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Howard B. Owens's blog

Monday, May 24, 2010 at 10:20 am

Today's Deals: Herbly Wonderful, Pudgies, South Main, Enchanted Florist and more

post by Howard B. Owens in Deal of the Day

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

Pudgie's Lawn and Garden Center, 3646 W. Main St. Road, Batavia, NY: Get started on your spring gardening projects. 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.

The Enchanted Florist, 202 E. Main St., Batavia, NY: Give yourself the gift of flowers, or give to a friend. We have a $20 gift certificate for $9.50.

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.

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!

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.

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.

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.

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

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Sunday, May 23, 2010 at 11:12 pm

Winning drug-free posters from local students

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, GCASA, schools

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On Thursday, we published a picture of the winners of GCASA's "drug free" poster contest. Laura Russell Ricci later sent along scans of the actual winning posters.

Above is a submission by Sarah Scott, and below, Nathan Moore.

More winning posters after the jump.

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Sunday, May 23, 2010 at 10:45 pm

Big turn out for annual chicken BBQ to benefit Grand View Cemetery

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Grand View Cemetery

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Volunteers handed out chicken dinners this afternoon as a fundraiser in support of Grandview Cemetery on Clinton Street Road. Carl Szablak submitted these pictures.

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Sunday, May 23, 2010 at 11:35 am

Sunday Deals: Kraving's, Matty's, Settler's, Margarita's and more

post by Howard B. Owens in Deal of the Day

Kravings, Valu Plaza, W. Main Street, Batavia, NY: Recently opened, it offers soups, salads and sandwiches, fresh and flavorful; Monday through Saturday. We have $10 gift certificates for $5.

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.

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.

Delavan's Restaurant and Tavern, 107 Evans St., Batavia, NY: To me, Delavan's is one of those restaurants where you wantto eat frequently until you try everything on the menu. 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.

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.

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.

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

SOLD OUT

Sunday, May 23, 2010 at 10:44 am

Alleged fugitive from Georgia arrested at Cedar Street residence

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

mug_david_l_hendrix.jpgA man allegedly wanted in Georgia on felony warrants was found in a Cedar Street home by local law enforcement around 5:30 p.m., Saturday.

Batavia's ERT members, along with members of the Drug Enforcement Task Force and Batavia Police officers and Sheriff's deputies where called in to help take David L. Hendrix, 29, into custody.

Hendrix, aka David Young, was arrested at 3 Cedar St., Batavia, where he was apparently staying.

He is allegedly wanted in Georgia for robbery, assault and a parole violation.

Following arraignment in City Court, Hendrix was jailed without bail.

A witness informed The Batavian that police had Cedar Street closed in both directions during the activity.


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Saturday, May 22, 2010 at 9:28 pm

Photos: Today's drive back from Pavilion

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

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I was down in Pavilion today and on the way back I took a few photos.

Above is a horse on Mill Road. 

I love driving along the creek next to Mill Road. There's always wildlife around.  Unfortunately, the bird pictures I tried to capture today didn't turn out.

More pictures after the jump:

Saturday, May 22, 2010 at 8:44 pm

Photos: Vintage snowmobiles at fairgrounds

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

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The Don Cummings Memorial Antique and Vintage Snowmobile Show was at the Batavia fairgrounds  this year because it's outgrown its former location in Alexander. Proceeds benefited Mercy Flight.

More photos after the jump:

Saturday, May 22, 2010 at 8:21 pm

Photos: Horse show at Batavia Downs

post by Howard B. Owens in animals, batavia, Batavia Downs, horses, photos, sports

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There's a horse show going on at Batavia Downs. Riders from all over the northeast are in Batavia to test their skills and display their handsome mounts. If you've missed it, the show continues Sunday at 7:30 a.m. until 5 p.m.

More photos after the jump:

Saturday, May 22, 2010 at 6:56 pm

Fully involved car fire reported on Central Avenue

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, fire

A car fire, fully involved, has been reported at 6 Central Ave., Batavia.

City Fire responding.

UPDATE 6:57 p.m.: Fire's out.


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Friday, May 21, 2010 at 7:34 pm

Arson suspect given resources to mount possible defense

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, crime

A Rochester man accused of purposely setting a fire in order to kill his ex-girlfriend's father could have some of the DNA evidence reportedly being used against him re-examined by an out-of-state forensic lab, Judge Robert C. Noonan ruled today.

Andre L. Scott, 30, of 2323 Spencerport Road, Rochester, is in Genesee County Jail on high bail while his attorney Thomas Burns prepares for a trial on attempted murder, burglary and arson charges filed against Scott.

Scott is a accused of purposefully setting a fire at 12 Elm St. on Jan. 24, 2009. He was arrested in August.

Because Scott cannot afford an attorney, Burns is his appointed counsel. The DNA testing, private investigator and  expert witnesses Burns might call are being paid for by the county.

One glitch in getting new DNA tests is that there may not be enough of sample left from the original evidence to properly test it. Burns is researching that matter.

The samples come from a Clorox bleach bottle found at the scene of the fire and a book of matches.

Noonan noted that the DNA tests could cost a substantial amount of money, but given the seriousness of the case, he was mindful of "the importance of sufficient preparation for the defendant to be ready for trial."

The expense could including bringing in a forensic expert to testify about the findings from the lab in Massachusetts.

The private investigator will not be a significant expense, Burns said.

Scott has until June 30 to accept a plea bargain, or go to trial on Aug. 23.

Friday, May 21, 2010 at 12:57 pm

Batavia police continuing investigation into baseball-bat attack on State Street

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

Batavia Police detective Todd Crossett is conducting interviews today, trying to determine who was involved in an aggressive attack on at least two people at 112 State St. last night.

One person was hospitalized with "significant" but non-life-threatening injuries, Crossett said. Another person was transported to the hospital for evaluation.

From five to six people entered 112 State St. with baseball bats, Crossett said, and the attack may be related to a fight -- possible retaliation -- the night before.

No arrests have been made.

The incident does not appear to be gang related, Crossett said.

Batavia detectives do not believe there is actual gang activity in the city. Any individuals in the city who appear to gang members -- from the colors they're wearing or sports paraphernalia they're wearing -- seem to be people from larger cities visiting friends and relatives in Batavia, but do not appear to be here to establish operations.

Friday, May 21, 2010 at 9:58 am

Comptroller expresses concern about financial stability of OTBs

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Batavia Downs, business, Western OTB

In an audit of New York's five regional off-track betting operations, Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli warned that OTB wagering has dropped precipitously over the past five years, threatening the viability of the OTBs.

Western OTB comes off a little better in DiNapoli's audit, primarily because the gains in video slot operations are more than offsetting the declines in horse wagering (full Western OTB report (pdf)).

Western OTB Corporate and Branch Operations has experienced a 10-percent ($15.6 million) decline in net handle (total amount bet) over the past five years. And through May 2009, its net handle was down over $5 million compared to the same time the previous year. In addition, live racing and inter-track wagering at Batavia Downs were down 7.6 percent in 2008 from the prior year and have decreased 25 percent since 2005.

However, the corporation’s new video-gaming facility has generated additional revenue for the OTB. As a result, operating revenues increased to more than $21 million in 2008 compared to nearly $17.6 million in 2004, a 19-percent hike. These increases have significantly affected revenue distributions to local governments, which have grown from almost $3.9 million in 2004 to more than $4.9 million in 2008.

In the report on Western OTB, DiNapoli expresses concern that VTL gaming could level off or decline, depending on the economy or changing competitive issues.

The Buffalo News received a written response from OTB President Martin Basinait, who said WOTB is "somewhat more optimistic."

But he said a number of changes can be made in state law to make the OTBs more competitive, such as changing the formula by which revenues are shared with tracks.

Basinait noted other past warnings from the state comptroller's office, including a 2005 report that found the OTB did not properly plan for the possibility of failure of Batavia Downs and the casino. He said the success of the casino has shown it was "not due to happenstance."

Basinait said DiNapoli's red flags about the future economic health of the OTB's casino are "unwarranted."

Friday, May 21, 2010 at 9:51 am

Accident with an injury on Route 5, Pembroke

post by Howard B. Owens in accident, pembroke

A two-vehicle accident has been reported on Route 5, a quarter mile west of the Pembroke Fire Hall, in Pembroke.

At least one person is injured, still in a car, but not trapped.

Pembroke Fire and Mercy EMS are responding.

Friday, May 21, 2010 at 8:15 am

Today's Deals: Enchanted Florist, Adam Miller, South Main, Carlson's and more

post by Howard B. Owens in Deal of the Day

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

The Enchanted Florist, 202 E. Main St., Batavia, NY: Give yourself the gift of flowers, or give to a friend. We have a $20 gift certificate for $9.50.

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.

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!

Carlson's Studio, 39 Jackson St., Batavia, NY: Weddings, new babies, family portraits, pet portraits and group events -- preserve those memories with professional photographs. We have a $100 gift card for $60 (+$2 PayPal Service fee).

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.

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.

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.

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

 

Thursday, May 20, 2010 at 10:15 pm

Attack on State Street by five people with baseball bats and pipes reported

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

Law enforcement is responding to 112 State St., where reportedly five individuals with baseball bats and pipes entered the residence.

At least one person is on the floor requiring medical assistance.

The people with baseball bats and pipes may still be in the area.

One person was struck with a pipe and another person is having a seizure.

Mercy EMS is being dispatched, but the scene is not yet secure.

Now, they're reporting the victims are at 5 Lewis Place.

A third victim is now reported on Hutchins Place.


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Thursday, May 20, 2010 at 9:22 pm

Scott Doll accused of promoting prison contraband

post by Howard B. Owens in corfu, crime, pembroke, scott doll

mug_scott-f-doll.jpg

Scott F. Doll, convicted today of murder, 2nd, for the beating death of Joseph Benaquist, was arrested, seemingly, as soon as he entered the Genesee County Jail.

According to a Sheriff's Office press release, Doll tried to conceal on his body a green balloon containing a white powdery substance.

The substance has been sent to a lab for testing.

Doll will appear in Batavia City Court on June 1 to answer the charge of promoting prison contraband, 2nd.

The investigation is continuing, according to the Sheriff's Office.

UPDATE:  Added newest Genesee County Jail mug shot of Scott Doll.

Thursday, May 20, 2010 at 7:28 pm

Scott Doll convicted of murder, but appeal planned

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

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BATAVIA, NY -- Following a conviction for murder, 2nd, by a jury of 12 honest Genesee County residents today, Corfu resident Scott Franklin Doll, 48, is facing a possible state prison sentence of at least 15 years to life for beating to death Joseph Benaquist, 66, on Feb. 16, 2009.

"How do you find the defendant, Scott F. Doll, charged with murder in the second degree, guilty or not guilty?" a court clerk asked the woman appointed as jury foreperson. The woman answered "Guilty," and people on both sides of the aisle in the courtroom let out  gasps.

At least two women sitting on the defense side began to cry and sob immediately, with at least one person rushing from the courtroom in tears.

Judge Robert C. Noonan set July 2 as the sentencing date and Doll, who came to court in a pressed blue suit, stood motionless as the verdict was declared. He displayed no emotion as he was escorted from the courtroom by deputies to a holding cell in the courthouse.

dollverdict02.jpgHis attorney, Paul Cambria, met with him privately for about 20 minutes after the verdict and said later that Doll's first words were, “I’m an innocent man and I’ve just been convicted of a crime."

Cambria said there will definitely be an appeal.

"We have a very strong issue on appeal that we intend to pursue," Cambria said. "I’m going to look forward to this conviction being reversed and for us to retry this case at another time."

Cambria's main point of appeal, he said, is the continued questioning by investigators after Doll repeatedly asked to speak to an attorney.

"New York State has the strongest right-to-counsel law probably of all 50 states," Cambria said. 

Doll asked for an attorney very soon after being confronted by Sheriff's Deputies on North Lake Road on Feb. 16. 

In pre-trial motions, District Attorney Lawrence Friedman argued that under what is known as the "emergency doctrine" -- when investigators believe they must get information from a person in order to save a life -- they can continue to question a suspect who has asked for an attorney.

Cambria will likely challenge the use of statements by Doll against him at trial, especially, perhaps, those made after Benaquist's body was found and the emergency doctrine might no longer at issue.

Both Friedman and Sheriff Gary Maha were clearly pleased with the outcome, stating that the right verdict was reached.

"We just hoped the jury would see the truth and see past the defense that was raised," Friedman said. "We are very pleased with the outcome."

Maha said there was never any doubt in his mind that Doll was the killer.

"He lied from the beginning," Maha said. "There was no way he was telling the truth in his testimony. Based on what I saw at the scene, the amount of blood, there is no way he could explain that without being involved."

Maha characterized Cambria's closing argument as fabrications and speculation.

"There is no evidence there at all," Maha said. "I think the jury saw through that and concentrated on the evidence and came out with the right verdict."

Friedman, in his closing argument, called Cambria's defense theories, "speculation." Cambria said after the verdict today that he found Friedman's characterization ironic.

dollverdict04.jpg"They (the prosecution) do that all the time (claim "speculation")," Cambria said. "That’s a standard argument that is made. It’s interesting that when that argument was made, the District Attorney then went into all of these various scenarios that no one testified about and we thought, ‘Where’s the speculation coming from?’ Talking about people under cars and the jacks and there wasn’t any of that  evidence in the case."

What the case came down to, Friedman said, was Doll's motivation kill Joseph Benaquist.

"As I said in my opening and my closing, it was all about cars and money," Friedman said. "I still believe that’s the case. Whether this was a premeditated murder for those reasons or whether there was an argument that led to this happening, I firmly believe that’s what it was about."

Even though he isn't happy with the verdict, Cambria -- who has had an unshakable faith in Doll's innocence for 15 months -- said he still believes in the system.

"I have never criticized the system," Cambria said. "I believe in the system. I obviously think the verdict was the wrong one. I can’t recall a case that I’ve had that had as many reasonable doubts as this case had."

Joe Benaquist's stepsons, John and Josh Garcia, said they felt it was nice to see the system work.

"It doesn't bring our dad back," John said, "but it does bring a little closure."

Joe's girlfriend, Judy Scott, said, "My heart goes out to Scott's family. They don't deserve this. They seem like a good family."

She declined further comment.

Friedman credited volunteer firefighter James Waff with making the key difference in the case.

"Right from the start of this case, having a citizen call in a suspicious person walking down the road and doing the right thing  -- look what it led to," Friedman said. "I’m not sure how this case would have turned out if that person had not made that phone call to the Sheriff’s department."

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Photos: Top, Lawrence Friedman; first inset, Sheriff Gary Maha; second inset, Paul Cambria; Bottom, Cambria and Daniel Killelea exit the Genesee County Courtroom to meet with the media.

Thursday, May 20, 2010 at 3:59 pm

Scott Doll murder trial verdict: Guilty

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

BATAVIA, NY -- A jury of 12 Genesee County residents has found Scott F. Doll guilty of murder, 2nd.

The jury began deliberations around 2 p.m., Wednesday and took a recess at 5 p.m. The jury returned to deliberations at 9 a.m. and notified Judge Robert C. Noonan that it reached a verdict just before 4 p.m.

MORE TK

Thursday, May 20, 2010 at 3:02 pm

Winners of GCASA poster contest

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, GCASA

Submitted by Laura Russell Ricci:

On Tuesday, May 18th, 2010 GCASA honored winners from schools throughout Genesee County at our Annual Poster Contest. Pictured are our winners: Caitlin Napper, Aidan Berne, Aiden Sisson, Gemma Bochicchio, Stephanie Hoy,  Jacob Cryer, Laura Winspear, Austin Hynes-Fisher, Michael Shepard and Grand  Prize winner Sarah Scott. Our other winners not pictured are Nathan Moore and  Olivia Marchese. Congratulations to all of the students!

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