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Howard B. Owens's blog

Saturday, November 6, 2010 at 9:46 pm

Owner who built log house loses home to fire in Le Roy

post by Howard B. Owens in fire, Le Roy, york road

yorkroadfire08a.jpg

UPDATED 11:01 p.m.

Thirty-five years ago, William Scheg built himself a dream home -- doing most of the work himself.

Out among the flat farm fields and game-rich woods of rural eastern Genesee County, Scheg build a log-cabin construction home where he would eventually open a business -- Genesee Valley Taxidermy & Shooting Supplies.

Late Saturday afternoon, Scheg was in the woods near his York Road home when a fire started in the garage.

"I heard some shots and I thought it was the neighbors target practicing," Scheg said. "Then I heard more shots and the whole woods filled up with smoke. I kind of got this empty feeling in me and thought what might be happening. I got the road and saw the inevitable. It was all on fire."

By that time, firefighters from several companies were on scene and the house was fully engulfed.

The fire was initially reported at 4:50 p.m. by Frank Capuano, a retired city firefighter who was driving down York Road and spotted smoke coming from the garage of 9616 York Road, Le Roy. Upon further investigation, he confirmed the fire and called 9-1-1.

Just five minutes earlier another man on his way to work as a clerk at a gas station on Route 5 drove by the same house -- which he knows because he's known Scheg since the clerk was a little boy -- and he didn't see a thing.

yorkroadfire17.jpgThe fire was well advanced by the time crews from Le Roy Fire arrived on scene and it spread quickly as crews struggled to get a reliable source of water to fight the fire.

Tanker trucks were sent to the nearest fire hydrant, at Route 5 and York Road, two miles to the north, where they could fill up and shuttle water to the scene. Water was also drawn from the pond on the property.

Assistant Fire Chief Thomas "Woody" Woods said water supply was the biggest problem firefighters faced in battling the blaze.

There was some concern about the ammo in the gun shop when crews first arrived.

"You could hear the popping from the ammo going off, so we kept back," Woods said.

According to property tax records, the home was valued at $168,900, and was 2,070 square feet on 1.22 acres.

Scheg lived in the home with his wife Margaret. She was also out of the house at the time of the fire. Their dogs were able to get out of the house before the fire trapped them and were taken in by a neighbor. The Schegs also had some pet birds who perished in the fire.

The cause of the fire is under investigation.

As of 11 p.m., some fire crews were still on scene, though some crews were back in service.

Responding to the fire were Le Roy, Pavilion, Caledonia, York, Stafford, Bergen, and Le Roy Ambulance, Genesee County Emergency Management and the Sheriff's Office. The Town of Batavia Fire Department filled in at Le Roy's fire hall.

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More pictures after the jump:

Saturday, November 6, 2010 at 8:15 pm

Reader Photos: York Road fire

post by Howard B. Owens in fire, Le Roy, york road

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Here are two photos submitted by readers on the fire on York Road. We'll have more photos and full coverage later tonight.

UPDATE: More photos after the jump, submitted by retired city firefighter Frank Capuano, initially reported the fire after seeing smoke coming from the garage.

reader_yorkfire.jpg

Saturday, November 6, 2010 at 2:33 pm

Today's Deals: Delavan's, Margarita's, Matty's, South Beach and more

post by Howard B. Owens in Deal of the Day

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.

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.

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 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.

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.

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.

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

SOLD OUT

Friday, November 5, 2010 at 1:25 pm

Bar Association makes contributions to four local community groups

post by Howard B. Owens in Genesee County Bar Association

barassociationdonation.jpg

The Genesee County Bar Association recognized four local organizations today for their commitment to improving the lives of those in need in Genesee County.

Each group received a donation from the bar association:

  • CASA for Children (Court Appointed Special Advocates — providing volunteers to advocate for the needs of neglected and abused children in the county): $1,250
  • Genesee County Youth Court (Provides a peer-review system for local troubled youth as an alternative to our adult justice system.): $500
  • “People Realizing Potential” (A campaign of the Genesee ARC to assist local people with special needs.): $1,000
  • Genesee County Child Advocacy Center (Provides services for local children in need.): $1,250

Pictured, from left, front, are: Donna Feary, Justice for Children/GLOW Foundation; Shelley Faltico, Genesee ARC; Deborah Kerr-Rosenbeck, Youth Court; Tara Pariso, CASA; Attorney Charles Graney (back left), Durin Roger, president-elect of the bar association; District Attorney Lawrence Friedman; Colleen Marvel, Coordinated Justice for Children; David Saleh, bar president; and, Thomas Burggman, CASA.

Friday, November 5, 2010 at 11:40 am

Harvester Avenue burglar pleads guilty to three felony charges

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, crime

mug-michael_piasta.jpgAn East Main Street resident with a record of stealing from local businesses admitted in Genesee County Court this morning that in late October he broke into a shop on Harvester Avenue and stole and then forged two checks.

The three felony counts -- burglary and two counts of possessing a forged instrument -- will send Michael J. Piasta to state prison for at least two years and perhaps as many as seven.

Piasta admitted to breaking into the building and then trying to cash two checks made out to himself, each in the amount of $1,762, at two separate branches of a local bank.

He was unsuccessful in both attempts to cash the checks.

Because the burglary and the two check-cashing attempts constitute three separate crimes, Piasta could have been facing consecutive sentences, but in a plea bargain, District Attorney Lawrence Friedman agreed to a concurrent sentence on all three counts.

His sentence also won't be enhanced by his prior felony convictions for burglary, 3rd, in 2006 and attempted assault, 2nd, in 2002.

Piasta previously admitted to burglary and petit larceny charges in Batavia City Court related to his arrests for stealing from Pandora's Boxx and Wilson Farms.

He will be sentenced in city court on those charges Dec. 2.

Previously: Man with previous thievery charges accused of burglary on Harvester Avenue

Friday, November 5, 2010 at 10:22 am

Rear-end accident reported at West Main and Lyon, Batavia

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, accident

A two-car, rear-end accident is reported at West Main Street and Lyon streets, Batavia.

There are no reported injuries, but a mother is requesting that EMS evaluate her child who was in an child safety seat.

Batavia police and fire and Mercy EMS responding.


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Friday, November 5, 2010 at 10:19 am

Man accused of stealing timber from three Genesee County properties

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

mug_donnie_hendrickson.jpgA man who lives 143 miles from Genesee County has been nabbed in connection with a series of timber thefts from local property owners.

Donnie Eugene Hendrickson, 49, of County Route 17, Bernhards Bay, is facing two charges of grand larceny and one for petit larceny for the alleged lefts in early 2010.

Bernhards Bay is northeast of Syracuse, on the north side of Oneida Lake.

Hendrickson is accused of stealing more than $21,000 in timber.

The first alleged theft occurred Jan. 9. Hendrickson allegedly removed $1,800 in timber from Stein Farms property. He's been charged with grand larceny, 4th, for that alleged crime.

In mid-February, $19,000 in timber was reported missing from Hy Hope Farms in Stafford. Hendrickson is being charged with grand larceny, 3rd.

The petit larceny charge stems from an alleged $450 theft of timber in February from Englereth Farms, Stafford.

The cases were investigated by Deputy John Duyssen.

Friday, November 5, 2010 at 9:26 am

Two-car accident with minor injuries reported at Richmond and Oak, Batavia

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, accident, Oak Street

A two-car accident with minor injuries is reported at Richmond Avenue and Oak Street, Batavia.

One car is blocking the flow of traffic.

Batavia PD, fire and Mercy EMS responding.


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Friday, November 5, 2010 at 9:11 am

Police Beat: Man accused of threatening police officers

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, crime

Walter C. Blatt, 52, of 3768 W. Main St. Road, Batavia, is charged with harassment, 2nd. Police officers responded to a report of a disturbance at 9:53 p.m., Wednesday, at 319 E. Main St., Batavia. Blatt allegedly verbally and physically threatened officers.

Darren D. Jones, 45, of 168 Parkside, Syracuse, is charged with DWI. Jones was picked up in Syracuse on a warrant out of Batavia City Court for alleged failure to appear on a previous DWI charge. Jones was jailed on $5,000 bail.

Tiffany Monea Gaulden, 19, of Taft Avenue, Rochester, is charged with trespass and harassment, 2nd. Gaulden is accused of refusing to leave College Village after being told to do so. She allegedly struck a village security officer. The alleged incident occurred at 11:23 p.m., Thursday.

Lotoya Tamika Vialva, 19, of East 19th Street, Brooklyn, is charged with disorderly conduct, resisting arrest and unlawful possession of marijuana. Vialva was originally being taken into custody for allegedly yelling profanities in a public parking lot at College Village.  She then allegedly resisted arrest. The incident occurred at 11:40 p.m., Thursday.

Friday, November 5, 2010 at 8:48 am

Today's Deals: Margarita's, Matty's, Alex's, South Beach

post by Howard B. Owens in Deal of the Day

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.

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.

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 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.

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.

SOLD OUT

Thursday, November 4, 2010 at 6:22 pm

High School Football Picture Sale - 75 percent off suggested retail price

post by Howard B. Owens in thebatavian

Reminder -- just in time to order Christmas presents, The Batavian is offering deep discounts all of the photos we published from our 2010 high school football coverage -- in most cases our sale price is 75 percent off suggested retail price.

To browse the game coverage albums and order photos, click here.

Thursday, November 4, 2010 at 3:23 pm

Oakfield man scratched off $1,000,000 ticket in lottery game

post by Howard B. Owens in Oakfield

randybennett02.jpg

All of the rumors you heard on Facebook are true -- a man in Oakfield bought a $1 million scratch-off ticket at Wilson's Farms.

Randy Bennett, 64, plans a trip to Alaska and some new landscaping in his back yard, but he will also take care of the people he said helped him in tough times.

randybennett01.jpgHe's also going to keep working at Mizkan's in Lyndonville. He said he loves his job and the people he works with.

"I'm used to working 10 hours a day, six days a week," he said. "I plan to continue working, but my retirement date just moved up a few years."

Bennett seems to be the lucky one with scratchers. Previously he's won $5,000 and $25,000.

There's no secret to his success, he said.

"When I'm feeling lucky and I stop and buy some tickets with the money in pocket," Bennett said. "If I win, I play with that."

He said playing scratches is just something fun to do.

The scratcher he played this time was a $20 ticket for the "$500,000,000 Extravaganza" game.

His pay out will be $33,015, after taxes, per year for the next 20 years.

Thursday, November 4, 2010 at 8:40 am

Today's Deals: Kravings, Clor's, Enchanted Florist and more

post by Howard B. Owens in Deal of the Day

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.

The Enchanted Florist, 202 E. Main St., Batavia, NY: Fall colors. Fall flowers. Brighten your home or office. We have a $20 gift certificate for $9.50.

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 three weeks of yoga, 13 classes, a $36 value, for $18.

Stafford Trading Post, 6173 Main Road, Stafford, NY: Lunch or dinner, Stafford Trading Post offers a variety of fresh, homemade meals, as well as snacks and drinks. Now in a new, expanded location. We have a $25 gift card for $12.50.

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.

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.

SOLD OUT

Wednesday, November 3, 2010 at 10:42 pm

K-9 'Finn' has law-enforcement career cut short due to parasite infection

post by Howard B. Owens in animals, Sheriff's Office

K9Finn.jpg

K-9 "Finn" has tracked his last criminal and is on the verge of becoming somebody's family pet.

The 6-year-old police dog suffered a parasite infection in his hip about a year ago and his muscles have yet to regain their full strength.

“He’s not going to ever fully recover to the point to be able to do the job of a K-9 police dog,” Sheriff Gary Maha told the Ways and Means Committee on Wednesday.

Maha is asking the County Legislature to pass a resolution allowing the Sheriff's Department to donate "Finn" to a person in the community, and then accept -- as a gift from the Niagara Falls PD -- a K-9 about the same age.

Deputy Brian Thompson said he will be sorry to see "Finn" go, but with another police dog about to join his household, there just won't be room for "Finn."

"It's heartbreaking to me," Thompson said.

The new dog, whom Thompson already knows, will be the last K-9 Thompson will work with professionally. After 19 years, going back to his time in the Army, Thompson is stepping aside as a K-9 handler. The Sheriff's Office is already starting the process of finding a new handler.

The new handler will get a "green" dog, at a cost of $6,200 to $6,500, plus the cost of at least 16 weeks of training.

The Niagara Falls dog is available because its current handler was involved in a shooting and has had trouble returning to work. The dog will be donated to Genesee County.

Thompson said the expectation is that the dog will have two or three years of working life left before retirement. Thompson will continue on as a K-9 handler so long as that dog is able to work.

Meanwhile, Thompson continues to work with K-9 "Jay," whom Thompson said is "the best narcotics dog I've ever worked with." 

"Jay" is 13 years old, however, and is no longer physically able to handle chasing suspects or tracking criminals.

"Finn" was only on the job for six months when he was out on a detail assisting Niagara Regional Police Services in Canada.

Thompson had to take him into a wooded area, and it turned out the area was full of ticks. The ticks were treated and the dog seemed fine at first, but parasites apparently weakened the muscles in his hip.

Over the next couple of months, he developed muscle tears while working and training. On one job, it became apparent that "Finn" was in a good deal of pain. He's been out of service for nearly a year.

A friend of County Attorney Charles Zambito raises purebred German shepherds and is interested in taking in Finn, but first the woman needs to ensure "Finn" and her other dogs will get along.

If that person accepts "Finn," Zambito will need to draft a contract relieving the county of any liability.

Both Maha and Thompson, however, said "Finn" would make an excellent family pet.

"He’s not a violent dog," Maha said. "He’s a very friendly dog."

"Finn" just isn't aggressive at all, said Thompson.

"Even in his job, he doesn’t like the aggression part of it," Thompson said. "It’s just not in him. We tried putting it in him with different training and different work, but it’s just not part of his personality. He’s not the least bit interested in harming anybody."

finn01.jpg

Wednesday, November 3, 2010 at 2:40 pm

Driver who fled scene of Oak Street accident not yet identified

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, accident, crime, Oak Street, roundabout

mustang_roundabout.jpgThe man who owns a silver Mustang involved in a one-car accident on the edge of the Oak Street roundabout last week says he wasn't driving the car at the time of the accident.

The driver fled the scene.

There were two witnesses of the driver running from the car, according to Officer Ed Mileham, but neither witness could positively identify the driver after looking at photo line ups.

"Right now, it's just an unauthorized use," Mileham said.

The owner of the car reported it stolen the morning after the accident.

The name of vehicle owner has not been released.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010 at 12:59 pm

Farrall Park defendent has sentencing on public lewdness charge delayed again

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, crime, Suzanne Corona

Justin Amend, the 29-year-old Farrall Park paramour of Suzanne Corona, will wait another week at least to find out if he's going to jail.

When Amend entered a guilty plea to public lewdness, it was on the condition that he wouldn't receive jail time, but City Court Judge Robert Balbick said there's now a problem with that plea arrangement.

The former Oakfield resident is now a Florida resident.

"By moving out of state, you've prevented me from placing you on probation," Balbick said.

The Probation Department recommended Amend be given a conditional discharge -- meaning if he stays out of trouble for six months, the public lewdness conviction would be dismissed.

Balbick said considering the offense to the community, that Amend engaged in sexual conduct in a place where parents and children could see the act, he just can't go along with a conditional discharge.

That leaves Amend two obvious options -- withdraw his plea and go to trial, or let Balbick sentence him with the probability he will be given jail time.

Defense Attorney Tom Williams asked for more time to either research a way to get Florida to accept Amend's probation, or see if there is space available with the Genesee County Jail for a weekend work detail sentence.

Assistant District Attorney Robert Zickl predicted that Florida is unlikely to accept a probation case on a misdemeanor charge.

"States feel that their probation departments are overworked as it is and they do not want to accept misdemeanor cases," Zickl said.

Amend moved to Florida, according to Williams, because he's embarrassed by his crime.

"He's humiliated to be seen walking around Genesee County," Williams said. "For him to walk into Tops and be seen is torture for him. It would be like for me to walk into Tops naked. That may seem over the top, but that's how he feels."

When given his turn to speak, Amend said, "I can guarantee you that you will never see me in court again because this has been a total embarrassment."

Williams described Amend as an upstanding citizen who has never been in trouble except for this case.

In fact, Williams said, Amend has been a key witness in criminal cases, including one where he turned in a sexual predator who was victimizing a younger person. That criminal is now in state prison. The man never would have been caught if Amend hadn't contacted the police, Williams said.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010 at 10:50 am

Police Beat: Man accused of threatening woman

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

Trevor M. Rich, 29, of 8943 Creek Road, is charged with harassment, 2nd. Rich is accused of verbally threatening a woman at 1:38 p.m., Tuesday. He was jailed on $750 bail.

Markeda Daphne Starks, 19, South Lyon, Batavia, was arrested on a warrant out of Batavia Town Court related to a charge of trespass, 3rd.

Maxwell Raymond Pfendler, 18, of Lake Street Road, Pavilion, is charged with unlawful possession of marijuana. Pfendler was stopped on an alleged traffic violation at 10 p.m., Tuesday, by Deputy Joseph Graff.

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