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Howard B. Owens's blog

Friday, October 29, 2010 at 3:37 pm

Tomorrow the last day for burger or pizza from Jackson Street/Belladessa's

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business, Jackson Street Grill


Jackson Street Grill/Belladessa's, one of Batavia's more popular dining establishments, is shutting its doors.

Owner Jim Kujawski said this afternoon that the restaurant's last day will be tomorrow.

In a statement, Kujawski said:

I have decided that the sacrifices of running a restaurant are not worth it anymore. The first thought through everyone's mind is that the business is doing bad. That's not true. Of course the economy has had a negative effect on sales over the past 2 years but this was not the deciding factor. Working 7 days a week, 10-12 hr days, year round gets old after awhile. I want to go back to having some semblance of a life again and spending time with my wife and family. We did have a party interested in continuing the business but backed out at the last minute last week.

Kujawski opened Jackson Street Grill in 2006. It is known for big juicy hamburgers, including a huge cheese burger that patrons were challenged to eat. In 2008, Kujawski acquired Belladessa's and moved the pizzeria from Main Street to Jackson Street. Belladessa's had been around since 1997.

Friday, October 29, 2010 at 11:46 am

High bail set for Harvester Avenue burglary suspect

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, crime

A Batavia man with an apparently lengthy criminal record, who was arrested at least three times in the past few months, will need to come up with $50,000 if he wants to get out of jail while his newest felony charges are pending.

Michael J. Piasta, 30, of 415 E. Main St., Batavia, was arrested earlier this week on a charge of burglary, 3rd, and criminal possession of a forged instrument. He is accused of breaking into a business office on Harvester Avenue, stealing credit cards and checks, using the credit cards and attempting to cash the checks.

When arrested, he was arraigned in Batavia City Court, but because Piasta has two prior felony convictions, the lower court could set bail and the justice ordered him held without bail. His attorney, William Teford, requested a bail review hearing in Genesee County Court.

At the hearing, Teford argued that despite his client's lengthy criminal record, all of his immediate family lives in Batavia, he's never left Batavia and he has a job. Teford asked for bail of $5,000 to $10,000.

District Attorney Lawrence Friedman argued that Piasta has a history of violating probation and parole and, though neither of the prior felony convictions were for violent crimes, Piasta is facing possible "persistent felony offender status," which means a longer prison term.

In the pre-bail review report, Friedman noted that Piasta's employer, a local contractor, says he "doesn’t know if he’d have job if released due to trouble he’s been in recently."

Friedman asked that Piasta continued to be held without bail.


Friday, October 29, 2010 at 10:33 am

Police Beat: Driver accused of fleeing scene of accident

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

Gary L. Bonk, 34, Gillette Road, Albion, is charged with aggravated unlicensed operation of a vehicle, 2nd, leaving the scene of a personal injury accident, speeding, driving left of pavement markings, and failure to yield to emergency vehicles. Bonk was reportedly seen speeding on Route 98 and passing a car in a no-passing zone on Route 98 at 3:01 a.m. When a patrol car attempted to stop Bonk's car, Bonk reportedly drove it into a ditch and then fled the scene. When Bonk allegedly drove the car into a ditch, his passenger was injured (though the passenger did not seek medical treatment). Bonk was reportedly found later walking on Route 98.

A 17-year-old from Albion was charged with making a punishable false written statement. The youth is accused of signing a false statement regarding an incident involving Gary L. Bonk.

Bryan D. Wright, 50, of Telephone Road, Pavilion, is charged with harassment. Wright was allegedly involved in an incident at 4:25 p.m., Oct.12, at a location on St. Mary's Street, Pavilion. He is accused of grabbing and choking another man during an argument.

Brett Blair, 26, of Batavia, is charged with three counts of criminal possession of stolen property, 4th, and three counts of forgery, 2nd. Blair was arrested by State Police on Wednesday in regards to an alleged incident Aug. 10 in Greece. It appears to involve credit cards and tokens. No further details were released.

Friday, October 29, 2010 at 10:14 am

Alleged failure to yield blamed for accident

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, accident

A driver allegedly failed to yield the right-of-way, leading to a minor injury accident at the intersection of Bank Street Road and South Bennett Heights yesterday morning.

The 7:57 a.m. accident sent Tonya L. Passamonte, 45, of Washington Avenue, Batavia, to UMMC, but neither the driver nor the passenger of the other car were injured.

According to a report prepared by Deputy Chris Parker, a 2003 Dodge pickup driven by Elizabeth A. Bruns, 42, of South Bennett Heights, Batavia, was westbound from South Bennett Heights when she "failed to yield the right-of-way" at the intersection, rolling past the stop sign.

The report does not list any citations issued.

Passamonte was driving a 2008 Chevy SUV.

Bruns' passenger was 16-year-old Mary C. Boerschlein.

(Initial Report)

Friday, October 29, 2010 at 7:18 am

Today's Deals: South Beach, O'Lacy's, Center Street, T.F. Brown's and more

post by Howard B. Owens in Deal of the Day

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).

O'Lacy's Irish Pub, 5 School St. Batavia, NY: In Irish pubs, it doesn't get more authentic than O'Lacy's. Be sure to try the homemade chips. We have a $25 gift certificate for $12.50.

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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


Thursday, October 28, 2010 at 10:29 pm

Today's Deals: Center Street, Kravings, Clor's, Matty's and more

post by Howard B. Owens in Deal of the Day

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.

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.

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.

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.

The Daily Grind, 85 E. Main St., Batavia, NY: For Batavia's finest coffee, smoothies, as well as fast and convenient breakfasts and lunches, stop into The Daily Grind. We have a $10 gift card for $5.

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

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

Thursday, October 28, 2010 at 10:04 pm

You can now buy photos from The Batavian

post by Howard B. Owens in thebatavian

barn_macumber_road.jpgSome months ago, people started asking me about buying photos on The Batavian, and the number of requests have even increased in the past few weeks.

Awhile back, I got in contact with a company I've worked with before in previous jobs -- it provides a service to newspaper websites allowing readers to buy photos that the newspaper publishes.

elba_alex_19aa.jpgIt's taken me a lot longer to get things set up than I anticipated, but we are now, finally, able to sell pictures that we publish.

I've already set up galleries of several things we've covered in the past few months, such as Notre Dame's sectional playoff game against Dundee, Town of Batavia Fire Department's Harley Raffle and the Alexander Parade.

There's also a section for barn photos and another of Genesee County shots.

Most of the photo requests, though, have come from parents and grandparents wanting prints of their kids involved in sports. All of the sports photos that are available can be found here

All of the galleries can be found here.

Of course, as we cover more events, we'll make more pictures available.

It's gratifying that so many people enjoy the pictures we publish. I hope this new reader service will be of value to the community.

Thursday, October 28, 2010 at 6:36 pm

Elmira woman convicted of manslaughter in death of Batavia toddler

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, crime

An Elmira stepmother was found guilty of manslaughter today in the death of a 21-month-old toddler from Batavia.

Melissa Engelhardt, 24, was convicted in a non-jury trial. Chemung County Judge Peter C. Buckley found Engelhardt not guilty of second-degree murder.

Andrew Cianfrini, of Batavia, died Nov. 10, while in the care of Engelhardt.

An autopsy found methanol in the child's body. Methanol lowers the temperature of water to prevent it from freezing. It can be fatal if ingested. Methanol was also found in the toddler's sippy cup.

(Read the full story from the D&C).

Thursday, October 28, 2010 at 5:20 pm

John Kennedy first-graders get lesson in Albany politics

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, education, John Kennedy School, steve hawley


Jessica Wassink's first-grade class at John Kennedy School got a visit from their assemblyman today.

Steve Hawley walked into the class at 2 p.m. and was eagerly greeted by the young students -- some of the boys even wore ties for the occasion.

They immediately began fielding their suggestions for legislation. Hawley talked some about what goes on in Albany and answered their questions, keeping everything in terms they could understand.

Thursday, October 28, 2010 at 5:01 pm

Arsonist blames conviction on police and perjury before getting 20-year sentence

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, crime

mug-andre_scott.jpgAn arsonist who tried to kill his ex-girlfriend's father will spend 20 years in prison, Judge Robert C. Noonan ruled today.

The sentencing of Andre L. Scott came near the close of a bizarre hearing in which Scott let it be known that he thought a juror in his trial behaved improperly, that his constitutional rights were violated in a previous conviction out of Monroe County, and that his ex-girlfriend perjured herself under pressure from Batavia Police detectives.

He also accused the detectives of tampering with evidence.

"Everybody in this courtroom knows what happened," Scott said. "They took my DNA and put it on there, on the evidence."

Since Scott's conviction on Aug. 31 following a jury trial, the 31-year-old former Rochester resident fired his trial attorney, Thomas Burns, and was assigned local defense attorney Fred Rarick.

Today, Scott let it be known that he plans to appeal his conviction.

A jury found that Scott attempted to kill his ex-girlfriend's father by pouring gasoline on the stairs of the man's Batavia residence at 12 Elm St. and setting it afire in February 2009. 

He was convicted of attempted murder, arson and burglary.

"The defendant started a fire in the stairwell where, if he had been successful, it could have resulted in the death of four people in that residence," District Attorney Lawrence Friedman said. "Only through the prompt response of the fire department did it become a situation where nobody was harmed.

"His continued attitude, and what he said to probation during the presentence investigation, communicates loud and clear that, unless I've missed something, I see no mitigating factors to suggest this defendant should get any less than the maximum, 25 years."

Given a chance to speak in his own defense, Scott immediately launched into a rambling complaint about wanting to file a 330 motion (a motion contesting his conviction), but the jail didn't send it over in a timely manner, the court didn't get it, and something about a juror who is related to somebody who works in corrections.

Noonan tried to get Scott back on track, at which point Scott started to complain about evidence being tampered with and asking that the evidence in his case be taken out of Batavia Police custody.

Noonan cut him off.

"One thing I've noticed about you, Mr. Scott, from the very first time you came before me, is that you focus on entirely different matters than what everybody else is focused on," Noonan said. "You make allegations that have no basis in fact and bring up issues not being discussed, and anyone -- including your own counsel -- who tries to  get you to focus (is ignored).

"When I give you every opportunity to tell me what sentence should be imposed, you go off on where evidence is stored and 'what everybody knows,' whatever that means."

After telling Scott that he "committed one of the most serious crimes in our law," Noonan pronounced sentence and then asked if the district attorney's office had any requests for orders of protection.

Friedman requested orders of protection for Scott's ex-girlfriend, her father and one of the witnesses in the case.

"Any objections?" Noonan asked in what is normally a very routine matter at criminal sentencing.

"No, your honor," said Rarick.

"Yes," said Scott loudly, going on to say that his ex-girlfriend had spoken with his mother after she testified and said that police had threatened her if she didn't lie on the witness stand.

After some consultation with his client, Rarick offered up Scott's objection.

Noonan ruled that, if in the circumstance that Scott winds up representing himself and needs to interview her, the order can be modified, otherwise he was issuing the order of protection.

Thursday, October 28, 2010 at 4:06 pm

A federal forgery charge filed against Batavia woman

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, crime

A 55-year-old Batavia woman is accused of forging her boss's signature on company checks and depositing the funds in her personal bank account.

Deborah Dutton faces a federal charge of making and possessing forged checks. The maximum penalty is 10 years in prison or a $250,000 fine or both.

Dutton is accused of stealing in the neighborhood of $77,000 from her employer, A1 Sheet Metal Company.

The arrest is the result of an investigation by Special Agents of the U.S. Secret Service, under the direction of Special Agent-In-Charge Tracy Gast.

Thursday, October 28, 2010 at 3:05 pm

Campaign mailer upsets officials in Pembroke Fire District

post by Howard B. Owens in marc coppola, pembroke, politics

The Pembroke Fire District is accusing a Democratic candidate for State Senate of misappropriating its logo and inaccurately implying that the district has endorsed his candidacy.

"We question the integrity of any candidate who would run an ad using our likeness and that is written in such a way that it could be falsely construed as an endorsement for his candidacy," District Chief Ed Mileham Jr., said in a statement.

When reached by phone, the candidate, Marc Coppola, running in the 61st Senate District against Republican incumbent Mike Ranzenhofer, apologized repeatedly for the perception that his mailer implied an endorsement.

"I do apologize if that's the way they took it," Coppola said. "I didn't word it that way. I realize they are a not-for-profit. I'm experienced enough to know they could lose their not-for-profit status if they endorse candidates. I would never put them in that position. I would never even ask for an endorsement."

Mileham said he and other district leaders are upset over Coppola's mailer that started hitting Genesee County mailboxes yesterday.

On one side is a picture of Coppola with local residents Randy and Lori Dibble and a statement of support from the Dibbles. The other side has a picture of Coppola with volunteer firefighter and County Democratic Committee member Aaron Blake. Blake is endorsing Coppola.

To view the mailer for yourself: Front / Back.

The caption under the picture reads, "Marc and Firefighter Aaron Blake at Indian Falls Fire House truck dedication in honor of Harry Dibble & Gary Byerly."

"We are disturbed that Mr. Coppola would use the solemn event of the dedication of a truck to deceased department members as a political ad," Mileham said in his statement. "The ad shockingly refers to the deceased members we were honoring and shows the plaque dedicated to them. The candidate was in no way involved with the dedication and appears to have used this event as a crass attempt to obtain votes."

Coppola said he was invited to the dedication by Randy and Lori Dibble and brought no campaign literature with him nor wore any buttons or shirts identifying himself as a political candidate. He said Lori Dibble took the picture using her cell phone camera and when he was putting together the mailer, he realized it was the best picture he had of himself in Genesee County, and that it was the only good picture he had of himself with Blake.

"I didn't mean to imply an endorsement," Coppola said. "It was just a nice picture."

He said he included the caption information because he thought the picture would look out of place without an explanation, and he said Blake suggested that if he left out the name of Gary Byerly that some people, especially his family members, might be offended.

Thursday, October 28, 2010 at 10:38 am

Police Beat: Duo accused of using abusive and obscene language in public

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

Latifa Aminya Abdullah-Muhammad, 19, of Tibbets Road, Medina, and Merle Franklin Agee, 19, of Ontario Avenue, Niagara Falls, are charged with disorderly conduct. Abdullah-Muhammad and Agee were reportedly at 8204 Park Road, Batavia, at 7:54 p.m., Sunday, where they allegedly used abusive and obscene language while in a public place.

Porfirio Diaz Gomez, 35, of Merriman Road, Byron, has been charged with illegal entry. Gomez was taken into custody at 5:15 a.m., Sunday by Deputy Frank Bordonaro and turned over the the U.S. Border Patrol.

Thursday, October 28, 2010 at 8:17 am

Tree down on Knowlsville Road, Alabama

post by Howard B. Owens in Alabama, Knowlsville Road

A tree and wires are down on Knowlsville Road just south of Lewiston Road in the Town of Alabama.

The tree is completely blocking the road.

Alabama Fire is being dispatched.

UPDATE 8:22 a.m.: Town highway workers are on scene. The line down is cable, not electrical. The road should be cleared shortly.

View Larger Map

Thursday, October 28, 2010 at 8:04 am

Accident with injuries reported on Bank Street Road

post by Howard B. Owens in Bank Street Road, batavia, accident

A motor-vehicle accident with injuries has been reported at State Street Roads and South Bennett Heights Road, Batavia.

Town of Batavia Fire and Mercy EMS are responding.

First responder reports one car is in a corn field, the other is on the road.

View Larger Map

Wednesday, October 27, 2010 at 11:31 pm

After decades of setting the pace for City Court, chief clerk retires

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, City Court


More than 100 members of the local legal and law enforcement community were at Bohn's tonight to pay tribute to Linda Giambrone, who is retiring after 39 years of service as a clerk at City Court.

Giambrone started her career in 1971 and became chief clerk in 1976.

Speakers praised Giambrone for her knowledge of the court system, her memory for repeat offenders and her kindness toward all the people she came in contact with.

Above, judges Michael Del Plato, left, and Robert Balbick present her with a certificate of appreciation.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010 at 11:09 pm

UMMC sets cornerstone on new surgical wing

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, UMMC


Officials were on hand today at the new surgical wing of United Memorial Medical Center for the setting of the cornerstone.

Above, masons Ken Maurer, left,  and Jeff Crevier, set the cornerstone into place.

The expansion project represents a $19.5 million investment by the hospital. It will contain five new technologically advanced operating suites, a treatment room and 19 recovery beds. The project is scheduled to be finished by Dec. 15.

After the brief ceremony, guests were invited to tour the still-under-construction facility.


More pictures after the jump:

Wednesday, October 27, 2010 at 10:40 pm

Big rig on Thruway strikes deer, brakes catch fire

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

A tractor-trailer on the Thruway reportedly struck a deer and its brakes caught on fire.

The driver tried to extinguish the fire, but could not.

Le Roy Fire is being dispatched.

The truck is parked about 100 yards from the toll booth.

UPDATE 11:15 p.m.: Le Roy Fire went back in service about five minutes ago.

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