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Howard B. Owens's blog

Thursday, December 10, 2009 at 9:04 am

Route 19 closed, truck stuck on hill

post by Howard B. Owens in Le Roy, weather

A truck has been unable to get up a hill on Route 19, with cars driving to drive around it while work crews try to help the truck.

Fire Police are being dispatched to shut down Route 19 in both directions.

Thursday, December 10, 2009 at 8:56 am

Two men arrested for alleged car break-ins in Batavia

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, crime

Two men have been arrested in connection with a series of car break-ins yesterday morning in the area of Ross Street, Batavia.

One man was taken into custody after allegedly attempting to run from the scene and the other was apprehended later yesterday.

Arrested were James E. Murray, Jr., 21, of Bethany, and Frank J. Falcone, 24, of 132 Ross St., Batavia.

Both were charged with petit larceny.

Murray was turned over to the Wyoming Sheriff's office on a warrant for alleged violation of probation. Falcone was issued an appearance ticket.

Several items allegedly taken were recovered by police, but the owners have not been identified. Police are asking that anybody who had their car broken into overnight Dec. 8/9 to contact Det. Todd Crossett at 343-6353.

Lt. Steele, Sgt. Yaeger, Officers Casper, Bolles and Coffey assisted in the investigation.

Thursday, December 10, 2009 at 8:11 am

Smoke and alarm at Bob Evans

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia

There is a report of smoke in the building and a fire alarm has been activiated at 196 Oak St., Bob Evans Restaurant.

There is no sign of fire.

City Fire has been dispatched.

First responder reports "nothing showing."

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Thursday, December 10, 2009 at 7:56 am

Weather Watch: Expect more snow

post by Howard B. Owens in weather


From the sounds of things on the scanner this morning, law enforcement is dealing with a lot of issues, from stuck vehicles -- including a snow plow -- around the county.

All Genesee County schools are closed.

The National Weather Service says the lake-effect snow warning remains in effect until 10 p.m.

"A ban of lake-effect snow south of Buffalo and Batavia will continue to settle southward, ans slip further southward before drifting back north into areas south of Buffalo and Batavia for a while this afternoon," says the warning.

High winds also continue to blow.

Snow fall in affected areas will hit at about 1- to 2-inches per hour.

UPDATE: Please use comments to provide information on how the storm is impacting your corner of Genesee County. 

Thursday, December 10, 2009 at 12:18 am

Genesee County has 16 percent increase in food stamp recipients since 2007

post by Howard B. Owens in economy, Food Stamps

According to this interactive map from the New York Times, 8 percent of Genesee County residents receive food stamps. That's up 16 percent from 2007.

Compared to other GLOW counties:

  • Orleans, 12 percent, up 25 percent
  • Livingston, 9 percent, up 41 percent
  • Wyoming, 7 percent, up 28 percent.

Of the four counties, Orleans has the largest percentage of children receiving food stamps at 23 percent, which is close to the national average of 1-in-four children on assistance.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009 at 11:37 pm

Report of portion of Pontillo's roof has blown off

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Pontillo's, weather

Batavia Police are responding to a report that part of the roof of Pontillo's has blown off and is currently traveling eastbound on Main Street.

UPDATE: A little while ago, a Batavia Police officer reported the roof portion was recovered and returned to the Pontillo's property.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009 at 8:03 pm

The Batavian Sweatshirt: Order now or go without

post by Howard B. Owens in thebatavian

I need to get this sweatshirt order turned in -- two people at Christmas in the City told me they intend to order them, but haven't yet.

I'm going to place our order with T-Shirts Etc. within the next few days. 

Also, I'm not sure I can get hoodies. If you want a hoodie, request it in the PayPal notes box. If I can get a hoodie, I will, but otherwise, please just be happy with a regular sweatshirt!

Also, if you would rather mail a check, send it to: The Batavian, LLC, 200 E. Main St., #5, Batavian, NY 14020.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009 at 4:03 pm

Elba bank robber sentenced to 12 1/2 years in prison

post by Howard B. Owens in crime, elba, elba robbery

mug-Wells-Michael_front.jpgHe was the last caught, the last to admit guilt, but Michael J. Wells will be first of three Elba bank robbers to go to state prison.

And he's going away for a long time.

Judge Robert Noonan did not impose the maximum sentence available to him under terms of a plea agreement, which was 15 years. But he told Wells this afternoon that under state law, he was required to impose a lengthy sentence and that he had no qualms about doing so.

The sentenced imposed on the 24-year-old was 12.5 years, followed by five years of supervised release. Under determinant sentencing rules, Wells is looking about 10 years in prison. He could serve another five if he got into any trouble after release.

Wells has no prior criminal convictions or offenses that might indicate he would try to rob a bank and, by all accounts, no history of drug use or alcohol abuse. According to his attorney Thomas Burns, Wells comes from a good family.

Even so, Noonan said he didn't understand what led Wells to participate in a viciously violent crime.

"When this case first came before me, I thought, though I didn't say it to court personnel, 'When this case plays out, I'm going to understand what this is all about,' and here we are six months later and this still all puzzles me. ...

"This is like somebody plucked a person from out of nowhere and said, 'why don't you commit some terribly violent crime?' And you, even being an intelligent human being, said, 'Sure, I'll go along with that.' This is just totally perplexing, and as I close your file, I'm just as puzzled by that today as I was on the first day."

And it was a violent crime.

Two of the women who were working in the M&T Bank branch in Elba on June 19 spoke before Noonan sentenced Wells. Both described an event of sheer terror that has left them traumatized -- both are undergoing treatment for PTSD -- and they said, scarred for life.

Patty Hackett, a 19-year employee of M&T Bank who has shown up for every court appearance for all three defendants, spoke first. She began by explaining how she and her husband worked hard to raise two children and send them to collage. When the children were babies, her husband worked three jobs -- including pumping gas at night and working on a farm on weekends -- to help make ends meet. When it came time to pay for college for their children, he again took on a second job.

"Not once did it ever cross his mind or our minds to rob a bank because we needed cash," Hackett said.

She then described in some detail the events inside the bank during the robbery. She was on a conference call when Wells, Dennis Abrams and Demone Dillon entered the bank yelling and waving guns.

"They came running through the doors Rambo-style," Hackett said.

She was going to try and grab the other teller that morning -- Alicia Nichols -- and try to make it to the bathroom where they could lock themselves in, but before she even got out of her chair, Abrams grabbed her, she said, and threw her to the ground.

"He was holding a gun at me," Hackett said. "I was terrified. I was sick. I was thinking, 'God, we’re going to be robbed and I’m going to die.'"

Later she added, "I thought, 'This is it. We're going to die. Please help me dear God,' I remember saying. I remember seeing a picture in my mind of my beautiful daughter and my beautiful son and my husband who is the love of my life."

Theresa Claybourn who was the branch manager that day, also described a scene of terror in which she thought for sure she was going to die.

"I believe that second man was intending to keep me at bay and I thought at any second he was going to come over and see my phone off the hook and think I called the cops and then shoot me dead," Claybourn said.

When it came his turn to speak, Wells, who has largely remained stone-faced every time he appears in court, didn't say much, but he did express regret for his actions.

"I made a terrible, horrible decision that day and I wish I could change it," Wells said. "I know that I can’t. If anything comes out of this, I hope that others will learn from my poor, bad example."

Both Abrams and Dillon will be sentenced at a later date.

WBTA's Dan Fischer was given permission to tape record the hearing and will have audio available online and on air later today and tomorrow. He may air the entire hearing tomorrow morning. We'll update this story with the time when that information becomes available. We'll also link to any audio he posts once they are available.

UPDATE: Audio from WBTA, Patty Hackett describes how the crime has changed her life (mp3).

Wednesday, December 9, 2009 at 2:17 pm

Cedar Street: Another day, another truck

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

In the words of the dispatcher, "Cedar Street. The usual -- semi, bridge, ripped open."

Wednesday, December 9, 2009 at 2:07 pm

Power outages continue to plague county

post by Howard B. Owens in genesee county, National Grid, weather


Numerous power outages have plagued Genesee County throughout the day, with the largest and longest lasting affecting more than 300 customers in the western area of Batavia (both city and town).

Power to those customers is not expected to be restored until after 3 p.m.

Five hundred customers in Alexander had power restored an hour or so ago. Many of the other power outages affect five customers or less.

National Grid provides an interactive map of power outages on its Web site. Snapshot of the map above taken about 1 p.m.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009 at 1:10 pm

Police Beat: Downtown Batavia merchant tackles alleged shoplifter

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, crime

An in-store video helped a downtown liquor store owner discover that one of his customers had apparently stuck a bottle of vodka in his pocket and walked out the front door last week, so he was keeping an eye out for the suspect's return.

On Monday, a man fitting the description of the suspect David Buchholtz saw on video came into the store again, made a bee-line for the vodka shelf. Apparently thinking he was unobserved, the guy allegedly stuck another bottle in his jacket and walked out -- this time, not even making the pretense to stop and pay for the booze.

Buchholtz waited for the man to leave the store -- not wanting a scene in the store where he might get in a tussle and damage inventory -- and then grabbed him from behind. He got the suspect in a head lock and held him until police arrived, which didn't take long.

Arrested and charged with petit larceny was Steven A. Lewis II, 29, of 541 E. Main St., Batavia.

A second charge of petit larceny is pending further investigation into the original alleged theft.

In other Police Beat news:

Dennis Edson, age unknown, of Porter Avenue, Batavia, was charged with disorderly conduct this morning. Edson allegedly flipped off a police officer while he and others observed the accident activity on Ellicott Street this morning from in front of the Court House.  Lt. Eugene Jankwoski described Edson as somebody known to police for allegedly making the same gesture toward cops in the past, but has generally been ignored. This morning, Edson allegedly did it in front of a crowd of people. Edson then allegedly resisted arrest. Jankowski also said that Edson "got mouthy" with City Court Judge Robert Balbick. Balbick ordered Edson held on $1,000 bail.

Johnson O. Quanton, 19, of 36 Merrimac St., Rochester, is charged with petit larceny. Quanton allegedly tried to exit the campus bookstore at Genesee Community College with books that had not been purchased.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009 at 12:14 pm

Daily News printing press losses power, publication delayed

post by Howard B. Owens in Batavia Daily News

The Daily News printing press is without power this morning. Publication of the paper has been delayed "indefinitely" according to an announcement this morning.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009 at 12:06 pm

Weather Watch: Near blizzard-like conditions coming

post by Howard B. Owens in weather

Strong winds and lake effect snow will combine to create "near blizzard-like conditions" tonight, according to the National Weather Service.

A winter storm watch is in effect from 7 p.m. through Thursday evening.

An arctic cold front will hit WNY later this afternoon, turning rain into snow. The back side of the storm will carry lake effect snow.

The National Weather Service warns the storm will "create very difficult driving conditions."

Heavy lake-effect snow is expected to hit Genesee County by Thursday morning.  Driving conditions could be especially treacherous in parts of Erie and Genesee counties tomorrow morning.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009 at 11:50 am

Tree reported to fall on car in Le Roy

post by Howard B. Owens in Le Roy

A tree has reportedly fallen on a car at 13 Clay St., in Le Roy.

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Wednesday, December 9, 2009 at 10:54 am

Accident closes Ellicott Street between Main and Court

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, accident


Ellicott Street between Main and Court is closed in both directions until further notice following a one-vehicle accident.

A Jeep SUV damaged a telephone poll and now National Grid crews are trying to figure out how to keep the poll standing, or the wires from coming down, when the car is removed.

Lt. Eugene Jankowski said Ellicott could be closed for hours while the National Grid makes repairs.

The driver, who has not yet been identified, was taken to Strong Memorial Hospital with unknown injuries.

The accident occurred about 8:30 a.m.

Jankowski said police are asking that drivers plan on avoiding the area and not try to evade the barricades.

UPDATE: The driver has been identified as 41-year-old Julie Conover of Batavia.


Wednesday, December 9, 2009 at 9:07 am

Weather Watch: Sleet turning to rain, snow by tonight

post by Howard B. Owens in weather

Roads were slick  this morning, but the ice will be melting as the sleet turns to rain.

Temperatures are expected to reach the mid 40s.

The chance of precipitation is near 100 percent.

Winds will continue in the 35 mph range, with gusts up to 60 mph by this evening.

Temperatures will drop by tonight with 1 to 3 inches of snow accumulation, and blowing snow, expected.

The current temperature is 35 degrees.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009 at 8:51 am

Today's Deals: Sallome's, Matty's, South Main, Center Street and more

post by Howard B. Owens in Deal of the Day

Buyers: Please remember the six-month rule -- please don't buy a gift certificate you bought within the past six months.

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.

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.

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.

Great Kutz, in the Valu Plaza, 4152 W. Main St. Road, Batavia, NY: Great Kutz is Batavia's newest full-service hair salon. Women, try Great Kutz for a haircut at the incredibly low price of $7, exclusive offer from to The Batavian. (gift card can be applied toward other services, but not products).

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 $25 gift card for $12.50.

Pudgie's Lawn and Garden Center, 3646 W. Main St. Road, Batavia, NY: Time to visit Pudgie's and buy your Christmas tree. We have a $25 gift certificate 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 Kafe, 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.

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

Great Kutz - Women

Wednesday, December 9, 2009 at 8:41 am

Car strikes poll in Stafford on Buckley Road

post by Howard B. Owens in accident, Stafford

A driver reports striking a pole on Buckley Road in area of Prentice Road in Stafford and complains of a head injury.

Stafford Fire and Mercy EMS have been dispatched.

UPDATE 7:44 a.m.: Pole is down. Wires are down.

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Wednesday, December 9, 2009 at 8:27 am

Accident on Route 33 reported, with injuries, blocking traffic

post by Howard B. Owens in accident

An accident on Route 33 in the area of West Bergen Road has been reported.

There is a report of injuries and smoke coming from one of the vehicles.

Traffic on Route 33 is blocked.

Bergen Fire and Mercy EMS dispatched.

UPDATE 7:34 a.m.: Reported apparent minor injuries.

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