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Howard B. Owens's blog

Monday, April 5, 2010 at 4:26 pm

Time to prune your roses

post by Howard B. Owens in forsythia, Gardening, roses


Today, I spotted a forsythia bloom for the first time, meaning, it really is spring, and it's time for rose growers to prune their bushes.

Monday, April 5, 2010 at 2:30 pm

Grass fire reported near Route 98 and Thruway

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, fire


A grass fire has been reported just off the Thruway near Route 98.

Town of Batavia Fire is responding.

UPDATE: All units back in service.


Monday, April 5, 2010 at 1:40 pm

Police looking for alleged hit-and run-driver in Batavia

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

Police are looking for a teal-blue pickup truck with a silver tool box that hit another car in the area of Ellicott and Main streets.

The driver of the truck apparently left the scene.

The license plate of the car is described as a New York registration with lots of numbers and some sort of decoration on the plate.

No further details at this time.

UPDATE: The two vehicles did not collide. The driver of a Ford Windstar reports that she took to a curb to avoid an accident. Her car had 8- to 10-inches of paint removed. There was no new damage to the truck, though he may have had damage from a previous accident. The truck was last seen turning onto Court Street and it may have pulled into the parking lot between Jackson and Court.

Monday, April 5, 2010 at 10:17 am

Thirteen grass fires in Genesee County reported over the weekend

post by Howard B. Owens in fires, genesee county, volunteer firefighters

Of the 18 fire departments in Genesee County, 15 of them responded to grass fires on Friday and/or Saturday.

staffordfire13.jpgA total of 13 separate grass fires were reported over the two-day period, according to Emergency Management Coordinator Tim Yaeger.

Over the 48-hour period, local fire departments responded to 58 emergency calls total.

No grass fires were reported Easter Sunday.

All of the fires were potential violations of the state's new ban on open burning, which prohibits residents from going through the spring ritual of piling up fallen leaves and branches and lighting a match. No open burning is allowed from March 16 through May 14 (for more on the new regulations, click here).

"While there was a high volume of grass fire calls, this happens every year time this year and it's why the DEC and New York enacted new regulations not to allow open burning," Yaeger said. "There is no green vegetation, very low humidity and just a little bit of breeze, so even just a few embers can blow off and start a very large fire."

So-called "controlled burns" this time of year create a number of problems for local fire departments, Yaeger said. Responding to the calls themselves can be dangerous, there is always a danger in fighting any kind of fire, and such fires can quickly spread to structures.

That's exactly what happened in Covington, Wyoming County, on Saturday when the Pavilion Fire Department (Covington is in the Pavilion district) responded to a barn fire at 1:34 p.m.

Byron Fire and several mutual-aid departments were tied up for a couple of hours on a rubber fire on Tower Hill Road. The Department of Environmental Conservation was called in for that blaze.

"One of the biggest concerns we have is when people out there are burning illegally," Yaeger said. "It's one thing to burn brush. It's another thing when they're out there burning tires, pesticides, tanks, things that were never allowed to be burned. That’s a real concern to us. It creates pollution and there's a bigger danger of secondary fires."

Over Friday and Saturday, Le Roy responded to four grass fires, Alexander three (all on Saturday), Darien, three, and Stafford, two. Stafford also responded to a locomotive fire (pictures here).

Stafford 2nd Asst. Chief Scott Kibler noted in comments that he and his fellow volunteers were on duty from 3:30 to 9:30 p.m.

The Batavian was with Stafford on the Roanoke Road fire, and the homeowner there seemed fairly embarrassed to have the fire department out to his house. He said he wasn't clear on the new burn regulations. DEC wasn't called to the scene and there was no apparent wllingness to ticket him.

Yaeger said he instructed fire chiefs back in October to use their discretion on whether to call out the DEC to a grass fire, at least for this first year, while people are still getting used to the change in the law.

"We want to inform the public of the new regulations and try to work with them," Yaeger said.

Yaeger said that if you see a possible controlled burn, but it's not out of control, it would be appropriate to contact DEC. If the fire seems to be spreading, witnesses should call 9-1-1.

Monday, April 5, 2010 at 9:23 am

Possible structure fire reported on West Main Street Road, Batavia

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, east pembroke


A possible structure fire at 3611 W. Main Street Road has been reported.

The caller reports seeing a red glow from the roof of a barn.

East Pembroke Fire and Town of Batavia Fire have been dispatched.

UPDATE 10:29 a.m.: Batavia Engine 24 canceled. Ladder 25 called to the scene. Asst. chief says it does't appear to be a structure fire, but wants the ladder truck there to investigate.

UPDATE: Apparently, some moulding or caulking had become worn and a light was shining through, causing an ember-like glow. No heat. No fire. A reader submitted the photo above.

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Monday, April 5, 2010 at 7:57 am

State health commissioner pushing for tax on sodas

post by Howard B. Owens in new york, taxes

Dr. Richard F. Daines is on a crusade. The one-time Morman missionary thinks people should not consume sugary drinks.

He wants the state to impose a one-cent-per-ounce tax on these beverages. He figures the tax would reduce consumption by 15 percent. He also estimates the tax will help raise $1 billion for the state.

And if you happen to believe this is just one more government intrusion on personal choice, then he thinks you're a dupe of the soft-drink lobby.

He ridiculed what he called the “personal choice” argument that government should stay out of people’s kitchens, saying it was being promulgated by “AstroTurf false-flag operations” that are really supported by the soda pop industry.

Read the story in the New York Times.

Monday, April 5, 2010 at 7:34 am

No Joke: New York's union payroll jumped $400 million on April 1

post by Howard B. Owens in budget, new york, taxes, unions

At a time when New York is struggling to close a $9.2 billion budget deficit, the state's workers represented by labor unions received a 4-percent pay increase April 1.

The wage hike will saddle taxpayers with another $400 million in annual expenses to cover.

The contracts with the Civil Service Employees Association and the Public Employee Federation were negotiated by former Gov. Eliot Spitzer in 2007.

Gov. David Paterson thinks the unions should turn down the raises, according to Business First.

"All public employees are a critical part of our state government. They deliver essential public services and, for that, they deserve our respect," he said Thursday. "But New York remains mired in a fiscal crisis of nearly unprecedented magnitude that will require real sacrifices. In agreeing to forego these scheduled 4-percent salary increases, the leaders of New York’s public employee unions have a real and concrete opportunity to demonstrate they understand the dire nature of this fiscal and economic crisis, and that they are willing to become a serious partner in addressing it.”

Unions flatly stated they will not budge. They say their contracts were fairly negotiated and must be honored.

“PEF will not reopen its contract with the state of New York,” said Kenneth Brynien, president of the Latham-based union that represents 58,000 white-collar state workers.

“What people don’t seem to grasp is, if you break a contract, you’re setting a terrible precedent. It ignores that you have legally binding documents,” said Stephen Madarasz, spokesman for CSEA.

There are 196,375 workers on the state payroll, and 94 percent of them are represented by a union.

Monday, April 5, 2010 at 7:13 am

Police Beat: Reported erratic driver allegedly high on drugs

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Alabama, alexander, crime, Darien, Le Roy

Jeff Allen Good, 34, of 3700 W. Main St., Room 1, Batavia, is charged with criminal possession of a controlled substance, 7th, possession of a hypodermic instrument, driving while impaired by drugs and driving left of pavement markings. The Sheriff's Office responded to a report of an erratic driver at 5:58 p.m., Sunday, who was forcing other cars off the roadway. The vehicle was located at 3700 W. Main St., and Good was identified as the alleged erratic driver. He was arrested by Deputy Patrick Reeves.

Jarred Ray Lewis, 21, of 50 Bloomingdale Road, Akron, is charged unlawful possession of marijuana. Lewis was stopped at 4:24 a.m., Sunday, for a vehicle check at Main and Oak streets in the city. He was ticketed by Deputy Patrick Reeves.

Michael Joseph Elmore, 19, of 814 Sumner Road, Darien, is charged with criminal possession of a controlled substance, 7th, and possession of a controlled substance not in its original container. Elmore was arrested following a traffic stop 6:49 p.m., Saturday, on Route 33, Pembroke, by Deputy Patrick Reeves.

Mark Christopher Kahabka, 18, of 3991 Pratt Road, Batavia, is charged with endangering the welfare of a child. Kahabka allegedly hosted an under-age drinking party Saturday night.

Nicole Marie Clark, 32, of 72 Blue Ridge Road, Penfield, is charged with DWI, driving with a BAC of .08 or greater, aggravated unlicensed operation, and failure to keep right. Clark was stopped by Deputy Eric Seppala at 1:20 a.m., Friday following a report of an erratic driver on Route 33, Town of Batavia.

Daniel Wayne King, 42, of 3481 Batavia-Oakfield Townline Road, Batavia, is charged with criminal possession of a controlled substance. Following a traffic stop by Deputy Patrick Reeves at 2:35 a.m., Saturday, on Veterans Memorial Drive, King was allegedly found in possession of crack cocaine.

Nicole A. Wilson, 33, of 126 E. State St., Albion, DWI, driving with a BAC of .08 or greater and aggravated unlicensed operation. Wilson was stopped on Route 19 in Le Roy at 12:45 a.m., Friday, by Deputy Chad Minuto.

Brett F. Dieter, 31, of Alabama, is charged with menacing, 3rd, stemming for an alleged domestic dispute that was reported to State Police at 1:06 a.m., Friday. Dieter was arrested at 8:29 p.m. No further details available.

Michael J. Nugent, 21, of Le Roy, is charged with criminal possession of a controlled substance, criminal use of drug paraphernalia (scales) and unlawful possession of marijuana. Nugent was arrested in the Town of Batavia by State Police at 3:25 p.m., Friday. No further details available.

Dewey E. Towner, 43, of Batavia, is charged with DWI, driving with a BAC of .08 or greater, and a motorcycle helmet violation. Towner was stopped by State Police on Oak Street, Batavia, at 8:25 p.m., Friday.

Accidents from the State Police blotter:

11:44 a.m., April 3, Veterans Memorial Drive, Batavia, two vehicles; Driver 1: Norman G. Walsh, 79, Batavia; Driver 2: Tamera E. Carney, 55, of Warsaw. No injuries reported.

7:35 p.m., April 3, Lewiston Road, Batavia, one vehicle; Driver 1: Sherrill T. Langdon, 80. No injuries reported.

5:01 p.m., April 2, Gilmore Road, Pembroke, property damage accident (parked car); Driver 1: Kristin M. Pequeen. No injuries reported.

6:49 p.m., April 2, South Lake Road, Village of Bergen, two vehicles; Driver 1: Robert L. Reynolds, 23, of Bergen; Driver 2: Desarea M. Sherlock, 18, of Brockport. No injuries reported.

Monday, April 5, 2010 at 6:19 am

Teenage driver accused of leading deputies on late-night chase

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

A teenage driver allegedly led law enforcement  on a four-mile chase early Sunday morning that started on Wortendyke Road in Batavia and ended in Alexander when the youth reportedly pulled over.

Charged with a long list of offenses was Chester Elmer Chase, 16, of 3189 Broadway Road, Alexander.

The initial pursuit started on Wortendyke when Deputy Patrick Reeves reported seeing a vehicle driven by Chase commit alleged traffic violations at about 2:38 a.m. Chase reportedly failed to stop at that time.

At one point during the pursuit, Chase allegedly turned off his headlights. Chase was also reportedly clocked at 102 mph at one point.

Chase reportedly did not pull over until he reached the intersection of Pike and Halstead roads, Alexander.

No injuries were reported a result of the pursuit.

The youth was charged with unlawfully fleeing a police officer, 3rd, unlawful possession of marijuana, failure to stop at a stop sign, operation without lights (two counts, Town of Batavia and Town of Alexander), speeding (80 in a 55 mph), driving left of pavement markings, failure to yield to emergency vehicle, failure to keep right, and speeding (102 in a 55 mph).

Appearance tickets were issued to Chase for town courts in both Alexander and Batavia.

Sunday, April 4, 2010 at 11:06 am

Teen sought by local law enforcement caught in Le Roy

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

mug_laird.jpgTwo months of running has come to an end for Christopher A. Laird.

The 17-year-old was found in Le Roy last night after police received a tip that he was at a Lake Street residence.

Laird has been sought on a warrant for alleged burglary, 2nd.

Sgt. Michael Hare and Officer Robert Tygart made the arrest at 10:50 p.m.

Following his arrest, Laird was transferred to the custody of the Sheriff's Office.

On Friday, Laird was the subject of a manhunt in the City of Batavia after he was reportedly spotted on State Street. Officers for Batavia and the Sheriff's Office were called in, as well as a State Police helicopter, but Laird managed to elude the dragnet.

The Batavian first reported Laird's status as a fugitive on Feb. 2.

Saturday, April 3, 2010 at 10:12 pm

An evening with the Stafford Fire Department

post by Howard B. Owens in fire, Stafford


This locomotive fire this evening sounded pretty interesting, so I drove out to get some pictures. The place I found to park required me to hike through some brush. The idea of making the same trip back wasn't appealing, so I asked Stafford 2nd Asst. Chief Scott Kibler for a ride to my truck.

We weren't on the road 90 seconds when a call came in for a brush fire on Roanoke Road, so at that point, I was along for the ride, like it or not (I thought it was great to go out with Stafford on a call from beginning to end).

After the jump are pictures from both the train situation and the Roanoke brush fire.

Thanks to Chief Dave Rumsey for getting me back to my truck after the incidents ended.

Saturday, April 3, 2010 at 9:36 pm

Women's dog's shot in Alabama

post by Howard B. Owens in Alabama, crime

A woman on Bloomingdale Road came home a short time ago to find both of her dogs shot.

No further details available at this time.

Saturday, April 3, 2010 at 6:05 pm

Locomotive fire and grass fire calls come in near the same time

post by Howard B. Owens in byron, fire, Stafford

A call came in for a locomotive fire south of Griswold Road in Stafford. There is smoke visible. Shortly after that call another call came in for a grass fire near the railroad crossing at Beaver Meadow Road in Bergen.

The Stafford fire is apparently not accessible via Griswold Road and a chief is suggesting crews try to get to it from School Road.

South Byron is responding to the Beaver Meadow fire.

UPDATE: There is heavy smoke across Griswold Road and because of concerns about potential toxic fumes, Griswold is being close. CSX is in the process of shutting down other train traffic on the line.

UPDATE: There is reportedly 3,000 gallons of oil contained in the locomative. The oil has burned off at this point and an investigation is under way. There are also container cars for ethanol, but those are empty. Firefighters are notified that there's a westbound train going through Bergen.

UPDATE: There's a strong wind advisory in effect from the National Weather Service, with notice of thunderstorms possible. The thunderstorms are just now coming off Lake Erie.

UPDATE: There's still no word from the train service, CSX, about whether tracks are shut down. A rep is expected on scene within 45 minutes.

UPDATE: In Darien, there's a report of a rubbish fire. The Stafford fire is under control, but still being worked. Darien is also asked to fill in for Stafford.

UPDATE: The locomotive fire is determined to fueled by a combination electrical means and diesel fuel. Firefighters say they saw the fire well before they could reach it and by the time they got to it, the fuel had burned itself off. The fire scene can't be cleared until the railroad rep gets there, but dispatch is informed that due to a backlog of work, they won't be able to get someone there as soon as expected.

UPDATE: The railroad rep is on scene or en route to the scene. The railroad company has also requested a haz-mat team to the scene. The train is not expected to move for another three or four hours.

Saturday, April 3, 2010 at 3:11 pm

Dozens of kids show up for Pembroke fire company Easter egg hunt

post by Howard B. Owens in Easter, pembroke, photos, volunteer firefighters


Dozens of children found treats, prizes and candy today at the Pembroke Volunteer Fire Department Easter Egg Hunt at the department's facility.  The sun was out and everybody seemed to have a good time.


More pictures after the jump:

Saturday, April 3, 2010 at 2:53 pm

Photos: Three pictures from Pembroke

post by Howard B. Owens in pembroke, photos


On my way to and from the Pembroke Easter egg hunt, I took a few pictures. Up top are some sheep in a field off Route 5, a mile or so east of Route 77. This looks like it will be a picture worth going out to take again when the trees fill out and maybe again in autumn.

Below, an old one-way sign outside the Pembroke Fire Hall, and below that, an old commercial building in Pembroke.



Saturday, April 3, 2010 at 10:59 am

Two men accused of beating up friend on Friday morning

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, crime

A pair of Batavia men are in jail, held on $10,000 bail each, charged with burglary and assault for allegedly refusing to leave an apartment and beating up the occupant.

The two men were apparently friends with the victim.

The alleged incident happened yesterday at 4:47 a.m. The apartment is located on East Avenue.

Taken into custody were Daniel J. Gilbert, 18, of 10 Tracy Ave., and Dustin N. Garrett, 20, of 24 Tracy Ave..

Arresting officers were Frank Klimjack and Daniel Coffey.

Saturday, April 3, 2010 at 10:49 am

Grass fire reported on Tonawanda Indian Reservation

post by Howard B. Owens in Alabama, fire, Tonawanda Indian Reservation

A large grass fire has been reported in the area of 545 Bloomingdale Road, on the Tonawanda Indian Reservation.

It is reportedly moving toward a structure.

Alabama Fire has been dispatched.

View Larger Map
Saturday, April 3, 2010 at 8:16 am

Today's Deals: Blue Pearl, O'Lacy's, Main St. Pizza, Oliver's and more

post by Howard B. Owens in Deal of the Day

Blue Pearl Yoga, 200 E. Main St., Batavia, NY: Exercise your soul as well as your body in a friendly and relaxing atm.osphere. We have a gift certificate for five weeks of yoga, a $50 value, for $25.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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


Friday, April 2, 2010 at 9:50 pm

Bicyclist struck by car on Ellicott Street Road, Batavia

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

A bicyclist has been struck by a car at Ellicott Street Road and Swan Street.

The victim is still down and reportedly bleeding from his head.

Batavia Fire and Mercy EMS have been dispatched.

UPDATE: Patient transported by ground ambulance to UMMC. Fire and police clear scene.

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