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Saturday, February 6, 2010 at 5:04 pm

Sno-Packers' bridge awaits reinstallation

post by Howard B. Owens in Alabama, Oakfield, Sno-Packers, Sour Springs Road


It's ready to go and a club member told me this morning that Sno-Packers are feeling pretty confident that the Town of Alabama Board is going to approve the agreement with Genesee County this week that will enable the club to reinstall its bridge on Sour Springs Road.

Saturday, February 6, 2010 at 4:56 pm

Sno-Packers give Challenger kids a good ride

post by Howard B. Owens in Challenger, Genesee ARC, Oakfield, Sno-Packers


Members of Genesee ARC's Challenger program had a chance to ride snowmobiles and all-terrain winter vehicles today, courtesy the Genesee Sno-Packers snowmobile club.  The annual event was held at the Sno-Packers facility on Pearl Street Road in Oakfield.

More pictures after the jump:

Saturday, February 6, 2010 at 3:19 pm

Barking dog alerted residents to fire that destroys Byron home

post by Howard B. Owens in byron, fire


A barking dog alerted a 13-year-old boy and his sister to a fire in his home late this morning in Byron, allowing them both to get out of the house safely before the entire structure burst into flames.

Byron Fire Chief John Durand said the house was already fully involved and a total loss before the first fire truck arrived.

"It had a big head start on us," Durand said.

The house is located at 6137 Merrill Road and is owned by William R. Causyn. His daughter, Heidi, and son, Tyler Walls, were in the house when the fire started.

"They heard the dog bark and then saw fire and smoke inside the laundry room," Durand said. "They called 911 and got out of the house."

The cause of the fire has not yet been determined.

About dozen fire companies from Genesee, Monroe, Orleans and Livingston counties responded to the scene. The large response was necessary in part because the house is not on a street with a hydrant system, so tanker trucks were needed to shuttle water to the fire.

bergen_paul_cummings.jpgUpon arriving at the scene, Bergen's Deputy Chief Paul Cummings (pictured, right) acted quickly to disconnect the house's propane tank and roll it away safely from the residence.

Cummings works for Suburban Propane.

"I wouldn't just have anybody do it, but I knew he knew what he was doing," Durand said.

As for Cummings' bit of heroics, Genesee County Emergency Coordinator Tim Yaeger said, "That's what we do."

No firefighters were injured during the incident. 

Red Cross is on scene to assist the family.

Durand acknowledged the situation could have been a lot worse if the fire had erupted in the middle of the night.

"They were already up and about," Durand said. "It's not like if it was three o'clock in the morning and they had to get up and get dressed. There were able to get out as soon as somebody yelled 'fire.' At three o'clock in the morning, it's always possible it's a far different outcome."


UPDATE: We've added five pictures submitted by Ralf Kurzowski.

More pictures after the jump:

Saturday, February 6, 2010 at 11:23 am

Big blaze on Merrill Road in Byron

post by Billie Owens in fires

A fully involved structure fire is occurring at 6137 Merrill Road in Byron. It is located between Warboys and North Bergen roads.

The call has gone to second alarm and heavy smoke is reported.

Fire trucks from South Byron, Byron, Bergen, North Bergen and Elba are responding. Tankers from Byron and Bergen are responding and a fast team from the Town of Batavia. Stafford is on standby so is Churchville. Mercy EMS has also been called.

Monroe County aid has been requested.

UPDATE (11:33 a.m.): Two more tankers have been requested, including one specifically from Churchville.

UPDATE (11:38): Le Roy Fire Department is on scene.

(UPDATE: 11:42) Elba is called for more manpower and tanker. National Grid has been notified.

(UPDATE: 11:45 a.m.) "They lost their draft, we've got no water," a firefighter yells, apparently about one of the pumpers. Another tanker is almost there. An aerial unit is requested. Law enforcement is called to Merrill and North Bergen roads, because "people are going past fire police, they refuse to stop."

(UPDATE: 11:51) Bergen is on scene with a full tanker. A tanker driver is requested.

(UPDATE: 12:01 p.m.) A code-enforcement officer is requested to the scene.

(UPDATE: 12:02 p.m.) American Red Cross is requested to the scene. Per Byron command, some firefighters are leaving to fill tankers and others called to take their places.

(UPDATE: 12:06 p.m.) An Oakfield engine has been requested to standby at the Elba fire hall.

(UPDATE: 12:09 p.m.) Supertanker 87 is nearing scene. Byron command tells the driver: "Radio traffic is heavy and I not gonna be able to yell at you, so I'll hold flags up (to give directions). The tankers are going in and out of here." Law enforcement is called to Route 237 -- "There's a lot of traffic, it's getting dangerous."

(UPDATE: 12:20 p.m.) National Grid on scene.

(UPDATE: 12:44 p.m.) Update is requested on availability of helicopter. Answer: Unable to respond due to weather.

(UPDATE: 1:04 p.m.) Byron Town Supervisor Bob Crnkovich is requested to the scene.

(UPDATE: 1:07 p.m.) Heard on the scanner: "Joe, do you want a cup of coffee?" Reply, with a note of enthusiasm "Ab-sol-utely!" Also, Red Cross is almost on scene.

Friday, February 5, 2010 at 9:50 pm

State Lottey threatening Batavia Downs over management issues

post by Howard B. Owens in Batavia Downs

The State Lottery is threatening to yank video lottery terminals from Batavia Downs Casino over management issues, the D&C reports.

The D&C story lists four areas of concern:

  • debt transactions without Lottery approval
  • not providing minutes of board meetings
  • not submitting salary reports
  • discrepancies over capital expenses

The D&C reports that Western OTB President Martin Basinait declined comment on the State Lottery letter.

Friday, February 5, 2010 at 5:49 pm

City sets hearing on budget, water rate increase

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, city council

Two public hearings are scheduled for the Batavia City Council meeting at 7 p.m. Monday.

The first public hearing will be on the proposed 2010/2011 city budget, which includes a 1.5-percent property tax increase.

For background on the proposed budget, click here.

The second hearing will deal with a proposal to increase water rates in order to finance infrastructure improvements and maintenance.

For background on the proposed water rate increases, click here.

A public hearing is an opportunity for city residents to give input to the council on matters before the council. If you wish to weigh in on either of these topics in an official setting, this is your time to do it.

Friday, February 5, 2010 at 1:03 pm

Police Beat: Bergen man accused of overstaying welcome at neighbor's home

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, crime, pembroke

Gregory James Baker, 29, of 19 Rochester St., Bergen, is charged with criminal trespass 2nd and harassment 2nd. Baker is accused of remaining unlawfully at 17 Rochester St. on Jan. 25. Baker allegedly subjected somebody at that residence to physical contact. Baker was jailed on $1,000 bail.

Dustin David Say, 18, of 1952 North Java, Alden, is charged with criminal possession of stolen property 5th. Say was arrested in Alexander and accused of possessing stolen property stemming from a series of car larcenies in Alden.

Wesley Alan Ground, 33, of 411 Bloomingdale Road, Akron, is charged with felony DWI, driving with a BAC of .08 greater, aggravated unlicensed operation, failure to keep right and driving left of pavement markings. Ground was stopped by Deputy Jason Saile at 1:04 a.m. Wednesday on Akron Road in Pembroke. Ground was issued an appearance ticket.

Paul Mark Wieclaw, 20, of 31 Broadway St., Apt. #2, Oakfield, is charged with unlawful possession of marijuana. Wieclaw was stopped by Deputy Patrick Reeves at 7:39 p.m. on Jan. 30 in Batavia for an alleged traffic violation.

As a follow up to a previous item: On Sept. 4, the Elba Volunteer Fire Department was first responder to a roll-over accident on Oak Orchard Road. It turned out the accident was actually in Orleans County, Town of Barre. Abagail Buzard, 8, was ejected from the vehicle in that accident and was pronounced dead at UMMC. Today, Corey C. Buzard, 33, of Holley and Courtney L. Buzard, 17, of Brockport, were charged by the State Police with criminally negligent homicide.

Accidents from the State Police blotter:

7:16 p.m., Feb. 3, Wright Road, Alabama, one vehicle; Driver 1: Ricky R. Reiss, 27, of Akron. No injuries, no citations reported.

10:40 p.m., Feb. 3, Boyce Road, Pembroke, one vehicle; Driver 1: Melissa A. Chilano, 33, of Cowlesville. No injuries, no citations reported.

10:16 a.m., Feb. 2, Thruway entrance, Route 77, two vehicles. Driver 1: Cynthia S. Baase, 48, of Victor; Driver 2: Gwyn Moriarty, 50, of Chardon, Ohio. One injury, no citations reported.

12:59 p.m., Feb. 2, Lovers Lane, Town of Pembroke, two vehicles. Driver 1: Stephen J. Orel, 54, of Lancaster; Driver 2: Gene R. Uzar, 63, of Arcade. One injury, no citations reported.

Friday, February 5, 2010 at 12:14 pm

Today's Deals: Alex's, Margarita's, Center Street and more

post by Howard B. Owens in Deal of the Day

Alex's Place, 8322 Park Road, Batavia, NY: People come from all over the region for a fine dining experience at Alex's. It's best known for its ribs, of course, but Alex's seafood is also a favorite of the restaurant's diners. We have a $25 gift certificate for $12.50.

Sallome's Italian Deli, 40 Oak St., Batavia, NY: Wraps, subs, paninis and pasta as well as pizzas -- Sallome's offers a tasty variety of Italian deli items for eat-in or take-out.  We have $10 gift certificates for $5 each.

Margarita's Mexican Restaurant, 15 Jackson St., Batavia, NY: When you're looking for an authentic Mexican meal, Margarita's is the place to go. The food and atmosphere are perfect and the service is always outstanding. We have a $20 gift certificate for $10.

Center Street Smoke House, 20 Center St., Batavia, NY: Authentic Southern BBQ, from ribs to brisket with all the fixin's. We have a $25 gift card for $12.50.

Jackson St. Grill/Belladessa's, 9 Jackson St., Batavia, NY: When it's time for a great hamburger, Jackson St. Grill will serve you among the best around. We have a $10 gift certificate for $5.

Adam Miller Toy & Bicycles, 8 Center St., Batavia, NY: Feel like a kid in a toy store again, or treat your kids to the greatest toy store they will ever see. We have a $25 gift certificate for $12.50.

NOTE: If you've never bought Deal of the Day before, or are otherwise unfamiliar with the rules and process, click here.


Friday, February 5, 2010 at 7:53 am

Batavia mother admits she tried to smother baby

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, bufflao, crime

Twenty-nine-year-old Marcia Mitchell, a mother from Batavia, admitted in a Buffalo court yesterday that she tried to smother her child while at a Buffalo-area hospital nearly two years ago.

Mitchell entered a guilty plea to the charge of attempted first-degree assault, which carries a possible prison sentence of 15 years.

The Buffalo News reports:

Mitchell was recently hospitalized for her second jailhouse suicide attempt since her arrest. She was found mentally competent to assist in her own defense by two court-appointed mental health experts, even though she has mental problems that court officials and her lawyer refuse to discuss.

Friday, February 5, 2010 at 7:37 am

Man who injured baby given 12-year prison term

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, crime, Dietrich Williams

Dietrich Williams, who admitted in December that he abused an infant left in his care last summer, was sent to state prison by Judge Robert C. Noonan yesterday.

Williams was given a 12-year prison term.

The baby suffered severe head trauma after he shook the little girl and slammed her head against a hard surface in what was apparently an attempt to quiet her down.

Williams was reportedly acting as a babysitter for his girlfriend, whom he was staying with at the time.

A week before Williams entered his guilty plea, the little girl's mother wrote to The Batavian and said the child, who has needed much therapy and is likely to need help for many, many years, is doing much better.

Williams was originally charged with assault 1st, which carried a maximum sentence of 25 years in prison, but in order to facilitate a plea without a trial, District Attorney Lawrence Friedman accepted a guilty plea to attempted assault 1st, which carried a maximum penalty of 15 years in State Prison. The minimum sentence available to Noonan was three and a half years.

As part of his guilty plea, Williams had to admit to the factual circumstances of the case.

(WTBA contributed to this report.)

Friday, February 5, 2010 at 12:12 am

Ranzenhofer: GOP remains leery of governor on budget

post by Howard B. Owens in budget, Gov. David Paterson, Mike Ranzenhofer, new york

mug_mike_ranzenhofer.jpgAfter State Sen. Mike Ranzenhofer's press conference today on his jobs bill, I spoke with him for a minute about his position on the governor's budget.

My question was, with all of the proposed spending cuts from Gov. David Paterson, why aren't Republicans falling more in line with supporting the governor's proposed budget. Here's what he said:

I certainly support the cuts the governor has talked about and I don't think there's been a lot of push back from Republicans. But what Republicans are concerned about is that...(if) you actually take a look at the budget -- last year it was $131 billion, this year it's $134 billion -- spending goes up this year. Not withstanding all the comments about cuts, cuts, cuts, he's actually spending $3 billion more this year in his proposed budget than what happened last year.

So that's where the criticism is, that you can't say one thing and then introduce a budget that actually increases spending by $3 billion. When you look at the fine print, that's what what it actually does. If there's been any opposition, that's where the opposition has been.

The criticism and the push back is not from the Democratic Party or the Republican Party. When you talk about his low poll numbers, these are the residents our our state who are saying this -- that's their reaction to what he has done because they've seen what he said and compared it to what he did. I mean last year, he introduced a budget that was not that bad to start off, but at the end of the day, the budget he finally adopted was $12 billion in new spending. So people are very leery about what he actually says and what actually gets enacted at the end of the budget session.

Thursday, February 4, 2010 at 10:20 pm

Photo: 'Welder Guy' works on new sewer system for Batavia Downs

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, pictures


Around 6 p.m. I happened across some construction work on Park Road. I stopped and took this picture. The worker only wanted to be identified as "Welder Guy."  He said the company he's working for has a contract to put in a new sewer system for Batavia Downs.

Thursday, February 4, 2010 at 6:52 pm

Third suspect arrested in Le Roy's 'Stolen Pot' case

post by Howard B. Owens in crime, Le Roy

mug_eric_merritt.jpgA third arrest has been made in "The Case of the Stolen Pot" in Le Roy.

Taken into custody by Le Roy Police is Eric J. Merritt, 20, of 4070 Rose Road, Batavia. Merritt is the man suspected of trying to sell marijuana to two people in a parking lot on Lake Street on Jan. 23.

One of those people is reportedly 16 years old, so Merritt has been charged with endangering the welfare of a child. No other charges were announced by the Le Roy Police Department tonight.

James J. Santiago Jr., 30, of 31 Myrtle St., Le Roy, is accused of stealing the marijuana. Santiago turned himself into police yesterday.

After Santiago allegedly stole the marijuana, the alleged dealer brought friends in from Batavia to confront Santiago at his home at on Myrtle Street. In the ensuing fight, three people, including Ronald G. Carney, 21, of Corfu were injured. All three were hospitalized. Carney has been charged with burglary.

As many as nine people participated in the fracas -- allegedly Santiago and two friends as well as the suspects Merritt and Carney plus four of their friends.

Besides Merritt, Carney and Santiago no other arrests have been made yet.

Thursday, February 4, 2010 at 5:18 pm

Rollover accident on Sheridan Road near Bergen

post by Billie Owens in accident

A one-vehicle rollover accident has been reported at 46 Sheridan Road near Buffalo Road near Bergen. The victim is walking around. The call came in from Monroe County.

Bergen Fire Department and Mercy EMS are responding. Unknown injuries. Vehicle is on its roof. Additional manpower is requested.

Thursday, February 4, 2010 at 2:28 pm

Bill by Ranzenhofer would reward employers who hire those getting jobless benefits

post by Howard B. Owens in career center, economy, Mike Ranzenhofer, unemployment


Sen. Mike Ranzenhofer (R-61) wants to give New York businesses that hire from the ranks of the unemployed a $3,000 tax credit.

Ranzenhofer announced his proposed legislation today in Batavia at the Genesee County Career Center on East Main Street.

"It's a win, win, win situation," Ranzehofer said. "It helps people who are looking for work. It's good for employers. But it's also good for the economy."

Under the proposal, New York businesses that hire a person currently drawing unemployment benefits will get a $3,000 tax break.

There are currently 300,000 people out of work, Ranzenhofer said, and among those drawing unemployment, they are getting checks averaging $314 per week. Razenhofer said his proposed tax credit will pay for itself in 10 weeks with cost savings on unemployment benefits.

Unemployment benefits can be drawn for two years.

Ranzenhofer also said that by putting more people back to work, those people will have more money to spend, generating more tax revenue for the state.

While the tax incentive itself may not spur some employers to hire -- challenged as they are by other expenses, from health insurance, taxes and the cost of equipment upgrades -- the tax credit may be just what it takes to get other businesses to add new positions.

"To do nothing and not give them this kind of incentive, when it doesn't cost us any money, is not a good thing," Ranzenhofer said.

While it would be better to lower the tax burden on New York businesses, Ranzenhofer said, "I don't see that happening this year."

Scott Gage, executive director of the jobs center, praised the legislation.

"This is going to be an opportunity for people who have retooled their skills during this economic downturn to be hired and maybe they would have got that opportunity if not for the resources created by this tax credit," Gage said.

Thursday, February 4, 2010 at 7:50 am

Tree-trimming truck snags phone lines on Cedar Street, flips over

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, accident



The crew of a tree-trimming truck apparently forgot to lower the boom on the cherry picker after leaving the County Highway yard on Oak Street this morning.

The boom snagged phone lines on Cedar Street and the truck flipped on its side.

There were no injuries and no other vehicles involved, but it took a team of tow-truck drivers more than an hour to hoist the piece of heavy equipment back on its side.

"That picker should be all the way down and in place," said Officer Ed Mileham, who investigated the accident. "The guys that were working outside didn't put it down."

The truck was marked "Nelson Tree Service, Inc. Dayton, Ohio." The crew is apparently working on a project trimming trees under contract with National Grid and had dumped a load of wood chips at the county yard before heading out to other work.

Two heavy wreckers had to be called in so that one could lift while the other pulled. The crew managed to gently lower the truck back on its wheels, causing no further damage to the vehicle. 

Crews were on scene to deal with hydraulic liquid and oil that leaked from the truck.

Mileham said no citations would be issued.

The phone and cable lines did not appear damaged by the accident.

More pictures after the jump:

Thursday, February 4, 2010 at 7:47 am

Today's Poll: Is Fox News 'Fair and Balanced'?

post by Howard B. Owens in polls
Wednesday, February 3, 2010 at 10:41 pm

It wasn't an easy year in 2009, but the county got through it, Hancock says in annual address

post by Howard B. Owens in county legislature, genesee county, Mary Pat Hancock


County officials knew at the start of the journey that 2009 would be a rocky road, and there were many valleys to pass through, but the county managed to ride it out without raising taxes or severely cutting services.

That's the state of the county, according to Mary Pat Hancock, chairwoman of the Genesee County Legislature.

Hancock reviewed 2009 and looked ahead some during her annual address in the Legislature chambers Wednesday night.

"In addition to the known and announced reduction in state aid, we had many fiscal surprises, none of them good," said Hanckock. "They ranged from delayed payment for mandated and already provided services, to lower sales-tax revenues and to retroactive cuts in reimbursements. These continue to plague us. I am not an alarmist, this county has good and varied resources and will survive, but not by hiding its head in the sand -- the fiscal crisis is far from over."

Key points from tonight's address:

  • The rising cost of operating the Genesee County Nursing Home. General Fund contributions to its operation are expected to exceed $4.4 million by 2014.
  • GCEDC participated in 23 projects with an investment in the county of $50 million.
  • The number of Genesee County families turning to the Department of Social Services for Medicaid, Food Stamps and Home Energy Assistance continues to grow. Also up are reports to Child Protective Services for investigation. "It’s not an easy task to raise children in the best of circumstances, and the job becomes even harder when so many of our residents are struggling with their financial difficulties," Hancock said.
  • More than 6,000 residents have received seasonal flu and H1N1 vaccines.
  • The downturn in the county has contributed to an ever-increasing caseload for the Office of the Public Defender.
  • Federal stimulus money has meant the Job Development Bureau has seen its budget double. The number of clients in job training has increased 93 percent.
  • Genesee Community College’s enrollment hit an all-time record during the fall 2009 semester with 7,208 credit students.

After listing these and other departmental challenges and accomplishments, Hancock said:

"It is impossible for me to end this address without acknowledging the impact of this difficult year on our constituents. We relate to the high level of frustration and fear experienced as jobs were lost, retirement funds shrank and healthcare costs soared. Change was promised in good faith, but no one anticipated the type of change. It is said that the economy is back on track. Genesee County’s unemployment is the lowest in the area, but it is still too high. Small and large businesses are still struggling. Folks are having a hard time meeting their financial obligations. We hear you and will continue to do everything possible to contain the costs and support and attract and retain 'economy builders.'"

mary_pat_hancock.jpgHancock then called on the State Legislature to clean up its act and start governing with greater fiscal responsibility.

"It is all about jobs," Hancock said. "All efforts should focus on a new and improved economic development plan for New York State. Is it impossible? No. Empower local governments, regional governments like counties, individually or acting in groups, to attract and maintain jobs to turn the state around. Counties should have a say about what industries contribute to their communities."

Hancock closed with a call for all county residents to participate in the 2010 Census.

"It is crucial to return your form," Hancock said. "Take the 10 minutes to be counted. So much depends on the data received from this one effort. Do what you can to make this an accurate count."

Wednesday, February 3, 2010 at 9:39 pm

Man who posed as African immigrant to swindle woman out of $2K convicted by jury

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, crime

Yusuf A. Hassem aka Louis L. Reed, 69, came to town in April nattily dressed in a gray wool suit and tan overcoat. He will leave Batavia in shackles.

Following a three-day jury trial, Hassem was convicted today of grand larceny 4th.

Hassem posed as a recent African immigrant who needed help with a transaction at Tonawanda Valley Federal Credit Union. He managed to switch envelopes with a woman, stealing $2,000 cash from her.

Soon after the theft, the Batavia Police sent out a picture of Hassem to local media. The release of the bank surveillance camera photo soon led to Hassem's arrest in Buffalo.

Hassem, who began his career in crime in 1957, according to District Attorney Lawrence Friedman, faces similar charges in Albany and Schenectady. Officials from one of those jurisdictions will likely pick him up at Genesee County Jail following his March 17 sentencing.

"He has a very extensive criminal history for this type of thing and others," Friedman said. "That's unusual right there. I mean, we have a 69-year-old defendant who has been in the system for 53 years."

Judge Robert C. Noonan will have a couple of options in sentencing Hassem to state prison. Now classified as a second-felony offender, he will get either one-and-a-third- to three-years or a term of two to four years in the penetentiary.

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