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Howard B. Owens's blog

Wednesday, September 15, 2010 at 12:29 am

Photo: Barn on Pearl Street Road, Batavia

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


After chasing a story in Corfu that didn't pan out, I took a look at the fabulous late afternoon sky and decided to drive around a bit and see what interesting features of Genesee County I could find to photograph. It was actually on my drive back to Batavia, with the sun setting quickly, that I decided to stop and photograph this barn on Pearl Street Road in the Town of Batavia.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010 at 12:13 am

Paladino wins GOP primary, including overwhelming support in Genesee County

post by Howard B. Owens in politics

Carl Paladino, a wealthy Buffalo businessman with a penchant for forwarding racist and pornographic e-mails to his friends, upset the GOP establishment Tuesday with a come-from-behind victory in the Republican primary.

In Genesee County, Paladino's victory was nothing less than a landslide, as he beat out mainstream GOP contender Rick Lazio with 2,552 votes compared to Lazio's 303.

The New York Times:

The result was a potentially destabilizing blow for New York Republicans. It put at the top of the party’s ticket a volatile newcomer who has forwarded e-mails to friends containing racist jokes and pornographic images, espoused turning prisons into dormitories where welfare recipients could be given classes on hygiene, and defended an ally’s comparison of the Assembly speaker, Sheldon Silver, who is Jewish, to “an Antichrist or a Hitler.”

In the Senate primaries, Kirsten Gillibrand easily won the Democratic nomination and GOP voters picked Joseph DioGuardi with 42 percent of the vote over David Malpass with 38 percent.

Gillibrand picked up 80 percent of the vote in Genesee County.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010 at 11:34 pm

Stop DWI program in Genesee County seems to lead to decrease in drunken driving

post by Howard B. Owens in drunken driving, Frank Ciaccia, Stop DWI

If you get busted for DWI in Genesee County -- assuming you're convicted -- you're going to wind up paying out a good chunk of change that officials hope will help prevent a future DWI arrest, if not a tragic accident.

frank_stopdwi.jpgAll of the fines collected from people convicted of DWI in Genesee County goes into a Stop DWI program administered by Assistant Court Manager Frank Ciaccia.

On Tuesday, Ciaccia presented a 2010-2011 budget for Stop DWI to the Legislature's Ways and Means Committee.

The budget of $262,000 distributes funds to the Sheriff's Office, Batavia Police, the courts, probation, prosecution and GCASA and are used by those agencies on either education about drinking and driving or to enforce existing laws.

Ciaccia thinks the programs, especially the education programs, have been working.

DWI arrests have been steadily declining for years, Ciaccia said. From 2008 to 2009, DWI arrests in Genesee County dropped from 356 to 321.

"More people just know not to drink and drive," Ciaccia said.

Stop DWI is funded entirely by DWI conviction fines, and 100 percent of those fines go to Stop DWI programs.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010 at 10:53 pm

Photos: City Council Awards

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia


On Monday, the Batavia City Council gave out its annual awards. Above left, Jeff Gillard receives the Volunteer of the Year award.


Confidential Secretary Jodie Freese, left, and Financial Clerk Teri Gass were named Co-Employees of the Year.


David Allen and his girlfriend Carol Emerson received the Homeowner of the Year award.

Photo unavailable: Brian Kemp of T-Shirts Etc., Business of the Year.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010 at 8:11 pm

Batavia woman dies after morning accident on Oak Street

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, accident, Oak Street

oakstreetaccident.jpgA woman involved in a two-car accident on Oak Street, Batavia, this morning has died as a result of her injuries.

Jacquelyn B. Dawson, 65, of 5175 Sunset Terrace, died at Strong Memorial Hospital after being transported there by Mercy Flight.

Dawson's car was hit at 9:18 a.m. by a pickup truck at the intersection of Oak and Union streets.

The driver of the truck, Kelly Creegan, of 48 South Main St., Elba, was also transported to a hospital.

The accident remains under investigation by Batavia Police. So far, there have been no charges or citations issued.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010 at 12:06 pm

As city finance's improve, council balks at raise for manager

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, city council, Jason Molino


In the years since Jason Molino took over as city manager, Batavia has gone from an annual deficit of $1.2 million to a surplus in 2009-2010 of $475,800.

Yet, minutes after the City Council heard an audit report on the city's improving financial condition, the council split 4-5 on a motion to meet in a closed session to grant Molino -- among the lowest paid top administrators of any city in the state -- a modest raise.

Councilman Bob Bialkowski asked to postpone the discussion saying he had only recently received information that should be investigated before a vote on Molino's compensation.

When the council did go into closed session, Councilwoman Rose Mary Christian declined to join the discussion.

There are families in Batavia that are hurting financially, Christian said, and until the economy turns around, she can't support any increase in spending.

While the other council members huddled behind a closed door, Christian said she thinks highly of Molino.

council-audit01.jpg"I am not opposed to Jason Molino by any means," Christian said. "I’m opposed to any more spending."

When the council emerged, a resolution was passed on an 8-1 vote granting Molino a 1.5-percent pay increase retroactive to April 1, 2010.

Molino makes $84,260. The top administrator in Beacon, with a population 2,000 less than Batavia, makes $123,000. In Cortland, with a slightly bigger population, the top administrator makes $101,000. Geneva's city manager makes $94,000. (See Through New York for salaries; CityTownInfo.com for populations.)

Meanwhile, an audit report prepared by Freed Maxick & Battaglia shows that the city matched actual revenue with budgeted revenue in the recent fiscal year, after three consecutive years of exceeding revenue projections.

On the expenditure side of the ledger, the city, for the third-straight year kept spending below budget levels, with $445,000 saved in 2009-10.

Auditor Laura Landers (inset picture) credited the city with conservative budgeting, cuts in 2008-09, a decrease in health insurance costs, not filling vacant positions and deferring expenditures on aging equipment.

The city has been able to build a fund balance of $2.8 million over the past four years. In 2006, the fund balance was in the red $1.3 million.

The fund balance allows the city to build reserves for workers' compensation, insurance, capital projects, employee benefits and other reserves necessary to provide the city with a cushion against deficit spending.

Among the areas Molino recommends building up fund reserves for is the Department of Public Works and fire department equipment. He recommends reserves of $150,000 for DPW and $50,000 for fire. Within five years, Molino said, the fire department will need a new pumper.

"Right now, most of our equipment, if not all, is completely depreciated," Molino said. "Last year was the first time we purchased equipment in about seven or eight years."


While I was trying to take a picture of Christian alone in the council chambers, Chief Randy Baker came over and started talking with her, and then Jason Molino wanted to jump in the picture.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010 at 10:47 am

Fire department asked to investigate smoke coming from pipe at James Street residence

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, fire, James Street

City Fire is being dispatched to 4 James St., Batavia, to investigate smoke coming out of a pipe that is protruding from the back porch.

This is the scene of a dryer fire last week and an abatement company is on scene doing clean up and workers noticed the smoke.

There is no visible fire.

UPDATE 12:05 p.m.: Engine 14 and Ladder 15 back in service.

View Larger Map

Tuesday, September 14, 2010 at 9:24 am

Injuries reported in two-car accident on Oak Street

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, accidents


A woman was taken to the hospital by Mercy Flight following a two-car accident on Oak Street at about 9:15 a.m.

No details are available yet on the accident.

Northbound traffic was blocked at Oak and Richmond for about an hour.

Monday, September 13, 2010 at 9:56 pm

Trucker accused of DWI after taking side trip down Union Street

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


A truck driver out of Syracuse is being charged with DWI after reportedly taking his rig down Union Street this afternoon and hitting some trees.

City Councilman Bob Bialkowski brought up the incident at Monday night's council meeting, congratulating Chief Randy Baker and his department on a swift arrest of the apparently wayward driver.

Bialkowski said he was on Union at the time of the alleged incident, heard a loud noise -- louder than the sound of a small airplane crash, he said -- and turned around and saw the truck coming down the roadway with a gaping hole in the side of its trailer. The driver, he said, was trying to look in the side mirror to see what happened.

Taken into custody was Darren D. Jones, 45, of 168 Parkside Ave., Syracuse.

He was charged with aggravated DWI in a commercial vehicle and disobeying a traffic control device.

City police said the first report of an erratic truck driver came in about a semi exiting the Thruway. Jones was pulled over on West Main Street.

There is a weight limit on Union, according to the police press release, and Jones allegedly ignored it.

The report says Jones' truck had significant damage.

Monday, September 13, 2010 at 9:44 pm

Area flight school planning to set up shop at county airport

post by Howard B. Owens in Genesee County Airport

The Genesee County Airport will soon have a new tenant -- a flight school with locations in Dunkirk and Lancaster wants to start operations in Batavia.

The Legislature's Public Service Committee approved a lease Monday with Bob Miller Flight Training for five years worth $8,469 annually.

Legislators noted it will be the only flight school in Genesee County and the first at the airport since 2007.

The school will use two offices in the terminal and lease two of the new T-hangars, when they're finished.

During the public service meeting, County Highway Superintendent Tim Hens, noted that somewhere in the neighborhood of $13 million in federal funds have been spent on the airport since 1998.

During that same time, the county's share of airport expense has been about $350,000.

Hens said the airport has produced positive cash flow in all but one year during the past 12 years. The airport, from a county-expense viewpoint, has paid for itself, Hens said.

"I’ve always promoted the airport as being self-sustaining," Hens said. "When you look at the numbers total, it is. That’s not including all of the indirect benefits, the sales tax, the jobs."

Of course, there are critics who say the county airport should be a private business, not a public facility.

Hens sees the airport as just another hub in public transportation.

"Not everybody uses it, but not everybody uses the buses that run through town," Hens said. "Without it, there’s a piece of the community that's either not going to do business or they're not going to travel somewhere.

"We put four or five million dollars a year into our county roads and it doesn’t pay us back anything," Hens added. "But, if you didn't put the $5 million bucks into the roads, it's going to be a bumpy ride to the office and the kids are going to be unsafe riding on the school buses."

Monday, September 13, 2010 at 11:20 am

Police Beat: Woman accused of stealing mail

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

Kelly Jo Spenton, 37, of 6047 Transit Road, New York, is charged with petit larceny. Spenton is accused of stealing the contents of another person's mail. The alleged offense occurred at 39 S. Pearl St., Apt. 1, Oakfield on Aug. 24.

Zachary Ryan Morath, 19, of Summerfield Drive, Lancaster, is charged with DWI and failure to keep right. Morath was charged following a car accident on Route 5 in Darien at 7:40 a.m., Saturday. The investigation was handled by Deputy Jason Saile.

Larry S. Yoho, 38, of Batavia, is charged with criminal trespass, 2nd, harassment, 2nd, and aggravated harassment, 2nd. Yoho was arrested by State Police for an alleged incident at 10 Maple St., Batavia, at 9:23 p.m., Sept. 6. Yoho was jailed, but the bail amount -- if any -- was not provided. No further details available.

Valerie S. Wells, 44, of Medina, is charged with DWI, driving with a BAC of .08 or greater and moving from lane unsafely. Wells was stopped by State Police on Park Road, Batavia, at 5:35 p.m., Thursday.

Monday, September 13, 2010 at 7:07 am

Accident at Ellicott and Hutchins, also fire alarm on Ellicott near Cedar

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia

A non-injury accident has been reported at Ellicott and Hutchins streets, Batavia.

At the same time, City fire is responding to a fire alarm at Armor Building Supply on Ellicott near Cedar.

UPDATE 8:08 a.m.: No Fire. All fire units back in service.

Sunday, September 12, 2010 at 10:12 pm

Photos: Harvester Avenue on a cloudy afternoon

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Harvester Avenue, photos


Driving back from the YWCA on Sunday afternoon, I noticed the great sky over Batavia and remembered that I've been wanting to take another shot at getting a picture of the William Morgan monument on a cloudy day. While I was stopped on Harvester snapping away at Morgan, I noticed the clouds reflecting off the windows of the Harvest Center and thought that that would make for a good shot, too. (If you want to see a bigger version, I'll post it to VuFindr.com some time in the next week, probably.)

Below is the shot I came up with of old Morgan, but a bit different than the one I imagined getting.


Sunday, September 12, 2010 at 10:05 pm

YWCA peeks into the past by opening 1967's time capsule

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, YWCA


As part of its year-long 100th Anniversary celebration, the Batavia YWCA opened the time capsule in the cornerstone of its North Street building Sunday afternoon.

The cornerstone was laid in 1967 and the time capsule probably hasn't been opened since (it took a mason four hours to dislodge it).

Executive Director Barbara Hale said that the local YWCA thought it would be fun to peak inside the time capsule, which contained old newspapers, photos, the Batavia club's original application to join the YWCA and a scroll of donors who contributed to the building fund.

"What was of interest to me was the number of three-generation families that have been involved with YWCA, mine being among them," Hale said. "My dad’s name was on that roll."

All of the items found in the time capsule will be returned to a new box along with some items from the current time and bricked back into the corner of the building, Hale said.

Above, Hale, left, with City Council President Marianne Clattenburg, and Shirley Lasuer with Nora Sands, look over some other items of historical interest to the local YWCA, including a picture of the organization's founder and the original charter certificate.


Sunday, September 12, 2010 at 9:35 pm

Batavia student wins first scholarship race at Batavia Downs

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Batavia Downs, education, harness racing, sports


A Batavia High student has $3,000 more toward her college education after driving a harness racehorse to victory Saturday night at Batavia Downs.

Kaley Falkowski, paired with professional driver Jim Mulcahy, bested four other high school students racing in Batavia Downs first-ever scholarship challenge. A total of $7,500 was awarded to the students.

Taking second was Eric Harrower (Batavia High School) with Ron Beback Jr., earning $2,000. Tyler Pingrey (Notre Dame High School) with Jim Graham earned a $1,200. Mike Norway (Oakfield-Alabama High School) with Michael Baumeister finished fourth and earned an $800 scholarship, while Emily Sallome (Batavia High School) and Mike Pokornowski finished fifth and will receive a $500 scholarship.


More pictures related to the scholarship race and other scenes on Saturday at Batavia Downs after the jump:

Sunday, September 12, 2010 at 8:26 pm

Photos: Alexander Steam Show

post by Howard B. Owens in alexander, Alexander Steam Show, photos


The annual Alexander Steam Show was another big hit this year, with people coming from all over the region for tractor pulls, a flea market, displays, antique farm equipment and -- above -- steamed sweet corn.

The corn was cooked using an old steam engine, dumped on a table and then people could dive in, grab as many ears as they could, butter it up and salt it.

Let's just say, it was good.


More pictures after the jump:

Sunday, September 12, 2010 at 5:08 pm

Photo: Hay-hauling school bus

post by Howard B. Owens in alexander, photos


Drive a bit down Route 98 toward Alexander and you'll spot this former school bus for sale loaded up with round bales of hay.

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