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Howard B. Owens's blog

Friday, March 12, 2010 at 1:02 pm

Police Beat: Le Roy man jailed after alleged violation of probation

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

Benjamin G. Evans, 21, of 23 Lincoln St., Le Roy, was arrested by Le Roy Police at 6:28 p.m., Thursday, on a bench warrant out of Batavia City Court. Evans reportedly failed to comply with the terms of a release-under-supervision agreement. Evans was originally charged with criminal possession of a controlled substance, 7th, in August 2009. Following his arrest by Le Roy Police, he was turned over to Batavia Police and jailed on $3,000 bail.

Summer Ogden, 33, of 112 State St., Apt. #2, Batavia, is charged with DWI, moving from lane unsafely, failure to notify DMV of address change and unsafe tires. Ogden was stopped at 1:45 a.m., Friday, by Officer Dan Coffey on West Main Street.

Friday, March 12, 2010 at 12:43 pm

Batavia's Graham Corp. continues forward momentum in 2010

post by Howard B. Owens in business, graham corp

Batavia-based Graham Corp., which in 2008 saw the price of its stock drop from $50 per share to under $10 in the space of about three months, continues a string of good news in recent months.

This week Graham announced a quarterly dividend of two cents and another $6 millions in orders.

The orders have come from multiple sources around the world and include work for steam surface condensers installed in the U.S. and Asia.

The first order will be sent to a municipal waste-to-energy project in the U.S.

Friday, March 12, 2010 at 12:31 pm

Batavia mother who tried to kill baby in Erie County sent to prison

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, crime, Erie County

A Batavia mother who tried to kill her baby was sentenced to three-and-a-half years in prison yesterday in Erie County.

Marcia Mitchell tried to smother her baby while they were at an Erie County hospital following a house fire in 2008.

The Buffalo News reports:

“I realize I made a horrible mistake. I miss my children exponentially,” Mitchell told the judge.

Mitchell, 29, said that at the time of her crime, she was “under extreme stress,” with both of her daughters hospitalized. She said she got no help from family members after her Batavia flat was destroyed in an April 2008 fire.

Unless experts determine otherwise, Mitchell will not be able to see her baby until 2019.

Friday, March 12, 2010 at 12:08 pm

Stepmother accused of killing baby from Batavia

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, crime

mug_englehardt.jpgAndrew John Cianfrini, 21 months, was supposed to spend the weekend of Nov. 8 with his father and stepmother in Elmira. He never came home.

The infant died Nov. 10. Elmira police now say the child's stepmother, Melissa S. Englehardt, 24, put Methanol, an ingredient in anti-freeze, in a drink and served it to him.

Andrew lived with his mother, Kristen Cianfrini, in Batavia.

Englehardt has been charged with manslaughter, 1st.

The child's father is George Englehardt.

Friday, March 12, 2010 at 11:38 am

Today's Deals: Margarita's, Enchanted Florist, O'Lacy's, Matty's 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.

The Enchanted Florist, 202 E. Main St., Batavia, NY:  Spring is almost here, but you an make your home or office feel like spring now with flowers! We have a $20 gift certificate for $9.50.

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.

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 a seven-week  session (one class per week), which is a $70 value, for $35.

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.

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.

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.c

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.

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.

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, March 12, 2010 at 12:05 am

Flooding reported in basement of home in Elba

post by Howard B. Owens in elba

The basement of a house at 6163 Quaker Hill Road has reportedly flooded.

The quarter is believed now to be above the power panel and water is coming up through the kitchen floor.

Elba Fire is being dispatched.

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Thursday, March 11, 2010 at 11:05 pm

Genesee ARC holds open house at new facility at former St. Mary's School

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Genesee ARC


Genesee ARC introduced its new Community Center tonight in a special program that included an art exhibit by ARC clients and a presentation on the organizations fundraising campaign.

Genesee ARC acquired the former St. Mary's School at 38 Woodrow Road, Batavia, two years ago and is in the process of completely remodeling the facility to meet the needs of clients and families.

The project will cost more than $1.4 million, with $750,000 of the funds necessary for the project coming from private donations. So far, 59 percent of the total has been raised, and Genesee ARC is looking for other community members to step forward and help with the fundraising drive.

Tom Houseknecht and his wife Lynn are co-chairs of the campaign. The Houseknecht family has been involved with Genesee ARC from its earliest days. Tom's parents, Ralph and Agnes, lost a developmentally disabled child who was 3 years old and realized the need to support families with developmentally disabled children. The entire Houseknecht family has been involved in supporting Genesee ARC for nearly 35 years.

"We have received much more than we have given, as we have all experienced the special gifts of these individuals and the families that ARC serves," Tom Houseknecht said.

The new facility will offer a culinary arts program, a creative arts room, family support services, recreation and physical fitness and a resource center.

Tonight's program included a showing of art work by several Genesee ARC clients. The featured artist was Henry James Stratton II (pictured below), also known as "Hank," or, in Challenger Baseball season, "Hammerin' Hank."  Hank likes to paint super heroes and villains, but his 11-piece exhibit included a sunset, a zoom mobile and a birthday bonanza.


Several of the artists wanted to have their pictures taken tonight. Please take a moment to click the "read more" link below to see the pictures of these artists and their works.

Thursday, March 11, 2010 at 8:43 pm

Flooding closes Peaviner Road in Alexander

post by Howard B. Owens in alexander, flooding, Peaviner Road

Peaviner Road in Alexander is closed due to high water.

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Thursday, March 11, 2010 at 8:06 pm

Photo: Bald Eagle in Alexander

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


Stacy Wirth provided this picture. She was driving on Brookville Road in Alexander today when she spotted the Bald eagle dining on a deer carcass.

Thursday, March 11, 2010 at 5:37 pm

Fall down stairs takes the life of Darien Center man

post by Howard B. Owens in accident, Darien

A 57-year-old Darien Center man who fell down a flight of stairs in his home and struck his head on a hammer, died this morning at the Erie County Medical Center.

William Thomas was a retired carpet salesman and the father of five children.

The accident occurred around 7 p.m., Tuesday, and Thomas was taken by Mercy Flight to ECMC.

For the past 10-and-a-half years, Thomas was married to Marguerite. Together, they have 15 grandchildren.

"(Our time together was) way too short," Marguerite said this afternoon. "We were married right here on our property where we built our log home, right here in Darien Center. This was our dream."

She said Bill's accidental death hasn't really sunk in yet.

"He was a very healthy man," she said. "He loved me beyond belief and I knew that."

She said, "We were glued together."

Thomas served in the Navy in the 1960s, loved to ride his motorcycle and "had the best sense of humor of anybody you would ever want to meet."

There is no information available yet on funeral arrangements.

Thursday, March 11, 2010 at 1:50 pm

Three residential wells on State Street Road contaminated by e-coli

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, e-coli, water, water wells

(Updated 3:18 p.m.)

The wells of three homes on State Street Road in the Town of Batavia have been contaminated by the deadly bacteria known as e-coli, according to the county's Interim Health Director Randy Garney.

The likely cause of the contamination, according to Garney, was the spreading of manure on nearby farm fields.

The three homes are located between the airport and the Genesee County Emergency Management Office.

Rwater_statestreet.jpgesidents contacted the health department Monday complaining about discolored water and a funny smell, Garney said. The water was tested on Tuesday and positive results came back Wednesday.

Resident Joe Pionessa (pictured), who has lived on State Street for 22 years, said his water tested positive for bacteria, but no e-coli, though he believed neighbors on both sides of him did have e-coli in their well water.

He said it wasn't a big deal. He doesn't drink water ("I know what fish do in it," he said), and he thinks his water has already cleaned up quite a bit (he dumped chlorine in it after noticing the funny smell on Thursday).

He doesn't want negative publicity for the farmer, whom he said he's known for years and he believes was following state guidelines.

"Stuff like this happens and he certainly didn't do anything maliciously," Pionessa said. "He was very apologetic. Shit happens, and this time it happened here."

Somebody, he said, possibly the farmer, left three cases of bottled water yesterday on Pionessa's front steps.

Letters have been sent to 44 of the surrounding home owners in both Batavia and Elba warning them of the potential contamination and asking them to contact the health department to have their water tested if they suspect any contamination.

The test is free.

Emergency Management Coordinator Tim Yaeger said test results of the well water at the county building came back negative this afternoon. Not that it mattered much, Yaeger said, since personnel there have drank bottled water since the day the facility opened.

Because the wells were contaminated from a ground water source, it's probable that the residents will never again be able to use the wells for potable water.

Town of Batavia Supervisor Greg Post said the Town has already started the process of helping the residents determine if they want to create a water district and hook their homes into the public water system.

This sort of contamination is a common issue in the Town of Batavia, according to Post.

"We anticipate that this will be an issue until every household in the community is on public water," Post said. "The only solution to this is to ensure that well water is no longer the primary source of water because all well water is at risk."

While the town doesn't supply water, they do have resources available to help with getting the engineering done, the cost analysis and setting up the process of putting homes on public water

"There is a process and we’re certainly already mobilized," Post said.

There was a similar problem on Ellicott Street Road two years ago, where a farmer was "guilty of farming" -- spreading manure in accordance with state regulations -- and more than 100 homes were effected by e-coli contamination. The town was able to help expedite the process of getting the homes on public water.

Thursday, March 11, 2010 at 1:00 pm

Johnsons' Millennium Computers expands into smaller space

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business, Millennium Computers


Growth is what most small business owners aim for, and Marc and Michelle Johnson reached an important milestone last month -- they moved from retail space they rented on East Main Street, Batavia, to a location on Washington Avenue that they own.

The Johnsons set up shop for Millennium Computers, founded in Batavia in 1997, in the former real estate office of Feary Cohen.

Marc Johnson said he had been planning for a couple of years to move Millennium into space he owned and bought vacant land on Washington next to the Cohen office a couple of years ago.

This past summer, he said, Howard Cohen called him and offered him the Feary Cohen space. It was a deal he couldn't pass up, he said.

"As an entrepreneur, you want to keep reinventing yourself," Johnson said.

While the new space is smaller, that's better Johnson said. It enables him and his staff to work more efficiently. They can handle multiple projects more easily.

It also helps that they were able to redesign the office -- which is based on a plan created by Michelle -- to suit their needs.

The office is designed, he said, for efficiency and openness, so that when needed, customers can work directly with the tech fixing or upgrading their computers.

And there's room to grow, either on the vacant parcel to the east or on the south side of the building.

"If business continues to increase the way it has over the past two years or so, I don't see any reason why we won't be able to expand," Johnson said.

Thursday, March 11, 2010 at 12:10 pm

Suspect in burglary has new attorney, but won't get second chance at plea agreement

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, crime

mug-reginald_wilson.jpgReginald Wilson, charged with burglary, 2nd, and facing a possible life prison term for his alleged part in a break-in on State Street in September, has a new attorney.

Wilson has hired Fares Rumi of Batavia. In court this morning for the change of attorney notice, Rumi politely asked Judge Robert Noonan if his client might have a chance to reconsider a plea offer he turned down a week ago.

"No Mr. Rumi, it doesn’t work that way," Noonan said. "His time is gone."

Rumi replied, "we're ready to proceed to trial."

The trial is scheduled to begin with jury selection at 9 a.m., March 29.

Wilson will be tried on charges of burglary 2nd and criminal possession of stolen property. If convicted of either, District Attorney Lawrence Friedman could ask Noonan to impose a life sentence.

The 37-year-old Rochester resident have five prior felony convictions.

Three other individuals were reportedly involved in the alleged burglary, which frightened a woman who was home at the time. Two of the alleged cohorts have said in statements that Wilson did not participate in the burglary.  One individual will testify that Wilson was there.

Wilson was arrested, reportedly, after beging caught driving a car stolen from the residence.

Previously, Friedman offered Wilson a felony conviction of possession of stolen property and 2- to 4-years in state prison.

In other court news:

Warren T. Cotton, accused of operating a meth lab at 13 Ross St., Batavia, will be arraigned in Federal court this afternoon on a charge possession with the intent to manufacture substances with a detectable amount of methamphetamine. The local charges against Cotton will be dropped.

Chad M. Johnston, 23, who admitted Feb. 24 to attempted burglary, 3rd, for a break-in at 15 Fairway Drive, Batavia, was sentenced today. Johnston will serve 1 1/2 to 3 three years in supervised parole. Johnston will first serve six months in a drug rehab program at Willard Drug Treatment Campus.

Thursday, March 11, 2010 at 8:56 am

Police Beat: Charges of DWI and an alleged trespass

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

Rebecca Jo Cornell, 35, of 439 Sandhill Road, Caledonia, is charged with trespass. Cornnell is accused of going into the Batavia Target store after being barred from the store for allegedly shoplifting in January.

Robert May, 66, of 9339 Warsaw Road, Le Roy, is charged with DWI, consumption of alcohol in a motor vehicle and no or inadequate headlights. May was stopped at 7:27 p.m., Wednesday on Park Road by Deputy Bradley Mazur.

Thursday, March 11, 2010 at 8:11 am

Blue Devils knock off Wellsville to advance to regional title game

post by Howard B. Owens in basketball, batavia, sports

After beating Wellsville (17-5) at the Blue Cross Arena last night 64-41, the Batavia Blue Devils advance to the Far West Regional title game.

Batavia will play Olean (20-2) at 4 p.m., Saturday, at Buffalo State College.

Co Co Irvin led the Blue Devils with 19 points. Andrew Hoy and Josh Budlong each added 15 points. Justin Washington scored nine points and had 11 rebounds. Budlong had 5 three-point goals.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010 at 8:45 pm

Controlled burn in Stafford needs to be extinquished

post by Howard B. Owens in fire, Stafford

Stafford Fire is being asked to respond to a large controlled burn at 6002 Griswold Road that needs to be extinguished.

Law enforcement is also being dispatched. The fire may be outside of new controlled burn regulations.

Stafford units are responding Code 2.

10:02 p.m.: Stafford units being put back in service.

10:20 p.m.: The pile of wood (possibly an old barn) would take significant manpower to extinguish, so an assistant fire chief and a DEC officer have advised the land owner he will need to watch the burn all night. All remaining Stafford personnel back in service.

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Wednesday, March 10, 2010 at 7:37 pm

South Main Street family wonders what's next after losing home in accident

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, accident, South Main Street


It's going to be a struggle to get through the next month, says Robin Lewin. She, her husband and two teenage daughters are living in an RV parked in the driveway of 28 South Main St., Batavia.

The house they rented there was knocked off its foundation Monday afternoon when it was struck by a truck reportedly driven 19-year-old Louis M. Reeb, of Corfu.

Reeb has not been charged with any crimes yet, but Lewin said investigators have been asking her and her husband questions.

Reeb remains in Strong Memorial Hospital in satisfactory condition.

condemned.jpgThe pickup slammed into the west side of the two-unit house and demolished the steps leading to the second-floor entryway. Two-by-fours now prop up the west wall.  The east wall is bowed and the cinder-block chimney is cracked at the seams between two blocks.

The second-floor tenant, Luz Castro, was nearly struck by the truck as she waited outside for her daughter's school bus. We have no word on where Castro is staying now, but the Lewin family is preparing to move.

They are getting their belongings out of the portion of the house they are allowed to access (at least one room is locked off because of safety concerns) and moving them to storage.

"I don’t know what we’re going to do," Lewin said. "My youngest daughter’s got three more months to graduate and after that we were going to leave state."

This month, she said, they don't really have enough money for necessities. Her mother, Barbara Waterstraw, a Newark resident, was visiting Monday and in the house at the time of the accident. She has sent some money to help, but Lewin said it's still not enough.

Her husband David works in landscaping, but that business hasn't started for the season yet.

David and Robin have two daughters, Amanda, who has graduated high school, and Danielle, who attends Batavia High.

"We’ll be fine by next month and then we’ll have money for heat and food and stuff like that," Lewin said. "We’ll be fine. It’s just that this month we’ll be struggling with everything."

It was a twist of fate that Robin was even home the day of the accident. She had originally been scheduled for heart surgery in Rochester, which was why her mother was in town, but after further examination that morning, her doctor determined the surgery was unnecessary.

"I was thinking, what would happen if he did the surgery and the girls were in the house all by themselves?" Lewin said. "They were going to stay by themselves for one night. I thank God that he let me come home. I just thank God nothing happened to them."

Wednesday, March 10, 2010 at 6:16 pm

Oakfield Presbyterian Church up for auction

post by Howard B. Owens in auction, Churches, Oakfield


Wanna buy a church? How would you like a nice big living room with stained glass windows? Perhaps you could turn the church into a restaurant or community theater? Or maybe you're a pastor with a growing congregation and need more space.

No matter what you might want to do with the space, you will have your chance to win the former Oakfield Presbyterian Church, 80 and 82 North Main St., Oakfield, at auction at 5:30 p.m., March 18.

The church and adjoining house -- the manse -- will be sold together with a starting bid of $20,000. The high bidder has the option to buy all the contents of the buildings for an additional $5,000.

The assessed value is $398,000, and current annual taxes are about $16,607. 

The church was built in 1890. It's 11,740 square feet. Besides the manse, there's also a one-car detached garage.

Potential bidders can check out the buildings at open houses 10 a.m. to noon on March 13 and March 17. The winning bidder will be required to make an immediate $10,000 deposit.

The auction is being conducted by Harris Wilcox, a Bergen-based company.


Wednesday, March 10, 2010 at 5:56 pm

Early spring fishing off of Law Street

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Law Street, outdoors, Tonawanda Creek


Zach Walsh casts his lure into an inlet of the Tonawanda Creek by Law Street, near where he lives. The 16-year-old said the inlet is one of his regular springtime fishing holes. Last spring, he said, he caught a pretty good pike there. Zach was kind enough to fill me in on a few other good spots right in the neighborhood.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010 at 2:43 pm

Elba scores on high student graduation percentage in state report

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, education, elba, schools

Elba Central School District is leading Genesee County schools in the percentage of students who graduate from high school, according to a report released by the New York Education Department.

Elba's 97-percent graduation rate is well above the state average of 74 percent.

Superintendent Joan Cole told WBTA that teachers pay close attention to each student in Elba.

"Where there's a concern in terms of student academic performance or any other struggles a child might have in the classroom, we're able to right away address it through working with the family to make sure the students are successful," Cole said. "Teachers are very attuned to the kids."

None of the schools in Genesee County fell below the state average, but Alexander High came close, with a 76-percent graduation rate.

Batavia's rate was 81 percent.

Principle Chris Daly said because Batavia is larger and in a bigger population area, it has different dynamics to deal with.

"Our goal every year is to get to 100-percent graduation," Daly said. "We look to incrementally increase each year to get there."

He also faulted the state report for not considering the students who complete their education at BOCES, which may take five years.

"That sometimes delays graduation on time," Daly said. "The way the state counts it, they're not graduating on time, yet they'll come out with a skill that will earn them more than some college graduates will have for starting pay."

The other schools: Byron-Bergen, 87 percent; Le Roy, 86 percent; Oakfield-Alabama, 80 percent; Pavilion, 91 percent; Pembroke, 88 percent.

Batavia had 200 freshmen in 2005, the biggest class in the county. Elba's was the smallest, at 33. The next smallest was Alexander with 70.

(via WBTA)

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