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Howard B. Owens's blog

Tuesday, June 8, 2010 at 7:23 am

Two-car accident at North and Summit, Batavia

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, accident

A two-car accident with possible injuries has been reported at North and Summit streets, Batavia.

Mercy EMS is on scene and City Fire is responding. Mercy EMS, which found the accident, reports minor injuries.

Police has been dispatched to deal with traffic. The intersection is blocked.


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Monday, June 7, 2010 at 8:05 pm

Sex in the City: Batavia 'adultery' case getting wider media attention

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, crime

pressconf01.jpg

Batavia police spokesman Eric Hill pretty much admits that the police department is surprised that an alleged sex act in a Batavia park has become big regional news.

The initial press release was "local only," meaning it went out only to The Batavian, WBTA and the Batavia Daily News. Regional TV, radio and newspaper editors read all of those websites to help keep tabs on Batavia, so by Monday afternoon, the police department was besieged by a steady stream of media requests for more information.

At 3:45 p.m., Hill stood before half-a-dozen TV cameras and a barrage of mics and told the assembled reporters many things we already know, and added a couple of new details.

pressconf02.jpgThe angle driving the story up until now is the rare charge of adultery against Suzanne M. Corona, 41, of Ousterhout Street, and that unusual charge could lead to national news outlets picking up  "BATAVIA , NY" datelined news stories.

If not "adultery," then Corona's comments late this afternoon to WHEC out of Rochester will certainly add a more sensationalistic angle.

Corona said that her husband of seven years is transgendered and that they have been unable to have sex. That is part of the explanation of what she calls “inappropriate behavior.”

Corona told News 10NBC, “One thing lead to another and this is what ended up happening…I feel terrible, especially for my family. It’s an embarrassment for my family. It just happened. There was no reason for it...it just occurred and obviously I wish it never happened. It wasn’t planned. I am very sorry for the situation.”

suzanne_corona.jpgCorona also denied police allegations that she was actively engaged in sexual intercourse with 29-year-old Justin Amend on a picnic table in Farrall Park when Officer Matthew Baldwin arrived on scene at 5:15 p.m., Friday.

In an attempt to confirm Corona's statements with her, I drove over to her house after reading the WHEC story. She was not at home, but her unshaven and slightly disheveled husband was.

The 42-year-old Mr. Corona said he's been reading The Batavian. He said he wondered why nobody was considering him in this situation. I said that normally we don't try to talk directly with people involved in pending legal cases.

I asked him if he had seen the comments that his wife made. He said yes. I said, "You've seen her latest comments to News 10?" He said, "yes." I asked, "any reaction?" he said, "in what way?"

adultstory01.jpgI asked him what he thought about her saying he was transgendered, and he said, "Do I look transgendered to you?" I said, "no," and he said, "well, there you go, then."

At this point, another reporter walked up. I reached for my tape recorder and asked to record our conversation. He said, "no."  I then asked him, "but you do categorically deny what she said about you being transgendered." He said, "I don't understand your question." I said I just wanted to be clear that I understood exactly what he said. He told me I heard what he said.

He then told me that he's been reading what I've written about the case and considered me unfair and very narrow minded. He then backed into his doorway and shut the door.

justin_amend.jpgAs for Friday's incident, Officer Hill said that when Officer Baldwin approached the allegedly copulating couple, Amend had his pants down, but that Corona was mostly clothed.

"He asked what they were doing and they said, 'Just talkin'," Hill said. "Obviously, they weren't just talking."

Hill later said that upon more questioning, Corona said that they were just making out.

He described both as intoxicated at the time.

Officer Baldwin knew Corona was married, Hill said, because police have previously responded to calls at her residence.

Baldwin decided to charge Corona with adultery because the alleged facts as he knew them fit the penal code.

Section 255.17 of the New York State Penal Code reads:

A person is guilty of adultery when he engages in sexual intercourse with another person at a time when he has a living spouse, or the other person has a living spouse. Adultery is a class B misdemeanor.

A reporter also asked if Corona was married to, or formerly married to, any member of the Batavia Police Department. Hill said she has no direct relation to anybody in the police department.

UPDATE 11:05 p.m.: WHEC has deleted from its story online the transgender reference. I just spoke to a person on the news desk at WHEC who said, "I guess they felt it wasn't really relevant to the story."  On further discussion he said, "she made all kinds of excuses" and added again that this excuse just didn't seem relevant or fair to the husband since they couldn't check it out.

UPDATE 11:30 p.m.From WHAM 13's Sean Carroll:

The woman involved is charged with adultery in part because of statements she made to police.  According to court papers she told an officer after her arrest:

"Officer I know what I did was inappropriate and I apologize but you'd understand if you knew what my life was like.  I have a transgender husband and we never have sex.  One thing led to another."

Carroll also reports that he spoke with Corona, and she didn't deny engaging in sex, "However, she said police are painting a picture that isn't accurate.  She insists nobody was nearby and if they were that they would not have seen anything inappropriate."

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Photos: Top photo, the view from the podium just prior to today's press conference at police HQ; first inset, Corona; second inset, plaque at Farrall Park; third inset, Amend; bottom photo, the picnic table area at Farrall Park.

Monday, June 7, 2010 at 5:47 pm

Photo: Train Truck

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

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I happened down Harvester Avenue just as this "train truck" was passing through the intersection. Workers told me they use it to ride the rails and check for any maintenance issues that need addressed and to spray for weeds.

Monday, June 7, 2010 at 5:14 pm

Basement fire reported in Le Roy

post by Howard B. Owens in fire, Le Roy

A basement fire has been reported at 82 Gilbert St., Le Roy.

Le Roy Fire as well as Bergen's ladder truck have been dispatched.

UPDATE 5:19 p.m.: No flames, no smoke. It's an appliance malfunction. Bergen is being put back in service.


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Monday, June 7, 2010 at 5:09 pm

Voters being given preview of new voting machines

post by Howard B. Owens in Elections

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Cathy Nadolinski demonstrates the new voting machine outside the DMV office at the County Building this afternoon. The voting machines will be used, instead of the ancient lever machines, in the next election. The new computerized system uses paper ballots, which are then scanned into the computer. You don't need to use a #2 pencil, though. The marker is a black felt pen. The machines are touring the county so voters can become familiar with the devices. The next stop is Bergen on June 9.

Monday, June 7, 2010 at 4:52 pm

Upton Monument to have a little more spangle this year and in coming years

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Upton Monument

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No flags, no wreath, no flowers -- Helen Batchelor looked at the Gen. Emory Upton Monument a couple of summers ago and thought Batavia's most noteworthy war hero, and all the veterans and war dead he represents, deserved something better.

On her own -- Batchelor is not associated with a local veterans group, but is on the board of the Holland Land Office Museum -- Batchelor decided to do something about Upton's "nakedness," as she put it.

She planted spring bulbs this year and through Legislator Hollis Upson managed to get a $20 donation each from each of the county legislators for new flags. That only left the issue of the wreath.

One evening Batchelor ran into local funeral director and veteran Ron Konieczny at Alex's Place and he asked her what she had been up to recently, and she told him about her Upton Monument project.

"What can I do to help?" she remembers him asking. "We need a wreath," she said. "He said, 'I'll take care of it,' and he did. He called Kathy at The Enchanted Florist and we have a wreath."

The wreath is now officially in place and will stay affixed to the monument until Christmas, when a holiday wreath will replace it, and for every year for the rest of his life, Konienczny said, there will be an annual wreath and a Christmas wreath placed on the monument -- all at his own expense.

"The wreath is a symbol," Konienczny said. "It has no beginning. It has no end. And this is how we remember the deaths (of our military service personnel)."

Pictured, from left, are Upson, Konienczny, Nancy Konienczny and Batchelor.

Monday, June 7, 2010 at 11:00 am

Police Beat: Man accused of standing drunk in middle of Pembroke Road, obstructing traffic

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, crime, elba, Oakfield, pembroke, Stafford

Richard John Abramski, 22, of Main Road, East Pembroke, is charged with disorderly conduct. Abramski is accused of obstructing traffic in the area of 1993 Genesee Street, East Pembroke, by standing in the drive lane, causing traffic to move to avoid hitting him. Abramski was allegedly drunk at the time. The alleged incident occurred at 11:23 p.m., Saturday.

Danny J. Torok, 23, of 12 Elm St., Batavia, is charged with harassment, 2nd, and endangering the welfare of a child. Torok is accused of slapping, pushing and pulling the hair of his girlfriend while holding his 4-month-old daughter. He was jailed on $2,500 bail.

Jeremy Dean Lyons, 25, of Judge Road, Oakfield, is charged with unlawful possession of marijuana, unsafe lane change and speeding. Lyons was stopped by Deputy Thomas Sanfratello at 5:25 p.m., June 1, at 14 Weber St., Oakfield.

Joseph Stephen Vernaccini, 34, of Clipnock Road, Stafford, is charged with DWI, failure to keep right and refusal to take breath test. Vernaccini was reportedly involved in a one-car accident 12:44 a.m., Saturday, in the area of 7000 Route 5, Le Roy. Vernaccini was jailed on $500 bail.

Justino Sanchez, 50, of West Ridge Road, Brockport, is charged with DWI, aggravated unlicensed operation, failure to keep right, improper right turn. Sanchez was stopped by Deputy James Diehl at 10:47 p.m., Friday, in the area of Route 98 and Edgerton Road, Elba. He was jailed on $1,800 bail.

A 17-year-old from Clarence was arrested by State Police in Darien at 8:05 p.m., Wednesday. She is charged with DWI, failure to keep right, crossing road hazard markings and unlawful possession of marijuana.

A 16-year-old from Williamsville was arrested by State Police at 8:05 p.m., Wednesday, in Batavia for unlawful possession of alcohol.

John J. Smalley, 47, of Oakfield, is charged with harassment and criminal mischief. Smalley was arrested by State Police at 12:50 a.m., Sunday, in the area of 7020 Macumber Road, Oakfield. No further details were released.

Accidents from the State Police blotter:

4:57 p.m., June 5, Bernd Road, Pavilion, two vehicles; Driver 1: Laurie Jean Lerkins, 33, of Le Roy; Driver 2: Heather M. Coates, 24, of Rochester. One injury reported.

4:46 p.m., June 3, Genesee Street, Pembroke, one vehicle: Driver 1: Jennifer L. Mroz, 49, of Batavia. One injury reported.

10:32 p.m., June 3, Lewiston Road, Batavia, two vehicles: Driver 1: Robert M. Laskowski, 24, of Chaffee; Driver 2: Matthew J. Quinn, 25, of Attica. No injuries reported.

Monday, June 7, 2010 at 9:46 am

Doll allegedly tried to smuggle aspirin into jail

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

Convicted murderer Scott Doll allegedly tried to smuggle aspirin into the Genesee County Jail.

Chief Deputy Jerome Brewster said that lab results came back this morning on the white powder reportedly found hidden on Doll's body.

Brewster said the green balloon containing the aspirin was taped to Doll's inner buttocks.

"I have no idea why (he hid aspirin on his body), Brewster said.

Doll still faces a count of promoting prison contraband, because even aspirin can't be snuck into the jail.

If the substance had turned out to be any kind of more serious drug, the charges would have been elevated, Brewster said.

Doll was allegedly found with the balloon on his body during a routine jail processing search after he was convicted May 21 of killing 66-year-old Joseph Benaquist by bludgeoning him to death outside his Pembroke home on Feb. 16, 2009.

Doll is scheduled to appear on June 29 in City Court to answer the charge of promoting prison contraband.

He will be sentenced on the murder charge on July 2. He faces a sentence of either 15 years to life or 25 years to life.

Monday, June 7, 2010 at 8:33 am

Today's Deals: Welcome back, Clor's Meat Market

post by Howard B. Owens in Deal of the Day

Clor's Meat Market, 4169 W. Main St. Road, Batavia, NY: For the best, most flavorful, juiciest chicken or hamburger in town, hands down, stop by Clor's. Oh, and the steaks are great, too. And the sausage. Clor's also serves lunch and dinners from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. We have a $20 gift card for $10.

Settler's Restaurant, 353 W. Main St., Batavia, NY: Settler's has a 25-year history of serving great, affordable breakfasts,lunches and dinners to Batavians. We have a $20 gift certificate for $10.

Matty's Pizzeria, 4152 W. Main St., Batavia, NY: Matty's is another Batavia favorite for pizza and wings. We have a $20 gift certificate for $10.

Oliver's Candies, 211 W. Main St., Batavia, NY. Oliver's, a Batavia landmark, offers the finest chocolate and confections in the area. We have a $20 gift card for $10.

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

Center Street Smoke House, 20 Center St., Batavia, NY: Authentic Southern BBQ, from ribs to brisket with all the fixin's. We have a $20 gift card for $10.

Margarita's Mexican Restaurant, 15 Jackson St., Batavia, NY: When you're looking for an authentic Mexican meal, Margarita's is the place to go. The food and atmosphere are perfect and the service is always outstanding. We have a $20 gift certificate for $10.

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

Sunday, June 6, 2010 at 4:20 pm

'Fill the Boot' drive biggest yet for City Fire in support of MDA

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, charity, fire department

City firefighters raised $5,601 in support of the Muscular Dystrophy Association this year as part of its annual "Fill the Boot" campaign.

It's the most ever donated in a single MDA boot drive, according to Greg Ireland, president of IAFF Local 896.

On Friday, off duty firefighters, stood at the intersections of Main and Court and Ellicott and Court with firefighter boots and asked passersby to drop in donations.

"It was an amazing day," Ireland said.

Sunday, June 6, 2010 at 4:10 pm

Motorcyclist not seriously hurt after bike strikes car on Route 5, Le Roy

post by Howard B. Owens in accident, Le Roy

A 46-year-old motorcyclist from Caledonia got a ride to the hospital last night after his bike hit a car on Route 5 in Le Roy and then he was ejected from the bike and struck a pole.

Richard C. Hoag, of 2554 Black St., was taken to Strong Memorial Hospital where he was treated and released.

Hoag was cited for alleged DWI and illegal passing.

The accident occurred about 12:58 a.m., Sunday, in the area of 8503 Route 5, Le Roy. Hoag was behind a 2001 Buick sedan driven by Jeanna Ann Pfalzer, 17, of Elba when Pfalzer apparently stopped to make a left-hand turn.

According to Deputy John Weis, who handled the investigation, Hoag attempted to pass Pfalzer on the left as she slowed to turn.

As she apparently started her turn, Hoag's bike struck her car and Hoag was ejected from the bike. His body hit a utility poll on the north side of the roadway.

Neither Pfalzer nor her passenger, Benjamin G. Carlie, 18, were injured.

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Sunday, June 6, 2010 at 1:54 pm

Mancuso home movies: Pre-war Batavia

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Mancuso Family, video

I stumbled across this video on YouTube -- it appears to be old home movies, showing mostly their business ventures, from the Mancuso Family.  It appears to be all shot pre-war, 1941.

Sunday, June 6, 2010 at 1:31 pm

Naming names in police reports

post by Howard B. Owens in thebatavian

They call it Monday Morning Quarterbacking -- questioning people who make judgment calls.

There's certainly been a good deal of Monday Morning Quarterbacking going on regarding our decision not to publish the name of a woman caught in a sex act in a public park late Friday afternoon. Some people agree, most are critical of the decision.

When a person makes a decision and doesn't listen to critics, he's considered stubborn and arrogant, or plain stupid for seemingly not listening to reason.

When a person responds to criticism and reverses course, he risks being seen as weak, as caving to public pressure.

The fact of the matter is, if we published the woman's name, there would be people who would be critical of the decision. They call it flip-flopping.

These are some of the no-win situations one faces when involved in a pursuit fraught with judgment calls.

In the end, the only analysis we make is to weigh our decision based on our established policies and past practices.

The Batavian has a policy of publishing the name of every individual arrested, detained or cited by local law enforcement when the name is released to the local media (exception being 17 and under charged with minor infractions and crimes).

(It's worth noting, not every arrest made by either the Sheriff's Office and the Batavia Police Department finds its way into a press release. I sometimes get private e-mails accusing us of showing favoritism because we didn't publicize this or that arrest, but we can't publish what we don't know about.)

In the past year, I've had to publish the name of a friend arrested on a pretty serious charge, and there have been at least two local business owners I know whose names have shown up in the "blotter" (as readers call it, though what we publish is not technically a blotter).

(One notable twist on the sex-in-the-park case: the Batavia PD did not initially release the name of the people involved. The Batavian called and requested the names and it was only after learning from the PD that the woman had children that we decided not to publish the name.)

The idea of having an "all names published" policy is to avoid a perception of favoritism.

Nobody should be able to call me up and successfully lobby to keep his or her name out of the Police Beat. If I do a favor for one person, then why not do a favor for any or all persons arrested?

On Friday morning, I got a call from a young woman who was upset because her name, age and street name were published in the Dave Matthews concert arrest report. She said she was worried about some rapist finding her.

My thought was, "there's lots of ways that some rapist could find you, not the least of which is your name appearing in an arrest report -- it's not my place to predict the consequences of the publication -- I don't have a crystal ball." Also, I thought, "I bet you're really more worried about your parents seeing it." But I didn't say anything more to her than, "Thanks for expressing your concern."

I consider publishing the reports of arrests, and the results of as many court cases as we can follow, to be an important public service. We don't do it to embarrass anybody. The power of the state to detain people is a power that should not go unchecked. It's important to keep tabs on what local law enforcement is doing, both to be as informed as possible and because a good deal of our tax dollars go to law enforcement.

After giving it much thought -- listening to our critics, talking with Billie, considering previous cases -- I've come to the conclusion that our decision Friday night not to publish the name was a mistake.

While I'd like to believe my intentions were noble, the larger consideration is that The Batavian simply shouldn't be in a position of playing favorites on arrest reports. By the standards of past practice, and the foreseeable complications that could arise in the future if we make exceptions, we should publish the name. It's not our place to try to predict the outcome of what publication might mean.

One thing I've learned from many years in journalism is that some of your decisions will be unpopular. Critics are everywhere. The only thing you can do is the best you can. You will make mistakes, but when you do make mistakes, the best thing to do is admit it, correct it and move on.

The previous post has been amended to include the woman's name.

Sunday, June 6, 2010 at 12:57 pm

Three-car accident reported in Pavilion

post by Howard B. Owens in accident, Pavilion

A three-vehicle accident has been reported in Texaco Town, the intersection of Route 63 and Route 20, Pavilion.

Unknown injuries at this time.

Pavilion Fire and Mercy EMS are responding.

UPDATE 1:03 p.m.:  An assistant chief on scene reports no injuries.


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Saturday, June 5, 2010 at 7:34 am

Photos: Festival of Hope

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Batavia Downs, Genesee Cancer Assistance, photos

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There was a large turn out Friday evening at Batavia Downs for the annual Festival of Hope to benefit Genesee Cancer Assistance.

GCA raised $30,000 this year.

The event featured a 5K walk/run, games for children, music, a Chinese Auction and haircuts and beauty treatments.

On left below, Paul C. Stomper poses with Dr. Kevin Mudd. Stomper was the keynote speaker Friday. The Batavia native has travelled the U.S. working with cancer patients and has authored a book, "Come Sunday, Inspiration for Living with Heart."  Mudd is president of GCA. You can find out more about Stomper and his book at ComeSunday.net.

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More pictures after the jump:

Friday, June 4, 2010 at 11:32 pm

Photo: Hay Harvest

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

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At the intersection of Putnam and East roads, crews were harvesting hay this afternoon.

Friday, June 4, 2010 at 10:19 pm

Couple allegedly caught having sex on picnic table in Farrall Park

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

A 41-year-old Batavia woman has been charged with adultery after being caught engaged in sexual intercourse on a picnic table in Farrall Park.

The woman was arrested along with a 29-year-old Oakfield man and both were charged with public lewdness.

The man was identified by Batavia Police as Justin M. Amend.

Because the woman is married with children, The Batavian has chosen to withhold her name.

UPDATE: After more thought (see our post explaining the reversal of the decision here), we've decided to publish the female suspect's name. It is Suzanne M. Corona.

Sgt. John Peck said that Officer Matt Baldwin was dispatched to Farrall Park about 5:15 p.m. after parents in the park called police. Baldwin witnessed the couple still engaged in sex when he arrived.

"There was a little alcohol involved," Peck said. "They initially didn't seem too embarrassed."

Peck acknowledge that adultery charges are rare these days.

"Many people probably don't realize it's still a crime," Peck said.

He said Amend was not charged with adultery because he was apparently not aware the woman was married.

Both suspects were issued appearance tickets for City Court on June 8 and released.

Friday, June 4, 2010 at 12:24 pm

Photo: William Morgan in the Sun

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

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As long as I was at the Batavia Cemetery, I played around with taking a picture of the William Morgan monument.

Friday, June 4, 2010 at 12:16 pm

Photo: Heritage Day at Batavia Cemetery

post by Howard B. Owens in Batavia Cemetery

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Jon McManis talks with a group of fourth-graders from John Kennedy School about William Morgan at the Batavia Cemetery. In the fourth grade, students are taught local history, and the annual Heritage Day tour helps students learn at the gravesites of Batavia's famous people.

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