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Howard B. Owens's blog

Friday, May 28, 2010 at 6:57 am

Gas Spill reported at Yellow Goose station in Elba

post by Howard B. Owens in elba

A caller reported a "substantial" gas spill at the Yellow Goose station in Elba.

A first responder from the Elba Fire Department reports a "smaller gas spill."

The original call said the gas was flowing into a storm drain.  The caller said the driver who caused the spill left the station.

UPDATE 7:07 a.m.: Spill contained. Elba Fire back in service.

Thursday, May 27, 2010 at 11:22 pm

Car possibly smoking after hitting deer on Route 98, Alexander

post by Howard B. Owens in accident, alexander

A car has hit a deer on Route 98 and Rose Road.

Town of Batavia Fire has been dispatched to check on the vehicle, which may be smoking.

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Thursday, May 27, 2010 at 8:11 pm

Photo: Gulls on the Tonawanda Creek Falls

post by Howard B. Owens in falls, outdoors, Tonawanda Creek


Gulls -- I guess around here we don't call them seagulls -- on the falls of the Tonawanda Creek behind the County Courthouse.

Thursday, May 27, 2010 at 7:58 pm

Photos: Fishing by the falls

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, fishing, outdoors, photos, Tonawanda Creek


Late this afternoon, Chris Hamel and his friend James Bonning were on the Tonawanda at the falls fishing.



Thursday, May 27, 2010 at 7:43 pm

Police looking for man who struck another with unknown object

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


Batavia Polcie are looking for a man allegedly involved in an altercation on Wood Street around 5:30 p.m.

The man allegedly stuck another person in the face with an unknown object.

According to Det. Kevin Czora, the suspect and the victim were involved in a verbal argument. The assailant went to his car, grabbed some sort of object, came back and struck the victim in the face.

The victim suffered facial cuts and was transported by ambulance to UMMC.

The suspect is described as a black male in his late 20s. He fled the scene in a red Chevy Monte Carlo. The Monte Carlo may already have had a busted passenger window.

It's unknown, Czora said, whether the suspect was also injured.

Thursday, May 27, 2010 at 2:52 pm

Former corrections officer admits workers comp fraud

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, crime

A former corrections officer admitted in Genesee County Court this afternoon that he filed false workers compensation claims and stole thousands of dollars from the state.

James S. Gibbs, 34, faced a 24-count indictment, but reached a plea agreement to admit to one count of grand larceny and one count of filing false instruments.

As part of the plea, Gibbs will be required to pay back to the state $40,000, with a $20,000 payment due before he is sentenced. 

The maximum sentence under the plea agreement is four months of intermittent incarceration and five years probation and a $5,000 fine.

Gibbs was also required to resign from New York State Corrections.

Gibbs was arrested in October for receiving disability benefits while operating a company plowing snow and sealing driveways.

Thursday, May 27, 2010 at 2:35 pm

Courthouse event highlights foster care

post by Howard B. Owens in CASA, foster care


Representatives of CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) and other community groups were at the courthouse this afternoon to raise awareness, in particular, of foster care programs.

CASA set up 60 cardboard life-size cutouts representing children in foster care.

Pictured below are Tara Pariso, director of CASA, and Amanda Rissinger and Mary Shaughnessy.


Thursday, May 27, 2010 at 2:00 pm

Suspect in alleged Alabama meth lab succumbs to heart attack

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

One of the three suspects in an alleged meth lab operation uncovered in November died May 17.

At the time of this death, charges were still pending against Kenneth Mosholder, 45, as well as the other two defendants in the case, Dustin R. Benham, 20, of Darien and Denise Montgomery, 41, of Batavia.

Mosholder's obituary was published on The Batavian by Burdett & Sanford Funeral Home yesterday. We confirmed today with the Sheriff's Office and the U.S. Attorney's Office in Buffalo that the obituary was for the same Mosholder charged in the case.

A spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney's Office said only that, "the case is proceeding."

Mosholder, according to the obituary, suffered a heart attack.

Local law enforcement as well as the DEA announced a raid on a property in Alabama on Nov. 12. It was one of five suspected meth labs uncovered in the county over a couple of months late in 2009. The property was auctioned off in March for back taxes.

Thursday, May 27, 2010 at 10:53 am

Prominent Batavia-area eye surgeon passes

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business, obituaries, University Eye Specialists

alan_siegel.jpgDr. Alan L. Siegel died Wednesday evening, according to an obituary posted by Michael Tomaszewski this morning.

The 57-year-old Siegel was a partner in University Eye Specialists, located on Summit Street in Batavia.

The obituary notes that Siegel had been under the care of hospice.

According to the company website, Dr. Siegel received his BA from Colgate University, an MD from Albert Einstein College of Medicine and performed his residency at Boston University Medical Center. Dr. Siegel specialized in cataract, eye muscle and laser surgeries.

No further details are available at this time.

Thursday, May 27, 2010 at 8:48 am

Landmark Society presents annual art awards

post by Howard B. Owens in Landmark Society of Genesee County


Fourth-graders countywide competed recently in the 20th Annual Architectural Drawing contest sponsored by the Landmark Society of Genesee County.

The winners were (pictured below):  Stephanie Hoy, 1st Place; Courtney Powers, 2nd Place; Allison Gallup, 3rd Place. Also pictured in the back, Laurie Oltremari, Landmark Society president and Jackie Swinarski, contest coordinator.


Second- and third-place pictures after the jump:

Thursday, May 27, 2010 at 8:27 am

Driver says brakes failed, causing accident that sent her to the hospital

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

A Le Roy woman said her brakes failed, causing her to enter the intersection at Ledge Road and Route 77 in Alabama, resulting in a two-car accident Tuesday that sent her to the hospital.

Injured was Sarah Scott, 21, of Oatka Trail, Le Roy. She was transported by ambulance to UMMC with "complaint of pain" injuries.

At 3:55 p.m., Tuesday, Scott was reportedly driving her 1990 Buick sedan eastbound on Ledge Road when she failed to stop at the intersection with Route 77.

She told Sgt. Greg Walker, who investigated the accident, that her brakes failed. Walker reported that a check of the vehicle showed it was low on brake fluid, but the brakes appeared operational.

Scott was issued a traffic citation.

The driver of the other vehicle, 53-year-old Maryann Ander of Medina, was not injured in the accident.

Thursday, May 27, 2010 at 8:17 am

Police Beat: Home Depot employee accused of stealing $2K

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

Grace Anne Stewart, 50, of Pratt Road, Batavia, is charged with grand larceny, 4th. Stewart is accused of stealing more than $2,000 in cash over a seven-month period while working at Home Depot.

James Matthew Rodriguez, 30, of Spring Road, Brockport is charged with aggravated unlicensed operation. Rodriguez was stopped by Town of Ogden Police and turned over to the Genesee County Sheriff's Office on a warrant.

Michael John Coffta, 18, of Burns Road, Medina, is charged with unlawful possession of marijuana and unlawful possession of alcohol by a person under 21. During a school-requested K-9 sniff search of school grounds at Oakfield-Alabama High School, the K-9 reportedly alerted on Coffta's vehicle.

Micheal J. Hodgins, 50, of Batavia, is charged with DWI and aggravated DWI with no prior offense. Hodgins was arrested by State Police at 11:40 p.m., Tuesday, on Pearl Street in Batavia.

Thursday, May 27, 2010 at 7:49 am

Today's Deals: Present Tense, T.F. Brown's, Center Street, Herbly Wonderful, and more

post by Howard B. Owens in Deal of the Day

Present Tense Books and Gifts, 101 Washington Ave., Batavia, NY: Whether your taste runs to local authors, the finest in fiction or nonfiction or you're looking for a unique and special gift, this charming store in a cozy Victorian house on the edge of downtown is a great place to stop and shop. 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.

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.

Herbly Wonderful, 3701 Pearl St., Batavia, NY: Unique specialties for your home and garden, from floral arrangements, to heirloom vegetables, herbs, teas and spices. 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 Main Country Gifts, 3356 Main St. Road, Batavia, NY: Handcrafted items, gifts with a regional flair, candles, teas and spices -- South Main has a wide selection to please most any interest. We have a $20 gift certificate for $10. A great Valentine's gift!

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


Wednesday, May 26, 2010 at 8:35 pm

Batavia Lions present annual student awards

post by Howard B. Owens in announcements, batavia, Batavia Lions Club, civic clubs


From the Batavia Lions:

The Batavia Lions Club recently presented its annual scholarships and awards to several local students at a ceremony held at the Batavia Party House.

Each spring, several graduating seniors at Batavia High School and Notre Dame High School apply for these scholarships, are interviewed by a committee of Lions Club members, and are chosen by the committee to receive $1,000 Scholarships.

In addition, selected students from both schools are awarded the Arthur Roth Fine Arts Award and the Bill Cook Scholar-Athlete Award.

A final award is the Batavia Lions Club Award in Communications which is awarded to a Genesee Community College student in memory of two former Batavia Lions and local media legends – Paul Bostwick, the former managing editor of the Batavia Daily News and James H. Gerrety, the former News Director of WBTA.

During the high school football season each fall, members of the Batavia Lions Club man the refreshment stands at both the Batavia and Notre Dame High School home football games to sell snacks. All of the proceeds are used exclusively for the scholarship and awards program.

The primary aim of Lionism is best expressed in our motto, “We Serve.” Each year, Lions perform services and provide goods for thousands of people throughout the world. Lions Clubs are non-political, non-sectarian service organizations composed of community members from all walks of life. The Batavia Lions Club has 53 men and women who enjoy good fellowship while working to assist their fellow Batavians and to make Batavia a better community. We currently meet on the second and fourth Mondays of each month at 6:30 PM at Bohn’s Restaurant.

For more information, please write Membership Chairman, Batavia Lion Club, P.O. Box 456, Batavia, NY 14020 or simply speak to any member. The Batavia Lions Club congratulates all of these fine students as well as their parents and wishes them the very best in all of their future endeavors. It is comforting to know that our future rests in the very capable and talented hands of such outstanding young people.



Top photo: This year’s Lions Club Scholarship winners are Melissa Levins, BHS, Woodams “Woody” Clark, ND, Kristen Drilling, BHS, Benjamin Nowacki, GCC, Carissa Hyde, BHS, Erin Dobbertin, BHS, and Nichole Hart, ND.

Bottom photo: This year’s Bill Cook Scholar-Athlete Awards were presented to Matthew Hoye, BHS and Matthew Thompson, ND. The Art Roth Fine Arts Awards were presented to Angel Ramos, BHS, and Erin Kruppner, ND. Erin is not pictured because she was away on a school sponsored fine arts field trip to New York City.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010 at 4:31 pm

Woman gets bit by dog after allegedly starting fight in neighbor's yard

post by Howard B. Owens in animals, batavia, crime, dogs, East Main Street

"Scruffy" just did what his breed is wont to do when a person in his care is assaulted -- he attacked the aggressor.

An East Main Street woman was sent to UMMC around 8:30 p.m., Tuesday, after she allegedly went onto a neighbor's property and started fighting with a woman who was staying there.

Her leg was reportedly bitten pretty badly.

The woman whom "Scruffy" was reportedly protecting also suffered a dog bite, probably accidentally, when she tried pulling "Scruffy" off the other woman. She was also transported to UMMC.

When the incident started, "Scruffy" was quietly sitting on his own porch at 516 E. Main St., doing what he normally does -- just watching -- when the fight started. He jumped off the porch and attacked the woman who had allegedly come onto his property.

"Scruffy," if that's his real name, Sgt. John Peck wasn't 100 percent sure, is part pit bull.

Neither "Scruffy" nor his owner face any chargers since "Scruffy" did not leave his owner's property and didn't break any laws.

Peck said neighbors were familiar with the dog and described him as normally very friendly. The dog has no prior history of attacks or aggression. Peck said "Scruffy" was friendly with him when he approached.

Whether either of the women will be charged with any crime is unknown, Sgt. Peck said. The case is still open.

Peck said the women had been taunting each other recently, which seemed to precipate the alleged altercation last night.

The police are not releasing any names until and unless actual charges are filed.

(This is a follow up to this initial report.)

Wednesday, May 26, 2010 at 3:32 pm

Suspect said to make up story that led to Sheriff's search for second subject

post by Howard B. Owens in crime, Oakfield

After leading Sheriff's deputies on a two-hour wild goose chase, a 19-year-old man who said he had been living in Elba is in federal custody for allegedly re-entering the country illegally.

slusserroadsearch.jpgFredy Perez Cortes was found shortly after 12:15 p.m. wandering barefoot at the intersection of Slusser and Galloway roads in Oakfield.

A local resident had given him water, but then called the Sheriff's Office. When Deputy Brian Thompson arrived, Cortes allegedly fled into a nearby farm field and Thompson used his K-9 to chase him and corner him.

Cortes reportedly told Thompson that he and a friend had been in the area looking for work when their truck broke down. He said his friend was somewhere in the area looking for a car to steal.

More deputies responded to the area and began a search for a white pickup truck and a Mexcan male wearing sandles, a dark shirt and light blue pants.

When Cortes was searched following his apprehension, Thompson found a car key in his jeans' pocket.

After it was apparent there wasn't much about Cortes story that was checking out, Thompson remembered that earlier today a 1997 Pontiac Grand Am had been found in the West Batavia area near Donahue Road. It apparently had been involved in a property damage accident and had been towed to Parise's Automotive. Thompson took the key to the car and it fit.

Allegedly, Cortes had been driving the car, possibly after drinking, and then fled the scene of the accident. He then became lost in the Town of Oakfield and stopped at a farmhouse asking for water.

Thompson said he does not believe Cortes actually broke into any residences and that there never was a second subject involved in the incident.

No New York charges are pending.

"It is much more expedient to allow the ICE officers to handle the situation," Thompson said.

Cortes was turned over to Immigration and Customs Enforcement Deportation Officer 
K. Hobart. He will be charged with illegal re-entry after deportation, a federal felony.

(initial report)

Wednesday, May 26, 2010 at 12:54 pm

One-time wanted suspect sentenced to prison

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

A youth who was wanted by local law enforcement, and allegedly led Batavia Police, State Police and Sheriff's deputies on a manhunt in the city two months ago, was sentenced to prison time for a violation of probation.

Christopher Laird, 17, originally from Elba, but has also lived in Le Roy and Batavia, failed to report for probation meetings in early 2010.

Police eventually caught up with Lair in Le Roy on April 4, two days after the manhunt, which involved a State Police helicopter.

Laird's probation was revoked. He will spend one to three years in state prison.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010 at 12:32 pm

Deputies conducting manhunt for possible car thief in Slusser Road area

post by Howard B. Owens in crime, Oakfield


Sheriff's deputies are in the area of Slusser and MacCumber roads, Oakfield, where one subject is in custody and deputies are looking for a second person who may be in the area with the intent to steal a car.

A deputy originally spotted a person walking on Slusser Road, and when the deputy attempted to make contact with that individual, he ran into a field.

The deputy chased him down and after being taken into custody, the individual apparently told the deputy he and a friend had a car break down so they were in the area looking for a car to steal.

The subject still at large is described as a Mexican male. His friend said he will try to run if he sees law enforcement.

UPDATE 12:46 p.m.: The search continues. The individual taken into custody has apparently been evasive in his answers at times, but he apparently said that he and his buddy -- they live in the Oak Orchard area of Elba -- have been out of work for three months and were out looking for work when their truck broke down.

UPDATE 1:56 p.m: The search seems to have moved to an area of Oak Orchard Road where the second subject is believed to reside. At the scene of the original call, Deputy Brian Thompson said the call started when area residents reported a Mexican male, not wearing any shoes, walking house-to-house. A woman at one house gave the man some water and called the Sheriff's Office. That's where Deputy Thompson first saw the man, who started to run. Deputy Thompson deployed his K-9, who quickly helped detain the man. 

Deputy Thompson said the common method for daytime house burglars is to not wear shoes, minimizing footprints. He said he thinks the jobless men were out looking for food.

Immigration Control and Enforcement officers were on scene. But the subject detained is not believed to be in the country legally.

Thompson said in his 19 years with the Sheriff's Office, he hasn't known too many migrant workers to get involved in petty crimes, but with the crack down on farmers hiring undocumented workers, it's getting harder for those without papers to find work.

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