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Howard B. Owens's blog

Wednesday, October 13, 2010 at 9:07 pm

Photo: Ellicott Street paving

post by Howard B. Owens in Ellicott Street, photos

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Work crews were on Ellicott Street this evening attempting to finish the repaving job through Batavia's downtown.

A worker told me that if it didn't rain, they should be able to finish by 6 a.m.

About an hour later, it did rain a bit.

He also told me that the hot asphalt is 300 degrees when it's laid down.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010 at 8:18 pm

Batavia man arrested as part of Orleans County marijuana distribution investigation

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

110jacksonst02.jpgA drug investigation that began five months ago in Orleans County led to a search of three Genesee County dwellings Tuesday and the arrest of a Batavia man.

Taken into custody was Edgar Perez, 25, of 110 Jackson St., upper. Perez was arraigned in the Town of Barre Court and jailed in Orleans County on $100,000 bail.

In all, four search warrants were executed by law enforcement Tuesday, including one on a car stopped in Barre where investigators reportedly uncovered eight pounds of marijuana.

Perez was reportedly driving the car.

Search warrants were also executed at 110 Jackson St., Batavia and 32 and 33 Sunset Parkway, Oakfield.

Additional suspects from Genesee County are still being sought according to Orleans County investigator Joe Sacco.

Sacco said Tuesday's arrest and searches were unrelated to another recent drug investigation in Orleans County that grabbed regional media attention.

In the raids, investigators reportedly seized some quantity of marijuana, scales, packaging material and other drug paraphenalia at each search location.

Assisting Orleans County's Major Felony Crime Task Force was the Genesee County Local Drug Task Force and the City of Batavia's Emergency Response Team.

For the record, while we expected to receive a copy of a press release from Orleans County on this matter, we have not. This report combines our interview with Joe Sacco this afternoon and the press release published on WIVB's web site (click through for a picture, apparently, of the marijuana seized).

Wednesday, October 13, 2010 at 3:55 pm

Man accused of entering woman's home and hitting her

post by Howard B. Owens in Alabama, crime

A woman claims that a man from Alabama entered her home without permission Tuesday and assaulted her and a friend.

Arrested and charged with burglary, 1st, was Glenn David Reuben, 47, of 7536 Sandhill Road, Alabama.

Reuben was jailed on $10,000 bail.

The woman, a Lockport Road resident, suffered a cut on her face that required stitches.

The alleged assault occurred at 10:30 a.m.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010 at 2:55 pm

Cause of Monday's fire still undetermined

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, East Main Street, fire

Investigators have yet to determine what sparked a fire that destroyed a rooming house Monday at 433 E. Main St., Batavia.

With no cause uncovered at this point, it's hard to say when investigators will be able to determine how the fire started, according to Lt. Jay Steinbrenner of the Batavia Fire Department.

The investigation remains ongoing.

There's no further information available on the investigation at this time.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010 at 10:19 am

Photo: Make a Difference Day

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

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It's "Make a Difference Day," and as part of the effort, four Batavia High School students were in downtown this morning picking up trash on the sidewalks and flower beds. Above, Donald Fagan, a senior at BHS, patrols for litter in a flower bed on East Main Street.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010 at 8:49 pm

Three people injured in four-car accident at Daws Corners

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Three people were injured in a four-car accident at Daws Corners -- Route 98 and Batavia-Elba Townline Road -- this afternoon.

A westbound car reportedly pulled out from Batavia-Elba Townline Road and was struck by a car traveling southbound on Route 98. Each of those cars then hit two others at the intersection.

Joseph N. Mattison, 20, of Merriman Road, Byron, was cited for alleged failure to yield. Mattison, who was driving a 1994 Chevy sedan, was among the three people injured and transported to UMMC by ambulance.

Also injured were Bob K. Rathman, 39, of Heritage Estates, Albion, and Chrystal Bush, 17, who was a passenger in a car driven by Suanne Quackenbush, 49, of Gillett Road, Byron.

Quackenbush was not injured.

The fourth vehicle was driven by Benny S. Giambrone, 84, of Farnsworth Road, Oakfield.

The accident was investigated by Sgt. Thomas Sanfratello.

(Initial Report)

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Tuesday, October 12, 2010 at 7:47 pm

Drug Task Force raids, searches apartment on Jackson Street

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, crime, Jackson Street

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The Local Drug Enforcement Task Force raided the upper apartment at 110 Jackson St., Batavia, at around 6:15 p.m.

All we know at this point is that the raid was not the only one conducted in Genesee County today.

Investigators were still on scene about two hours later conducting a search of the apartment.

Above, Lt. Chris Bourke of the Orleans County Sheriff's Office and his K-9 "Cliff."

Tuesday, October 12, 2010 at 6:10 pm

Busy afternoon ties up nearly all ambulances in Genesee County

post by Howard B. Owens in ambulance

It doesn't happen often, but late this afternoon there was a shortage of in-service ambulances serving Genesee County.

All Mercy EMS units were tied up on accidents and medical calls, Le Roy, Byron and Oakfield were tied up, too, and crews in Bethany, Darien and Alexander were requested to respond to their respective fire halls to stand by in case needed.

At the time, there were no in-service ambulances within Batavia city limits. There were also no pending calls in the city at the time.

Within 30 minutes of the Bethany, Darien and Alexander crews being put on standby, three Mercy EMS units came in service.

"It doesn't happen a lot, but there is a system in place to protect the public," said Tim Yaeger, director of emergency management for Genesee County.

Yaeger explained that there is a tiered-response system with Mercy EMS, the respective Volunteer Fire departments' units and the medics with volunteer departments. The county also has mutual aide agreements with neighboring counties.

The volunteer departments can respond to other jurisdictions when the primary ambulance services are tied up.

There's been some talk, Yaeger said, of volunteer departments getting out of ambulance service because of the expense and the difficulty in keeping the services staffed with qualified volunteers.

"This is why we've got to do everything we can to keep those units in business, because they fill in during busy times," Yaeger said.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010 at 9:47 am

Covington man faces new charge for allegedly impersonating federal agent

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

A 41-year-old Covington man already facing charges out of the Town of Batavia for allegedly trying to pass himself off as a federal law enforcement agent was arrested by Le Roy Police on Monday on a similar charge.

Nikko C. Gambino, of Morrow Road, Convington, was arraigned in Le Roy Town Court and jailed on $750 on a charge of criminal impersonation, 2nd.

Gambino is accused of entering a Le Roy business some time in September allegedly dressed as a federal agent and directing an employee of that business to make a phone call under his pretend authority.

Three weeks ago, Gambino was arrested by the Sheriff's Office for allegedly attempting the same ruse in Walmart. A search of his residence reportedly found articles of clothing with law enforcement markings and a metal badge.

Chief Deputy Jerome Brewster said it isn't really clear why Gambino has allegedly attempted to enter retail outlets and pass himself off as a federal agent.

"He's refusing to talk, but we we think it is some sort of diversion," Brewster said. "He wants to draw attention to himself while his accomplice attempts to steal something. We haven't been able to confirm that with surveillance tapes and nothing has been reported stolen. At this point, it's just a guess."

On the arrest out of the Town of Batavia, Gambino was charged with two counts of criminal impersonation, 2nd, and one count of falsely reporting an incident.

He was initially jailed on $5,000 bail.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010 at 9:21 am

Police Beat: Alleged attempt to heist of 50-inch plasma TV foiled

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

Brett Myers Blair, 26, of South Lyon Street, Batavia, is charged with criminal trespass and petit larceny. Blair is accused of attemping to steal a 50" plasma television from Kmart. Blair was allegedly observed by Kmart personnel wandering around the back stock room of the store without authorization. (Initial Report)

Matthew S. Flannery, 20, of Lymn Road, Byron, is charged with leaving the scene of a property damage accident. James C. Wilcox, 41, of South Lake Street, Bergen, is charged with obstructing governmental administration, 2nd. Flannery and Wilcox were arrested following an investigation into a property damage accident at 6:04 p.m., Sept. 25 in the area of 10 Munger St., Bergen. Wilcox is accused of interfering with Bergen Fire Department personnel prior to the arrival of law enforcement and helping Flannery allegedly flee the scene of the accident. Flannery's 2005 Saturn reportedly struck a utility pole. (Initial Report)

Barry Lamont Posey, 18, of Holland Avenue, Batavia, is charged with petit larceny.  Posey is accused of removing items from packaging and hiding the items on his body with the intent of leaving Target without paying for the merchandise.

Gordy Abiola Akinpeia, 18, of Lincoln Avenue, Brooklyn, is charged with petit larceny. Akinpeia is accused of stealing merchandise from Target.

Cassandra Kay Dembik, 18, of Pratt Road, Batavia, is charged with harassment, 2nd. Dembik is accused of getting into a fight with another person at 3221 Pratt Road, Batavia, at 6:15 p.m., Monday.

Douglas D. Sprague, 19, of Bergen, is charged with criminal possession of a weapon, 4th. Sprague was arrested at 11:57 p.m., Sunday, by State Police in Bergen Park. The State Police blotter item lists the type of weapon only as "gun." No further details were released.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010 at 8:24 am

Investigators prepare to sift through rubble to determine cause of rooming house fire

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, fire

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Today investigators are expected to return to the scene of last night's rooming house fire at 433 E. Main St., Batavia.

The cause of the fire has not yet been determined.

Eleven people lost their living space and all of their belongings in the fire.

The interior was completely gutted. On the west side, the second and third floors are completely gone.

Previous coverage:

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Tuesday, October 12, 2010 at 6:54 am

One-car rollover accident reported on Bank Street Road

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, accident

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A one-car rollover accident with entrapment has been reported on Bank Street Road just south of the five corners.

Mercy Flight is on standby.

Town of Batavia and Mercy EMS responding.

UPDATE 9:06 a.m.: The driver, a GCC student, suffered only minor injuries if she was injured at all. After being freed from the wreckage, the young lady walked away from the accident. She was transported to UMMC by ground ambulance as a precaution. The preliminary cause is believed to be speed too fast for conditions. The road was wet and the driver, driving south, apparently lost control.

Monday, October 11, 2010 at 11:42 pm

Rooming house on Main Street, Batavia, destroyed by late afternoon fire

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, East Main Street, fire

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A smoke detector helped alert residents that a fire was smoldering inside a rooming house at 433 E. Main St., Batavia.

"My wife heard a beeping noise and she smelled smoke," said resident Joe Allegue. "We opened the door, we’re in apartment 11, and the black smoke just billowed right into the room and covered us."

Allegue said he started yelling, "Fire," and got his wife out then called 9-1-1.

The basement fire was reported to Genesee County Dispatch at 4:16 p.m., and the first city crews were on scene within minutes. Smoke was already billowing from the basement and working its way up to the second and third floors.

433emainfire02.jpgFirefighters faced some significant structural obstacles in fighting the fire, according to Chief James Maxwell, which eventually forced firefighters to withdraw from the interior of the complex.

"We made several attempts at the basement, but by that time, it was already on the first and second floors," Maxwell said. "The way the interior structure was portioned with the different apartments, we were just chasing it around from room to room. Eventually it got in the attic, so at that point, the safest option was to go to a defensive operation."

The city already had Ladder Truck 15 on scene, pouring water on the roof from the southwest corner of the building. Town of Batavia's Ladder Truck 25 was brought to the scene to attack the fire from the rear roof area.

According to tax records, the structure was built in 1950. That was near the end of the use of balloon-framing construction in the United States, according to Wikipedia.

In balloon framing, the walls of a building are continuously open from the basement to the attic, making it easier for a fire to climb quickly up the interior of the walls.

The building is a total loss. Fire crews were still on scene at midnight, with active firefighting lasting at least five hours.

433emainfire03.jpgAt 11 p.m., investigators were calling for water to be pumped from the basement so they could begin the work of trying to determine the cause of the fire.

Eleven people living in eight boarding rooms and two apartments were displaced by the fire.

That's the hardest part said property owner Terry Platt. While the nature of insurance on this type of rental property means he may never fully recover the financial loss, it's sad, he said, seeing his tenants go through something like this.

"They’re the type of residents who really can’t afford the insurance to be able to cover all of their contents and of course they’re going to lose everything now," said Platt, who acquired the property in 1990. "That’s the worst part. It’s just sad. The rest of it is just a big headache, but it’s worse for all the tenants. They’re walking out with no shoes on their feet. It’s just sad to see that happen."

Platt said the loan on the property was nearly paid off and once it was, he was going to be able to invest in upgrades to the apartments.

Within hours of the fire being reported, Red Cross officials were beginning to assist residents in finding temporary housing, but Platt said there's a shortage of rooming houses available at the rate his tenants could afford to pay -- he was charging from $75 to $85 per week -- so finding long-term housing for many of the residents could prove difficult.

All 11 residents were safely accounted for within two hours of the fire being reported. At one point, one resident was thought to possibly still be in an apartment. The inset picture is of Platt trying to recall, so he could tell a firefighter, the best way to get to the apartment.

Doug Yeomans also submitted a series of photos from the fire.

Disclosure: Terry Platt is my landlord.

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More pictures after the jump:

Monday, October 11, 2010 at 2:43 pm

Woman accused of altering cash cards of her employer

post by Howard B. Owens in crime, Le Roy

Le Roy Police say a 37-year-old Leicester woman stole from her employer earlier this year by creating forged cash cards.

Deanna L. Leach, of 5576 Gibsonville Road, Leicester, faces 11 felony counts of forgery, 2nd.

Det. John Condidorio said Leach allegedly altered 11 cash cards worth $50 each while employed as a manager at the business. Leach reportedly failed to log the cards in order to cover up her alleged crime.

Monday, October 11, 2010 at 2:14 pm

Man runs after allegedly trying to steal TV from Kmart

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, crime

A man who reportedly tried to steal a television from Kmart has fled on foot and was last spotted running behind Jerry Arena's Pizzaria.

The subject is described as white male, wearing a brown and white hat, brown sweater and blue jeans.

The suspect fled Kmart, leaving the TV on Kmart's property.

Multiple law enforcement units are responding to the area.

UPDATE: Before we could even get this published, the suspect was caught on West Main Street.

Monday, October 11, 2010 at 1:34 pm

Man with prior DWI convictions now faces Leandra's Law charge

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

An Attica man with two prior DWI convictions was allegedly found driving drunk with children in his car on East Main Street in Batavia last night.

Taken into custody on $25,000 bail and charged with a felony under Leandra's Law was 40-year-old Roland J. Reed, of Exchange Street, Attica.

Reed reportedly had a 2-year-old and an 8-month-old in the car when he was stopped at 11:24 p.m. in the area of 505 East Main St., Batavia, by Deputy Christopher Parker.

Besides a felony DWI and the Leandra's Law felony charge, Reed is charged with aggravated unlicensed operation, unlawful possession of marijuana, unlicensed operation, moving from lane unsafely and refusal to take a breath test.

The children's mother was reportedly a passenger in the vehicle.

Monday, October 11, 2010 at 12:06 pm

GCEDC announces grants and tax exemptions for local projects

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business, GCEDC, pembroke, Stafford

Here are four recent news items from the Genesee County Economic Development Center:

  • Gov. David Paterson awarded GCEDC a $3.9-million grant to upgrade the short rail line in and around the new Genesee County Agri-Business Park off of Route 5 in the Town of Batavia. The grant money comes from a 2005 bond act for transportation infrastructure in New York. The 202-acre park offers shovel ready industrial land for food processors. Business Facilities Magazine recently named Genesee and Livingston counties as the second-best food processing area in the nation, citing both the Oakta Milk Products facility and the new agri-park in its article.
  • National Grid has awarded GCEDC with $275,000 in grants to further the development of the Buffalo East Tech Park in Pembroke. The 300-acre site is adjacent the Pembroke exit of the Thruway, giving the development area easy access to Buffalo and Rochester. Sixty-seven acres of the park are shovel ready for business development.
  • Sale-tax exemptions totaling $12,000 were awarded to Bruce Scofield, LLC, for reopening a transfer station and recycling center at 8620 Sanders Road, Stafford. The location will serve area residents and businesses with a facility to dispose of waste and recyclables. The facility has been approved by the DEC to receive 150 tons of solid waste per day and 75 tons of recyclables per day. For every $1 of tax exemption, the project is expected to return $141 in public benefit over the next 10 years. Scofield will invest $150,000 in the project.
  • Pineyard Acres, LLC, of 6256 Clinton St. Road, Stafford, is receiving a $29,500 property-tax exemption, a $14,600 sales-tax exemption and a $4,000 mortgage-tax exemption for expansion of its business from 1,400 square feet to 5,600 square feet. For every $1 of tax exemption, the local economy should receive $210 in public benefit over the next 10 years, according to the GCEDC.  Pineyard Acres is expected to invest $335,000 in the expansion.
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