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Howard B. Owens's blog

Thursday, July 1, 2010 at 2:27 pm

Phone troubles for county offices now in its second day

post by Howard B. Owens in genesee county

County government's aging phone system is on the fritz today.

The trouble started yesterday afternoon and may last through the weekend.

Calls to the main county building may not get through while the county's IT personnel and consultants try to figure out exactly what is causing the infrastructure to fail.

The phone problems have caused a few difficulties for emergency dispatchers, but the 9-1-1 system still works.

"We want our citizens to know our 9-1-1 system is still functioning," said County Manager Jay Gsell. "The Sheriff's Office is still out there and still able to take calls."

Getting calls through to other county departments, however, may be more difficult.

Gsell has no idea when the problem will be identified and fixed.

The phone system failure highlights the need for the county to upgrade its system.

On June 23, the County Legislature approved a $241,000 expenditure to replace lines and phone equipment at County Building #2 and other county buildings.

The current system is seven to 10 years old.

"That doesn't seem like a lot of time, but in today's communications environment, that's ancient," Gsell said.

Thursday, July 1, 2010 at 1:08 pm

Today's Deals: Matty's, Clor's, Sallome's, Herbly Wonderful and more

post by Howard B. Owens in Deal of the Day

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.

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.

Herbly Wonderful, 3701 Pearl St., Batavia, NY: Unique specialties for your home and garden, from floral arrangements, to heirloom vegetables, herbs, teas and spices. We have a $25 gift certificate for $12.50.

South Main Country Gifts, 3356 Main St. Road, Batavia, NY: Handcrafted items, gifts with a regional flair, candles, teas and spices -- South Main has a wide selection to please most any interest. We have a $20 gift certificate for $10. A great Valentine's gift!

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.

The Enchanted Florist, 202 E. Main St., Batavia, NY: Give yourself the gift of flowers, or give to a friend. We have a $20 gift certificate for $9.50.

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

Thursday, July 1, 2010 at 10:17 am

Woman charged with DWI after car destroyed by a train in Byron

post by Howard B. Owens in accident, byron, crime

A 26-year-old woman from Le Roy was charged with felony DWI last night after her car was destroyed by a train at the crossing on Caswell Road, Byron.

Jennifer Coombs was reportedly driving her 2002 Mercedes when it got hung up on the tracks.

A train struck and destroyed the car about 10:02 p.m. and Coombs and two passengers allegedly fled the scene.

Coombs was located by Sgt. Greg Walker a short distance from the scene.

She was also charged with unsafe lane change, unsafe tires and felony driving with a BAC of .08 or greater.

(initial report)

Wednesday, June 30, 2010 at 10:59 pm

Muckdogs starter tosses a gem

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

Andrew Moss, a 24-year-old, second-year pro from Piedmont, Mo., dazzled at Dwyer Stadium tonight.

Moss went seven innings -- the typical NY-Penn League starter is pulled after five innings -- and surrendered not a single hit, and of course, no runs.

The Muckdogs notched a 3-0 victory, with Jose Rada tossing two scoreless innings, giving up one hit, and picking up his second save of the season.

Moss (2-1) lowered his ERA to 1.69.

Joe Bergman, 22 and in his first pro season, picked up two hits. The second baseman is now hitting .394.

Catcher Luis Miguel De La Cruz, a fourth-year pro from the Dominican Republic, and in his second tour with Batavia, homered and picked up two RBIs on two hits.

The Muckdogs are now 6-7 and open a three-game series against Auburn, also 6-7, on Thursday.

There is no home game on July 4, but there will be fireworks following the games on Friday and Saturday nights.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010 at 10:07 pm

Train and car accident reported in Byron, Caswell Road

post by Howard B. Owens in accident, byron

A train has reportedly hit a car at the railroad crossing on Caswell Road in Byron.

Byron and South Byron and Mercy EMS have been dispatched.

UPDATE 10:10 p.m.: CSX officials believe the car was unoccupied; however, the South Byron chief has asked an assistant chief to check the other side of tracks (than what he's on) for two young girls.

UPDATE 10:12 p.m.: An engineer reports seeing the two people running south on Caswell.

UPDATE 10:17 p.m.: A deputy has detained one female.

UPDATE 10:19 p.m.: The engineer saw two young women standing near the tracks. One had long blond hair and the other didn't. The deputy has detained the one who doesn't. The car is registered to an address in Monroe County.

UPDATE 10:32 p.m.: Byron back in service.

UPDATE 10:37 p.m.: The second occupent has been located, and a third occupent has been identified and found.


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Wednesday, June 30, 2010 at 3:47 pm

City swoops in on Latina's for a day of enforced clean up

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

weed_latinas.jpg

If you noticed the bright red trucks of Scalia's Landscaping around Latina's today, don't get your hopes up that purported property owner Tom Lewin of Buffalo has suddenly taken responsibility for the rotting hulk of a former supermarket.

latinas_notice.jpgScalia's was hired by the city after LKLWL Properties allegedly failed to comply with a code violation posted on the building on June 24.

LKLWL Properties will be billed for the clean up -- which included weed abatement and hosing down the sidewalks, which were covered with gull poop, along with a $250 fine.

The city took the same enforcement action against LKLWL Properties last year. The city is also working on a court case alledging that the hundreds of gulls nesting on the roof of the former Latina's Food Store are creating an "unsanitary condition."

Neither court nor city officials were able to say today when that case might be heard in Batavia City Court.

For previous coverage, click here.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010 at 3:19 pm

No decision from attorney on whether to challenge constitutionality of adultery law

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, crime, Suzanne Corona

coronacourt01.jpg

Whether the Suzanne Corona case will lead to a constitutional challenge to New York's adultery law is not a given, according to her new attorney Brian P. Degnan.

After Corona appeared in Judge Michael Delplato's courtroom for the first time today after selecting Degnan to represent her (Degnan is the son-in-law of the original judge on the case, Robert Balbick), Degnan told reporters that he wants to examine a plea offer from the District Attorney's office and decide how to proceed from there.

coronacourt02.jpg"We have not reached a deposition in this case and I'm interested in whatever would enable my client to get the best disposition in her best interest at this time," Degnan said when asked whether he would persue a constitutional challenge to the adultery law.

He called the law bizarre and unusual, noting that it has been prosecuted only 13 times in New York since 1970.

Degnan would not discuss the specifics of the plea offer.

Even if the adultery charge were dropped, attorneys have told The Batavian on background that Corona, merely because she has been charged with the crime, could seek judicial review of the statute.

Today, in her second court appearance on the case, Cornona did not enter a plea to the adultery or public lewdness charges.

A hearing was set for Aug. 18, where Corona could either agree to any plea deal still on the table, or Degnan could begin filing pre-trial motions.

In court, Degnan said he may file a motion for the prosecution to produce any additional evidence it may not yet have turned over in the case. Degnan said the main issue is, he doesn't know whether there are recordings available of any 9-1-1 calls.

"I need to have all of the evidence before me so I can advise my client of the best avenue to take," Degnan later told reporters.

Corona, 41, is accused of engaging in a public sex act in Farrall Park in early June with Justin Amend, 29, of Oakfield.

Amend did not appear in court this morning, but his attorney did and said he's seeking a plea offer from the District Attorney's office.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010 at 2:38 pm

Report of nude lawn mowing on West Main Street

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, crime

Police have been dispatched to a "public lewdness" complaint on West Main Street.

A man is reportedly mowing his lawn in the buff.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010 at 12:15 pm

Trial date set for alleged arsonist

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, crime

Accused of arson and attempted murder, Rochester resident Andre L. Scott, 30, will take his case to trial Aug. 23.

Today was the plea-cutoff date. Scott's attorney, Thomas Burns, said his client is well aware of Judge Robert C. Noonan's strict deadlines for plea deals but still rejected a plea offer by District Attorney Lawrence Friedman.

Friedman offered to reduce the charge to attempted arson, 2nd, a Class C felony with no sentence conditions.

Noonan also confirmed today that he denied defense motions to suppress some evidence gathered by Batavia Police detectives.

In his written ruling, Noonan wrote, "The Court therefore finds that, although the parole officers were cooperating with police investigating an arson, they were not acting solely on behalf of the police when seizing the defendant's cell phones and saliva samples."

Burns had argued that a search of Scott, his car and apartment were conducted at behest of the police and some of the parole officers' actions -- such as how the saliva samples were gathered -- were done entirely in the furtherance of the police investigation and not part of the functions of parole officers.

Scott is accused of starting a fire at 12 Elm St., Batavia, on Jan. 12, 2009, in an alleged attempt to kill the father of his recently estranged girlfriend.

For previous coverage, click here.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010 at 11:49 am

Attorney for one defendent seeking plea deal in alleged public sex case

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

justin_amend.jpgThe attorney for Justin Amend, charged with public lewdness for his alleged part in a public sex act, plans to ask the District Attorney for a plea deal.

The 29-year-old Amend, of Oakfield, wasn't in court today, and his case was continued to July 27, giving attorney Tom Williams time to discuss the case with the DA's office.

Public lewdness is a Class B misdemeanor. It is the only charge Amend is facing from the alleged early June encounter in Farrall Park, Batavia, with alleged partner Suzanne Corona, so it wouldn't seem there is much room to bargain.

Williams said he didn't want to speak for the DA, but he mentioned as an example, the charge could be reduced to disorderly conduct.

"It's a B misdemeanor," Williams added. "It's less serious than stealing a candy bar. You can get a year in jail for stealing a candy bar. You only can only get 90 days for this."

If a deal isn't struck, Williams said, then the July 27 court date will be used for filing motions in preparation for a possible trial.

Corona, who is also charged with adultery, is scheduled to appear in court at 1 p.m. today.

The case has brought an international spotlight to Batavia because the adultery charge is so unusual.

Television camera crews from Rochester were on hand for Amend's hearing this morning.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010 at 11:05 am

Open dump truck bed blamed for Thruway accident

post by Howard B. Owens in accident, pembroke, thruway

Somebody reportedly forgot to put down the bed of a dump truck after it dumped its load at a construction site on the Thruway in Pembroke last night, according to State Police.

The driver of the truck, Sandra Palmer, 43, of Tonawanda, then proceeded West on the Thruway. Two miles later, the open bed of the truck struck the overpass of Route 77, causing the truck to rollover.

An emergency responder described the truck shortly after the 10:30 p.m. accident as "pretty well demolished."

The eastbound lane was shut down to set up a landing zone for Mercy Flight and Palmer was airlifted to Erie County Medical Center, where she is listed in fair condition this morning.

The truck was owned by Mallarie Entprises, Inc., out of Amherst.

An I-beam of the bridge was damaged, but a damage estimate was not available this morning.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010 at 7:36 am

Police Beat: Man racks up three harassment charges in one day

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, crime

Woodrow C. Horseman, 34, no permanent address, is charged with three counts of harassment, 2nd. Horseman was first arrested by Batavia Police following a complaint of a man yelling at two women on Thorpe Street at 4:30 p.m, Tuesday. Horseman allegedly verbally threatened the two women. Horseman was issued an appearance ticket and released. At 8:40 p.m., Horseman allegedly threatened another woman at a residence on Lewis Place. Horseman was then arrested and jailed on $750 bail.

Kelly A. Donoghue, 26, of 6 School St., Le Roy, is charged with one forgery, 2nd, and attempted identify theft, 3rd. Donoghue is accused of entering the Le Roy Library on May 27 and assume the identity of another person by obtaining a fraudulent library card. Donoghue allegedly signed the name of the victim after showing the clerks a vehicle title and other personal papers in the name of the victim. Le Roy Police say that if Donoghue had received the card, Donoghue could have removed videos and other property from the library, and the card could have been used elsewhere as a form of I.D. Donoghue was released under supervision of Genesee Justice.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010 at 10:30 pm

Tractor-trailer rollover accident reported on Thruway

post by Howard B. Owens in pembroke, thruway

A tractor-trailer rollover accident has been reported on the Thruway in the area of mile marker 400 in the westbound lane.

Pembroke and Indian Falls Fire and Mercy EMS are being dispatched.

UPDATE 10:33 p.m.: The tractor-trailer is upside down, "pretty well demolished," under the Route 77 overpass. No other vehicles apparently involved. There is road construction in the area and construction workers were attempting to make contact with the driver.

UPDATE 10:36 p.m.: It's not a tractor-trailer. It's a dump truck. Mercy Flight requested to the scene. Dispatch reports Mercy Flight was started as soon as the call came in. A fire chief reports smoke coming from the engine.

UPDATE 10:39 p.m.: The westbound lane is being shut down to create a landing zone for Mercy Flight.

UPDATE 10:50 p.m.: Mercy Flight landed.

UPDATE 11:06 p.m.: Mercy Flight is in the air.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010 at 9:46 pm

Photos: Byron Barns

post by Howard B. Owens in BARNS, byron, photos

barn_bridgeandtransit.jpg

After completing some business in Byron, I wanted to take advantage of the great clouds in the sky and see what I could find to photograph. The barn and silo above was at the intersection of Bridge and Transit roads. Below, a barn in the village getting a new roof.

barnworkbyron.jpg

Tuesday, June 29, 2010 at 9:33 pm

Elba man loses another appeal trying to get Amherst job back

post by Howard B. Owens in elba

An Elba man's attempt to keep his job with the Town of Amherst was blocked by an appeals court ruling last week, reports the Buffalo News.

James I. Johnson was the town's assistant engineer when officials figured out he was living in Genesee County, apparently violating the town's strict residency requirements for town employees.

Johnson has filed numerous suits and appeals over the years to regain town employment.

“The determination that the petitioner is a domiciliary of Elba rather than the town (of Amherst) is supported by substantial evidence,” stated the decision of the five-judge panel.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010 at 9:03 pm

Scott Doll may take prison contraband charge to trial

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, crime, scott doll

mug_scott_doll.jpgScott Doll has no intention of pleading guilty to a promoting prison contraband charge, according to his attorney.

The case may go to trial, said Dan Killelea outside of the courtroom this afternoon.

Killelea helped represent Doll in his murder trial.

Doll was convicted of killing Joseph Benaquist in May and jailed immediately. During his processing, Doll was apparently searched and allegedly a green balloon was found hidden on his body. A lab test indicated that ground-up aspirin was the powdery substance the Sheriff's Office said was found in the balloon.

Doll appeared in court today sporting a new beard.

Killelea was granted more to prepare his case and file motions.

The case will be called in City Court on July 27.

Doll is scheduled to be sentenced Friday on the murder conviction.

(via WBTA)

Tuesday, June 29, 2010 at 9:00 pm

Gas spill reported at Arrowmart on Clinton Street Road

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia

A gas spill has been reported at the Arrowmart, 5267 Clinton St. Road, Batavia.

A caller reports a large amount of gas in the parking lot.

Town of Batavia Fire is being dispatched.

UPDATE 9:08 p.m.: A first responder reports only two or three gallons spilled, but spread over the parking lot.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010 at 4:23 pm

East Pembroke fire training house burns down a little before its time

post by Howard B. Owens in east pembroke, fire

epemhousefire.jpg

It was a house that was going to be burned to the ground at some point anyway, but East Pembroke Fire Chief Bob Yungsleisch didn't want to see it go like this -- in an unplanned bonfire.

For more than a year, area firefighters -- and even Batavia's SWAT team -- have been using a vacant house at 2881 Pratt Road as a training structure (here's a video we did last year of a training exercise at the house, which was donated by the previous owner specifically for training purposes).

On Monday, members of the East Pembroke Fire Department went to the structure to try a new helmet they've acquired. In order to create the right smoky environment, they put some straw in a burn barrel (a barrel intended to contain flames, but allow smoke to fill a training room), and lit it  up.

After the helmet tests were completed, Yungsleisch said the fire in the burn barrel was doused with water and everybody left.

About 45 minutes later, Yungsleisch said a call came in -- probably about 9 p.m. -- that there were flames inside the house.  

When he arrived, he found the flames contained to the burn barrel, and he extinguished the fire himself and notified dispatch that, "it's just the burn barrel."

As he and another person stood outside the house the other person wondered why there was so much smoke coming out of a second-floor window.

When Yungsleisch investigated, he found some papers on the second floor had ignited.  He figures an ember had floated up there.

At that point, tankers from Oakfield, Pembroke, Batavia and Corfu were requested to the scene.

But Yungsleisch figured there was only one thing to do at this point -- let it burn. The firefighters called to the scene were there merely in defensive roles, to protect one nearby structure and the trees near the house.

It wasn't worth risking any firefighters to try and actually put out the fire, which burned for about two hours.

“It was a great house," Yungsleisch said. "I would have loved to have kept it another month or two, but I wasn’t about it send anybody inside.”

Photos by Destin Danser.

epemhousefire01.jpg

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