Submitted by Howard Owens on June 21, 2009 - 2:26pm
Mercy Flight received a donation of $7,115 today from the Don Cummings Memorial Antique & Vintage Snowmobile Show, which was held May 9 in Alexander.
The donation will help defray the $300,000 cost of outfitting Mercy Flight with night goggles. The safety measure is expensive, explain Karen Bridge, community event coordinator in Batavia for Mercy Flight, because the goggles require training and modification to the helicopters' cockpits, as well as the goggles themselves.
The goggles will improve vision at night for pilots, so they can better see power lines, telephone polls and even small hills, Bridge said.
"Last year there were a lot of well publicized crashes all over the U.S., so it's a good thing to have," Bridge said.
This is the third year for the snowmobile show, which was originally known as the Alexander Antique and Vintage Snowmobile Show. The show was founded by Don Cummings, but he died shortly after last year's show. This year the show was renamed in his honor.
Pictured are, starting with the front row, left, Howard Mehne, Rita Mehne, Gail Lindsley, Bruce Lindsley, Doug Cummings, Jason Cummings and Karen Bridge; back row: Juliet Wnek, Jarred Czarnick, Dennis Czarniak, Pete Kemp and Joanne Kemp. Not pictured, John Goodridge, Ray Schumacher and Jay Cummings.
Submitted by Howard Owens on June 21, 2009 - 2:10pm
Tom Bruggman stands next to the Arctic Cat 4x4 being raffled off by the Bethany Volunteer Fire Department. Bruggman set up today at the Genesee County Airport, near the Rotary Fly-In Breakfast. For more information about the raffle, visit the Bethany VFD Web site.
Submitted by Howard Owens on June 21, 2009 - 11:28am
Last week we reported that Neil W. Phelps, 55, of Caledonia, was charged with reckless driving in connection with his reported operation of a tractor down Route 63 and Main Street in May, striking three vehicles and pushing one sideways down Main.
It struck me when we got the news release that we had never received the actual police accident report, which would fill in a number of details related to the accident, so I requested a copy from the Sheriff's Office.
Here's the narrative:
Vehicle 1, A large-tracked farm tractor, pulling a folded cultivator was traveling south on Route 63. At the intersection of Route 63 and Veteran's Memorial Drive, the tractor struck vehicle 2, pushing it out of the lane. The tractor continued south. At the intersection of Route 63 and Park Road, the cultivator side swiped Vehicle 3. The tractor continued on and struck vehicle 4 at the intersection of Route 63 and Route 5. The operator of vehicle 4 accelerated in an attempt to get away from tractor, striking an unknown vehicle. The tractor then struck vehicle 5, pushing it into vehicle 6. Vehicle 6 was able to accelerate away from vehicle 5. Vehicle 5 became wedged into the center of the tractor. The tractor continued on about a tenth of a mile east on Route 5, stopping in the area of Woodrow Road in the city of Batavia. The operator of the tractor was taken to the hospital for evaluation.
Vehicle 1 is a 2007 Case tractor owned by Phillip J. Call, Batavia. It was reportedly operated by Neil W. Phelps, 55, of Caledonia.
Vehicle 2, a 2003 Chevy SUV, owned and operated by Donna L. Mcauley, 43, of Oakfield.
Vehicle 3, a 2003 Jeep SUV, owned and operated by Carrie A. Monachino, 37, of Oakfield. Passenger: Charles D. Bucci, 33.
Vehicle 4, a 1999 Chevy sedan, owned by Roxanne J. Munger and operated by Philip C. Munger, 33, of Oakfield. Roxanna Munger, 34, was a passenger, as was Morgan Munger, 10, and Nicholas N. Munger, 7.
Vehicle 5, a 2002 Ford sedan, owned and operated by Eugene E. Laney, 72, of Oakfield. Passenger: Darlene Kingdollar, no age available.
Vehicle 6, a 1997 Chevy sedan, owned and operated by Timothy M. Callen, 17, of Le Roy. Passengers: Aaron J. Archilla, 18, and Henri J. Burdett, 18.
The only injury listed on the report is to Kingdollar. She complained of generalized body pain and was transported to UMMC.
As or the reckless driving charge against Phelps, Chief Gordon Dibble of the Sheriff's Office offered this statement in e-mail:
The possible charges were discussed with the DA's Office. As you know, all crimes have elements that have to be present before they can be charged. After everything was considered, Reckless Driving was the appropriate charge.
Robert L. Smith, 45, of 8339 Gulf Road, Le Roy, was taken to UMMC with a complaint of back pain.
Stephanie A. Howard, 23, of 12 Winston Woods, Brockport, was taken to Lakeside Memorial Hospital in Monroe County.
According to an accident report prepared by Deputy J. M. Graff of the Sheriff's Office, Smith's vehicle was southbound on West Bergen Road at 5:26 p.m. when he failed to yield at Route 33. Howard's 2005 Jeep Grand Cherokee struck Smith's 1999 Chevy pick-up.
The pick-up is registered to Keith D. Smith of 8339 Gulf Road, Le Roy.
Submitted by Howard Owens on June 19, 2009 - 4:40pm
The suspects who struck the M&T Bank in Elba yesterday may have thought they picked an easy mark, but they over looked a few details.
Most importantly, they didn't even know the area. They knew only one route to and from the Thruway and under estimated the response times of local law enforcement.
"They were totally out of their element," said Chief Deputy Jerome Brewster of the Sheriff's Office.
(LISTEN, MP3s: Full audio of interview with Chief Brewster, Part 1, Part 2)
They didn't even know the difference between a field and a wooded area.
"When we talked with them, it had to be explained that a field is an open area and that woods is where trees are," Brewster said.
Brewster said the suspects, once captured, were quite easy to deal with.
"They were cooperative," Brewster said. "They did tell us what was going on and why they did what they did and why they chose that location and who did what inside the bank."
At least two of the suspects have no prior record.
"I think people from outside the area naively believe that because we're out in the sticks that law enforcement isn't on the ball like they are in urban areas," Brewster said. "It turns out it was just the opposite. These guys chose a bank that was probably within two miles of the state police and sheriff's barracks."
All of the money was recovered, and the gun recovered was loaded and had a bullet in the chamber.
The quick response and eventual capture of all three suspects could send a message to other would-be criminals, Brewster said.
"The message is out there, you're probably going to get caught," Brewster said.
Submitted by Howard Owens on June 19, 2009 - 1:46pm
The attached photos are of a suspect possibly involved in the forgery and possession of stolen checks. These photos were taken on 06/12/09 and 06/13/09 at Tonawanda Valley Federal Credit Union. Anyone with information into the identity of this individual is asked to contact Det. Kevin Czora at 345-6311, or the Batavia Police Department at 345-6350.
Submitted by Howard Owens on June 19, 2009 - 1:14pm
Today, five great meal deals:
Jackson St. Grill and Belladessa's Pizzeria, 9 Jackson St., Batavia., N.Y.: Check out the great lunch and dinner menu. Personally, I'm partial to the hamburgers. We have TWO $10 gift certificates for $5 each (two separate winners).
Sport of Kings Family Restaurant, 419 W Main St., Batavia, N.Y.: A favorite locally owned family restaurant that is open 24 hours per day, seven days a week. We have TWO $15 gift certificates for $7.50 each (two separate winners).
Delavan's Restaurant and Tavern, 107 Evans St., Batavia, N.Y.: Have you tried the homemade Italian sausage yet? You should. We have a $25 gift certificate for $12.50.
A $1 PayPal service fee applies to Delavan's and .50 each to Jackson St. and Sport of Kings.
Rules: The gift certificate must be used by within 30 days of purchase. It is not valid with other offers and has no cash value. People who have won a certificate in the past 30 days are not eligible to win a certificate from the same business as before. By state law, gift certificates cannot be used for alcohol purchase.
How to Win: Purchase using the PayPal "Buy Now" button below. After the first person to hit the "buy now" button completes the purchase, PayPal will let you know that the item has been sold. Ideally, the winner will arrange to stop by my office on Main Street to pick up gift certificate. Mail is an option, but it would be better to hand you the gift certificate.
If you want to be notified via e-mail of future Deals of the Day, sign up for the Deals of the Day e-mail list by clicking here.
Merchants: If you would like your business featured in Deal of the Day, call Howard Owens at 260-6970.
Submitted by Howard Owens on June 19, 2009 - 11:41am
District Attorney Lawrence Friedman could take the case against yesterday's three Elba robbery suspects to the Grand Jury as early as Tuesday.
"It's a little early in the day to know for certain," Friendman said.
If he decides to seek an indictment, it could be returned as early as the same day. Without a grand jury indictment, the suspects are entitled to a pre-trial hearing within six days, a right each suspect could waive.
The public defender is currently meeting with the suspects and each will be assigned their own attorney, either a public defender or public-provided outside council, or they could retain private attorneys.
Friedman also praised the work of law enforcement yesterday.
"We're very pleased with the job the police agencies did in this case," Friedman said. "It was great to see it unfold. I think many times people when people come here here from other places, they think its easy to get away with ( in a small rural county) and that's often not the case."
Meanwhile, Scott DeSmit has more details about yesterday's robbery.
Inside the bank was a terrifying scene.
Two men, both brandishing handguns, their faces masked, entered the bank.
A third man waited in the vestibule, Genesee County Sheriff's Chief Deputy Jerome Brewster said.
"The two entered the bank and jumped over the counter at two tellers," Brewster said.
The men knocked the tellers to the floor, then made them get back up to open the drawers, holding the guns to their heads, he said.
The two went through the drawers, retrieved the money and fled.
There were no customers in the bank at the time, Brewster said.
Both guns were later recovered. One was a loaded semi-automatic. The other was found to be a Crossman BB-gun, Brewster said.
Submitted by Howard Owens on June 19, 2009 - 7:45am
If the fate of town/city consolidation were to be judged by one meeting, the prospects are not good, especially from the Town of Batavia perspective.
The majority of speakers Thursday night said they were town residents. They spoke passionately of their opposition to consolidation, and their statements often elicited rousing applause from the audience.
Some 60 people attended the public forum held at Batavia High School last night.
Two themes emerged: The consolidation idea is something of a referendum on the decades-ago urban renewal in Downtown Batavia; and, a strong distrust of Albany.
"Keep in mind that the decisions that are made today will effect generations to come," said Gary Diegelman, a town resident. "Decisions that were made back in the '60s are still affecting us today like urban renewal downtown."
City resident and town land owner George Galliford sounded willing to entertain the notion of consolidation, but struck many skeptical notes.
"Being a progressive sounds very good," said Galliford. "I think people like to think of themselves as progressive. As somebody mentioned earlier at one time there were some progressives in Batavia, and they did urban renewal. There aren't a lot of people around today that would necessarily say that urban renewal and being progressive was a great thing for Batavia."
Barb Galliford questioned whether the state would continue to fund the new government agencies at the levels promised right now. If the consolidation took place, state grants to the new city (if a city form of government were chosen) would increase to $790,000, making up the bulk of an anticipated $1 million in "cost savings" for the new entity.
"And the money the state is saying they're going to give us, they cut things all the time," Galliford said. "There's no guarantee we're going to receive that every single year, or that it will even increase. As far as I'm concerned, I'm definitely not for this consolidation."
"I don't know what kind of guarantees the state can give us, because I don't have a whole lot of faith in the state," George Galliford said.
"If it's not broke, don't fix it," said Rita Towner. "My concern is, like every one else here, the state has no money. In fact the city, in the bad shape that it's in, is in better shape, I think, than the state is in."
As he has previously, Jason Molino stressed that while there are no guarantees, the state money has been very reliable in the past. Large constituencies in Buffalo, Rochester, Albany and other larger cities in the state get a far greater share of these grants and depend on it tremendously. And consolidation of local governments is a major objective for the governor and state legislature.
Some people after the meeting pointed out that there's no guarantee that the Town Board will never raise taxes either. What happens to the town, for example, if in 2018, when the current sales tax agreement with the county expires, and the county decides to no longer share that revenue. The town will be without recourse, but by state law, a city can override such a decision.
Submitted by Howard Owens on June 18, 2009 - 11:30pm
Fans and media were invited out to Dwyer Stadium this evening to meet the 2009 Batavia Muckdogs. I spoke with manager Mark DeJohn briefly about his new team and snapped a couple of pictures of the work out, including one of DeJohn giving one of his players some instruction on glove work.
Submitted by Howard Owens on June 18, 2009 - 8:00pm
BATAVIA, N.Y. -- A trio of men from Buffalo are behind bars, held without bail, accused of robbing the M&T Bank, 7133 Oak Orchard Road, Elba, this morning and then attempting to escape into the woods between Oakfield and Batavia around Route 63 and Townline Road.
The men were identified this evening as Dennis M. Abrams, Jr, 26, of 202 Merrimac St., Buffalo; Demone D. Dillon, 25, 128 LaSalle Ave., Buffalo; and, Michael J. Wells, 24, 69 Camp St., Buffalo.
Witnesses to the 9:49 a.m. stick-up reported that the suspects had at least two guns. Another witness said the suspects fled in a black SUV and traveled south on Route 98.
Officers from the Genesee County Sheriff’s Office, New York State Police and Batavia City Police responded.
Sergeant Cory Harmon of the New York State Police observed the SUV traveling at a high rate of speed west on Batavia-Elba Townline Road towards Route 63 and gave chase.
When the persuit reached the intersection of Route 63 and Townline Road, two of the subjects jumped from the SUV and fled into a wooded area on the southwest of the intersection
The driver sped off down Route 63 toward Galloway Road. He then drove off the pavement behind a residence on Galloway. When he did, his SUV became stuck in the mud and he got out of the vehicle and tried to run on foot through the field.
He was quickly apprehended.
A short time later, the second suspect was taken into custody south of Townline Road, not far from the Route. 63 and Townline Road intersection.
Which of those two suspects is Abrams and which is Merrimac has not been released. Abrams was reportedly the driver.
The third suspect, Wells, managed to evade dozens of officers from the Genesee County Sheriff's Office, the New York State Police and the U.S. Border Patrol, as well K-9 units and two helicopters (deployed at separate times) for more than five hours.
Throughout search for Wells, Sheriff Gary Maha remained confident that he would be captured. The suspect's general locations was apparently known most of the time, in part because he repeatedly used a mobile phone to call a friend, allowing law enforcement officials to triangulate his general location.
Officers finally cuffed Wells at about 2:40 p.m. near the intersection of Route 63 and Galloway Road.
Immediately after the initial report of the fleeing suspects just before 10 a.m., the Oakfield-Alabama Middle/High School was notified and requested to "lock down." Reportedly, per policy, the principle of the school then notified BOCES and BOCES officials then ordered all schools in Genesee County to lock down.
Shortly after 1 p.m., Maha suggested school officials call off the lockdown, telling dispatchers, "We have two suspects in custody and a good idea where the third suspect is, so we don't see any reason to have any schools locked."
The lock down reportedly caused many concerned calls to school officials, law enforcement and local media, with parents worried the suspects were closer to area schools than they actually were.
During the search, one handgun was recovered. A toy gun was picked up when the money was recovered.
The subjects were charged with robbery in the first degree, a class B felony, and arraigned before Elba Town Justice Lois Petote.
Pictured, top to bottom: Wells, Abrams and Dillon.
UPDATE: Dan Fischer is reporting this morning that sources have told WBTA that the scene inside the M&T Bank during the robbery was violent. Nobody was injured, but the robbers entered the bank guns displayed and at one point held a gun to the head of a bank employee. Another employee hid in a rear ofice, under a desk. She managed to trip an alarm. M&T Bank has made counselors available for the employees.
Submitted by Howard Owens on June 18, 2009 - 10:15am
There is a manhunt in progress, with one suspect in custody around Route 63 and Townline Road.
Two other suspects are reportedly still at large, possibily armed, and on foot.
We don't know at this time what triggered the manhunt.
A helicopter has been called in to help with the search.
Batavia Police and Sheriff's Office units are on scene at multiple locations along Route 63.
UPDATE: There is a reported "money trail" south of the subject's vehicle.
UPDATE: 10:30 a.m.: Sheriff Gary Maha has confirmed the suspects are wanted in confirmed the suspects are wanted in connection with a bank robbery in Elba.
And, a woman just drive up to the command center, ran up to the sheriff and said she saw a subject running in a field north of Townline Road just minutes ago. The subject is east of 63, running north.
UPDATE: Helicopter on scene now.
UPDATE 10:50 a.m.: Second suspect in custody. Two more at large.
UPDATE: 10:52: One of the suspects in custody has reported there were only three subjects in the getaway car.
UPDATE 11:02 a.m.: Dan Fischer at WBTA is reporting that all schools in Genesee County have been placed on lock down.
UPDATE 12:22 p.m.: K-9, officers on foot and a helicopter has been searching a area to the northeast of the John Deere location. Now officers are discussing a report of foot prints in a field south of Townline Road. Air 1 has just been moved to that field, where a border batrol K-9 unit found the tracks.
UPDATE: 1:01 p.m.: Maj. Cummings of the NYSP just told the assembled media that the cordoned area is 5 miles. Sheriff Maha said, "We have two suspects in custody. We have this person identified. He might as well give up." Cummings encouraged people in the area to make sure their cars and houses are locked and don't let anybody in.
UPDATE 1:10 p.m.: Sheriff Maha just requested that all schools be unlocked. "We have two suspects in custody and a good idea where the third suspect is, so we don't see any reason to have any schools locked."
UPDATE: Took a while to get this video processed ... it's not quite done. My battery is almost dead, so I'm inserting the code for it now ... should appear shortly ... and shutting down laptop unless there is a significant development.
UPDATE: 2:30 a.m.: The at-large suspect has been identified as Michael J. Wells, 24, of Buffalo. He is 6' and 200 lbs. No other details about his background were releases. If my battery lasts long enough, I'll post a photo shortly.
UPDATE 2:42: The third suspect is in custody.
UPDATE 5:25 p.m.: Below is cellphone video submitted by Paul G. Barrett of Batavia depicting the apprehension of the final of three bank robbery suspects after a five-hour manhunt.
Submitted by Howard Owens on June 18, 2009 - 7:36am
There are at least four options -- and maybe more, listening to the people who attended the public meeting last night at Byron Town Hall -- for the citizens of Byron and Bergen to consider for library space now that the Gillam-Grant Community Center will stop funding support for the library in that facility.
About 40 people attended last night's meeting, and most had something to say about the library situation.
"We have a lot of work to do," Kristin Gordon, financial secretary for the Byron-Bergen Public Library Board, said after the meeting. "It's obvious to me that the consensus of the crowd is to keep both libraries open. The public feedback is important. There were lots of good points made tonight and I assure you none of it will fall on deaf ears.
Certainly, both library locations have their supporters.
"Kids walk to the library every day," Cheryl Wittman, of Bergen, who said she's lived in the area for 29 years. "A lot of the programs they have at night, the summer programs, and lots of parents work so they can't take them there, so they need to walk."
An older woman in the audience said a short time later, “It’s got to stay in the village. It’s got to.”
But many town residents seemed to favor the Gillam-Grant location, arguing that it is more easily accessible to the entire community, not just the village residents.
It is also a newer, slightly large facility.
The village library is about 1,400 square feet and was described by board members as small and in need of expansion. The Gillam-Grant location is 2,000 square feet and has room for offices and storage space.
The rent for the Gillam-Grant location, however, is $8,000 per month, while the village location is $1,200 per month.
One audience member pointed out that with a combined library, with increased traffic and more books to store, the additional 600 sq. ft. isn't that much more space.
And all of the options for the community are like that -- every option has pros in cons.
In fact, every member of the crowd received a piece of paper that listed the four main options with the pros and cons of each option written out.
The four primary options are:
Close the Gillam-Grant location and keep the village location;
Close the village location and keep Gillam-Grant
Obtain school district/special district library status
Keep both locations open, relying on existing town funding or through status change.
None of the options are clear-cut winners. Besides the financial and space constraints associated with the current locations, an option that involves creating a new special district would take 18 months to two years to complete.
The funding for the Gillam-Grant location -- which pays for building operations and staffing -- is set to expire Dec. 31.
The comunity has a chance to come together again tonight at 7 p.m. to discuss the issue at the Bergen Village Hall.
The Sheriff's Office press release says that Phelps operated the tractor "in a manner which unreasonably interfered with the free and proper use of the public highway and unreasonably endangered users of the public highway."
Phelps is set to appear in Batavia Town Court on July 16 at 1:30 p.m. for arraignment on the charge.