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Howard B. Owens's blog

Thursday, July 17, 2014 at 5:52 pm

Mysterious gas smell reported in East Pembroke area

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, pembroke

There have been reports of some mysterious cloud of gas -- or a gas smell -- in the East Pembroke area, according to the dispatch center, but no origin for the smell has been found.

East Pembroke Fire Department was dispatched to locate the source and is back in service.

"They've exhausted all leads," according to a dispather.

Thursday, July 17, 2014 at 12:44 pm

Midway company reportedly shorts fair on rides, admission price reduced

post by Howard B. Owens in Genesee County Fair

Press release:

We regret that due to situations beyond our control, our as advertised “New Midway Company” did not bring all of the scheduled rides. We however have a good selection of rides available to fairgoers. We have reduced the price of wrist bands to $12 for an entire session. Ride sessions are: Thursday 5pm-10pm, Friday 1pm-5pm & 6pm-10pm, & Saturday 1pm-5pm & 6pm-10pm. Friday and Saturday the rides are open from 1pm-11pm. We hope everyone comes out to the 175th Genesee County Fair!

For a complete listing of events during fair week, visit gcfair.com

Thursday, July 17, 2014 at 9:45 am

State finally paying past-due Nursing Home expenses, but it's not enough and it won't last

post by Howard B. Owens in genesee county, nursing home

New York will finally pay off some of their IOUs to the county.

County Treasurer Scott German learned Tuesday that $4.1 million in funds meant to cover 2013 Nursing Home expenses will be transferred to the county Aug. 13.

That's the good news. We'll get to the bad news shortly.

The $4.1 million is what is known as an Inter-Governmental Transfer. It's money that originates with the federal government and sent to the states so the states can transfer it to county governments that run nursing homes. The money is meant to help offset the difference in reimbursement fees between Medicaid and Medicare (it's more complicated than that, but that's the easy explanation).

In June, the county received $4.3 million in back IGT payments from 2012.

Of the $8.4 million IGT received, the taxpayers of Genesee County paid an amount equal to 50 percent, or $4.2 million, as a local match.

But that isn't all of the bad news.

County Manager Jay Gsell said the feds are phasing out the IGT program. The Aug. 13 payment is probably one of the last two or three the county will ever receive.

No program has been announced to replace it.

Once there's no IGT -- and if there's no program to replace it -- the local share cost of running the Genesee County Nursing Home will likely be at least $3 million a year, and that figure is growing each year, German said. The operating deficit will need to be funded by local taxpayers.

Of the $4.3 million received in June, $2 million went into the general fund to pay off money the Nursing Home borrowed from the general fund.

Some of that IGT money will be used to pay off a $5.8 million Revenue Anticipation Note (RAN -- a short-term loan based on the promise of anticipated revenue).

The $4.1 million the county receives Aug. 13 should pay off the rest of the RAN, a loan that must be retired by November.

If for some reason, there is a shortfall, the county will either need money from the general fund or another loan, German said, to pay off this RAN.

But it's anticipated there will be a $200,000 surplus from the IGT payment, which will be gobbled up by Nursing Home expenses in short order. The county will then need to borrow more money to cover Nursing Home expenses with no guarantee the feds or the state will help with the expense at a later date.

The County Legislature met with an attorney today who is helping them explore options for dealing with the Nursing Home. The meeting was held in close session and was purely informational for the legislators, Gsell said.

Thursday, July 17, 2014 at 7:41 am

Law and order: Suspect arrested in alleged home invasion assault on Wood Street

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

Nathan L. Royse, 22, of Ross Street, Batavia, is charged with burglary, 1st, criminal mischief, 4th, assault, 2nd, and endangering the welfare of a child. Royse allegedly entered a residence on Wood Street at 10:10 p.m. July 9 with two or three other assailants and assaulted the residents and damaged property. A snow shovel was allegedly used as a weapon. Two people were injured. A child was allegedly present during the assault. Royse turned himself in on the charges.

Samantha Laura Kopacz, 18, of Geise Road, Attica, and a 17-year-old resident of Bailey Street, Cowlesville, are charged with criminal tampering, 3rd. The duo are accused vandalizing Alexander School by writing on numerous windows and doors with window paint and spreading a substantial amount of paper throughout the grounds. 

Christina A. Deluna, 34, of Batavia, is charged with aggravated unlicensed operation. Deluna was was stopped at 12:43 p.m. Tuesday on West Middlebury Road, Town of Middlebury, by a Wyoming County deputy. Deluna was allegedly driving on a suspended license due to a lapse in insurance coverage.

Rachell O. Soggs, 26, of Bank Street, Batavia, is charged with petit larceny. Soggs is accused of stealing a pair of socks from Dollar General.

Troy D. Schimley, 21, of Sandpit Road, Alexander, was arrested on a warrant for alleged failure to appear on a pair of 2 to 6 a.m. parking tickets. Schimley was released on cash bail.

Kelly J. Rhim, 35, of Liberty Street, Batavia, is charged with petit larceny. Rhim is accused of shoplifting from Tops Market.

Juan Antonio Roman Jr., 36, of Portland Avenue, Rochester, is charged with three counts of criminal contempt, 2nd. Roman was allegedly found at the residence of a protected party.

Matthew P. Lenhard, 28, of Corfu, is charged with burglary, 3rd. Lenhard was arrested by State Police for an alleged burglary reported at 2:30 p.m. on March 24. No further details released.

Erica M. Raphael, 29, of Batavia, is charged with petit larceny. Raphael is accused of shoplifting from Kmart.

Roger E. Godfrey, 66, of Le Roy, is charged with unlawful growing of cannabis. Godfrey was arrested on Harris Road on July 11 by State Police. No further details released.

Kavin M. Lampman, 41, of Batavia, is charged with DWI. Lampman was stopped 9:12 p.m. Saturday on Alleghany Road, Indian Falls, by State Police.

Jason M. Thomason, 32, of Wheatfield, is charged with DWI. Thomason was stopped at 11:50 p.m. Saturday on Route 77, Darien, by State Police.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014 at 5:21 pm

Photo: Classic Chevy on Center Street

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Center Street, classic cars

This is the second classic car I've seen in Batavia this summer with a flat black paint job. It's a nice look, I think.

This Chevy was parked on Center Street late this afternoon.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014 at 4:42 pm

Le Roy Rotary hosts district governor at weekly luncheon

post by Howard B. Owens in Le Roy, Le Roy Rotary Club

Le Roy Rotary today hosted its District Governor Jack Amico. He praised the Le Roy Club for all its past successes and urged members to do more to spread the word about all Rotary does. The theme for Rotary this year is "Light Up Rotary." It's time, Amico said, for Rotary to set aside a little humility and starting using the media, social media and word of mouth to better education the public about Rotary's work and service to their communities.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014 at 4:06 pm

Photos: Back roads in Le Roy and Bethany

post by Howard B. Owens in Bethany, Le Roy

Driving back from Le Roy this afternoon I took the long way home.

Above, field of white flowers off Transit Road, Le Roy.

Below, a field of sweet peas and barn on Cackner Road, Bethany.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014 at 11:31 am

Photo: Oatka Creek, Village of Le Roy

post by Howard B. Owens in Le Roy

It's another beautiful day in Genesee County. Here's a photo from the Village of Le Roy.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014 at 11:19 am

Truck hauling travel trailer overturns on Thruway

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, thruway

A truck hauling a travel trailer overturned on the Thruway this morning in the area of mile marker 392.3 in the westbound lane.

No injuries were reported, though the passenger had a complaint of head pain.

Town of Batavia fire and Mercy EMS responded.

The call was dispatched at 6:57 a.m.

Photos courtesy Town of Batavia Fire Department.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014 at 7:56 am

Pedestrian crossing sign stolen in Village of Elba

post by Howard B. Owens in crime, elba

The pedestrian crossing sign in the Village of Elba was stolen sometime Saturday night.

The village would like it back.

If you have information that can assist, contact the village office at (585) 757-6889 or the State Police at (585) 344-6200.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014 at 6:24 pm

Investigators still trying to determine how Batavia woman died Sunday evening

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Jackson Street

Investigators have yet to determine the cause of death of Summer Ogden, the 38-year-old Batavia woman who was found unresponsive Sunday evening on the steps of 131 Jackson St.

Batavia detectives attended an autopsy today at the Monroe County Medical Examiner's Office, but Det. Eric Hill said, with tests still pending, there is nothing to report from the autopsy yet.

Hill said investigators have not determined exactly how much time elapsed from the moment Odgen collapsed until police were called, but they do not believe it was a long interval.

"It was a relative short time between the time a couple of witnesses saw her awake and OK and when they got back and saw her passed out," Hill said.

The call for an unresponsive female came in at about 7:19 p.m., Sunday.

Foul play has not been ruled out, but it's not considered a likely scenario, Hill said.

"We're certainly not closing that door, because we don't know what happened," Hill said. "It's something we're still keeping open, but it's not really an active aspect that we're definitively pursuing."

Ogden was well known to veteran police officers who had numerous encounters with her while intoxicated, Hill confirmed, but it's unclear what role, if any, alcohol may have had in Ogden's death.

"That's why we're sending everything out for tox," Hill said.

Ogden's boyfriend, Eric Duda, is one of the residents at 131 Jackson St. Hill said it's unknown if Ogden had been visiting or intended on visiting Duda on Sunday evening.

The couple have had mutual orders of protection in place and both had been previously charged with violating the orders.

Hill said the investigation is continuing and Ogden's death is receiving a full and complete investigation in an attempt to determine exactly what happened.

"Anybody who is in this situation is a victim," Hill said. "It doesn't matter if we've had contact with you in the past or we've had no contact with you. Ultimately, it comes down to the same level of service we offer to everyone. You could be suspect yesterday and a victim today. You still get he same level of service."

Tuesday, July 15, 2014 at 4:21 pm

Inmate at county jail found hanging by bed sheet, pronounced dead at the scene

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Genesee County Jail

Early this morning, an inmate was discovered hanging by a bed sheet inside his cell at the Genesee County Jail.

The 36-year-old victim was pronounced dead at the scene by Coroner Karen Lang.

The Sheriff's Office is conducting an investigation into the death.

His name is not being released pending notification of relatives.

The inmate was found by a correctional officer at 12:34 a.m.

Attempts to revive the individual were unsuccessful.

City fire and Mercy EMS responded to the emergency. 

An autopsy will be performed by the Monroe County Medical Examiner's Office.

The inmate was recently arrested on a felony charge and was being held on bail.

The investigation is continuing.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014 at 11:32 am

Law and Order: Rochester man accused of stealing hedge trimmer from landscape truck

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

Jeffrey Cornell Nelson, 46, of Coretta Scott Crossing, Rochester, is charged with petit larceny. Nelson is accused of stealing a Stihl HS81T hedge trimmer from the rear of a landscape truck while the crew was working at ESL Credit Union. The alleged theft was reported at 11:32 a.m. Monday.

Paul Robert Benson, 33, of Sprucewood Terrace, Williamsville, is charged with felony DWI, felony driving with a BAC of .18 or greater, uninspected motor vehicle and following too closely. Benson was stopped at 11:46 p.m. July 2 on Genesee Street, Darien, by Deputy Kevin McCarthy.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014 at 11:23 am

Local semi-pro football team may finish out season if new ownership is lined up

post by Howard B. Owens in football, Lyndonville Tigers, pembroke, sports

The season may not be over for the Lyndonville Tigers.

Then again, it might be.

One thing President of Football Operations Taylor McCabe is pretty confident about is the team is not done and there will be a team on the field next season.

The semi-pro football team plays its home games in Pembroke and there's been reports recently that the team has folded.

It's true, McCabe said, that owner Harold Suhr has pulled out, but there are other people ready to step into the ownership role. It's just a matter of whether the ownership situation can be straightened out before this Saturday's 5 p.m. game in Pembroke.

"Harold Suhr chose to close up shop and his involvement is coming to an end," McCabe said. "There are other interested parties, current players, current management, people who are going to stay involved if the interested parties pick up the ball and run with it. We may be able to play our next game. Worst case, we forfeit the rest of the season and re-emerge next year."

McCabe said contrary to some reports, the Tigers have not lost eight players to another team. They lost two. The team has enough players to finish the season if an owner or owners can be found.

Semi-pro teams survive primarily on fundraisers and donations, and this season the fundraising hasn't gone so well, which has meant Harold Suhr had to dig into his own pocket, as owner, to ensure refs were paid, insurance was paid, and other minor miscellaneous expenses were covered.

"This year, we were last in fundraising," McCabe said. "One of the big things with this league is everybody has family, kids, social lives, family and work obligations. It's not like anybody is doing this full time."

Tuesday, July 15, 2014 at 11:03 am

Molino given raise by council after discussion on whether raise was discussed enough

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Jason Molino

On a 5-3 vote, the City Council agreed Monday to give City Manager Jason Molino a 2.5 percent raise, retroactive to April 1.

It was a merit raise, said Councilman John Canale.

Councilman Eugene Jankowski expressed concern that the public hasn't been given adequate opportunity to hear from council members on why Molino deserves a raise and to voice their own opinions.

"At this point, we're limiting ourselves to only one discussion," Jankowski said. "It sends a message of some kind of exception being made and I don't think that's the case. It's just an oversight."

Councilwoman Rose Mary Christian also objected to the seeming lack of public discussion prior to the vote.

"This was all handled in executive session and never brought to the floor for any kind of discussion," Christian said. "You can't vote for spending public monies without a discussion, so we should have the discussion and take it from there."

City Attorney George Van Ness explained to council members that Molino's raise this time around is being handled no different than it's been handled in the past and no different from any other employees or any labor agreement.

The particulars are discussed in open session, a consensus is reached among council members, and then a vote is held at a business meeting, where more discussion can take place -- as was taking place Monday night -- before the vote.

"Matters related to the employment issues of a particular individual are appropriately discussed in an executive session," Van Ness said. "If it comes to a situation where there's a decision about the award of or wage adjustment, that's a matter that's presented for public discussion and a public vote. That's what's teed up here this evening."

Councilman John Deleo missed Monday's meeting because of another obligation, but provided Jankowski with a written statement on his behalf objecting to the raise and stating that the hiring of an assistant city manager was supposedly intended to lesson Molino's workload.

Councilman Kris Doeringer said he believed that was a misstatement of why an assistant city manager was hired.

"She was hired to do more work, not lesson Jason's workload," Doeringer said. "We were concerned about Jason's workload and everything he needs to get done and everything the city needs to get done to move forward."

Councilwoman Patti Pacino said the merit of the raise was discussed extensively over two executive sessions.

"We did talk at length," Pacino said. "We discussed whether we should give him a raise or not give him a raise, what did he do to deserve a raise. We really discussed it all. I understand we should bring it out in the open and people can say negative things as well, but we really did discuss this a lot."

Members Kathy Briggs, Jankowski and Christian all voted no on giving Molino a raise.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014 at 10:30 am

City to appoint new members to Cable TV Advisory Board as Time Warner and Comcast prepare to merge

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Cable Television Advisory Board

With the pending acquisition of Time Warner Cable by Comcast, the City of Batavia will have an opportunity to comment on the merger as well as renegotiate its franchise agreement for cable television service in the city.

Typically, municipalities enter into franchise agreements with cable providers that determine infrastructure specifications as well as some services the provider might offer along with fees the cable operator pays to the city.

Currently, the city gets $200,000 a year from Time Warner, but the franchise agreement expired a decade ago and has just been automatically renewed without revision by the state's Public Service Commission.

"Time Warner is noncompliant with some franchise benefits," the City Manager told the council Monday night. "We haven't had negotiations since 1993. There are a number of improvements that need to be made."

Comcast contacted the city and expressed an interest in working with the city on a new agreement and gave notice that the city has 120 days to comment to the FCC on the proposed merger.

Both providing comment to the FCC and negotiating a new franchise agreement are specialized, complicated legal issues and the city will likely need to retain the services of an attorney who is expert in the field, Molino said.

The city must also appoint members to the Cable Television Advisory Board, which has been dominant so long, the terms for all the previous members have expired. The city will be inviting residents to apply for seats on the board.

The cable franchise agreement covers terms such as access to cable service throughout the city, franchise fees, construction standards, indemnification and insurance requirements, underground facilities, installation of services, operation and maintenance.

Among the services a municipality can require a cable operator to provide what is known as PEG channels (public, education, government), something that Time Warner hasn't fully provided to Batavia.

A public access channel, for example, would allow local residents to make their own TV shows in the cable operator's local studio. Schools could broadcast plays.  Politicians and the politically minded could host talk shows. Local bands could air concerts. Churches could broadcast their services. Pastors could conduct Bible studies. Historians could provide lectures. The whacky and insane could find an audience, too, as long as it wasn't profane.

Councilman Eugene Jankowski raised the issue during Monday's discussion in response to a question from a constituent. Molino said the topic is certainly one the city -- and the cable advisory board -- could address with Comcast. It would be one more point of negotiation.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014 at 9:45 am

Photos: City honors recent retirees at council meeting

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia

Three of the city's recent retirees were honored by the City Council on Monday night with signed proclamations recognizing their years of service to the city.

Above, retired police Det. Pat Corona.

Retired Det. Chuck Dudek with Councilwoman Kathy Briggs.

Bill Ficarella, former Bureau of Maintenance supervisor, with Councilman John Canale.

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