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Howard B. Owens's blog

Thursday, May 28, 2009 at 9:47 pm

Already in jail, alleged drug dealer gets new charges

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, crime

WIEGMAN.JPGAlready in jail on unspecified chargers, Christopher J. Wiegman, 20, of Bergen, was arrested today for allegedly dealing drugs.

Wiegman reportedly sold crack cocaine and prescription pills to under cover agents of the Local Drug Task force in late 2008.

The alleged sale came while agents were investigating the sale of crack cocaine and pills in both the City of Batavia and Bergen.

Wiegman was charged with two felony counts of possession of a controlled substance. He is being held without bail.

Thursday, May 28, 2009 at 9:21 pm

Medina pastor who helped stop runaway tractor on Main Street tells his story

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia

tractorPastor Rod Klinzing of Medina doesn't want anybody making a big deal over his heroics Tuesday when his efforts may have helped saved the lives of two people trapped inside of a car being pushed sideways by a tractor down Main Street.

He's slightly embarrassed that his wife Janice contacted The Batavian Wednesday afternoon, saying, "I am  so terribly proud of my husband who did what seemed right.  And it was right.."  (Because of my travels, I had no time to interview Rod until this evening).

Klinzing was the first to jump on the tractor and try smashing his way through the window.

"We heard a terrible noise with car horns going off and we had no idea what was going on until the tractor drove right in front of us pushing the car along and we could see inside two people still in the car and they were just panic stricken and absolutely helpless," Klinzing said.

(LISTEN: Full audio interview)

The pastor said he then ran up to the to get the attention of the driver, Neil Phelps, saying, "I thought perhaps he just didn't know."

"I came to realize he wasn't responding," Klinzing said. "He wasn't responding to me and he wasn't responding to anybody else who was yelling and screaming."

When he realized that eventually the trapped car would either be turned over or pushed into a stopped car ahead, Klinzing said he had to act. The tractor wasn't moving that fast, so he decided he could jump aboard.

"Pounding on the window didn't seem to do anything," Klinzing said. "The door was secured from the inside and I couldn't open it, and I just tried to get his attention. He looked at me in kind of a very dazed state. No emotion whatsoever and just kept on driving."

That went on for what seemed like a while, Klinzing said, so he decided to try and make eye contact to get the driver's attention.

"He did and that's when I made a motion pointing at the key, 'turn it off, turn it off,'" Klinzing said. "I was pleased that he actually responded to that. My pounding on the window, he didn't respond to at all.  I made that motion. He turned it off. He sat back, and that was basically the end of the story"

Klingzing said another man did jump on the tractor and start pounding on the window, probably Jerry Newell, but Klinzing said he told the man the pounding was ineffective.

"He probably has a pretty sore hand at this point because he smacked it pretty hard," Klinzing said.

Klinzing said at the end two police officers did jump on the vehicle and managed to gain entry from the other side of the tractor cab.

While people worked to extract Gene Laney and his passenger from the car stuck in front of the tractor, Klinzing said he said next to the cab and made sure the driver didn't turn the tractor back on, and then he left the scene.

Batavia Police Chief Randy Baker told WBTA yesterday that the two officers who assisted at the scene were Chris Camp and Matthew Baldwin.

Thursday, May 28, 2009 at 8:03 pm

Lee breaks with many in his party by supporting Obama's Supreme Court nominee

post by Howard B. Owens in Chris Lee

Rep. Chris Lee is increasingly showing himself as a Republican of an independent mind.

While his party and conservative pundits step up partisan bashing of Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor, even calling her a racist, Lee told WBTA this morning that he supports her nomination.


UPDATE: Lee was in town to talk with local veterans.  Full press release about the visit after the jump.

Thursday, May 28, 2009 at 7:57 pm

Popular skydiving event grounded

post by Howard B. Owens in Batavia Boogie

The Batavia Boogie, which has brought skydivers from all over the region to Genesee County Airport for 19 years, is grounded, reports WBTA.

Paul Gath of Frontier Skydivers said his group decided to cancel this years event rather than fight the county over liability concerns.

Last year, a skydiver died when his parachute failed to open.

County Legislator Jay Grasso explains the county's position.

Thursday, May 28, 2009 at 7:51 pm

The Batavia Downs Stimulus Plan: Invest $25 million in upgrades

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Batavia Downs

This should stimulate the local economy: Batavia Downs is planning on spending $25 million on upgrades to the harness racing track, reports WBTA.

The five-year plan includes an upscale conference center, new concessions and a hotel.

Thursday, May 28, 2009 at 9:00 am

Police Beat: Eight arrests reported at Dave Matthews concert at Darien Lake

post by Howard B. Owens in crime, Darien, darien lake, pembroke

The following arrests were made at the Dave Matthews concert at Darien Lake:

David J. Brooks, 21, of Fairport, charged with harassment for allegedly striking a security officer.

Nicholas P. Gardone, 20, of Fairport, is charged with petty larceny for allegedly stealing concert tickets from the box office.

Edmund J. Bracker, 20, of Pittsford, charged with petty larceny for allegedly striking cotton candy.

Christopher P. Greco, 21, of Pittsford, charged with petty larceny for allegedly stealing cotton candy.

Conor C. McNamara, 22, of East Aurora, charged with harrassment for allegedly stealing a security officer in the back of the head with his elbow.

Joshua A. Ray, 22, of Pittsford, charged with DWI for allegedly operating a motor vehicle in the parking lot while intoxicated.

Gregory J. Summar, 27, of Eden, charged with harassment for allegedly striking a security officer.

Larry J. Marling, 21, of Albion, is charged with harassment for allegedly throwing a security officer against a parked car.

Brooks and Marling were taken to Genesee County Jail and held on $200 bail.

In other incident reports:

Andrea Klein, 28, of Liverpool, is charged with unlawful possession of marijuana. The marijuana was reportedly found will investigating a motor vehicle accident in Pembroke this morning about 12:30 a.m.

Patrick Klein, 29, of Liverpool, is charged with criminal contempt and possession of marijuana following a traffic accident in Pembroke this morning about 12:30 a.m. The cause of the accident is reportedly an argument Klein was having with a woman in the car, whom he had been ordered not to have contact with.

Eric Zglinicki, 47, of Darien Center, is accused of firing a rifle near a residence, with at least one bullet traveling close to three people. He is charged with reckless endangerment. The alleged incident occurred yesterday around 7:20 p.m.

Joseph Puls, 22, of Alexander, was stopped for an alleged traffic violation in Alabama. Deputies say they found marijuana in his vehicle, which led to a charge of unlawful possession of marijuana.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009 at 3:50 pm

Christopher Charvella says he's running for 8th district of County Legislature

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

We just received this as a press release:

Dear Neighbor;

My name is Christopher Charvella and I would like to take this  opportunity to announce my candidacy for Genesee County Legislature in the  8th District. I grew up in Genesee County and after serving our country for  six years in the United States Air Force I decided to bring my wife back to  Batavia so we could begin our life together in the place I love so much. We  recently had our first child, a girl, and it is my goal to make Genesee 
County a place where she can grow and flourish.

Sadly, our area is in decline. We are facing a multitude of problems: empty  storefronts on Main Street, an unemployment rate at nearly 9% and climbing,  and a local government that seems incapable of coming up with real solutions.  We have watched businesses close their doors or leave town. We have seen  County bids and purchases go to companies that aren’t even based in New  York State and our stagnant Legislature has been a part of the problem  instead of being a part of the solution. It is time for us to change the way  we do business at a local level.

I pledge to bring balance, oversight and transparency to our local  government. When elected I will immediately offer legislation that will open  the County bid process to all qualified local contractors and distributors,  set up a County website that tracks exactly where your tax dollars go and  make County Legislature and Committee meetings accessible to working people.  Together we can bring an end to the ‘rubber stamp’ legislative  environment that has plagued us for so long.

I’m looking forward to meeting you in person as I walk the District over  the next few months. Feel free to stop me on the street and let me know how I  can make Genesee County a better place for you and your family. I am  committed to working hard for the 8th District and all of Genesee County and  I am looking forward to earning your vote and working for you over the next  two years.


Christopher M. Charvella

Wednesday, May 27, 2009 at 1:40 pm

Posting will be light the next 36 hours

post by Howard B. Owens in thebatavian

Most of the rest of today will be taken up with errands related to moving and then I'm driving to Toronto where I'm speaking tomorrow to a group of online news people about The Batavian and new media.

The good news is, by Monday, I'll be a Batavia resident.  This is going to have numerous benefits, I think, to The Batavian -- I no longer spend two hours per day in a wasteful commute; I'll be able to attend more events and more meetings; I'll know more of what's going on; and I'll have more time to devote to getting more sponsors (and more Deals of the Day!) to keep this venture in online community news going.

While I'm gone, I'll still have my computer and my phone, so keep those news tips coming. If I can't get to something that needs gotten to, I'll call on Brian Hillabush, or cover the news from a distance (much easier to do in this digital age).

Speaking of advertising, the Daily takes a full page today to run logos of all its online advertisers. It's impressive page.  Of the 50 or so businesses, only 37 are local. The rest are out of the county.  It makes me pretty proud of the fact that 36 26 local businesses are now turning to The Batavian to help reach a loyal, local audience. That's 36 26, with two more on the way, and I'm just one guy bringing sponsors on board (and covering the news with the help of my wife and alert readers) against a team of people who have been selling newspaper ads in the community for years. (OOPS. I don't know why I wrote 36.  It's 26. I was just driving down the road and thought -- oops -- so pulled over for this correction. But I stand by how pleased I am with the progress so far.)

It's been heartening the degree to which people in Batavia and the rest of Genesee County have embraced me and Billie since I took over sole ownership of The Batavian. The friendliness and support from readers, business owners and community leaders has me looking forward to being a resident with great anticipation. Everywhere I go, I meet people who tell me how much they love The Batavian.  I never experienced that kind of appreciation for a newspaper in all my years in the print business. I have great hopes for The Batavian and I hope both community members and business owners will be pleased with how we grow and what we deliver.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009 at 12:38 pm

Deal of the Day: Center Street Smoke House

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

Today's Deal: Center Street Smoke House, a $25 gift card for $12.50, HALF OFF! (plus a $1 service charge).

Center Street is located at 20 Center St. in Batavia and is one a great place to go for BBQ, Southern hospitality and features a fine saloon. Center Street also frequently features live music and has an open patio at the back of the restaurant.

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.


Wednesday, May 27, 2009 at 7:46 am

Many New Yorkers say they want to leave state

post by Howard B. Owens in new york, taxes

This may come as no surprise, but many of your neighbors are thinking about leaving New York, according to a poll conducted by Siena College, according to the Buffalo News.

As much as 20 percent of the state's population would like to move or is thinking about, according ot the poll. Only 16 percent said they have no intention of moving.

How many people would follow through on the threat is unknown, but the poll, according to critics, depicts a clear frustration many have with state and local taxes that fuel a high-tax reputation across the nation.

“It absolutely should be of concern to the governor and state leaders,” said Steve Greenberg, a spokesman for the Siena poll.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009 at 7:36 am

Group of last year's Muckdogs make it to Quad Cities

post by Howard B. Owens in baseball, Batavia Muckdogs, sports

Thirteen players who spent at least part of the 2008 season with the Batavia Muckdogs have been placed on the Quad Cities River Bandits roster for 2009.

The players promoted are: George Brown, Hector Cardenas, Ramon Delgado, Arquidemes Nieto, Miguel Tapia, Adam Veres, Charles Cutler, Blake Murphy, Osvaldo Morales, Domnit Bolivar, Alex Castellanos, Jon Edwards and Chris Swauger.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009 at 7:01 am

Police Report: Woman accused of hitting deputy following property dispute

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, crime

Shauna Clattanburg, 27, of Batavia, is accused of striking a Sheriff's deputy in the chest and then containing to hit the officer and yell obscenities while she was taken into custody. The incident arrose during a property dispute in Batavia at 11:38 yesterday. Clattanburg was charged with harassment and resisting arrest.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009 at 6:37 am

Charges pending in accident involving tractor on Main Street

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, accident

tractor_accident_main_st.jpgThe Sherrif's Office is investigating last evenings accident involving a tractor that struck four vehicles and pushed a car sideways down Main Street in Batavia, injuring at least two people.

See yesterday's coverage.

The tractor driver, Neil W. Phelps, 55, of Caledonia, could face charges pending the outcome of the investigation, according to a Sheriff's Office press release.

A passenger in one of the cars struck when the tractor first turned onto Main Street from Route 63 was taken to UMMC for non-life-threatening injuries.

Phelps was also taken to UMMC for evaluation.

The driver of the car pushed down Main Street was also treated later that evening for complaints of hip pain, according to Robin Ettinger, who identified herself as the driver's daughter in a comment left on The Batavian last night.

UPDATE: Dan Fischer at WBTA is developing the story further. He has more details and an audio interview with Tim Yaeger coming.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009 at 11:51 pm

Video: Post-ammonia leak interviews

post by Howard B. Owens in elba, Torrey Farms

I shot this video around 2:15 p.m. following the ammonia leak at Torrey Farms today.  It was a busy afternoon and evening, so it's only now ready for posting. The original breaking news post is here.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009 at 11:05 pm

Online Exclusive: Roll top desk from Max Pies at $300 off

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Deal of the Day, Max Pies Furniture

maxpies_rolltop250x250.jpgThrough a special arrangement with Max Pies Furniture, 400 South Jackson St., Batavia, The Batavian is able to extend this special, online-only offer to its readers:

We are able to offer a solid oak roll top desk to readers of The Batavian at a $300 savings. This desk normally retails for $795.  You can use the PayPal button below to buy it online now for $495. (Sales tax and a $12 PayPal service fee will be added)

You can't buy this desk in the store at that price.

The winner of this exclusive item will be able to choose from an in-stock desk or custom order in one of the three available finishes: harvest distressed, glazed medium distressed or light distressed..

If you've ever dreamed of owning a roll top desk, here is your chance to acquire a quality piece of furniture at a substantial savings.

There is only one item available at this price and it is exclusive through
The Batavian. The winning purchaser will need to arrange to stop by The Batavian office to pick up a purchase voucher. Final arrangements to take delivery of the chair are made at the Max Pies location at 400 South Jackson St. This item will be available until it sells and only one at this price is available.

The voucher has no cash value, but can be used toward an upgrade purchase on another item.

Deliver is free in Genesee County.

To purchase this online exclusive from The Batavian and Max Pies Furniture, click the PayPal button below (this is the only way you can make this purchase -- this price is NOT available in the store).

If you're a local business owner and would like to offer The Batavian readers great deals either as part of The Deal of the Day or as an Online Exclusive, call me at 585-260-6970.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009 at 8:52 pm

Batavia council asks manager to prepare report on switching Fire Department to volunteer force

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia

The City of Batavia should seriously consider replacing the Batavia Fire Department with either an all volunteer, or partial volunteer force, Council President Charlie Mallow suggested during tonight's City Council meeting.

UPDATE: Audio of Mallow's speech provided by WBTA.

His call to have Jason Molino prepare a report on the idea before the council's next conference meeting met with broad support from the other council members, with at least five members backing his thinking and none of the rest raising an objection.

"We live in a city of 16,000 people with a fully funded fire department," Mallow said. "That is probably the most unusual thing you can come across. Our taxpayers are taking a pounding for $3.5 million that 16,000 people have to pay for every year. Can you imagine what we can do -- the town fire department is a little over $1 million -- what we could do with $2.5 million? We could fix their sidewalks in this city. Maybe we could fix our roads without begging for more from the state.

"It's going to take real leadership, because I tell ya, we all know what it took to get rid of that ambulance service and there's still people with signs up even though that issue has long since passed

"Speaking as somebody who is about the fly the coup, it's going to take somebody on this council or the next council to step up and do the right thing no matter how many signs people put up or how many phone calls they make."

Council woman Marianne Clattenburg immediately followed with a "Here, here."

Bill Cox, Bob Bialkowski and Rose Mary Christian all expressed support for Mallow's call for Molino to study up on the issue and prepare a report.

The discussion came in the middle of an agenda item about the car allowance for the city's fire chief, which was an issue put on the agenda by Cox.

"I don't want to argue about $4,000," Mallow said. "I want to argue about $2.5 million."

Cox said now is the time to act on the proposal, while the city's fire department is being run by an interim chief, so that the position wouldn't be changed in the middle of the term of a permanent chief.

The fire fighters union is already claiming a Taylor Law violation because the city voted to eliminate the city's ambulance service, and asked after the meeting if this latest proposal might really run afoul of the Taylor Law, Mallow said, "I've found that your best thing to do is just do the right thing. We did the right thing with the ambulance service and we got complaints because we did the right thing."

As for the car allowance, Molino said he is going to recommend to both the police and fire chiefs that they forgo the city's stipend and use a city vehicle for official business.

Molino explained that the city's employee handbook gives the chiefs the option of an allowance or a city-provided vehicle or a stipend, but after talking with an insurance carrier, the idea of chiefs using personal vehicles for official business should be a grave concern.

If the chiefs were in an accident, even though on official duty, while driving a personal vehicle, their personal insurance company would be the first line of liability. In a serious scenario, the mount of damages could greatly exceed the personal liability coverage.

"I don't think it's good policy to have our city employees at risk of losing everything they've worked their whole lives earning," Molino said.

Both departments have vehicles available -- especially for the fire department once the ambulance service is terminated -- that the chiefs could use and take home to be available in emergencies.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009 at 6:00 pm

Tractor pushes car sideways down Main Street into the city

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia


A tractor from My-T Acres pushed a car with two people in it sideways eastbound down Main Street this evening.

The tractor struck at least two other vehicles and caused at least one minor injury.

Incredibly, neither of the two people in the car pushed by the tractor were injured.

"If it (the car) had flipped over, we would both be dead," said driver Gene Laney. "There is no way we could get out."

The tractor only stopped after a passerby jumped up on the driver-side running board, according to Laney and a police officer, and banged on the glass and yelled at the driver, who eventually heeded the message and turned the tractor off.

The tractor finally stopped in the vicinity of 355 W. Main St.

The hero who helped get the tractor stopped was apparently no longer on scene five or 10 minutes later and police on scene did not know who he was.

Witnesses describe the unidentified tractor driver as in a daze.  It is not known why he drove the vehicle in this manner from Lewiston Road onto Main Street.

County Emergency Coordinator Tim Yaeger happened to be in the area at the time the call went out and tried to get the tractor driver to stop, even pulling in front of the tractor with lights and sirens to draw the driver's attention.

No further information is available at this time.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009 at 5:51 pm

GCEDC garners award from NYS EDC

post by Howard B. Owens in business, GCEDC

Press release:

The Genesee County Economic Development Center received Honorable Mention for its Annual Report and its quarterly newsletter at the New York State Economic Development Council’s annual meeting, held last week in Cooperstown, NY.  The annual report named “Helping Genesee County Grow for 30 Years,” was produced in house and printed locally by Hodgins Printing of Batavia.  The report recognizes the agency’s 30th anniversary. 
“We wanted to highlight this milestone and thought the annual report was a great way to get started,” said Chad Zambito, VP of Marketing and Community Development.  “It is always great to be recognized by your peers, especially in the field of marketing which can be somewhat subjective.” 
The GCEDC was established in 1971 but reorganized into its current form in 1979 with a seven member, non-compensated, Board of Directors that serves at the pleasure of the Genesee County Legislature.  The agency will celebrate its 30th Anniversary this summer with at its semi-annual dinner scheduled to in August.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009 at 5:49 pm

Two Batavia PD check points lead to 47 tickets and five DWI arrests

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia

Twenty-nine license suspensions. Can you imagine?

That person was among of several alleged violators and potential law breakers nabbed at two Batavia Police Department check points set up Friday, according a press release issued this afternoon.

The person with the 29 suspensions isn't identified, and neither is another person with 10 violations who was also tripped up in the one of the check points.

The check points were conducted on Bank Street and Clinton Street Road.

In total, there were 47 traffic summons issues, four people were arrested for DWI and one for aggravated DWI. One person was cited for unlawful possession of marijuana.

We already reported the case of the alleged illegal immigrants getting caught on Bank Street, and the apparent warning sign taped up near the Bank Street check point.

The DWI arrests, all from Batavia, are: James Kempisty, 48; Richard M. Potwora, 50; Todd M. Kemp, 36; Donald W. Gavenda, 51; Ryan M. Shrauger, 39.

Personnel from the Genesee County Sheriff's Office and the Genesee County Drug Task Force assisted in the operation.

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