools are closed.
  • St. Joseph School will be closed.
  • P.W. Minor will be closed.
  • MedEx Billing, Inc., in Le Roy will be closed.
  • Notre Dame is closed.
  • Batavia City Schools
  • Byron-Bergen school
  • The Town of Darien business offices and Transfer Station operations are closed today.
  • All programs are cancelled at Cornell Cooperative Extension Genesee County.
  • Batavia Supercuts
  • Chassix/Automotive Corp. – closed for 2nd & 3rd shifts
  • Hair Studio B
  • Wyoming County has issued a travel advisory.
  • Empire Tractor is still planning to hold its annual open house. iPad giveway at 1 p.m.
  • All Wyoming County offices are closed.
  • GCEDC and Upstate MedTech Center Building closing at 11 a.m.
  • GCASA’s Batavia and Albion locations are closing at noon.
  • All locations of Pembroke Family Medicine closed.
  • Batavia Youth Center
  • Genesee Couinty Animal Shelter will be closed for adoption hours this evening.
  • Town of Pembroke Regular Board Meeting and Public Hearings scheduled for this evening have been postponed until tomorrow, Thursday March 13th at 6 p.m.
  • Pembroke Town Hall will be closed.
  • Due to severe weather conditions, all Courts in Genesee County will be closing at 11 a.m. This includes Genesee County and Supreme Courts, Genesee County Family Court and Batavia City Court.
  • Bergen Town Hall and Byron-Bergen Public Library
  • Pediatric Associates
  • Due to Blizzard conditions the Town of Pembroke Regular Board Meeting and Public Hearings scheduled for this evening have been postponed until tomorrow, Thursday March 13th at 6 p.m. Pembroke Town Hall will be closed this afternoon.
  • Due to the inclement weather the GCFC Board meeting scheduled for today March 12, 2014 at 1:30 p.m. is CANCELLED.
  • Hot Heads Salon, Le Roy
  • United Memorial will close all outpatient services and physician practices at 11 a.m. The Urgent Care Centers in Batavia and LeRoy will not open today. The emergency department at 127 North St., Batavia will remain open.
  • LeRoy Federal Credit Union will be closing at 1 p.m.
  • LeRoy Physical Therapy and Village Fitness will be closing at 3:00pm
  • The County Legislature meeting for tonight is cancelled and that it is rescheduled for Friday at 5:30.
  • Tompkins Bank of Castile, Tompkins Insurance Agencies and Tompkins
    Financial Advisors will be closing all WNY locations at 12 today due to the
    weather.
  • Village of LeRoy Board of Trustees meeting tonight has be cancelled.
  • Classic Optical
  • CPR (Computer and Phone Repair)
  • Tech Wars tomorrow at GCC is cancelled.
  • Delivery of the Daily News today may be delayed because of weather.
  • Bontrager's Wednesday March 12th Auction postponed until March 19th
  • Alli’s Cones & Dogs closed at 3 p.m.

For more closings, check WBTA's Web site.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014 at 5:40 pm

BHS students getting ready for second annual Mr. Batavia contest

post by Howard Owens in batavia, Batavia HS, education, Mr. Batavia, schools

For the second year in a row, students at Batavia High School are putting on a Mr. Batavia contest aimed at building relationships between the high school and the community, particularly local nonprofits.

There are 10 contestants this year representing 10 different charities. Money raised will go to the winner's charity.

"We weren't sure how it was going to go last year and we raised $1,700, so we're hoping to exceed that this year," said Lisa Robinson, one of the faculty advisers for student government.

Along with the 10 boys competing, 15 girls are putting together the show (not everybody participating was available for a picture late this afternoon).

The contestants begin the show with a group dance, followed by a lip-sync contest, a talent contest, a swimsuit portion and then the boys come out in tuxedos donated by Charle's Mens Shop for a question-and-answer period.

Nine of the 10 charities have committed to having displays set up in the cafeteria for the evening.

The show starts at 7 p.m., Friday, March 21. Tickets are $7, $5 for students.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014 at 5:14 pm

Destro shows his skills at youth conference; new K-9 fundraising effort launched

post by Howard Owens in Chris Erion, Destro, K-9, K-9 fund, Sheriff's Office

Destro will do just about anything to get permission for a minute or two of play time while on the job -- sit and stay, chase a bad guy, search for a human scent, bark at a cornered criminal, find some dope.

If he were in the wild, it would be like any dog catching a rabbit and having a bit of fun with it before it became a snack. That's what dogs do, Deputy Chris Erion explained to a group of seventh- and eighth-grade students during a seminar on law enforcement at the 26th annual Genesee County Youth Conference at GCC.

Erion put Destro through his paces demonstrating common dog tricks such as sit, down and stay, and then had Destro chase after him a few feet and then bark at him as if he were a fleeing criminal suspect. Destro then found a marijuana sample hidden in the room.

After each task, Destro got to play with a tug with a small rubber ball attached, or he got to chew on his favorite toy -- an old piece of fire hose.

Erion recounted one of Destro's greatest law enforcement feats yet, finding a post-it note that had been used in an alleged armed robbery. The job well done really demonstrates Destro's ability to pick up human scents, Erion told the students.

After the demonstration, Erion shared information about a new Facebook page set up by the children of Deputy Brian Thompson to help raise funds to support the K-9 program.

"The care and maintenance for a police K-9 is above what it typically is for a household pet," Erion said. "Their teeth have to be regularly maintained. Often they break teeth -- he's broken a couple of teeth already that had to be fixed -- care, feeding, all those sorts of things go into the K-9 fund to support the dog."

There isn't a specific budget amount the K-9 fund is trying to raise. The goal is to maintain an ongoing source of revenue to help take care of Destro and Pharoah, who retires in October, when Thompson retires, though Erion believes it would be a good idea to maintain a fund balance of $5,000 to $10,000.

"Then, if something were to happen, we could handle that immediately," Erion said. "We could put a new dog and handler into the field immediately."

The Facebook page was set up by Thompson's daughters Olivia and Sophia. They also came up with the idea of an envelope fundraiser. People can send a message through Facebook requesting an available envelope -- once a numbered envelope is taken and returned, it's counted as "filled," so you'll need to pick a different number -- and they will receive the requested envelope to fill with a donation and return.

The goal is to raise $10,000. According to the page, $2,000 has already been raised.

"If you think about it, the only life (Thompson's) children have known is life with a police K-9," Erion said. "He's worked K-9 his entire career with the Sheriff's Office and before that. It's part of their life, just having a police K-9 in the house, and they came up with an idea for a fundraiser. I just think it speaks volumes about their character and Brian's character to have that thought to do that."

Since becoming a K-9 officer, Erion said he's really learned a lot about the generosity of the Genesee County community.

"This assignment has opened my eyes to a lot of good things in our community," Erion said. "There's a school right now (where) the whole school is working on a K-9 fundraiser and I've had other people approach me to find out how to go about raising funds."

Visit the Facebook page Genesee County NY K-9 Support and click "Like"

Above, Kyle Mott gets a chance to pet Destro.

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