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Howard B. Owens's blog

Thursday, June 17, 2010 at 7:36 am

Today's Deals: Alex's, Larry's Delavan's, Main St., and more

post by Howard B. Owens in Deal of the Day

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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, June 17, 2010 at 12:35 am

Photos: Kicking off the 2010 Batavia Muckdogs season

post by Howard B. Owens in baseball, batavia, Batavia Muckdogs, photos, sports


Jason Molino can hit. He's no Mickey Hyde, who easily won the "home run" hitting contest at Dwyer Stadium tonight, but he looked good at the plate and hit some shots.

It was the "Pep Dog Rally" in preparation of the season opener on Saturday. The turn out was good, and the evening was a heck of a lot of fun.

After the contest, the players of the 2010 Muckdogs introduced themselves and then fans were invited onto the field to collect autographs.


The player in the center of this picture is Nick Longmire. He's a 5th-round draft pick of the Cardinals, which means he's a legitimate prospect. He's a center fielder who has some power. That's cool. But what's really cool: He's a graduate of my alma mater, Grossmont High School, La Mesa, Calif. His mother also graduated from GHS, in 1978, two years ahead of me. So guess who will be my favorite Muckdog this season? Go Foothillers!


More pictures after the jump:

Wednesday, June 16, 2010 at 11:31 pm

Car fire reported on Judge Road, Alabama

post by Howard B. Owens in Alabama, fire

A car fire has been reported on Judge Road, Alabama.

Alabama Fire is being dispatched.

UPDATE 11:34 p.m.: An anonymous female caller said, "the car was set on fire."  A chief has been notified. It's near Purdy Road.

UPDATE: Alabama fire cleared at 12:25 a.m.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010 at 1:30 pm

Chris Lee says he's cooperating with probe into fundraising activities

post by Howard B. Owens in Chris Lee

The fundraising practices of Congressman Chris Lee, are being examined by the House Ethics Committee.

From the Buffalo News:

The Office of Congressional Ethics this month sent letters to banking lobbyists, seeking information about their fundraising contacts with Lee and the other lawmakers, a mix of Democrats and Republicans who serve on the House Financial Services or Ways and Means committees.

The letter to lobbyists, which was first reported Monday afternoon by a Capitol Hill newspaper called The Hill, did not name any specific charges against the lawmakers and identified the probe as a “preliminary review.”

Lee, a first-term Republican, told the News that he has "nothing to hide," adding, “The more accountable and transparent we can be, the better off things will be in the long term.”

He said he's cooperated fully with the investigation.

Since the beginning of 2009, the committee has started 48 ethics probes and 22 of those were dropped in their preliminary stages.

Six other lawmakers are also being investigated.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010 at 12:19 pm

Meth lab suspect accused of violating Federal pre-trial release rules

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

One of Genesee County's multiple meth lab suspects is back in federal custody after allegedly violating pre-trial release conditions.

Matthew J. Long, 20, of 36 Main St., Le Roy, is a suspect in the alleged meth lab found at 28 Clay St., Le Roy.

He was taken into custody yesterday by Le Roy Police on a U.S. District Court warrant after being spotted walking on West Main Street, Le Roy.

Following his arrest by Det. John Condidorio and Sgt. Timothy Hayes, he was turned over to U.S. Marshals.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010 at 10:55 am

Police Beat: Attica man accused of sending threatening messages on Facebook

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

Joshua John King, 21, of 42 Genesee St., Attica, is charged with harassment, 2nd. King is accused of using his account on Facebook to send threatening messages to another Facebook member.

William D. Hirsch III, 23, of 11025 Buckman Road, Bethany, is charged with burglary, 2nd, criminal contempt, 1st, and stalking, 4th. Hirsch is accused of showing up at the house of a protected person and entering and staying without permission with the intent to stalk that person. He's also accused of sending text messages to that person, whom he was ordered not to contact. He allegedly caused that person to fear for his or her safety. He was jailed on $10,000 bail.

Philip M. Niccloy, 23 of 75 Summit St., Le Roy, is charged assault, 2nd. Niccloy allegedly punched another person in the face, causing extended pain, numbness and diminished eye sight and multiple fractions of the victim's facial bones. He was jailed on $2,000 bail.

Andre Leigh Little, 21, of Ham Road, Alabama, is charged with petit larceny. Little allegedly stole three pre-paid phone cards from the TA Travel Plaza.

Jasmine Lynn Oliver, 20, of Water Street, Attica, is charged with petit larceny. Oliver was taken into custody on a bench warrant out of Niagara County.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010 at 8:41 am

Photos: Time for locally grown fresh fruits and veggies

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, agriculture, food, photos


We're starting farmers market and road-side stand season, so good fresh fruits and vegetables will be bountiful (can't wait for the sweet corn to arrive). Yesterday, the farmers market at Batavia Downs opened. Tomorrow, the downtown public market at Center and Ellicott will open.


Sandra Cassandra sells a bag of cherries to David Hiscutt.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010 at 7:43 am

Today's Deals: Oliver's, Clor's, Mane Attraction, Blue Pearl and more

post by Howard B. Owens in Deal of the Day

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.

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.

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.

The Mane Attraction, 99 E. Main St., Batavia, NY: The Mane Attraction is a spa and salon offering pedicures, manicures, hair styling and massage. 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.

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.

Blue Pearl Yoga, 200 E. Main St., Batavia, NY: Exercise your soul as well as your body in a friendly and relaxing atmosphere. We have a gift certificate for four weeks of yoga (four sessions), a $40 value, for $20.

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


Tuesday, June 15, 2010 at 1:52 pm

Fickel Murder still a long way from being solved

post by Howard B. Owens in crime, Fickel Murder, Oakfield

mug_steven_rebert.jpg(Revised at 3:49 p.m.)

If the Chief Deputy Jerome Brewster -- who's been the lead investigator on the Bill Fickel murder for five years -- is going to make a case against "person of interest" Steven Patrick Rebert, it seems like he's got a lot of work ahead of him.

"In order to arrest someone, you need probable cause, you need more than a mere suspicion," Brewster said this morning. "Do we have probable cause at this point? Absolutely not."

Yesterday, in an interview with WBTA 1490, Brewster said there are some tantalizing coincidences that make Rebert a person of interest following his arrest on a double homicide charge in Jefferson County, Pa.

"There are some commonalities that would make a prudent person go, 'um, I wonder if this is something there we should be looking at,'" Brewster said.

Those commonalities might include (our own list, not from Chief Brewster):

  • Rebert knew Fickel. They went to the same high school, but it is not known whether they attended it at the same time.
  • The two men lived less than a mile apart in 2005 (Fickel on Burns Road, Rebert on East Shelby Road);
  • Both Fickel and the homicide victims in Pennsylvania -- James and Victoria Shugar -- were shot to death;
  • Pennsylvannia investigators say Rebert was doing computer searchs on the murders of the Shugars, Bill Fickel and Kevin Smith (Smith was killed in 2007 in Orleans County and Rebert is now considered a person of interest in that case as well).
  • Fickel was killed with a 30-30 and Rebert reportedly told investigators in Pennsylvania that the only gun he owned was a 30-30;
  • For the last five years of his life, Fickel worked as a cable installer with Time-Warner; at the time of his arrest, Rebert was a contractor for Zito Media installing fiber optics. There's no information that Rebert ever worked at TW.
  • Both men enjoyed hunting.

Those commonalities are mostly coincidences that certainly don't tie Rebert to the Fickel murder. The two most intriguing coincidences are that Rebert knew Fickel and that Fickel was reportedly doing internet news searches on the Fickel murder.

Knowing somebody, however, isn't a crime, and Rebert could simply have been checking for an update on the death of somebody he knew (though reports indicate Rebert was pretty obessively seeking out news reports on the Shugar murders).

Coincidences, also, don't establish probable cause. There also needs to be evidence.

Such as the DNA found at the scene of the Fickel murder. It's DNA that doesn't match Fickel, and no match has ever been found in the national criminal database.

Pennsylvania State Police will likely obtain a sample of Rebert's DNA, and if it matches the sample Brewster has tagged as evidence, it would likely place Rebert at the scene the night of the murder.

But putting Rebert at the scene, Brewster was quick to point out, doesn't mean Rebert is the killer.

"A match itself is not probable cause," Brewster said. "Just putting you at the scene doesn't mean you where the one who pulled the trigger."

Brewster has long suspected there were two people at 5820 Burns Road when Bill Fickel walked out onto his driveway at 7:55 p.m., Nov. 10, 2005, because a flatbed truck had just arrived and Bill and Lisa thought somebody was there to look at a van they had for sale.

Finding just one of those two people, even if the person identified didn't pull the trigger, would be a big break in the case.

Brewster is naturally reluctant to discuss details of other evidence that might be used in building probable cause, but it's obvious that finding the murder weapon would also be a big break in the case.

Rebert was arrested in Genesee County on June 3 on a weapons charge (he was allegedly carrying a switchblade knife).

Last Friday, Rebert waived extradition back to Pennsylvania, where he was arrested and charged with charged with two counts of criminal homicide, two counts of aggravated assault and one count of burglary.

When he waived extradition, only a mind reader would know if he realized he was going to face murder charges. The waiver affidavit charged him only with manufacturing/delivery/possession of a controlled substance and a small amount of marijuana for personal use, though he had been questioned in the murder investigation on April 25.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010 at 12:56 pm

Researcher looking for information on WWII airman from Batavia

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, veterans, world war two


Do you know any of the men in this photo? Researcher and historian Teunis Schuurman from the Netherlands is trying to identify all the men, who were aboard a plan believed to have crashed in his hometown during World War II. He believes S/Sgt. Joseph Deffner, from Batavia, is in the front row, but isn't entirely sure which man he is. He's hoping for help in identifying him as well as finding out as much information about him as possible. Teunis can be reached at [email protected].

Tuesday, June 15, 2010 at 12:48 pm

Gillibrand throws support behind federal anti-gang legislation

post by Howard B. Owens in Kirtsen Gillibrand

There are too many gang members in New York, in Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand's view, and she wants to do something about it.

Today, Gillibrand announced a sweeping piece of legislation that she's co-sponsoring called the Youth PROMISE Act.

The act will:

... help keep children from joining gangs and fight gang-related crime. The legislation would draw on recommendations from a broad range of community leaders and experts to develop effective policies to prevent children from joining gangs and break up existing gangs.

Specifically, communities facing the greatest youth gang and crime challenges would initiate a coordinated response from law enforcement, court services, schools, social services, health and mental-health providers, and community-service and faith-based organizations.

Gillibrand said there are 50,000 gang members in New York, including 4,000 in WNY.

The specific measures proposed in the legislation:

Tuesday, June 15, 2010 at 11:20 am

Photos published on The Batavian make first cut in statewide contest

post by Howard B. Owens in Darrick Coleman, photos, thebatavian

Two photos that were first published on The Batavian will represent Genesee County in a statewide contest aimed at finding photos that showcase New York's landscapes and landmarks.

The winners of the Genesee County stage of the contest were announced by County Legislature Chairwoman Mary Pat Hancock today.

The winners are "Barn Storm - LeRoy, NY" by Le Roy resident Darrick Coleman and "Old Courthouse at Sunset" by Batavia resident Howard Owens.

The Coleman photo is being submitted in the landscape category and the photo from Owens is in the landmark category.

The contest is sponsored by the New York State Association of Counties.

Genesee County received more than two dozen submissions from about 12 photographers.

For more on Coleman, here's a video Philip Anselmo made about him in 2008. For more of Darrick's photography, click here.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010 at 8:14 am

Police Beat: Alleged violation of court order leads to arrest, $1k bail

post by Howard B. Owens in crime, Le Roy

Chad E. Heideman, 35, of 10540 Roosevelt Highway, Lyndonville, is charged with criminal contempt. At about 1:40 a.m., Le Roy Police responded to a report that Heideman was at the residence of a woman in Le Roy. There is reportedly a order of protection in place barring Heideman from having contact with that woman. Heideman was jailed on $1,000 bail.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010 at 7:13 am

Committee approves low bid on purchase of rock salt for winter roads

post by Howard B. Owens in County Highways, Public Services Committee

On a hot, humid summer Monday, the Legislature's Public Services Committee spent 15 minutes talking about keeping the snow off of county roads.

It may be June, but now is the time to plan the purchase of salt -- or sodium chloride -- to spread on winter roads.

The committee approved the purchase of rock salt from American Rock Salt out of Hampton Corners for $40.16 a ton, up 40 cents from last year.

American Rock Salt beat out the only other bidder, North American Salt Company, which bid $70.48 per ton.

None of the other four companies that were invited to bid have done so.

County Supervisor Tim Hens said the lack of bids might be due to the fact that the other companies know it will be hard to beat American Rock Salt's bid because ARS is located so close to Genesee County. Or maybe they're anticipating a lot of sales to the northeast and Washington, D.C. after the snow-heavy winter those areas endured last winter.

"We're lucky to be located where we are in terms of salt mines," Hens said.

Because it was a mild winter in Western New York, Hens said the county currently has its salt barn about one-third full, which should cut down on the amount of salt the county must  purchase this year.

The county budgeted $115,000 for rock salt this year.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010 at 6:26 am

The time for regular visits with friends at Dwyer is quickly approaching

post by Howard B. Owens in baseball, batavia, Batavia Muckdogs, bill kauffman, sports

When you attend a Batavia Muckdogs game at Dwyer Stadium, if you think you're there to watch a baseball game, you've missed at least 65 percent of the reason to be there on a warm summer night.

The main reason to be at Dwyer is the people the stands -- your neighbors, friends and family -- and if you don't know anybody, just start talking, you'll soon make a new friend.

Bill Kauffman writes a lovely tribute to his friend Dennis Bowler for the Front Porch Republic, St. Dennis of the Bleachers.

The home opener for the Muckdogs is Saturday.  I hope to see you there.

Monday, June 14, 2010 at 11:46 pm

Recent court ruling could change arraignment procedures for new arrestees

post by Howard B. Owens in courts, genesee county

What Public Defender Gary Horton calls a "throw off line" in a recent court decision could create a headache for Genesee County.

New York Court of Appeals in May ruled in favor of a defendant on a case and mentioned that one of the problems with the defendant's conviction was that he wasn't given adequate representation at his initial arraignment.

It's common in upstate New York -- including Genesee County -- for defendants arrested in off-hours to be given an initial arraignment without their own attorney in court, even a public defender.

The arraignments are pretty routine -- the defendant learns the charges against him and what his rights are going forward -- but the court ruled, according to Horton, that the arraignment is a critical part of the process and defendants should have legal representation.

Horton said he's concerned that the Office of Court Administration will order that no arraignment should take place without the defendant having an attorney in court.

"I didn’t hire attorneys to be on call and basically you would have to have an attorney on call every night and on weekends," Horton told the County's Public Service Committee on Monday afternoon.

Many of the larger counties, according to Horton, have certified holding cells -- allowing the counties to keep arrestees behind bars until the normal business hours of courts and the public defender's office.

The ruling likely won't effect previous convictions, Horton said, because courts would find that a defendant's case outcome would have changed even if there had been a public defender at the initial arraignment. It would be a "harmless error," according to Horton.

Monday, June 14, 2010 at 10:19 pm

Photos: Flag Day ceremony at American Legion, Batavia

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, American Legion, Flag Day


Jane LaWall, above, attended the flag burning ceremony at the Batavia American Legion this afternoon to honor her late brother George Fry, who was killed in action in Vietnam in 1969. Also participating in the Flag Day ceremony were Ron Konieczny and Paul LaValley, as well as (in pictures below, after the jump), John and Karen Bannister, Jim Neider and Kristen Sikora.

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