Quantcast
Skip to main content

Howard B. Owens's blog

Friday, October 10, 2014 at 1:41 pm

Another Batavia business reports a break-in, cash stolen

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, crime

Another business in Batavia has reported a force-entry burglary, but since the business was closed a few days, the owner can't say whether it happened last night or the same night as four other area businesses were broken into.

Travis Farewell, owner of Sweet Pea's Cupcakery Cafe on Jackson Street, confirmed that a burglar broke open his register and stole cash. He also said the Habitat for Humanity donation box was broken and all of the money in it was stolen.

Det. Todd Crossett confirmed a crime report was taken, but said no other businesses have come forward.

Yesterday, we reported that Salvania's, just a few doors down from Sweet Pea's, was broken into and cash was taken. Three other businesses in the city also showed signs of forced entry, but nothing was reported stolen.

Anybody with information that may be useful to the investigation can contact Batavia PD at (585) 345-6350 or the confidential tip line at (585) 345-6370.

Friday, October 10, 2014 at 8:45 am

Host of mudding events in Bethany fails to win support of county planners

post by Howard B. Owens in Bethany, business, land use

It ain't nothin' but a party, Frank Stanton told the Genesee County Planning Board on Thursday evening in his second attempt to win approval for a special-use permit to host mudding events on his seven-acre property in Bethany.

"This is not a business," Stanton said. "It's a party. It's just a bunch of people getting together and having fun. That's all it is."

Planners recommended disapproval of his permit and didn't offer much encouragement for him to try again.

After a meeting two weeks ago, where planners were much more receptive to his proposal but told Stanton he needed a more formal plan before they could approve it, a pair of nearby Bethany residents wrote the planning board and raised objections to these mudding events.

Robert Reyes and Elaine Shell contend Stanton operates his mudding events as a business.

There's a Facebook page with 700 likes. The events are listed on at least two mudding event Web sites. They suggest it's not just friends showing up to run their trucks in the mud.

"Whether it's a trick of acoustics, with him being in a 'dip', we don't know, but the noise level at and in our home is awful," the couple wrote. "Most of the trucks running are modified with high revving engines, have no mufflers, and are extremely loud."

While Stanton tried to assure planners that there are never more than a couple hundred people at a time on his property at 9832 Bethany Center Road, Reyes and Shell argued that as many as 400 people might be on the property at one time and are concerned that Stanton wants the events to grow even bigger.

Stanton said they can't get any bigger because he'll never be able to buy adjoining property since it's currently owned by a large and successful dairy operation. He said he doesn't make any money off the events. There are no prizes, no awards, nothing that would make these commercial events.

"This will probably fizzle out in five or six years as my kids get bigger and things change," Stanton said.

The vote recommending disapproval was 6-0.

Friday, October 10, 2014 at 8:22 am

County planners review proposals for Tim Horton's and Dunkin' Donuts in Le Roy

post by Howard B. Owens in business, Le Roy

Developers want to bring both a Tim Horton's and a Dunkin' Donuts to Le Roy, and at locations that are so close to each other even E.J. Manuel could accurately toss a football from one drive-thru to the other and hit his intended target.

But that isn't what bothered Genesee County Planning Board members about the proposed Tim Horton's location.

They were concerned about traffic congestion caused by the restaurant drive-thru being so close to gas pumps already on the Mother Goose store property.

While Dunkin' Donuts -- which was only making a sign modification to its previously approved site plan -- got an easy, unanimous approval, the developer of the proposed Tim Horton's walked out of the meeting with no recommendation from the board.

That's better than a recommended disapproval, which raises the bar for the Town of Le Roy Planning Board approval. A no recommendation means the Tim Horton's plan can be approved by the town on a simple majority vote, instead of a majority-plus-one vote.

JFJ Holdings, of North Andover, Ma., is planning to build a Dunkin' Donuts at 125 W. Main St., which is across the street from the Yellow Goose Market and Gas Station.

The market is owned by Dave Tufts, who wants to add a Tim Horton's drive-thru to the west end of his building. Cars would enter from the north and exit to the south.

And at the south end of his property are gas pumps, and that is what concerns planners.

One or two cars queued up for gas could potentially block the drive-thru exit, plus there would be pedestrian traffic going in and out of the store.

Tufts and Dan Blamowski, with Tim Horton's, tried to assure planners that there would be no traffic congestion, but the argument wasn't persuasive enough.

On a night when the planning board was short a couple of members, the 4-2 vote for approval of the plan was one vote shy of the necessary five for approval.

Friday, October 10, 2014 at 7:55 am

John Michael Montgomery plays The Ridge on Saturday

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

Country star John Michael Montgomery plays Frost Ridge tomorrow night.

Montgomery's gig is one of two originally scheduled for the summer that were moved to October as a result of a pair of lawsuits pending against Frost Ridge.

At the beginning of the concert season, Judge Robert C. Noonan barred live music shows at the venue, but as legal manuvuers played out, Noonan lifted his order pending further proceedings.

The case is still pending, the shows will go on.

Jason Michael Carroll headlines Oct. 25.

For more information visit TheRidgeNY.com.

Friday, October 10, 2014 at 7:33 am

Batavia PD looking for driver of gold Impala involved in hit-and-run accident

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, crime

A hit-and-run driver damaged a sign at First Niagara Bank at 2:46 p.m., Sept. 26, and Batavia PD is asking for the public's help in identifying the driver.

The car reportedly sped through the ATM lane at the First Niagara branch on Court Street and struck a bank sign and continued without stopping.

The gold Chevrolet Impala likely sustained damage to the driver-side front fender.  

The driver is described as an older female.

If you have information that may assist in the investigation, contact Officer James DeFreze at (585) 345-6350.

Thursday, October 9, 2014 at 6:28 pm

Photos: A visit to the Batavia Chess Club

The Batavia Chess Club has attracted 45 members since Kevin Larsen started it about a year ago, but onyl a handful show up any given night of matches, Larson said.

The club meets at the Richmond Memorial Library every Thursday from 6 to 8:30 p.m. and new members are always welcome. They'll even teach you how to play chess if you don't know how.

Larsen (on the right, second photo) funded the game boards and time clocks out of his own pocket. There are  no dues for membership in the club.

For more about the club, visit bataviachess.org.

Previously: Batavia man and library present 'Batavia Community Chess Club'

Thursday, October 9, 2014 at 3:17 pm

Indicted as "John Doe," former burglar turns a new leaf and wins praise from Noonan

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, crime

Samuel G. Malone turned from the defense table after Judge Robert C. Noonan finished with him and smiled.

He looked out into the gallery as he strode from that moment where his entire future hung in the balance and spotted his wife and baby and the smile grew wider.

The convicted burglar will remain a free man, at least as free as a man can be while on four years probation.

In that moment, he heard something few convicted criminals ever hear: Praise from an often stern judge with little patience for defendants who don't keep their promises.

Malone kept his promises. He's stayed clean. He's lived sober. He's kept a job. He's worked hard. He's walked the line as a husband and father.

"I'm truly sorry for what I did," Malone had told Noonan. "I am. I have really turned around my life, 100 percent, in every aspect of it. I'm a hard worker. I work 50 to 60 hours a week. I love my children and I love my wife."

Malone hit the front pages in April 2013 in a rather notorious way.

In December 2012, a grand jury indicted a DNA profile as a "John Doe" because the statute of limitations was about to expire on the crime. Even without a name, based on that unique DNA profile, the suspect for those burglaries of local businesses could still be charged.

Five months later, after Malone had been convicted on an unrelated felony, and a DNA sample was collected, as required by law, Malone was identified as that "John Doe."

In August, 2013, Malone entered a guilty plea to two counts of burglary, 3rd, and one count of attempted burglary, 3rd.

Rather than sentence Malone to prison in November, Noonan heeded the advice of the probation departments in Alleghany County (where Malone now lives) and Genesee County. Both probation departments reported that Malone was doing well, staying clean and out of trouble, and leading a new life.

So Noonan put Malone on interim probation for six months.

The judge admitted he was pleasantly surprised at how things worked out.

His own handwritten note from Nov. 12, Noonan said, told him that he thought for sure he would be sending Malone to prison today. The note said, Noonan told Malone, that even a perfect performance while on interim probation wouldn't necessarily keep Malone out of state lock up.

"It's amazing, the turn around you've done," Noonan said. "Even the probation department --certainly no push over on recommendations -- says it would be a step backwards for you to give you any incarceration at this time because you're doing so well."

Noonan's decision to put Malone on probation ran counter to the recommendation of District Attorney Lawrence Friedman, who questioned whether a community-based sentence was appropriate given the severity of the charges.

"I've read the recommendations and he's doing in fact apparently well, and he's done everything, other than driving without a license, that he's supposed to do," Friedman said, "but I'm troubled by the number of serious crimes this defendant committed."

Public Defender Jerry Ader acknowledged that Malone was convicted of a series of serious crimes, but also pointed to how well Malone has done both on probation for his original conviction and the interim probation granted by Noonan.

"He's proven himself almost more than any other client I can remember coming through our office," Ader said. "He has turned his life around. He will be an asset to the community, to his family and to his children."

Noonan reminded Malone that if nothing else, for the next four years, the 28-year-old father will have a lengthy prison term awaiting him if he strays from the path of law-abiding citizen.

"You will have 18 years of prison hanging over your head for any violation of the law while on probation," Noonan said. "That should be sufficient incentive to keep you on the straight and narrow, though you seem to have found your own incentive through your work and family."

Thursday, October 9, 2014 at 2:00 pm

Legislators weighing option to fund bridge and road repair rather than cut property tax rate

post by Howard B. Owens in genesee county, taxes

Enough robbing Peter to pay Paul. Maybe its time to send a little cash back Peter's way, county legislators suggested during a budget session Wednesday afternoon.

County Manager Jay Gsell's early-stage draft budget calls for a reduction of the county's property tax rate from $10.04 to $9.85 per thousand.

After years of diverting sales tax revenue to balance the general fund budget, maybe the county should replenish the "1-percent fund," Legislator Bob Bausch suggested, followed by words of agreement from legislators Ed DeJaneiro and Frank Ferrando.

The 1-percent fund was created following an increase in the county's share of the sales tax in 1996 to help fund the county court complex.

From that point forward, that 1 percent cut of sales tax was supposed to go to a capital reserve fund -- money in the bank for roads, bridges and other infrastructure.

But in recent years, as a stagnant economy caused tax revenue to sag and out-of-control state mandates put unrelenting pressure on the county's ability to fund basic programs, a portion of that 1-percent fund has been diverted into the general fund.

Meanwhile, roads and bridges continue to age and deteriorate.

"If we have some more money this year, I would kind of like to see that replenished and do some more capital projects, because as the residents of the county know, between the highways, bridges and roof and general capital budget items, we have fallen somewhat behind," Bausch said. "...if at all possible, I would like to see us address some of those issues if we have some extra revenue."

Through the typical budget process, department managers from throughout the county submitted their funding requests for 2015. 

Requested spending topped $27 million, which would have required a tax rate of $9.96 per thousand of assessed property value.

Gsell made cuts and reduced the recommended levy to $26.8 million, requiring a tax rate of $9.85.

The reduction in proposed spending is possible, Gsell said, because of sound fiscal management over the past 20 years, negligible staff growth the past couple of years, and the state capping how much it expects the county to contribute each year to mandated programs.

Mandates still eat up 82 percent of the county's revenue, but at least the figure isn't growing the way it has in years past.

"The state has capped Medicaid at $9.9 million, and that's great, but in every other state but one, counties don't pay anything for Medicaid," Gsell said. "If I could take $9.9 million and tell the State of New York, 'you pay for Medicaid, you control the program, you write the rules, you tell us (what) we can't do as far as reforming a local version that doesn't exist,' then I could say our tax rate goes down by 38 percent. It's not going to happen, at least (not) the way the State of New York is thinking at this point."

With less spending pressure on the county budget, though, Bausch and other legislators are saying, let's review capital funds a little further.

"We can't keep telling people your bridges are going to fall down, but we're going to cut your taxes," Bausch said.

DeJaneiro said he knows it's not an issue in his district (a portion of the City of Batavia), but he knows there's been an issue elsewhere with school buses and fire trucks being unable to pass over bridges because of structural deficiencies. Andrew Young and Bausch both said those have been issues in their parts of the county.

"Bridges are reality and people not getting an ambulance on time or a fire truck on time because of a bridge is something we should be concerned about," DeJaneiro said.

Ferrando agreed with the general sentiment.

"We should replenish the fund when we have a year where we have an opportunity," Ferrando said. "We should consider it."

Gsell was asked to prepare a report on the fund and provide more information to the Legislature.

Also discussed during the budget session was female prisoner transport. It's an expense that is continuing to rise and also takes a deputy or two off patrol at a time.

Gsell said options including having corrections officers transport female inmates, or hiring a private contractor who can provide licensed and bonded security officers for transport.

A few years ago, the Sheriff's Office would have seven or eight female inmates housed at the jails in Orleans, Wyoming or Monroe counties. Now there are 19 or 20 women in the county's inmate population at any one time, all needing transport occasionally to and from the county for court appearances or meetings with attorneys. But adding to the cost burden is the fact that some inmates are now housed as far away as Allegheny County and Wayne County.

Because of behavioral issues, certain inmates are no longer accepted by closer, neighboring counties.

Nothing was settled Wednesday on how to resolve the issue.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014 at 2:05 pm

Four Batavia businesses hit with break-ins overnight

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, crime

Police are investigating break-ins into four local business, though only one business owner reported missing property.

Salvania's Restaurant, on Jackson Street, had its cash register tipped and money was stolen, said Sgt. Det. Todd Crossett.  

There's apparently nothing missing from Anything Your Heart Desired on East Main Street, Golden Coin Laundry, East Main Street, and Sterling Tent, on Pearl Street, Crossett said.

There are few leads in the case at the moment, Crossett said. 

Anybody with information that may be useful to the investigation can contact Batavia PD at (585) 345-6350 or the confidential tip line at (585) 345-6370.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014 at 10:29 am

Local dairy farm fined as result of contamination to six water wells

post by Howard B. Owens in agriculture, business, Lamb Farms, Oakfield

Lamb Farms agreed to pay a $15,000 fine to the Department of Environmental Conservation for liquid manure that seeped into six residential water wells in the Lewiston/Oakfield Batavia Townline roads area of Oakfield in March, according to documents released by the DEC.

The 4,000-cow dairy farm was also given a suspended fine of $44,000 that it can avoid by complying with DEC instructions in what's known as a "consent order."

Word of the contaminated wells spread after the county mistakenly sent -- and quickly retracted -- a boil water alert to all county residents around March 18. The alert was only meant for a small population area around Lewiston Road and Oakfield Batavia Townline Road.

In all, six wells eventually tested positive for E. coli.

The DEC investigated and determined, according to the documents, that Lamb Farms was responsible for manure runoff from Field 367 on March 7 into a tributary of Upper Oak Orchard Creek, and that the manure spread on Field 386 on March 6 and 7 likely contributed to the wells' contamination.

As part of the consent order, Lamb Farms agreed to a number of technical stipulations: developing a new nutrient management plan; creating a plan for dealing with the different soil types of its field; how it handles winter and spring manure spreading; properly designating springs that might be affected by runoff; and providing more details in records for manure spreading.

Attempts to reach Lamb Farms co-owner Jim Veazy, who handled the matter with the DEC, according to the documents, were unsuccessful. It's harvest time and he's been busy in the fields.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014 at 9:57 am

Le Roy fire now has a 15-passenger van to assist at scenes and events

post by Howard B. Owens in Le Roy, Le Roy Fire

Le Roy Fire Department has placed a new 15-passenger van into service. The van will be used for transporting personnel to and from accident and fire scenes, to and from training classes and for parade and funeral details, among other duties. The auxiliary will also use the van for transporting food and drinks to scenes. Reflective striping and lights will make the vehicle more visible and therefore safer. The department thanks Chris Stella of Stella Collision for shop space to work on the van and Josh Pfendler for lettering the van at no cost to the department.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014 at 7:01 am

Accident reported at Main and Center, Batavia

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, accident

A two-car accident, unknown injuries, is reported at Center Street and East Main Street, Batavia.

City fire and Mercy EMS responding.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014 at 6:47 am

Listen this morning to 'Talk of the Town' on WBTA

post by Howard B. Owens in thebatavian, wbta

Tune in at 9 a.m. to WBTA-1490 for "Talk of the Town" staring Hiram Kasten and Lucine Kauffman.

I'll be their guest this morning.

The show can also be heard live streamed on WBTAi.com and WBTA's smartphone app.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014 at 6:08 pm

Dog can finally be adopted after owner admits to animal torture charge and surrenders ownership

post by Howard B. Owens in animals, batavia, crime, pets

Fox'r is ready to go home. Whose home, we don't know yet, but it won't be the home of Nina Kelso.

In City Court today, Kelso finally surrendered ownership of the boxer, who has been living at the Animal Shelter since being found on death's doorstep at Kelso's former residence on Hutchins Street more than nine months ago.

He can now be adopted into a forever home by a local resident.

While Fox'r has put on weight -- he's up to 84 pounds -- and regained his strength, he's also been fidgety and nervous while confined most hours of the day to a cage at the shelter. He likes people and wants to be around people, volunteers say.

The volunteers at the shelter have taken to calling him "Skully" and "Boyfriend" and they've been eager to see Kelso's court case completed so he could find a new home.

Concern for the dog is one reason the District Attorney's Office agreed to a plea bargain in the case, ADA Robert Zickl told Judge Robert Balbick in City Court today.

"There's no reason for the animal to continue being confined to the shelter," Zickl said. "It should be adopted out and that is what we prefer to do because it's in the best interest of the dog." 

Kelso entered a guilty plea on an Alford basis to one count of torturing an animal.

An Alford plea means she concedes she would likely be found guilty by a jury, but does not admit to the facts of the prosecution's case against her.

Today's proceedings started with Kelso's attorney, Fares Rumi, laying out his understanding of the plea agreement offered by the people.

The agreement was a guilty plea to torturing an animal, no fees for his care up at the shelter and no jail time.

Balbick shot back that he wouldn't necessarily agree to the terms at sentencing.

"I would have to look at her background, a pre-sentence investigation, the facts of the situation and decided if no jail would serve appropriate justice," Balbick said. "I can't do that blindly. I know nothing about your client except that she is charged with torturing an animal."

Looks of shock and horror passed over Kelso's face, who sat at the defense table in a black blouse fiddling with a long silver chain draped around her neck. She appeared close to tears.

After some whispers between her and Rumi, some more back and forth between Rumi and Balbick, Balbick suggested the attorneys proceed with the planned suppression hearing.

Rumi had made a motion to get thrown out any statements Kelso made to Officer Jamie Givens the day she responded to an animal cruelty complaint at 142 Hutchins St. on Feb. 4.

Givens found Fox'r at the top of a common stairwell (shared by two apartments). Food was strewn everywhere, there was no water, and it didn't appear that Fox'r even had the strength to raise his head, Givens testified.

He was so emaciated his ribs were showing.

Minutes after Givens arrived on scene, Kelso came up and walked up the stairs and spoke with Givens.

Rumi argued that Kelso should have been read her rights before speaking with Givens. An argument Balbick would later reject saying that Kelso wasn't in custody at the time and her statements were voluntary. 

Kelso told Givens, Givens said, that Fox'r had eaten either cigarettes or some chemical that made him sick and cause sudden weight loss. Kelso reportedly said she knew Fox'r was close to death and that her brother-in-law was supposed to pick him up the next day and take him some place and shoot him to death.

Through the entirety of Givens testimony, Kelso sat silently shaking her head "no."

After the testimony, both attorneys met with Balbick privately.

When they came back into the courtroom, Rumi met with Kelso privately. They all then approached the bench and Rumi said Kelso had agreed to the terms.

Balbick again emphasized that he retains the option to reject her guilty plea when she comes in for sentencing Jan. 6.

Through tears, Kelso said she understood.

As the details of her guilty plea and the process were discussed, Kelso stood next to her attorney nearly sobbing, but mostly holding it together.

When Balbick asked her if she was ready to surrender the dog, Kelso could barely form the word "yes" with her mouth, started to sob briefly and looked straight up at the ceiling.

Seconds passed, and she managed to sob, "yes."

An animal control officer at the back of the courtroom began preparing the paperwork.

The animal shelter is located at 3841 W. Main Street Road, Batavia. Phone: (585) 343-6410. Applications for adoption are being accepted immediately.  

Around the time of Kelso's arrest, another Batavia woman, Lauren K. Pellegrino, also also arrested for allegedly mistreating her dog, Nessa. Pellegrino was scheduled to appear on her case at 1:30 p.m., and as of 4 p.m., she had yet to show up in City Court. She missed a previous court appearance, as well, and eventually turned herself in on a warrant, according to court officials. The court was attempting to contact her attorney this afternoon. Nessa remains confined to the shelter.

CORRECTION: we originally wrote "no fine." Kelso could be fined up to $1,000. The plea relieves her of responsibility for shelter fees. However when Balbick informed her she could be fined Kelso said she had been willing to pay for Fox'r's care.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014 at 9:55 am

Reader photo: Garden spider

post by Howard B. Owens in outdoors, photos

Inspired by Jim Nigro's post, Jody Robbins submitted this photo of a spider from her garden.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014 at 9:47 am

Law and Order: New forgery charge for jail inmate

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

Michael Robert Sigl, 22, of Pratt Road, Batavia, is charged with criminal possession of a forged instrument, 2nd. Sigl allegedly forged a check Sept. 4 from another person's account and used it to make a purchase at a local retail store for $277.54. Sigl is already incarcerated at the Genesee County Jail  on five counts of criminal possession of a forged instrument was arraigned on the new charge and ordered held on $10,000 cash bail. 

Dylan B. Boykins, 41, of Pringle Avenue, Batavia, is charged with attempted petit larceny. Boykins allegedly tried to steal merchandise from Dollar General.

Justin J. Koepp, 32, of East Main Road, Batavia, is charged with unlawful possession of marijuana. Koepp was charged following an investigation into a reported domestic incident.

Eric John Davis, 36, of Read Road, Corfu, is charged with criminal contempt, 2nd. Davis allegedly violated an order of protection.

Premium Drupal Themes