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Howard B. Owens's blog

Wednesday, April 21, 2010 at 9:32 am

Police Beat: Woman accused of not supervising children

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

Julie B. Wescott, 27, of 335 Bank St., Apt. B3, Batavia, is charged with endangering the welfare of a child and unlawful possession of marijuana. Wescott was arrested at 3:50 p.m., Tuesday, by Officer Matt Baldwin after an investigation revealed Wescott allegedly failed to provide adequate supervision for two children.

Keith Joseph Lyman, 36, of 217 Bank St., Batavia, is charged with criminal contempt. Lyman is accused of violating an order of protection. He was arraigned in Town of Oakfield Court and jailed on $500 bail.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010 at 8:51 pm

Grass fire reported on Countyline Road, Darien

post by Howard B. Owens in Darien, fire

Darien Fire is responding to a reported grass fire north of the CSX railroad crossing and Countyline Road.

The fire is south of Route 33.

UPDATE 9:09 p.m.: Fire extinguished. All Darien units back in service.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010 at 8:47 pm

Car hits deer on Thruway, head injury reported

post by Howard B. Owens in accident, Le Roy, thruway

A car has reportedly hit a deer on the Thruway at mile marker 379.4.

One person reportedly suffered a head injury and another person is complaining of back pain.

Le Roy Fire and Ambulance have been dispatched.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010 at 6:45 pm

Dave's Produce has barely survived the alleged bad debt from Pontillo's

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business, Dave's Produce, Pontillo's


Kathy Pettinella says in November 2008, she almost lost her business -- a business started and built by her late husband and late son 15 years ago.

Her business, Dave's Produce, relies on cash in the bank so she can buy product at farmers' markets and deliver it to local restaurants.

So when one local restaurant allegedly stiffed her for nearly $70,000, it really hurt.

"Oh, my God -- I am done. I’m absolutely done." Pettinella said were her first thoughts when she learned of the original Pontillo's Pizzeria closing. "Looking at all that money, I went through all my bank statements, my deposit slips, I was in trouble. I couldn’t cut back anything anymore out of my household budget."

How and why Pontillo's was allegedly able to run up all that debt is something Kathy still can't fully explain, but until last week, when The Batavian wrote about the debt in a story on  financial issues surrounding the Pontillo family and their legendary pizza business, she said nobody in Batavia knew about the debt. It was something she wanted to keep secret.

She said she was shaking the first time she answered a call from The Batavian asking about the debt.

"I was petrified," Pettinella said of her long-standing fear of people finding out about the debt. "I was was afraid people would think, ‘What a stupid woman. That’s why women don’t run businesses because they would drive it into the ground.'"

"That was my initial thought -- that I just made a bad example for the rest of women who are working so hard to run their own small businesses."

Tuesday, April 20, 2010 at 6:13 pm

Ranzenhofer and Hawley support Leandra's Law, but recognize new burden on county

Genesee County's two elected state legislators applaud the get-tough-on-drunken-driving provisions in Leandra's Law, even while saying they need to work toward making the new law less burdensome on local government.

While county officials raised a number of objections to a provision of the law that will require all drivers convicted of DWI to install an ignition interlock device, both Sen. Mike Ranzenhofer and Assemblyman Steve Hawley said that was an aspect of the new law they fully supported.

Razenhofer pointed to the county probation's chief, Julie Smith, who said interlock devices are effective at stopping drunk drivers from getting behind the wheel.

"I knew it (the provision) was in there and I thought it was a good idea," said Ranzenhofer. "It's supposed to be a deterrent to keep drunks off the road. The point is to keep the person off the road so he doesn't kill, maim or harm other individuals."

Hawley said if people are going to drink and drive, when they're convicted, the need to "pay the price."

"The alternative," he said, "is to go to jail, and that is an alternative."

Both Ranzenhofer and Hawley said they are talking with Genesee County officials and trying to find ways to address their concerns, but Hawley also said of all the counties he represents, only Genesee is raising vocal objections. The other counties, he said, indicated they can find a way to accommodate the provisions of the law.

Hawley said he wants to see if it's possible to delay implimenation so counties with concerns can find ways to get them addressed.

Neither Hawley nor Ranzenhofer expressed a lot of sympathy for the spouse of a person convicted of DWI who might also be required to start blowing into a tube to start his or her car.

"My sympathies lie with the victims, the people who are hurt or killed by drunken drivers," Ranzenhofer said.

As for the cost, Hawley said the county shouldn't pay for these devices if someone convicted of DWI can't afford it.

"If they can afford the alcohol, and they can afford the insurance, and they can afford the car, then they can certainly afford the device," Hawley said. "If not, they have to get rid of their cars."

Tuesday, April 20, 2010 at 5:30 pm

Mother and grandmother accused of keeping child in squalor appear to be working toward clean up

post by Howard B. Owens in alexander, crime, Dodgeson Road


Two women who are charged with endangering the welfare of a child for allegedly having a 2-year-old living in squalor are apparently being given a chance to clean up their act.

A neighbor says the child appears to be still living at the home on 3181 Dodgeson Road, Alexander, which yesterday had a Dumpster filled with trash parked in the driveway.

The home is owned by Lynda Rae Morrill, the 44-year-old grandmother charged in the case. She purchased the 1,288-square-foot home from Habitat for Humanity in October, 2003, according to public records. The home, which sits on more than an acre of land, is assessed at $131,900.

A neighbor, who said the yard was quite a mess before the clean up started -- she doesn't know what it was like inside -- said she believes six adults have been living there. She said she was told that Morrill and her daughter, Lisa Rene Richmond, 22, have been given 30 days to clean up the residence.

Eileen Kirkpatrick, commission of the Department of Social Services, said she can't discuss the specific case, but she did talk about general practice in child-welfare cases.

She said when a complaint comes in, there is an investigation, with Child Protective Services trying to determine whether the issue of the complaint -- such as a child not showing up for school -- is the extent of the problem, or if there are other issues in the home, such as abuse.

Child Protective Services does try to work with parents to correct problems, she said, rather than just take the child away.

"It's our job to try and fix the problem," Kirkpatrick said. "We make all attempts to try and keep the child in the home. We try to keep families intact."

If the problem isn't fixed, then the issue can be brought to Family Court.

Jessica M. Maguire-Tomidy, executive director of Habitat for Humanity of Genesee County, said prospective Habitat home recipients go through an extensive background check. Not only must the applicant meet financial requirements, but references -- including landlords -- are checked.

"After their application is taken, we do a credit check, a criminal background check, a home visit, and send out landlord and employment references to be completed by individuals the family works for and has rented from," Maguire-Tomidy said in an e-mail. "We review all of the above to determine need for decent housing, and willingness to partner with us. Should we feel that they would be a good match for our program, we ultimately take our recommendation to the Board of Directors for a voted approval as a Habitat partner family."

Home recipients do more than pay for the house, they must also work 300-500 hours on the construction of the building.

She said she couldn't discuss any specific recipient.

"We try very diligently to pick the right families, and this is a stringent screening process," Maguire-Tomidy said. "For about every 15 families that come to apply to our program only one will ultimately qualify for recommendation to the Board of Directors."

Tuesday, April 20, 2010 at 5:03 pm

Photos: Three barns in southeast part of county

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


On a story quest that didn't quite work out, I was down in the Bethany area.

The barn above is at Putnam and Sheppard roads. Below is a barn on Transit Road and a barn on Silver Road.



Tuesday, April 20, 2010 at 4:45 pm

Photo: Car with flag on Cedar Street

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Cedar Street, photos


When I drove past this oddly parked car with a flag sticking out of the passenger window, I had to turn around go back and get a picture. I have no idea why the car is parked this way. Perhaps it's somebody's creative way of trying to draw attention to the building behind it that's for rent.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010 at 3:48 pm

Today's Deals: Adam Miller, Sallome's, Oliver's Matty's and more

post by Howard B. Owens in Deal of the Day

Adam Miller Toy & Bicycles, 8 Center St., Batavia, NY: Feel like a kid in a toy store again, or treat your kids to the greatest toy store they will ever see. We have a $25 gift certificate for $12.50.

Sallome's Italian Deli, 40 Oak St., Batavia, NY: Wraps, subs, paninis and pasta as well as pizzas -- Sallome's offers a tasty variety of Italian deli items for eat-in or take-out. We have $10 gift certificates for $5 each.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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


Tuesday, April 20, 2010 at 2:40 pm

Farm labor bill killed in State Senate committee vote

post by Howard B. Owens in agriculture, business, farm labor

A bill that would have instituted new overtime rules, unemployment benefits and allowed farm workers to organize into collective-bargaining units died in the New York Senate's Agriculture Committee today.

On a 6-3 vote, the committee voted down the measure, known by opponents as the "Farm Death Bill."

Opponents said the bill would have increased costs for New York's farmers by $200 million per year.

"It would have killed agriculture in New York State, and that's the state's number one industry," said Sen. Mike Ranzenhofer, who sits on the committee and voted against the bill.

After passage in the Assembly last year, the bill was looking like it would make it to a floor vote in the Senate when Sen. Darrel J. Aubertine, a Democrat who chairs the agriculture committee, lobbied to have the bill reviewed by his committee before letting the full Senate vote on it.

In a statement today, Aubertine said:

"The committee came to its conclusion following a lengthy, open process which included participation from all sides of the issue. The committee worked diligently to cut through the rhetoric, and aggressively pursued the facts of this matter. Toward that end, the committee voted based on the merits of this bill and its impact on farm workers, farmers and consumers; not partisan attacks, half-truths, rhetoric or political polling."

Ranzenhofer said that articles by Batavia Daily News staff writer Tom Rivers, which he collected in a book, helped educate legislative leaders about farm labor and dispel a lot of misinformation being spread by supporters of the bill.

"Tom was  able to bring reality check to what some of the more sensational special interest people were saying," Ranzenhofer said.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010 at 10:19 am

Police Beat: Man arrested for second time for allegedly trespassing at College Village

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

Joshua Cordero McIver, 22, of 130 Third Ave., Apt. 18H, Brooklyn, is charge with criminal trespass, 3rd. McIver was reportedly barred from College Village on Feb. 22. He was reportedly arrested for trespassing on April 1. Then, on Monday, Mciver was allegedly found again at College Village, this time hiding under a desk covered by a bed comforter in Pine Hall.

Nicholas A. Darrow, 19, of 13192 Broadway Road, Alden, is charged with petit larceny. Darrow is accused of shoplifting from The Rez Smoke Shop.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010 at 9:23 am

Phone lines down at Cornell Cooperative

post by Howard B. Owens in Cornell Cooperative Extension

We just received this notice from Kim Amey at Cornell Cooperative Extension:

Please be advised that all of the phone lines for Cornell Cooperative Extension of Genesee County are currently down. There is no estimated time of repair. Please contact the Extension office via e-mail at bae4@cornell.edu, visit the website at www.genesee.shutterfly.com or stop by the office at 420 E. Main Street in Batavia.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010 at 12:09 am

County faced with big expense related to new drunken driving law

post by Howard B. Owens in crime, drunken driving, dwi, Leandra's Law

Starting in August, any driver convicted in New York of driving drunk will have to install a device that prevents the car from starting if he or she can't pass a breathalyzer test.

The new requirement was apparently a provision in Leandra’s Law, the legislation passed and signed into law last fall in less than 30 days following the death of a young girl who was a passenger in a car driven by a drunken driver.

lelaw.jpgNot only will the device be required in the primary car of the convicted drunken driver, but also any car that the driver might even occasionally drive, or have access to drive (work vehicles are exempted).

That means, husband gets convicted of DWI, both his wife's car and his teenage daughter still living at home will need to have the devices installed. The interlock-ignition device is designed to prevent a car from starting if the driver blows a .02 or higher. It will also randomly require a driver to blow in the device as the person is driving to help ensure a friend didn't blow in it to get the car started initially (example photo here).

"Since when do we start punishing innocent people?" said Assistant County Manager Frank V. Ciaccia during the Monday meeting of the Public Safety Committee. "These are people who weren’t convicted of anything. Now every morning they get in a vehicle they’ve got to blow into this thing to get the car to start?"

County officials are most concerned about the additional costs associated with the legislation, which could reach into the hundreds of thousands of dollars.

There are some 360 DWI convictions in Genesee County each year, according to County Manager Jay Gsell. Only about 40 percent of those drivers convicted are placed on probation. The rest are given a conditional release.

While those on probation will mean additional supervisory responsibility for the county's probation department, the other 60 percent on conditional release will now require additional supervision for which there is little provision in the county budget to provide.

Additionally, judges will be asked to make a determination -- based on state-provided guidelines -- on whether a convicted drunken driver can afford the device. If he can't, the county will pick up the tab.

Each device costs $100 to install and $100 per month to maintain.

In Genesee County, there could be as many as 450 to 500 of these devices installed, and nobody can estimate at this time how many will be paid for by taxpayers.

Funded or not, all will need to be monitored by county probation, Genesee Justice or some other county agency (the new law doesn't specify who will be responsible for monitoring compliance).

Gsell said Assembly and Senate representatives throughout the state are crying ignorance of these new provisions -- they just thought they were cracking down on drunken drivers with kids in the car.

"What apparently most of the legislators did not know is that this law went beyond just DWIs with a 15-year-old or younger in their car," Gsell said. "It applies to all DWIs. None of the legislators we've talked to understood when we've asked them to please look at this. They were clueless almost to a statewide unanimous number."

It's hard to believe, though, that legislators in Albany weren't fully aware of these provisions. The bill, Govenor's Program Bill 204 (pdf), is only 25 pages long with all of the new provisions conveniently underlined. Most of code section being amended deals with ignition locks and the new language clearly specifies both the "owner or operator" aspect and numerous times the additional phrase "conditional release" is added. The only way to miss its full scope, is to not read the bill at all.

Even if a legislator just read the cover memo (pdf), the first paragraph clearly states, "In addition, this bill requires all individuals convicted of a misdemeanor or felony DWI offense to install and maintain an interlock device."

Julie Smith, director of County Probation, said the devices are effective deterrents to drunken driving -- there are a few in use in the county now -- but it's unclear how much of an extra burden the revised law will put on her department. She also pointed out that all enforcement action the courts and probation take are based on statistical evidence about risk levels and the nature of the crimes. This new law doesn't make those distinctions.

“Here we have something that uses no evidence based practice," Smith said. "Whether it’s your first DWI or your fifth, you’re getting it.”

Gsell said that while there may be complaints about spouses being required to blow into a machine to start their cars, the loudest complaints will when somebody who was supposed to be prevented from driving, manages to drive drunk anyway.

"When someone doesn’t get the notification (the device manufacturer may not be able to notify the county of a device failure for five to 10 days), and two days after it failed to operate, disables the device and goes out, still gets drunk, still kills someone -- that’s when all hell is going to break loose," Gsell said.

The committee asked that a resolution asking for the law to be amended be presented at Wednesday's Ways and Means Committee meeting.

Such a resolution would mirror what is happening elsewhere in the state, where county legislatures, as they learn about the law, are taking steps to oppose some of its provisions. Examples can be found in Greene County and Essex County.

Legislator Jay Grasso, a former Sheriff's deputy, said he made more than 300 DWI arrests in his law enforcement career, but he doesn't see the need to put these devices in the cars of first-time, misdemeanor DWI offenders.

“I have no objection, in theory, to an interlock device for the multiple offender, for the felony offender," Grasso said. "To do this for that first-time offender – and I’m not excusing them, because I certainly locked them all up – who goes to the wine tasting, who goes to the carnival, and has a few too many and gets arrested, he's not gong to be your repeat offender. But that multiple guy, yeah, let’s put the interlock device on him."

Legislator Ray Cianfrini wanted to know if there was any way the county could just not enforce this "unfunded mandate," but, he was told, there's probably no way around it.

“This is a perfect example of a good law gone wild," Cianfrini said. "I’m so angry when I hear this now."

Pictured are Julie Smith and Frank Ciaccia

Monday, April 19, 2010 at 6:37 pm

Photo: Car accident in Le Roy

post by Howard B. Owens in accident, Le Roy

According to reader Ashley Bolsei, who took this picture, an SUV apparently jumped a curb and hit at tree at around 5:15 p.m., today, at the intersection of Summit and Exchange streets.

Monday, April 19, 2010 at 5:01 pm

Photo: Well and barn on Dodgeson Road

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


Today, I spotted this old well in front of a barn on Dodgeson Road, Alexander.

Monday, April 19, 2010 at 4:10 pm

Grand Jury Report: Bank teller indicted on grand larceny, other charges

post by Howard B. Owens in alexander, byron, crime, Grand Jury, Le Roy

Tracy L. Smith, is charged with 12 counts resulting from an alleged scheme to steal money from the Bank of Castile in Le Roy.

The counts:

  • Grand larceny, 3rd, for allegedly stealing $20,000 from a Brinks delivery some time between Sept. 13, 2005 and June 12, 2008.
  • Forgery, 2nd, for allegedly altering a savings withdrawal slip of a bank customer on Nov. 16, 2009.
  • Grand larceny, 3rd, for allegedly stealing $7,000 from the same bank customer.
  • Forgery, 2nd, for allegedly altering a check written by a bank customer on Nov. 19, 2009.
  • Grand larceny, 4th, for allegedly stealing $3,000 from the same bank customer.
  • Forgery, 2nd, for allegedly altering a check written by a bank customer on Nov. 19.
  • Forgery, 2nd, for allegedly altering a deposit slip written by the same bank customer on Nov. 19.
  • Falsifying business records, 1st, for allegedly making a false entry in the daily night deposit log on Nov. 30, 2009.
  • Grand larceny, 3rd, for allegedly stealing $10,000 on Dec. 16, 2009.
  • Falsifying business records, 1st, for allegedly using a bank instrument illegally on Dec. 16, 2009 to withdraw $10,000.
  • Falsifying business records, 1st, for allegedly making a false vault inventory log on Dec. 16, 2009.
  • Grand larceny, 3rd, for allegedly stealing $5,000 some time between Sept. 14 and Dec. 22, 2009.

For previous coverage, click here.

Stuart P. Newbould, is indicated on a felony count of DWI and with  a felony count of driving with a BAC of .08 or greater. Newbould is accused of driving drunk on Jan. 8, 2010, on South Holley Road, Byron.

Darryl J. Lippert is indicated on felony count of DWI and a felony count of driving with a BAC. of .08 or greater. Lippert is accused of driving drunk on Jan. 2, 2010 on Route 20 in Alexander.

Monday, April 19, 2010 at 3:28 pm

Genesee County to get first urgent care clinic in Le Roy

post by Howard B. Owens in health, Le Roy, UMMC

Genesee County will get its first urgent care clinic on July 1 when UMMC opens the new service at a location in Le Roy.

Currently, there is no urgent care clinic in Batavia or the surrounding towns and villages.

The facility is intended to provide services to residents in Le Roy and that part of the county, said UMMC spokeswoman Colleen Flynn, but any resident -- and anybody in the UMMC system -- can seek treatment at the Le Roy clinic.

No appointment will be necessary for patients seeking treatment for a range of non-life threatening injuries and illnesses.

"Urgent care fills a unique need in a community beyond what you can normally get at your doctor's office by having to make an appointment and then wait for that appointment if you're ill, or going to the emergency room with something that isn't really a life-threatening condition and having to wait long periods of time to be seen," Flynn told WBTA this morning.

UMMC officials say the clinic, which will be open from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. seven days a week, will provide patients with a cost effective and convenient way to seek treatment.

For those covered by insurance, co-pays for urgent care treatment tend to be less than emergency room treatment, officials.

The new clinic will be located where UMMC currently operates the LeRoy Diagnostic Center and Tountas Family Care Clinic, at 3 Tountas Ave., next door to LeRoy Ambulance.

Flynn said the Le Roy clinic has been in the planning stages for months. As for a similar clinic opening in Batavia, Flynn said that remains a possibility.

Monday, April 19, 2010 at 2:08 pm

Two men indicted on theft charges enter not guilty pleas

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

Two men recently indicted by the Grand Jury of alleged property crimes entered not guilty pleas today.

Bryan M. Hargrave is charged with three counts of burglary, 3rd, criminal mischief and petit larceny.

Hargrave is accused of breaking into businesses in Pavilion and the Town of Batavia on Sept. 23.

Carl Rivers, is accused of stealing a 2000 Chevrolet Silverado on March 19, 2009, in Oakfield. He is charged with one count of grand larceny, 3rd.

Hargrave is out of jail under supervision of Genesee Justice. 

Rivers is in jail without bail, but will have a bail review on Thursday. He has prior felony convictions, according to his attorney, Gary Horton. 

Hargrave and Rivers are accused of completely unrelated crimes. Their cases happened to be on the docket back-to-back today.

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