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Howard B. Owens's blog

Wednesday, August 11, 2010 at 12:41 pm

Police Beat: Man charged following argument with his brother

post by Howard B. Owens in alexander, crime

Thomas Ralph Stevens, 46, of Cook Road, Bergen, is charged with harassment, 2nd. Stevens is accused of arguing with his brother and jamming a finger into his brother's face, knocking off his glasses.

Dominic Joseph Cordello, 25, of Crossbow Drive, Penfield, is charged with a felony count of DWI, driving with a BAC of .08 or greater, moving from lane unsafely, and failure to keep right. Cordello was stopped at 12:24 a.m., today, on Alexander Road, Alexander, by Deputy James Diehl.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010 at 3:11 am

Three arrests and 29 citations at John Mayer concert

post by Howard B. Owens in crime, Darien, Darient Lake

The following arrests were made by the Genesee County Sheriff's Office in conjunction with the John Mayer concert at Darien Lake Performing Arts Center.

Ryan E. Hart, 20, of Cynthia Drive, Orchard Park, is charged with trespass and unlawful possession of marijuana. Hart is accused of returning to the concert venue after being ejected.

Leonard G. Booher, 59, of Carney Hollow Road, Wayland, is charged with harassment, 2nd. Booher allegedly pushed an usher to the ground.

A 17-year-old of Ross Common Crescent, Fairport, is charged with trespass and possession of alcohol by a minor. The youth allegedly tried to re-enter the concert venue after being ejected.

The following people received citations for alleged consumption of alcohol under age 21.

Michael J. Wright, 18, of Washington Highway, Amherst
Michele P. Reilly, 18, of Treeview Court, Cicero
Emilee K. Dixon, 19, of Buffalo Street, Jamestown
Nicole E. Frederickson, 20, of Sandford Road, Jamestown
Brittany N. Theophilus, 20, of Crestwood Circle, Pittsford
Jennifer A. Castiglione, 19, of Rush-Hen. Townline Road, Rush
A 17-year-old, of New Road, Amherst
A 16-year-old, of Squire Court, Getzville
Joseph J. Schenkel, 18, of Teakwood Terrace, Williamsville
A 17-year-old, of Oakwood Avenue, Hamburg
Michael J. Kolanski, 18, of California Road, Orchard
A 17-year-old, of Pinebrook Avenue, Williamsville
Gabrielle A. Rinaldi, 19, of Catatunk Road, Canisteo
Katelyn J. Fragnoli, 18, of Shady Beach Lane, Seneca Falls
A 16-year-old, of Fleetwood Terrace, Williamsville
A 16-year-old, of Robin Road, Amherst
Rebecca L. Switzer, 19, of Middle Black Brook Road, Seneca Falls
Alexandra A. Ferrino, 18, of S. Grove Street, East Aurora
Sean P. Sullivan, 18, of Emerald Hill Circle, Fairport
A 17-year-old, of Culpepper Road, Williamsville
A 17-year-old, of Glen Oak Drive, East Amherst
A 17-year-old, of Chapel Woods, Williamsville
Maxwell G. Greene, 18, of Sunset Boulevard, Pittsford
Emily K. Check, 18 of Sandpiper Lane, Pittsford
A 17-year-old, of Beatrix Circle, Lancaster
Brittany J. Hamsaik, 18, of Klein Road, Williamsville
Zachary F. Ostroff, 18, of Thomas Fox East Drive, North Tonawanda
A 16-year-old, of Woodward Avenue, Kenmore
Jonathan C. Palmeri, 18, of Countrygate Lane, Tonawanda
Justin P. Lee, 18, of Templeton Trail, Orchard Park

Tuesday, August 10, 2010 at 8:33 am

Heading out to California

post by Howard B. Owens in thebatavian

This afternoon, Billie and I board a California-bound plane.

We'll be on the West Coast for one week.

We'll be visiting San Diego, Bakersfield and Ventura.  In Bakersfield, we'll gather with the whole family to celebrate my parents 50th wedding anniversary.

While we're gone, the staff at WBTA -- particularly Geoff Redick -- will update the site with breaking news and other news items. Billie and I will post any news that comes in over e-mail -- particularly, of course, crime and arrest reports. And I'll try to have a daily poll and a couple of deals of the day.

I've done a sort of informal survey of people I've talked to over the past week about posting pictures from California while we travel and there was general enthusiasm for the idea, so I plan on doing that.

Unfortunately, Pachuco can't make the trip, but he is happy and cozy at Beds-N-Bones, his favorite pet lodge.

So, here's a song of California -- Tom Russell doing "California Snow," which he co-wrote with one of my favorite singer-songwriters, Dave Alvin.  It's topical -- dealing with immigration -- and it mentions El Cajon in the first verse (the whole geography of the song is a part of California I know well).

Tuesday, August 10, 2010 at 8:20 am

Batavia will move forward with plumbing board reforms

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Plumbing Board

Several reforms in the policies and procedures of the city's plumbing board will be implemented following the Batavia City Council meeting Monday, where no council members raised any major objection to the plan.

rosemary_christian.jpgAfter the meeting, City Manager Jason Molino said the next step is for he and his staff to meet with the plumbing board -- which currently consists of one master plumber and two city staff members -- and work out a plan for implementing the reforms.

The reforms include ensuring state laws regarding open meetings and public records be followed, that better records be kept and filed on applicants for plumbing licenses, and that a third-party company be found to fairly and unbiasedly administer plumbing exams.

The city must also continue looking for a new part-time inspector of plumbing -- a job candidate who can also share code enforcement duties.

If no such candidate can be found, then the city will need to have one of its current code enforcement officers be certified to perform plumbing inspections.

Councilman Bob Bialkowski said that's the one part of the plan that makes him the most uncomfortable. He would much rather have an experienced plumber performing inspection duties.

Three plumbers and the city's former plumbing inspector, Barb Toal, spoke during the public comments portion of the meeting, well before the city manager's report came up for council discussion.

jason_molino.jpgThe plumbers made general statements about the importance of plumbing regulation with regard to public health. Toal spoke more to the point of the report, questioning its accuracy on meeting notices and minutes and how exams were administered.

Toal's speech was delivered rapidly and was somewhat disjointed. She seemed to blame the lack of minutes and the fact no tests were administered for some period of time on the fact that the board has not been able to operate as a full, five-member board.

The city has traditionally found it difficult to meet state requirements to have a journeyman plumber on the board.

"There has not been a full plumbing board for a full year, so therefore there have been no meetings, no minutes and no business conducted,” Toal said.

Later in the meeting, council members discussed the fact that the board only needs three members present to conduct business.

Toal also criticized the report for claiming that meetings were not advertised with proper public notice in accordance with state law.

"Planning board meetings for last four years are on the third Wednesday of every month," Toal said. "What a surprise? How is the meeting not legal? How does management not know what’s going on?"

As for not administering tests, Toal said applicants were told that without a full board, the board couldn't write a test for them to take. She said they all understood the situation.

One of the speakers wasn't a plumber, but a customer of plumbers.

City resident Paul Passamonte discussed his own difficulty in finding a locally licensed plumber at a reasonable cost. It's the same topic Passamonte covered in a letter to the city last week.

Passamonte wrote that after hiring a contractor from Buffalo for a room addition, the same contractor offered a bid for the plumbing work. He said it would cost $3,200, but the contractor wasn't licensed in Batavia.

After obtaining the list of 31 licensed plumbers for Batavia, Passamonte said a surprising number didn't even live in Genesee County, and the ones who did usually didn't return his calls. Only four ever acknowledged his calls and only two showed up and gave bid estimates -- one for $5,200 and the other for more than $12,000.

When the plumbing report came up on the council agenda for council discussion, Councilwoman Rosemary Christian had her hand up first.

bob_bialkowski.jpgShe wanted to know why, if the board had been meeting for more than a decade without proper meeting notices and minutes, why that problem wasn't caught earlier.

City Manager Jason Molino said that part of the issue is that the board wasn't being required to file their documents with the city clerk's office. The board was only dealing with the plumbing office, so there wasn't any additional oversight.

"I can’t give you an answer for why this has gone on for a period of time, but we’ve identified it and now we need to correct it," Molino said.

Councilman Bill Cox suggested that when a person files an application to take a plumbing test, the application should be logged in the city clerk's office and the applicant should receive a formal letter of acknowledgment in a timely manner. The rest of the council concurred.

That was the one additional reform added to the city manager's proposal.

Council President Marianne Clattenburg praised the report as thorough, well documented and factual.

"It's not emotional," she said.

"I think we also have to keep in mind what the plumbing board is all about and how it benefits the city when we have a fully functional, fair plumbing board and a competent plumbing inspector," Clattenburg added. "It is ultimately about serving the citizens of the community. It really isn’t about serving one interest."

After the meeting, Molino said the reforms should make a big difference in how plumbing business is conducted in the city.

"The recommendations, I don’t think are monumental, but in terms of significant change, they’re important," Molino said.

Photos: Christian, Molino and Bialkowski.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010 at 6:29 am

Council approves repairs to eliminate white streaks on City Hall

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, city centre

A solution may have been found for the white streaks on the red bricks of City Hall.

sally_kuzon.jpgOn Monday, City Council approved a $31,500 contract with Highland Masonry and Restoration Inc., of Buffalo, to replace 46 windows and sills with material that won't run and create new streaks.

Once the building's cleaned up and the new windows are in place, the building should be more attractive, officials say.

"It does bother the citizens of Batavia," said City Council President Marrianne Clattenburg. "I get comments on it all the time – when are you going to fix those windows?"

Director of Public Works Sally Kuzon said the city tried two different replacement or repair options on three different windows on the building. The replacement process showed the most success on two windows, so the city then sought bids for the work on the remaining 46 windows.

frank_ferrando.jpgCouncilman Sam Barone was the only council member to object to the work, saying he was concerned about the expense and that he could live with the situation.

The city did budget $27,000 for the project. The $4,500 shortfall will be taken from the city's facilities reserve.

Councilwoman Patti Pacino was among the council members who questioned why the city couldn't sue the contractor who installed the windows, or the architect who wrote the specs.

"I still don't understand how it's not some body's fault," Pacino said.

City Attorney George Van Nest explained that the building contractor was merely going off the plans and specs provided by the architect when the building was erected five years ago, so couldn't be held libel.

As for going after the architect, he said expert opinion, according to his research, varies on the proper construction process and materials for installing windows in a masonry building, making getting a win on a lawsuit much more difficult.

"Legal action could cost more than the project itself," said City Manager Jason Molino.

patti_pacino.jpgBoth Molino and Van Nest explained that winter-time construction and the compounds used in installing the windows at that time of year may be the reason the streaks appeared. Van Nest said he's seen the same problem appear on buildings in Buffalo.

"In my opinion, this is a beautiful building and those stains under the windows really detract from it," said councilman Frank Ferrando. "I think we owe it to this community and the investment that we made here that we make it look good. This is our downtown. This is something we should all be very proud of."

Photos: Kuzon, Ferrando, Pacino.

Monday, August 9, 2010 at 10:44 pm

Investigators still putting together evidence to determine factors in fatal crash

post by Howard B. Owens in accident, Oakfield

While investigators continue to suspect that alcohol may have been a factor in the one-car crash in Oakfield early Saturday morning that claimed the lives of three young people, it appears speed may have been a factor, as well.

Chief Deputy Gordon Dibble said Monday that crash investigator Deputy John Duyssen believes the initial indications are that the speed of the vehicle was too great for the driver to negotiate the curve at the accident scene, resulting in the crash.

The car rotated clockwise when its tires hit the shoulder. The drivers side hit the utility pole by the side of the road and it rolled over on its roof. A passenger in the back seat was ejected from the vehicle, according to Dibble.

Matthew Ware, 22, Joshua Durham, 21 and Allyson Galens, 20, were killed in the crash.

The group had been at the Elba Onion Festival earlier in the evening, but Dibble said investigators have yet to determine what time they left.

It's not yet known where they might have gone -- if any place -- after leaving the festival.

There were empty beer bottles at the scene of the crash, but investigators do not know if they are in any way related to the crash.

"We are still looking into that and will know more when the medical examiner's office completes its investigation," Dibble said.

Monday, August 9, 2010 at 10:33 pm

Police believe power wheelchair stolen after it broke down

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, crime

The Batavia Police would like your help in recovering a missing power wheelchair owned by a Washington Towers resident.

The wheelchair broke down this morning and the elderly resident left it nearby. The resident was able to get back home and he called a repair service.

Tonawanda Valley Federal Credit Union officials called police after customers reported it unattended in the parking lot.

When police responded, the chair could not be located. Police officers are concerned the chair was stolen.

Anyone with information about the chair is asked to call the Batavia PD at 585-345-3000.

Monday, August 9, 2010 at 10:06 pm

Muckdogs sending five players to all-star game

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

june19muckdogs19a.jpgFive Muckdogs will represent Batavia in the 2010 New York-Penn League All-Star game.

Catcher Audry Perez, outfielder Nicholas Longmire, infielder Joey Bergman and pitchers Justin Edwards and Chase Reid were named to the squad.

The game will be played Tuesday, Aug. 17, at Richmond County Ballpark in Staten Island.

Closer Jose Rada -- who is third in the league with 10 saves and has a 1.13 ERA to go with 33 strikeouts in 24 innings -- was passed over (General Manager Travis Sick said that Rada was selected prior to being promoted to Quad Cities).

Following from the Muckdogs' news release:

Monday, August 9, 2010 at 7:39 pm

Batavia names new fire chief

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia

mug_james_maxwell.jpgA fire leader with 23 years experience in the Kodak Fire Department of the Eastman Kodak Company and 30 years experience -- both as a volunteer and as chief of the North Greece Fire Department -- has been selected to head the Batavia Fire Department.

James Maxwell will be become Fire Chief next Monday.

Monday night the Batavia City Council approved a resolution giving Maxwell 12 months to relocate to Batavia and City Manager Jason Molino said Maxwell is eager to move here.

Maxwell was not available for comment.

He replaces Interim Chief Craig Williams, whom Molino praised for his three months of dedicated service in the role.

It's been a long search for a new chief for the department, which has been run in the past couple of years by Thomas Dillon followed by Ralph Hyde before Williams. Hyde came out of retirement to handle the duties when Dillon was forced to step down because the state wouldn't let him draw a full-time salary and retirement benefits.

At Kodak, Maxwell served as a HazMat Resource Tech, Senior Firefighter/EMT, Lieutenant and Battalion Chief. He became chief of the North Greece department in 2006. North Greece is staffed by 33 career firefighters and 68 volunteers.

In looking for a new chief, Molino said the city wanted to hire somebody of character, integrity and enthusiasm.

"Obviously, we are looking for a good personality and right mentality not only for the department itself and management and (city) council, but who’s going to be a good fit for the community," Molino said. "Resumes are important, but it doesn’t always mean that somebody with the best resume is going to be the best fit in that department or the organization."

Maxwell's wife is Mary Jo and he has two sons, Brian, 26, and Craig, 24.

His starting salary will be $75,170.

Monday, August 9, 2010 at 11:52 am

Investigators looking for any information that might explain death of Batavia woman

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

Investigators are piecing together the final hours of Deborah Maniace.

The body of 47-year-old Batavia resident was found early Saturday morning next to the train tracks under the CRX overpass on Clinton Street Road, Stafford.

Maniace had attended the Elba Onion Festival Friday and been out with her boyfriend. At 2 a.m., Maniace called her son and said she was walking home.

Chief Deputy Jerome Brewster said that a just-released medical examiner's report says her wounds were consistent with a fall from a bridge. There is no other sign of trauma -- not from a fight and not from a car hitting her, and she was not sexually assaulted.

There are no skid marks or other markings on the roadway at the bridge that would suggest she had to move quickly to get out of the way of a swerving car.

Brewster noted that the wall along the bridge roadway is pretty high. It would be hard for a 5' 2" person to just fall over.

There is no indication that Maniace was suicidal.

"We would love to talk with anybody who might have seen her walking on Route 33," Brewster said. "We would like to talk to anybody who drove that section of Route 33 between 2 and 3 a.m. and didn't see her -- we would like to know that, too."

To contact the Sheriff's Office, call 585-345-3000.

Monday, August 9, 2010 at 10:06 am

Police Beat: Driver accused of nearly hitting people sitting in lawn chairs

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

Russell J. Hamilton, 20, Route 19, Brockport, is charged with reckless endangerment, 3rd, criminal mischief, 4th, and harassment, 2nd. Hamilton is accused of driving his car in a reckless manner, nearly striking two people sitting in lawn chairs. Hamilton then allegedly got out of his car and verbally threatened one of the victims. He is also accused of causing damage to the victim's driveway on Aug. 4. He was jailed on $1,500 bail.

Kevin F. Tierney, 51, of Creek Road, Pavilion, is charged with endangering the welfare of a child and sexual abuse, 3rd. Tierney is accused of forcing a woman into sexual contact.

Colleen Marie Kress, 45, of Crown Oak Drive, Rochester, is charged with unlawful possession of marijuana, aggravated unlicensed operation, 2nd, operating on a suspended registration, operating without insurance and speeding. Kress was stopped at 1:10 a.m., Monday, on Route 5 in Le Roy by Deputy John Weis for allegedly driving 70 mph in a 45 mph zone.

Daniel Thomas King, 30, of Johnson Road, Bernhards Bay, is charged with DWI, aggravated DWI, speeding and failure to keep right. King was stopped at 12:04 a.m., Monday, on Route 77, Pembroke, by Deputy Patrick Reeves. King was allegedly driving at 63 mph in a 45 mph zone.

Marc F. Faggin, 30, of Triphammer Road, Ithaca, is charged with DWI, driving with a BAC of .08 or greater and following too closely. Faggin was stopped at 11:29 p.m., Sunday, on Route 77, Darien, by Deputy Chris Parker.

Janet Rae Langer, 32, of South Street Road, Le Roy, is charged with DWI and refusal to take a breath test. Langer is accused to driving to a location on West Bergen Road at 8:58 p.m., Sunday, in connection with a property dispute. Langer was allegedly intoxicated at the time.

Monday, August 9, 2010 at 7:09 am

One arrest, six citations at Paramore concert at Darien Lake

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

The following arrest was announced by the Genesee County Sheriff's Office in connection with the Paramore concert at Darien Lake Theme Park on Sunday.

Gary M. Corbin, 21, of Downhill Drive, Erie, Pa. is charged with disorderly conduct. Corbin is accused of urinating on a female patron.

The following people received citations for alleged underage drinking:

Kelsey L. Peebles, 19, of Mill Street, Marathon
Taras R. Stashkiv, 19, of Michele Drive, Syracuse
David M. McDonald, 19, of Divers Crossing, Marathon
Riley P. Battaglini, 19 of Joss Farm Way, Cicero
Stephen W. Voorhis, 19, of Laguna Drive, Endicott
Brendan F. Morrisonm, 18, of Brinks Street, Marathon

Sunday, August 8, 2010 at 8:26 pm

Report: Plumbing board has history of not operating in Batavia's best interest

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Plumbing Board

For nearly 20 years, the Batavia Plumbing Board has conducted secret meetings, failed to keep proper minutes, not abided by its own regulations regarding plumbing examinations and administered tests seemingly designed to assure failure.

These are the accusations contained in a report issued by the City Manager's office on Thursday in advance of Monday's city council meeting.

"After researching the Plumbing Board and Plumbing Inspector actions over the past two decades, it has been discovered that there are numerous questionable actions with regard to the conduct of prior Plumbing Boards and the Plumbing Inspector," reads the report.

"Furthermore, when considering the severity of issues revolving around illegal meetings, refusal to review plumbing exam applications, lack of aptitude in creating the exams and answer keys, and blatant disregard for accurate record keeping, it would appear that the actions of the Plumbing Board and Plumbing Inspector have been collusive, self-serving, and not in the best interest of the residents of the City of Batavia.

"These actions further reveal a deliberate abuse of public trust and obvious pursuance of self interest for those involved."

The 18-page report contradicts most of the reporting of the Batavia Daily News on plumbing board issues. The Daily's stories have consistently protrayed city plumbers as protectors of public safety foiled in their public service efforts by an uncooperative City Hall.

In a July 22 article (City plumbers are united in protest), the Daily reports:

The board corrected the tests and all three applicants failed.

It is a difficult test, plumber Doug Diegelman said.

“It absolutely should be. It’s a definite public safety issue,” he said. “I want to try and get this resolved so that everyone is working on the same page. Each and every plumber had to have certain qualifications to pass that test.”

Of course, any test is difficult if the answer key doesn't match the questions. In each of the sets of questions given, the answer keys contained between 4 and 21 incorrect answers. In one case, the answer key contained "false" as the correct answer on a multiple choice question.

City Manager Jason Molino said in an interview with The Batavian on Friday that he isn't even sure the exams are up to date with current plumbing codes. And since the plumbing board has generally failed to keep proper meeting minutes, there is no record of the board adjusting the tests to keep pace with changes in code.

Sunday, August 8, 2010 at 7:45 pm

Tributes added to memorial where three young people lost their lives

post by Howard B. Owens in Oakfield


More flowers, notes, gifts and two signs have been added to an informal memorial created by friends and family of three young people killed in a one-car auto accident early Saturday morning. The accident claimed the lives of Matthew Ware, 22, Joshua Durham, 21, and Allyson Galens, 20. Ware lived in Batavia and was a graduate, along with Basom-resident Durham, of Oakfield-Alabama High School. Galens, a GCC student, was from Stanley.



Sunday, August 8, 2010 at 7:29 pm

Photo: Tree on Caswell Road, Bergen

post by Howard B. Owens in Caswell Road, photos


I continue to be impressed by the beauty I find in Genesee County as I drive around the back roads (and, truth be told, I think I was still on Caswell when I took this picture, but frankly, forgot to write down where I was).

Sunday, August 8, 2010 at 7:19 pm

Photos: Memorial for Deborah Maniace

post by Howard B. Owens in Stafford


Friends and family of Deborah Maniace gathered on the Route 33 CRX overpass this evening to pay respects to Maniace, whose body was found early Saturday morning next to the railroad tracks. The cause of her death has yet to be determined.


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