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Howard B. Owens's blog

Wednesday, September 10, 2014 at 2:29 pm

Jacquetta Simmons shows up in court without attorney or financial statements on restitution request

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, crime, Jacquetta Simmons

On a follow up to her request for smaller monthly restitution payments, Jacquetta Simmons showed up without the two things Judge Robert C. Noonan said she needed today: An attorney and a certified financial statement.

Noonan lectured her briefly on the need to have a proper financial statement, said that he wants to get restitution payments started in this case, and then gave her until Sept. 16 to get her documents together.

And perhaps show up with an attorney.

What Simmons arrived with in court today was a handwritten statement on a blue-lined piece of notebook paper.

"Ms. Simmons, what we need from you is a sworn statement of income and expenses for you and each person in your household," Noonan said. "We need an itemization of all the things you've done while looking for work, not just your conclusionary statement saying you can't find work."

When her case was called, Simmons ambled to the defense table dressed in faded blue jeans and a white T-shirt holding her piece of paper.

Asked about her attorney, Simmons told Noonan that she was under the impression that Key would be in court with her today, and that she spoke with Key after her Aug. 26 court appearance.

In June, the Buffalo News published a report about Key moving from the Buffalo area. His Web site says his office is located in Buffalo.

So when Simmons said she had spoke with him since August, Noonan expressed some surprise.

"Really?" Noonan said. "I thought he left town before that. Perhaps he kept the same cell phone."

Noonan told Simmons she could appear Sept. 16 with or without an attorney. "It's your choice," he said.

Simmons is under court order to make $100 monthly payments in restitution for $2,000 in medical expenses to Grace Souzzi, whom she punched in the face Christmas Eve 2011 after Souzzi asked for a receipt for items Simmons and her brother had purchased earlier at Walmart.

Because she's not working, Simmons has asked that the amount of monthly payments be reduced.

After the brief hearing, Simmons turned from the bench and walked away, mumbling something under her breath.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014 at 1:56 am

No injuries reported after car strikes house in Alabama

post by Howard B. Owens in Basom, accident, Alabama

A car has struck a house in Alabama, but no injuries are reported.

The location was originally given on Route 77, but deputies on scene say it is actually on Bloomingdale Road.

Alabama fire is responding.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014 at 10:36 pm

Unofficial Genesee County Primary election results

post by Howard B. Owens in Bethany, Elections, kathy hochul

Gov. Andrew Cuomo and former Genesee County congressional representative Kathy Hochul have been declared the winners of the Democratic Primary race.

They also were the top choice of local Democrats.

According to Genesee County unofficial results, Cuomo beat Zephyr Teachout 427-187, with Randy A. Credico receiving 45 votes.

Hochul topped Tim Wu 505 to 156.

In the Republican Primary for supervisor in Bethany, Carl L. Hyde Jr. beat Edward F. Pietrzykowski Jr. 74 to 26.

In the primary for Independence Party delegates to the 8th Judicial District convention of the 139 Assembly District, Debra M. Buck-Leaton beat Carol A. Sheehan 14-7.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014 at 5:49 pm

Collins releases statement on passage of bill limiting EPA on water regulation changes

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

Press release:

Congressman Chris Collins (NY-27) released the following statement today on the passage of H.R. 5078, the Waters of the United States Regulatory Overreach Protection Act, which would prevent the EPA and the Army Corp of Engineers from implementing the proposed rule that would redefine “waters of the United States” under the Clean Water Act.

“Redefining the scope of ‘waters of the United States’ is a dangerous expansion of government authority,” Congressman Collins said. “I have heard from many farmers and small business owners in my district who believe the EPA and Army Corp of Engineers rule will have a devastating effect on their productivity and ability to stay in business. In May, I led a bipartisan letter with Rep. Schrader of Oregon, signed by a majority of the House, asking the EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers to withdraw this overreaching rule. The passage of today’s legislation will ensure that this rule is withdrawn and our farmers and small business owners will be protected.”

Tuesday, September 9, 2014 at 12:51 pm

Program can stem the tide of rising flood insurance costs, but only to a point

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, flood insurance program, Gretchen DiFante

Here's what residents living in flood-prone areas in Batavia need to know: The city can help lower the cost of flood insurance, but nothing can stop it from going up.

Assistant City Manager Gretchen DiFante, hired primarily to help the city get a comprehensive flood insurance program going, said the cap on annual insurance-rate increases is 18 percent (it used to be 25 percent). If the city's program works as intended, the best result would be 15-percent lower premiums for local homeowners.

Rates will rise, she explained after the Monday City Council meeting, until an insurance company reaches 100-percent coverage for an individual property according to its actuarial tables.

"Not everybody is going to go up and not everybody will go up at the same rate," DiFante told the council.

This is an important issue, she said, because the rising cost of flood insurance will make it harder and harder for property owners to sell their homes. That leads to more sub-par rentals, more abandoned houses, higher crime and less tax money for local schools.

"When you look at the map, you have to realize, this is more than a thousand homeowners who are not going to be able to sell their homes if something doesn't change," DiFante said.

"I don't care where you live, it ought to be a concern," she added. "If it's not, it should be."

DiFante's job is to work with FEMA to get the city into community rating system (CRS) of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP).

Cities accepted into the program get class ratings. A Class 7 community gets a 5-percent reduction in flood insurance rates, and a Class 9 community gets 15 percent.

There are two main components to the ratings:

  • Reduce a community's flood exposure through mitigation activities;
  • Obtain individual flood insurance reductions for residents in flood map areas.

But the process is far more complex than those two simple points, DiFante said.

"It is a daunting process, which is why I think there's only 27 communities in New York who have taken this on," DiFante said. "There's so much information you have to put together and in such a specific way you have to do it. Then every time you've got different reps from ISO who come in, everybody's kind of got their own way interpreting what you've done."

On a broad scale, the city will need to review zoning and building codes and make adjustments to mitigating flooding issues.

On an individual homeowner basis, the city can provide guidance and perhaps secure grants for elevation certificates that could lift some homes out of the flood map, or improve an individual property's rating.

The elevation certificate process can also provide property owners with guidance on improving their property from a flood exposure perspective.

It will be at least 16 months before the city realizes any benefits from its flood insurance efforts.

Red areas are floodplain.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014 at 11:28 am

Gift from Liberty Pumps puts new technology in the hands of every Byron-Bergen student

post by Howard B. Owens in bergen, business, byron, byron-bergen, liberty pumps

There's a selfish reason Charle Cook got behind the idea of his company donating money to help the Byron-Bergen School District buy 1,100 tablet computers for all of the district's children: He wants potential future employees to have the technical skills to work for the Liberty Pumps of tomorrow.

But the donation is also a good deed that will benefit his and his son's alma mater and perhaps encourage other rural companies to be as generous with their local school districts.

"We felt it's important as kids progress through school that they become knowledgable and comfortable with technology," said Charlie Cook, CEO of Liberty. "It's going to be part of their future employment. To have that as a kind of leg up to students who might not have access is an advantage.

"Somewhat from a selfish standpoint," he added, "we're going to need a certain segment of those graduates, and we're interested in keeping as many kids as we can in the community."

Superintendent Casey Kosiorek said the gift was timely. The district had recently cut a staff position from its library and New York's formula for aid to district continues to disportionately favor affluent suburban districts over rural districts.

"This allows us to do something that most of the school districts in the more affluent areas of the state are able to do," Kosiorek said. "We're very thankful for that."

That was part of what motivated Liberty to seek out a way to assist the district, said Jeff Cook, who initiated the talks with the district that led to the donation.

"The reason Liberty Pumps thought the Learn Pads were a good idea was that we hear a lot about how wealthier, suburban districts seem to have advantages over poorer, more rural districts in terms of course offerings and opportunities for their students," Jeff Cook said. "We were looking for a way to help give our students an edge while minimizing the overhead burden of the district and therefore the taxpayer."

Charlie Cook didn't want to reveal the total monetary amount of the donation, but it's roughly 30 percent of the cost of the 1,100 tablets, which cost a few hundred dollars each. That donation made Byron-Bergen eligible for a technology grant from the state education department that covered the remaining 70 percent of the cost.

There will be no new local spending as a result of the program.

The tablets are known as LearnPads. They are Droid-based tablets with modifications to suit the needs of an educational institution.  

First, there are limits on how students can use them. There's access to YouTube, for example, but they can only watch teacher-approved videos. They can only visit approved Web pages. They can only download and install teacher-approved apps.

Teachers control the entire LearnPad environment according to the education needs of the class.

From a desktop computer program, teachers can customize how the LearnPads can be used, develop each day's lesson plan, then provide a QR code that can be posted to a wall. As students enter the class that day or that hour, the student scans the QR code to receive the lesson plan. As class progresses, teachers can monitor student activity to ensure they're staying on task.

However, Kosiorek stressed, LearnPads don't replace lectures and class discussions.

"This is a great tool for students and for teachers, but it doesn't replace quality education," Kosiorek said. "It's a tool, it's a supplement, an addition to a teacher's toolbox."

There are educational books available on the LearnPad and Kosiorek said the district hopes to someday replace all of its text books with tablets. That would save the district money as well as end the days of one-ton backpacks and multiple trips to lockers for students.

And yes, there are games available to students. Math games and vocabulary games, for example.

"Many students have access to video games and those games are very engaging," Kosiorek said. "There are goals that are set and you work toward those goals, so whatever we can do to provide relevance and engagement for students (we will do)."

Every student, starting this week, gets a LearnPad, from kindergarten through 12th grade. The younger students don't get a keyboard and will just use the touch screen, but starting in about third grade, keyboards will be introduced.

At younger grades, the LearnPads stay in school -- at least until the summer, when they can go with the summer reading program already installed -- while older children can bring the LearnPads home for homework once permissions slips and guideline acknowledgments are signed.

"We're very excited to be doing it," Charlie Cook said. "I've got four grandkids in the system right now and when I come to an event, which I do as often as I can, it's amazing to me to watch these kids work with the technology, even what they have currently. I think even in preschool years, they were up operating the touch screen, so this is a natural progression for them."

Jeff Cook said he hopes other business owners will look at this initiative and contact their own school administrators and ask "How can we help?".

Education, after all, is everybody's business.

"My hope is that what Liberty Pumps is doing will gain traction in the business community and others will join in on supporting our schools," Jeff Cook said. "If you are a business that is passionate about something you would be willing to help fund or support, I would suggest talking to the school administration about your idea and see if it is feasible. 

"In the case of Byron-Bergen, they did all the leg work and presented us with their vision based on our ideas. This could be anything from supporting sport programs and class offerings, to equipment for the district. Anything that could enhance a student's learning opportunity."

Photo: Casey Kosiorek, left, and Charlie Cook.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014 at 8:24 am

Law and Order: Oakfield resident accused of growing marijuana

post by Howard B. Owens in Alabama, alexander, corfu, crime, Darien, Oakfield, Pavilion, pembroke, Stafford

Daniel C. Frey, 50, of Oakfield, is charged with unlawful growing of cannabis and criminal possession of marijuana, 4th. Frey was arrested by State Police at 12:57 p.m. Friday on Klossen Road, Alabama. No further details released.

Jason A. Perry-Murray, 20, of Jackson Street, Batavia, was arrested on warrant for an unpaid parking ticket.

Juan A. Roman, 36, of Portland Avenue, Rochester, is charged with criminal contempt. Roman is accused of violating a stay away order of protection.

Caitlin A. Hayes, 26, of Dellinger Avenue, Batavia, was arrested on a warrant for failure to appear on a parking ticket. Hayes was arrested following police contact on an unrelated incident.

Elliot R. Sandoval, 38, of Spencer Court, Batavia, is charged with harassment, 2nd. Sandoval is accused of kicking another person in the back while that person was walking down a flight of stairs.

Joseph J. Kostanciak, 24, of unspecified address, is charged with petit larceny. Kostanciak is accused of shoplifting at Walmart.

Sanders A. Kelsey, 27, of Batavia, and Michelle L. Franks, 33, of Batavia, are charged with petit larceny. Kelsey and Franks are accused of shoplifting at Walmart.

Carol A. Bartucca, 55, of Stafford, is charged with DWI and driving with a BAC of .08 or greater. Bartucca was stopped at 10:16 p.m. Saturday on Horseshoe Lake Road by a trooper.

Jeremy D. Eck, 27, of Hornell, is charged with DWI, driving while impaired by drugs and unlawful possession of marijuana. Eck was stopped by State Police at 10:27 p.m. Sunday on Route 20 and Browns Mill Road, Alexander.

Lawrence E. Rutkowski, 50, of Orchard Park, is charged with DWI and driving with a BAC of .08 or greater. Rutkowski was stopped at 12:11 a.m. Monday on Route 20, Alexander, by State Police.

Brett F. Dieter, 36, of Basom, is charged with criminal obstruction of breathing. Dieter was arrested following an investigation of an alleged incident at 8:10 p.m. Sept. 1 on Lewiston Road, Alabama.

Michael R. Sigl, 21, of Batavia, is charged with petit larceny and possession of a hypodermic instrument. Sigl was arrested by State Police following an incident report at 3:32 p.m. Sunday. No further details released. 

Tyler E. Deleys, 20, of Corfu, is charged with criminal mischief, 4th, petit larceny and possession of a hypodermic instrument. Deleys was arrested on Hartshorn Road, Pembroke, by State Police following a report of an incident at 3:32 p.m. Sunday. No further details released.

Steven R. Ryan, 36, of unspecified address, is charged with DWI and refusal to take breath test. Ryan was stopped by State Police at 10:10 p.m. Sunday on Route 77, Pembroke.

Lindsey N. Burdick, 32, of Pavilion, is charged with DWI and driving with a BAC of .08 or greater. Burdick was stopped by State Police at 11:29 p.m. Sunday on Route 20, Alexander.

Todd L. Frocione, 50, of Syracuse, is charged with DWI and driving with a BAC of .08 or greater. Frocione was stopped by State Police at 11:51 p.m. Sunday on Route 20, Alexander.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014 at 6:55 am

Primary Day 2014

post by Howard B. Owens in Bethany, Elections

It's Primary Day in New York.

Here's what you can vote on at your local polling place.

Countywide Democratic Primary, Governor (vote for one)

  • Zephyr R. Teachout
  • Andrew M. Cuomo
  • Randy A. Credico

Lt. Governor (vote for one)

  • Kathy C. Hochul
  • Timothy Wu

Countywide Independence Party Primary

8th Judicial District Delegate (vote for one)

  • Carol A. Sheehan
  • Debra M. Buck-Leaton

Town of Bethany (Republican), Supervisor (unexpired term) (vote for one)

  • Carl L. Hyde Jr.
  • Edward F. Pietrzykowski Jr.
Monday, September 8, 2014 at 10:09 pm

Photos: Trees and barns and plants in Pavilion and Stafford

post by Howard B. Owens in Pavilion, photos, Stafford

This afternoon, I headed out to Le Roy by way of Pavilion and came back to Batavia through Stafford.

Above, a barn at Linwood and Black Street Road.

Below, two shots of a tree on Linwood, and finally, the hedgerow along Route 5 at the Hanson property.

Monday, September 8, 2014 at 9:54 am

Six arrests at Tom Petty concert

The following people were arrested by the Genesee County Sheriff's Department during the Tom Petty Concert at Darien Lake Performing Arts Center on Sunday.

Jennifer L. Bishop, 26, of Harmony Avenue, Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada, is charged with criminal trespass, 3rd, after allegedly getting evicted from the concert venue and advised not to return, then reentering the concert venue. Bishop jailed on $100 bail.

Julie A. Biamonte, 37, of Harmony Avenue, Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada, is charged with criminal trespass, 3rd, after allegedly getting evicted from the concert venue and advised not to return, then reentering the concert venue. Biamonte was jailed on $100 bail.

Charles T. Diorio, 30, of Brookwood Drive, Derby, is charged with trespass after allegedly getting evicted from the concert venue, advised not to return, then was said to be climbing the fence to get back into the venue. Diorio was jailed on $500 bail.

A 16-year-old, of Country Road 12, Andover, is charged with possession of a loaded rifle in a vehicle and unlawful possession of marijuana after allegedly possessing a loaded .22 rifle in his vehicle and possessing a quantity of marijuana.

Louis E. Sorendo, 57, of East Albany Street, Oswego, is charged with trespass after allegedly reentering the concert venue after being ejected from the concert and advised not to return.

Daniel A. Howe, 50, of Astor Drive, Rochester, is charged with criminal possession of a controlled substance, 7th, after allegedly possessing a quantity of cocaine.

Monday, September 8, 2014 at 9:44 am

Law and Order: Man spotted trying to hide bin of alleged stolen merchandise behind Target

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, crime

Jason Daniel Lang, 30, of North Bennett Heights, Batavia, is charged with grand larceny, 4th. Lang is accused of stealing $1,260.37 in electronic equipment from Target. A caller reported seeing a male matching Lang's description hiding a storage bin filled with suspected stolen merchandise in a wooded area behind Target. Deputy Joseph Corona responded and secured the merchandise. He later located Lang hiding behind a garbage dumpster in the parking lot by the Clarion Hotel. Lang was jailed on $1,000 bail.

Kelsey Anne Sanders, 27, of Hutchins Street, Batavia, is charged with petit larceny. Sanders is accused of shoplifting from Walmart.

Daniel DelPlato, 59, of Chandler Avenue, Batavia, is charged with assault, 3rd, and unlawful imprisonment, 2nd. DelPlato is accused of striking another person in the head four or five times with a frying pan and restricting that person's movement without consent during a domestic incident.

Christina A. Deluna, 34, of Liberty Street, Batavia, is charged with criminal possession of a controlled substance, 7th, and possession of a hypodermic instrument. Police responded to Deluna's residence at 2:12 p.m. Sept. 2 after neighbors reported that she appeared to be acting strange. Officers observed alleged drugs and paraphernalia in her home.

Tyler J. Henderson, 26, of Franklin Street, Batavia, was arrested on a warrant for alleged failure to appear in City Court.

Joseph C. Jeffords, 23, of York Road, Leicester, is charged with petit larceny. Jeffords is accused of stealing a laptop and returning it to a local retail store in exchange for a gift card.

Sunday, September 7, 2014 at 4:44 pm

Photo: Yesterday's evening sky over Batavia

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia

Ken Mistler sent in this interesting photo of the sky over Batavia yesterday evening.

Sunday, September 7, 2014 at 4:36 pm

Photos: Snowy Egret, Tonawanda Creek

post by Howard B. Owens in Tonawanda Creek

Chris Hausfelder spotted this egret on the Tonawanda a few days ago and was able to snap a couple of pictures of this elusive bird.

Sunday, September 7, 2014 at 4:31 pm

Photo: Sun over DeWitt

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, DeWitt Recreation Area, weather

A reader sent in this photo Friday (and I've not had time to post it until now) of the sun over the lake at DeWitt Recreational Area when it was 89 degrees locally.  

Sunday, September 7, 2014 at 4:18 pm

Local buses named after local children

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, RTS Genesee

Transportation company RTS Genesee (formerly Batavia Bus Services) introduced three new buses yesterday, all named after local children.

Hallie Wade stands next the bus named after her.

Photo submitted by Kellie Wade.

Sunday, September 7, 2014 at 4:08 pm

Photos: Marshall Tucker Band at Frost Ridge

post by Howard B. Owens in entertainment, Frost Ridge, music

The Marshall Tucker Band played Frost Ridge on Saturday. Photographer Peggy Barringer shared these photos.

Sunday, September 7, 2014 at 3:45 pm

Photos: GLOW Ducks first home game

post by Howard B. Owens in football, GLOW Ducks, sports

The GLOW Ducks youth football program played its first home game today at Notre Dame.

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