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Howard B. Owens's blog

Monday, May 4, 2009 at 10:41 pm

County Clerk warns about deed scam

post by Howard B. Owens in Don Read, scams

County Clerk Don Read warns that companies are sending out mailers attempting to entice home owners into buying copies of their deeds at highly inflated prices.

While the price for a certified copy of a deed in Genesee County can run from $5 to $10, some companies are charging as much as $50 for the same document.

Here's Read's press release:

Genesee County Clerk Don Read advises property owners to beware of a spreading deed copy scam.  Property owners may receive a mail or e-mail solicitation offering to do the research and secure a certified copy of the deed to their real estate for a fee of $50 to $60.  One of the companies offering to do this is “New York Retrieval, Inc.” You can obtain that same certified copy from the County Clerk’s Office for $5 to $10 depending upon the length of the deed.  If you desire just a plain (uncertified copy) the fee will be between $2 and $5.  If you receive a solicitation such as this either notify the County Clerk or just discard it.  If you would like a copy of your deed, you can write, call or stop by the County Clerk’s Office.  It only takes a few minutes to obtain the copy. 

Monday, May 4, 2009 at 8:06 pm

Batavia's Charter Review Commission sends proposed changes to city attorney

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Charter Review Commission

The next revision of the Batavia city charter is heading to the attorney for review after the Charter Review Commission polished up its proposed changes tonight.

The last issue to get any discussion dealt with the definition of "affiliation" in the case a city council member resigned office mid-term -- if a council member was elected by a political party different from his or her affiliation at the time of resignation, which party should get to appoint the replacement.

By a 3-4 vote, the commission rejected a proposed change that would have defined according to which party gave the candidate the most votes.

Commission members who objected to the change said the current definition is clear, has worked for years, and less likely to subvert the will of the voters.

"We are trying to infer what voters want instead of keeping it black and white," said Matt Landers. "We're getting into a subjective area."

The issue was raised last month by Councilman Bill Cox, who was elected as a Republican on a Democratic line. He asked who would get to appoint his replacement if he resigned for any reason. Under the current charter, it seems, the Republicans would get to pick the new member.

After the city attorney finishes his review, the commission will meet to discuss any of his language changes and then set a public hearing for the revised charter in July. The vote will be in November.

Monday, May 4, 2009 at 4:24 pm

Station stop on any new rail line not likely to include Batavia

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, passenger rail

If a high speed rail system is built between Albany and Buffalo as part of President Obama's transportation stimulus package, don't expect a stop in Batavia, according to Tim Hens, county highway superintended.

"They won't stop for us now, so I can't image they will stop for us at double the speed," Hens said.

Hens said its his understanding that the high-speed line will only stop at major cities.

There hasn't been a rail stop in Batavia -- which was part of history when Lincoln's train stopped here -- in his lifetime, which means for at least 35 or 40 years, Hens said.

There currently is an Amtrak route that heads east from Buffalo and the trip to Albany can take seven hours or longer, Hens noted, with stops to yield right-of-way to cargo trains and whether being two factors that can increase the length of the trip.

"You can drive a car there in half the time," Hens said.

Hens advocates a new dedicated line for a high-speed rail, but that would entail a great deal more expense, including new passenger stations and switches. The only place to build a rail without acquiring new right-of-way is along the path of the Thruway, but the Thruway Authority, he noted, has it's own agenda, which includes collecting tolls from drivers who might opt for rail over car travel if it were available.

While a rail stop in Batavia could be beneficial to the city, Hens said, it's just too close to both Buffalo and Rochester to efficiently run a train between spots so close together.

"You would get up to speed about half way from Buffalo and need to slow down to stop in Batavia," he said.

Monday, May 4, 2009 at 3:43 pm

Student at Pembroke wonders if video should be disqualified from festival

post by Howard B. Owens in pembroke, schools

Derek Hagen submitted this video with the following message.

Okay I go to Pembroke Jr/Sr high school and me and my friends made a video entry to submit to the Digital Media Arts Festival and its run by BOCES and they had disqualified our video, only 16 days before the competition. I was just wondering if you could post the video and see if users agree or disagree that it should have been disqualified.

I immediately e-mailed Derek to find out why the video was disqualified. He has not responded.

This morning I spoke with Gary Mix, superintendent of the Pembroke Central School District. He wasn't aware of this particular video or why it was disqualified.

If you watch the video, you might pick up on three possible reasons: portrayal of a drunk student, the murder/suicide theme or the overall quality of the production.

Sharon Kaiser, coordinator, learning technologies at BOCES said she was aware of the video but didn't know it had been disqualified or why, she said. She said she wasn't handling that part of the festival.

Mix noted that Supreme Court cases have upheld a school's right to limit student expression in school sponsored activities. Reasons for limiting speech can include vulgarity, sexual innuendo and of course the school maintains an anti-alcohol and anti-drug stance.

"Over the years there has been a perception that students have unlimited free speech," Mix said, "but there are some constraints."

He added, "What I hope would not get lost in the discussion is that through the Media Arts Festival there is a tremendous opportunity to integrate across curriculum. We can include literature, social studies, arts and music and give students a chance to showcase their creativity. It's a tremendous opportunity for students."

Monday, May 4, 2009 at 12:26 pm

Deal of the Day: Batavia Downs Grandstand Bar & Grille

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Batavia Downs, Deal of the Day

Today's Deal of the Day: A $25 gift certificate from Batavia Downs Grandstand Bar & Grille in Batavia. The Batavian's Good Deal Price: $12.50 -- HALF off!

Enjoy a great meal in one of Genesee County's favorite entertainment venues.

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. By law, gift certificates cannot be used for purchase of alcohol.

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. to pick up the 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.

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Merchants: If you would like your business featured in Deal of the Day, call Howard Owens at 260-6970.Don't forget about our online exclusive from Roxy's Music: A guitar and amp, a $450 value, available through The Batavian only for $295. Click Here.

Monday, May 4, 2009 at 7:00 am

Firefighters rescue ducklings caught in sewer

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia

firefighters_ducks.jpg

Reader Holly Carney was on scene Sunday for a duck rescue. Carney tells us that a mother duck waited for help by a sewer where her ducklings had fallen. Firefighters, whom Carney calls "the true heroes of this town," arrived with nets to scoop out the babies. She says, " It was truly amazing.  They were so dedicated to the rescue of these animals.  Imagine how dedicated to our safety the are."

UPDATE: Holly just passed along this picture of the ducklings and momma.

ducklings.jpg

Monday, May 4, 2009 at 6:50 am

Police Beat: Charges of petty larceny, drinking, driving and disorderly conduct keep law enforcement busy over weekend

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

Andrew Hall-Jones, 56, of Stafford, is charged with petty larceny after allegedly stealing clothes from outside an apartment in Stafford. He is being held in Genesee County Jail on $500 bail.

Rachel A. Baehr, 22, of Elba is in jail on a bench warrant after she allegedly failed to appear in a previous child endangerment case. She is held on $500 bail. Baehr was also taken into custody Friday at 3:30 p.m. on a petty larceny charge. She is accused of attempting to steal three 12-ounce bottles of Corona beer from Kmart by concealing them in her purse.

Timothy J. Smith, 19, of Basom, is charged with unlawfully dealing with a child after allegedly hosting an under-age drinking party. The party was reportedly held Saturday night on Lewiston Road in Basom. Deputies say Smith allowed people under 21 to drink while attending the party. He was taken into custody early Sunday morning and issued an appearance ticket.

Anne Weremblewski, 54, of Batavia, is accused of using a kitchen knife to scratch a neighbor's car. She is charged with a felony count of criminal mischief. She was released on her own recognizance and ordered not to engage in offensive conduct.

Jason Cramer, 25, of Batavia, allegedly made an "unreasonable noise" inside his residence during a domestic dispute. This caused neighbors to call 911. He is charged with disorderly conduct and possession of marijuana. The incident occurred early Saturday morning.

Vincent T. Winterkorn, 50, of Rochester, was stopped for reportedly speeding along Route 33 in through Stafford on Friday at about 7 p.m. Upon further investigation, it was determined that he appeared intoxicated. He is charged with DWI with a BAC of .08 or greater, driving without a license and speeding.

Andrew J. Rock, 22, of Batavia, is charged with petty larceny. Rock is accused of attempting to shoplift two bottles of perfume from Target. He was issued an appearance ticket.

Robert Piechocki, 45, of Alexander is accused of slapping his wife during a domestic dispute. He is charged with menacing and harassment. He is held on $1,500 bail.

Sunday, May 3, 2009 at 9:41 pm

Video Tour of Godfrey's Pond

post by Howard B. Owens in Godfrey's Pond

I took a tour of Godfrey's Pond on Thursday. I shot this video while I was there. I also applied for membership.

Sunday, May 3, 2009 at 11:24 am

Buffalo Bills star, WNY congressman Jack Kemp passes at 73

post by Howard B. Owens in Jack Kemp

1967Kemp.jpgJack Kemp, who had an impact on Western New York as both one of its greatest football players and as a congressman died Saturday. He was 73.

Congressman Chris Lee (R-26) issued this statement today:

"I was saddened to hear of the passing of Jack Kemp, and I know the thoughts and prayers of all Western New Yorkers are with his loved ones at this difficult hour.

"Jack's standing as one of the great Buffalo Bills of all time is often mentioned after his work as a reformer and great statesman. That is a testament to his prolific accomplishments and the incredible legacy of service to our nation he leaves behind."

The thing I remember most about Jack Kemp is he's the star the San Diego Chargers let get away for a $100 waiver claim.

Sunday, May 3, 2009 at 10:10 am

Deal of the Day: Herbly Wonderful

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Deal of the Day, herbly wonderful

Today's Deal of the Day: A $25 gift certificate from Herbly Wonderful in Batavia. The Batavian's Good Deal Price: $12.50 -- HALF off!

Spring is finally here! The sure sign, Herbly Wonderful is open for the season Herbly Wonderful offers a variety of flowers, herbs and teas.  Herbly Wonderful is located at 3701 Pearl St.

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. 

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. ON MONDAY 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.


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Don't forget about our online exclusive from Roxy's Music: A guitar and amp, a $450 value, available through The Batavian only for $295. Click Here.

Sunday, May 3, 2009 at 8:28 am

County Dems preparing new Web site

post by Howard B. Owens in Democrats, genesee county

This popped up in my Twitter stream this morning: Genesee County Democrats. It doesn't look like the site is quite done. There's some information missing and at least one broken link.

I can't find a site for the GOP on GC, but the City of Batavia GOP does have a Web site.

Saturday, May 2, 2009 at 11:19 am

Deal of the Day: The Enchanted Florist

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Deal of the Day, The Enchanted Florist

Here's a great offer just in time for Mother's Day: Today's Deal of the Day: A $25 gift certificate from The Enchanted Florist in Batavia. The Batavian's Good Deal Price: $12.50 -- HALF off!

The Enchanted Florist is located at 202 E. Main Street and is a charming store with crafts and floral arrangements.

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. 

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. ON MONDAY 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.

SOLD

Don't forget about our online exclusive from Roxy's Music: A guitar and amp, a $450 value, available through The Batavian only for $295. Click Here.

Saturday, May 2, 2009 at 10:48 am

Partisanship in local media

post by Howard B. Owens in Daily News, politics, thebatavian

Our friend Russ thinks the Batavia Daily News is pushing a Republican agenda, largely because the paper didn't publish a recent letter he wrote.

After more than two decades in journalism, I tend to take all such charges with a grain of salt. Every paper I've ever been associated with has been blasted by both sides for either its liberal agenda or its conservative agenda - at the same time.

People tend to think the local media is pushing whatever agenda they don't happen to agree with.  I think newspaper journalism has its inherent faults, and it no longer serves readers well, but overt partisan bias is rarely one of them.

The Batavian gets accused of pushing political agendas, too. To this day many local Republicans think this is a Democratic site, yet recently I've been hearing from Democrats who think we've shifted to the right.

Either charge is ludicrous. I've been open from the beginning about my own political positions -- I'm not registered with any political party and haven't been for at least a decade. I identify myself as libertarian, and I dispise partisanship in governing. 

Both Republicans and Democrats have an equal opportunity to use The Batavian to promote, if you will, their positions, policies and candidates.  If one side takes more advantage of that opportunity than the other, that is going to lead the other side to think The Batavian has taken up residence in the opposing camp. But for the partisan side holding that perception, it really has nobody to blame but itself. It simply failed to take the opportunity to be equally heard.

I believe in robust debate. All sides should be heard -- just don't get into personal attacks. On The Batavian, the rules are simple: Use your real name and don't get personal. Otherwise, you're free to pursue whatever agenda you wish. If community members don't think you're being truthful, accurate or are drawing illogical conclusions, expect disagreement (as they say, we should disagree without being disagreeable).

If Russ had submitted his letter as a blog post to The Batavian, it likely would have wound up on the home page -- not because I agree with his politics. (In fact, there are a couple of key points in his article that I disagree with.) But because it's a local opinion of local importance.

Republicans have the same opportunity to be heard, and there have been times recently where Republicans got a chance to be heard on The Batavian even though I disagreed with the particular positions taken.

In other words, the weight here isn't whether you're a Republican or Democrat, whether I agree or disagree with you a particular position, but rather is what you have to say relevant to our local audience and is your position is presented civilly.

I've been told numerous times that there is an unwritten rule among local Republicans: Don't participate in The Batavian. Why? "Because it's a Democratic site." It's a foolish mandate. The only people Republicans are hurting are Republicans. 

The perception that this is a Democratic site arose early because Democrats discovered it first. Why? Because at the time, Democrats where much more organized online and more wired, even at the local level.  When blogging first started, it was nearly exclusively a Republican/liberatarian activity, and then guys like Markos Moulitsas Zúniga  came along and recognized progressives needed to be heard in this new medium. He was aggressive about promoting a progressive agenda online and nearly all by himself created what is called the Netroots movement. You could make the case that Obama would not be president today without it.

It was the local Netroots community that found The Batavian first. Thus, their voices were more often heard than Republican voices, but it is a complete misconception to conclude that the outcome was intentional. And in those early days, we were quite happy, honestly, to have any audience.

Now, I'm told, there's this notion among some Democrats that The Batavian has become more of a Republican site, but mainly because we publish so many press releases from Chris Lee, Ranzenhofer and Hawley.

Folks, they're our elected representatives, and if they send out press releases that seem relevant to Genesee County, I'm going to publish them.

When the local Democrats send out local press releases, and I've received a couple, I'll publish those, too. 

Though in both cases, I wish more often people would just create a user profile and post under their own names. I recently rejected an op-ed piece from Steve Hawley's office because I thought it should be published under Hawley's name, not mine. It's one thing for me to write up a little summary of a press release under my name and link to the whole document verbatim, but it wouldn't be right to publish somebody else's entire opinion piece under my name.

Two days ago, Sen. Mike Ranzenhofer and Assemblyman Steve Hawley hosted a press conference about pending anti-gun legislation. I covered the press conference not because I favor Republicans, but because it was held in Genesee County.

Why was a press conference opposing possible anti-gun legislation being held in a basically pro-gun county? The perception might be that that's a bit like "preaching to the choir."

Without publicity beyond Genesee County, wouldn't the legislators' voices be muted, thereby limiting their ability to sway voters? But Ranzenhofer made the valid point that with digital media, their views can be known to voters statewide.

In other words, they picked Genesee County for the press conference because we have robust online media. If they had gone to Erie or Orleans, The Batavian wouldn't have covered it. We care most about what happens in Genesee County, without partisan considerations.

If we have any overt agenda, it's to promote localism, to promote the local community. We're all about Genesee County. We're parochial and proud of it.  

Friday, May 1, 2009 at 3:06 pm

Fight with 12 people involved reported at Campus Village

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, crime

Sheriff deputies are responding to a reported fight in the parking lot of College Village.  The fight may involve as many as 12 people.

The alleged instigators are reportedly now fleeing in a Toyota, license plate DKV729.

Friday, May 1, 2009 at 12:52 pm

Top posts for April and top posts for first year

post by Howard B. Owens in thebatavian

Here are the top 10 posts in number of times viewed for the month of April.

Here are the 10 most viewed posts from the first year of The Batavian.

Friday, May 1, 2009 at 11:26 am

Late night fire in LeRoy destroys home, displaces family, sends firefighter to hospital

post by Howard B. Owens in fire, Le Roy

A firefighter suffered possible heat exhaustion and the family of a home at 70 Church St. in Le Roy has been displaced after a blaze that may have been caused by a discarded cigarette caused extensive damage to the residence.

We received an e-mail this morning from Chief Tom "Woody" Wood confirming the fire we first reported last night (thanks to notification of two alert readers).

The fire was reported at 11:15 p.m.

The firefighter, who is not identified, remains hospitalized this morning for observation.

Here's the full text of Wood's e-mail:

Last night's fire came in about 11:15pm.  First chief on location with a confirmed working bedroom fire.  An additional alarm was transmitted requesting one engine from Bergen and Pavilion to the scene along with Town of Batavia Fast team while Stafford did our fill-in.  At this time we are not releasing the names of the three occupants that were displaced and had to be relocated by the red cross.  Preliminary result indicate a POSSIBLE discarded cigarette.  One firefighter was transported to the hospital for possible heat exhaustion and currently remains there for observation.  The residence suffered extensive damage and the figured amount has yet to be determined. 

Friday, May 1, 2009 at 9:15 am

County health director says two suspected cases of 'swine flu' hit people who traveled to area of outbreaks

post by Howard B. Owens in genesee county, Swine Flu

Randy Garney, interim public health director for Genesee County, said this morning he doesn't have many details on the two people in Genesee County who are suspected of having contracted "swine flu."

He's unaware if the two people are related, but both have travel histories that took them into areas of known "swine flu" outbreaks. He doesn't know if that travel was to Mexico or elsewhere.

His advice: "At this point, take precautions like you would in any flu season. Wash your hands. If you sneeze discard the tissue. Keep your hands away from your nose mouth and eyes. If you are sick, go into social isolation. Stay home. Say way from crowds and from people."

And of course, contact your doctor.

Friday, May 1, 2009 at 8:54 am

The Batavian is 1 year old today

post by Howard B. Owens in thebatavian

The Batavian is a year old today.

We're having a small celebration at T.F. Brown's from 5 to 7 p.m.  Please come by and say hello.  Brian Hillabush will be there. Unfortunately, Philip is unable to make it.

I'm springing for $200 in food. 

Billie and I would love to meet you all.  Please stop by.

Friday, May 1, 2009 at 7:41 am

Deal of the Day: Larry's Steakhouse

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

Today's Deal of the Day: A $50 gift certificate from Larry's Steakhouse in Batavia. The Batavian's Good Deal Price: $25 -- HALF off!

Larry's, located at 60 Main St. in Batavia, is one of the newer and finer dining establishments in Batavia. The menu offers many great items, but of course the speciality is steak.  Larry's also features a full bar.

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.  It cannot be used, by state law, to purchase alcohol.

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. 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.

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