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Howard B. Owens's blog

Saturday, November 20, 2010 at 4:45 pm

Photos: Santa makes annual visit to Oliver's Candies

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business, Oliver's Candies, photos

olivers_santa04a.jpg

Santa Claus passed through Batavia today, making a stop at Oliver's Candies (I've also heard that he stopped at Present Tense Books, but I didn't find that out until later).

While Santa was in the sweetshop, the Batavia Area Jaycees were outside selling hot dogs and running a petting zoo.

Besides the three pictures on this post, a couple of additional photos are available for purchase by clicking here.

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Saturday, November 20, 2010 at 4:11 pm

Photos: School bus auction

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, photos

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First Student, Inc., a bus company on Oak Street, held an auction today. I didn't find out about it until after it was all over, but I'm told 250 old school buses were sold.

Buyers came from Kansas, Mexico and Guatemala, among other places.

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Saturday, November 20, 2010 at 1:13 pm

Town of Le Roy employee accused of taking money from public and keeping it

post by Howard B. Owens in crime, Le Roy

A Town of Le Roy employee working at the transfer station on Circular Hill Road is being accused of taking money from people bringing in garbage and keeping the cash for herself.

Arrested was 52-year-old Dawn Joy Mancuso, of York Road, Le Roy. She is charged with petit larceny and official misconduct.

After receiving numerous complaints about Mancuso taking money, Deputy Ron Meides, dressed in civilian clothes, began a process of dumping garbage at the transfer facility and getting his dump card punched. On the last week, when Meides was low on available punches on his dump card, Meides said Mancuso allegedly took $10 from him and never turned the cash over to the Town of Le Roy.

Meides alleges in his report that Mancuso has been regularly taking cash from transfer station patrons who did not have enough punches on their cards to drop off garbage.

Mancuso allegedly never turned any of this money over to the town.

Saturday, November 20, 2010 at 12:50 pm

Council will discuss what to do with eight properties foreclosed on by Batavia

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, foreclosures

The City of Batavia has foreclosed on eight properties for failure to pay taxes.

In a report to city council, City Manager Jason Molino is recommending that six of the residential units be auctioned off, one be turned over to Habitat for Humanity and a commercial property be offered through a request-for-proposal.

The eight properties are:

  • 507 Ellicott St., assessed value of $52,000 and back taxes of $19,225
  • 20 Franklin St., assessed value of $65,000 and back taxes of $17,131
  • 3 Manhatten Ave., assessed value of $71,000 and back taxes of $25,903
  • 48 Riverview Parkway, assessed value of $1,500 and back taxes of $572
  • 21 South Lyon St., assessed value of $53,400 and back taxes of $26,359
  • 308 Washington Ave., assessed value of $12,400 and back taxes of $5,448
  • 11-13 Raymond Ave., assessed value of $52,000 and back taxes of $20,803
  • 13-15 Jackson St., assessed value of $15,000 and back taxes of $3,411

The Riverview Parkway and Washington Avenue properties are vacant land and are zoned residential.

The property recommended for Habitat is 11-13 Raymond Ave. The property has been vacant for more than a year and has water and mold damage. Habitat identified the property as suitable for revitalization and turning over to a low-income family. The local chapter would be asked to pay the $20,803 in back taxes for the property.

As for the commercial property on Jackson Street, it is a warehouse in the alley. Molino is recommending that the city put out a request-for-proposal asking potential buyers provide a plan for the property before it is sold.

Saturday, November 20, 2010 at 12:15 pm

Grants used to build ice arena restrict city's options to sell it now

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Falleti Ice Arena

It's not that the Falleti Ice Arena can't be sold, but restrictions from the grant money used to build it create one more barrier for the city to overcome before it can jettison the facility, according to a report released by the City Manager's office.

After some preliminary discussions with state and federal officials, it appears that if the city were to sell the ice rink, any proceeds would need to be used only on other parks and recreation facilities, or to benefit low- and moderate-income residents.

And how the money is used would also need to be approved by either the federal agency or the state agency that now administers Community Development Block Grants (CDBG).

The proceeds could not be used to pay down any current debt on the facility.

The city manager's report was released to city council members on Thursday and the findings will be discussed at Monday's council conference meeting.

The report notes that before these findings are confirmed, more talks need to take place with the federal Housing and Urban Development Department and the state's Office of Community Renewal.

The arena was originally built with CDBG funds in 1978, and it came with strings attached, including specifying what the city can do with the arena.

The existing debt on the rink is $400,000 and it is being paid by the current operator.

In 2006, the city received $1.2 million in low-interest loans from the state to improve energy efficiency at city facilities, including the ice arena. The operator will pay about $25,000 this year as reimbursement for the arena's share of those improvements.

Saturday, November 20, 2010 at 11:54 am

Photos: Wonderland of Trees at the Holland Land Office Museum

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, hlom, Wonderland of Trees

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The Holland Land Office Museum's ninth annual Wonderland of Trees opened Friday evening with a gala that included food (even a chocolate fountain), a silent auction, a chance to vote on your favorite tree and an opportunity to mingle with friends and neighbors.

About 40 local businesses and organizations participated in sponsoring trees this year, and the themes are quite creative.

The Christmas trees will be on display at HLOM through Jan. 8.

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Saturday, November 20, 2010 at 11:09 am

Today's Deals: New Today, Alli's Cones & Dogs, Oakfield

post by Howard B. Owens in Deal of the Day

New Today: Alli's Cones & Dogs, 7063 Lewiston Road, Oakfield, NY.: Full breakfast, lunch and dinner menu; new all-you-can-eat salad bar; ice cream served year-round; eat-in or take-out. We have $20 gift certificates for $10.

Kravings, Valu Plaza, 4152 W. Main St., Batavia, NY: Kraving's offers soups, salads and sandwiches, fresh and flavorful; Monday through Saturday. We have $10 gift certificates for $5.

Stafford Trading Post, 6173 Main Road, Stafford, NY: Lunch or dinner, Stafford Trading Post offers a variety of fresh, homemade meals, as well as snacks and drinks. Now in a new, expanded location. We have a $25 gift card for $12.50.

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.

T.F. Brown's, at 214 E. Main St., Batavia, NY: T.F. Brown's is a great place for a good meal, good friends and to catch up on what's going on in the sports world. "If it happens in sports, it happens at Brown's." We have a $20 gift card for $10.

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.

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

SOLD OUT

Friday, November 19, 2010 at 7:51 pm

Driver loses consciousness on Thruway, car in a ditch

post by Howard B. Owens in accident, pembroke, thruway

A driver reportedly lost consciousness while on the Thruway and his car went off the roadway into a ditch.

The accident occurred in the area of mile marker 398.2.

East Pembroke Fire and Mercy EMS responding.

Friday, November 19, 2010 at 2:22 pm

Police Beat: Man accused of threatening a guest in his Le Roy apartment

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

Michael Richard Mack, 24, of 72 Main St., Le Roy, is charged with two counts of menacing, 2nd, criminal possession of a weapon, 4th, and criminal mischief, 4th. Mack was arrested by Le Roy Police Officer Kyle Slocum following the report of a disturbance at Mack's residence. Mack is accused of twice threatening a guest at his apartment and damaging the victim's mobile phone. Mack was arraigned and released under supervision of Genesee Justice.

David James Dole, 28, of 610 Kennedy Road, Cheektowaga, is charged with criminal possession of stolen property. Dole is accused of attempting to use a stolen credit card at two retail locations on Veterans Memorial Drive.

Friday, November 19, 2010 at 2:09 pm

Driver says he fell asleep prior to accident on Route 98

post by Howard B. Owens in accident, alexander

A driver says he fell asleep just prior to his car drifting into the northbound lane of Route 98 causing a two-car accident that sent four people to the hospital.

The accident occurred at 4:58 p.m., Thursday, on Route 98 near Railroad Avenue, Alexander.

Ian L. Prial, 20, of 52 West Ave., Attica, was cited for alleged failure to keep right. He and his passenger, David P. Bartholf Jr., 19, were taken to EMMC for treatment.

The driver of the other car, Suzanne E. Wheeler, 38, of Allegheny Road, Darien Center, said she managed to slow down a bit prior to the crash. She, along with 11-year-old Logan K. Wheeler, were taken to UMMC for treatment.

The accident was investigated by Deputy Patrick Reeves.

Friday, November 19, 2010 at 1:28 pm

Today's Deals: New Today, Scratch Bakery, in Le Roy

post by Howard B. Owens in Deal of the Day

New Today: Scratch Bakery, 24 Main St. Le Roy, NY: A real bakery right in Genesee County. Scones, cookies, cakes, breads, rolls and more. Call ahead, 297-2441, for availability or special orders. We have $10 gift certificates for $5.

Main St. Pizza Company, 206 E. Main St., Batavia, NY: Pizza, wings, subs and even hamburgers and hot dogs, Main St. Pizza makes everything deliciously. We have a $25 gift certificate for $12.50.<

Larry's Steakhouse, 60 Main St., Batavia, NY: The name says it all -- Larry's is a great place for steak. Larry's has a fine dining atmosphere with a great menu and outstanding service. We have a $25 gift certificate for $12.50.

Alex's Place, 8322 Park Road, Batavia, NY: People come from all over the region for a fine dining experience at Alex's. It's best known for its ribs, of course, but Alex's seafood is also a favorite of the restaurant's diners. We have a $25 gift certificate for $12.50.

South Beach, 59 Main St., Batavia, NY: Try the new lunch buffet. We have a $25 gift certificate for $12.50 (must be used by Nov. 30, 2010).

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.

Red Osier, Route 5, Stafford, NY: Truly, one of the landmark restaurants of the area. Red Osier features prime rib carved table side. We have $25 gift certificates for $12.50.

Delavan's Restaurant and Tavern, 107 Evans St., Batavia, NY: To me, Delavan's is one of those restaurants where you want to eat frequently until you try everything on the menu. We have a $20 gift certificate for $10.

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.

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

SOLD OUT

Friday, November 19, 2010 at 12:35 am

Juror in Doll's aspirin trial says proof just wasn't there to support conviction

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

At least one of the six jurors who found Scott Doll not guilty of promoting prison contraband earlier this week is pretty certain Doll did, in fact, transport a balloon of crushed aspirin into the Genesee County Jail.

The proof, however, just wasn't there, she said.

Doll was accused of bringing the aspirin into the jail in violation of law following his conviction of murder for killing Pembroke resident Joseph Benaquist. 

Corrections officers testified to finding Doll in a holding cell on May 20 covered in white powder, with white powder on a sink, the floor and the bed, along with a green balloon sitting on the bed.

The juror -- whom we agreed to identify only as Juror #2 -- called The Batavian today because she was bothered by a statement from Sheriff Gary Maha about the verdict.

"Who knows, maybe they felt sorry for him because he's been convicted of murder and they thought, 'what's this silly little charge?'" Maha told The Batavian.

Nothing could be further from the truth, said Juror #2.

While the juror said she agrees with Maha that it makes no sense to believe anybody with the jail staff gave Doll the aspirin, she just didn't feel the case was made that Doll had the aspirin on his body when he entered the jail.

How it got there, she doesn't know, and Doll is the most likely culprit, but she just couldn't vote to convict him on the available evidence.

"We’re not saying there isn’t anybody who didn’t do their job," the juror said. "We’re not saying that at all. There was just no proof that he brought it in."

She said she was bothered by the fact that the prosecution did not offer the balloon into evidence, that there was no DNA evidence that might show Doll "stuck the balloon up his bum" or no photos were shown to put in perspective how much white powder was found in the jail cell.

The description of the amount of white powder found in the cell, Juror #2 said, left the impression that the amount of aspirin must have made the balloon "the size of a baseball."

She just didn't see how Doll could have hidden a balloon that size on his body and have it go undiscovered through three pat down searches.

The first vote, by secret written ballot, was 5-1 for acquittal. The one juror who favored guilty then asked the other jurors to explain their reasoning. After a short discussion, another vote was taken and "not guilty" was the unanimous decision.

Juror #2 said as far as she's concerned, it never crossed anybody's mine to let Doll off out of some sort of sympathy or that the case seemed too trival to bother with compared to his murder conviction.

"We took the case very serious," she said.

She also admitted that when she was first seated on the jury, she was sure Doll was guilty.

"You just don’t know," she said. "Things totally change when you are sitting in the jury box and you’re listening to all the evidence and you’re listen to all that testimony and you’re like, ‘wait a minute, I didn’t think of that.’"

Thursday, November 18, 2010 at 11:48 pm

No politics involved, Charvella case being handled by staff, DA says

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Chris Charvella, crime, Jay Grasso, Le Roy

Sure there's a free speech consideration, District Attorney Lawrence Friedman said when discussing the arrest of local Democrat activist Chris Charvella on a charge of aggravated harassment, 2nd.

But the statute he's charged under has nothing to do with the content of the phone message Charvella left for Republican Legislator Jay Grasso.

lawrence_friedman.jpgThe statute is about making a phone call "for no legitimate purpose other than to harass or annoy," Friedman said.

The content of the message matters only in helping to establish intent, and intent is a matter, ultimately, only a judge or jury can decide.

"That's always true," Friedman said.

Critics of Charvella's arrest have expressed concern that the 30-year-old Batavia resident won't get a fair hearing in Genesee County because of his political affiliation.

Friedman, a Republican, said politics plays no part of it.

"I've been in this job 29 years and I challenge anyone to say politics has played a part in my decision making," Friedman said.

The case is being handled by one of Friedman's five assistant attorneys, and as is often the case, he said he isn't personally involved. Friedman said how the case is handled is entirely up to Assistant District Attorney Kevin Finnell.

Because of the jurisdiction of the case -- a town court, where ADAs handle the caseload -- and the nature of the charges, it's a case that he does not routinely follow.

"I don’t intend to get personally involved in this case, so my political affiliation is irrelevant," Friedman said. "My political affiliation is always irrelevant. I don’t look at anybody’s politics when I get involved in a case, neither the victims nor the defendants nor the witnesses nor anybody else."

He added, "I don't get involved just because a case is in the media."

Friedman said he hasn't read the case file and only knows about Charvella's arrest from what he's read in media reports. 

For previous coverage of Charvella's arrest for allegedly harassing Grasso, click here.

Photo: File photo.

Thursday, November 18, 2010 at 10:58 pm

Bow hunting practice pays off for Oakfield resident

post by Howard B. Owens in Oakfield, outdoors

Submitted by Cheryl Chaddock:

Brad Chaddock of Oakfield bagged his very own monster 9pt. buck last Saturday morning with his bow. Brad is a dedicated bow hunter during the season. He and his dad, Rob Chaddock, of Elba, spend many hours throughout the year practicing archery and it has paid off. He has had very successful hunts in the past, but this is his biggest to date. Congratulations to Brad.

Thursday, November 18, 2010 at 10:50 pm

Deputy honored for efforts to combat DWI

post by Howard B. Owens in Sheriff's Office

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Press release:

Genesee County Deputy Sheriff Jason E. Saile was recently honored by the New York State Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee, Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD)-New York State and New York State STOP-DWI for his efforts in combating DWI.

Deputy Saile was one of 17 local law enforcement officers recognized statewide for outstanding achievements in deterring drunk/impaired driving. During 2009, Deputy Saile made 43 DWI arrests, of which nine were felonies; made 72 criminal arrests and issued 537 traffic tickets.

Deputy Saile was presented an Individual Officer Award during the MADD and STOP-DWI Law Enforcement Recognition Awards Event held in Albany, New York on Tuesday, November 16, 2010.

Deputy Saile was nominated for this award by Sheriff Gary T. Maha.

Thursday, November 18, 2010 at 10:34 pm

Man accused of leaving scene of accident following rollover

post by Howard B. Owens in accident, Pavilion

A 19-year-old Silver Springs man is charged with leaving the scene of a property damage accident, driving without a license and speeding following a rollover accident in Pavilion early Thursday morning.

Nathan P. Hulme was issued three citations following an investigation by Deputy Frank Bordonaro into the 3:07 a.m. accident on Starr Road.

Neither Hulme nor his 21-year-old passenger James S. Craft were injured.

According to Bordonaro, Hulme was Northbound on Starr Road in a 2004 GMC pickup when he failed to negotiate a curve. The truck hit an embankment, a sign and then overturned and landed on its roof.

Thursday, November 18, 2010 at 2:03 pm

Legal community makes a unified pitch at budget hearing to save Genesee Justice

post by Howard B. Owens in budget, genesee county, Genesee Justice

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It was a historic moment, Public Defender Gary Horton said.

"This may be the first time you have Judge (Robert) Noonan, (District Attorney Lawrence) Friedman and I all agree on something."

There was nothing but agreement from the two dozen or so speakers who took up the cause of Genesee Justice at the County Legislature's budget hearing Wednesday evening.

judge_noonan.jpgThe budget proposal calls for the elimination of Genesee Justice as a department and moving most of its current functions into the probation department.

The change could save the county $237,000, but several speakers said that Genesee Justice saves the county maybe as much as $1 million a year by helping to keep people out of jail.

Nothing against the Probation Department, many speakers said, but probation officers won't take the same approach in dealing with offenders and victims which Genesee Justice has done successfully for 30 years.

Speakers praised Genesee Justice as a pioneering "restorative justice" program. They characterized probation as a law enforcement agency -- one that takes more of a punitive approach in dealing with offenders.

"Probation officers carry weapons, they make arrests," said Oakfield Justice Thomas Graham. "Genesee Justice is more of a social agency, they handle casework, and they work very hard to help people make it through without sending them back to jail."

countybudg01.jpgAfter the meeting, Julie Smith, director of probation, said she disagrees with that characterization of her department.

"Probation is (also) an alternative to incarceration," Smith said. "There are about 700 offenders on our case load and if it wasn’t for us, they would be in jail.

"We are following offenders," Smith added. "We are checking up on them. We are in their lives."

According to County Manager Jay Gsell, the county budget picture is so dire -- more than 80 percent of the budget is state-mandated expenses -- that drastic measures are needed. The budget contains little that is discretionary and the direction of the legislature was to balance the budget without increasing the tax levy.

"If we were masters of our own fate, that would be a lot easier to do, but we’re not," Gsell said. "We are creatures of state government."

Genesee Justice is a pioneering agency in what is known as "restorative justice." It focuses on the needs of victims and offenders to help bring about some level of reconciliation, and to help offenders re-enter society as productive citizens rather treat offenders in a traditional law-and-order manner.

The local program was started with grants 30 years ago at a time when the concepts of restorative justice were rarely considered by judges or prosecutors. 

As one speaker noted, Genesee Justice has been cited in scholarly articles on restorative justice from around the world.

Among the functions handled by Genesee Justice are: supervising first-time DWI offenders who have been granted a conditional discharge; overseeing work-release programs and community service; helping victims of crime with getting through the judicial process; and receiving restitution payments and completing paperwork, as well as managing the "release-under-supervision" (RUS) program.

 

judge_robert_balbick.jpgGenesee Justice took over RUS from probation 2002. RUS allows courts to release alleged offenders prior to trial who don't qualify for release under their own recognizance but do not necessarily need to be held on bail.

Judges Robert Noonan, Robert Balbick, Thomas Graham, Michael Delplato, as well as Sheriff Gary Maha and District Attorney Lawrence Friedman all expressed concern that switching RUS back to probation would mean fewer alleged offenders would receive RUS status.

"The Genesee Justice program as it has developed is amazing in terms of keeping the jail population down," said Noonan. "I know probation says they can do it and I know they honestly believe they can do it.

"But I believe what you are going to see is a spike in the population at the jail and you are going to wind up paying dollars at the far end after eliminating a very, very important program."

Balbick said he just doesn't know what will happen if RUS is moved back to probation, and that worries him.

"The RUS program runs well because we have a department that runs it well," Balbick said. "I don’t know what it will be if probation runs it. Maybe they will run it well, but I don’t know. I do know that Genesee Justice runs it well."

jay_gsell.jpgOne speaker suggested it would take $30 million to build a new jail, if needed. Sheriff Maha noted that the current jail was constructed at its present capacity because there was a Genesee Justice program to help keep offenders out of jail.

"If the jail population increases, the State Commission of Correction will come down and tell us to do something about our increased population -- like build a new jail or put on an addition," Maha said. "We'll be like our neighbors to our south who had to build a jail addition to address their jail population."

Smith said that probation handled RUS for 26 years and they can easily take over the program again.

Several speakers said they believe the elimination of Genesee Justice is "a done deal," and that the local justice system community was not consulted first.

The repeated complaint was that only two people -- Gsell and Smith -- supported the plan and were pushing it through without a lot of outside input.

"It appears to me that the only people who are speaking out in favor of this proposal are the ones making the proposal," Friedman said. "They’re the only ones who appear to believe that it’s a good idea. Otherwise, from what I’m hearing, everyone involved in the criminal justice systems, thinks this is a bad idea."

Smith was quick to point out after the meeting that she's not the one who made the proposal.

sheriff_maha.jpg“This is at the direction of the legislature," Smith said. "The legislature asked me to look at. It’s nothing that I sought out. There’s a lot of misinformation out there (saying) that I sought to do this, but the legislature asked us to do this and we’ll do our best to step up to the plate."

Gsell said it certainly isn't a done deal.

"How can it be? The legislature hasn’t even voted," Gsell said. "This is what we go through every year when we make proposals on the budget. I make a proposal and that becomes what the legislators deal with. That’s where we’re at right now."

The legislators we spoke with after the meeting said they certainly haven't made up their minds and they want to discuss it further with other members of the legislature before making a decision.

Mary Pat Hancock, chairwoman of the legislature, said "we're hearing the concerns and considerations of the people, and we're certainly listening."

"We will consider it carefully," Hancock said. "This is presented as a tentative budget and we don’t pass a budget for another three weeks."

Legislator Jay Grasso noted that he took copious notes during the meeting and he looks forward to sitting down with his fellow legislators to hear what they think.

Most of all, he said, it was a big change from previous public hearings where few people show up and even fewer have anything to say.

"It’s democracy in action," Grasso said. "You should have people here. You should have people questioning what we do. You should have people saying, ‘well, why are you doing this?’ I found it unique and refreshing."

Photos: Top, Gary Horton holding up a button in support of Genesee Justice; County Judge Robert Noonan; Legislature Chairwoman Mary Pat Hancock; City Court Judge Robert Balbick; County Manager Jay Gsell; Sheriff Gary Maha.

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Thursday, November 18, 2010 at 12:21 pm

The Daily's correction

post by Howard B. Owens in Chris Charvella, Jay Grasso, politics

Just for the record, the Batavia Daily News has issued a correction regarding an article published yesterday about the Chris Charvella case.

Yesterday, we did a post about a quote taken out of context, thinking it was significant enough to the case to bring attention to the matter. We're glad to see the Daily found the misunderstanding of the quote relevant enough to clarify it.

UPDATE: Managing Editor Mark Graczyk has written a blog post explaining the Daily's correction policy.

Thursday, November 18, 2010 at 11:52 am

Fire department asked to investigate chemical smell at UMMC building

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, North Street, UMMC

Officials at UMMC  have requested the fire department to go to 127 North St., Batavia, to investigate the smell of chemicals on the second floor of the building.

UPDATE 11:36 a.m.: Tim Yaeger, emergeny services coordinator, is on scene to assist city fire. We've heard no other updates. There's no indication from radio traffic that this is a serious situation.

UPDATE 1:14 p.m.: City fire units which responded are back in service.


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