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Howard B. Owens's blog

Friday, June 27, 2014 at 10:59 am

'70s celebrated as happy days at Gillam-Grant's 40th birthday bash

post by Howard B. Owens in bergen, Gillam-Grant Community Center

My first introduction to nostalgia was American Graffiti and Happy Days. For a time in the 1970s, nostalgia for the 1950s was big. I performed "She's 16" in my junior high school choir's '50s review show.

I remember talking with my mom about the concept of nostalgia and she said, "You know, someday, people will be nostalgic about the 1970s." I told her, "nah, that will never happen."

Yesterday, the '70s came to life again at the Gillam-Grant Community Center for a celebration of the center's 40th anniversary.

As tunes from the Partridge Family, the Bee Gees and Fleetwood Mac blasted from a boombox, folks could munch on Twinkies and Pringles while sipping Tang.

Many in the crowd dressed for the occasion.

Loren Penman told me the printed invitation for the event noted that the 1970s were really a diverse decade. It went from "Bridge Over Troubled Waters" to "Staying Alive," and I added, "and "Blitzkrieg Bop" and "God Save the Queen'' (though there was nobody dressed like Joey Ramone or Sid Vicious at the event).

Friday, June 27, 2014 at 10:18 am

Residents again turn out at Town of Le Roy board meeting to support Frost Ridge

post by Howard B. Owens in business, Frost Ridge, Le Roy

Once again, about two dozen supporters of Frost Ridge turned out Thursday evening at the Town of Le Roy board meeting to protest the town's ongoing litigation against the six-decade-old campground on Conlon Road.

Supervisor Steve Barbeau made it clear at the start of the meeting that he wasn't going to allow the kind of free-for-all debate that took place during the meeting two weeks ago.

He asked each speaker to speak one at a time and only cover topics not already raised and addressed.

About six people spoke -- a veteran who said the ban on concerts was an insult to those who fought and died for freedom; a resident who suggested the town was passing up an opportunity to put a $2 surcharge on concert tickets sold and generate a little revenue; one person who wanted to know how much the lawsuit that most in the town don't support is costing taxpayers; and a resident in the Gulf Road area who complained about toxins from a proposed facility at the old town dump being allowed while music in the community isn't allowed.

After those who wanted to speak spoke, Barbeau answered a couple of the questions and offered this summary of the town's position:

"For the town board it is not, has not, and will not be an issue of revenue, such as adding taxes, or making money off of whatever Frost Ridge chose to do or not. It isn't an issue of anything to do with any noise. It is isn't an issue of anything to do with really anything other than is this a permitted use, and by this, I mean a concert venue, whether it's for veterans or it's for anything."

At this point, Barbeau was interrupted by a couple of people, and then he went on:

"For the town the only issue is, is this a permissible use, accessory use or special use within the Town of Le Roy in an R and A zone. The Town of Le Roy's position is not only is it not a permitted use, accessory or special use in an R and A zone, it is not permitted in any zone in any district in the Town of Le Roy."

Thursday, June 26, 2014 at 9:09 pm

If you saw a lot of police activity on Jackson Street, here's why

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia

A person was reported running behind houses between Maple Street and Morton Avenue, Batavia, and members of the Local Drug Task Force happened to be in the area and took the young man into custody.

The person was cuffed and questioned while other law enforcement officers also by chance, apparently, who were in the area (Batavia PD and State Police) stopped by. 

A search of the area found nothing amiss.

With no further reason to hold the young man, he was going to be released, police said.

Thursday, June 26, 2014 at 3:34 pm

Baseball team still trying to understand ruling over illegal bat that put them in last place

post by Howard B. Owens in baseball, alexander, sports, youth sports

The Pine Tar Incident. It's the most famous "illegal bat" issue in the history of baseball. A home run in 1983 by George Brett was wiped out by an umpire, but at least the league didn't strip the Kansas City Royals of all their wins that season.

Unfortunately for the 11- to 12-year-old Tri-Town Dodgers of the Seven Towns League, league officials are forcing them to enter the playoffs as a last place team, essentially erasing their eight regular season wins because a player used an illegal bat.

League rules state that if a player uses a bat not approved for Little League use, the hitter is ruled out and any runners on base cannot advance. There is no other punishment stipulated in the written rules.  

For the Tri-Town Dodgers, based in Alexander, the punishment has gone beyond the written rules. The team was dropped to last place, despite its 8-4 record, which at the time was third best in their division. The standings are important because they effect seedings for tournament play.

There's no other rule violation that carries a penalty of team losing its standing in its division. That sort of punishment isn't contemplated in the written rules at all. The harshest written penalty for a player rule infraction is a three-game suspension for fighting.

Commissioner Brian Krawczyk has not responded to a pair of phone calls requesting comment.

In an e-mail discussion the league officials ruling sent to team manager Christopher Hausfelder, Krawczyk said the ruling was a safety issue "that would make everybody safer for years to come" and that Hausfelder should advise his players should buck up and to learn to accept that bad things happen life.

"I fully understand that it has really effected your team," Krawczyk said. "However, if handled properly, we can all learn something from this situation. Life brings adversity and how you handle that adversity can define who you are. If I was you, I would communicate to your players that they are still the same team that worked very hard and had a great season. Yes, the road to the final destination will be a little tougher. But, we have achieved great things as a team and as a team we will continue to work hard right up to the final out."

The illegal bat was used in the team's 10th game, June 12. Hausfelder said it was bought by the player and no coach noticed it until it was too late. It's the only illegal bat incident on Tri-Town's 11-12 team, though there was a prior, unrelated incident, with the 9-10 team.

For some third-party perspective, The Batavian called James "Beef" Soggs, well known in Batavia for his commitment to youth sports. Soggs serves on the Batavia Little League Board of Directors and is a Little League coach.

"I've got to say, it's ridiculous," Soggs said.

If this was more than a one-time issue with the same team, perhaps a harsh punishment would be an order, but for a one-time incident, he couldn't understand why the team would be knocked down to last place.

"That's really strict punishment for the whole team for something one player did," Soggs said. "That's pretty drastic to move a team from third place to last place."

For George Brett, the umpire was eventually overruled and he got his home run back. For the Tri-Town Dodgers, there is likely no reprieve. It's already the second round of playoff games tonight, with the Dodgers doing the best they can as the bottom seed.

Thursday, June 26, 2014 at 2:42 pm

Batavia Cab returns to service after repairing its one vehicle

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Batavia Cab, business

After several weeks of being out of service for significant repairs to its engine, Batavia Cab's lone cab is back in service.

Co-owner James Soggs said the cab just went back on the road today.

There were reports of Batavia Cab being out of business, but Soggs said the company hadn't closed, it just didn't have a vehicle it could put on the road.

There's been a lot of turmoil among local cab companies over the past two years with three or four companies opening and closing.

B-Town Taxi, Affordable Cab and Mike's* all appear to be out of business (we've confirmed B-Town is out of business). The only locally owned cab company we know to be currently operating in Genesee County is Batavia Cab.

Multiple readers contacted The Batavian over the past few weeks noting that there no longer seemed to be an operational cab company locally, creating a hardship on a lot of people, so the return of Batavia Cab should please a lot of people.

*I remember another company that started up two years ago and is now apparently out of business, but can't remember the company's name.

Thursday, June 26, 2014 at 7:50 am

Law and Order: Batavia resident accused of stealing from former employer

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, crime

Jamie A Dutton, 21, of Buell Street, Batavia, is charged with three counts of petit larceny. Dutton is accused of stealing money from a former employer on East Main Street, Batavia.

Nicole Lee Cramer, 24, of Lehigh Avenue, Batavia, is charged with criminal possession of a controlled substance, 7th. Cramer is accused of violating the terms of the City Court drug program and arrested on a warrant. She was jailed on $100,000 bail.

Thursday, June 26, 2014 at 7:44 am

Oakfield FD releases statement about alleged larceny by treasurer

post by Howard B. Owens in Oakfield

Statement by John Igoe, president of the Oakfield Fire Department:

The Oakfield Fire Department is shocked and saddened by the news of the alleged larceny by our Treasurer. We have been cooperating with the authorities including the New York State comptrollers and the State Police during this investigation. The department would like to apologize for the bad publicity and the mistrust that this may cause with the residents of our community, and with the Town and Village of Oakfield. The Oakfield Fire Department is in the process of changing our financial policies to keep this type of activity from happening in the future. We as a department are committed to providing the best service we can to our community, and will strive to work hard to restore your faith in our department.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014 at 11:38 pm

Photos: Annual strawberry social at Indian Falls Methodist Church

post by Howard B. Owens in indian falls, indian falls methodist church, pembroke

Indian Falls Methodist Church hosted one of our county's great annual community events today, their strawberry social, which includes a chicken BBQ and an auction.  Once again, a big turnout for this popular event.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014 at 10:46 am

Law and Order: Otis Street resident charged after child bitten by dog

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

Tami L. Mileham, 40, of Otis Street, Batavia, is charged with a prohibited nuisance. Mileham's Rottweiler allegedly bit a 9-year-old child. The Rottweiler was seized and is currently being held at the Genesee County Animal Shelter.

Kathleen E. Gonzalez, 52, of West Main Street, Batavia, is charged with issuing a bad check. Gonzalez is accused of issuing a bad check March 11. She turned herself in on an arrest warrant and posted $500 bail.

Markeda D. Starks, 23, of Campbell Street, Rochester, is charged with harassment, 2nd. Starks was arrested on a warrant by State Police in Canandaigua stemming from an alleged incident at 9:05 p.m. June 16 in which Starks shoved another person during an argument. Starks was turned over to Batavia PD and arraigned on the charge and posted $300 bail.

Willie J. Miles Jr., 50, of Aberdeen Street, Rochester, was arrested for alleged failure to appear. Miles was jailed on $2,500 bail.

Jerica J. Barber, 39, of Mix Place, Batavia, is charged with criminal tampering, criminal mischief, resisting arrest and endangering the welfare of a child. Barber allegedly committed the crimes of criminal tampering and criminal mischief (no details given) at 4:37 p.m., June 14. Barber allegedly resisted arrest in the presence of a child under age 17.

Eric John Betz, 31, of Genesee Street, Alden, is charged with disorderly conduct/obscene language/noise. Betz allegedly screamed obscenities during a domestic dispute in a public place at 440 Ellicott St., Batavia, at 9:34 p.m. on June 17.

Cheryle Jones, 32, of Batavia, is charged with driving while ability impaired by drugs and consuming alcohol in a motor vehicle. Jones was also charged under Leandra's Law with aggravated DWI. Jones was stopped by Ontario County Sheriff's deputies on Route 5 in Canandaigua for an alleged traffic violation. (Source)

Nicholas R. Graves, 18, of 7317 Griswold Road, Bergen, is charged with endangering the welfare of a child. Graves is accused of having sexual contact with a child under age 17 in the Village of Le Roy. Graves was arraigned and ordered to stay away from the victim.

Benjamin P. Hilton, 25, of 25 Bacon St.. Apt. E, Le Roy, is charged with criminal mischief, 4th. Hilton is accused of intentionally breaking the window of a business on Mill Street on Saturday.

Heather Ann Johnson, 41, of Calla Way, Cheektowaga, is charged with DWI, driving with a BAC of .08 or higher, inadequate lights, driving left of pavement markings in no passing zone and refusal to take breath test. Johnson was stopped at 11:53 p.m. Tuesday on Genesee Street, Darien, by Deputy Jason Saile.

Joseph Jonathan Kuzma, 34, of Byron Holley Road, Byron, is charged with petit larceny. Kuzma is accused of stealing money from his employer in Bergen.

Daniel S. Curry, 36, of Webster, is charged with unlawful possession of marijuana and driving while using mobile phone. Curry was stopped at 11:40 p.m. June 16 by State Police on Route 77, Darien.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014 at 9:56 am

Arrest count for Journey concert at Darien Lake: 0

There were no arrests reported Tuesday night during the Journey concert at Darien Lake Performing Arts Center.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014 at 9:53 am

Craig Yunker appointed to GCEDC board of directors

post by Howard B. Owens in business, CY Farms, GCEDC

Press release:

The Genesee County Legislature has appointed Craig Yunker to the Genesee County Economic Development Center Board of Directors. His term will begin Tuesday, July 1, 2014.

“Craig Yunker was selected to serve on the GCEDC board because of his extensive business and agriculture experience,” said Genesee County Legislative Chairman Ray Cianfrini. “He has lived and grown a successful business in Genesee County and will be a tremendous asset to the board."

Yunker is a managing partner of CY Farms headquartered in Elba, New York. CY Farms is one of the largest crop farms in Western New York, growing turf, corn, wheat, soybeans, alfalfa, onions and green peas. The farm encompasses more than 6,000 acres in Genesee County and has been in operation since 1963.

Yunker is also owner of Batavia Turf, a turf farming operation in Batavia, as well as CY Heifers, a 4,000-head replacement heifer business that raises calves for local dairy farms.

In addition to running CY Farms, Yunker is very active within the community. He is the past Genesee County Legislature chairman serving from 1984-1991, and former trustee of Genesee County Community College. Currently, he serves as director of Tompkins Financial Corporation/Bank of Castile and is a trustee of Cornell University.

Yunker holds a B.S. in applied economics and management from Cornell University and a M.S. in resource economics from the University of New Hampshire. He resides in Elba, with his wife, Kimberly, and is a proud father of three children and has three grandchildren.

“We are pleased with the County’s appointment of Craig to the EDC board and look forward with working with him to advance the mission and goals of the agency,” said Wolcott T. Hinchey, chairman of the GCEDC board.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014 at 7:36 pm

Oakfield FD treasurer accused of stealing more than $6k from the department

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

Following a state audit, the treasurer of the Oakfield Fire Department was arrested today by State Police for allegedly misappropriating department funds.

Samantha Hilchey, 31, of Batavia, is charged with grand larceny, 3rd, a Class D felony.

Hilchey is accused of stealing more than $6,000 through unauthorized transactions, including paying her personal utility bills and making cash withdrawals.

"Instead of safeguarding department funds, this individual took advantage of her position to pay her personal bills and make unauthorized cash withdrawals," said State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli. "I want to thank department officials for helping bring this situation to light and to the State Police for working closely with my staff as we continue our audit and investigation into the department's finances."

The department's audit isn't expected to be completed for another couple of months.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014 at 4:43 pm

Canadian accused of putting fellow concertgoer in coma enters guilty plea just before trial

post by Howard B. Owens in crime, Darien
Craig Lawson

A Canadian resident who was arrested at Darien Lake nearly a year ago after hitting another patron of a Kid Rock concert entered a guilty plea today to assault in the second degree.

The plea agreement, which comes on the day jury selection was supposed to start in his trial, caps Craig Lawson's sentence at one year in the Genesee County Jail.

Lawson and Jason McNeil, a former WNY resident who lives in Tuscaloosa, Ala., got into some sort of argument and Lawson hit McNeil, causing him to fall and hit his head on the ground.

At a preliminary hearing, Deputy Lonnie Nati testified that Lawson said following the incident, "he never should have touched my wife."

McNeil was hospitalized and in a coma for weeks following the incident.

An online fundraiser set up by McNeil's family drew thousands of dollars in donations, including a donation from Kid Rock.

In January, a source in regular contact with the family described McNeil's injuries as "catastrophic" and said McNeil requires 24/7 care.

The 34-year-old Lawson will be formally sentenced in August.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014 at 11:54 am

Flash flood watch issued for this afternoon and evening

post by Howard B. Owens in weather

A flash flood watch has been issued for Genesee County through this evening.

During the afternoon, showers and thunderstorms will develop, according to the National Weather Service, in a warm and humid airmass. These storms will have the potential to produce torrential downpours, with rates of one to two inches per hour.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014 at 11:42 am

Minor injury accident reported on Clinton Street Road

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, accident

A motor vehicle accident with three minor injuries is reported at 5038 Clinton Street Road near Stringham Drive, Batavia.

Town of Batavia fire and Mercy EMS dispatched.

Law enforcement is on location.

UPDATE 11:55 a.m.: A second ambulance is requested to the scene.

UPDATE 12:19 p.m.: At least one patient was transported to UMMC. Town of Batavia assignment is back in service.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014 at 11:40 am

Motorcyclist who struck deer still listed in critical condition at ECMC

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

The motorcycle driver who hit a deer on Pearl Street Road early Monday morning remains in critical condition at ECMC.

Brandon L. Scott, 23, of Darien, was westbound when a deer entered the roadway ahead of him and the front wheel of his bike struck the hindquarter of the deer.

Scott was ejected from the motorcycle and suffered serious injuries, according to a Sheriff's Office news release.

He was transported by Mercy Flight to ECMC. 

Scott was wearing a helmet at the time of the accident.

The investigation is being conducted by Deputy Andrew Hale, Deputy Frank Bordonaro and Sgt. Eric Seppala. Assisting at the scene were members of the East Pembroke Fire Department and the Town of Batavia Fire Department along with Mercy EMS.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014 at 11:21 am

Burglar breaks into downtown business, makes off with cash from register

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, crime

A downtown business was burglarized overnight and the thief got away with an undisclosed amount of cash.

The break-in was discovered at 10 a.m. when the owner of the Enchanted Florist, 202 E. Main St., Batavia, arrived at work to open the shop for the day.

Det. Rich Schauf said it appears the burglar used a rock to smash a window pane in the back door and went straight for the cash register.

It doesn't appear at this time that anything else was taken.

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