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Howard Owens's blog

Tuesday, March 9, 2010 at 11:29 am

Batavia Police embark on effort to enforce seat belt and mobile phone laws

post by Howard Owens in batavia, Batavia Police

Buckle Up, Batavia.

That's the message from the Batavia Police Department, which will be using grant money from the Governor's Traffic Safety Committee to fund extra enforcement details in the city.

The Police will be looking for front seat passengers not wearing seat belts and issuing tickets. They'll also keep a sharp eye out for drivers talking on mobile phones.

The enforcement details will be in place for several months starting today.

In a statement, officials said:

The goal of the enforcement effort is to raise the seat belt use rate by all front seat occupants. With the use of seat belts, there is a significant reduction in the number and degree of personal injuries in the event of an accident.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010 at 10:10 am

Sex offender was classified as Level 3 after new information about prior conviction was discovered

post by Howard Owens in batavia, city council, crime, sex offenders

mug_charles_wroten.jpgCharles H. Wroten, the Level 3 sex offender who lives at 214 S. Swan St., upper, was originally classified as a Level 2 offender at the time of his scheduled release from state prison for raping a 15-year-old girl.

But after the order was signed, prosecutors in the case learned that his prior conviction for burglary in South Carolina was a little more than breaking into the house.

According to court documents (PDF):

[Defendant] did enter into the residence of [the victim] with intent to commit a crime, in that he did enter into the bedroom of a 12 yr old female and did feel her body and did make an effort to get this 12 yr old girl to have sex with him.

Entrance into this residence was at 4:30 AM in the night time.

Wroten appealed the re-evaluation. The document linked above is from the appeals court that heard his case and ruled against him.

The risk level of sex offenders in New York is determined by a worksheet that assigns points for various factors to gauge the likelihood of a person repeating an offense. Wroten's points initially put him at the high end of a Level 2 sex offender, but when prosecutors found out the violent nature of his burglary conviction in South Carolina, it added 15 points to his evaluation, so they sought to have him immediately reclassified as Level 3.

Councilwoman Rose Mary Christian raised the issue of Wroten's residence at the Batavia City Council meeting last night, saying she had received numerous inquiries from citizens wondering what could be done about it.

At her request, an informational meeting has been scheduled for 7 p.m., March 16, with Police Chief Randy Baker and Det. Rich Schauf at the Batavia Police Station.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010 at 9:31 am

Study finds school employee salaries increased 5 percent in 2008-2009

post by Howard Owens in education, schools

Teacher and school administrator salaries in Upstate New York rose 5 percent in 2008-2009, according to a study recently released by The Empire Center for New York State Policy.

In school districts outside of NYC, total expenditures on teacher salaries rose to $670 million to $14 billion.

The number of teachers and administrators making more than $100,000 increased by 5,022 employees, making the total to 32,064.

From BusinessWeek:

Carl Korn, spokesman for New York State United Teachers, said the median teacher's salary statewide was $62,332 for 2007-2008 school year, up 4.7 percent from the year before. That's typically someone with about 15 years' experience, he said.

"We're talking about a professional with a master's degree in their peak earning years," Korn said. "What those figures actually say is that most teachers are paid fairly, but many earn far less than what they would earn in the private sector."

We found this story originally through the D&C.

Monday, March 8, 2010 at 11:59 pm

Lady Lancers advance to state tournament

post by Howard Owens in basketball, elba, sports

elba01.jpg

Sparked by a freshman, the Lady Lancers remained unbeaten and clinched a spot in the state tournament Monday night beating a tough Canaseraga team 61-54.

Freshman McKenzie Bezon scored 29 points for Elba (22-0). She hit five three-point goals on the night.

"We got a great game from McKenzie tonight," said Head Coach Tom Nowak. "For a freshman, that was unbelievable."

It's a good thing, as Cassy Engle of Canaseraga (18-4) scored 34, to keep her team within striking distance of the Section V champions until the closing seconds of the Class D qualifying match.

"We tried to be able to run and push them as much as we could this game because we knew with our bench, hopefully we could try to tire them out a little bit," Nowak said. "I give them a lot of credit, they played hard the whole game."

Nowak said one of the keys to locking down the win was the team making the most of its free throws in the closing minutes of the game.

Elba returns to the Gate-Chili gym on Saturday to play in the first round of the State Championship tournament.

A couple of more pictures after the jump (BTW: I pretty much missed most of this game, having put a little too much trust in my GPS -- Gates-Chili is at 2 Spartan Road, but there's two 2 Spartan Roads in Rochester, as I discovered ... I went to the one 20 minutes past the actual location ... sadly).

Monday, March 8, 2010 at 6:12 pm

High-speed pursuit ends when truck slams into duplex on South Main, Batavia

post by Howard Owens in batavia, accident, crime

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"It sounded like a bomb going off," said Robin Lewin minutes after a truck being pursued at high speed by local law enforcement slammed in her home at 28 South Main St. in the City of Batavia.

"You should see that one wall. All of my family’s pictures came flying at us. We were at the desk. The whole house shook. It was like, what’s going on?"

Lewin and her mother, Barbara Watyrstrew, who was visiting, her teenage daughter, Danielle (Danielle was not at home at the time) had to immediately evacuate the house, which was knocked off its foundation, causing a gas leak.

The driver of the black Chevy 4x4 pickup truck, who has not yet been identified, was taken by Mercy Flight to Strong Memorial Hospital.

accidentsouthmain02.jpgInvestigator Kris Kautz of the Sheriff's Office said Deputy Ronald E. Meides spotted the truck allegedly speeding eastbound on Route 33 just west of Reed Road and attempted to initiate a traffic stop.

The truck wouldn't stop, and may even have speed up, with speeds hitting "triple digits," according to law enforcement officials.

The driver, identified by police after the chase (though his identity is not yet being released), had no known outstanding warrants, according to Det. Rich Schauf of the Batavia Police Department.

When it was apparent Deputy Meides was involved in a high-speed chase, more law enforcement joined in the persuit. Officer John Zola and Deputy Chris Parker managed to get spike strips down on Route 33 at Pearl Street Road moments before the truck arrived.

The strips, according to Parker and Zola, are designed to deflate car tires gradually so that hitting the spikes doesn't cause an immediate accident. By the time the truck hit the Oak Street Roundabout, its tires would have deflated to some extent.

Spikes were found in each of the truck's front tires, Parker and Zola said.

Said Kautz, “The operator refused to stop and the vehicle obviously came through here at too high of a speed to maintain control.”

Luz Castro was standing in front of 28 South Main -- she lives in the upper apartment -- waiting for her daughter's school bus when she saw a deputy and a police car whiz by heading westbound. Minutes later she saw the truck come flying through the roundabout, heading east, and as it came out of the curve at South Main, it was clear the truck was headed right for her. So she jumped out of the way just before the truck rammed the building right at the entrance to her apartment.

"It was just shock. Surreal. Crying. Just too much going on at once," Castro said.

Red Cross has been called in to assist Luz, Robin and Danielle. A city inspector is on scene determining how to safely remove the truck, which is may be the only thing holding up the house at this point.

"Life is a matter of seconds and inches and luckily her (Castro's) child wasn’t here getting off the bus at that moment," said Kautz.

UPDATE 8:13 p.m.: The driver of the truck has been identified as Louis M. Reeb, 19, of 40 E. Main St., Corfu. His injuries are described as non-life threatening. The house is owned by Charles Keif of Batavia. No charges have been filed, pending further investigation.

Monday, March 8, 2010 at 5:30 pm

Possible C0 problem reported at home in Le Roy

post by Howard Owens in Le Roy

Residents are reporting possible ill effects of carbon monoxide poising at 21 Erie St., Le Roy.

Le Roy Fire and Le Roy Ambulance have been dispatched.

It's the same location of a reported gas leak on Friday.

The caller reports that her CO detector did not activate.

The residents have evacuated the house.


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Monday, March 8, 2010 at 1:14 pm

Police Beat: Level 2 sex offender found in Le Roy after allegedly failing to register

post by Howard Owens in batavia, crime, Le Roy

mug_darshawn_johnson.jpgDarshawn T. Johnson, 30, of 106 Lake Street, Le Roy, is charged by a Monroe County Grand Jury with failing to register a change of address, a Class D felony. Johnson, a convicted rapist, allegedly failed to notify New York State of his change of address. Det. John Condidorio reports that a member of the community tipped Le Roy Police to Johnson's status. After further investigation, Condidorio located Johnson walking on Lake Street and arrested him. Johnson is a Level 2 sex offender. He was convicted of sexual abuse, 1st. Following his arrest, Johnson was transferred to the Monroe County Sheriff's Department.

Robert J. Macklem, 20, 1 Prospect Ave., Batavia, is charged with DWI, aggravated DWI (driving with a BAC of .08 or greater) and moving from lane unsafely. Macklem was taken into custody by Officer Thad Mart at 9:50 p.m., Thursday.

Jolin Nicholas Donnelly, 21, 1925 Nesbitt Road, Attica, is charged with unlawful possession of marijuana. Following a traffic stop at 8:19 p.m., Sunday, by Deputy Patrick Reeves, Donnelly was allegedly found in possession of a small quantity of marijuana.

Brian K. Dyer, 43, of 106 North Street, Batavia, is charged with two counts of criminal contempt, 2nd, harassment, 2nd, and endangering the welfare of a child. Dyer was taken into custody at 4:47 p.m., Sunday, by Officer Thad Mart, after Dyer allegedly became involved in a fight with a woman reportedly protected by a court order from "offensive conduct" by him. There was reportedly a child present during the altercation. Dyer was also arrested on an outstanding warrant for allegedly violating a "stay away" order on Feb. 23 during an incident on Dewey Avenue, regarding the same woman. Dyer was jailed on $1,000 bail.

Kenneth M. Gray, Jr., 18, of 77 Myrtle St., Le Roy, is charged with unlawful possession of alcohol under 21. Gray was reportedly found by Officer Dan Coffey in the area of 500 East Street in a state of intoxication. Gray was reportedly carrying seven cans of beer at the time.

Timothy P. Dailey, 40, of Rochester, is charged with criminal mischief. Dailey was arrested by state police in Elba at 2:29 a.m., Saturday. Dailey was jailed. No further details available.

Sunday, March 7, 2010 at 11:33 pm

Chamber hands out annual honors for the 38th time

post by Howard Owens in business, Chamber Awards

chamberwinners.jpg

In an awards ceremony themed "Simply Elegant," the Genesee County Chamber of Commerce honored its Class of 2009 with a dinner and presentation at a local hotel on Saturday night.  

Pictured above are, front row, Billie Owens, Naomi Silver, Chris Sardou, Mary Sardou, Christine Adamczak; back, Howard Owens, Gary Larde, Buddy Brasky, Tom Sardou, Steve Tufts,  Bill Dougherty, Tony Kutter and Travis Sick.

UPDATE 8:22 p.m., Monday: I should note, it was The Batavian's turn this year  to write, and WBTA to broadcast, profiles of this year's award recipients. I'd like to thank Genesee Graphics for printing, and Bill Mosman, a L.C. Mosman for framing the prints. Bill did an excellent job on was by necessity a rush order.

More pictures after the jump:

Sunday, March 7, 2010 at 3:59 pm

Engine smoking on Thruway

post by Howard Owens in batavia, fire, thruway

A car engine is reportedly smoking on the Thruway in the area of mile marker 389.2 in the eastbound lane.

Town of Batavia Fire has been dispatched.

Saturday, March 6, 2010 at 2:34 pm

Heartbreak for Notre Dame in overtime of Section V title game

post by Howard Owens in basketball, Notre Dame, sports

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Late in the third quarter, the Fighting Irish seemed to have their Section V title game well in hand.

And then something strange happened.

The baskets stopped dropping, and turnovers and penalties all seemed to take a Fillmore tilt.

With seconds left in the third, Notre Dame turned over the ball and Fillmore struck for a quick three points, cutting the Irish lead from nine to six.

"The little things ad up," said head coach Mike Rapone. "They did the little things better in about the last 12 minutes of the game."

The game changer, Rapone said, was a six-minute stretch in which the Irish didn't drop a single shot.

"I don’t think we scored from 33-24 until they actually took the lead," Rapone said. "We had a long scoring drought. I thought we were getting decent shots, they just weren’t falling. That happens."

To start the fourth quarter, Fillmore hit two three-point goals, tying the game, and another three-pointer gave Fillmore a lead that Notre Dame would never get back.

The fourth quarter ended in a tie, putting the game into overtime, but Fillmore struck quickly and held the lead through the final four minutes.

"I feel bad for the kids because they’ve been so close in football and now basketball," Rapone said.

Fillmore was sparked in the 4th quarter by Chase Rangel, who came off the bench and scored 14 points, including 4 three-point goals.  He added another key three-point goal in the 4th quarter.

Vinny Zambito led Notre Dame with 13 points, Gianni Zambito, 11, Matt Thompson, 9, and Tom Rapone, 6.

More pictures after the jump:

Saturday, March 6, 2010 at 9:49 am

Cedar Street offers chain saw safety clinic

post by Howard Owens in batavia, business, Cedar Street Sales and Rentals

cedar_chainsaw.jpg

Don Desjarlais, a representative of Oregon Cutting Systems out of Raleigh, N.C., talks about the differences in chain saw teeth during a chain saw safety clinic at Cedar Street Sales and Rentals.

The annual clinic provides area highway department workers and others who use chainsaws frequently detailed information on the operation of chain saws and their safe use.

Saturday, March 6, 2010 at 3:06 am

Brasky's Blue Devils gain consecutive sectional title for first time in Batavia High history

post by Howard Owens in basketball, batavia, sports

batavia03.jpg

Thirteen and under. Thirteen and under. It's the phrase that Batavia Head Coach Buddy Brasky has pounded into the head of his players all season. Just hold the opponent to 13 or fewer points per quarter, and you're going to win basketball games.

Friday night at Blue Cross Arena in Rochester, it was more like 10 and under as the Blue Devils secured a Section V title with a 65-38 victory over #3 seed Livonia.

It was the first time in four Section V titles for Batavia under the leadership of Brasky that an opponent was held to fewer than 40 points.

More significantly, it is the first time in Batavia history that a varsity basketball team won back-to-back Section V titles.

"All the alumni, all of them that talk, but we’ve got that on them," said Junior Andrew Hoy. "They all had sectional titles, but we got two."

Hoy, who got to 1,000 career points, scored faster than any player in Batavia history, with 11 against Livonia and was named the tournament's MVP.

But for all of his offensive prowess, after the game, Hoy talked about defense.

"Defense got us the win," Hoy said. "Coach told us if we hold them to 13 and under per quarter we’d get the win, we would be sectional champs. We came out in the third quarter and won that quarter 25-2."

Their lopsided quarter allowed Batavia to run away with the game. After falling behind 13-0 against Batavia to start in the first quarter, Livonia was never really able to get into the game. The squad never pulled closer than 8 points.

"I showed them the past sectional championship pictures and I showed them score boards, because I always take a picture of the score board if we win and I hang it up in the trophy case, and all the scores were in the 40s for the other teams," Brasky said. "This the first year we got them under 40. We got them at 38, so they were pretty excited about that."

Coach Brasky gave credit to Josh Budlong for the quick start. Budlong finished the game with 21 points. Co Co Irvin scored 15 and Justin Washington added 8.

Bobby Schuster was the leading scorer for Livonia with 18 points. He was the only Livonia player to reach double digits.

The Sportsmanship Award went to Lou Stoller.

Batavia players who made the All-Tournament Team were Washington, Irvin, Budlong and Hoy.

Next, on Wednesday Batavia plays the qualifying game for the state championship series.

UPDATE: More pictures after the jump (nearly 70 more)

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More Pictures:

Saturday, March 6, 2010 at 2:09 am

Le Roy Police looking for man who stole drugs, claiming to have a gun

post by Howard Owens in crime, Le Roy

leroy_riteaid1.jpg

A man wearing a hoodie and a mask entered the Le Roy Rite Aid on Friday night and demanded a clerk give him drugs.

The man claimed to have a gun, according to Le Roy Police.

The armed robbery at 151 West Main Street occurred at 8:55 p.m.

The suspect is described as a white male, about 5' 7".

When he entered the store, he reportedly approached the pharmacists and demanded drugs. He claimed to have a weapon, but no weapon was displayed.

The suspect was wearing blue jeans and a yellow hooded sweatshirt.

After exiting the store, he fled on foot, but police believe he had a car nearby.

Anybody with information that might help solve the case are asked to contact the Le Roy Police Department.

leroy_ritead2.jpg

Saturday, March 6, 2010 at 1:50 am

Man working three jobs accused of complicated scheme to bilk customers

post by Howard Owens in batavia, crime

mug_hurlburt.jpgBatavia Police have arrested a man apparently working three jobs for allegedly using his access to credit cards as a gas station attendent to buy material at a building supply company and then selling what he bought as a contractor, but pocketing the proceeds.

Dustin Hurlburt, 32, of 21 Elm St., Warsaw, is charged with four counts of grand larceny, 3rd, and two counts of grand larceny, 4th.

He was jailed on $10,000 bail.

Hurlburt allegedly made more than $22,000 in purchases at Armor Building Supply, where he worked, using credit card numbers he obtained while working as a full-service gas station attendant. 

The purchases were allegedly made for a local building site, where Hurlburt acted as a contractor. He then allegedly billed the customers for the items he purchased using the stolen credit card numbers.

The alleged purchases were made between October 2009 and December 2009. There were reportedly six different transactions ranging from $1,800 to more than $5,000 each.

Det. Kevin Czora spent three months investigating the case and arrested Hurlburt on Friday.

Saturday, March 6, 2010 at 1:25 am

Oakfield woman allegedly kept spending her ex-husband's money

post by Howard Owens in batavia, crime, Oakfield

An Oakfield woman is accused of thinking her ex-husband's bank account was still hers for the taking.

Michelle Parker, 39, of 14 Cary Ave., is charged with grand larceny, 4th, grand larceny, 3rd, and perjury, 1st, after allegedly stealing $8,000 from her ex-husband's account.

Parker allegedly gave false testimony about the accounts while under oath in Genesee County Superior Court.

She was released on her own recognizance following her arraignment.

The case was investigated by by Det. Todd Crossett of the Batavia Police Department.

Friday, March 5, 2010 at 4:59 pm

Annual Chamber award winners to be honored Saturday night

post by Howard Owens in business, Chamber Awards, thebatavian

owenses.jpgDan Fisher at WBTA was kind enough to air a story today about The Batavian, interviewing me and Billie, with Pachuco in the studio.

Ameka Cooper at Carlson's Studio shot the portrait picture.

You can listen to Dan's story here (mp3).

The awards will be handed out Saturday night at the Holiday Inn.

Previously, The Batavian ran the following stories on our fellow award winners:

Friday, March 5, 2010 at 4:47 pm

Hawley goes after tax on industrial development agencies

post by Howard Owens in IDA, new york, steve hawley

It's called a "cost recovery fee," and critics say it is damaging the ability of Industrial Development Agencies to create jobs.

The fee is a tax on operating revenue and is calculated before IDA expenses are deducted, according to this story Star-Gazette in Elmira.

Albany stuck the cost recovery fee in the 2009-10 budget as a line item and many IDAs were surprised to get bills for 5 percent of their revenue.

Assemblyman Steve Hawley introduced legislation this week to repeal the fee.

"To add these assessments during this difficult economy will only lead to further job losses across New York, especially in the Upstate region.," Hawley said in a press release. "Albany needs to wake up and understand that job creation for New Yorkers should be their number one priority, not more unfair taxes and fees.”

Albany expects the IDA fee to generate $5 million in revenue for the State.

Hawley's legislation, if passed, would repeal the fee and reimburse IDAs for any fees already paid.

IDAs are set up in regions throughout the state to spur business development through tax breaks and other incentives, as well as organizing and promoting development opportunities.

Friday, March 5, 2010 at 4:15 pm

The Batavian now has obituaries

post by Howard Owens in thebatavian

One of the most requested additional features we get for The Batavian is obituaries. But we can only publish obituaries if funeral directors submit the notices.

The H.E. Turner & Company, Inc. family of funeral homes became one of The Batavian's newest sponsors this week and will now post obituaries for people who have passed when one of their homes -- H.E. Turner in Batavia and Bergen, Bohm-Calarco-Smith in Batavia, and Burdett & Sanford in Oakfield -- handle the arrangements.

If you do not find the obituary for your loved one, please notify the funeral director handling arrangements for your friend or family member and ask him to contact The Batavian about posting the obituary on the Web site.

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