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Howard B. Owens's blog

Friday, July 16, 2010 at 5:02 pm

Property owner hiring pest control company to look at the gull issue at Latina's

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, downtown, Latina's

Tom Lewin, one of the owners of the former Latina's Market location on Ellicott Street will have a pest control company on site Monday. It will evaluate the gull problem that city residents and business owners have been complaining about for months.

"Hopefully by Tuesday, I'll have their recommendation," Lewin said.

Asked about DEC involvement -- the city was required to get a permit before dealing with the gull issue atop City Centre a couple of years ago -- Lewin said he didn't know anything about that.

"I'm not a gull expert," he said. "Are you?"

Earlier today, Lewin was quoted on the WGRZ website as saying he was cooperating with the city on the issue.

"We are working diligently and cooperatively with the City of Batavia to find a solution," Lewin reportedly said.

Reached this morning, City Manager Jason Molino said he had spoken with Lewin, but also said he would like to see some action before he would call it cooperation.

"If there’s a move over on that property, then I guess you could say that’s true," Molino said.

The city issued a condemnation notice on the building, which could provide a path for the city to take steps on its own to deal with the gull infestation; however, the County Health Board has ruled the gulls are not a public health hazard.

Lewin, principal in LKLWL Properties, has also been summoned to City Court to respond to allegations of code violations at the vacant site.

Friday, July 16, 2010 at 12:40 pm

Muckdogs blow past Red Sox, 16-2

post by Howard B. Owens in baseball, Batavia Muckdogs, sports

The Batavia Muckdogs showed up at Dwyer Stadium last night with their hitting shoes on, slapping around 15 hits and scoring 16 runs to drop the Lowell Red Sox 16-2.

The victory moved the Muckdogs to 13-13 for the year.

Nick Longmire hit his fifth home run of the season and he had, along with Joey Bergman and Colin Walsh, three RBIs.

Rainel Rosario had three hits and drove in a pair of runs.

Justin Edwards went seven innings and surrendered two runs to pick up his second win and lower his ERA to 2.93.

Tonight is fireworks night as the Muckdogs play one more home game against the Boston Red Sox farm team. On Saturday, longtime NY-Penn League rivals Jamestown open a three-game series at Dwyer.

Friday, July 16, 2010 at 10:07 am

Reported pole on fire, North Street, Le Roy

post by Howard B. Owens in fire, Le Roy

A pole is reportedly on fire in the area of 36 North St., Le Roy.

Le Roy Fire and EMS being dispatched.

UPDATE 10:16 a.m.: It's a very small fire at the top of the pole. National Grid has been notified. Engine 63 is clearing the scene.


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Friday, July 16, 2010 at 9:21 am

Today's Deals: New today, The Daily Grind

post by Howard B. Owens in Deal of the Day

New TodayThe Daily Grind, 85 E. Main St., Batavia, NY: For Batavia's finest coffee, smoothies, as well as fast and convenient breakfasts and lunches, stop into The Daily Grind. We have a $10 gift card for $5.

Settler's Restaurant, 353 W. Main St., Batavia, NY: Settler's has a 25-year history of serving great, affordable breakfasts,lunches and dinners to Batavians. We have a $20 gift certificate for $10.

Delavan's Restaurant and Tavern, 107 Evans St., Batavia, NY: To me, Delavan's is one of those restaurants where you want to eat frequently until you try everything on the menu. We have a $20 gift certificate for $10.

Main St. Pizza Company, 206 E. Main St., Batavia, NY: Pizza, wings, subs and even hamburgers and hot dogs, Main St. Pizza makes everything deliciously. We have a $25 gift certificate for $12.50.

Stafford Trading Post, 6173 Main Road, Stafford, NY: Lunch or dinner, Stafford Trading Post offers a variety of fresh, homemade meals, as well as snacks and drinks. Now in a new, expanded location. We have a $25 gift card for $12.50.

Clor's Meat Market, 4169 W. Main St. Road, Batavia, NY: For the best, most flavorful, juiciest chicken or hamburger in town, hands down, stop by Clor's. Oh, and the steaks are great, too. And the sausage. Clor's also serves lunch and dinners from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. We have a $20 gift card for $10.

Sallome's Italian Deli, 40 Oak St., Batavia, NY: Wraps, subs, paninis and pasta as well as pizzas -- Sallome's offers a tasty variety of Italian deli items for eat-in or take-out. We have $10 gift certificates for $5 each.

Matty's Pizzeria, 4152 W. Main St., Batavia, NY: Matty's is another Batavia favorite for pizza and wings. We have a $20 gift certificate for $10.

T.F. Brown's, at 214 E. Main St., Batavia, NY: T.F. Brown's is a great place for a good meal, good friends and to catch up on what's going on in the sports world. "If it happens in sports, it happens at Brown's." We have a $20 gift card for $10.

Alex's Place, 8322 Park Road, Batavia, NY: People come from all over the region for a fine dining experience at Alex's. It's best known for its ribs, of course, but Alex's seafood is also a favorite of the restaurant's diners. We have a $25 gift certificate for $12.50.

Center Street Smoke House, 20 Center St., Batavia, NY: Authentic Southern BBQ, from ribs to brisket with all the fixin's. We have a $20 gift card for $10.

Larry's Steakhouse, 60 Main St., Batavia, NY: The name says it all -- Larry's is a great place for steak. Larry's has a fine dining atmosphere with a great menu and outstanding service. We have a $25 gift certificate for $12.50.

NOTE: If you've never bought Deal of the Day before, or are otherwise unfamiliar with the rules and process, click here.

SOLD OUT

Friday, July 16, 2010 at 12:56 am

Photos: Experimenting with night photography at Main and Ellicott

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Ellicott Street, main street, photos, Upton Monument

ellicott_upton_motorcycle.jpg

Arriving back in Batavia from Geneseo at dusk, I remembered that one of the pictures I've been thinking about trying to get, is the front of Batavia Police Station at night because of the funky green lights on the front of the building. That led to a general playing around with night photography at the intersection of Main and Ellicott streets. These are the four photos from that session.

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Friday, July 16, 2010 at 12:41 am

Batavia All Stars drop district championship in Geneseo

post by Howard B. Owens in baseball, batavia, little league, sports

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Batavia's Little League All Stars put up a heck of a fight in a seesaw battle that hung in the balance until the final out, but the District Championship victory still went to Geneseo, 9-8.

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More pictures after the jump:

Thursday, July 15, 2010 at 5:16 pm

Motions denied in Pontillo's lawsuit

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business, Pontillo's

A series of motions filed by the estate of Elizabeth Pontillo seeking money and property from Sam and Paul Pontillo was dismissed by County Court Judge Robert C. Noonan on June 30.

pontillos_corner.jpg"Nonetheless, the instant motion will be denied in its entirety for want of a clear and convincing demonstration of either a likelihood of ultimate success on the merits, the prospect of irreparable injury or a balancing of the equities in a plaintiff's favor," Noonan wrote in his decision. "Accordingly, the Plaintiff's Motion is hereby denied, and the temporary restraining order previously granted is hereby vacated."

It's unclear how this ruling impacts the lawsuit filed against the Sam and Paul by the estate.

Brian Degnan, attorney for the estate, could not be reached this afternoon, and Sam Pontillo's attorney, Reid Whiting, refused to come to the phone.

Degnan filed motions in June requesting Sam Pontillo not be allowed to remove equipment or enter the property of the Pontillo's in Le Roy, that he return all business equipment taken, and that he pay back rents, taxes and profits associated with the Le Roy location.

The estate, being administered by John Forsyth, also sought back rent from Paul Pontillo for the time he was living at 64 Vernon Ave., Batavia, the former residence of his parents, and an accounting of various items believed to be in the house at one time.

In his answer to the motion, Whiting accused Forsyth of a conflict of interest and a lack of good faith in dealing with Sam Pontillo.

In an answering affidavit, Sam Pontillo says that as accountant for the various Pontillo's businesses in Genesee County, he had access to financial information and other company secrets, "many of which he is now using in a selective manner to the detriment of defendants. As such, he has an obvious conflict of interest as a litigant."

Sam also notes, to his "amazement," John Pontillo was not sued by the estate, despite being involved in the business operations at one time.

He accuses John and Paul of mismanaging the "'goose that laid the golden egg' to the point of insolvency and desperate need for a subprime mortgage."

"He (John) was personally and highly involved in the demise of the Batavia store and its foreclosure," Sam writes.  

He accused John of removing a seven-ton HVAC unit from the Batavia location.

"John was an officer and manager of the Batavia store for a substantial time during which it failed to pay sales tax, payroll taxes and real property taxes and numerous suppliers," according to Sam.

One of the chief financial decisions that led to loss of the Batavia store, based The Batavian's previous reporting of this story, was taking out a mortgage on the property in November 2008. Sam Pontillo states that he "adamantly opposed" his mother's execution of the mortgage, "particularly at the exorbitant rate of 16 percent."

"Paul and John, not just Paul, have a lot to explain about the demise of that business," Sam writes.

As for the property Forsyth claimed belonged to the estate, Sam Pontillo provide copies of checks showing that he spent about $20,000 on the equipment, out of his own business entity, Le Roy Dough Boys, Inc.

Sam Pontillo also accuses John Forsyth of not answering his offers to buy the Le Roy Store or a proposed lease on the property.

As part of the lawsuit, the estate has sought some $50,000 in back rent from San Pontillo for the Le Roy location. The back rent is calculated at $2,500 per month. An affidavit from Daniel K. O'Shea, who says he's a lifelong resident of Le Roy, and an owner of downtown village property, says there is no property in the village worth more than $1,000 per month and the total estimated value of the Le Roy location is $100,000.

Sam states that even though he was never associated with Sam's Tomato Pies, either as employee, shareholder or director, the IRS has placed a lien on the home owned solely by his wife in Albany in an attempt to collect back taxes from the corporation.

"Plaintiffs and my brothers are lashing out at me without any factual or legal justification," Sam writes. "I suspect they are solely motivated by the base emotion of envy as a result of the position I secured with the new owners of the Batavia store

"As manager of the Batavia pizzeria, opened on April 6, 2010, I am not in competition with the Pontillo Family Partnership or the estate. I am merely earning a just living to support my wife and three sons, despite the shabby obstacles plaintiffs and my brothers have tried to place in my path."

Thursday, July 15, 2010 at 10:09 am

Police Beat: Driver accused of driving under influence of drugs and alcohol

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Alabama, crime, Pavilion

Joseph S. Martaus, 26, of 14 Overlook Drive, Batavia, is charged with DWI, driving under the influence of drugs, controlled substance not in original container, possession of a hypodermic instrument, disobeying pavement markings. At 6:48 p.m., Wednesday,  Batavia Police responded to a report of an individual who appeared either drunk or ill getting behind the wheel of a car. The caller provided the license plate number of the car and a vehicle description. The vehicle was located and stopped on Ellicott Street. Martaus was allegedly unable to pass a field sobriety test. An officer who is an expert in recognizing the influence of drugs responded to the scene and determined Martaus was allegedly also driving under the influence of drugs. He was jailed on $500 bail. Officers Mark Lawrence, Eric Hill and Jason Davis were involved in the arrest.

Daniel D. Reese, 55, of 97 Abbott St., Rochester, is charged with DWI, driving with a BAC of .18 or greater, and following too close. Reese was reportedly involved in a rear-end accident in the area of 210 E. Main St., Batavia, at 4:51 p.m., Wednesday. Officer Chris Camp conducted a field sobriety test and found Reese was allegedly driving drunk. Reese was booked and released on an appearance ticket.

Christopher Lawrence Bauld, 21, of Kinmont Drive, Rochester, is charged with DWI, driving with a BAC of .08 or greater, no front license plate. Bauld was stopped at 8:22 p.m., Wednesday, on Route 77 in Alabama by Deputy James Diehl for allegedly having no front license plate.

Kelsey Anne Sanders, 23, of E. Main Street, Batavia, is charged with petit larceny. Sanders is accused of shoplifting from Kmart.

Louis Alfredo Mercado, 22, of Bank Street, Batavia, is charged with petit larceny. Mercado is accused of shoplifting from Kmart.

Jacob John McCowen, 26, of Oak Street, Warsaw, is charged with criminal contempt, 2nd. McCowen is accused of visiting the residence of, and calling a person in Pavilion whom he'd been ordered not to contact.

Thursday, July 15, 2010 at 8:57 am

Buffalo station covers ducks on Oak Street

post by Howard B. Owens in Oak Street

WIVB sent a reporter to 172 Oak Street yesterday to talk with Ron Graziaplena and his neighbors about his ducks and all the stuff in his front yard.

Thursday, July 15, 2010 at 8:44 am

Electrical wire down on South Swan

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, South Swan Street

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A wire is reported down and arcing in the area of 229 South Swan St., Batavia.

City Fire is on scene.

National Grid has been notified.

UPDATE 8:54 a.m.: A fire captain requests that National Grid expedite its response because "we have a tree on fire here." National Grid ETA is five minutes.

UPDATE 8:59 a.m.: National Grid is heading down to Ellicott Street to cut the power.

UPDATE 9:15 a.m.: National Grid reports more than 600 customers are without power in the area around South Swan.

UPDATE 9:28 a.m.: Fire is out. Engine 12 returning to quarters. National Grid still on scene.

UPDATE 9:38 a.m.: National Grid now estimates 320 customers are without power.

UPDATE 10:21 a.m.: 113 customers now without power.

UPDATE  11:34 a.m.: Guess I should have gone out to this one for some pictures. It sounds like it was far more interesting than came across on the scanner. The tree was burned pretty good. The pavement literally melted clear through under the wire. Water evaporated as soon as it hit the spot, I'm told. The cause of the downed line? Unknown. Possibly a limb fell on it.  It was a very old line.

UPDATE: Photo submitted by Laura Mullen.


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Thursday, July 15, 2010 at 8:40 am

More Buffalo coverage of Latina's gulls

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Latina's

WRGZ out of Buffalo broadcast a story about the gulls at Latina's.

UPDATE: The Democrat and Chronicle has also posted a story.

Thursday, July 15, 2010 at 12:22 am

Photos: North Elba - wheat, thistle and an old canal

post by Howard B. Owens in elba, photos

elbadrive01.jpg

Billie went with me on a photo expedition this evening. We went looking for a barn somebody said I should photograph. We didn't find it, but in looking, we saw some interesting things.

Part of what interested me in the trip was the other day I noticed Muck Road on Google Maps, and it looked like it ran along a canal. That seemed like worth exploring. There is a canal there, and Muck Road is appropriately unpaved. We did drive down three miles of it, though.

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This portion of the canel, along Spoil Bank Road, may actually be in Orleans County.

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This portion is back in Genesee County, by Route 98. On the other end of this section, we saw fish jumping. We stopped and talked to a guy out walking his dog who told us there are some pretty good size carp in the old canal.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010 at 10:46 pm

Three arrests, seven citations at Vans Warp Tour concert, Darien Lake

post by Howard B. Owens in crime, Darien, darien lake

The following people were arrested in conjunction with the Vans Warped Tour concert at Darien Lake.

Michael P. Radecke, 18, of Raintree Court, Williamsville, is charged with trespassing. He is accused of entering the concert venue after being ejected and told not to return. He was jailed on $250 bail.

Wellsley G. Radecke, 20, of Raintree Court, Williamsville, is charged with trespassing. He is accused of entering the concert venue after being ejected and told not to return.

Cole M. Pilkey, 25, of Landings Court, Amherst, is charged with harassment, 2nd, after allegedly striking a security officer in the face. 

The following people were issued tickets for allegedly possessing alcohol under age 21.

Heather A. Heverly, 19, of Friendship
A 17-year-old from Angelica
A 16-year-old from Orchard Park
Ed Anthony W. Antalik, 20, of Greengage Circle, East Amherst
Paschal J. Abbarno, III, 20, of Smith Road, East Amherst
Daniel Q. Newman, 18, of Greengage Circle, East Amherst
Thomas B. Cohen, 20, of Glen Oak Drive, East Amherst

Wednesday, July 14, 2010 at 5:38 pm

Photo Essay: An alleged DWI arrest

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, accident, crime, photos

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After this afternoon's minor accident on East Main Street, I was tipped to stick around  -- there might be a field sobriety test about to take place. So I did.

The test was administered by Officer Chris Camp. The name of the subject is not yet available.

It begins, above, with a pat search of the subject. ...

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Instruction, walk a straight line touching ...

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... heel-to-toe ...

More pictures after the jump:

Wednesday, July 14, 2010 at 12:41 pm

Unsolved, Part 3: A pair of cases out of the 'cold' file

post by Howard B. Owens in crime, Jerome Brewster, unsolved murders

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It's as if somebody is whispering in his ear, "you're getting warmer."

Of all four mysterious death files on his desk, the murders of Kisha Sullivan and Bill Fickel are the ones Chief Deputy Jerome Brewster is least likely to call cold cases.

While arrests may not be imminent, Brewster has a "person of interest" in each case.

Now, it's just a matter of putting the pieces in place that will lead to indictments.

As Brewster is fond of saying, "Mere suspicion isn’t enough and if that’s all you’ve got, you really don’t have anything."

Kisha Sullivan's body was found at least two weeks after she was bludgeoned to death in a wooded area of Gulf Road, Le Roy.

Nobody had reported the deaf young mother missing, even though she had a boyfriend, whom she wasn't living with at the time.

After extensive interviews in the Rochester area, where the 27-year-old lived, Brewster said investigators concluded that everybody who knew her liked her and the only person she ever had cross words with was her boyfriend.

Early on, he was a logical suspect.

"He came up with an alibi but we were never really satisfied that he wasn’t involved," Brewster said. "But through our investigation, we concluded there was really a strong possibility that he was telling us the the truth and he wasn’t involved."

Sullivan's body was found Oct. 27, 2002. Her last known location while she was alive was at an ATM machine at a convenience store in Rochester on Oct. 5.

Her body decomposition, Brewster said, was consistent with somebody who had been dead in those weather conditions for that period of time.

The wooded area where she was found is owned by the Dolomite Group. It was a Dolomite supervisor, who was giving a tour of a new logging operation on the property to a friend, who found Sullivan's body.

It was clear from the scene, Brewster said, that Sullivan tried to flee from her attacker, but that she was killed in that wooded area.

She wasn't sexually assaulted.

Nobody saw her get in a car, nor was she seen with another person prior to her disappearance.

Investigators were unable to find anybody in Le Roy or Bergen with any connection to the St. Mary's High School graduate.

As for DNA evidence, Brewster said he recently learned from the criminal lab that, with recent advances in the DNA technology, he should resubmit DNA samples. In the first go around, no DNA that might be tied to a suspect could be found. With the new technology, Brewster suggested, maybe something might turn up.

The only thing Brewster revealed about the person he thinks killed Sullivan is that it is somebody she knew prior to her death.

"The one thing I can tell you, I’m fairly confident that we know who is responsible for her death," Brewster said, "but I guess you can read between the lines that I don’t have enough to make a charge yet."

unsolvedmurders_inset2.jpgOn Brewster's book shelf is a very thick, full binder. On its spine: Fickel Homicide. You can't miss it when you walk into Brewster's office. It draws your eye faster than the stunning photograph of a lone tree in the midst of an expansive landscape on one wall, or the beautifully carved birdhouse atop his credenza.

Brewster has amassed more than 500 leads in the Fickel case, and more than 300 of them are filed in the Fickel Homicide binder.

But the most important lead of all may have come in mid-June when Steven Rebert, a former Oakfield resident, was arrested as a suspect in a double murder in Pennsylvania.

State Police in that case reported finding evidence on his computer that indicated he had more than a passing interest in the death of Fickel and the unsolved murder of Kevin Smith in Orleans County.

All four people were shot to death.

Bill Fickel was killed outside his home in November, 2005, less than mile from where Rebert lived at the time. The two men knew each other.

In the Fickel murder, there was DNA found at the scene. It could be the DNA of the killer or the DNA of an associate, but Brewster has spent years looking for a match, because a match could crack the case.

Of all the mysterious deaths in Genesee County in the past 30 or 40 years, the murder of Bill Fickel has gotten the most attention. Fickel was well known and well liked, and he was gunned down in front of his own home with his wife inside -- for no apparent reason.

Since the arrest of Rebert, Brerwster said he's been working the case daily. There have been steps forward, and steps backward.

"You have to be able to roll with the punches," Brewster said. "Some days are good, and some days are bad."

But, he said, "I'm optimistic on that case, and that's probably all I'm going to tell you."

Previously:

For audio versions of these stories, tune into WBTA today, Thursday and Friday.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010 at 12:22 pm

City firefighters dress in pink to help fight cancer

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, charity, City Fire

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You may seen firefighters around town in pink T-shirts over the next week or so. It's not the new team color. After the wife of a firefighter was diagnosed with breast cancer, the entire department agreed to start wearing pink T-shirts as a sign of support. It's also turned into a fundraiser.

Members of the department will be at Thursday's Batavia Muckdog's game selling pink T-shirts with the Batavia City Fire Department logo on the front for $10 each. The proceeds will benefit Genesee Caner Assistance.

Pictured from left are, Rich Stefani, Mike Morris, Jeff Stevens, Bill Hilchey and Frank D'Angelo.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010 at 11:45 am

Photos: Lacrosse clinic aimed at developing more local talent

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, lacrosse, sports

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More than two dozen second- through sixth-graders are participating in a five-week long lacrosse clinic at John Kennedy School under the guidance of Joe Husser, a program assistant for lacrosse at Batavia High School.

Husser explained that while many schools in the Rochester area start developing players as young as 5, Batavia players have traditionally not started learning the game until middle school.

Lacrosse was invented by Native Americans and has huge regional appeal in some parts of the country, such as Upstate New York, but has yet to gain a national following.  Interestingly, the Iroquois are being barred by the United States from playing in the world championships in London because for the first time the State Department isn't recognizing the Iroquois passport.

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More pictures after the jump:

Wednesday, July 14, 2010 at 11:08 am

Police Beat: Alleged road-rage incident in Bergen leads to arrest

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, crime, Le Roy, Pavilion

Charles Anthony Piazza, 52, of Cherry Laurel Circle, Webster, is charged with harassment, 2nd. Piazza is accused of punching another driver three times in the face during a road-rage incident in the area of 6168 Route 19, Bergen, at 11:34 a.m., Monday.

Matthew Scott Williams, 22, of Hundredmark Road, Elba, was arrested on a bench warrant out of Town of Elba Court. He was jailed on $3,000 bail.

Alanna Marie Whelan, 20, of 25 Bacon St., Apt. A, Le Roy, is charged with unlawful dealing with a child, 1st. Sgt. Micaheal Hare responded to a noise complaint at Whelan's apartment at 1:15 a.m. and allegedly found that she served alcohol to two individuals under 21.

Kristopher Jon Ayers, 25, of Spring Street, Caledonia, is charged with criminal possession of a weapon, 3rd, and criminal possession of a controlled substance, 4th. Ayers was stopped in the Village of Le Roy by Deputy Joseph Graff in relation to an  arrest warrant on a misdemeanor charge of harassment, 2nd. Ayers was allegedly found in possession of five sets of brass knuckles and a quantity of hashish.

Luke W. Ritzenthaler, 27, and Amy L. Ritzenthaler, 26, both of Batavia, were both charged with unlawful possession of marijuana. They were stopped by State Police on Route 33 in Batavia at 5:34 p.m., July 4. No further details were released.

Floyd B. Eldridge, 53, of Pavilion, is charged with unlawful possession of marijuana. Eldridge was cited by State Police at 7845 Broadway Road, Pavilion, at 3:52 p.m., June 24.

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