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Howard B. Owens's blog

Sunday, March 28, 2010 at 9:44 pm

Accident reported at Law and Walnut, Batavia

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, accident

A rollover accident has been reported at the intersection of Walnut and Law streets in the City of Batavia.

City Fire and Mercy EMS have been dispatched.

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Sunday, March 28, 2010 at 4:35 pm

Stoddards marking 10th year as proprietors of American Home Remodeling


After 15 years of working for other people in the home-improvement business -- both as a hired hand and in sales -- Tim Stoddard began to get the itch to do it himself.

"My wife Lisa was a big instigator of it," Stoddard said. "She kept telling me I could do it.”

So he enrolled in free classes from the Small Business Administration at Geneseo College and began planning what would become American Home Remodeling.

Ten years ago, Tim and Lisa launched their company with a vision for a firm that would be known for its quality and its personal attention to customer care.

"We didn't need to be a big fish," Stoddard said. "We didn't need to be the biggest company out there. We wanted to be a company known for honesty, doing the right thing and having the right people in place."

Sunday, March 28, 2010 at 3:19 pm

Rollover accident reported on Prentice Road

post by Howard B. Owens in accident, Le Roy, Stafford

A rollover accident has been reported on Prentice Road in the area of Buckley Road.

Stafford Fire and Mercy EMS are being dispatched.

Very minor injuries are reported.

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Sunday, March 28, 2010 at 2:36 pm

Vehicle fire reported on the Thruway

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, fire, thruway

A car is reportedly on fire in the eastbound lane of the Thruway around mile marker 388.

Town of Batavia fire is being dispatched.

The dispatch center has received multiple calls.

UPDATE 3:39 p.m.: A firefighter responding said the smoke can be seen from Bank Street. "It must be going pretty good," he said.

UPDATE 4:12 p.m.: Fire crews are picking up and the Thruway is being reopened.

UPDATE 4:19 p.m.: Town of Batavia Fire back in service.

Sunday, March 28, 2010 at 10:34 am

Photos: A cabin, a barn, a hotel

post by Howard B. Owens in BARNS, batavia, pembroke, photos


When I'm out and about in the county, I usually try to find roads I've never driven down before. In coming back from the two accidents this morning, I came across three photo opportunities.

Above, the Magadore Hillton and Pembroke Hotel, at the intersection of North Pembroke and Beckwith roads. The spelling on the sign is "Hillton." That's not  a typo. The proprietor, according to the sign, is Linda Smith. It's hard to tell if this is an active business. There is a sign next to the building that advertises fish fry and beef on weck, but it also looked like it might be vacant, except for a possible residence on the side.

UPDATE: We just got this e-mail:

"Hi, my name is Linda Smith I have owned the bar for 30 years. It was built in 1850 and has been a working bar for a very long time. I have a little restaurant that serves fish frys every friday. We are open 6 days a week."

Below is what looks like an old hunter's cabin along Stegman Road, across from the Tonawanda Creek. 

The last picture is of a yellow barn -- don't see too many of those. It was on Powers Road.



Sunday, March 28, 2010 at 9:58 am

Man transported by Mercy Flight after horse accident

post by Howard B. Owens in accident, Mercy Flight, pembroke


A man who has not been identified at this time was transported to an area hospital this morning after reportedly being kicked in the head by a horse.

The accident occurred shortly after 8 a.m. at 8170 North Pembroke Road, the location of D.J. Stables.

There is no further information about the accident available at this time.

Sunday, March 28, 2010 at 9:45 am

Driver hits pole and keeps driving across open pasture in East Pembroke

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


A 37-year-old Batavia man was taken by Mercy Flight to ECMC this morning after he apparently drove into a telephone pole and across a field into a brush line.

His car travel another 150 yards after shearing the pole off at its base, leaving behind pieces of his minivan as he continued rolling across the cow pasture.

Luis Gomez was reportedly driving southbound on Read Road when he reached the intersection at Route 33 and allegedly failed to stop for a stop sign and continued straight across Route 33, striking the pole on the other side of the T intersection.

The possibility of drinking and driving has not been ruled out, according to Deputy Ron Meides. (See update below.)

There was a partially consumed 12-pack of beer in the back seating area, though no open cans were visible.

No other people were in the minivan at the time of the accident. No other cars were involved. 

Meides said Gomez was semiconscious as he was being prepared for Mercy Flight transport and was taken to ECMC "for evaluation."

East Pembroke Fire and Mercy EMS answered the initial call, which came in before 8 a.m.

UPDATE10:53 p.m.: Deputy Meides report was just released.  Luis Gomez had a BAC of only .04.  No citations were issued in the accident.  The minivan traveled 329 feet after striking the the utility pole. The home address for Gomez was listed at 20 Thomas Ave., left apartment.



Sunday, March 28, 2010 at 6:06 am

Genesee County firefighters responding to fire in Attica

post by Howard B. Owens in fire, Wyoming County

Fire units from Genesee County are being dispatched to a structure fire in Wyoming County, or being put on standby at fire halls in both Wyoming and Genesee counties.

The fire is reported at 3930 E. Main Road, Attica, Wyoming County.

Pavillion, Darien, Bethany, Alexander and Town of Batavia, at least, have either been requested to the scene or are on standby.

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Saturday, March 27, 2010 at 8:22 pm

Connecticut police have more questions than answers in double fatal accident

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, accident

Connecticut law enforcement officials continue to investigate an accident that took the life of a Batavia man and another driver, according to the New London Day.

The Day reports:

Why was Lance Lewis, 36, of Batavia, N.Y., driving his Honda CRV southbound in the northbound lane?

Which ramp did Lewis use to access the highway?

Where was he coming from?

As they continue to investigate the circumstances of the three-car crash, state police are trying to retrace Lewis' steps to find the answers to these and other questions.

State police spokeswoman Kelly Grant said police will contact Lewis' family to try to determine what he was doing in Connecticut and where he was before getting into his car and driving the wrong way on I-95.

On Facebook, Paul Wishman said, "he worked at UPS with us, was on the morning shift loading the trucks." Laura Russell-Ricci identified him as a 1992 graduate of Batavia High.

The Day also posted a picture from the crash  (click link above).

UPDATE Click here for Lewis's obituary.

Saturday, March 27, 2010 at 7:18 pm

Tax lien auction falls short of county's goals

post by Howard B. Owens in auctions, batavia, Bontrager's, genesee county


Thirteen parcels auctioned off at Bontrager's in Batavia on Saturday morning will add nearly $78,000 to the Genesee County coffers.

But's a bit short of the more than $100,000 in unpaid taxes that caused the county to foreclose on the properties in the first place.

County Treasurer Scott German said he was disappointed at the results.

The total tax assessment value of the properties exceeded $250,000, but one winning bidder said the Village of Le Roy rental he won for $8,000 wasn't worth the $22,000 in assessed value.

Winning bidders won't be responsible for the back taxes, but they may owe other fees and taxes to the towns and villages with jurisdiction over their winning properties.

Two of the properties auctioned off have been in the news in the past couple of years.

One of the first properties up for auction this morning was 789 Lewiston Road, a one-acre parcel where an alleged meth lab was found in November. It went for $3,000 (sorry, I'll need to follow up on the assessed value ... didn't write this one down for some reason).

The other property that was in the news was 7881 Lewiston Road, where a fire claimed the life of 17-year-old Erik Mooney on May 30, 2008. This Lewiston Road parcel went for the highest auction price at $29,000. There were $890 in taxes owed on the land, which was valued at $25,000.

One of biggest bargains of the day may have been out of the Village of Alexander, where a house and 1.28 acres at 3438 Telephone Road valued at $42,100 went for $8,000. There were $1,784 in taxes owed on the property, which led to its foreclosure.

Another bargain was 1 Pleasant St., Le Roy, which is valued at $48,600 and sold for $8,000. The back taxes on the parcel were $32,866.

Bidders said they were there for a variety of reasons, from representatives of Habitat for Humanity to landlords to people just looking for a bargain on a good piece of property.

The Foss's, pictured below, purchased a small parcel just because it adjoins their current property.

The video under the picture contains pictures from the auction. It's important to note that the audio has no relation to the bidders you see in the video. Just because you see a picture of a bidder doesn't mean he or she is bidding on the property in the audio or at the price mentioned. The audio is for bidding on 7881 Lewiston Road.


Saturday, March 27, 2010 at 6:42 pm

Drug charges follow traffic stop in Stafford

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

Three Batavia men are facing drug charges following a traffic stop on Route 33 in Batavia yesterday.

The men are accused of carrying drugs and needles after being stopped by Deputy Matthew Butler at 5:35 p.m.

Charged and released on appearance tickets were:

  • Andrew J. Draper, 31, of 9 Overlook Drive, Batavia;
  • David W. King, 28, of 3481 Batavia-Oakfield Townline Road, Batavia
  • Randy S. Wiedrich, 38, of 5 Porter Ave., Batavia.

All three were charged with possession of a controlled substance, 7th, and possession of a hypodermic instrument. Draper was charged with unlawful possession of marijuana.

The reason for the initial traffic stop was not reported.

Saturday, March 27, 2010 at 6:13 pm

Rooftop sitters want your cans and bottles to help little boy who needs new heart

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, charity, Oakfield


Two-year-old Keegan Delcamp, of Batavia, has already had open-heart surgery. He still needs a transplant.

Two co-workers of Keegan's mother, Ronette Wolcot, from Attica, and Marcy Mabon, of Oakfield, are sitting atop Mabon's home to help raise awareness of Keegan's plight and encourage cash and recyclable donations.

The women started their rooftop sitting at noon today and will stay there until midnight noon tomorrow (Sunday).

They said the word got out fast today (mostly through forwarded text messages) and they've had a big turn out, including one man who dropped off -- anonymously -- $500 in cash first thing.  They've received other $500 donations, as well.

The pile of cans and bottles in Mabon's yard is about 4 feet high. Co-workers have already raised $2,000.

Mabon said there is no limit on how much they need to raise -- Keegan's needs are just too great.

To make a donations prior to noon (Sunday) drive out to 3781 Batavia-Elba Townline Road.

Saturday, March 27, 2010 at 5:54 pm

Photo: Barn along Route 98, heading toward Elba

post by Howard B. Owens in BARNS, batavia, elba, photos


These two old barns and silo are along Route 98, probably in the Town of Batavia, near Elba.

Friday, March 26, 2010 at 10:59 pm

The Men Who Built Batavia, sort of

post by Howard B. Owens in architecture, batavia, history, housing


Henry Homelius had no formal education, but the man born in Buffalo in 1850 would be, by the late 19th Century, perhaps Batavia's foremost architect. Together, with his son, Frank Homelius, he would design some of Batavia's grandest homes and commercial buildings.

Bill Kauffman shared a little booklet with me the other day titled "Henry and Frank Homelius: The Men Who Built Batavia."

Late this afternoon, I drove around and snapped pictures of some of the homes they designed. In the course of doing so, I also came across a number of homes not included in the book that were equally as grand as those credited to the Homelius's. So maybe they didn't build Batavia single-handedly, but they sure did build some great homes.

They also built some of Batavia's great commercial buildings as well, such as: the Batavia Daily News building on Jackson Street; the Batavia Times building on Center (now Center Street Smoke House); the former State Police barracks (now home to the Batavia Police), and the old firehouse on Main Street.

Henry Homelius is responsible for several of the homes on Ellicott Avenue.

Start with Ellicott Avenue, after the jump below are the pictures I took of some of the homes designed by Henry (mostly) and Frank:

Friday, March 26, 2010 at 5:09 pm

Suspect arrested in home invasion burglary

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, crime

mug_robert_wright.jpgA Ross Street resident has been arrested in connection with an alleged home-invasion burglary in Batavia last week and jailed without bail.

Robert D. Wright, 18, of 149 Ross Street, is charged with burglary, 2nd. Additional charges are pending, according to police.

A second suspect remains at large.

Wright is accused of entering a home at 20 Vine St. around 5 a.m., March 18, with a white male -- both of them had their faces covered -- and demanding drugs.

Police said the suspects claimed to have a gun, but didn't display a weapon.

Police at the time said they didn't believe the home was selected at random.

Anyone with information is asked to call the Batavia Police Department at 585-345-6350 or the Batavia Police Department’s Confidential Tip Line at 585-345-6370. Information can also be left via the Suspicious Activity Reporting link at the Batavia Police Department’s Web site.

Friday, March 26, 2010 at 3:42 pm

Photos: Hanson Aggregates fire

post by Howard B. Owens in fire, Pavilion

Hanson Fire_018.jpg

Jay Lynch, a former volunteer firefighter who now serves as the authorized photographer for fire services in Genesee and Livingston counties just supplied The Batavian with this collection of photos from this morning's fire at Hanson Aggregates in Pavilion.

More photos after the jump:

Friday, March 26, 2010 at 3:24 pm

Medical condition given as cause for accident near roundabout

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

A medical condition appears to be the cause of an accident Wednesday afternoon that left three poles -- called bollards -- splayed across the sidewalk next to the Oak Street Roundabout.

A 66-year-old woman turned herself in after learning from Attica Police that she had knocked down the bollards. She thought she had merely driven over a curb.

The Batavia woman's doctor recently changed her medication for diabetes and the woman told police she became drowsy.

The Batavian agreed not to release her name because it was a private medical condition and there were no citations issued.

The woman was coming off Pearl Street and drove up onto the curb just before she normally would have entered the roundabout.

The bollards are decorative posts meant to guide traffic along the roundabout. No word on the estimated cost of the damage.

Wikipedia defines bollard:

A bollard is a short vertical post. Originally it only meant a post used on a quay for mooring. The word now also describes a variety of structures to control or direct road traffic, such as posts arranged in a line to obstruct the passage of motor vehicles.

Friday, March 26, 2010 at 3:17 pm

Car hits guardrail along Ledge Road, Basom

post by Howard B. Owens in Basom, accident, Alabama

A vehicle has reportedly hit a guardrail and is smoking in the area of 1084 Ledge Road, Basom.

Alabama Fire and Mercy EMS are being dispatched.

Unknown injuries at this time.

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Friday, March 26, 2010 at 2:20 pm

County's goal is 90-percent participation in national census

post by Howard B. Owens in census, genesee county

If you haven't filled out your census yet, go ahead and do it now, says Jill M. Babinski, a senior planner with the Genesee County Planning Department.

She acknowledges that the form is confusing because it says Census Day is April 1, yet it also says to send it in right away. But mailing the form now will ensure it gets delivered in time and that's the best approach to take, she said.

"I know some people who aren't sending it in until April 1, because they say that's 'Census Day,' but they should go ahead and send it in now," Babinski said.

So far, 30 percent of Genesee County has been counted, though the actual return rate may be higher. Babinski said the Census Bureau may not have all the data entered yet.

The county's goal is 90-percent participation.

In 2000, it was 86 percent.

Residents who don't answer the census -- which takes 10 minutes -- will receive a visit from a canvass worker sometime in late spring or early summer.

Workers will also visit residents who get their mail through P.O. boxes. Those people will not receive a postal mailed census form.

She thinks the 90-percent goal is realistic because of all the marketing the Census Bureau has done this year. A high participation rate is really important to the local community.

"I understand there is some anti-government sentiment out there, but why wouldn't you fill it out," Babinski said. "You're only hurting yourself and your community. It's how our government figures aid and reapportionment. It's really important, and you become a part of history."

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