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Howard B. Owens's blog

Friday, November 28, 2014 at 10:20 am

Car strikes pole on Vine Street, Batavia

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, accident

A vehicle has struck a pole in the area of 112 Vine St., Batavia.

A minor head injury is reported.

No wires down.

City fire and Mercy EMS responding.

Thursday, November 27, 2014 at 2:33 pm

City Church hosts annual Thanksgiving Day meal

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, City Church

Members of City Church came together today to prepare and serve the church's annual Thanksgiving Day meal for those in our community who are in need or just in need of company and good cheer.

Thursday, November 27, 2014 at 2:21 pm

Photos: Kiawanis Thanksgiving Day free skate

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Batavia Kiwanis Club, Falleti Ice Arena

To purchase prints, click here.

Thursday, November 27, 2014 at 9:47 am

Hoops Preview: Le Roy will lean on defense to spark offense

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

These are familiar names: Kody Lamkin, Nick Egeling, Tom Kelso and Mike McMullen.

To anybody who followed Le Roy football during the Oatkan Knights' sectional title season, Lamkin, Egeling and Kelso and McMullen are no strangers.

And those four athletes will be important cogs in the up tempo, pressure defense, pressure offense Le Roy's second-year basketball Coach Rick Rapone plans to run.

"Defensively, we're always strong," Rapone said. "We have strong, physical, very athletic kids. Defense has never been an issue for us. We're challenged on offense a little bit, but defensively, we're in pretty good shape."

Just as he did for the football team, Lamkin anchors the defense.

"He's our defensive stopper," Rapone said. "He covers the middle. He's strong, physical and our number-one rebounder last year and our third leading scorer."

Egling is the team's most gifted basketball player, Rapone said.

Kelso is a "defensive juggernaut," according to the coach. 

"He sets the pace for our transition and he covers the other team's best player all the time."

And the field general for football is also is also the captain of the court: Mike McMullen, the point guard.

"He's the key to everything we do. Last year he was predominately a pass-first guy, but we're going to need him to score some points this year. Nobody worked harder than he did in the off season on his shots and we like what we see so far."

At a practice a few days ago, Rapone was putting his team through its paces. Every drill is about movement and speed. The key to Knights' success, Rapone said, is preventing baskets and forcing errors.

"It starts with the defense. We press hard, man-to-man, turn the other team's mistakes into opportunities going the other way."

A successful off season has boosted his team's confidence, he said.

"They know they've improved as players and as a team. I'm excited that they're excited that they've seen some improvement."

There are some kids coming up the ranks as well, who Rapone thinks can contribute this year. Tom Dunn is up from JV and Rapone likes what he sees in sophomores Ryan Boyce and Josh Lowery.

"A sneaky good kid is Dave Englerth. He's the most improved in the off season."

All of this adds up, Rapone thinks, to a run at some titles.

"We're excited about our schedule. We play Avon twice. We think we've grown enough this year to contend for our division title, and that's a team we're going to have to beat."

There's also the cross-county battle of the brothers this year when Le Roy travels to Batavia to play the Mike Rapone-coached Notre Dame Fighting Irish.

"We're very excited about going up there and taking on their 61-game home winning streak. The kids are excited."

Playing against his brother's team, he said, isn't a big deal, though it might lead to some bragging rights at the family Christmas dinner.

"It's a great opportunity for our kids. You've been there. You know the environment you get when you play there, so our kids get the opportunity to go in there and compete. It's going to be great. One thing you know, you've watched these kids play football as well, the one thing they do is compete. They play hard and they compete."

That game is Saturday Jan. 3 at 6:30 p.m.

Le Roy opens the season at home against York, 7 p.m., Wednesday.

Thursday, November 27, 2014 at 7:43 am

A pie, not a turkey sparks fire response

post by Howard B. Owens in east pembroke

A fire alarm summoned volunteers East Pembroke Fire Department to a home on Slusser Road this morning.

After the alarm went out, a dispatcher said a caller informed him it was only a fire in the oven.

The dispatcher offered that perhaps a turkey caught fire.

When clearing the scene, an East Pembroke chief informed the dispatcher, "it was only a pie," then added, "Happy Turkey day."

"Thank you, and same to you," replied the dispatcher.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014 at 4:30 pm

Photos: Mother Nature's Christmas tree flocking

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia

Harrington's Produce on Clinton Street Road has their Christmas trees out, but these trees aren't flocked, at least not in spray-on substance sense. Today's snow is sticking to everything it falls on, putting these pines right in the holiday spirit.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014 at 12:53 pm

Swinging version of a locally written Christmas song

post by Howard B. Owens in arts, batavia, music

On WBTA's Talk of the Town, starring Hiram Kasten and Lucine Kauffman, this morning they had as guests Carmen DelPlato, a teacher at Jackson School in Batavia, and Laura Dubin. They introduced a new recording by the Laura Dubin Trio, with Sage Melcher on vocals, of "Real Old Fashioned Christmas."

The song was written by Mary DelPlato and Anthony DelPlato.

Carmen asked Laura Dubin if she would record the song, and she said she would if she liked it. Obviously, she did. She reworked the arrangement into a more traditional Swing vibe and brought in Melcher to sing it. Both Dubin and Melcher are from Rochester.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014 at 8:23 am

Today's Poll: Turkey or Ham for Thanksgiving?

post by Howard B. Owens in polls
Tuesday, November 25, 2014 at 7:02 pm

Hoops Preview: Notre Dame boys team will take scoring where they can create it

post by Howard B. Owens in basketball, high school sports, Notre Dame, sports

This is a first of a series of team previews for boys and girls basketball for the 2014-15 season. We'll get to as many teams as we can for previews before the start of the season.  

The triangle offense. The New York Knicks have been struggling to learn it, Notre Dame Head Coach Mike Rapone reminded his players at a recent practice, and they're a team of full-time, pro basketball players.

He doesn't expect his kids to master it, but a couple of key fundamentals could help a team that may not have a dominating scorer put a few more points on the board.

"We run just a small version of it," Rapone said. "High school students can't handle a real triangle. We don't have enough time to teach it. We concentrate on ball movement and body movement."

The triangle replaces traditional set plays. It relies on spacing and movement to create shot opportunities. With players spaced 10, 12, 15 feet apart and constant movement -- passes are preferred to dribbling, and every pass is accompanied by every offensive player changing their location on the floor -- the triangle tends to open holes and open players. (For more on the triangle, here's a recommended video).

Rapone thinks he has the talent on this team without a dominate big man to run a pretty lockdown defense. The key to winning is going to be transitions and getting open shooters.

"Defensively, we'll be fine, but we've got to make sure we score one more than the other guy, though," Rapone said.

One of Notre Dame's top scorers from last season, Josh Johnson, is back and Rapone hopes there are enough athletes on the team to step up and help distribute scoring opportunities. 

There are five seniors coming back from last season's Section V championship team and 11 juniors.

"Right now, we don't know who's going to start the first game," Rapone said. "Every day it looks like somebody different. We have 15 guys and I can make a case for any one of them."

Peter Daversa, Caleb Nellis, Dylan Fix, James Farmer, Tyler Prospero, C.J. Suozzi, Luca Zambito, Casey Midwick and Dakota Weidman all have the potential to make a difference on the squad.

Among them, however, isn't a kid more than 6' 3".

Size could be a problem, no matter who develops into a credible outside shooting threat.

"We're not going to be able to go inside for a lot of points, I don't think, but I hope I'm wrong, because the key to basketball is balance," Rapone said. "You want to establish one, then when they take that away, when they take the outside away, you go inside, when they take the inside away you go outside. You really need them both."

What Rapone sees as a tough schedule will include a home match against Le Roy, which will be the first time Mike Rapone has coached against brother and one-time assistant coach Rick Rapone.

"I hope he remembers that's his bench over there beause he's used to being on the otherside," Rapone said smiling.

The Le Roy game is at 6:30 p.m., Jan. 3. Rapone expects a full house.

The Fighting Irish kick off the season at home Dec. 11 against Oakfield-Alabama. Game time is 7 p.m.

 

Tuesday, November 25, 2014 at 5:27 pm

Parents of Notre Dame student air complaints about son getting Mohawk shaved off at school

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, education, Notre Dame, schools

An administrator at Notre Dame High School was disciplined more than a month ago for reportedly shaving the head of a student who showed up to school one day sporting a Mowhawk-style haircut.

Vice Principal and Athletic Director Mike Rapone reportedly shaved the head of Lucus Hull in front of other students during homeroom period while in the cafeteria, according to his mother, Denise Hull.

She describes her son as "humiliated" by Rapone's actions and claims that Rapone violated the school's code of conduct by touching her son without permission.

The reprimand Rapone received, confirmed by letters to Hull by the school and the superintendent of the diocese's schools, doesn't go far enough, according to Hull. She wants Rapone terminated.

"Quite frankly, if what is on the code of conduct is correct, then Mr. Rapone has violated it and should be removed from his position with the school," Hull said in an e-mail to The Batavian.

The incident occurred in Sept. 23. Charles Hull wrote a lengthy letter to Principal Joseph Scanlan on Oct. 2 that made several points, including (but not limited to):

  • That while at the Camp Hough Freshman Retreat, Sept. 3-4, Lucas asked Rapone for permission to have a "buzzcut Mohawk style," and Rapone, Hull said, told Lucas he could try it for a day.
  • Lucas, Hull said, reviewed the school uniform policy and assured his parents the haircut was permitted. "Nothing was or is noted in the policy which strictly prohibits any type of Mohawk hairstyle," Hull wrote.
  • Lucus was given the option Sept. 23 to go home for a haircut (which is 12 miles away) or Rapone would cut his hair.
  • About 20 minutes later, Rapone returned to the homeroom, which was held in the cafeteria, and shaved the youth's hair in front of classmates.
  • Among the Hulls' complaints -- that the parents were not contacted about the issue before the Mohawk was shaved off.
  • The Hulls do not feel the public apology by Rapone was sufficient to assuage Lucas or his sister. They called it "damage control" and "less than sincere."

Denise Hull contacted The Batavian, she said, because she felt Notre Dame had failed to address the situation adequately. 

She said she believes the board of directors, which she characterizes as made up primarily of sports boosters and former athletes, are unduly protecting a popular athletic director and successful basketball coach.

Her communications included copies of letters from the school and diocese and a copy of the student handbook.

The handbook, dated July 2014, clearly states "Outlandish hairstyles (e.g. Mohawks, wild colors, etc.)" are prohibited.

The letters clearly state that Rapone was reprimanded, that he and Scanlan must attend sensitivity training, and that the policy for dealing with such situations would be revised.

The letter from Charles Hull to Scanlan indicates that Rapone may have misunderstood the question from Lucas about a "buzzcut Mohawk."

"Mr. Rapone misunderstanding a question does not give him the right to humiliate Lucas," Charles Hull wrote.

Of course, a "buzzcut" and a "Mohawk" are two different styles of haircuts. One involves completely shaving the head, the other leaves a streak of hair down the middle of the scalp.

Denise Hull also said she believes the school is applying a double standard because there are students who have come to school with what might be considered "outlandish" hairstyles.  

We shared one specific complaint with Scanlan (we're avoiding being specific so as not to publicly drag another student into the issue) and Scanlan said, "that's a completely separate issue," but said he couldn't elaborate.

The Hulls also contacted Child Protective Services, which told them, Denise Hull said, this wasn't a CPS issue, and Batavia PD, which investigated and found insufficient evidence to sustain a charge of harassment.

Scanlan said he couldn't comment on a personnel matter. He e-mailed The Batavian the following statement authorized by the school's board of directors:

The incident in question occurred in September, and was promptly and appropriately addressed by the Notre Dame High School Board of Trustees and the school administration.

A student came to school with a mohawk haircut that violated the School’s dress code policy. After the student declined the opportunity to leave school to get his hair cut, the assistant principal cut the student’s hair in the student’s homeroom. The assistant principal has since apologized to the student, his parents, and the school community for his error in judgment in cutting the student's hair in the student’s homeroom before discussing the violation with the student’s parents.

Additionally, the School’s Board of Trustees recently amended to the School's student dress code policy to provide that parents will be consulted prior to any action if a similar situation arises in the future.

This action by the Board, coupled with the previous actions by the School's administration, has fully and thoroughly addressed this situation, and the School will have no further comment on this private matter.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014 at 3:47 pm

Report of man with gun near middle school prompts brief lockdown

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia

Batavia Middle School was put on lockdown just before the dismissal time this afternoon because of a report of a man with a gun inside his residence just a block or so from the school.

The lockdown was requested by police, Sgt. Dan Coffey said, because of the proximity and the potential for students to be walking through a potential danger zone once they were released.

It turned out the man may have only had a BB or pellet gun, Coffey said, but a State Police K-9 was brought in just in case to sniff for actual firearm in and around the residence, which was near the corner of Ross and Miller.

The initial call came from the man's girlfriend who said her boyfriend was in an upstairs bedroom pointing a gun to his head and threatening suicide.

Coffey said police surrounded the area and the man eventually came out of the house on his own and was taken into custody without incident.

He was taken to police headquarters for questioning.

Coffey said officers are considering what if any charges might be brought.

The incident lasted about 10 minutes and after the man was in custody, students were released from school.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014 at 11:58 am

Drug dealer sent to prison for five years

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, crime
Dajuandrick Gardner

A Batavia man accused of selling drugs earlier this year was sentenced today by Judge Robert C. Noonan to five years in state prison.

Dajuandrick C. "Omega" (and "X") Gardner, 37, of East Avenue, entered a guilty plea to a count of attempted criminal possession of a controlled substance 3rd on Oct. 24.

He was indicted on six counts related to the sale of cocaine and possession of enough cocaine to constitute suspected drug dealing. The plea satisfied all the counts of the indictment.

The sales to agents of the Local Drug Task Force occurred in January.

Gardner's arrest in March was announced with two other suspects.

"For my part in this case that I committed, I probably wouldn't if I wasn't on drugs," Gardner told Noonan. "I wouldn't have committed the crime and I want to take responsibility for my part that I did regardless of the fact that I was on drugs. I want to apologize to the court and the community."

Noonan told Gardner that his turnabout was a little late.

"You've had many opportunities over the course of your life to clean yourself up from drugs and you never seized them," Noonan said. "You just dove into criminal activity over and over again."

The judge also ordered Gardner to pay $150 in restitution upon his release from prison.

Prior to sentencing, among the requests from Gardner's attorney was one for instructions from Noonan to the Department of Corrections that Gardner's head not be shaved. He said Gardner is a Rastafarian and it would violate his religion to cut his hair.

Noonan said he has no authority to tell the DOC what to do.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014 at 11:21 am

The Tonawanda Creek reaches minor flood stage

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Tonawanda Creek, weather

The Tonawanda Creek has reached a minor flood stage of nine feet high and is expected to crest this afternoon at 9.3 feet, according to the National Weather Service.

Photo from about an hour ago at the spillway behind the County Courthouse.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014 at 8:45 am

Town expected to pay $2 million to city for additional sewer capacity

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Batavia Wastewater Treatment Plant

The Town of Batavia needs to treat more wastewater these days, and possibly into the future, so it must purchase additional capacity in the treatment plant on Treadeasy Avenue.

If plans are approved, the town will pay the city nearly $2 million for an additional 500,000 gallons of capacity. 

The $2 million can be used by the city to repair and upgrade existing sewer lines or sewer-related infrastructure. Legally, it can't be used for anything else.

The treatment facility opened in 1990 with the intention that it serve both the town and the city. The total cost was $48 million, with $39 million being paid by state and federal grants. The city covered more than $8 million of the local share of the cost and the town more than $500,000.

For the price, the city obtained 3.5 million gallons per-day capacity and the town 350,000 gallons per day.

The town now occasionally exceeds its capacity, City Manager Jason Molino said, especially after two yogurt plants opened in the Genesee Valley Agri-Business Park.

Molino said the town also anticipates additional manufacturing growth, which means an even greater need for sewer capacity.

Residential growth, such as the new housing development on East Main Road, doesn't greatly increase the need for more capacity, Molino said.

The process of increasing capacity for the town will take up to 12 months, since the town is broken into sewer districts and there will need to be a series of public hearings before the town board can approve bonds to cover the $2 million expense.

The fee is based on a series of complex, and legally mandated, calculations that Public Works Director Sally Kuzon explained briefly for council members.

Previously: Batavia Wastewater Treatment Plant, one of city's hidden treasures

Tuesday, November 25, 2014 at 8:05 am

Comcast ready to make concessions to city on fees and studio in new franchise agreement if merger approved

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Cable Television Advisory Board

Comcast, which is taking over Time-Warner Cable if the merger is approved by regulators, has agreed to address the apparent breaches by Time-Warner in its franchise agreement with the City of Batavia.

According to a presentation by City Manager Jason Molino at Monday's City Council meeting, Time-Warner has:

  • Failed to pay $16,345 in franchise fees -- state regulators reported Time-Warner withheld the money following an audit of the cable company's revenue and fees from 2006 to 2008;
  • Time-Warner has continued to under-report gross revenue, according to what the state says the company should report;
  • Failed to operate a community television studio and staff it appropriately.

Molino said Comcast has agreed to address all of those issues in a new franchise agreement once the merger is approved.  

Comcast will also agree to provide free Internet service to City Hall and the public schools in the city. Comcast will also pay $2,590 of city's legal fees associated with negotiating the terms of the agreement.

In exchange, the City Council is being asked to approve, before Dec. 8, a resolution in support of the Comcast/Time-Warner merger.

On the franchise fee issue, Molino said Comcast will agree to calculate revenue in accordance with recommendations laid out by state regulators during an audit published in 2011. The increase in gross revenue will mean higher franchise fees paid to the city.

Time-Warner disputed the revenue adjustment and would only pay the past-due franchise fees after tacking on 22 cents per month to each customer's bill in Batavia. The city decided that arrangement as not in the best interest of local customers and had no other legal means to pursue the unpaid fees.

A memo on the topic to council members does not explicitly say Comcast will itself pay the back fees, but says Comcast will address the issue as part of a new franchise agreement, which will be negotiated after the proposed merger is final.

A letter from Phillip Fraga, an attorney representing the city on the merger and franchise agreement, informed Comcast that he would recommend the City Council oppose the merger without the franchise issue being addressed by Comcast.

Molino also shared with city council a letter from 2007 complaining to Time-Warner about the cable company falling out of compliance with its franchise agreement by laying off production employees and removing production equipment from its Batavia office that was supposed to be available for community access programming.   

This is another issue Comcast has agreed to address.

The council will be asked to vote on a resolution approving the merger at its first meeting in December.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014 at 7:28 am

Police Facility Task Force appointed by council

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Batavia PD

By unanimous vote Monday night, the City Council approved the appointment of a Police Facility Task Force to study the need for a new or remodeled Batavia PD headquarters.

The Task Force is charged with making a critical appraisal of recommendations by city staff and Geddis Architects for either building a new facility at one of four locations in the city or remodeling the current location.

Picking any one of the options could lead to expenditure for the city of $9 million to $17 million.

The current headquarters -- in the former Brisbane mansion -- has a number of deficiencies, officials say.

Appointed to the task force are Durin Rogers, Ashley Bateman, Peter Garlock, Alfred McGinnis, James Jacobs, Marc Staley, Bill Hayes and David Lone.

There's no representative from the Fifth Ward because no volunteers could be found willing to take on the job. One person agreed and at the last minute backed out.

Previously:

Monday, November 24, 2014 at 9:31 pm

Oakfield Betterment Committee hosting free Thanksgiving dinner

post by Howard B. Owens in Oakfield

A FREE traditional Thanksgiving dinner will be prepared and served by the Oakfield Betterment Committee from noon to 2 p.m. on Thursday. The meal will take place at Alli's Cones & Dogs, 7062 Lewiston Road in Oakfield.

Pictured: Karl Dilcher, owner of Allie's, and Melissa Haacke, Oakfield town clerk.

Monday, November 24, 2014 at 8:57 pm

More photos of spectacular rainbows in Genesee County today

post by Howard B. Owens in weather

From Kate Parmenter at Town of Batavia Town Hall.

From James Renfew in Bergen Byron.

From Brandi Bruggman in Batavia.

From a reader who didn't provide any other information.

UPDATE: A photo from Kati Nichole in Pavilion.

Monday, November 24, 2014 at 8:38 pm

Hawley shares info on state's new electronics disposal law

post by Howard B. Owens in steve hawley

Press release:

Assemblyman Steve Hawley (R,C,I-Batavia) is advising his constituents about the new way consumers are required to dispose of electronic equipment. Starting Jan. 1, the New York State Electronic Equipment Recycling and Reuse Act will require that consumers dispose of electronic equipment by either returning it to either the manufacturer or a designated New York State Waste Collection Site.

“There is now a new way that consumers are required to dispose of their electronic equipment. I want to make sure that my constituents are aware of this change to the law so they are in compliance,” Hawley said. “The new way electronics must be disposed of is simple and easy to understand and costs the consumer nothing. If you have any questions, feel free to contact my office and we will be happy to help.”

Under this law, there are two way to dispose of your electronics. The first way is to use the newly required product manufacturers' take-back program. A listing of manufacturers and how to contact them about the take-back program can be found at http://www.dec.ny.gov/chemical/82084.html. The second way is to drop off your electronics at a designated New York State Waste Collection Site. A list of collection sites can be found at http://www.dec.ny.gov/docs/materials_minerals_pdf/ewcolsites.pdf. Call ahead to make sure the specific collection site is able to take back your specific piece of electronic equipment.

For more information about the new take-back program, go to http://www.dec.ny.gov/chemical/66872.html. This includes a listing of electronic equipment that is covered by the program. If you have any questions or encounter any problems, call the Department of Environmental Conservation at 518-402-8706.

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