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Howard B. Owens's blog

Thursday, October 7, 2010 at 12:44 pm

Students say fencing is a great way to make new friends and have fun

post by Howard B. Owens in fencing, sports

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Ben Cook, 9, saw fencing in a movie and thought it would be fun. Peter Koziol, 12, thought it would be like sword fighting. Clair Zickl, 10, was inspired by her older brother and has already competed in her first tournament.

The three young fencing students are taking classes from Colin Dentino at his En Garde Fencing Academy on Harvester Avenue.

Dentino said fencing is appropriate for youngsters because it's a sport that anybody can enter at any age and learn.

"For me, I always liked the mental aspect," Dentino said. "It's really like a three-dimensional chess game with your opponent."

For Ben, Peter and Clair, it's just fun.

"I like fencing because I'm making new friends," Ben said. "It's physically active, and it's just really, really, really fun."

Claire is advancing fast, according to Dentino. She placed 17th out of 22 in her first tournament, competing against girls in her own age bracket, but who have been fencing up to five years.

Claire started just this summer.

"For her to finish anything higher than 22nd is fantastic," Dentino said.

She is mentally tough and has absorbed her lessons quickly, Dentino said, which allowed her to take one match against a girl with more experience who eventually went on to finish third in the tournament.

Her performance qualified her to compete in an April 15 tournament in Portland, Ore.

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Thursday, October 7, 2010 at 11:21 am

Cuts to DMV staff would erase profits, county clerk tells legislators

post by Howard B. Owens in County Clerk, DMV, genesee county

If the county's Department of Motor Vehicles office were to cut 5 percent of its expenses, it would seriously jeopardize current, profitable revenue streams, County Clerk Don Read told the Ways and Means Committee on Wednesday.

donread.jpgIn 2009, the county's DMV took in $70,000 in profits, and that number could top $150,000 in 2010.

As part of the county's budget process, department heads are being asked to suggest ways to shave 5 percent of their expenses.

Read said to make that significant of a cut he would need to lay off a staff member, which would mean less staff time to process DMV paperwork for out-of-county auto dealers.

Apparently, Read's office has been able to build a business around servicing the DMV needs of Monroe County dealers because of quicker turn-around times.

Eliminating staff members would take that process from three or five days to 10 days or more, erasing the edge Genesee County's DMV office has over Monroe County.

"We've gone from a deficit in that office of $41,000 to this year showing a significant profit," Read said.

He thinks 2011's profit could exceed $200,000.

Profits from the DMV office go back into the county's general fund.

Read said the local staff's primary responsibility is taking care of walk-in clients, so if staffing were reduced, their would be less time available to handle dealers' DMV needs.

About 35 to 40 percent of Genesee County's walk-in DMV clients are from outside of Genesee County, and if waits became longer because of staffing constraints, the county would start losing that business as well.

County Manager Jay Gsell called the idea of 5 percent cuts a "suggestion."

"We told the department heads, you know your budget better than we and so we'll take those suggestions and see what to do with it," Gsell said.

During the Ways and Means Committee meeting, there didn't seem to be much enthusiasm for cutting the county clerk's budget.

"The bottom line is the bottom line," said Mary Pat Hancock, chairwoman of the Legislature. "I’m glad you’re making money. I don’t want to hurt that."

Thursday, October 7, 2010 at 10:19 am

One of the phone lines into Sheriff's Office is having problems

post by Howard B. Owens in Sheriff's Office

If you try to call the Sheriff's Office at 343-5000, you might not get through.

The problems with the phone lines this morning is not affecting 9-1-1 at all, according to Undersheriff Bill Sheron.

People who need to place non-emergency calls to the Sheriff's Office are asked to call 345-3000 and select and press 0.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010 at 6:19 pm

Photos: Tonight's sunset downtown

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, downtown, photos

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Another great sunset tonight. Here's a couple of shots I grabbed on Main Street.

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Wednesday, October 6, 2010 at 3:27 pm

Photo: William Morgan, Batavia Cemetery

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Batavia Cemetery, photos, William Morgan

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This afternoon I had the pleasure of touring one of the businesses in the Harvester Center and when I found myself on an upper floor on the south end of the building, I was able to get a picture of William Morgan's statue at an angle we don't usually see.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010 at 2:43 pm

Pratt Road bridge will be closed for a week for repairs

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Pratt Road

The Pratt Road bridge over the Tonawanda Creek will be closed for repairs starting tomorrow, according to County Highway Superintendent Tim Hens.

The closure is expected to last a week.

Two steel girders will be reinforced.

The repairs will enable the county to remove a load restriction placed on the bridge following inspections this summer.

The $10,000 expenditure comes from the 2010 Bridge Capital Improvement Project, which is funded with state highway aid.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010 at 12:41 pm

Monroe County accused of trying to force OTB to accept new executive

post by Howard B. Owens in Batavia Downs, Western Regional OTB

An attempt to fill a long-vacant executive position at Western Regional OTB with a Monroe County politician with some baggage is meeting resistance locally.

Genesee County's representative on the OTB board, Richard Siebert, told the Democrat & Chronicle that Monroe County officials are trying to make the appointment without going through proper procedures.

James Smith is a former deputy executive for Monroe County who was charged -- and later acquitted -- of misdemeanors related to alleged misuse of county workers for non-county work.

Smith's nomination is supported by Dennis Bassett, who is Rochester Mayor Robert Duffy’s appointee to the board.

According to Siebert, there's been no interview process and no other candidates considered.

One subcommittee vote was a tie, effectively killing Smith's application.

However, Bassett is now reportedly trying to bring a vote on Smith to the entire board.

A meeting with this single item on the agenda is scheduled for Oct. 11.

From the D&C:

Siebert said Smith supporters are trying to push the appointment through without advertising the job. Smith lacks gaming experience and, while Smith was acquitted of criminal charges, the accusations against him did raise questions about his managerial work, Siebert said.

“They’re ramming it down our throats,” Siebert said.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010 at 11:44 am

Driver faces possible charges following rollover accident

post by Howard B. Owens in accident, pembroke

A driver involved in an early-morning, single-car rollover accident on Route 33 in Pembroke was taken to ECMC and may face charges related to the accident.

Igor Tancevski, 26, of 101 Christina Drive, North Chili, was reportedly traveling west on Route 33 when his car went off the road in the area of 1505 Route 33 hitting a mailbox  and a post.

The 2008 Toyota sedan rolled over and came to rest on its passenger side.

No other vehicles were involved in the 4:07 a.m. accident, which is being investigated by Deputy Eric Seppela.

The nature of any possible pending charges were not disclosed.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010 at 10:45 am

Truck driver accused of speeding in crash that injures one person

post by Howard B. Owens in accident, corfu

One person was transported to UMMC yesterday following a three-car pile up on Route 5 in Corfu. A big rig truck driver towing a trailer reportedly failed to stop in time for cars that had slowed to allow another vehicle to make a left-hand turn into the Kutter's Cheese parking lot.

Elias P. Seward, 21, of 7812 Gorton Road, Basom, was cited for allegedly speeding. Seward reportedly told investigator Deputy Chad Minuto that he was unable to stop his truck in time.

The truck, owned by Zahm & Matson, Inc., of Falconer, slammed into a car driven by Joseph Kester, 34, of Warsaw, whose 2006 Kia then hit a car driven by Melody J. Zuppa, 48, of Amherst.

Zuppa, who was cited for allegedly not wearing a seat belt, was injured in the crash. No other injuries were reported.

The accident occurred at 3:57 p.m. in the area of 857 Main Road.

(Initial Report)

Wednesday, October 6, 2010 at 10:14 am

Police Beat: Man accused of not paying for cab ride and punching driver

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

William George Horner, 59, of Bank Street Road, Batavia, is charged with theft of services and harassment, 2nd. He is accused of refusing to pay a driver of Batavia Cab Company following a taxi ride and then allegedly punching the driver. The alleged incident occurred at 2:40 a.m. in the area of 8013 Bank St. Road.

John M. Parker, 58, of 1302 Phelps Road, Pembroke, is charged with felony DWI, driving with a BAC of .18 or higher, driving with no headlight, failure to use turn signal, no seat belt and avoiding traffic device or intersection. Parker was stopped at 10:26 p.m., Tuesday, by Officer Richard Retzlaff of the Corfu Police Department on Route 33 just east of the village. Parker was allegedly found to have a BAC of .21.

Nadine M. Jackson, 48, of Le Roy, is charged with grand larceny, 3rd. Jackson was arrested by State Police for an alleged crime reported at 9:05 a.m., Aug. 15. No further details were released.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010 at 9:58 pm

GCC men's soccer putting together dominant season

post by Howard B. Owens in GCC, soccer, sports

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I took in a little GCC men's soccer this evening. The Cougers beat Corning 5-0 for the team's 13th win against one loss on the season.

Above, Brady Smith, of Brisbane, Australia, battles for the ball near Corning's goal.

More pictures after the jump:

Tuesday, October 5, 2010 at 3:24 pm

Fire hydrant hit on Putnam Road

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, accident

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A car has reportedly sheared off a fire hydrant at Putnam Road and E Road, Town of Batavia.

No water leak reported at this time.

UPDATE: Reader submitted photo.


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Tuesday, October 5, 2010 at 3:05 pm

Three-car accident reported on Main Road, Corfu

post by Howard B. Owens in accident, pembroke

A three-car accident with injuries has been reported in front of Kutter's Cheese, 857 Main Road, Corfu.

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

UPDATE 4:16 p.m.: One injury reported. Extrication required.


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Tuesday, October 5, 2010 at 12:52 pm

Local Democrats and Republicans open campaign headquarters in Downtown Batavia

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, downtown, politics

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The Democrats are in the mall, across from Sunny's, next to the north side entrance. The Republicans are at 5 Jackson St., Batavia.

Both campaign headquarters are decorated with candidate signs.

Chris Charvella announced on behalf of the Democrats that they will have a grand opening at 6:30 p.m., Thursday.

No word from the Republicans on their plans.

UPDATE: The GOP open house is now scheduled for 11 a.m., Saturday. Steven Hawley and Mike Ranzenhofer are expected to be on hand.

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Tuesday, October 5, 2010 at 11:40 am

Police Beat: Reports released of seven arrests at College Village

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, College Village, crime

Willie Lamar Ervin, 18, of Bonica Street, Rochester, is charged with unlawfully dealing with fireworks. Deputy Brian Thompson responded to a report of M88 type fireworks being set off in the parking lot of College Village at 3:15 a.m., Sunday. Ervin was issued an appearance ticket. Also charged was Jerrod Malcolm Scott, 18, of Ridgeway Avenue, Rochester, and Armekco Davante Austin, 18, of Terrace Park, Rochester.

Anthony Willie Wagner, 19, of Bruce Street, Syracuse, is charged with unlawful possession of marijuana. Wagner was at 4:49 a.m., Sunday, following an investigation into a report of fireworks being set off in the College Village parking lot.

Clark Tyrell Canty, 20, of Lenox Street, Rochester, is charged with unlawful possession of marijuana. Canty was arrested by Deputy Brian Thompson at 11:12 p.m., Sept. 29, following a report of the strong odor of marijuana coming from a van parked in the parking lot of College Village.

Kimberly Ann Doyle, 20, of Watson Street, Batavia, is charged with unlawful possession of marijuana. Doyle was stopped at 1:04 a.m., Sept. 30, by Deputy Brian Thompson at College Village after dropping off a resident there. Doyle was allegedly spotted with a banned person in her vehicle. Upon investigation, with the assistance of K-9 "Jay," Doyle was allegedly found in possession of marijuana.

Ashley Evette Mercado, 20, of Watson St., Batavia, is charged with trespass. Mercado was arrested at 1:04 a.m., Sept. 30, by Deputy Brian Thompson for allegedly entering College Village and remaining there in violation of an alleged ban on her presence at College Village.

Sharnice Shantell Gibson, 18, of Wood Street, Batavia, is charged with criminal trespass, 3rd. Gibson is accused of being on Walmart property at 11:04 p.m., July 23, in violation of a ban against her being on Walmart property. Gibson was issued an appearance ticket to be arraigned in Town of Batavia Court on Oct. 21.

Monday, October 4, 2010 at 8:08 pm

DSS chief briefs legislators on fraud investigations

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One thing you need to know about social services and fraud is that just because a person isn't living up to your standards doesn't mean that person is getting public assistance illegally.

The lady could be on her sixth boyfriend in 10 months. She could be pregnant with her seventh son. The man down the road could be a drunk or a pack rat. Both husband and wife could sit on the front porch all day smoking Senecas, or hit the corner deli every day to buy scratchers.

None of that constitutes evidence of fraud, according to Genesee County Social Services Commissioner Eileen Kirkpatrick.

Kirkpatrick spoke with the Human Services Committee today after a legislator raised questions about how DSS handles fraud cases.

While it's the responsibility of all DSS staff members to be on the look out for evidence of fraud, the department employs two full-time fraud investigators (the second position was created in 2006).

And those two investigators are kept busy.

Every day, DSS accepts 16 new applications for public assistance, and every one of them is a potential fraud case.

Of course, of the thousands of cases DSS handles every year, only a relatively few ever reach the stage of an actual fraud investigation.

In 2008, the two investigators formally investigated 342 cases, and there were 582 investigations in 2009.

"When you think about the number of cases we handle in our department, when you think about the thousands of cases, the number of complaints we investigate are really minuscule compared to what we are really doing," Kirkpatrick said.

A fraud investigation can either begin with a complaint, or during the initial application process, Kirpatrick said.

During the interview process, DSS workers look for inconsistencies, using a standardized set of "red flags": Has the applicant recently moved into the county; no documentation; primary tenant with no utility bills; landlord does not verify household composition; or an invalid social security number, for example.

Tips might come from law enforcement, other social services departments, friends, neighbors or even current welfare recipients.

"Clients are famous for ratting on other clients," Kirkpatrick said. "It's usually in defense of their own status. 'If you think what I'm doing is bad, how about ...'" motioning as if pointing to another person.

The screening process generally catches people coming into the county just looking for an easy way to get on public assistance, she said.

"People don't find it that easy to just come in and get on assistance in our department," Kirkpatrick said. "If they need help, we're going to help them, but they're going to have to do what they need to do to complete the program."

Which usually means looking for work, getting job-placement assistance, applying for job training and working to get off of public aid.

Contrary to what some may think or wish, evidence of drug abuse doesn't disqualify a person for public assistance, but all applicants are screened for substance abuse. If abuse is suspected, the person is referred to GCASA.

From time to time, a person makes it through the screening process when they shouldn't -- or gets on public assistance and then later starts earning money not originally reported.

For example, a person might start a new business and not report the income.

It's amazing, Kirkpatrick said, what a good Google search might find about a person's attempts to earn disqualifying income. Investigators also check Facebook and Twitter.

And even comments left on The Batavian -- and there have been examples, Kirkpatrick told legislators, of DSS recipients leaving comments on The Batavian that have led to investigations.

One gentleman on assistance set up a web page for his home business, complete with numerous pictures of his work, and was earning a good living making an undisclosed item. When his entreprenuerism was discovered, DSS shut off his assistance.

When a suspected case of fraud is found, assistance is terminated, but recipients have a right to appeal. During the appeal process, payments continue.

While all tips are welcome -- Kirkpatrick reiterated near the end of the meeting -- that just because a woman's millionaire boyfriend moves in, doesn't mean she is no longer eligible for medicaid. That's not fraud, she said. She could even continue to get food stamps if the boyfriend swore he bought and cooked his own food.

It's also not fraud to fail to comply with DSS rules. Rules violations could jeopardize benefits, but is not considered fraud.

Fraud is an intentional attempt to obtain benefits to which the recipient is not entitled, Kirkpatrick said.

Monday, October 4, 2010 at 11:22 am

Police Beat: Two men arrested for allegedly fighting on Pringle Avenue

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

Tyrone N. Thigpen, 33, of 9 South Lyon St., Batavia, and Robert L. Williams Jr., 20, of 25 Harvester Ave., Batavia, are charged with disorderly conduct. Thigpen and Williams are accused of fighting on Pringle Avenue at 3:10 a.m., Saturday.

Paul D. Barth Jr., 19, of Cohocton Road, Pembroke, is charged with petit larceny. Barth is accused of stealing merchandise while employed at Kmart. The alleged thefts occurred between July through September.

Lynn Ann Hertweck, 42, of Reed Road, Churchville, is charged with a felony count of DWI, aggravated DWI (driving with a BAC of .18 or greater) and improper left turn. Hertweck was stopped in the area of 30 Hunter St., Bergen, at 1:54 a.m., Sunday, by Deputy Howard Carlson.

Richard J. Kubus, 30, of 25 Vine St., Batavia, is charged with petit larceny. Kubus is accused of attempting to steal a grocery cart full of merchandise from Tops Market in Le Roy. The total value is reportedly $401.69.

Trevor D. Cliff, 19, of Avon, is charged with unlawful possession of marijuana, operating a motor vehicle without an inspection certificate and speeding. Cliff was stopped by State Police at 8:28 p.m., Saturday, on Townline Road in Alabama.

Donald I. Wagner, 61, of Pavilion, is charged with DWI, driving with a BAC of .08 or greater and failure to use designated lane. Wagner was stopped by State Police at 10:55 p.m. on Court Road, Covington.

A 17-year-old from Attica is accused of petit larceny from a location in Alexander. The youth was arrested by State Police at 1:39 p.m., Thursday. No further details released.

Follow up to an accident we reported Friday: Injured, Nikkolas M. Bruner, 52, of Basom.

Follow up to "wanted" post for Deborah Compton: Compton was taken into custody Saturday at her residence and released on $1,500 bail.

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