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Howard B. Owens's blog

Wednesday, March 11, 2015 at 10:05 pm

Photo: Sunset and the Tonawanda

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Tonawanda Creek

Taken this evening at the Tonawanda spillway behind the County Courthouse.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015 at 5:25 pm

City Council to interview candidates for City Court judge Monday

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia

There are four people who applied for the opening on the City Court bench and all four will be interviewed by the City Council tonight Monday, according to Council President Brooks Hawley.

The council will meet in executive session for the series of interviews.

Hawley said these four are the only candidates and no other city business will be conducted at that meeting.

The names of the candidates have not been released.

The city is looking for a candidate to assume the opening in City Court following the retirement from the job of Michael Del Plato.

Del Plato will concentrate his time on his private law practice.

CORRECTION: We originally said the meeting is tonight. It's Monday.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015 at 5:05 pm

Law and Order: Driver charged with DWi following accident in city

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

Amy E. D'Amico, 25, of Osterhout Avenue, Batavia, is charged with DWI, driving with a BAC of .18 or greater, leaving the scene of a property damage accident and following too closely. D'Amico was arrested by Officer Matthew Wojtaszczyk following a report of an accident on East Main Street, Batavia, at 11:05 p.m. on March 5.

Emily J. Smart, 32, of Akron, is charged with petit larceny. Smart is accused of stealing merchandise valued at $93 from Walmart.

Norman S. Malkimos-Gonzalez, 28, of Liberty Street, Batavia, is charged with harassment, 2nd. Malkimos-Gonzalez is accused of shoving a person during an argument. He was jailed on $750 bail.

Tiffany A. Reed, 20, of South Main Street, Batavia, is charged with unlawful possession of marijuana. Reed was arrested by Batavia PD after she was allegedly found in possession of marijuana during a home visit by probation officers.

Ronald J. Murray Jr., 20, of Wood Street, Batavia, was arrested on a warrant. Murray was arrested by State Police and turned over to Batavia PD. He was jailed on $1,000 bail.

Ronald Allan Roberson, 61, of Norwood Lane, Orchard Park, is charged with possession of more than 400 untaxed cigarettes and speeding. Roberson was stopped at 10:40 a.m. Monday on Route 77 by Deputy Patrick Reeves.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015 at 4:49 pm

Local farmer selects Crossroads House to receive Monsanto Fund donation

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, crossroads house

Press release:

The Crossroads House has received a $2,500 donation from Genesee County’s Harkins Dairy Farm and America’s Farmers Grow Communities, sponsored by the Monsanto Fund. The donation will help the organization cover operational costs.

The mission of the house is to make the final days of their residents as comfortable, respectful and dignified as possible. Crossroads House is a two-bed comfort care home that provides 24-hour care to residents in the county who have been diagnosed with a terminal illness and who have three months or less to live.

“Our organizational motto is ‘a gift to the community made possible by the community,’ ” said Director Jeff Allen. “Family farms such as the Harkins Dairy are integral community partners. When the community gives, it allows us to give back through our services.”

For five years, America’s Farmers Grow Communities has collaborated with farmers to donate more than $16.5 million to more than 7,300 community organizations across rural America. This year winning farmers will direct another $3.3 million to nonprofits to help fight rural hunger, purchase life-saving fire and EMS equipment, support ag youth leadership programs, buy much needed classroom resources, and so much more.

America’s Farmers Grow Communities is part of the America’s Farmers initiative. Since 2010, the America’s Farmers campaign and programs have advocated on behalf of farmers and their efforts to meet society’s needs through agriculture. Today, consumers are more interested than ever in agriculture and how food is grown. Consider joining the conversation and helping to raise awareness about agriculture. Learn more at FoodDialogues.com.

A sister program in the America’s Farmers effort, Grow Rural Education, is currently in its farmer nomination phase. Farmers interested in supporting math and science education in their communities should visit www.GrowRuralEducation.com from now through April 1 to learn how.

Photo: Jenny Harkins (winning farmer), Nate Holt (Monsanto Rep), Jeff Allen (Crossroads House, executive director) and Helen Whaley (Crossroads House volunteer).

Wednesday, March 11, 2015 at 4:41 pm

Ramparts place three teams in state championship matches

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, hockey, sports, youth sports

Press release:

The Batavia Ramparts have placed all three of their Tier III Travel hockey teams in the New York State Championship ship tournament being held March 13th-15th in Amherst. This is a historical event for the 36-year-old organization.

Batavia’s PeeWee (12U), Bantam (14U) and Midget (16U) teams have all qualified as the first seeds for this event. PeeWee coach Jeff Bower, Bantam coach Mike Reich, and Midget coach Marc Staley have worked their teams hard this season and given their teams the tools they needed to succeed.

The Midget and Bantam teams finished their seasons in first place in League play with records of 12-1-1 for Midget, and Bantam 19-1-1. Although the PeeWee’s finished 3rd in League play with a record of 11-4-1 they qualified first for the state tournament by losing only one of their qualifying games.

The Ramparts Hockey organization has only two state titles since its inception, and has never placed three teams in the tournament, let alone three first seeds. Coaches, parents and the Batavia Ramparts organization are proud of their tremendous accomplishments. Thanks also to our team sponsors, Reed Eye Associates -- PeeWee III, Castilone Chrysler Dodge Jeep -- Bantam III, and Logo It -- Midget III.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015 at 4:30 pm

Two local students participate in 'Taste of NY' lobby day in Albany

post by Howard B. Owens in 4-H, agriculture, business, Oakfield, Pavilion

Press release:

Two students from the Batavia Career and Technical Education (CTE) Center, Morgan Good, a senior and an Agri-Business Academy student from Pavilion Central Schools, and Emily Borkholder, a senior and an Animal Science student from Oakfield-Alabama Central Schools, recently attended the New York State Farm Bureau Taste of New York Lobby Day and Reception in Albany. Holly Partridge, Batavia CTE Animal Science instructor; Kerry Richardson, Batavia CTE Agri-Business Academy instructor; Catherine Bennett, Batavia CTE assistant principal, escorted the students.

During this event, members of the New York State Assembly and Senate met with businesses, farms and educational institutions that rely on New York state agriculture to run their business.

“We learned how much agriculture drives our economy in New York state. One of the most interesting experiences was when we attended two legislative meetings with Senator Michael Razenhofer and Assemblyman Michael DenDekker. We discussed what needs to be changed in our state to help farmers become more productive,” Emily said.

“We also spoke with other senators and assemblymen from throughout New York state and helped them to understand and increase awareness of the needs of farmers from our area,” Morgan added.

Throughout the conference exhibit time, the group showcased duck eggs versus chicken eggs in baking, the important collaboration between the Batavia CTE Animal Science and Culinary Arts programs and how the farm-to-table concept is incorporated into the curriculum of these two programs.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015 at 3:57 pm

Darien Lake ready to hire 2K seasonal workers

post by Howard B. Owens in business, Darien, darien lake, darien lake theme park

Press release:

The region’s largest seasonal employer is looking to fill 2,000 open positions across its operations, including amusement park, water park, lodging, entertainment, food, and retail departments.

Darien Lake has already begun accepting applications for the upcoming season with some positions starting as early as April. The park will open for the 2015 season on May 9 with full, daily operations beginning June 15.

“With two thrilling new rides being added to the park this season, we’re in need of more energetic, and fun-loving employees than ever before,” said Darien Lake General Manager Chris Thorpe. “Darien Lake is a great career-starting opportunity for all Western New Yorkers as our team members routinely develop experience in guest service, operational processes and small business entrepreneurship."

Immediate opportunities are available in food service, park services, ride operations, retail, accommodations and campground housekeeping. Other opportunities are available in games, gift shop sales, aquatic operations, skilled trades and park maintenance, entertainment, guest services, security, and safety. Darien Lake is seeking energetic, friendly applicants of all backgrounds who are interested in helping us create memorable experiences for our guests.

Interested applicants can apply online at www.DarienLake.com/jobs or call the Darien Lake Job Line at 585-599-5108.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015 at 11:15 am

Task force asks for more information on two new potential locations for BPD HQ

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Batavia PD

Task force members have been asked to consider five options for the future headquarters of the Batavia Police Department. At Tuesday's meeting, none of those sites appeared to be entirely satisfactory and members asked consultants to give them data on two more locations.

Committee members are interested in taking a closer look at potential locations in the parking lot between Bank Street and City Centre and at the former Wiard Plow factory location on Swan Street.

A chief advantage of both locations is they are outside the floodplain, which means construction costs could be at least $1 million cheaper, and perhaps $1.5 million cheaper.

The discussion of the alternate locations arose after consultants went through a spreadsheet of potential costs of the original five options.

The five options and their potential costs:

  • 56 Ellicott St. -- $11,380,844
  • 96-98 Jackson St. -- $11,877,839
  • 26 Evans St. -- $11,710,712
  • 165 Park Road (co-located with the Sheriff's Office) -- $10,095,565
  • Current location remodelled, option 1 -- $16,358,596
  • Current location, remodelled, option 2 -- $11,622,954

Among the biggest variables in cost are associated with elevating locations within the floodplain (the top three locations) and mitigating for potential flooding.

The first two locations have higher costs associated with environmental testing, too.

City Manager Jason Molino also presented the committee with information on potential grants and an overview of debt service and municipal bonds.

If the city took on debt for $11 million, the debt service over a 30-year term would be $600,000, which is within the city's current debt load capacity.

The city is building a capital reserve fund to help pay for projects such as this, and with the pursuit of financing at least two years away, the amount of cash on hand to help pay for the building will likely increase, reducing the amount of money that would need to be borrowed.

The city could reduce the amount paid in the early years of the financing agreement to as little as $100,000 annually through the use of what's known as bond anticipation notes. These interest-only notes can last as much as five years in lieu of issuing municipal bonds.  

BANs would be helpful while the city pays down existing bonds before taking on a heavier debt.

Reducing debt and growing the capital reserve would help reduce the amount of bonds the city would need to sell in order to fully finance the project.

Committee member Marc Staley noted that a growing local economy would also help make a project like this easier for the city to handle financially and expressed some frustration with obstructionists who attempt to block the city's growth efforts.

"'The whole thing gets a lot more tenable with sales tax growth or growth in property assessments, but the whole thing gets swatted down by some," Staley said. "Like Jason said, you can't cut your way to prosperity. You can't develop a community unless you have a viable economic environment. It goes hand-in-hand with what we're trying to do."

The amount the city needs to finance could also be reduced by state and federal grants.

There's up to $1 million in potential grants available for projects such as this and Molino said further research may yield other grant opportunities.

The grants are competitive, which is why there is no guarantee the city will receive one for the project.

Among the advantages of the Alva Place and Swan Street alternate locations are they can include basements, which would help reduce costs and allow for some police functions to be more secure.

Chief Shawn Heubusch expressed some concern about the traffic volume on Bank Street if the location was in the City Centre parking lot, which would also reduce available parking in the area.

There was some talk of placing the building where a potential intersection of an extended Jackson Street could meet Alva Place. (Extending Jackson Street to the north has been proposed previously in other economic development discussions.)

Swan Street would provide patrols with easy access to both Ellicott Street and Main Street though the location would lack the public visibility of the other proposed locations. The three-acre parcel would provide the department plenty of room for potential expansion if the city grows, however. 

The project consultants will work up a cost analysis for each location and present it to the committee at its meeting next month.

The committee is supposed to have its recommendation ready by July 1, but some committee members expressed concern there is still a lot of work to do. There may be a request later to extend the deadline.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015 at 3:19 pm

Le Roy residents grapple with $60K question: What to do about ambulance service?

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

To keep a local ambulance service, and the perception, if not the reality, of quicker response times to medical calls, Le Roy residents may be asked to consider a tax increase.

The tax increase has become known, after a meeting Saturday where the issue was discussed, as the "price of a pizza" question.

The comparison comes from an observation by John Condidorio, who deduced that with the average assessed value of a property in Le Roy at $100,000, an increase of 17 cents per thousand comes to another $17 a year on local property tax bills.

That, he said, is the price of a pizza. A small price to pay, he suggested, for local service.

"Stuff happens," said Condidorio, a detective with Le Roy PD. "Stuff happens quick. It happens significantly and, believe it or not, it may happen to you, so that $17 a year may be the saving grace so you're not laying out on that ice for 20 minutes. You may only have to lay on that ice for five minutes, because you slip and fell and broke your hip or broke your ankle, or whatever. It's a long, long time waiting for that ambulance. I've been there, I've seen it, I've done it, and it sucks. Really."

His boss, Chief Chris Hayward recalled that 45 years ago the entire reason the Le Roy Ambulance Service was created was concern over response times.

The central question still hasn't changed, he said.

Back then, the two hospitals in Batavia maintained ambulance services and rigs were based in Batavia. It would take 15 to 20 minutes for an ambulance to reach Le Roy.

At least one person's death in 1970 was attributed to the slow response time, Hayward said.

These days, there are private ambulance services available, such as the nonprofit Mercy EMS and for-profit Rural Metro, among others, that could provide a lower cost alternative for the residents of Le Roy.

Bill Schutt, general manager for Mercy EMS, and Gene Chisholm, from Rural Metro, were at Saturday's meeting.

Both said if the Le Roy service went away, they would be able to base an ambulance at the Tountas Avenue LAS location and provide a similar level of service for Le Roy.

That sounded pretty good to Bryan Monacelli, who suggested the town open up a request-for-proposal process so companies could bid on a contract to be the ambulance provider for Le Roy.

"I sympathize that Le Roy Ambulance has a strong local history, but if private industry could come in and provide a better or comparable service for less money, as a taxpayer, as somebody with kids here, that's what I would do," Monacelli said.

There would be some nuances of difference between what LAS offers and what others might offer.

The current service owns two ambulances and a fly car. Except in rare circumstances, the ambulances respond only to calls within the town. There are transports to Rochester hospitals at times, and to UMMC, but usually one LAS ambulance is always in Le Roy.

Schutt said if Mercy were serving Le Roy, it would park an ambulance at Tountas Avenue, but that ambulance would respond to other calls on the eastern side of the county. If it did leave Le Roy, another ambulance would be dispatched from Batavia to backfill.

Le Roy Ambulance serves 8,500 residents and responded to 1,200 calls in 2014.

The cost of the service has increased over the years and currently the service operates at annual loss of $20,000 to $45,000 a year.

The town has been bridging some of the shortfall, but can't continue to pick up the slack without a tax increase. The suggested increase would raise $60,000 for the service.

There's no certainty, in the current healthcare climate, that costs won't continue to escalate, which would mean tax increases.

Lloyd Hogle pointed out that if local residents decided to eliminate the ambulance service, there would be no bringing it back if they later changed their minds.

Bill Kettle, who led the discussion, said community leaders are trying to collect as much input and feedback from Le Roy residents as possible before there's a decision on what to do about ambulance service in Le Roy.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015 at 12:32 pm

Council backs growth initiatives for Batavia over opposition from Deleo and Briggs

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, bdc, business, Vibrant Batavia

John Deleo and Kathy Briggs had one word for those who think the City of Batavia should invest in its future: No.

On a pair of resolutions aimed at improving the quality of life and business climate in Batavia, Deleo and Briggs steadfast stalwarts in opposition, decried the expenditure of public money on the projects.

Each resolution passed by votes of 7-2.

The resolutions passed by the council extend the economic development services agreement for two years with Batavia Development Corp. and provide Vibrant Batavia with two years to become self-sustaining.

There was one growth-related measure that garnered yes votes from Deleo and Briggs. Deleo made a motion, seconded by Briggs, to eliminate the assistant city manager position.

The motion failed 2-7.

Councilwoman Rose Mary Christian, outspoken as always, extolled the virtues of economic development and the work of Vibrant Batavia.

"We need all the development we can get," Christian said. "We need all the revenue, we need the sales base, we need everything we can get. We need everything working this year at this time because if we don't go forward, we're going to go backwards. We're going to be in a hole and we're never going to get out."

Prior to the meeting, council members received a memo from City Manager Jason Molino called "Budget Sustainability," which made the case for the city investing in economic development and neighborhoods.

For the past several weeks, budget discussions have been dominated by voices advocating for slashing in the three areas of city spending intended to help the city grow: The assistant city manager position, the BDC and Vibrant Batavia.

Molino's memo argued that without investment in growth, Batavia will be doomed to decline.

"Public revenue needs an employed community, so the right question is not necessarily where should we be trimming the City workforce budget, but rather, the right question is: Are City resources optimally structured to reposition Batavia as a great place to raise a family, start and operate a profitable business, and in general, appeal to families," wrote Molino.

Pierluigi Cipollone, a small businessman, argued in favor of investment over retrenchment. 

"We've got to make an investment," Cipollone said. "Mr. Molino sent out a memo talking to the revenue side of the profit and loss of the balance sheet. We need to invest to get what we want for Batavia. In the old days, we had civic groups that did a lot of what we want, but those civic groups have gone away for the most part. We need to get some of that back. When the pride returns, businesses will return."

Deleo said that he was both being responsive to his constituents and standing by the cost-cutting promises of his campaign by opposing the growth initiatives. 

It's not the job of government, he said, to invest in economic development.

"We're going to be leaner," Deleo said. "We're not going to reach into the pockets of our poor senior residents."

Briggs said she attended last week's annual luncheon for Genesee County Economic Development Center and came away impressed by the economic development efforts of the local agency.

"They're bringing business into the county, and Batavia is part of Genesee County," Briggs said. "I'm like, OK, GCEDC seems to be on track. That's what I gathered from that meeting. We do have somebody who is going to do the job of economic development, GCEDC."

Other council members pointed out that the focus of GCEDC is something that is completely different from the BDC. The BDC is focused on the city, which includes mostly brownfield development demands. GCEDC handles the entire county and most of its developments are greenfields outside of city limits.

Briggs also mentioned that the city is served by the Business Improvement District, but Councilman John Canale pointed out that BID works strictly Downtown, whereas the BDC serves the entire city.

The funding approved for Vibrant Batavia -- $45,000 for one year and a smaller amount in year two -- also comes from a different pot of money than originally proposed. Rather than being drawn from reserve funding, a portion of the city's revenue share from Batavia Downs will be used to back the nascent community booster group.

The group will also be asked to pay for a new $10,000 slide in Austin Park by donating $5,000 back to the city and raising the remaining $5,000.

While the resolutions for the BDC and Vibrant Batavia assume two-year commitments for the city, Molino, upon questioning by council members, said the council will have the option to reduce or eliminate funding next year by passing another resolution.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015 at 9:18 am

Today's Poll: Are you interested in wearing a small computer on your wrist?

post by Howard B. Owens in polls

New York Times: Apple Watch Displays Your Digital World, at a Glance

Answer this question later today on the smartphone app Reacht for a chance to win a $5 gift certificate from Southside Deli. To download Reacht on your smartphone, click here.

Monday, March 9, 2015 at 5:36 pm

Alpina introduces new yogurt with NBA tie-in

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Alpina Foods, business

Press release:

Alpina NBA All-Stars Yogurt is just 120 calories, four grams of protein and 10 percent of an adult's recommended daily allowance of calcium per serving. The perfectly proportioned toppings add a little "dunking" fun while appealing to basketball fans of all ages — men and women, alike. It's a yogurt that can help anyone power through the day. 

"Alpina Foods is committed to bringing innovation to the dairy aisle," said Gustavo Badino, Alpina Foods' general manager. "We saw a need for a product that catered to the American male — youth or adult — in the yogurt section, and we decided to take the challenge and introduce this NBA All-Stars product."

Alpina NBA All-Stars Yogurt is sold in select regional and independent retailers including A&P, Pathmark, Waldbaum's, Super Fresh, The Food Emporium, ShopRite, Shaw's, and Lowe's Markets.

Alpina Foods manufactures a variety of dairy products available in retailers throughout the United States, including Shaw's, Wegmans Food Markets, ShopRite, Duane Reade, Western Beef, and other national, regional, and independent food retailers. For a full list of retailers, visit www.alpinaus.com.

UPDATE: In response to our question, a spokeswoman for Alpina says the new product will be manufactured at the Batavia plant, and, there's another new product announcement coming later this month.

Monday, March 9, 2015 at 1:45 pm

Hawley calls for increased funding for local infrastructure

post by Howard B. Owens in infrastructure, steve hawley

Press release:

Assemblyman Steve Hawley (R,C,I-Batavia) attended a press conference Wednesday held by Sen. Tom O’Mara (R,C-Big Flats) and Assemblyman Phil Palmesano (R,C,I-Corning) to call for an increase in funding for local roads, culverts and bridges. The press conference called on the governor and Legislature to increase funding for the Consolidated Local Street and Highway Improvement Program (CHIPS) during this year’s budget negotiations.

“Preserving the safety of our roads, bridges and culverts is especially important to my district, where many small businesses and agriculture producers transport products,” Hawley said. “The past few winters have been considerably difficult and have taken their toll on our local roads and bridges. This funding is necessary to ensure the safety of our local business people and the families and school buses that travel these roads almost every day.”

Monday, March 9, 2015 at 12:46 pm

Law and Order: Driver found off the road in Darien charged with DWI

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, crime, Darien, Le Roy, pembroke, Stafford

Eric Raymond Westermeier, 27, of Alleghany Road, Darien, is charged with felony driving while ability impaired by combined drugs and alcohol, felony driving with a BAC of .08 or greater, aggravated unlicensed operation and unlawful possession of marijuana. Westermeier was arrested following an investigation by Deputy Chad Cummings into a vehicle off the road at 10:11 p.m. Sunday on Erie Street, Darien Center.

Timothy O. Lee, 34, of Erie Street, Le Roy, is charged with criminal possession of a controlled substance, 7th, and speeding. Lee was arrested following a traffic stop in the Village of Le Roy. He was allegedly found in possession of cocaine.

Terry L. Travis Jr., 32, of Pringle Avenue, Batavia, is charged with resisting arrest, criminal obstruction of breathing, endangering the welfare of a child and unlawful imprisonment. Travis was allegedly involved in a domestic incident at 11:30 p.m. Saturday. He was jailed on $3,000 bail.

Jessica L. Ford, 24, of Oak Street, Batavia, is charged with criminal contempt, 2nd. Ford allegedly violated an order of protection by contacting the protected party. Ford was jailed on $1,000 bail.

Dale E. Banfield, 53, of Chestnut Street, Batavia, is charged with criminal tampering and resisting arrest. During a supervised property exchange, Banfield allegedly became verbally abusive toward the other party and grabbed the drawer from a nightstand and threw the contents across the room. As officers attempted to arrest Banfield, he allegedly pushed the officers and attempted to tackle one of them. After a brief struggle, Banfield was subdued and taken into custody. He was jailed on $5,000 cash bail or $1,000 bond.

Donna Marie Kroft, 61, of State Street, Batavia, is charged with petit larceny. Kroft allegedly stole groceries and other items from Tops Market by concealing the items in her purse and inside her coat.

Michael L. Williams, 35, no permanent address, is charged with criminal contempt, assault, 3rd, and aggravated criminal contempt. Williams was arrested on a warrant for the listed charges. He was reportedly found by Batavia PD officers hiding in a stairwell at a residence on Jackson Street, Batavia. He was jailed without bail.

Linda B. Gratton, 66, of Downer Street, Baldwinsville, was arrested on a warrant for alleged failure to appear on an aggravated unlicensed operation, 3rd, charge. Gratton turned herself in. She posted $500 police bail.

Kristen S. Buchholz, 32, of South Main Street, Batavia, is charged with harassment, 2nd, and disorderly conduct. Buchholz was allegedly involved in a verbal dispute with administrators at Batavia Middle School. She was jailed on $100 bail.

Marcos A. Torres, 32, of Cherry Street, Batavia, is charged with unlawful imprisonment, 2nd, and harassment, 2nd. Torres was allegedly involved in a domestic incident. He was jailed on $2,500 bail or $5,000 bond.

Cheryl A. Kowalik, 54, of Alexander Road, Batavia, was arrested on a warrant for alleged failure to appear on an issuing a bad check charge. Kowalik turned herself in to Batavia PD and posted $500 bail.

Bradley W. Howard, 24, of Honeysette Road, Mayville, was arrested on a warrant for alleged failure to appear on a DWI charge. Howard turned himself in to Batavia PD and was jailed on $1,000 bail.

Stephen Gary Hall, 69, of Murray Street, Mt. Morris, is charged with possession of more than 400 untaxed cigarettes. Hall was stopped for an alleged traffic violation at 11:16 a.m. Friday on Route 77, Pembroke, by Deputy Patrick Reeves. Also charged were Bernard Leonard Brock, 65, of Hopkins Street, Mt. Morris, and Edith May Donohue, 74, of Columbus Avenue, Mt. Morris.

Victoria Joanne Supple, 42, of Stroh Road, Attica, is charged with DWI, driving with a BAC of .08 or greater, refusal to take breath test and failure to keep right. Supple was stopped at 2:03 a.m. Saturday on Buffalo Street, Alexander, by Deputy Andrew Hale.

Darien Lamont Anderson, 20, of Egret Drive, Henrietta, is charged with unlawful possession of marijuana. Anderson was charged following an investigation by Deputy Chad Commings at 7:11 p.m. Saturday into a vehicle pulled off the road on Route 33, Bergen.

Lauren E. Scalzo, 19, of Bergen, and two 17-year-olds, were charged with unlawful possession of marijuana. The arrests were made by State Police at 1:30 p.m. Sunday on Sumner Road, Darien.

Marco A. Hernandez, 21, of Stafford, is charged with DWI, driving with a BAC of .08 or greater and unlawful possession of marijuana. Hernandez was stopped at 6:28 p.m. Sunday on Route 98, Batavia, by State Police.

Monday, March 9, 2015 at 10:38 am

Pair of BHS athletes have strong showing in state track championships

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Batavia HS, sports, track and field

Photo and information submitted by a reader:

Two Batavia High School athletes competed in the state indoor track championships this weekend. Devon Koepp (pictured) finished sixth in the weight throw with a distance of 58' 8" (He is the Section V record holder at 60' 5.") and Kaylee Cassidy finished sixth in the 1,600 medley.

Monday, March 9, 2015 at 1:12 am

Blue Devils unable to close out in sectional title game at Blue Cross Arena

post by Howard B. Owens in basketball, batavia, Batavia HS, high school sports, sports

In a world of infinite possibilities, there are an infinite number of ways the Batavia Blue Devils basketball team could have won its Class A2 Section V championship game Sunday evening at Blue Cross Arena.

A three-pointer from Jeff Redband could have dropped rather than rim out. A pass following a steal from Greg Mruzcek to Redband could have hit its target rather than skipping out of bounds. A 35-footer from a School of the Arts guard doesn't swoosh in as the shot clock winds down. One more layup, one more put back, one more backdoor cut, just one more of something positive could have turned the game around.

The one reality, though, is School of Arts won 45-36.

The Silver Eagles won not just because of a few bad breaks for the Blue Devils, nor because Batavia failed to execute on some of its basketball fundamentals. They won because they're a good team.

For the Eagles, Sergio Alicea sliced up the defense with his speed, deft ball handling and smooth shooting stroke. His 14 points were the product of three threes and a dunk that didn't seem possible from the 5'8" guard until he did it.

Christian Simmons, the tournament MVP, added 12 points, hitting five of eight from the field.

The Silver Eagles kept Batavia's offense off balance by switching up its defense, moving quickly to the ball and closing passing lanes.

"Give them credit," Head Coach Buddy Brasky said. "They went box and one to triangle and two to one three one and it kept us out of our rhythm. We didn't make very many good basketball plays. They key on Redband; they make everything tough on him and somebody else has to step up and we didn't get anybody else who stepped up."

The Blue Devils went into the half down 26 to 18, but Brasky told his team they could win it.

"We needed to have a quarter, the third quarter, which is normally our best quarter during the year where we kept them to single digits and we could get right back in the game," Brasky said. "We did that. We actually took the lead. I think it was 27-26, then they hit a three and then a three toward the buzzer. That to me was the key to the game. We had taken control of that game and then they scored six points. We went from up one to down five."

SOTA went the first seven minutes of the third quarter without a basket before hitting that pair of threes.

The Eagles then went on a run and opened up another big lead.

Batavia mistakes made things a little easier on SOTA.

The rebounding could have been better, Brasky said. The team worked on it in practice leading up to sectionals, knowing they would be playing more athletic teams. 

The passing could have been better. It's something the team works on all season --  fake the pass to make a pass, improve passing angles on the dribble, hit the open man more quickly while he still has an open look.

That meant, Brasky said, that the Blue Devils were forced to take more forced shots as time expired on the shot clock.

"When you're playing a team like that, who's athletic and in the passing lanes, and they go for steals, they anticipate, you've got to do those types of things," Brasky said.

The mistakes add up.

"Jeff tried to do what he could, but it wasn't enough," Brasky said.

With his team falling behind and struggling, Redband stepped up his game in the 4th quarter, going coast-to-coast on several transitions and driving the line when teammates dished it to him or taking the open jumper when offered.

"We were down by nine or 10 and I wasn't going to go out not shooting and just being passive, so I just trying to do everything I could," Redband said. "I didn't play very good tonight, but I tried. I tried. At least I tried."

Actually, Redband scored a game-high 20 points and if a few things would have gone differently in the last couple of minutes, he would have scored more.

He, along with Jerrett Laskett, was named to the all-tournament team.

Redband was part of one of the special seasons in Blue Devils basketball history and he helped create some of the magic in 2013 when Batavia had a shot -- but came up short -- at a state title. A buzzer beater by Redband, among his first of the more than 1,000 varsity points he would score, is what sent Batavia to states.

Since then, Batavia has made it to the sectional title game twice, but hasn't been able to secure a win.

"I realize now I didn't truly appreciate winning a sectional my sophomore year," Redband said. "I realize now after losing finals two years in a row, that was something really special. I didn't really need to work for it at all my sophomore year, and I worked my butt off my junior and senior year and I realized how special it is to play here (Blue Cross Arena) and win sectionals."

Now, the university-bound Redband's high school career is over. It's a somber moment to contemplate.

"I love this team," Redband said. "High school basketball is just, it's like the greatest thing. I grew up with these guys, playing Junior Blue Devils, playing modified, all throughout, and it's crazy to think I'm never going to play with them again."

He also appreciated playing for Buddy Brasky.

"He's great," Redband said. "He motivates us. He's always willing to open up the gym any time of year. People see him yelling, but he's really like, he loves us. He really likes us as players, so I loved playing for him."

Brasky said at the beginning of the season, he thought this was a team that could win a sectional title. It should have won a sectional title. It was, he said, the best team in the bracket. It just didn't get the job done.

"I told them in the locker room, this is one of the most enjoyable teams I've ever coached because they were a true team," Brasky said. "Nobody cared who got the credit, nobody cared if they didn't play, everybody really cared about the team. A team like that should be rewarded, but you know, it's not always fair. In sports, one team wins, one team loses. They were a true team and they were really enjoyable to coach this year."

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Sunday, March 8, 2015 at 10:24 am

Photos: Bulls beat Bowling Green to win MAC title

post by Howard B. Owens in basketball, sports, UB Bulls

If you can't tell, I love shooting sports, especially basketball.  The folks at the Univerity at Buffalo Athletic Department are kind enough to allow me access to courtside for UB Bulls games and I was able to go Friday night for the final home game of the season.

In a market where there is no NBA team and none of the Division 1 teams have really gone big time yet, UB is well positioned to become that local dominant program.

Look at what the Aztecs have done in San Diego, going from a nearly empty house every game to consistent sell-outs and one of the loudest crowds in college basketball. 

Friday's game was hopefully a preview of what's to come for the Bulls.  More than 6,000 rowdy fans in the stands.

"My teammates put on a show and that generates a buzz locally," said Will Regan, a Buffalo native, (top photo) after the game. "It's exciting for me because when I transferred back from Virginia I had a goal to sort of try and take this program to the next level. We're not there yet, but it's an exciting time."

The crowd was definitely a factor, said head coach Bobby Hurley following the hard-fought, always tight game that the Bulls won 77-75.

"This is what real big time college environment should look like in terms of a crowd," Hurley said.

Hurley would know. A standout at Duke University from 1989 to 1983, when Duke won two National Championships, Hurley played on the biggest stage and is now in charge of recharging the UB basketball program. In his second year, the team seems on the right track.  Friday's win gave the Bulls the  Mid-American Conference title.

Sunday, March 8, 2015 at 9:30 am

Notre Dame suffers heartbreaking loss in OT in Section V championship game

post by Howard B. Owens in basketball, high school sports, Notre Dame, sports

For much of the first half of Saturday's Section V Class D1 championship game at Blue Cross Arena, Josh Johnson was the wheel that kept Notre Dame's offense rolling.

But wheels have cogs and cogs sometimes break.

The broken cog Saturday was Johnson's hip, which the senior guard hurt late in the half.

Who knows how the game might have turned out if Johnson had been healthy and rolling at full speed through an entire 32 minutes.

A slowed Johnson didn't exactly curb the Fighting Irish offense. The game did move at a different pace, but Notre Dame still held a lead with a minute to play.

The 51-48 on the tote board above the court glowed, but that's only three points. There's little margin for error with a one-basket lead in a championship game.

The errors came in pairs Saturday. Six times, when a single charity point would have made it a two-possession game, Notre Dame shooters missed free throws.

Johnson missed four of them.

The first two after a backcourt foul, which sent Johnson trotting down the court, nodding at his teammates with knowing smile that seemed to say, "I've got this."

Only Johnson didn't have it. Neither shot fell. The Notre Dame bench, so animated for most of the half, was quiet, unmoved, sitting like parishioners in a church pew waiting for the collection plate.

Notre Dame's six foul shots were the gifts every team gets as the clock winds down in close games. They're donations you have to accept to win. Every coach, player and fan knows it.

Johnson would later let his frustration show with the slam of a fist into the seat of a folding chair. 

Only Johnson knows if his hip injury affected his foul shooting. It's hardly inconceivable that it did. The change in the release of a shooter by only a fraction inch is the difference between a brick and a swish. A twinge of pain in a leg pushing up could unbalance the stroke.

That isn't an excuse. Just a thought.

The reality is, Genesee Valley's Dan George, who hadn't scored through the prior 31 minutes of play, suddenly became a factor in the final 60 seconds.

He hit two three-pointers, the second 20-footer coming with about five seconds left on the clock to tie the score.

Head Coach Mike Rapone threw his arms out wide as if to say, "how did that happen?"

After the game, Rapone explained what happened. Notre Dame's coverage broke down.

"We were supposed to be man-to-man coming out of the last time out and four of us were and one of us wasn't and that's the guy who got left open," Rapone said.

With three seconds left, the Irish huddled for one last time.

The ensuing inbound pass went to Caleb Nellis at half court. He turned, leaped and released. The form was good. The heave was long. The ball left his hands before the buzzer. It hit the backboard in the square above the rim and for smallest split of a second there was hope, but this was no Christian Laettner moment.

"I've got to be honest, I knew we were in trouble when the game went into overtime," Rapone said. "The emotional swings, with kids it's tough. Our kids felt like they had the game won and now you've got to go overtime and by that time, Josh was no factor on offense, so I knew we weren't going to score a lot of points in overtime."

After those final four minutes in which the Irish scored just once, Notre Dame was left with slumped shoulders and blue jerseys pulled up to cover faces as Genesee Valley players leaped into group embrace to celebrate their 57-53 victory.

Johnson, who seemed unstoppable in the first half, finished with 22 points and Rapone admitted, the "what if" question was inescapable.

"You'd like to dream what could have happened if he didn't get hurt because it really didn't look like they had an answer for him in the first half," Rapone said.

To be sure, Genesee Valley is a good team, led by a quick and potent guard, Tyler Zlomek, MVP of the tournament, who scored 24 points and forced man-to-man coverage while the Irish used a zone to impede the rest of Genesee Valley's offense

They also had to deal with 6' 6" junior Carter Schneider.

An athletic center, Schneider battled under the boards and kept his team fired up, though he hardly embarrassed Nellis, who had 11 rebounds and a couple of key put-back baskets in the second half.

"I'm not taking anything away from them, but I still say the game was there for us to take," Rapone said.

The Irish were helped a lot by the play of Casey Midwich, who showed a good deal of leadership when Johnson was out of the game for a few minutes in the third quarter and finished with nine points.

Nellis had seven points, Tyler Prospero five and John Sutherland and Luca Zambito each scored four.

Johnson also had 10 rebounds for a double-double and Sutherland had eight.

"The game was there for us to take and we didn't grab it and we have to accept that fact," Rapone said.

Dan George with the three-point shot that tied the score in the final seconds of regulation time.

Johnson made All-Tournament team, with gifts from Section V including a plaque and medal on a ribbon.

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Saturday, March 7, 2015 at 5:10 pm

Mynderse defeats Byron-Bergen to take Class C1 championship

post by Howard B. Owens in basketball, byron-bergen, high school sports, sports

Team quickness and heavy use of a press defense helped Mynderse secure a 43-26 victory over Byron-Bergen in the girls basketball Section V Class C1 championship game played today at Rush-Henrietta High School.

A 15-1 first quarter set the stage for the Bees defeat. It was a hole Byron-Bergen never climbed out of despite scoring 12 points in the second quarter, which turned out to be a higher total than the one scored in the second half by the Bees.

Lindsey Lovett had 11 points for Byron Bergen, and Abbie Kelley scored 10. Sam Donnelly had five.

Lovett and Kelley were named to the All Tournament team.

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