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Howard B. Owens's blog

Saturday, February 7, 2015 at 10:34 pm

Suspect in Attican Motel standoff charged with falsely reporting incident

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

A former Marchias resident has been identified as the Attican Motel resident who told authorities he was armed Friday night, leading to a four-hour standoff that ended after the use of teargas. He's been charged with a felony.

Michael A. Balla, 39, was arrested by Attica PD, Chief Dean Hendershott announced this evening, and he is being held in the Genesee County Jail on $10,000 cash bail or $20,000 bond.

Balla is charged with falsely reporting an incident, 2nd. 

Authorities say Balla called 9-1-1 and reported that he had a loaded gun, that he did not want anyone coming there because there would be an explosion when they walked in the door. 

Hendershott was dispatched to the scene and he requested backup from deputies in both counties along with State Police.

A State Police negotiator tried to talk Balla out of the Attican's Room 101 and the State Police robot was used at one point to check the room and as a communications device to try and convince Balla to surrender.

When he didn't teargas was fired into room. 

After being taken into custody, Balla was transported to Wyoming County Community Hospital for treatment of an apparent overdose and a mental health evaluation. 

He was arrested on the charge when he was released from care at 3:30 p.m.

Balla is schedule for a felony hearing at 4 p.m. Feb. 10 in Alexander Town Court.

The investigation is ongoing and additional charges are pending.

Saturday, February 7, 2015 at 10:09 pm

Photos: Batavia HS cheerleaders place third in sectional competition

post by Howard B. Owens in Batavia HS, cheerleading, high school sports, sports

In a field of nine Class B Section V schools the Batavia High School cheerleaders placed third today in the sectional championship event.

Information and photos submitted by Justine Bonarigo.

Saturday, February 7, 2015 at 2:25 pm

Photos: Genesee ARC rides at Sno Packers in Oakfield

post by Howard B. Owens in Genesee ARC, Genesee Sno Packers, Oakfield

Collin Wickings gets a helmet adjusted before taking a snowmobile ride in Oakfield this morning.

Genesee Sno Packers hosted their annual ride for clients of Genesee ARC, an event that had to be cancelled last year because there wasn't enough snow on the ground. This year, plenty of snow.

Colleen Fisher getting ready for her ride.

Saturday, February 7, 2015 at 2:05 pm

Photo: Volunteers clear snow from hydrants in Pembroke

post by Howard B. Owens in pembroke

Members of the Pembroke Volunteer Fire Department were out in their district this morning clearing snow away from fire hydrants.

Photo submitted by Tera Bonner.

UPDATE: Tera sent in more pictures and the following statement:

Nine firefighters from the Pembroke Fire District spent 36 man hours clearing snow and ice from 115 hydrants today.

What may seem like a tedious, endless shoveling job, it's definitely an important one that needs to be done.

The Pembroke Fire District would like to remind you that a clearly visible, accessible fire hydrant could save your home, a neighbor's home, or even someone's life. If a fire hydrant is buried in snow, firefighters can lose valuable time trying to locate it when they first arrive at a fire. You can perform a valuable public service and protect yourself, your family and your neighbors by taking the responsibility for shoveling out and clearing any fire hydrants near your home during and after a heavy snowfall. With more snow sure to be on the way, we would like to offer these suggestions:

Make sure hydrants near your home are cleared after each snowfall.

Clear away any snow and ice in the area surrounding these fire hydrants so the firefighters have room to connect a hose.

Look out for your elderly or handicapped neighbors by taking a few extra minutes to shovel out their hydrants.

Shoveling a few extra minutes today may make all the difference later.


 

Saturday, February 7, 2015 at 1:49 pm

Police warn of con artists using law enforcement fund-raising claim

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, crime

Press release:

The Batavia Police Department has received several complaints of an organization claiming to be an affiliate of the “Organization for Police Officers,” or “Batavia Police Union,” soliciting money to donate to the Police. The Batavia Police Department and Batavia Police Benevolent Association are not soliciting donations via telephone. The Batavia Police would also like to use this time to remind everyone not to give out personal information over the telephone. IE: Social Security numbers, bank account numbers, addresses.

Saturday, February 7, 2015 at 1:41 pm

Photos: Car hits utility pole on Batavia Byron Road, Stafford

post by Howard B. Owens in accident, Stafford

Late this morning, about 11:50 a.m., an SUV heading north on Batavia Byron Road drifted into snow along the edge of the roadway and the driver was unable to maneuver the car back into the driving lane. The vehicle struck a utility pole with a transformer on it and sheared it off at its base.

There were no injuries, but the road was closed and power was knocked out in the area.

Stafford fire responded to the scene.

Friday, February 6, 2015 at 10:27 pm

Shelter in place ordered because of barricaded suspect at Attican Hotel

post by Howard B. Owens in Attica

A person is reportedly barricaded inside the Attican Hotel, 1180 Alexander Road, Attica. The person is believed to be armed.

Genesee County Emergency Management has issued a shelter in place order.

There are detours around the affected area and roads are closed.

The incident started about an hour ago.

UPDATE 12:30 a.m.: No change in the status of the situation. Road blocks are established on Route 98 at Stroh Road, at Route 98 and Old Buffalo Road and at Prospect and North Street in the Village of Attica. State Police and Attica PD are on scene. Authorities are not making any other information available at this time.

UPDATE 12:36 a.m.: Subject is in custody. Shelter in place is lifted.

UPDATE 2:10 a.m.: The subject called 9-1-1 around 10 p.m. and was connected with Genesee County dispatch. He claimed he had weapons and was going to harm himself, Attica PD Chief Dean Hendershott said. Hendershott was first dispatched. Hendershott arrived on scene and ensured the area was secure. Dispatchers had intermittent contact with the subject and talked to him about giving up, but he wouldn't. At that point in time, Hendershott said, he decided to issue the shelter in place order for the immediate area and a reverse 9-1-1 call was made to residents on Colony Run. Lockdowns were initiated at Tops, Family Dollar and Burger King and Prospect Street was closed at East Avenue.

Assisting a the scene were deputies from Wyoming and Genesee counties and troopers from the State Police. The State Police SWAT team and the bomb squad were called in.

The bomb robot attempted to establish communications with the subject, but the robot got no response. The door was knocked down and the robot entered the hotel room -- Room 101. 

After the suspect didn't comply with law enforcement orders, officers fired tear gas into the room and then the subject surrendered.

No weapons were found in the room.  

Hendershott said it appeared that the subject had taken too many of the pills prescribed to him and he had been drinking.

The subject was taken to Wyoming Community Hospital for evaluation and treatment.

No injuries were reported in the incident.

Friday, February 6, 2015 at 2:40 pm

Kay Jewelers planning location in tax-subsidized shopping center

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business, COR Development

Despite the presence of two long-established local jewelry stores, national retail chain Kay Jewelers is planning a new store in Batavia Towne Center.

Syracuse-based COR Development has received $6 million is tax abatements -- to help finance the construction of the strip mall in 2006, and then remodel a portion of it in 2013.

Tax abatements for retail developments, which are authorized by Genesee County Economic Development Center, are controversial in New York and have been criticized by both Comptroller Thomas Dinapoli and Sean Ryan, a member of the Assembly representing Buffalo.

When COR sought its second round of tax abatements in 2013, the anticipated retailers going into the area once occupied by Lowe's were Dick's, Marshall's and Kohl's, though DIck's seemed to be the only sure thing at the time.

The GCEDC Board approved the $1.7 million in abatements with a finding that the tax relief would help bring new business to Batavia that would provide goods and services that are not readily available to local residents from current retailers.

It's important to note, that the proposed location for Kay's -- sandwiched between the AT&T Store and Sally's Beauty Supply -- is not part of that 2013 expansion and is not covered by the second around of abatements, though it is covered by the 2006 round of $4.3 million.

We've contacted a representative of COR Development for comment and have not received a response.  

Lease agreements are not public record, so we don't know whether Kay Jewelers is receiving a discounted rent bolstered by the tax breaks.

Officials at GCEDC were unaware of COR's intention to lease space to Kay and have not offered a comment on the plans.

Batavia is served by two locally owned jewelry stores: Valle's, on Jackson Street, and Lambert's, on West Main Street.

Jim Lambert said he's heard rumors for months that Kay was planning to open in Batavia and was disappointed to learn the new shop would be in a tax-subsidized development.

"Nobody gave me any tax breaks to open my business," Lambert said. "Everything we do, we do on our own. We don't get anything."

Kay Jewelers, with an advertising budget that includes radio, TV and glossy national magazines, plus the ability to heavily discount, absorb losses and give credit to high-risk borrowers will provide the local shops with formidable competition, Lambert said.

"For a place like us or Valle's, you just can't compete with their budgets for advertising and so forth," Lambert said.

He said he finds it interesting that Kay would open in Batavia, with a population of less than 25,000, when the chain is closing stores elsewhere.

"I'd be surprised if they could do $1 million here," he said. 

It's not like they don't have several other stores in Western New York already, he said.

"Personally, I didn't think it would actually happen," Lambert said. "I thought Kay's would be smarter than invest all that money in Batavia, but they afford to lose money for years and use it as a tax write-off. I can't afford to lose money."

The owners of Valle's wanted to get more information on the issue before commenting.

Besides Valle's and Lambert's, Kay will be competing with JC Penney and Walmart. Lambert noted that Walmart is already the largest seller of jewelry in the nation.

How much more can the market be divided and everybody still stay in business? Lambert wondered. Given the revenue demands of the chain, he said he will be surprised if Kay lasts in Batavia through two Christmas seasons, but in the meantime, the local businesses could be hurt substantially.

"It just kills the little man again," Lambert said. "It kills anybody who was born and raised in Batavia. It's going to cut into Valle's profits and it's going to cut into our profits and then they'll be gone in a couple of years."
Friday, February 6, 2015 at 12:52 pm

Owners carry on John & Mary's tradition in new Batavia location

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business, food, John & Mary's, restaurants

He's Ted and she's Mary and together they're the new owners of John & Mary's in Batavia.

If that sounds a little confusing, it might help to know a bit of the history of the venerable Erie County group of entries. 

John Guida opened his first sandwich shop in Cheektowaga in 1952. Mary, his wife, insisted her name be added to the sign, so it was. (Mary Guida is 88 and reportedly still working.)

Ted Ulm was born and raised in Cheektowaga and went to culinary school, became a chef, worked in a supper club and a bakery and hooked up with an instructor who owned a Greek catering business when he was 18.

"Once I learned the ropes, he could run two jobs a day," Ulm said.

That led to a connection with John & Mary's and eventually, Ted Ulm owned his own John & Mary's location in Cheektowaga. 

He opened another location in Alden in 1999, which he still owns. He opened another in Arcade that he later sold, but he does own Theo's Greek Family Restaurant in Arcade.

He married Mary in 2009, and the coincidence of her name has led many people, Ted said, to assume his name is John.

The name may be different, but the quality is the same, Ulm said.

"Everything I make is all homemade, our dough, our sauces, our Souvlaki is out of this world," Ulm said. "I win awards with it all the time."

"It's a bigger menu, but it's all quality food," he added. "We use all of John & Mary's recipes. I stick by what they did in 1952. Their homemade hot sauce, top-line mayonnaise, top of the line cold cuts."

This John & Mary's is actually the second in Batavia. There was a John & Mary's here in 1974 and '75.

When Ted and Mary moved to Corfu, they started thinking it was time to bring John & Mary's back to Batavia.

From the time Ted opened his first John & Mary's in 1990, he expanded the menu so that there would be something for everybody. 

There's a full Greek menu and a full Mexican menu, Ulm said.

"John & Mary's is a place where a family can come and everybody will be happy," Ulm said.

John & Mary's is located at the old Scooter's location, 3711 W. Main Street Road, Batavia.

CORRECTION: The information about Mary Guida came from the John & Mary's web site, which is apparently very out of date. Mary Guida passed in 2007.

Friday, February 6, 2015 at 11:56 am

Hawley announces return of government conference

post by Howard B. Owens in steve hawley

Press release:

Assemblyman Steve Hawley (R,C,I-Batavia) recently announced the return of his government conference to be held in Albany May 3 through May 5. Hawley said the conference is a great opportunity for local officials across his election district to discuss issues related to their counties, towns and municipalities.  

“I am excited to host the government conference once again,” Hawley said. “There are not enough opportunities for local officials to brainstorm and share ideas and solutions related specifically to the operation of local government. Our trip will partially consist of a number of workshops led by representatives of state agencies and policy experts. I encourage all newly elected officials to attend the event and use this time to gain valuable insight into the workings of state and local government.”

Hawley is asking those interested to contact his district office at 585-589-5780 by Feb. 25. The approximate cost of the trip is $450, all inclusive. The local government trip to Albany was originated by Hawley’s father, former Assemblyman R. Stephen Hawley.

Friday, February 6, 2015 at 10:55 am

Traveling display at GCC aimed to raise awareness of the dangers of drinking and driving

post by Howard B. Owens in GCC, STOP-DWI

A traveling display designed to help young people learn more about the dangers of drinking and driving has arrived at Genesee Community College.

Arranged by the STOP-DWI program, which is funded through fines paid by drunken drivers, the display features the stories of young people killed by drunken drivers.

There are at least eight different displays that travel throughout the state, created by the state association of STOP-DWI programs, each with a different theme.

The theme currently on display at GCC features athletes.

The exhibit includes:

Artifacts: Personal items from the crash victims, such as: photographs, closes, drawings and     sports equipment.

Statements: Accounts from survivors, family members, friends and members of the community affected by the crash.

Newspapers: Local news coverage of the crash.

Timelines: The chain of events leading up to the crash and the events immediately following.

Aftermath: Victims' statements read at trial and the outcome of any court proceedings available at the time of the exhibit’s creation.

It's a powerful message that reminds viewers of the impact of a fatal DWI-related accident, said Sheriff Gary Maha.

"This is first time I've seen this," Maha said. "To me, this is the real thing. These are victims, innocent victims, who have been tragically killed by drunk drivers. We see it often in our community from time to time.

"I hope young people come out and look at this and read these stories and eventually won't drink and drive," Maha added.

Photo: Jocelyn Sikorski, county youth bureau, Deputy John Baiocco, Matt Landers, assistant county manager and administrator of STOP-DWI, and Sheriff Gary Maha.

Friday, February 6, 2015 at 10:44 am

Electrical cord fire reported in basement of home on South Main Street Road

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, fire

An electrical cord is reportedly on fire in the basement of 3507 S. Main Street Road, Batavia.

East Pembroke fire with mutual aid from Town of Batavia dispatched.

Friday, February 6, 2015 at 10:38 am

Water main break reported in area of Ellicott Street Road and Shepard Road, Batavia

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, infrastructure

Press release:

Town of Batavia has a water main break at the corner of Shepard Road and Ellicott Street Road. Until it is repaired residents will not have water or will experience low pressure on the following roads: Ellicott Street Road, Shepard Road, Putnam Road, Batavia- Stafford Townline Road and Batavia-Bethany Townline Road.

Friday, February 6, 2015 at 10:12 am

Law and Order: Complaint of marijuana smoking at College Village leads to arrest

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, byron, College Village, crime

Jasmine Jaquana Allen, 20, of Batavia-Stafford Townline Road, Batavia, is charged with unlawful possession of marijuana. Allen was arrested following a complaint of marijuana smoking inside dorm rooms at College Village.

Justin Elwell Jr., 31, of Miller Avenue, Batavia, was arrested on a warrant for alleged failure to appear on a parking between 2 and 6 a.m. ticket. Elwell turned himself in to Batavia PD. He posted $100 bail.

Adam Daniel Smart, 32, of Clinton Street Road, Batavia, was arrested on a warrant for alleged failure to appear on an endangering the welfare of a child charge. Smart allegedly failed to appear on for a pre-sentence interview with the Probation Department. Smart was jailed on $2,500 bail.

Jeffrey Cole Thompson, 19, of Swamp Road, Byron, is charged with unlawful possession. Thompson was charged following a traffic stop for an alleged traffic violation at 9:15 p.m. Thursday on Reed Road, Bergen, by Deputy Joseph Corona.

Friday, February 6, 2015 at 9:56 am

Rollover accident reported on Thruway in Pembroke

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

A blue pickup truck has rolled over in the area of mile marker 403.6.

Injuries are reported and extrication is needed.

Pembroke and Indian Falls fire department are dispatched, along with Mercy EMS.

There may be a second accident at mile marker 406.

At 403.6, an elderly patient reportedly has neck and back injuries.

UPDATE 10 a.m.: A responder has yet to locate an accident at 406.

UPDATE 10:02 a.m.: A second ambulance requested to 403.6.

UPDATE 10:04 a.m.: There are multiple patients to be evaluated. Darien's ambulance is standing by. Traffic is reportedly heavy.

UPDATE 10:05 a.m.: At least three patients will be sign-offs.

Friday, February 6, 2015 at 9:45 am

Photos: A cold, nasty winter morning

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, weather

It was just nasty out this morning, with brisk winds, falling snow, blowing snow, a temperature in the mid-teens that felt much colder.

But Batavia residents still went about their business.

Friday, February 6, 2015 at 9:10 am

'Shooting for a Cure' tops $30K raised after fourth year for cancer-fighting event

Sean Burton, Dave Porter and Aaron Burch congratulate each other after getting their heads shaved before the Pembroke girls basketball game Thursday night, part of the school's annual "Shooting for a Cure" fundraiser.

The fourth annual event has become one of the largest annual fundraisers for Roswell Park Cancer Institute. Last night, the school raised $8.729.32, making the four-year total more than $30,000.

When the recording of the National Anthem didn't work, Makenzie Ferranti and Samantha Quaranto step forward and sang the Star Spangled Banner as a duet, giving a stellar performance that was completely unplanned.

The Pembroke girls were dressed in their pink Shooting for a Cure uniforms.

The Lady Dragons played their brand of aggressive basketball and swamped Holley, 50-6.

At half-time, local cancer survivors were honored with flowers from players, including Sue Underwood. Presenting the flower is Olivia Kohorst.

To purchase prints, click here.

Thursday, February 5, 2015 at 10:02 pm

County shares further details on plan for bow hunting in park

post by Howard B. Owens in Genesee County Park, hunting, outdoors

Questions were answered and misconceptions cleared during a meeting in Bethany Wednesday night on a proposal to allow deer hunting during bow season in Genessee County Park, said Parks Supervisor Paul Osborn.

The proposal, which must be approved by the County Legislature, is designed to help thin the deer population in the park, which has grown to nuisance levels as deer are destroying park vegetation and preventing new trees from getting established.

About 60 people attended the meeting.

A few people expressed concerns that were based on misconceptions, Osborn said, such as hunters being able to use guns (they can't) and the potential conflicts with non-hunting users of the park.

The hunters will be confined to 12 zones along the southern border of the park, according to the presentation given to the audience. While the hiking trails will be open, hunters are being told to stay clear of trails and be courteous of others using the park.

No trees will be removed or trimmed nor are hunters allowed to engage in clearing to create shooting lanes. The prohibition is good for conservation, but will limit the distance an arrow can travel, requiring hunters to get closer to their targets and take better shots.

"Our goal is to grow trees, not to cut them down just so we an hunt deer," Osborn said. "Our goal is to grow trees so people can enjoy them."

Hunters will be selected through a lottery Sept. 15, following a Sept. 11 deadline for applications, which open Aug. 17.

Two zones will be set aside for youth and disabled veterans, and young hunters and disabled veterans will be given priority over hunters from outside Genesee County.

In all, 48 hunters will be selected to receive permits for the four-week season, which runs from Oct. 19 through Nov. 15.

There is a mandatory informational class Oct. 3, which is where the permits will be distributed to the 48 winners upon payment of a $25 fee.

Each winning hunter will be granted permission to hunt in a single zone for a single week.

The first deer taken must be anterless. The second deer can be either a legal deer with antlers or anterless, and hunters are encouraged to take only anterless deer. 

If the hunter takes two deer before the end of his or her week-long permit expires, the zone will be vacant for the remainder of that week.

Permits are non-transferable. While a hunter may be accompanied by one guest, the guest is not allowed to hunt at any time.

Hunting will be limited from sunrise to noon each day. 

Hunters will be required to park in the designated parking lot and walk to their respective zones.

The plan is subject to modification until approved by the Legislature.

One modification, suggested by a person at yesterday's meeting, is that hunters entering the park be required to sign in and sign out when they leave.

Osborn said that idea was well received. It will help ensure hunters safely exit the park.

Thursday, February 5, 2015 at 6:09 pm

Car hits bike on Clinton Street Road, Batavia

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, accident

A car has hit a bicyclist on Clinton Street Road, in front of Grand View Cemetery, Batavia.

Unknown injuries.

Town of Batavia fire and Mercy EMS dispatched.

UPDATE 6:13 p.m.: Very minor injury reported.

UPDATE 6:14 p.m.: Town of Batavia's Engine 24 going back in service.

Thursday, February 5, 2015 at 5:14 pm

City fire encourages residents to adopt neighborhood hydrants in the snow

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, City Fire

Press release:

With the recent snowfall City fire crews have been out daily looking for buried fire hydrants.

During one trip down a street, they came across an elderly woman attempting to shovel the end of her driveway alone. The crew of Engine 12 stopped to assist her and the moment was caught by a City of Batavia Fire Department Facebook follower.

Over the next 24 hours this photo flashed across computer, phone and tablet screens 10,000 times resulting in 440 likes, 29 comments, and has been shared 16 times! All records since the Fire Department launched its Facebook page in September of 2014.

Chief Jim Maxwell said "He is proud of the men and women of the City of Batavia Fire Department who routinely go above and beyond for the residents of the City."

Lt. Fix who administers the Fire Department's Facebook page said "Since this photo was added, we have received others who have 'adopted a hydrant' in their neighborhood."

Keeping hydrants clear of snow can save valuable time for firefighters arriving at the scene of a fire.

If your neighborhood has adopted a hydrant, feel free to share it with the "City of Batavia Fire Department, NY" Facebook page.

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