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Howard B. Owens's blog

Saturday, June 28, 2014 at 10:38 pm

Photos: Pavilion Days 2014

post by Howard B. Owens in Pavilion

Tom Stringham, cub master for Pack 6016 in Pavilion, makes fire during the Pavilion Days celebration on West Park Street. The street was filled with vendors and community groups for the annual event.

Library Trustee Debbie Davis points to the floor plans for a new library, which is being funded largely by a donation of $200,000 by Edgar and Mary Louise Hollwendel.

Kaidryn, 4, gets her hair braided by Alyssa Park.

Elijah, 10, weaves while Sue Conklin provides instruction.

Saturday, June 28, 2014 at 10:21 pm

Photos: Lions Club fishing tournament at Dewitt

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, DeWitt Recreation Area, Lions Club, outdoors

Joshua von Kramer is all business as he casts his line into the pond at DeWitt Recreation Area today during a youth fishing tournament sponsored by the Batavia Oakfield Lions Club. Fishing with him are Nicole and Eric von Kramer.

Reice Woodward reels in a catch.

Reice Woodward

Ed Staniszewski with the boys and girls derby grand prizes.Other prizes on the table.

Joey Staniszewski

Blake Bradt gets her catch measured by Joe Bradt.

The tournament was dedicated to the memory of Kendra Haacke, who died this Spring at age 31. Above, members of the Haacke family, Melissa, Chris, Ken, Emma, Mary Ann and Lily.

Friday, June 27, 2014 at 11:22 pm

Pembroke youngsters selling 'Kool-Aid for Cancer' this summer

post by Howard B. Owens in pembroke

A group of young go-getters in Pembroke are doing what a lot of children do in the summer -- setting up a lemonade stand, but these kids aren't aiming to build a fortune. They're trying to raise funds to support cancer research.

Making the pitch for your donations by selling Kool-Aid, iced tea, lemonade and bottled water are Abigail Wasielewski, Alyssa Klecker (bother of Austin Heinemean who has been in the news before because of his fight to beat cancer), Zachary Wasielewski (also Austin's brother) and Alexandria Wasielewski.

The youths will be set up periodically throughout the summer at 2337 Main Road, Pembroke.

All proceeds will be donated to Roswell Park Cancer Institute.

Photo and information submitted by Steven Wasielewski.

Friday, June 27, 2014 at 11:14 pm

Photos: Ireland well represented on first night of 2014 Jackson Square concert series

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

The annual Jackson Square concert series kicked off Friday night with a return engagement by Stone Row, who first played the series nine years ago.

The electrified Irish band entertained the crowd with traditional and contemporary numbers.

Opening the show was a string quartet from the Genesee Symphony Orchestra playing traditional Irish tunes.

For a line-up of this summer's shows, click here.

Friday, June 27, 2014 at 7:07 pm

Flowers by Dick Burton closing its doors for the last time Monday

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business, Flowers by Dick Burton

One of Batavia's venerable businesses, Flowers by Dick Burton, is closing its doors the final time Monday evening.

The roots of the business are in Oakfield, growing out of greenhouses owned by Irving Bates and Benjamin Harrison, who opened a flower shop in Batavia sometime in the 1940s.

Eventually, Dick and Mary Burton bought the shop and after operating on Main Street for some time, moved it to Cedar Street.

John and Shelia Hamel purchased the business -- and kept the name -- 34 years ago.

Even though the Hamels have built up a customer database of 21,000 people (including customers in seven other nations), it's become too difficult to compete against Internet businesses, Hamel said.

"Yes, we have local competition, but our main competition is the Internet," John said. "These 1-800, Procom, Just Flowers, all these things -- I just urge our customers and anybody, do not use them because you get taken. You don't get the quality they expect here or any flower shop."

Hamel said customers have compared his prices to Internet prices and complained, but people don't realize the quality just isn't the same. The flowers aren't prepared properly and can even arrived dried out, and shipping costs often exceed the cost of the flowers.

Hamel said he isn't sure what's next for him and his wife. Shelia can still work in the flower industry if she wants. She's a certified master designer who got a near perfect score when she tested for the certification. She was Florist of the Year in 2002, named by the now defunct Floral Association of Greater Rochester.

Flowers by Dick Burton was Genesee County's Retail Business of the Year in 1994. The business as also won numerous awards from FTD and other trade organizations.

Hamel said there are so many people to thank for all the years of support of the business that he can't possibly name them all -- all of the customers, most of all.

He in recent years it's been a treat to do the flowers for brides whose mothers first came to them for their weddings in the 1980s and 1990s.

He said he especially wanted to thank the shop's longtime employees, Barb Spring, Charlie Augrom, Linda Luthart, Sally Case and Lori Mosier.

Through Monday, everything in the shop is half off. On July 9 and 10, the shop will be open for other florists to come in and buy fixtures and cases. The property will be auctioned off July 17.

"We really don't know what we're going to do after that," Hamel said. "We're letting our faith take us at that point."

Friday, June 27, 2014 at 4:16 pm

Work set to begin on Trumbull Parkway, Batavia

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, infrastructure

Press release:

On Tuesday July 1st, the Trumbull Parkway Infrastructure Project will begin on Trumbull Parkway from East Avenue to Lown Street in the City of Batavia. The project includes installation of a new sanitary sewer main, water services, replacement of damaged sidewalks, and resurfacing the roadway.  The work is expected to be complete by Sept. 19th. Given the scope of the work, sections of Trumbull Parkway will be temporarily closed to thru traffic, excluding the residents who live in the work zone.

Friday, June 27, 2014 at 11:13 am

Nik Wallenda brings world class variety show to Darien Lake

post by Howard B. Owens in arts, darien lake, entertainment, nik wallenda

This week, Nik Wallenda opened his new show in the Gallaxy Theater at Darien Lake Theme Park, and those who have attended the first few shows have been treated to exactly what Wallenda promised -- first class entertainment.

Besides Wallenda and his family performing a high wire act, the show includes performances by dancers, hula hoop artists, a rope gymnast, comedians and jugglers (both the type who toss objects and those who toss each other).

It's Ed Sullivan without The Beatles. It's vaudeville without the travel.

"Me and my wife love vaudeville," Wallenda said. "Her family actually came over from Australia to perform on vaudeville. There's definitely a passion for that. We talked about it a lot and said, 'you know what, let's do a show where we incorporate a bunch of other acts.' "

The idea for the show has been percolating some time, Wallenda said, and after he walked a wire over Niagara Falls, he knew he wanted to come back to Western New York. He said the support he received from the community during the process of getting permission for the walk was so strong, he wanted to do something to give back to Western New York.

From his career in live performance, and with his family's rich history and all of the connections he has with the world's top acts, Wallenda thought he should bring it all together to create a special show.

"I was like, you know let's all get together and make an awesome show for Western New York," Wallenda said. "You heard me at the end, and I mean that, I love this place. I doubt you'll find a show of this volume, this variety at any other amusement park anyplace else in the country, probably not around the world."

At least three times while we talked, Wallenda said, "I love Western New York."

"I get opportunities to perform all over the world, but I love it right here," Wellenda said. "The people love me. I love the people here because they were so supportive."

The 10-week run for the show is the longest Wallenda has stayed in one place in nine or 10 years, he said.

"Ever since I walked over Niagara Falls, I said I wanted to have a permanent place here in WNY," Wallenda said. "A year went by and I was busy, but nobody from Western New York really stepped forward and said, 'hey, we want you here.' The casino offered a little bit. They wanted, but then they couldn't fulfill. So many places reached out, but never followed through, then Darien Lake was like, 'we want to do it. We're going to follow through. Let's do it.' "

Vincent Nicoletti, marketing director for Darien Lake, said the folks at Darien Lake feel really fortunate to bring a show of such world class caliber to Western New York.

What's so cool about it is if you remember Lena, the way she did the hoops, just the music that she used, it had the classic kind of vaudeville sound, but it was modernized with some hip-hop beats," Nicoletti said. "It's a really cool variety show. A lot of people don't know what to expect when they come here for this show. 'What am I going to go see?' and it's such a big surprise. The level of talent they have in each act is just phenomenal."

Wallenda hopes people from all over the region will come out and see the show. He hopes to make it more than a one-summer-and-done event. He wants to keep coming back.

"We put a lot of money into this," Wallenda said. "I'm used to making a lot more money, but to me it was like, I promised to bring something back here, so let's do it, let's do it in a big way, let's do it right and hopefully we'll be invited back."

Performers included: Sergio & Martha Martinez, the Dancing Gauchos; Nik and Erendira Wallenda, swaypoles; Lianna Ashton, hula hoops; Nick Slimick, on silk ropes; Giuliano and Fabio Anastasini, foot jugglers; Ty Tojo, juggler; Nik, Erendira, & Delilah Wallenda, Alec Bryant, Nick Slimick in the finale, a high wire act. Philippe Thibadeau had a recurring comedic role, including an audience participation routine. Ty McFarlan was the MC.

Performances are Tuesday through Sunday at 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. Tickets are free to park guests and VIP packages, which includes a tour after the show, a meet-and-greet with Wallenda and front-row seats are available.

Nick Slimick

Giuliano and Fabio Anastasini

Sergio Martinez

Philippe Thibadeau

Lianna Ashton

Philippe Thibadeau playing the incorrigible romantic in an audience participation routine.

Ty Tojo

The finale.

VIP guests get their picture taken on stage with Nik Wallenda.

Friday, June 27, 2014 at 10:59 am

'70s celebrated as happy days at Gillam-Grant's 40th birthday bash

post by Howard B. Owens in bergen, Gillam-Grant Community Center

My first introduction to nostalgia was American Graffiti and Happy Days. For a time in the 1970s, nostalgia for the 1950s was big. I performed "She's 16" in my junior high school choir's '50s review show.

I remember talking with my mom about the concept of nostalgia and she said, "You know, someday, people will be nostalgic about the 1970s." I told her, "nah, that will never happen."

Yesterday, the '70s came to life again at the Gillam-Grant Community Center for a celebration of the center's 40th anniversary.

As tunes from the Partridge Family, the Bee Gees and Fleetwood Mac blasted from a boombox, folks could munch on Twinkies and Pringles while sipping Tang.

Many in the crowd dressed for the occasion.

Loren Penman told me the printed invitation for the event noted that the 1970s were really a diverse decade. It went from "Bridge Over Troubled Waters" to "Staying Alive," and I added, "and "Blitzkrieg Bop" and "God Save the Queen'' (though there was nobody dressed like Joey Ramone or Sid Vicious at the event).

Friday, June 27, 2014 at 10:18 am

Residents again turn out at Town of Le Roy board meeting to support Frost Ridge

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

Once again, about two dozen supporters of Frost Ridge turned out Thursday evening at the Town of Le Roy board meeting to protest the town's ongoing litigation against the six-decade-old campground on Conlon Road.

Supervisor Steve Barbeau made it clear at the start of the meeting that he wasn't going to allow the kind of free-for-all debate that took place during the meeting two weeks ago.

He asked each speaker to speak one at a time and only cover topics not already raised and addressed.

About six people spoke -- a veteran who said the ban on concerts was an insult to those who fought and died for freedom; a resident who suggested the town was passing up an opportunity to put a $2 surcharge on concert tickets sold and generate a little revenue; one person who wanted to know how much the lawsuit that most in the town don't support is costing taxpayers; and a resident in the Gulf Road area who complained about toxins from a proposed facility at the old town dump being allowed while music in the community isn't allowed.

After those who wanted to speak spoke, Barbeau answered a couple of the questions and offered this summary of the town's position:

"For the town board it is not, has not, and will not be an issue of revenue, such as adding taxes, or making money off of whatever Frost Ridge chose to do or not. It isn't an issue of anything to do with any noise. It is isn't an issue of anything to do with really anything other than is this a permitted use, and by this, I mean a concert venue, whether it's for veterans or it's for anything."

At this point, Barbeau was interrupted by a couple of people, and then he went on:

"For the town the only issue is, is this a permissible use, accessory use or special use within the Town of Le Roy in an R and A zone. The Town of Le Roy's position is not only is it not a permitted use, accessory or special use in an R and A zone, it is not permitted in any zone in any district in the Town of Le Roy."

Thursday, June 26, 2014 at 9:09 pm

If you saw a lot of police activity on Jackson Street, here's why

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia

A person was reported running behind houses between Maple Street and Morton Avenue, Batavia, and members of the Local Drug Task Force happened to be in the area and took the young man into custody.

The person was cuffed and questioned while other law enforcement officers also by chance, apparently, who were in the area (Batavia PD and State Police) stopped by. 

A search of the area found nothing amiss.

With no further reason to hold the young man, he was going to be released, police said.

Thursday, June 26, 2014 at 3:34 pm

Baseball team still trying to understand ruling over illegal bat that put them in last place

post by Howard B. Owens in baseball, alexander, sports, youth sports

The Pine Tar Incident. It's the most famous "illegal bat" issue in the history of baseball. A home run in 1983 by George Brett was wiped out by an umpire, but at least the league didn't strip the Kansas City Royals of all their wins that season.

Unfortunately for the 11- to 12-year-old Tri-Town Dodgers of the Seven Towns League, league officials are forcing them to enter the playoffs as a last place team, essentially erasing their eight regular season wins because a player used an illegal bat.

League rules state that if a player uses a bat not approved for Little League use, the hitter is ruled out and any runners on base cannot advance. There is no other punishment stipulated in the written rules.  

For the Tri-Town Dodgers, based in Alexander, the punishment has gone beyond the written rules. The team was dropped to last place, despite its 8-4 record, which at the time was third best in their division. The standings are important because they effect seedings for tournament play.

There's no other rule violation that carries a penalty of team losing its standing in its division. That sort of punishment isn't contemplated in the written rules at all. The harshest written penalty for a player rule infraction is a three-game suspension for fighting.

Commissioner Brian Krawczyk has not responded to a pair of phone calls requesting comment.

In an e-mail discussion the league officials ruling sent to team manager Christopher Hausfelder, Krawczyk said the ruling was a safety issue "that would make everybody safer for years to come" and that Hausfelder should advise his players should buck up and to learn to accept that bad things happen life.

"I fully understand that it has really effected your team," Krawczyk said. "However, if handled properly, we can all learn something from this situation. Life brings adversity and how you handle that adversity can define who you are. If I was you, I would communicate to your players that they are still the same team that worked very hard and had a great season. Yes, the road to the final destination will be a little tougher. But, we have achieved great things as a team and as a team we will continue to work hard right up to the final out."

The illegal bat was used in the team's 10th game, June 12. Hausfelder said it was bought by the player and no coach noticed it until it was too late. It's the only illegal bat incident on Tri-Town's 11-12 team, though there was a prior, unrelated incident, with the 9-10 team.

For some third-party perspective, The Batavian called James "Beef" Soggs, well known in Batavia for his commitment to youth sports. Soggs serves on the Batavia Little League Board of Directors and is a Little League coach.

"I've got to say, it's ridiculous," Soggs said.

If this was more than a one-time issue with the same team, perhaps a harsh punishment would be an order, but for a one-time incident, he couldn't understand why the team would be knocked down to last place.

"That's really strict punishment for the whole team for something one player did," Soggs said. "That's pretty drastic to move a team from third place to last place."

For George Brett, the umpire was eventually overruled and he got his home run back. For the Tri-Town Dodgers, there is likely no reprieve. It's already the second round of playoff games tonight, with the Dodgers doing the best they can as the bottom seed.

Thursday, June 26, 2014 at 2:42 pm

Batavia Cab returns to service after repairing its one vehicle

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Batavia Cab, business

After several weeks of being out of service for significant repairs to its engine, Batavia Cab's lone cab is back in service.

Co-owner James Soggs said the cab just went back on the road today.

There were reports of Batavia Cab being out of business, but Soggs said the company hadn't closed, it just didn't have a vehicle it could put on the road.

There's been a lot of turmoil among local cab companies over the past two years with three or four companies opening and closing.

B-Town Taxi, Affordable Cab and Mike's* all appear to be out of business (we've confirmed B-Town is out of business). The only locally owned cab company we know to be currently operating in Genesee County is Batavia Cab.

Multiple readers contacted The Batavian over the past few weeks noting that there no longer seemed to be an operational cab company locally, creating a hardship on a lot of people, so the return of Batavia Cab should please a lot of people.

*I remember another company that started up two years ago and is now apparently out of business, but can't remember the company's name.

Thursday, June 26, 2014 at 7:50 am

Law and Order: Batavia resident accused of stealing from former employer

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, crime

Jamie A Dutton, 21, of Buell Street, Batavia, is charged with three counts of petit larceny. Dutton is accused of stealing money from a former employer on East Main Street, Batavia.

Nicole Lee Cramer, 24, of Lehigh Avenue, Batavia, is charged with criminal possession of a controlled substance, 7th. Cramer is accused of violating the terms of the City Court drug program and arrested on a warrant. She was jailed on $100,000 bail.

Thursday, June 26, 2014 at 7:44 am

Oakfield FD releases statement about alleged larceny by treasurer

post by Howard B. Owens in Oakfield

Statement by John Igoe, president of the Oakfield Fire Department:

The Oakfield Fire Department is shocked and saddened by the news of the alleged larceny by our Treasurer. We have been cooperating with the authorities including the New York State comptrollers and the State Police during this investigation. The department would like to apologize for the bad publicity and the mistrust that this may cause with the residents of our community, and with the Town and Village of Oakfield. The Oakfield Fire Department is in the process of changing our financial policies to keep this type of activity from happening in the future. We as a department are committed to providing the best service we can to our community, and will strive to work hard to restore your faith in our department.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014 at 11:38 pm

Photos: Annual strawberry social at Indian Falls Methodist Church

post by Howard B. Owens in indian falls, indian falls methodist church, pembroke

Indian Falls Methodist Church hosted one of our county's great annual community events today, their strawberry social, which includes a chicken BBQ and an auction.  Once again, a big turnout for this popular event.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014 at 10:46 am

Law and Order: Otis Street resident charged after child bitten by dog

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, bergen, byron, crime, Darien, Le Roy, pembroke

Tami L. Mileham, 40, of Otis Street, Batavia, is charged with a prohibited nuisance. Mileham's Rottweiler allegedly bit a 9-year-old child. The Rottweiler was seized and is currently being held at the Genesee County Animal Shelter.

Kathleen E. Gonzalez, 52, of West Main Street, Batavia, is charged with issuing a bad check. Gonzalez is accused of issuing a bad check March 11. She turned herself in on an arrest warrant and posted $500 bail.

Markeda D. Starks, 23, of Campbell Street, Rochester, is charged with harassment, 2nd. Starks was arrested on a warrant by State Police in Canandaigua stemming from an alleged incident at 9:05 p.m. June 16 in which Starks shoved another person during an argument. Starks was turned over to Batavia PD and arraigned on the charge and posted $300 bail.

Willie J. Miles Jr., 50, of Aberdeen Street, Rochester, was arrested for alleged failure to appear. Miles was jailed on $2,500 bail.

Jerica J. Barber, 39, of Mix Place, Batavia, is charged with criminal tampering, criminal mischief, resisting arrest and endangering the welfare of a child. Barber allegedly committed the crimes of criminal tampering and criminal mischief (no details given) at 4:37 p.m., June 14. Barber allegedly resisted arrest in the presence of a child under age 17.

Eric John Betz, 31, of Genesee Street, Alden, is charged with disorderly conduct/obscene language/noise. Betz allegedly screamed obscenities during a domestic dispute in a public place at 440 Ellicott St., Batavia, at 9:34 p.m. on June 17.

Cheryle Jones, 32, of Batavia, is charged with driving while ability impaired by drugs and consuming alcohol in a motor vehicle. Jones was also charged under Leandra's Law with aggravated DWI. Jones was stopped by Ontario County Sheriff's deputies on Route 5 in Canandaigua for an alleged traffic violation. (Source)

Nicholas R. Graves, 18, of 7317 Griswold Road, Bergen, is charged with endangering the welfare of a child. Graves is accused of having sexual contact with a child under age 17 in the Village of Le Roy. Graves was arraigned and ordered to stay away from the victim.

Benjamin P. Hilton, 25, of 25 Bacon St.. Apt. E, Le Roy, is charged with criminal mischief, 4th. Hilton is accused of intentionally breaking the window of a business on Mill Street on Saturday.

Heather Ann Johnson, 41, of Calla Way, Cheektowaga, is charged with DWI, driving with a BAC of .08 or higher, inadequate lights, driving left of pavement markings in no passing zone and refusal to take breath test. Johnson was stopped at 11:53 p.m. Tuesday on Genesee Street, Darien, by Deputy Jason Saile.

Joseph Jonathan Kuzma, 34, of Byron Holley Road, Byron, is charged with petit larceny. Kuzma is accused of stealing money from his employer in Bergen.

Daniel S. Curry, 36, of Webster, is charged with unlawful possession of marijuana and driving while using mobile phone. Curry was stopped at 11:40 p.m. June 16 by State Police on Route 77, Darien.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014 at 9:56 am

Arrest count for Journey concert at Darien Lake: 0

There were no arrests reported Tuesday night during the Journey concert at Darien Lake Performing Arts Center.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014 at 9:53 am

Craig Yunker appointed to GCEDC board of directors

post by Howard B. Owens in business, CY Farms, GCEDC

Press release:

The Genesee County Legislature has appointed Craig Yunker to the Genesee County Economic Development Center Board of Directors. His term will begin Tuesday, July 1, 2014.

“Craig Yunker was selected to serve on the GCEDC board because of his extensive business and agriculture experience,” said Genesee County Legislative Chairman Ray Cianfrini. “He has lived and grown a successful business in Genesee County and will be a tremendous asset to the board."

Yunker is a managing partner of CY Farms headquartered in Elba, New York. CY Farms is one of the largest crop farms in Western New York, growing turf, corn, wheat, soybeans, alfalfa, onions and green peas. The farm encompasses more than 6,000 acres in Genesee County and has been in operation since 1963.

Yunker is also owner of Batavia Turf, a turf farming operation in Batavia, as well as CY Heifers, a 4,000-head replacement heifer business that raises calves for local dairy farms.

In addition to running CY Farms, Yunker is very active within the community. He is the past Genesee County Legislature chairman serving from 1984-1991, and former trustee of Genesee County Community College. Currently, he serves as director of Tompkins Financial Corporation/Bank of Castile and is a trustee of Cornell University.

Yunker holds a B.S. in applied economics and management from Cornell University and a M.S. in resource economics from the University of New Hampshire. He resides in Elba, with his wife, Kimberly, and is a proud father of three children and has three grandchildren.

“We are pleased with the County’s appointment of Craig to the EDC board and look forward with working with him to advance the mission and goals of the agency,” said Wolcott T. Hinchey, chairman of the GCEDC board.

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