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Howard B. Owens's blog

Monday, October 27, 2014 at 9:58 pm

Rail crossing closure planned for Route 262 in Bergen

post by Howard B. Owens in bergen

County Highway Superintendent Tim Hens says he was notified late Monday afternoon by CSX that there will be a rail grade crossing closure on Townline Road (Route 262) in Bergen from Thursday morning through Saturday afternoon.

The detour is Jerico Road to Route 33 to Route 19.

Monday, October 27, 2014 at 3:09 pm

State Police arrest Darien Center man following report of burglary in progress in Clarence

post by Howard B. Owens in crime, Darien
Casey Lafleur

Dispatched to investigate a burglary in progress on Main Street in Clarence, troopers spotted a man they believed was fleeing north from Main Street.

Casey L. Lafleur, 24, of Darien Center, was stopped and later arrested.

Lafleur allegedly entered an unlocked enclosed port and went into the residence through a closed, locked door, causing damage to the doorway. He then left the residence, police said.

He is charged with criminal trespass, 2nd, criminal trespass and criminal mischief, 4th.

Lafleur was arraigned in Clarence Town Court and released on his own recognizance. 

Monday, October 27, 2014 at 2:56 pm

Batavia to receive $750K for bike path in city

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia

The governor's office has announced a $750,000 grant for a community bike trail in the City of Batavia.

From the press release:

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced approximately $70 million in awards to fund 68 bicycle, pedestrian and multi-use path transportation projects in New York. The projects, funded by the Federal Highway Administration and which leverage a total investment of $103.7 million, will promote walking and biking, and boost tourism and economic development opportunities in dozens of communities across the state.

"These projects will help communities become more walkable and bicycle friendly, as well as show off the natural beauty that exists in every corner of this state,” Governor Cuomo said. “I thank the Federal Highway Administration and our representatives for helping the state secure this funding so that residents and visitors alike can enjoy New York like never before."

The projects include the addition of accessible sidewalks, improved pedestrian access to public transportation services, construction of new bicycle and pedestrian facilities, and the preservation and conversion of abandoned railroad corridors for trail use.

New York State Department of Transportation Commissioner Joan McDonald said, "We are investing in projects that meet the increasing public demand for walkable and bikeable communities, while promoting sustainable transportation alternatives, tourism and recreation, and local and regional economic development. Governor Cuomo has shown a historic commitment to investing in transportation infrastructure in New York State, including making bicycle and pedestrian safety a priority."

The funds are made available to the State through the Federal Highway Administration and are administered by the State Department of Transportation. The program provides up to 80 percent of the cost of each project, with the remaining share coming from the project sponsor. The funds are dedicated for strategic investments in transportation alternatives and with a local sponsor match of more than $33.6 million, support a total investment of nearly $103.7 million.

The projects announced today were chosen through a competitive solicitation process and rated on established criteria that included public benefit and community support for the project; connectivity to an existing transportation system; how well the proposed improvements benefit walking and bicycling; impact on local or regional economies; availability of matching funds; and ability to deliver the project within federally required timeframes. (A total of) 135 applications were received.

Selected projects relate to one or more of the following categories: on-road and off-road trail facilities for pedestrians, bicyclists and other non-motorized forms of transportation; infrastructure-related projects and systems that provide safe routes for non-drivers to access daily needs; use of abandoned railroad corridors for surface-transportation related trails; scenic byway turnouts and viewing areas; safe routes to school; construction of boulevards and complete streets thoroughfares; and storm water management related to highway runoff.

The full press release goes on to list the other projects in the state.

UPDATE: The DOT sent over this supplemental information about the Batavia project.

  • City of Batavia: Healthy Schools Corridor: $720,657 -- Sidewalks on Summit Street, Liberty Street, South Liberty Street and Washington Avenue; Benefits schools and businesses.
Monday, October 27, 2014 at 2:00 pm

GCEDC approves amended purchase agreement for insurance auction house in Bergen

post by Howard B. Owens in bergen, business, GCEDC

Press release:

The Board of Directors of the Genesee County Economic Development Center (GCEDC) approved an application for an amended purchase agreement for Insurance Auto Auctions, Inc. (IAA) at its Oct. 27 board meeting.

“Even before IAA has put a shovel in the ground, the company is already expanding its footprint which bodes well for our region in terms of jobs and continued economic development in Genesee County,” said Steve Hyde, president and CEO, GCEDC.

In June, the GCEDC board accepted IAA’s offer to purchase 30 acres at Apple Tree Acres. During the company’s due diligence period, IAA’s engineers discovered that more useable acres were required to meet the long-term objectives of the company. The GCEDC and the Town of Bergen worked with IAA to increase the proposed site to 36.2 acres. The Apple Trees Acres Corporate Park is a 119-acre site in the Town of Bergen located on routes 33 and 19.

“IAA is committed to expanding its presence in communities where there is strong customer demand,” said John Kett, CEO and president of IAA. “We look forward to being part of the Bergen community, and thank the GCEDC board for approving this application, which will enable us to better serve our customers and providers in the area.”

Insurance Auto Auctions, Inc., (IAA) is the leading live and live-online North American salvage vehicle auction company with the most auction facilities footprint in North America. The company is committed to providing customers with the highest level of services and has more than 160 auction facilities across the United States and Canada offering towing, financing and titling services. IAA provides registered buyers from around the globe with millions of opportunities to bid on and purchase donated and salvaged vehicles.

Monday, October 27, 2014 at 1:17 pm

Photos: Auction at Delavan's clears out building

post by Howard B. Owens in auction, batavia, business, Delavan's Restaurant

Dozens of people, including a few local business owners, packed into the former Delavan's Restaurant, 107 Evans St., Batavia, this morning for an auction of the building's contents.

Everything sold, except for the kitchen sink and the building it's attached to.

The real estate is still available, so here's your chance to own your own bar and grill, or maybe the ultimate man cave.

The auction was conducted by Bontrager's.

Sunday, October 26, 2014 at 3:10 pm

Photos: 22nd Annual Halloween Parade

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Halloween, halloween parade

Several dozen children in costumes turned out in blustery weather for the 22nd Halloween Parade in Batavia this afternoon.

The event was sponsored by The Batavia Area Jaycees, Batavia's Original, Oliver's Candies, Batavia Youth Bureau and Vibrant Batavia.

Sunday, October 26, 2014 at 2:22 pm

Photos: Carroll and Jones at Frost Ridge close out season

post by Howard B. Owens in entertainment, Frost Ridge Campground, Le Roy, music

Frost Ridge Campground closed out its abbreviated 2014 concert schedule Saturday night with headliner Jason Michael Carroll (pictured above).

Carroll was originally booked for a date earlier in the summer, but it was cancelled following a court order triggered by a pair of lawsuits filed against Frost Ridge. Judge Robert C. Noonan eventually modified his order after the legal process started to drag on.

Joshua Scott Jones, formerly of Steel Magnolia (below), opened the show.

Photos by Peggy Barringer.

Sunday, October 26, 2014 at 10:11 am

Photos: Batavia reads Gardner at the Pok-A-Dot

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, books, John Gardner, Literature, Pok-A-Dot

Members of the John Gardner Society gathered, as they do every October, for a reading of selections from the work of Batavia's own John Gardner.

Top photo: Bill Kauffman reading a portion of an essay about Gardner by Susan Thornton, who was Gardner's fiancée at time of his death.

Byron Hoot, who began attending the readings a few years ago, driving to Batavia annually from his home in Pennsylvania. 

Jim Gardner, John's brother

Leona Pastore and Terry Abrams

Bill Kauffman

Brian Paris reading

Sunday, October 26, 2014 at 7:45 am

Avon's elusive QB ends Alexander's football season

post by Howard B. Owens in alexander, football, high school sports, sports

Above are three pictures that illustrate the problem Alexander faced Saturday in its Class DD Section V semi-final playoff game against Avon in Honeoye Falls.

The problem's name is Joe Sotak, the 155-pound, 5'9" stick of butter who led the Avon offense to a tally of 26 points over four quarters of whack-a-mole.

When Sotak could be caught, he proved impossible to hold.

The senior QB was seven for 10 passing for 96 yards and a TD. He also rushed for 147 yards and two TDs on 22 carries.

In the sequence above, Sotak pumps but doesn't throw as Rick Amico and Derrick Busch appear to be closing in for the sack. Sotak glided a step or two forward, causing Amico and Busch to whiff, then lofted a pass just over the heads of Tristan Aldinger and Cody Trzecieski to where only Avon's Zack Loomis could catch it as he stood on the three-yard line. Loomis needed only turn and take a couple of steps into the end zone.

The Trojans managed to cross the goal line once all afternoon, and that score didn't come until the 4th quarter.

A bad snap prevented Alexander from putting at least three on the board in the first half.

Final, 26-7.

Alexander finishes with a 5-3 record while Avon advances to face Clyde-Savannah in the Class DD final next week.

"It wasn't the result we were expecting tonight," said Head Coach Tim Sawyer. "We had a good week of preparation; however, Avon controlled both sides of the line of scrimmage. Avon played physical and fast tonight.

"Our overall body of work for the season has been quite good," he added. "We won some big games along the way. I hate to see the seniors go, but they have left their foot print on this program over the past two years."

Just before the end of the half, with the Trojans down 12-0, an Alexander player got a hand on Joe Sotak and nearly dragged him to the ground, but Sotak spun away and turned what looked like a certain sack into about a 30-yard gain, all the way down to the two-yard line. The gain, however, was negated by a block to the back foul later in Sotak's run.

Tristan Aldinger scores for Alexander

Tristan Aldinger with the ball

Jared Browne at QB

Action early in the second half

Jared Browne with a pass

Avon's star running back Brandon Mynter was mostly contained by the Alexander defense.

Head Coach Tim Sawyer

Alexander HS grad Matt Szymaski, home on leave from the Marines, attended Saturday's game.

To purchase prints, click here.

Saturday, October 25, 2014 at 9:38 am

Le Roy upends Wayland-Cohocton 54-8

post by Howard B. Owens in football, high school sports, Le Roy, sports

As it has all season, Le Roy dominated its opponent in the first round of sectional play Friday night, beating Wayland-Cohocton 54-8.

Tom Kelso scored four touchdowns to help power the Oatkan Knights' offensive. Kelso carried the ball 11 times and gained 90 yards.

QB Mike McMullen was 7 for 13 for 85 yards and a TD.

Nate Flint carried the ball 12 times for 66 yards and a TD, and Anthony Natrigo had 12 carries for 63 yards and a TD.

Nick Egeling also scored on the ground, gaining 22 yards on three carries. 

Photos by David Boyce.

Saturday, October 25, 2014 at 8:57 am

Blue Devils end postseason drought by crushing Pal-Mac 47-14

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Batavia HS, football, high school sports, sports

QB Greg Mruczek celebrated Batavia's first home sectional game in 18 years by tossing five touchdown passes, helping the Blue Devils crush Palmyra-Macedon 47-14.

It was pretty much a flawless performance for the junior who hit 13 receivers in 16 attempts for 227 yards without a reception.

Head Coach Brennan Briggs attributes Mruczek's success to hard work.

"He competes every single snap," Briggs said. "He wants to get better. It's not about any of the coaches or anything like that. It's about Greg wanting the ball in his hands and putting in that time and putting in that effort, asking to watch extra film, asking about the defensive coverages."

It helps that he's got some weapons on the wings and in the backfield.

Offensively, the Blue Devils feature three wideouts each with more than six feet in height -- Ryan Hogan, Malachi Chenault and James Cryer -- and speed with Dominick Mogavero, Jarrett Lasket and Anthony Gallo.

Mruczek said the height and athleticism of his receivers makes his job easier.

"I can throw with a lot of confidence with those guys," Mruczek said. "There's a lot of height. I can throw up the ball and they're great athletes. I've got a lot of confidence they're going to make plays."

Cryer led the receiving corps with four caches for 77 yards and three touchdowns.

Mogavero anchored the running game Friday night. He rushed for 124 yards on 24 carries.

"He's the back who has to get some tough yards, but he's also deceiving with the vision that he has," Briggs said. "He finds some holes and gets some big, hard yards for us. Defensively, his nose is always in there. He's a tough kid, a hard-nosed kid. That's how wrestlers are. He's a wrestler and that's how wrestlers are built. Not a big kid, but we have a lot of kids who aren't big or many not have a ton of mass to them, but their hearts are pretty strong."

The Blue Devils will need to call on those big hearts, hard work and focus as they take a big step in the recent history of Batavia's football program -- a second-round playoff game, something that hasn't happened in about 20 years.

Next Saturday they'll face #3 ranked Penn Yan (6-2), coming off a 24-0 victory over Waterloo. 

Even with a record of 7-1, Briggs said the Blue Devils have yet to put together a complete, well-balanced game, but they're getting closer.

That is what it will take to advance.

"We need to tighten up the defense," Briggs said. "We need to be able to run the ball and throw the ball on a given night. We can't just rely on just the passing game or just the running game. We still have to put that all together for us to take that next step."

Top Photo: Cryer with a TD reception.

Trevor Sherwood, another of Batavia's tall receivers, uses his height for a reception in the third quarter.

Malachi Chenault goes up for the ball to haul in a TD reception in the first quarter.

Cryer with a long run after a reception for a touchdown in the third quarter.

Danny Williams scores on a running play.

The Batavia Cheerleaders introduced a new routine at halftime.

To purchase prints, click here.

Friday, October 24, 2014 at 10:23 pm

Pok-A-Dot announces co-owner Joe Marone has died

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business, Pok-A-Dot

Joe Marone, left in the file photo above, co-owner and co-founder of the Pok-A-Dot, has died, according to a post on the restaurant's Facebook page.

The picture is from the Pok-A-Dot's 60th anniversary party. On the right is co-owner Phil Pastore, with Pok-A-Dot regular James Pero.

Friday, October 24, 2014 at 4:31 pm

Photos: Today's fall scenes around Batavia

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia

On a beautiful fall day, I took a little time to drive around Batavia and see if I might be able to make any pictures.

The first two shots are from Richmond Avenue by the Blind School.

North Street.

Bottom three shots, one of my favorite, knarly old trees, on South Jackson.

Friday, October 24, 2014 at 4:19 pm

Photos: Jackson School kindergarteners get visit from Batavia PD as thanks for thank you cards

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Batavia PD, Jackson School

A few weeks ago, as a writing assignment, a pair of kindergarten classes at Jackson School decided to send cards and a "police survival kit" to Batavia PD officers.

Today, three officers in the department returned the favor by going to the school and showing off their police cars and answering questions about their jobs.

Participating officers were Kevin DeFelice, Mich Cowen and Felicia Degroot.

The police survival kit contained candy and gum.

"We decided to come down and show them we appreciated what they did for us and that we're here for them anytime they need us," DeFelice said.

Friday, October 24, 2014 at 4:00 pm

Photos: Crates of onions on fields of muck

post by Howard B. Owens in mucklands

My father just left after a two-day visit to Batavia. Wednesday, we visited the Holland Land Office Museum, Oliver's and the Batavia Cemetery and then drove down to Letchworth State Park. Yesterday, I gave him a Genesee County ag tour that started at Post Farms, then the mucklands, then Mortellaro Brothers in Elba then Baskin Livestock in Bethany.  

The only pictures I took yesterday were of crates of onions on the mucklands at Torrey Farms property. These, I thought worth sharing.

Friday, October 24, 2014 at 3:29 pm

City receives $100K water rescue grant

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, City Fire

Press release: 

With a $100,000 grant from the New York State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services, the City of Batavia Fire Department will help expand local emergency response teams and first responders throughout the County with equipment and training to reduce and respond to water emergencies.

The money will equip and train all first responders in Genesee County, to include 17 fire departments, five law enforcement agencies and three EMS agencies with water rescue awareness training and a basic water emergency response bag. Attica Fire and Police departments were also included with this grant.

In addition, this grant will also allow the City Fire Department to provide an annual water safety seminar for Genesee County residents to include topics such as: pool safety, open water safety, flooded road safety and what resources are available in Genesee County if you have an emergency.

“In our rural setting it is most likely that a police officer will arrive on location first,” said Lieutenant Bob Fix of the City Fire Department and Special Operations officer responsible for securing the grant. “With the basic kit and training supplied by this grant, an officer will be equipped with the knowledge and equipment to call for more advanced help and to try and effect a safe shore-based rescue.”

The City has been providing some level of water rescue protection for more than 50 years with minimal training and mostly donated equipment. Recent events in the City and Genesee County over the past several years have prompted more training and better equipment in order to provide adequate and safe response to residents.

City Fire Chief Jim Maxwell said, “We are pleased to have been awarded this grant through the New York State Homeland Security Program. These funds will be utilized by City Fire and Genesee County first responders to enhance water rescue response capabilities across the county. We would like thank the 24 area fire, EMS, and police agencies for their support of this initiative which will provide basic water rescue kits to emergency response vehicles throughout the county.”

All fire departments in Genesee County participate in the Genesee County Mutual Aid Plan. While the City of Batavia Fire Department will be the technician-level responders, it is important that local first responders throughout the county are trained and equipped for the initial response. A tiered-response partnership not only dramatically increases the capabilities countywide, but does it safely and effectively using manpower from throughout the county.

Friday, October 24, 2014 at 3:21 pm

Batavia HS JV finishes 7-0 while varsity hosts sectional playoff game tonight

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, football, high school sports, sports

The Batavia Blue Devils JV team recorded another undefeated season with a victory yesterday evening over Le Roy, 29-16.

The varsity squad opens post season play tonight with a quarterfinals sectional playoff at home against Pal-Mac (3-4). Batavia enters sectionals with a 6-1 record and the #2 seed in Class B.

Le Roy, the #1 ranked Class C team in the state, opens sectional play with a home game against Wayland-Cohocton (2-5).

Both games start at 7:30 p.m.

Tomorrow in Class D, #6 seed Elba/Byron-Bergen (4-3) travels to Bath (6-1) for a 5 p.m. game against the #3 seed.  

In Class DD tomorrow, Alexander (5-2 and the #2 seed) plays Avon (5-2 and the #3 seed). The game is in Honeoye Falls at 4 p.m.

Reader submitted photo.

Friday, October 24, 2014 at 2:52 pm

Man with pocketknife in State Street area leads to lock down at two local schools

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia

The initial call sounded more serious than it turned out to be said Rob Yaeger, assistant chief, Batavia PD. 

Multiple law enforcement units responded 2:40 p.m. to Willow and State streets for the report of some sort of conflict involving a man with a knife.

The man reportedly ran west on Willow and went into a garage.

The knife turned out to be a pocketknife.

The incident also led to a lockdown at Batavia HS.  Students were kept inside the building for about 20 minutes.

The Lutheran school on Washington Avenue was also placed on lockdown, according to police.

Several Batavia patrol units responded along with Deputy Chris Erion and his K-9 Destro (seen above after Destro's work at the scene was done and he was rewarded with a little play time).

Batavia PD, Erion and Destro along with state troopers were just completing a planned exercise at the high school when the call to Willow Street came in, according to Principal Scott Wilson.

Friday, October 24, 2014 at 10:35 am

American Legion grave marker stolen from cemetery in Le Roy

post by Howard B. Owens in crime, Le Roy

An American Legion grave marker, presumably bronze, has been reported stolen from the burial place of a veteran in the Machpelah Cemetery, 77 North St., Le Roy.

Le Roy PD responding to investigate.

Previously: Thieves steal hundreds of bronze markers from the graves of veterans in Byron-Bergen area

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