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Howard B. Owens's blog

Tuesday, June 2, 2009 at 9:49 am

Deals of the Day: Valle Jewelers, Essence of Candles, Main St. Pizza

post by Howard B. Owens in Deal of the Day

We have three gift certificates today: For the first time, Valle Jewelers, Essence of Candles and Main St. Pizza Company.

From Valle Jewelers, 21 Jackson St., we have a $25 gift certificate for $12.50. Valle Jewelers has been part of the Batavia community for three generations and sells a variety of items that are hard to find else where in Genesee County.

Main St. Pizza Company: Here's something different from one of your favorite restaurants in Batavia: Four (4) $5 gift certificates to use together or separately, a $20 value for $10.

Essence of Candles: One of Batavia's most unique stores -- you owe yourself a visit. The candles are might right in the shop. We have a $25 gift certificate for $12.50.

A $1 PayPal service fee applies to all purchases.

Rules: The gift certificate must be used by within 30 days of purchase. It is not valid with other offers and has no cash value.  People who have won a certificate in the past 30 days are not eligible to win a certificate from the same business as before.  By state law, gift certificates cannot be used for alcohol purchase.

How to Win: Purchase using the PayPal "Buy Now" button below. After the first person to hit the "buy now" button completes the purchase, PayPal will let you know that the item has been sold. Ideally, the winner will arrange to stop by my office on Main Street before 5:00 p.m. (today or tomorrow) to pick up gift certificate. Mail is an option, but it would be better to hand you the gift certificate. 

If you want to be notified via e-mail of future Deals of the Day, sign up for the Deals of the Day e-mail list by clicking here.

Merchants: If you would like your business featured in Deal of the Day, call Howard Owens at 260-6970.

Valle Jewelers

SOLD

Main St. Pizza Company

SOLD

Essence of Candles

Tuesday, June 2, 2009 at 7:57 am

Farm Bureau visits Albany to oppose bill that would increase costs

post by Howard B. Owens in agriculture, Albany, Dean Norton, NY Farm Bureau

farm bureau.JPG

Farm Bureau President Dean Norton tells the Watertown Daily Times that a bill that would raise farm worker wages isn't necessary and will do more harm than good, for farmers and workers.

"If passed, this bill would put our industry into a major tailspin and wreck the already struggling upstate and Long Island economy," said Dean Norton, President of New York Farm Bureau and a Batavia dairy farmer.

Mr. Norton spoke at a press conference in Albany on Monday afternoon.

"The tragic irony of the situation is that the sponsors are primarily from New York City or urban areas, and most of them have never been on a farm," Mr. Norton said. "If the bill's sponsors spent some time understanding the issue, talking to farmers and farm workers, they would know that the bill doesn't actually benefit the worker."

The bill is scheduled for an Assembly floor vote this week and could increase farm costs by $200 million per year.

Sen. Catharine M. Young is critical of the legislative leadership for letting the bill get this far, because if it goes to a floor vote, there may be hard-to-resist pressure on many members to support it.

Sen. Catharine M. Young, R-Olean, said, "The only way to stop it is for it never to come to the floor for a vote."

She is the ranking minority member on the Agriculture Committee. She called the Times and criticized Sen. Aubertine for not quashing the bill in committee by talking to Majority Leader Malcolm A. Smith. Mr. Aubertine, however, is not on the committee that will send the bill to the floor.

She said union special interests are driving the bill.

"If it is allowed to come to the floor, people are going to have to be held accountable," she said. "There's a chance it will pass and it will be devastating for the upstate economy."

The Farm Bureau argues that the bill, besides being burdensome, is unnecessary:

Among other provisions, the omnibus bill would also allow farm workers to unionize, mandate one day off per week for farm workers, call on farms to provide unemployment insurance, workers compensation and disability insurance for injuries off the job.

According to the Farm Bureau, farm workers already have stronger protections in the state than under federal law. Medium- and large-sized farms already provide unemployment insurance. All farms follow a state sanitary code for migrant and seasonal housing that is stricter than the federal code.

Farms provide free housing, transportation and utilities for their workers. New York is one of two states with a housing program for farm workers. Farm employees also have work agreements for the type of work, wages, work hours, pay period, benefits and vacation and other arrangements.

Assemblyman Steve Hawley opposes the bill and posted a column alerting the public to the pending legislation last week.

Pictured above are Hawley and members of the Farm Bureau. The picture was submitted this morning by Hawley's office.

UPDATE: Additional coverage from the D&C, which quotes a proponent of the bill:

"We deserve to have a day of rest, to be paid overtime and to join a union if we choose — just like anyone else," farm worker Salvador Solis said in a news release from the Justice for Farmworkers group, which is pushing the bill.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009 at 7:33 am

Police Beat: Two arrested at Coldplay concert

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

There were two arrests at the Coldplay concert last night at Darien Lake, according to a report released by the Sheriff's Office.

Matthew J. Norstrand, 24, of Le Roy, was arrested for allegedly possessing marijuana and smoking a pipe containing marijuana. Norstrand was ejected from the concert and told not to return. Later, Norstrand was reportedly spotted back inside the concert venue. He was arrested again and charged with trespass.

Daniel Norstrand, 53, of Le Roy, was charged with criminal trespass after allegedly jumping a fence and entering the backstage area.

Also from the Sheriff's Office:

Christopher Stewart, 40, of Avon, is charged with criminal contempt. He allegedly called and spoke with a person he has been ordered not to contact.

Monday, June 1, 2009 at 9:01 pm

Consolidation would save money and not increase taxes, committee reports

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, consolidation

consolidation meeting.jpg

A united Batavia will clearly lead to cost savings now and in the future consultant Charles Zettek, Jr. told a join meeting of the Batavia City Council and Batavia Town Board this evening.

The immediate savings, conservatively speaking is $943,000, with additional annual savings in future years, said Zettek, VP of Government Management Services.

"There will be no negative impact on the property tax burdens (for residents of both the town and the city)," Zettek said.

Tonight's meeting was designed to present the consolidation committee's report, titled "A Vision of One Batavia," to elected officials from both agencies.

While the meeting was open to the public, questions and discussion were restricted to elected officials and committee members.

The 15 page report will be released on the Web to the public tomorrow along with all the supporting documents, such as spreadsheets comparing city and town expenses and revenues.

A large portion of the "cost savings" actually comes in the form of additional revenue from the state to reward government agencies consolidating services.

That $790,000 per year is would be a perpetual grant annual grant to the new consolidated government. 

There would be additional savings from efficiencies gained by the consolidation, even though no current jobs would be eliminated.  Work force would be reduced over the first five years of the new government through attrition and retirement.

Insuring there is no negative impact on taxpayers is achieved by creating a three-tiered system of taxes and spending that would prevent the town, for example, from being burdened by city debt or the expense of fully funded police and fire operations.

In the new system, Tier 1 would cover the consolidated region, both city and town. Tier 2 would be the current city and Tier 3 would be the current town.

Tier 1 would pay for and receive services and government agencies that serve both parts of the new jurisdiction equally, such as public works and city/town administration.

Tier 2 would pay for and receive the services currently received by city residents, such as police and fire protection and garbage collection. Tier 2 taxpayers would also shoulder the burden of the city's existing debt until it was paid off.

Tier 3 would continue to receive fire protection from the volunteer fire departments and police protection from the Sheriff's Office.  Taxes would not be increased in Tier 3 to pay for Tier 2 services or debt.

As for whether the new jurisdiction would be a city or a town, that's yet to be decided, but Lynn Freeaman said the committee saw more advantages, both in cost savings and grants from the state, in forming a new city government rather than a town.

Audio:

UPDATE: I forgot to include: There will be two public meetings where residents can weigh in and ask questions. One June 18 and one June 30, both at 7 p.m.  One will be at Town Hall, one at City Hall, though which one on which date has yet to be determined. Also if it looks like turn out will be sufficient, one will be at Batavia High School.  Since there are many details to flesh out, and options to be considered, public input is an important part of the process.

UPDATE: Here's WIVB's coverage:
Monday, June 1, 2009 at 2:55 pm

Pavilion superintendent earning $183K

post by Howard B. Owens in Pavilion, schools

WBTA Reports: Pavilion Central School Superintendent Edward Orman earns $183,000 per year.

That makes him the 4th highest paid school administrator in WNY, even though Pavilion, with 900 students, is among the smallest districts in the region.

Monday, June 1, 2009 at 9:09 am

Pondering life in a united Batavia

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, consolidation

Tonight the City and Town of Batavia Consolidation Committee releases a report to the community summarizing its work so far.

We'll get to find out what the committee thinks of the idea, but given the title, "A Vision for One Batavia," we can deduce the outlook is rosy.

We'll probably be presented with spreadsheets and pie charts and improved work flows that tell us it all makes dollars and sense.  Somehow it's going to save taxpayers money and lead to a more responsive and efficient government.

But when you strip away the columns of numbers and rows categories, I wonder if anybody will have taken the time to ask one basic question: What unintended consequences might we face as a consolidated government?

Bringing the city and town together is a monumental move. It's going to have impacts beyond what any facts and figures can show us. How do we think through how things might change, and are those changes we want? (I'm not, btw, afraid of change nor necessarily consolidation -- just asking the question.)

What are the intangibles that can't be measured and how will they be different?  Will the new government be able to quickly mobilize along the lines of a single vision, and will that vision be good for local business and people who cherish small town values, or will there be an aim to just get bigger?

Which vision of Batavia will be stronger, the one of a locally owned downtown or a chain-driven Veteran's Memorial Drive?

What values do the two governments embody now and how are they different and how are they the same and how will they change?

Will some segments of either the city or town feel like its needs aren't being met?

How will land use change, government services, support of civic life?

There's no doubt that the committee is full of people with the best of intentions, but what about the unintentions? Will these be studied, too?

Nobody thought about the law of unintended consequences when the north side of Main Street was demolished to make way for a mall that people don't use much.  Let's not just consider consolidation as a matter of pure fiscal responsibility -- because it may turn out to be very responsible -- let's consider, too, its social and civic impacts.

The meeting is tonight at 7 p.m. at Batavia Town Hall, 3833 W. Main Street Road.

The study committee presenting the report: Lynn Freeman, Sally Kuzon, Steven Lockwood, Beverly Mancuso, Jason Molino, Steven Mountain and Jeffrey Scott.

Monday, June 1, 2009 at 9:07 am

GC fire departments respond to Akron fire that destroys two barns

post by Howard B. Owens in akron, Alabama, corfu, Darien, fire, pembroke

Four volunteer fire departments from Genesee County helped battle a blaze that destroyed two barns in Akron yesterday about 2:20 p.m.

Responding where Alabama, East Pembroke, Darien and Corfu.

Both barns were completely destroyed, along with their contents, which included tools, equipment and a Dodge van, according to a Sheriff's Office report.

The fire was discovered by Olivia Swendsen as she was tending her goats. It's believe egg incubator lights ignited the blaze.

It's possible the barns and some of the content was not insured, according to the report.

Monday, June 1, 2009 at 8:51 am

Police Beat: Darien man accused of sex with teen-age boy

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

albano.jpgElijah, E. Albano, 28, of Darien Center (pictured), is accused of befriending a 15-year-old male, with the relationship turning sexual from October 2008 to May 2009. Albano is also suspected of providing alcohol and cigarettes to the minor. He is charged with a felony criminal sexual act in the third degree and endangering the welfare of a child and unlawfully dealing with a child, both misdemeanors. Albano was arraigned in Clarence and remanded to the Erie County Holding Center on $25,000 bail.

Brandon Rindell, of Corfu, allegedly called his girlfriend on a phone while she was at Daddio's Pub and threatened to go to the bar and stab her.  A short time later, the woman reportedly saw Rindell walking toward the bar and called Corfu Police.  Officer Daniel Zlotek responded and encountered Rindell outside the bar. Zlotek reported that Rindell appeared drunk and he had a knife in his pocket. Rindell is charged with menacing, aggravated harassment and resisting arrest.

Travis Johnson, 22, of Darien, is accused of hosting an under-age drinking party last night. He is charged with unlawfully dealing with a child.

Eric C. Garrett, 29, of Batavia, is charged with criminal contempt and trespass for allegedly entering the porch area of a female acquaintance's residence that he was barred from going near. He is being held on $2,500 bail.

Monday, June 1, 2009 at 8:30 am

Ranzenhofer hosting town hall meeting on state budget

post by Howard B. Owens in budget, Mike Ranzenhofer

It's unclear from the press release what Sen. Mike Ranzenhofer plans to accomplish with his Town Hall Meeting at the Old Court House on Saturday, but he wants to discuss the state budget with any local residents who have something to say or want to learn more.

The starts at noon.

“I voted NO on the State budget earlier this year because it eliminates the STAR rebate check program, increases spending by $12 Billion and imposes $2,400 in new costs for an average middle-class family.  With Western New Yorkers already struggling to cope with the national recession and hardworking families struggling to balance their own household budgets, the out-of-control spending and unnecessary tax and fee increases included in the State Budget could not have come at a worse time,” said Senator Ranzenhofer.

The budget is already passed, but at least Ranzenhofer is making himself easily accessible to voters.

Full press release after the jump:

Monday, June 1, 2009 at 8:13 am

Deals of the Day: The Mane Attraction, Herbly Wonderful, Adam Miller and South Main Country Gifts

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia

This morning: A bonanza of two $25 gift certificates $12.50 each and two $20 gift certificates fro $10 each from local businesses (plus $1 PayPal service fee on each).

Leading off: The Mane Attraction Spa & Salon at 99 E. Main St.  The Mane Attraction is a charming business full of friendly staff ready to provide hair styling, pedicures, manicures and massages. This is a $20 gift certificate for $10 (plus $10 service fee).

Next, the always popular Adam Miller Toy & Bicycles, 8 Center St.  Adam Miller is just fun and well worth a visit any time. This is a $25 gift certificate for $12.50 (plus $1 service fee).

Then, Herbly Wonderful, 3701 Pearl Street Road (Route 33). Herbly Wonderful is as wonderful as the name implies, with a great selection of herbs, teas and other natural wonders. This is a $25 gift certificate for $12.50 (plus $1 service fee).

Finally, for today, South Main Country Gifts, 3356 S. Main Street Road.  South Main is one of the most charming country gift stores you will come across. Located in a quite country setting, the store is open on Saturday's and Sundays and makes for a nice outing for shopping. This is a $20 gift certificate for $10 (plus $1 service fee).

Rules: The gift certificate must be used by within 30 days of purchase. It is not valid with other offers and has no cash value.  People who have won a certificate in the past 30 days are not eligible to win a certificate from the same business as before.  By state law, gift certificates cannot be used for alcohol purchase.

How to Win: Purchase using the PayPal "Buy Now" button below. After the first person to hit the "buy now" button completes the purchase, PayPal will let you know that the item has been sold. Ideally, the winner will arrange to stop by my office on Main Street before 5:00 p.m. (today or tomorrow) to pick up gift certificate. Mail is an option, but it would be better to hand you the gift certificate. 

If you want to be notified via e-mail of future Deals of the Day, sign up for the Deals of the Day e-mail list by clicking here.

Merchants: If you would like your business featured in Deal of the Day, call Howard Owens at 260-6970.

The Mane Attraction

sold

Adam Miller

SOLD

 

Herbly Wonderful

SOLD

South Main

SOLD

Sunday, May 31, 2009 at 7:34 am

The journey is complete: We live in Batavia now

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, thebatavian

Here's how I found Batavia:

My first week on the job with my previous employer was September 2006. I was living in a hotel in Fairport. Billie was in Bakersfield getting our household ready for packing and shipping 3,000 miles north east. As a Californian, I grew roses. One of my biggest worries when we decided to move to the Rochester area was whether I could grow roses in a much colder climate.

Somehow, I found out about a master gardener event and plant sale at the Cornell Extension in Batavia. I had no idea, really, how far Batavia was from Fairport, but I thought I would drive out so I could talk with a few gardeners in the region, and maybe find a rosarian or two.

I faithfully followed the GPS-provided route down the Thruway onto Oak Street and left onto Main.

As soon as I hit downtown, I was charmed by the city. It would be hard to explain why.  I'd lived most of my life in metropolitian areas, but was always most attracted to their smaller communities.  I once published a weekly newspaper in San Diego's Ocean Beach, and loved the small town vibe of those few dozen city blocks.  I like towns with a sense of place

To me, Batavia seemed like a town with a real community behind it. Batavia wasn't overrun by chains (I didn't make it out to the Veteran's Memorial Drive that day). There were plenty of small businesses downtown and the old buildings, especially the churches and Masonic Temple, told me there was some history to Batavia.

Of course, I didn't know all about the Mall (to the degree I noticed it, I remember thinking, 'that's unfortunate'), I hadn't read Bill Kauffman's Dispatches from the Muckdog Gazette, I didn't know about the Holland Land Office, or John Gardner, or the Muckdogs or Mancuso's business incubator. I just liked the town.

I headed back to Fairport after my visit at the extension -- where I learned it would be a bit more work to grow roses in WNY, though not impossible -- but I didn't forget Batavia.

On the long drive back, I thought, too bad it's so far from our office. I would like to live there.

When we started discussions at my company about 18 months later about incubating an online-only community news site, the first place that came to mind was Batavia.  It was about the right size of town, had a strong local business base and was close enough that I could be directly involved in the Web site.

So, I put the plan together and got approval to launch The Batavian.

The more time I spent here, the more I learned about the community, the more I got to know people, the more I wanted to live here.

I kept trying to think through scenarios where my job could evolve into something that would allow me to live in Batavia and run The Batavian full time, but none of the options seemed particularly realistic.

Then, one day, in late February, quite unexpectedly, it all fell in my lap.  The Batavian was mine, if I wanted it. Billie and I talked it over, and we decided to take the leap.

So, here we are. We have our furniture and our clothes as well as our dog and three cats in a small townhouse on Maple Street.

It's a quite morning. We can hear the birds and quiet ruffle of the wind through the trees. And Billie and I are both struck by what we can't hear: the persistent hum of freeway traffic. It's been at least 20 years since either of us lived out of ear shot of a major highway.

We think we will like it here.

Friday, May 29, 2009 at 5:14 pm

Christian welcomes Radley to the 7th District legislative race

post by Howard B. Owens in county legislature, Elections, politics

Press Release from Rosemary Christian, who is running for the County Legislature in the 7th District:

I welcome Bob Radley to the race and look forward to the challenge.  I publicly declared my candidacy  back in April because I believe that its long  past time to bring more balance to the county legislature and because I can  be a force for greater oversight and increased transparency.  I've already  been fund raising and getting out to listen to the voters and have been in  full campaign mode for awhile, so its good to finally know who my challenger  is.  The voters in the 7th District can expect a vigorous race and I look  forward to seeing many of you as I walk through the district in the coming  months.

I believe that its time to elect a legislator who's first concern is to  serve the interests of the District voters.  And I believe that all the  voters know I'm someone who's always ready to speak up for them and stand by  them.

Rosemary Christian

Friday, May 29, 2009 at 4:49 pm

Former Oakfield-Alabama band director charged with sexual abuse

post by Howard B. Owens in Alabama, crime, Oakfield, oakfield-alabama

Kerry Hoffman, age 27, of Bergen, the former band director of Oakfield-Alabama High School has been arrested and charged with sexual abuse in the third degree.

Hoffman is accused of abusing a female student.

Besides the five misdemeanor counts of sexual abuse, Hoffman is charged with one count of endangering the welfare of a child and one count of official misconduct.

WBTA's Dan Fischer spoke with Oakfield-Alabama Superintendent Christopher Todd, who said Hoffman voluntarily resigned when the allegations surfaced in March. Todd said parents in the district were immediately notified of the allegations.  School officials became involved when information came forward that raised concerns about Hoffman's conduct with the student.

Juvenile Officer J.K. Dehm of the Sheriff's Office said in a release, "During a period from February 2009 to March 2009 Kerry Hoffman acted in a manner likely to be harmful to a child less than seventeen years old."

Hoffman was arraigned in the Town of Oakfield by Justice Graham and released under supervision.

Friday, May 29, 2009 at 10:56 am

Former school board member Radley gets GOP nod for District 7

post by Howard B. Owens in county legislature, District 6, election, politics

Robert Radley, an engineer who previously served on the Batavia School Board, will be the GOP candidate for District 6 7 of the County Legislature, according to WBTA.

The county Republicans have yet to select a candidate for District 7, Radley will be a candidate for the seat now held by John Hodgins, who is retiring at the end of his current term.

Also getting GOP backing are incumbents Don Read for County Clerk and Lawrence Friedman for District Attorney.

Of 105 Genesee County GOP committee members, 78 attended the endorsement meeting last night.
 

Friday, May 29, 2009 at 6:54 am

Deals of the Day: Fine Dining Friday - Alex's and Larry's

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, alex's place, Deal of the Day, Larry's Steakhouse

Always popular, always good: Alex's Place and Larry's Steakhouse.

We have one gift certificate for each fine restaurant worth $50 each, on sale for HALF OFF -- that's $25 each. (plus a $1 PayPal service fee)

Alex's Place, of course, is a legendary restaurant in these parts. It's on Park Road, just down the street from Batavia Downs. The ribs are famous and of course Alex's always gets high marks for its seafood.

Larry's is on Main Street, right downtown, and with the patio now open, you can relax with a beer or cocktail in the sunshine before enjoying one of the best steaks around.

Rules: The gift certificate must be used by within 30 days of purchase. It is not valid with other offers and has no cash value.  People who have won a certificate in the past 30 days are not eligible to win a certificate from the same business as before.  By state law, gift certificates cannot be used for alcohol purchase.

How to Win: Purchase using the PayPal "Buy Now" button below. After the first person to hit the "buy now" button completes the purchase, PayPal will let you know that the item has been sold. Ideally, the winner will arrange to stop by my office on Main Street before 5:00 p.m. (today or tomorrow) to pick up gift certificate. Mail is an option, but it would be better to hand you the gift certificate. 

If you want to be notified via e-mail of future Deals of the Day, sign up for the Deals of the Day e-mail list by clicking here.

Merchants: If you would like your business featured in Deal of the Day, call Howard Owens at 260-6970.

Larry's Steakhouse

SOLD

Alex's Place

SOLD

Friday, May 29, 2009 at 6:39 am

Police Beat: Driver accused of resisting arrest after refusing breath test

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, crime

Paul G. Grazioplene, 43, of Batavia, faces charges of a felony DWI, resisting arrest and leaving the scene of a property damage accident following an alleged incident on Cedar Street about 9:25 last night. Grazioplene allegedly stuck a vehicle on Cedar and then drove off. A resident followed his car and notified police. Grazioplene was apparently still in his vehicle parked outside of his home when he was found by police. Grazioplene allegedly refused to take a breath test. He reportedly has a prior DWI arrest within the past 10 years. He was jailed without bail.

Jill L. Briska, 20, of Batavia faces a DWI charge following a minor traffic accident this morning about 1 at 100 W. Main St. Briska was issued an appearance ticket and released.

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