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Howard B. Owens's blog

Monday, March 9, 2009 at 12:16 pm

Weather service issues third flood warning

post by Howard B. Owens in flooding, weather

The National Weather Service has issued a third flood warning for the Batavia and LeRoy areas.


The warning also issues the following warnings:


Saturday, March 7, 2009 at 10:37 am

Last performance tonight at BHS of 'Little Shop of Horrors'

post by Howard B. Owens in announcements, batavia, theater

We received this via e-mail:

Last chance tonight to see the Batavia High School Musical "Little Shop of Horrors". This years production is fantastic! Production value for a High School play is the best to date and the actors/actresses are fantastic in thier respective roles. Please spread the word.....Last performance is tonight March 7th. Show starts at 7pm at the BHS.

Saturday, March 7, 2009 at 9:24 am

NPR reports Obama apparently backing away from promise for rural summit

post by Howard B. Owens in Barack Obama, rural

Early in his campaign for president, Barack Obama promised to call Republican and Democratic leaders together within his first 100 days for a rural summit.

NPR's Howard Berkes reports that the Obama White House seems to be backing away from that promise.

Inouye then cited rural initiatives in the stimulus bill and Obama's proposed budget. "His administration is taking affirmative steps to help strengthen rural America."

As to the pledge of a rural summit in the first 100 days, Inouye said, "[Obama] is working with his Cabinet, advisers and congressional allies to form a comprehensive rural agenda, and is planning on hosting a forum to discuss those ideas."

That's a commitment to do something, but not in the first 100 days, and not in the form of a summit in Iowa.

Yes, a lot has changed since Obama made his pledge, and it doesn't appear that Obama's administration is completely forgetting rural towns.  And I'm not even sure, frankly, what a rural summit would accomplish.

But it's good that reporters like Berkes are out there looking after rural America's interest.

Saturday, March 7, 2009 at 8:42 am

Ambulance service: Would the union renegotiate? Would the city?

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, ambulance

Part 2 of the Daily's FAQ on ambulance service is up.

I'm posing about it only because I get a little bugged when I see people not answering questions.  In this case, it's Greg Ireland:

To fire department union President Greg Ireland, would the union renegotiate its current contract to lessen the cost to the city?

Mallow and the union signed a contract on Sept. 4, 2007, that ran through March 2010, Ireland said, noting that at the time, Mallow was quoted as saying "every single thing that was brought up previously by council, we addressed with them."

"We have an agreement with the city to establish a labor-management committee to discuss concerns ... and the city has not approached the union to discuss any concerns they have with our current contract," Ireland said.

Notice that Ireland doesn't answer a very simple yes or no question. He obfuscates by pushing it back on the city, saying the city never asked.  But the question wasn't, "Did the city ask you?" It was, "would you?"

There's logical question back for Charlie Mallow: If the union were willing to renegotiate, would the city reconsider its position?

And is it simply too late to even consider such questions?

Friday, March 6, 2009 at 5:25 pm

Hilly steps up big to help The Batavian next week

post by Howard B. Owens in thebatavian

I have a pre-arranged trip to the West Coast I'm taking. I fly out in the morning and won't be back for a week.  I figure I should take the trip while I can and see my parents, as well as take care of a little business (there might even be a positive development or two for The Batavian as a result).

While I'll be able to check on the site and even post here and there, Brian Hillabush has volunteered to stay on top of things, too, and help keep the site updated.

Friday, March 6, 2009 at 4:35 pm

LeRoy removing 'outdated' fire boxes from village streets

post by Howard B. Owens in LeRoy

"They've been around forever. It's just another sign of things in the past," (Police Chief Christopher) Hayward said.

Hayward was talking about the once bright red fire alarm boxes along LeRoy village streets that will soon be removed by an electrician.

Must everything old eventually be replaced, or might preserving the past be a community value worth keeping?

Daily News staff writer Scott DeSmit includes these interesting details:

The first boxes were made in 1852 and used the telegraph system. When the box was triggered, a spring-loaded wheel spun and tapped out a signal, which was telegraphed to a fire station.

Eventually, the boxes were linked to fire stations or dispatch centers using phone lines, about the only advance in technology the boxes ever underwent.

Of course, in these tight times, saving money is a virtue.

Each box has its own phone line, meaning the village will cut its phone bill by almost half by discontinuing the lines, Hayward said. The nine boxes, plus two fire sirens, accounted for $239 of the village's $650 monthly bill. The two sirens will remain.

DeSmit reports that none of the boxes have been used for a real incident in two years.

Friday, March 6, 2009 at 4:24 pm

Accident at routes 33 and 237 causes minor injury

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, accident

One person reported chest pains following a two-vehicle collision at the intersection of routes 33 and  in Stafford at about 2:30 p.m.

A state trooper on scene said the investigation was not yet completed and would not release the names of the drivers. He said a Chevy SUV was west bound on 33 when a pick up truck traveling on Route 327 apparently failed to stop.

We'll provide more details later as we're able to get them.

Friday, March 6, 2009 at 3:13 pm

Paper's FAQ on ambulance services gives both sides a say

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, ambulance

The Daily News has posted the first of a two-part FAQ on the ambulance service controversy.

It's well done and should be pretty informative to anybody (is there anybody?) who hasn't been following the issue.

There's been much discussion on The Batavian over an allegation that the city transferred money from ambulance funds to the city treasury. City Manager addresses the question:

In past years, money has been transferred from the ambulance fund to meet personnel costs associated with running the city ambulance service. Eliminating the ambulance service allows the city to cut those positions, which will end the city's need to take money from another fund.

On the issue of "scare tactics," as City Council President Charlie Mallow has characterized the union's lobbying effort, Mallow and union president Greg Ireland each get their say.


"The union's literature, signs and words imply that the city will somehow not have ambulance service after Sept. 1 and that no one will come to help when you call 911," Mallow said. "The county has made it clear that they have a process in place ... there is no reason to believe the hysteria being asserted by the union that there will be no one to provide ambulance service after Sept. 1."


"Our campaign is in NO way negative," Ireland said. "We simply want the public to be aware of the decision that council has made to eliminate their ambulance service, and City Council has no definitive plan for the future needs of their citizens. Passing the buck to someone else is not a responsible way to govern the people that elected you, and I am one of them."

Read the whole thing.

Friday, March 6, 2009 at 1:37 pm

Genesee County Assisted Living Center closes doors pending state funding

post by Howard B. Owens in Genesee County Assisted Living Center

The Genesee County Assisted Living Center posted a sign on its front door yesterday informing patrons that the facility closed "until further notice."

Paster Charlie Piscitello, chairman of the board of directors, said the center has not received from Albany more than $53,000 needed to cover operational expenses for the first quarter. The state also owes more than $40,000 for the final quarter of 2008.

"Our funds were frozen that we need to keep the doors open," Piscitello said. "It got to the point where with no money you can't pay anybody. You can't even pay their health insurance."

The center employs 11 people and serves more than 1,100 clients.

"This is a money crunch in Albany," Piscitello said. "This isn't a case of mismanagement."

Piscitello said the center expects its funding by Tuesday, but WBTA quotes the executive director as saying the center won't open again until a week from Monday.

Meanwhile, the center's employees are on furlough.

Assemblyman Steve Hawley told WBTA that some paperwork had not been completed and that he's working with the Albany agency taking care of the reimbursements. Listen his audio quote from WBTA.

Friday, March 6, 2009 at 1:01 pm

Lapp Insulators Corp. says expensive environmental clean could cost 140 jobs

post by Howard B. Owens in business, Lapp Insulators Corporation, LeRoy

WBTA will report on its 12:30 newscast that Lapp Industries Corp. in LeRoy is concerned about a proposed environmental clean up, which VP and COO Robert Johnson tells WBTA would cost more than it should.

If forced to pay for a $3.4 million price tag for the proposed clean up on the 80=acre site, the survival of the company would be put in jeopardy.

Johnson says 140 local jobs could be lost. He maintains the job can be done just as well for $1.4 million, which the company can afford and is willing to pay.

Friday, March 6, 2009 at 9:13 am

News Round Up: Unemployment up in Genesee County

post by Howard B. Owens in unemployment

WBTA reports this morning:

  • Unemployment hit 9.1 percent in Genesee County, up from 6.7 percent a year ago.
  • A knife-wielding suspect threatened two Batavia police officers this morning. Ryan Shumway, 29, was taken into custody after the confrontation, in which Shumway was told several times to drop the knife before he did.

Tune into WBTA 1490-AM for these and other stories throughout the day.

Friday, March 6, 2009 at 8:48 am

Cougar Week at Genesee Community College Celebrates Alumni

post by Howard B. Owens in announcements, GCC

Press release:

BATAVIA, NY -- Alumni of Genesee Community College should mark their calendars for Cougar Week, March 23-28, 2009. Whether they graduated in 1977 or 2007, alumni will be celebrated at Genesee's Batavia campus with a variety of exciting activities.

Kicking off Cougar Week on Monday, March 23 is an art exhibit in the Lobby Art Gallery of the Stuart Steiner theatre of works of art by Genesee's Fine Arts students. On Tuesday March 24, the Lobby Art Gallery will feature Firmament: An Exhibit by Virginia Taylor. This exhibit will run all through Cougar Week and ends its run on April 24.

Wednesday, March 25 will feature the Alumni Hall of Fame 2009 Induction and Reception. The induction and reception will take place in the Conable Technology Building at 4:30 PM. This year's inductees are: Wanda Frank '97, Ellen Ryan '76, George Schaefer '76, and Paula (Miller) Schaefer '79. Thursday, March 26 starts off with the Genesee's men's lacrosse team facing Broome County Community College at 4:00 PM on the lacrosse field. The focal point of the evening is the second annual Experience Genesee, an all-ages open house filled with mini workshops and entertainment throughout the night. Events will run 5:00 PM - 8:30 PM all over the Batavia Campus. Alumni are encouraged to visit their alma mater and see the growth and opportunities available at Genesee. This event is FREE and open to the general public.

On Friday, March 27 a theatre performance entitled, The Incredible Jungle Journey of Fenda Maria will begin at 7:30 PM in the Stuart Steiner Theatre. This performance is a modern children's fable with audience participation. Advance tickets are encouraged, and can be purchased at the Box Office at (585) 343-0055 x6814 or by email [email protected].

Rounding out Cougar Week is The Cougar Convention, an alumni all-class reunion on Saturday, March 28 from 6:00-8:00 PM in the William W. Stuart Forum. Alumni from any graduating year are welcomed to celebrate with a cash bar, refreshments, music and memories. Reservations are encouraged and can be made by calling (585) 343-0055 x6265, or by email [email protected]. After the Cougar Convention, alumni are encouraged to attend the Stone Row concert in the Stuart Steiner Theatre at 8:00 PM. Weaving a rich tapestry of Celtic and World music, Stone Row presents a unique style of old classics and captivating originals, by blending traditional and contemporary genres. Advance tickets are encouraged and can be reserved by calling the Box Office at (585) 343-0055 x6814 or by email at [email protected].

For further information on any alumni activities during Cougar Week, please contact Patti Pacino, Alumni Coordinator at (585) 343-0055 x6265, or at [email protected].

Editor's Note: Photo caption: Pictured from left: (seated) Patti Waite Nicosia and Natalie Blackshear Russo. (standing) Elizabeth Wimbush, GDub the Cougar, Michael Moore, Peggy Waite Weissend, Laura Ranalli, LeeAnn Dimick Brewster, Mary Innes, Rhiannon Mason Eurin, Richard Tiede, Annette DeFedercis Blanchard, and Erik Anderson.

Friday, March 6, 2009 at 8:33 am

India Native, CEO of ITS, to Share his 'Passage to America' at Genesee Community College

post by Howard B. Owens in announcements, GCC

Press Release:

BATAVIA, NY -- Genesee Community College is pleased to announce I.C. Shah, founder and CEO of ICS Telecom, Inc., a provider of voice and data network services in Western New York, will be speaking on Wednesday, March 25 in room T-102 at the Batavia Campus at 6:00 PM. Mr. Shah's speech is entitled, A Passage to America. The event is co-sponsored by the Global Education Committee and Genesee's Student Government Association.

Mr. Shah was born in Mumbai (Bombay), India, and earned an undergraduate degree at the University of Mumbai. He came to the United States when he was 21 to attend graduate school at Michigan State. However, there were some trials and tribulations that arose in Mr. Shah's life that led his parents to shut off his Masters Degree financial support. From there, Mr. Shah faced many mountains in his life, but he learned how to overcome obstacles and found his "voice" to convey his messages effectively to arrive at positive situations via communication.

Mr. Shah's generous commitment of his time to Genesee Community College was procured through a lesson project within an Interpersonal Communication's class taught by Genesee instructor, Jackie DiBella. Mrs. DiBella invited him to speak to her class about cultural values shaping acceptance of and preference for a specific communication style.

Todd Plouffe, adjunct instructor of Food and Beverage Management at Genesee, and General Manager of the Delmonte Lodge, in Pittsford, nominated Mr. Shah in 2005 for the Distinguished Alumni Award that was awarded to Mr. Shah from the Alumni Association. Plouffe and Karin Kovach-Allen, Dean of Human Communications and Behavior, have positive strong sentiments about global education and suggested to DiBella to invite faculty and the Genesee student body to hear Mr. Shah's educational and commanding speech.

Mr. Shah is a graduate of Michigan State University and currently serves on the Board of Rochester Broadway Theatre League, and is Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Rochester. He recently founded DIAL (Development of Indo-American Leaders) in cooperation with the United Way of Rochester to identify, train and place Asian American Indians in leadership positions in community organizations.

He is eager about setting an exemplary model to inspire young adults to persevere despite obstacles. In addition to his professional work, Shah is very involved in various non-profit organizations throughout the Rochester area. Mr. Shah is passionate about his community and the causes involving children, young adults and the disadvantaged. He has used his creativity, entrepreneurship and philanthropy to help many organizations.

Faculty, students and the general public are invited to this event on Wednesday, March 25 at 6:00 PM in the Conable Technology Building room T-102 to learn about the life, accomplishments, knowledge, beliefs, values, and customs of I.C. Shah.

For further information, please contact Nina Mortellaro in the Human Communications and Behavior department at Genesee at 585-343-0055 x6228, or at [email protected].

Friday, March 6, 2009 at 8:27 am

Jaycees offering BBQ chicken dinners, April 19

post by Howard B. Owens in announcements, jaycees

Press Release:

The Batavia Area Jaycees will be hosting a Clor's Chicken Barbecue on April 19, 2009 from 11:30am – 2:00pm.   Cost for the dinner is $8.00 and includes half a chicken, salt potatoes, baked beans, roll & butter.

Pre-sale tickets are available at the Genesee County Chamber of Commerce, 210 East Main Street; Licata Chiropractic & Wellness Center, 39 Ellicott Street; Oliver's Candies, 211 West Main Street; Holland Land Office Museum, 131 West Main Street; or by calling 585-343-5775 or asking any Jaycee for more details.  Tickets will also be sold at the Batavia Area Jaycee Booth at the Home, Garden & Trade Show at the Batavia Downs on March 20-22.

Dinners can be picked up at the Batavia Area Jaycee Office located at 56 Harvester Avenue.  Free delivery for those in Batavia with 5 or more pre-sale orders!

If you have any questions about the Chicken BBQ, contact the Jaycees at 585-343-5775.

Friday, March 6, 2009 at 7:52 am

Police Beat: Loud music leads to arrest in Byron

post by Howard B. Owens in crime

Dustin R. Cleveland, 23, of Byron, was arrested Thursday, for reportedly playing music too loud in his residence. He was charged with disorderly conduct. The Sheriff's office reported numerous complaints about the loud music. In report does not include the time of the incident.

Joseph Julyan, 44, of Oakfield, was arrested Thursday. He is accused of aggravated DWI with a prior conviction. He is also charged with improper use of restricted lane. He was taken into custody at 11 Jefferson St, Batavia. No other details were released.

Thursday, March 5, 2009 at 10:26 pm

Habit dedicated 7th home on March 14

post by Howard B. Owens in announcements, Habitat for Humanity

A special invitation for you

                                          Habitat for Humanity
                                         Genesee County, NY
                                         By thought,word or deed,
                                   In some way you helped build it.
                                         So please join us for the
                                      Dedication of our 7th. Home
                                           (this is our 10th. Year)
                                  Date: Saturday,  March 14, 2009
                                                  Time: 10 AM
                                       Place:  6 Columbia Avenue
                                                   Batavia, NY
                                    Meet the family, tour the home,
                                          Enjoy the refreshments
                                                 And friendship.
Thursday, March 5, 2009 at 9:09 am

Corfu teen injured in ATV accident

post by Howard B. Owens in accident

Morgan L. Cox, 17, of Corfu, was injured when he was thrown from an ATV while jumping snow banks behind a residence on Main Street in Batavia, the Democrat and Chronicle reports.

Cox was taken to United Memorial. There is no word of the nature of his injuries nor his condition.

Thursday, March 5, 2009 at 8:40 am

Survey asks what you like about the 5 & 20

post by Howard B. Owens in business, Thurway, tourism

I'm really not a fan of the New York State Thruway. I don't like paying the toll, and it too quickly zips you past some of WNY's beautiful scenery. When I do drive it, I can't help but feel I'm being jettisoned down a pneumatic tube. There's not much to the right of me, and even less on the left. Just zoom, zoom past guard rails and weeds to my destination.

When my wife and I needed to drive to Massachusetts for a wedding last spring, we traversed nothing but New York's "back roads." Avoiding the Thruway added two hours to our trip both ways, but it was worth it.  We saw every rustic village along the way and ate in some nice locally owned restaurants, rather than cookie-cutter chains at Thurway rest stops.

As we drove along the 5 & 20, I thought what a great route -- the businesses should band together along the 5 & 20 to promote tourism. When I got home, I found this 5 & 20 Web site.

Kelly Rapone, over at the Genesee County Chamber of Commerce, is involved in a 5 & 20 promotional project and asked that I pass along a link to a survey the group is doing. If you take the survey you will be entered into a chance to win a $100 gas card.

So, take the survey, drive the 5 & 20, and support local and regional businesses.

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