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Sunday, September 27, 2009 at 9:54 am

Rural communities can grow, when entrepreneurs invest

post by Howard B. Owens in business, entrepreneurship

What helps rural communities grow: entrepreneurship.

Entrepreneurs -- people who start and run their own businesses -- create jobs, restore and fill vacant buildings, contribute to the community with their time, resources and money, and support their fellow small business owners through mentoring and patronage.

Daily Yonder took a look at communities in rural Oklahoma and found the communities doing the best economically had strong entrepreneurship. They also emphasized their downtowns, diversified their business base and focused on community strengths.

As I wrote the other day, Batavia has a lot going for it and there is an impressive number of entrepreneurs starting and expanding businesses locally.

But we can always use more. And the area has resources to help, from the BID, to the city's revolving loan program to the Chamber of Commerce and BEST Center (which offers small business help) at GCC, and, of course GCEDC.

Maybe it's time for you to start a business. All it takes is a good idea and a willingness to work hard. If you're successful, the rewards are much more satisfying than working for somebody else. Trust me.

Saturday, September 26, 2009 at 11:07 pm

Holley continues making team history beating Alexander for fourth-straight win

post by Howard B. Owens in alexander, football, holley, sports




Up in Holley, an interesting story line is developing in the 2009 Genesee Region football season. A team that rarely won over the first few years of its young football program seems suddenly unbeatable.

The Alexander Trojans found out firsthand today just how invincible Holley seems to be at just past the halfway point in the season.

The Trojans were dominated on both sides of the ball for most of four quarters and dropped to 2-2 with a 32-10 loss.

The Hawks move to 4-0 and face a challenge next week to their seeming invincibility when they butt heads with the division’s only other undefeated team, the Fighting Irish, at Notre Dame.

Alexander Head Coach Dave Radley expressed some dissatisfaction with his team after the game saying his players didn’t come ready to play and seemed to take Holley for granted.

On the other side of the field, Chad DeRock said his team is bearing the fruit of three or four years of extra effort.

“Our focus this season was on making history,” DeRock said. “I don’t know what the past record was – two and 60 or something – but that doesn’t matter. I’m happy for my seniors who’ve put in the time. I promised them, if you put in the time, you’ll see results. They put in the time. My juniors put in the time. My sophomores and freshmen have put in the time. My seniors are the most dedicated group of I’ve ever worked with. I’m proud of them. They deserve it.”

Holley opened the game by methodically marching the ball down the field only to lose it on the two-yard line to a fumble.

The Trojans, however, were unable to capitalize on a potential shift of momentum, coughing up the ball on the 20-yard line a few plays later.

It didn’t take long, then, for Sean Baylor to put six on the board for the Hawks with a six-yard run.

Alexander made one last stab at making a game of it early in the second quarter when Lucas Czechowski booted an impressive 35-yard field goal to make the score 6-3, but except for a little spark late in the fourth quarter, the game was all Holley’s.

By the half, the score was 20-3 after TD runs by Baylor and Guy Hills.

Turnovers were a key factor (four total by Alexander), including an interception for a 40-yard touchdown return in the fourth quarter by Holley's Mike Pernicano, which pushed the margin to 32-3 (Baylor had another touchdown run in the third quarter).

After another Pernicano interception, Holley started moving the ball toward the end zone again when the Alexander defense managed to force a fourth down. 

Holley decided to try a long field goal, but the pop-up kick came up well short of the goal line and #88 Steve Schaffer found himself in an open field just waiting for the ball to come down. He then darted to the far sideline and carried the ball 80 yards before being forced out to put his team in the red zone.

Alexander capitalized on the opportunity, finally pushing the ball across the goal line on a one-yard run by Jared Quinn.

And that’s how the game would end – 32-10, Holley.

Notre Dame Head Coach Rick Mancuso had a keen eye on the game through all four quarters. It will be interesting to find out later this week what he thinks about the upcoming clash of two teams seemingly putting it all together in 2009.



More photos after the jump.


Saturday, September 26, 2009 at 4:15 pm

Accident in Village of Corfu

post by Howard B. Owens in accident, corfu


This is a reader submitted photo from the scene of an accident this afternoon in Corfu. We are told a motorcycle hit the van on the left side of the picture. We have no further information at this time about the accident.

Saturday, September 26, 2009 at 1:04 pm

A Work In Progress repeats in Batavia Feature

post by Howard B. Owens in Batavia Downs, harness racing, sports

Press Release:

BATAVIA, NY --- For the second week in a row A Work In Progress was victorious in the weekly trotting feature, Friday night (Sept-25) at Batavia Downs Casino.

Just like last week, Ken “Doc” Holliday put A Work In Progress on the lead and they put up all the numbers en route to a 1-1/4 length score, in 1:59.3.
The improving Manfromnantucket (Jack Flanigen) closed down the center to be second, while Jack Sparrow (Jim McNeight) rallied from last to be third.

bataviadowns092309.jpgA Work In Progress, a 5-year-old, altered son of SJ’s Caviar is owned Betty Tauber of New Brunswick, N.J. and trained by Sherri Holliday. The winner’s share of the $8,000 purse raised his season’s earnings to more than $39,000. He paid $4.30 to win.

Leading dashwinning driver Kevin Cummings extended his lead by driving four winners on the Friday program. Former Downs regular Sam Schillaci and Ken Holliday had driving doubles.

America’s oldest lighted harness track is currently racing on Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday nights. Post time is 7:05 p.m., eastern.

Todd Haight
Promotional Marketing Specialist
Batavia Downs Casino

Photo: A Work In Progress with Ken Holliday winning the $8,000 Open Handicap Trot, Friday Night at Batavia Downs. Courtesy of Paul White.

Friday, September 25, 2009 at 11:00 pm

Only in OT is Notre Dame able to preserve its unbeaten record against Oakfield-Alabama

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Alabama, football, Oakfield, sports




Notre Dame moved to 4-0 tonight, but anybody who came into the Friday night showdown with Oakfield-Alabama thinking the Hornets (who entered the game with a disappointing 1-2 record) would be pushovers, they learned something about how a proud football program can rise to the challenge of a tough opponent.

The Hornets never trailed in the game until the end, with ND only pulling even twice, once at 7-7 midway through the second quarter and then at 17-17 in the final seconds of regulation time on a Matt Thompson field goal.

After getting the ball first in overtime, but failing to convert the opportunity into a score, OA saw the Fighting Irish preserve its undefeated season on a six-yard TD rush by Beau Ritcher.

The Hornets had every opportunity to even its record, but OA's defense was eventually worn down by a relentless Notre Dame running attack.

The Hornets scored first on a first-quarter drive keyed by a Jason Stanley 60-yard run, but ND pulled even midway through the second quarter when Mike Pratt capped a grinding Notre Dame drive with a three-yard TD rush.

As the first half drew to a close, there was a real sense that Notre Dame could lose the game. At a time when the Fighting Irish should have controlled the ball, at least well enough to preserve a tie going into half-time, ND went three-and-out with enough time on the clock for OA to push the ball into the red zone. With seconds left in the half, Jon Fisher put three points on the board allowing the Hornets to head into the locker room with a 10-7 lead.

In the third quarter, it really seemed as if OA was in charge of the game, taking the ball down on a scoring drive that was capped by a 15-yard TD pass from Tyler Tamblin to Brent Crawford.

In the fourth quarter, Notre Dame's ground game began to take a toll on OA's defense. Pratt and Ricther eat up a lot of yards, and eventually Pratt plows into the end zone on a 10-yard run to put the score at 17-14.

After an exchange of downs in the fourth quarter, ND again moves the ball into striking range, and this time Thompson puts through his field goal to tie the game at 17-17.

OA got the ball first in OT, but only managed a first down before coming up short. The OA defense fought hard, putting ND in a third-and-long situation before Pratt bulled his way to a third down. With the ball inside the 10, Notre Dame fought for yardage and managed to get the ball to the one-yard line before a penalty forced the offense back five yards. On the next play, however, Ritcher burst through the line of scrimmage and into the end zone to keep the Irish undefeated.


There are more pictures after the jump below.


Friday, September 25, 2009 at 1:49 pm

Molino: City back in the black

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia


The City of Batavia is out of the red on its operational ledger.

For fiscal year 2009, Batavia has a fund balance of $32,950, City Manager Jason Molino told reporters today. 

Even though the city has been spending less than it takes in starting in 2007, this marks the first time in years that the city is not carrying a deficit on its balance sheet.

"We're not borrowing to pay for operations," Molino said. "We don't have cash flow problems."

In 2006, the deficit on the fund balance was a deep dark red -- $2.2 million.

"Most municipalities in this situation have gone to the state legislature to bond out their debt and that's a lengthy process," Molino said. "What you had happen here is you had a council committed to trying to right the ship and make the right decisions."

Among the right decisions, Molino said, was committing to conservative revenue budgets. The city has ensured expected revenue aligns realistically to numbers based on historical trends.

"The problem in prior years, and I'm talking three years back, was aggressive revenue budgeting," said Molino. "As a result, actual revenues did not meet budgeted revenues. As you can see from '05 and '06, your actual revenue was below your budgeted revenue."

The fund balance is for operational expenses and excluding debt for buildings and similar expenses.

For 2009, city revenue was $14.7 million and expenditures were $13 million. That $1.7 million swing helped the city generate a fund balance (meaning money in the bank rather than paying debt on operational expenses) for the first time since at least 2005.

On the expense side, Molino said the city has been able to hold the line on spending because department heads have done better at cutting things such as utility costs. At the wastewater treatment plant, for example, electricity usage has gone down by several hundred-thousand dollars. He also mentioned consolidated dispatch as a cost savings.

"It's identifying issues where expenses can be cut and that's really been a focus of the change in operations," Molino said.

The city isn't completely free of financial worries. It has not yet built up sufficient reserves to deal with unexpected expenses or any dip in revenue.

"To be financially healthy, you want your undesignated fund balance to be about 10 percent of your operations budget," Molino said.

He said the city's fund balance should be $1.3 million to $1.4 million, which is a pretty big number compared to the $32,000 the city just achieved.

Even so, Molino acknowledges that getting city finances to this point, is a satisfying accomplishment, but he credits both the Batavia City Council and city staff:

"It's interesting because when we dealt with it three years ago, it's one of those things that's out a ways and it takes time to get there and to look at the progress from year one to year two to year three. It's kind of interesting to know that when the council...adopted the idea that we don't want to go to the state to bond out our debt, we want to make the right changes that maintain levels of services, (we had to figure out) 'how do we get there?' We set that plan out. It's really a tribute the council making the difficult decisions at the time and a tribute to the staff that they made the tough changes."

The next hard task is mapping out the future.

"The damage control part of it is over now and now it's the planning part," Molino said. "Planning today for tomorrow is really the city's top priority."

Looking ahead, he said the city will need to focus on economic development, future union negotiations, upcoming retirement costs, reserve funding and post-employment health care costs for retirees (which could top $9 million).


Jason Molino discusses city finances with press:

City of Batavia Management Report, March 31, 2009 (PDF)

Friday, September 25, 2009 at 1:42 pm

Traffic snarl on State Street following minor accident

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, accident

There is a non-injury accident on State Street near Batavia High School.

A reader reports that traffic is backing up on State Street.

UPDATE 2:53 p.m.: This is now reported as a three-vehicle accident.

Meanwhile there is an injury accident in Oakfield in front of the Yellow Goose store.  No further information available right now.

Friday, September 25, 2009 at 1:33 pm

Oakfield facing tough challenge entering Week 4 game with Notre Dame

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Alabama, alexander, football, Oakfield, sports



Oakfield-Alabama, already off to a slow start in 2009, will have its hands full tonight when it meets undefeated Notre Dame.

The Fighting Irish (3-0) has averaged 20 first-quarter points so far this season, while the Hornets are averaging only 3. Overall, Notre Dame's per-game scoring average is 26 points compared to 12.3 for the Hornets.

OA comes into the game with a 1-2 record.

"We're confident in where we're going and what we're doing right now," said OA head coach Brian Palone. "We're continuing to make progress each week. We lost a lot of experience from last year. We had only one returning player on defense. We really worked on defense this week, because the defense really struggled last week."

Alexander beat OA last week 42-17.

Notre Dame's head coach, Rick Mancuso, isn't taking the Hornets lightly, though.

"From our standpoint going into this game, Oakfield is always one of the perennial powerhouses in our league," Mancuso said. "Regardless of what their record is, like every team in our league, they work week in and week out to improve, and Oakfield is no different."

Mancuso praised the OA coaching staff and said he knows Palone will have his crew ready to play.

The Fighting Irish need to rebound, he said, from a sloppy effort last week.

"We made a lot of mental errors," Mancuso said. "Defensively, we did not play tight. We didn't play really disciplined. We need to be a more disciplined team going forward."

Norte Dame beat Barker last week 43-18. The 18 points represented the first scores against ND this season, after the team beat Pembroke 21-0 and Attica 14-0.

We'll have coverage posted by the morning. This weekend, The Batavian will also cover Alexander at Holley. Alexander comes into the game 2-1, but Holley is one of the surprises, if not THE surprise of the Genesee League so far this season. Holley is 3-0, opening a season undefeated for the first time in program history.


Friday, September 25, 2009 at 11:10 am

Police Beat: Driver accused of dumping trash charged with DWI

post by Howard B. Owens in alexander, crime, Oakfield, Pavilion

Gergory P. Hamm-Johnson, 19, of 10140 Brookville Road, Alexander, is charged with a felony count of DWI, aggravated DWI and illegal dumping. He was stopped by Deputy Kevin McCarthy at 2:52 a.m. for allegedly throwing trash from his vehicle onto Old Creek Road in Alexander. 

Brian T. Rushing, 24, of 3314 Eagle Harbor Road, Albion, is charged with DWI, DWI with a BAC of .08 or greater, driving left of pavement markings and unlicensed operation of a vehicle. Rushing was stopped on Townline Road in Bergen by Deputy Howard Carlson on Thursday at 5:33 a.m. for an alleged traffic violation.

Matide Maximino Luis, 21, no address, is charged with entering the country illegally. Luis was picked up last week following a traffic accident on Route 20 in Pavilion. Luis allegedly ran from the scene after deputies suspected he was in the country illegally. He was captured after a short foot chase. Luis was turned over to the Department of Homeland Security Border Patrol.

Four Genesee County men were arrested for alleged trespass on Sept. 19, according to a State Police blotter item released yesterday. The four men are apparently accused of trespassing at 2750 Maple Road, Oakfield. Arrested and charged were Ryan T. Schultz, 22, of Oakfield; Robert J. Maerten, 22, of Basom; Donald J. Maerten, 24, of Basom; and, Adam R. Bischoff, 22, of Oakfield. No further details are available.

Friday, September 25, 2009 at 6:28 am

Today's Deals: New Today, Great Kutz, a new full-service walk-in salon for men and women

post by Howard B. Owens in Deal of the Day

New Today: Great Kutz, in the Valu Plaza, 4152 W. Main Street Road, Batavia, NY: Batavia's newest full-service salon, offering affordable haircuts for men and women on a walk-in basis. Today, we have two gift certificates for women's haircuts, a $15.95 value for $7.50 (gift card can be applied toward other services, but not products). (On Monday: we'll have men's gift cards.)

The Enchanted Florist, 202 E. Main St., Batavia, NY: Brighten up your home or office with flowers! We have a $20 gift certificate for $8.50.

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.

Picasso's Pizza, 419 W. Main St., Batavia, NY: A great variety of pizza, subs and salads -- and try the wings, too. We have three $5 booklets of $1 gift certificates ($15 value) for $7.50. The gift certificates can be used collectively or individually.

Sport of Kings Family Restaurant, 419 W. Main St., Batavia, NY: A favorite locally owned family restaurant that is open 24 hours per day, seven days a week. We have a $15 gift card for $7.50.

Carlson's Studio, 39 Jackson St., Batavia, NY: Family photos are more than just photographs. When you need photos for that special occasion, Carlson's is a great choice in Genesee County. We have a $250 gift card for $125.

Present Tense Books and Gifts, 101 Washington Ave., Batavia, NY: This week, check out the banned book display. You might be surprised what you find there. We have a $25 gift certificate for $12.50.

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



Thursday, September 24, 2009 at 11:15 pm

Steve Hawley escorts three bus loads of veterans to Washington, D.C.

post by Howard B. Owens in steve hawley, veterans

First thing I did Thursday morning was stop by Batavia Downs to see off Assemblyman Steven Hawley and about 140 of his military veteran pals on a trip to Washington, D.C.  Today's time pressures kept me from doing a post about it until just now.

The video above is Steve talking about the trip. Below are three pictures I snapped just before the buses rolled.

Last year I said I would go this year. Well, maybe next year.




Our friends Dan and Debbie Fischer from WBTA are on the trip.

Thursday, September 24, 2009 at 10:47 pm

Change of venue request denied for alleged bank robber, at least for now

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

mug-Wells-Michael_front.jpgAttorney Thomas Burns won't get a change of venue for his client Matthew Wells, at least not yet, according to a ruling handed down by the New York Supreme Court, Appellate Division, Fourth Judicial Department.

Wells is one of three men accused of robbing the M&T Bank branch in Elba on June 18 and then leading local law enforcement on a six-hour manhunt through the fields and woods between Batavia and Oakfield.

Burns argued that Wells could not get a fair and impartial jury in Genesee County because many residents -- as evidenced primarily by comments left on The Batavian -- took offense to the perception that three city slickers could get away easily with a bank robbery in a rural county. Burns, in his motion, picked up on the phrase of one comment on The Batavian about dishing out "rural justice."

Burns also suggested that the only a fraction of Genesee County residents are black, so that it would be hard to seat a jury of peers for his African-American client.

The appellate judges ruled that Burns did meet the burden of proof that there is "reasonable cause to believe that a fair and impartial trial cannot be had." But the single-page ruling left open the ability for Burns to appeal again during the jury selection phase of a trial.

It's rare -- if not unheard of -- for attorneys to be granted a change of venue before jury selection begins, but if Burns had not filed the motion now, he could not file a motion -- under rules of the court -- for a change of venue later.

Wells is the only one of the three defendants to not plead guilty. Both Damone Dillon and Dennis Abrams have admitted to their roles in the June 18 robbery. Abrams, who planned the heist, is facing a lengthy prison term. Wells is accused of entering the bank with Abrams and actually participating in the stick up, while Dillon held the door and claims to have been a reluctant participant.

Neither defendant has been sentenced yet.

For previous coverage, click here.

Thursday, September 24, 2009 at 4:21 pm

Car fire reported in Bergen

post by Howard B. Owens in fire

A car fire has been reported on Route 262 just west of Route 19 in Bergen. Bergen Fire is responding. A first responder reports visible flames from the engine compartment.

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Thursday, September 24, 2009 at 12:25 pm

Woman accused of filing a false claim to collect public assistance

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, crime

A woman has been arrested for allegedly telling the Department of Social Services that a relative moved into her house, qualifying her for temporary government assistance.

Between Dec. 5 and Feb. 16, Stacey Ziminski, 36, of 119 South Swan St., is accused of collecting public assistance checks totalling $710.93.

The family member Ziminiski allegedly said was living with her, was actually living elsewhere, according to DSS investigators.

Ziminski was charged with two felony counts of offering a false instrument for filing in the first degree and one count of misdemeanor petit larceny.

She was arrested by Genesee County Sheriff’s Deputy Matt Butler, and arraigned before Stafford Town Justice Ben Mancuso, who ordered her held on $250 bail. 

Thursday, September 24, 2009 at 11:49 am

Statements made by defendant in shaken baby case can be used in court

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, crime, Dietrich Williams

Statements made by Dietrich Williams to State Police during an investigation into a shaken baby case in June can be used at his trial, Judge Robert Noonan ruled this morning.

Williams, currently held in Genesee County Jail, is charged with assault in the first degree and reckless assault of a child.

The content and nature of his statements were not discussed in court today, but he spent nearly eight hours in State Police custody June 25, after being picked up at a residence he shared with his girlfriend at 14 Hutchins Place.

The baby's name is Mariah and she was reportedly critically injured. Both Defense Attorney Jerry Ader and District Attorney Larry Friedman are waiting for the hospital to produce the baby's medical records for evidentiary review.

Williams is accused of shaking the baby and hitting Mariah's head against a hard object.

Shaken Baby Syndrome has come under new research scrutiny recently, and researchers suggest that the baby's head hitting a hard object may be a key element to any crime.

In his ruling, Judge Noonan said that Williams was made fully aware of his rights and had every opportunity to request an attorney or to cut off questioning. There was nothing improper about the State Police agent's questioning, Noonan said.

State Police investigators who specialize in violent crimes assisted in the investigation.

Thursday, September 24, 2009 at 10:14 am

More car break-ins reported in Stringham Drive area

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, crime

There were 10 more break-ins into unlocked cars in the Town of Batavia overnight.

Six occurred on Stringham Drive, two on Violet Lane and two on Terry Hills.

The usual items were taken, according to Deputy Chief Gordon Dibble, adding that the break-ins may be related to yesterday's thefts.

"For the most part, the thieves are limiting their efforts to unlocked cars with valuables in plain sight," he said. "Locking cars and removing valuable items (maybe locking them in the trunk) would seem to be prudent advice."

Thursday, September 24, 2009 at 8:27 am

Rochester homeless program receiving $4 million in stimulus funds

post by Howard B. Owens in Dairy Farms, stimulus

It would be illegal to use stimulus funds to help struggling dairy farmers, according to Gov. David Paterson's office.

Dairy farmers, of course, create and retain jobs and help provide an essential food product. Agriculture is a significant part of Upstate New York's economic well being.

Meanwhile, the D&C reports today that Rochester's homeless program, with a regular annual budget of $400,000, is receiving $4 million in stimulus funds.

No slam here against the homeless or helping the needy -- government handouts to both dairy farmers and the homeless raise certain small-government and free market philosophical issues ... but, isn't something amiss here? 

If stimulus money is supposed to, you know, stimulate the economy (at least in theory), shouldn't it actually go to programs that, you know, might actually stimulate the economy?

Wednesday, September 23, 2009 at 7:41 pm

One-car accident on Roberts Road in Alabama

post by Howard B. Owens in accident, Alabama

A car has driven off the road and into the trees in the area 1950 Roberts Road in Alabama.

Unknown injuries at this time.

UPDATE: First responder reports minor injuries.

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