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Howard B. Owens's blog

Wednesday, August 6, 2014 at 11:11 am

Ongoing road salt shortage means bigger expense for county

post by Howard B. Owens in highways

Salt supplies are down after our long, cold winter, so prices are going up, County Highway Superintendent Tim Hens told county legislators Tuesday.

American Rock Salt in Mt. Morris is increasing its prices by 8 percent, so the county will be spending $2.96 per ton in 2014-15.

"It's nothing we can't manage," Hens told the Public Service Committee.

One way the highway department is handling the increased expenditure on salt is cutting back on road work this summer.

Hens said the county went from a surplus of salt at the start of the 2013-14 winter (after two consecutive mild winters) to currently storing only about 1/5 the total amount of salt the county will likely need this winter.

That means the county will need to spend $25,000 to $30,000 before the start of winter just to get even.

That's after going over budget by about $25,000 in salt last winter, when cold weather carried into spring.

Hens has to shift spending priorities to keep up with the salt demand, he said.

A few years ago, Hens said he regularly budgeted $115,000 for salt, but last year, when the county had built surpluses, the budget was only about $50,000. In the coming year, he will budget again for at least $115,000.

Legislator Bob Bausch said he's heard from private contractors that they are being put on an allotment system by American Rock Salt for salt as the company makes salt deliveries to municipalities a priority. Hens said he's heard the same thing.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014 at 4:59 pm

Daphne's Restaurant on South Swan closes

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business, Daphne's Restaurant & Lounge

Daphne's Restaurant & Lounge, at 341 S. Swan St., Batavia, has closed.

The restaurant opened in September 2010 at the former location of St. Nick's Social Club.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014 at 1:49 pm

If you're a maker, the Harvester Center may soon have a place for you

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Harvester Center, maker community, makers

Are you a maker? Perhaps you are, and don't even know it.

There's makers all over the country these days -- people who are inventive and like creating new and innovative things.

It's a whole culture.

And it's coming to Batavia, where business innovation has strong roots -- the Harvester Center.

Tom Mancuso and some of his friends have been talking for a year about creating a maker community locally. Last week, they put their plan into action, hosting a 3-D printing demonstration with local design and manufacturing expert James Dillon.

3-D printing is one of the widely used tools for creating in the maker community. The printer works much like any printer, except it doesn't use ink or paper. It uses plastics and other material to layer material into a computer generated form. It might be a cup, a model airplane or a part for a car, or just about anything the maker can imagine.

Makers also work with electronics, robotics, metalworking, woodworking, and traditional arts and crafts.

Mancuso said the plan is to create a space in the Harvester Center -- if there's enough interest in the community -- where makers can come and create and innovate together.

The space will be open (possibly with a fee like a health club) to artists, hobbyists, trainees and budding entrepreneurs. 

Makers will have available a variety of tools, from welding equipment, vacuum forms, laser cutters and, of course, a 3-D printer. There will be big spaces, which the hobbyist doesn't necessarily have at home.

"Maybe you work at home, but you want to do a bigger project," Mancuso said. "Where do you go to do that? You're limited by your equipment, by your workspace. We're trying to help those start-up hobby guys maybe go to the next level."

A gear created by the 3-D printer.

James Dillon with one of his first 3-D printing projects, a model jet.

3-D printer on the right.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014 at 12:56 pm

The show will go on this weekend at Frost Ridge

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

The owners of Frost Ridge Campground have been told Judge Robert C. Noonan has lifted his court order barring live, amplified music at the campground, at least for this weekend.

The band Blackberry Smoke headlines Sunday Saturday.

At a hearing last week, David Roach, attorney for Frost Ridge, told Noonan that if the order wasn't lifted in time for this weekend's show, Frost Ridge was facing insolvency. 

David Luetticke-Archbell, co-owner of Frost Ridge, called The Batavian a short time ago to share the news. We're still awaiting a copy of the order.

Frost Ridge will still be barred by the original court order from selling alcohol, but that doesn't mean patrons can't bring their own beverages.

The temporary suspension of the temporary order baring amplified music at Frost Ridge comes as court proceedings in a pair of civil suits against the campground have bogged down.

Two neighboring residents, the Cleere and Collins families, along with the Town of Le Roy, are suing David and Greg Luetticke-Archbell alleging that the campground as a whole and live music and alcohol sales in particular, are not permitted under current zoning.

David and Greg contend that those uses are grandfathered in by the property's prior zoning and they have two Zoning Board of Appeals rulings that support such a claim.

The Cleere and Collins' suits challenge the ZBA's 2013 determination, and here's where the case has bogged down: If it's proven that the ZBA's 2013 determination was filed with the town clerk more than 30 days before Cleere and Collins filed their suit, it could mean their complaint could be thrown out of court. Attorneys and the court have been unable so far to hold a hearing on that point

Since the hearing can't be scheduled now until the end of the month, Roach sought for his clients, permission from the court for the concert this weekend.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014 at 11:56 am

Baby Cafe offers place for support and encouragement for breastfeeding mothers

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, UMMC

The Baby Cafe is a place of encouragement and support for breastfeeding mothers. UMMC opened the room at Cary Hall recently and held an open house yesterday.

Expectant mothers, breastfeeding mothers and mothers experienced with breast feeding are invited to the room every Tuesday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

The Baby Cafe is supported by a national, nonprofit organization dedicated to helping mothers who are breastfeeding.

Cary Hall is located at 211 E. Main St., Batavia.

Monday, August 4, 2014 at 6:23 pm

Photos: 'It's My Party' at Jackson Square

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, entertainment, Jackson Square, music

Amanda Earl submitted these photos of the band "It's My Party" performing Friday night at Jackson Square.

Monday, August 4, 2014 at 3:42 pm

Attorney for DaShawn Butler moves to have felony charges dismissed

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, crime
Dashawn Butler

The attorney for DaShawn Butler -- the Batavia resident accused of firing gunshots at a person on State Street last September -- has filed a motion to have the charges against Butler dismissed because, he said, his client's rights have been violated.

Attorney Thomas Burns argued in court this morning that information about two witnesses wasn't available to him before a grand jury hearing on the case, and that the lack of information under those circumstances is so egregious that the case should be dimissed "in the interest of justice."

District Attorney Lawrence Friedman countered that the information was available in the City Court case file and that even if the witness had been made available to testify, their testimony would not have helped Butler's defense.

Burns also requested a hearing on the timeliness of Butler's arrest in December. Burns contends that the police had ample opportunity to locate and arrest Butler after he was named as a suspect in the shooting because Butler never left town.

The lack of due diligence, Burns told Judge Robert C. Noonan, means there was a violation of his client's right to a speedy trial.

Noonan scheduled the hearing for 3 p.m., Aug. 27. He is reserving his decision on dismissal motions by Burns.

According to Burns, there are three witnesses he didn't know about before the grand jury presentation. Two, he said, initially said the shooter the night of Sept. 27 was white and a third said the alleged victim was the shooter.

Burns said there was only an incomplete report in the City Court file prior to the hearing, which is why didn't know about these witnesses.

He questioned why the police waited weeks to interview the witnesses.

Friedman called the initial statements attributed to the witnesses "double hearsay." He said the investigators were simply doing what good cops do, an investigation when they went out to find the witnesses and try to find out what they actually saw.

Once they were actually interviewed -- rather than the police just getting information from intermediaries -- they described the shooter as black and the other did not name the victim as the shooter.

He said the information was in the City Court file prior to the grand jury hearing.

In June, Butler entered a not guilty plea to counts of criminal use of a firearm, 2nd, a Class C violent felony, criminal possession of a weapon, 2nd, a Class C violent felony, and attempted assault, 1st, also a Class C violent felony.

He is out of jail on $25,000 bail.

Monday, August 4, 2014 at 2:52 pm

Photos: Fire hydrant painting downtown

post by Howard B. Owens in arts, batavia, downtown, Vibrant Batavia

Local artist Brandi Bruggman has been comissioned by Vibrant Batavia to paint two of the fire hydrants downtown. Here she paints the one at Main and Bank, in front of Seymour Place (GO ART!). She said this hydrant will have a colorful paisley design on it. Her other hydrant will be painted like a lighthouse.  

Below, a hydrant on Center Street completed by another artist.

UPDATE: Amanda Earl submitted these photos of Brandi's hydrants from later in the day.

Monday, August 4, 2014 at 2:47 pm

Photo: Scarecrow protects crop in Oakfield

post by Howard B. Owens in agriculture, oakifleld

A firefighter's reflective safety vest makes for a unique scarecrow outfit in Oakfield.

Monday, August 4, 2014 at 2:43 pm

Photos: Old Oakfield water tower dismantled today

post by Howard B. Owens in Oakfield

The old Oakfield water tower -- replaced by a new one a year ago -- was dismantled today by crews that used torches to cut it into pieces.

Monday, August 4, 2014 at 2:22 pm

Photos: Summer program students visit firehouse

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia

Children participating in the summer program at John Kennedy School were at the City of Batavia Fire Hall this morning to learn about fire safety. Among the activities, putting on a firefighter's jacket and spraying water from a fire hose.


Monday, August 4, 2014 at 9:58 am

Lost dog found on Alibon Road, Oakfield

post by Howard B. Owens in animals, Oakfield, pets

Jeff Allen's daughter found this dog wandering on Albion Road, Oakfield, last night. Jeff said he checked with neighbors and nobody had seen the dog before. It appears to have been at large for some time. The dog has a collar but no tags. If it's your dog, contact Jeff at (585) 356-9705. The owner should be able to describe the collar or present proof of ownership.

UPDATE: All spiffed up:

Sunday, August 3, 2014 at 6:57 pm

Car vs. tree accident reported on Valley Drive, Batavia

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, accident

Town of Batavia fire is on scene at 9 Valley Drive, Batavia, for a car that has reportedly hit a tree.

Possible injuries and the car is said to be smoking.

The driver apparently called in the accident and said he hit a water slick and went off the road and hit the tree.

Sunday, August 3, 2014 at 5:17 pm

Memorial to Derek Sheldon erected in Trestle Park in Byron

post by Howard B. Owens in bergen, byron, trestle park

Friends and family of Derek Sheldon gathered this afternoon in Trestle Park in Byron to remember the young man who died a year ago tomorrow in an accident at West Bergen Road and Selden Road, Le Roy.

Friends created a memorial to Sheldon near the pond in the park. It consists of the memorial post that was originally erected at the accident site, a tree and a log bench inscribed with Sheldon's name, birthdate and date of his death, and a quote from Derek, "People come and go I guess that's life no matter how hard times get put your head up and take the punches because someone's always looking down on you."

The bench was designed and built by Jake Maurer and Josh Lathan. Devon Jessop, JBR Grafx, sandblasted the words onto the back of the bench. Dan Sheldon provided the marker on the original tribute pole.

After people visited for about an hour at the site, Derek's mother, Karen Lashbrook, said a word about how it's hard to believe Derek's already been gone a year.

Ashley M. Stillwell, who was riding on the back of Derek's motorcycle and was seriously injured in the crash a year ago, was at the gathering today and is in much better health.


Sunday, August 3, 2014 at 12:49 pm

Six arrests reported at Blake Shelton concert at Darien Lake

The following people were arrested by the Genesee County Sheriff’s Office during the Blake Shelton concert at Darien Lake Performing Arts Center on Saturday. 

Richard A. Laskowski, 47, of Claudette Court, Cheektowaga, is charged with criminal mischief, 4th, after allegedly recklessly causing damage to a vehicle over $250.

Farron R. Rich, 23, of Slaterville Road, Brooktondale, is charged with harassment, 2nd, after allegedly biting a CSC Security Guard.

Kayla D. Michael-Lane, 18, of Gulf Road, Holley, is charged with harassment, 2nd, after allegedly punching another concert patron in the nose.

Matthew Lilly, 25, of Marsh Road, Lyndonville, is charged with disorderly conduct after allegedly being involved in a fight in the parking lot.

Anthony M. Conrad, 26, of East Center Street, Medina, is charged with disorderly conduct after allegedly being involved in a fight in the parking lot.

Holly M. Bernhardt, 52 of Sovocool Hill Road, Groton, is charged with trespass after allegedly reentering the concert venue after being ejected and told not to return.

Saturday, August 2, 2014 at 7:14 pm

Accident with possible head injury reported on Alexander Road

post by Howard B. Owens in accident, alexander

A motor-vehicle aciddent is ported in the area of 11151 Alexander Road, Alexander, and one person reportedly has a head injury.

Alexander fire and ambulance responsing.

Saturday, August 2, 2014 at 7:01 pm

Tree with wires down on Main Road, Stafford

post by Howard B. Owens in fire, Stafford

A tree is down with wires across the roadway on Main Road, Stafford, near Fargo Road.

Stafford fire is responding.

UPDATE 7:13 p.m.: Traffic is being slowed, not stopped, on Route 5.

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