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Howard B. Owens's blog

Tuesday, August 11, 2009 at 1:52 pm

Two-car accident reported on Route 98 at Rose Road

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, accident

A two-car accident with minor injuries has been reported at Route 98 and Rose Road.

Both vehicles are blocking the roadway.


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Tuesday, August 11, 2009 at 12:03 pm

Is the roundabout truck friendly?

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Oak Street, roundabout

truck_roundabout.jpg

I happened to catch this truck going through the roundabout this morning, and the driver seemed to make it through just fine. He went, though, only half way onto the brick area.

As you can see, he's tilted a bit, so one of my questions is -- doesn't the DOT plan to level the asphalt with the bricks? My assumption was yes, but the sides of the curbs are bevele -- as if they're meant to be driven on -- leaving the asphalt inches below the bricks.

It was clear from the tire marks on the bricks that many drivers have discovered that it's OK to drive on the red roadway.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009 at 11:53 am

American Austin Bantam Club meeting in Batavia

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia

austin_bantam01.jpg

This afternoon, I spotted a long line of classic-looking, very tiny cars heading west. I turned around and followed them down River Street and eventually to Williams Park.

It turns out the American Austin Bantam Club is holding its 46th annual meeting in Batavia this week.

American Austins, and alter Bantams, were manufactured in the United States from the 1930s until the early 1940s. They were America's first economy car.

They were probably intended for second family cars, for short drives to the store and other errands, said club member Gene Loomis, of Warsaw.

The cars get about 50 miles per gallon of gas.

Phil Haynes, of Connecticut, said there were some 17,000 to 18,000 Austins built in Pennsylvania, and then about 6,700 Bantams manufactured.

It was Haynes (pictured in the white car below) I dropped behind after turning around on Main. As I followed him, he would occasionally stick his left arm out the driver's side and wave it straight down, back and forth.  At first, I thought, "He thinks I'm following too close," so I backed off, and he did it again, so I backed off some more, then he did it again, and that's when I realized, "he's rowing."

These little cars don't have a lot of horsepower. Haynes said he needed all the help he could get to coax his American Austin up any kind of incline.

The Club is staying at the Holiday Inn and will visit the VA Medical Center this afternoon.

austin_bantam02.jpg

austin_bantam03.jpg

Tuesday, August 11, 2009 at 11:25 am

Batavia Downs driver hurt in spill, will race again Wednesday

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

downs_driver_cummings.jpgA 38-year-old driver was injured during the ninth race last night at Batavia Downs.

Kevin Cummings, who was driving 13-year-old square-gaiter Devilinhiseyes, suffered a spill and sustained injuries to his hip and elbow, according to a statement issued by Todd Haight, spokesman for Batavia Downs.

Haight quotes Cummings:

I’m really not sure what happened. Things got tight and the race bike got jerked from underneath me. When the left wheel tipped sideways I knew I was in trouble. I just let go of the lines and landed on the ground.

My hip is really bruised, that’s where I hit the ground and my elbow has a hole in it. I lost a chunk of skin. It's really sore today.

The accident occurred going into the first turn, during the ninth race, a $4,000 claiming trot.

Cummings, a father of four, plans to return to racing on Wednesday night.

Devilinhiseyes was uninjured in the incident, nor were any other drivers or horses hurt.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009 at 8:28 am

Head-on collision reported on Bloomingdale Road in Alabama

post by Howard B. Owens in accident, Alabama

A head-on collision on Bloomingdale Road near Tesnow Road in Alabama has been reported.

The initial report stated two people were entrapped, but the latest report is that there are two victims who are out of the vehicles.

Mercy Flight remains enroute.

UPDATE: A landing zone is being established for Mercy Flight.

UPDATE 2: At least one person was being helped (not sure if "extracted" would apply) from one vehicle. He is apparently the driver of one vehicle and he reportedly told emergency responders that he fell asleep at the wheel.


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Tuesday, August 11, 2009 at 6:53 am

Police Beat: Two women cited for untaxed cigarettes

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

Joanne C. Buchanan, 50, of Box 70 Country Road Route 37, Central Square, and Jayne E. Best, 52, of 9384 Woodlawn Drive, Brewerton, were arrested for allegedly attempting to evade or defeat tax and possession of untaxed cigarettes. Deputy Tim Wescott initiated a traffic stop for alleged speeding and reportedly found 10 cartoons of cigarettes in the car Buchanan and Best were in.

Donald J. Cummins, 60, of 104 Bernice Drive, Seneca, is charged with DWI. Cummins was reportedly driving westbound on Route 33 at 11:53 p.m. when his vehicle allegedly strayed from the roadway toward the left shoulder striking a road cone. Deputy Kevin R. McCarthy stopped Cummins and found he was allegedly driving while intoxicated. He was also cited for allegedly driving with a BAC of .08 or greater and moving from a lane unsafely.

Susanna E. Venti, 60, of Alexander, is charged with DWI. Venti was stopped by a state trooper on Walker Road in the Town of Darien for allegedly crossing the center line. Venti's alleged BAC was .08 percent. Venti was cited for DWI, failing to keep right and driving an unregistered vehicle.

Monday, August 10, 2009 at 10:53 pm

The public's right to know: Council debates when to release public information

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, foil, freedom of information, public records

There was a portion of tonight's City Council meeting where I damn near started pulling out my increasingly graying hair.  I almost posted a message on my Facebook page along the lines of, "I started covering city governments 20 years ago, and there comes a time in way-too-many council meetings where I wonder why we even bother to vote."

Tonight's completely meaningless topic: Whether to give candidates for council seats in the November election copies of complete council agendas prior to council meetings.

Prior to each meeting, the City Council is given a stack of papers containing background material on the items under consideration.  The agenda packet contains memos of staff opinion, letters from concerned citizens, spreadsheets, historical records and other documents that might be germaine to a particular agenda item.

Except for material related to closed session discussions, none of it is particularly precious.

But to hear Frank Ferrando and Rose Mary Christian go on and on about it tonight, you would think these documents were as sacred as the Dead Sea Scrolls.

We heard about what an honor and privilege it is to get the background documents once elected (but not before), and if the council challengers want to be fully informed, all they need to do was show up at the meetings (which, disappointingly, tonight, none of the three challengers -- Phil Ricci, Sara Jane Burk-Balbi and Julie Wallace -- were bothered to attend).

From the Christian and Ferrando perspective, even showing up shouldn't entitle people to the sacred documents. It should be enough just to come and listen to fully understand the issues.

Well, yes, some discussions can be enlightening just from the questions and statements of council members and staff, but having sat through numerous government agency meetings, I can tell you -- it's quite easy to misunderstand or misconstrue the conversation without adequate written background material -- and ideally, material you've read in advance of the meeting. I'm sometimes frustrated by how skimpy the background material actually is with some local public agencies.

But none of the current council members were granted the esteemed privilege of document access prior to election, so why should the new challenges be bestowed such a time-honored trust?

Here's a news flash: The background material is public record.

Here's the very eloquent preamble to the New York's public records' law:

Legislative declaration. The legislature hereby finds that a free society is maintained when government is responsive and responsible to the public, and when the public is aware of governmental actions. The more open a government is with its citizenry, the greater the understanding and participation of the public in government.

As state and local government services increase and public problems become more sophisticated and complex and therefore harder to solve, and with the resultant increase in revenues and expenditures, it is incumbent upon the state and its localities to extend public accountability wherever and whenever feasible.

The people's right to know the process of governmental decision-making and to review the documents and statistics leading to determinations is basic to our society. Access to such information should not be thwarted by shrouding it with the cloak of secrecy or confidentiality. The legislature therefore declares that government is the public's business and that the public, individually and collectively and represented by a free press, should have access to the records of government in accordance with the provisions of this article (emphasis added, and notice the use of the phrase "leading to").

Once a government agency creates a document that is not otherwise exempt under provisions of FOIL, it becomes public record. It matters not whether it's been distributed to the City Council, the media or the clerk across the hall, or never even leaves the desk of its writer -- unless exempted under specific provisions of FOIL, it is public record. Period.

There was some concern tonight about the costs of creating copies of the background material for candidates, and the council finally decided on a 5-4 vote to make available only four additional copies for any member of the public (not just candidates) to walk into the clerk's office and obtain. But there is a simple solution to the cost issue: PDF. 

The obvious course of action for the city to take -- the needs of some council members to protect their special privileges aside -- is for the city clerk to upload a copy of each agenda and all background material to the city's Web site at the same time it is made available for the council.

This would be most in keeping with the principles of a free and open government.

Those voting against greater government transparency, even at the minimal level eventually passed tonight: Marianne Clattenburg, Kathy Briggs, Ferrando and Christian.

Monday, August 10, 2009 at 10:06 pm

Failure to stop at intersection may have caused serious injury accident in Pavilion

post by Howard B. Owens in accident, Pavilion

A minivan driven by a 60-year-old Castile resident apparently blew through a stop sign on Perry Road this afternoon allegedly causing an accident that sent her and five other people to the hospital.

Jean A. Foote, and her passenger, Ann Witek, 89, were taken by Mercy Flight to Strong Memorial Hospital in Rochester.

Foote was reportedly driving south on Perry Road when she approached Route 20 and failed to yield for a stop sign at the intersection.

The car she hit, a 2000 Volkswagen Jetta, carried a driver and three passengers. The driver and one other passenger were taken by ground ambulance to Wyoming County Community Hospital, and the other two passengers were transported to Strong by ground ambulance.

The driver was 23-year-old Stephanie M. Hall, of Attica. Her passengers were John Rennard, 18, of Alexander, Kristie G. Terry, 17, of Wyoming and Joshua J. Wells, 18, of East Bethany.

All six victims were wearing seat belts, and none of the six suffered life-threatening injuries, according to the Sheriff's Office report.

The time of the accident was 4:20 p.m.

It is under investigation by Deputy Matt Butler, Sgt. Greg Walker, Sgt. Steve Mullen and members of the Genesee County Crash Management Team, Sgt. William Scott and Deputy Eric Seppala.

Responding to the scene were the Pavilion Volunteer Fire Department, Bethany Volunteer Fire Department, York Volunteer Fire Department, Le Roy Volunteer Ambulance Service, City of Batavia Ambulance Service and Mercy Flight.

Previously: Two-car rollover accident reported near Pavilion Center

Monday, August 10, 2009 at 9:26 pm

City could use federal funds to improve Cedar and Summit streets

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Cedar Street, roads, Summit Street

The City of Batavia could reconstruct both Cedar Street and Summit Street at no direct cost to local taxpayers, the City Council was told tonight.

By combining annual federal infrastructure funds the city already gets with an 80-percent funding grant, the city could complete $5.7 million projects by 2012 and not a dime would come from city coffers.

The 80-percent grant is Federal money that is administered by the state.

The city must apply for the grant.

Reconstruction would rebuild the streets rather than just repave them, which was recently done to Oak Street.

Summit will cost an estimated $2.2 million and Cedar, $3.5 million.

The city plans to move ahead with design work that will put it in a position to receive the grants, using funding already available from the feds.

Monday, August 10, 2009 at 6:47 pm

Batavia Little League planning upgrades to MacArthur facility

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, little league, sports

little_league_field.jpg

Batavia Little League is planning a series of upgrades to the ball field at MacArthur Park. The plans include construction of new, larger dugouts, a remodeled concession stand and a new, second batting cage.

The Little League will build the improvements and pay for it through its own fundraising and then donate the improvements to the city. The donation of the completed project to the city is required by law.

Monday, August 10, 2009 at 6:26 pm

City Council tables vote on consolidation charter commission

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, consolidation

On the motion of City Councilman Sam Barone, the Batavia City Council tonight put off a vote on forming a commission to create a new charter for a consolidated Batavia.

At the 7 p.m. business meeting, the council had been scheduled to vote on a resolution scheduling a public hearing in order to form a new charter commission.

The commission would have four members appointed by the city along with four appointed by the town.

There was no discussion of Barone's motion to table the vote for now. His motion passed 5-4.

UPDATE: After the meeting, Barone said he thought the current city charter review process should be completed before the city embarks on a new charter process for the proposed consolidation.

Monday, August 10, 2009 at 3:27 pm

Two-car rollover accident reported near Pavilion Center

post by Howard B. Owens in accident, Pavilion

perry_road_accident01.jpg

Emergency crews are responding to a possible serious-injury accident at Route 20 and Perry Road east of Pavilion Center.

Two cars are reportedly on their roofs and "multiple injuries" are reported.  Mercy Flight is being dispatched.

UPDATE 5:00 p.m.: On scene. One Mercy Flight helicopter has left and at least one more, possibly two, on their way. A maroon minivan is on its side while a black compact car is now upright. Emergency crews are treating patients. There may be as many as five patients involved.

UPDATE 6:42 p.m.: There were six victims, all adults. Two in a sedan, and four in a minivan. Two were taken by Mercy Flight to area hospitals -- at least one to Strong, so the other probably to ECMC. Four other victims were taken by ground ambulance to Strong (possibily).  Investigators on scene as of an hour ago had no idea how the accident occurred. They were just getting started with examining the scene. I'll post a couple of pictures after I get to tonight's City Council meeting.  As for video, my camera is busted.  It probably recorded fine, but now playback isn't working.  Somebody is bringing me another camera tonight, but I probably won't be able to get any video up from the scene before the morning.

perry_road_accident2.jpg


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Monday, August 10, 2009 at 1:04 pm

Hole-in-one reported at Batavia Country Club

post by Howard B. Owens in golf, sports

We received this from Mark Pflaumer:

Jim Hall of Barre shot a hole-in-one on the third hole at Batavia Country  Club this afternoon.  Witnessed by Rick Pcionek, Mark Pflaumer and Kevin  Bezon

Monday, August 10, 2009 at 12:42 pm

Overhead on the scanner: 'They must be pretty hard up ... '

post by Howard B. Owens in overheard on the scanner

This comes from a voice I think I recognize as a DPW worker: "They must be pretty hard up if they stole a shovel and a broom. Wow."

Monday, August 10, 2009 at 12:37 pm

Today's Deals: New today, Amelia's Antiques and Collectibles

post by Howard B. Owens in Deal of the Day

New Today: Amelia's Antiques and Collectibles, 5213 E. Main St. (Rte 5), Batavia, N.Y.  A unique collection of old and new at Amelia's. Antiques, country primitives, candles, collectibles and more. Click Here to download an entry form for a drawing to win $75 in merchandise from Amelia's. We have a $20 gift certificate for $10.

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

The Mane Attraction, 99 E. Main St., Batavia, N.Y.: The Mane Attraction is a spa and salon offering pedicures, manicures, hair styling and massage. We have a $20 gift certificate for $10.

Sport of Kings Family Restaurant, 419 W Main St., Batavia, N.Y.: 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.

Settler's Restaurant, 353 W. Main St., Batavia, N.Y.: Settler's has a 25-year history in Batavia of serving great, affordable breakfasts, lunches and dinners to Batavians. We have a $20 gift certificate for $10.

A $1 PayPal service fee applies on items more than $10. The fee is 50 cents on items below $10.

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. Only one gift certificate per-merchant per-person every six months. Gift certificates cannot be combined with other offers without prior approval of the merchant. Gift certificates bought separately cannot be combined for a single purchase. Individuals buying gift certificates must use their own personal PayPal account for the 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. Unless other arrangements are made immediately after purchase, the gift certificate will mailed to the winner at his or her PayPal-provided postal address within two or three days of purchase.

Amelia's

SOLD

Sport of Kings

SOLD

Settler's

SOLD

The Mane Attraction

sold

The Enchanted Florist

Monday, August 10, 2009 at 12:04 pm

Handful of arrests at Creed concert at Darien Lake announced

post by Howard B. Owens in crime, darien lake

The following arrests were made related to the Creed concert at Darien Lake Theme Park over the weekend:

Adam R. Murray, 22, of 6173 Knickerbecker Road, Ontario, charged with disorderly conduct after allegedly fighting with security officers.

Alan R. Harris, 20, of 9783 State Road, Glenwood, allegedly possessed alcohol under the age of 21.

Michael A. Hill, 19, of 12670 West Schutt, Sardinia, allegedly possessed alcohol under the age of 21.

A 17-year-old from Delevan faces the same charge.

Monday, August 10, 2009 at 11:39 am

Bill Kauffman speaks in Alfred on localism

post by Howard B. Owens in bill kauffman, localism

Yesterday, Sunday, I rode with Batavia native, Elba resident, nationally known author, Bill Kauffman and WNED reporter and Darien resident Jay Moran down to Alfred to hear Bill deliver a speech on localism to a Green Party gathering at the university there. The video is broken into three parts because of YouTube's upload limits. The total runtime is less than 20 minutes.

Next two parts after the jump:

Monday, August 10, 2009 at 11:03 am

Railroad Avenue in Alexander closed due to flooding

post by Howard B. Owens in alexander

Railroad Road in the Village of Alexander is closed due to flooding.


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Monday, August 10, 2009 at 10:55 am

Gas leak on Walnut, southbound traffic being shut down

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia

A gas leak on Walnut Street in Batavia has not been shut off and the Fire Department is now requesting that southbound Walnut be closed to vehicle traffic.

National Fuel is on scene trying to find the shut off valve.

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