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Wednesday, September 4, 2013 at 8:08 pm

Once complicated case untangled, former fugitive given another two-plus years in prison

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

It took nearly three hours for Benjamin Muntz to find out that Judge Robert C. Noonan would be tacking another two to four years onto his prison term.

In the arcane labyrinth of our judicial system's sentencing guidelines, there was no clear cut answer on what to do with Muntz's case.

It's that complicated.

In January, Muntz entered guilty pleas to counts of burglary, 3rd, and grand larceny, 4th. Rather than show up for his sentencing in March, he flew south. He also became a suspect in another burglary and was charged with another felony.

Eventually, he was caught and returned to Genesee County.

He was sentenced in April by Noonan to three and a half to seven years in state prison and charged with bail jumping.

If the only charges against Muntz were those earlier felonies and the bail jumping, the sentencing guidelines are clear: Any sentence Muntz received on bail jumping would need to be served consecutively (not at the same time, or concurrently) with his other sentence.

As part of a plea deal, Muntz had received a one and a third to three year sentence cap on the bail jumping charge.

The curve for Noonan was that newer burglary, 3rd, charge.

If Noonan gave Muntz another three and a half to seven on that charge, could the bail jumping sentence be concurrent with that sentence, or would it need to be served consecutively?

Noonan didn't have the answer. The attorneys for the prosecution and the defense didn't have the answer. The prison guards who transported Muntz in his DOCs green jumpsuit to County Court today certainly didn't have the answer.

After consulting his law books and case law in chambers and conferring with attorneys -- in between hearing other cases -- Noonan concluded that if the second burglary sentence was consecutive then the bail jumping sentence would be consecutive to that.

In other words, Muntz would be looking at more than eight years and up to 17 years in prison.

Through his attorney, Thomas Burns, Noonan offered Muntz a deal: waive his sentence cap on the bail jumping conviction so Noonan could sentence him at two to four years and Noonan would make his other burglary charge, at three and a half to seven, concurrent with his prior sentence.

Once Burns got it all thoroughly explained to Muntz, with a little assistance from one of the prison guards, Muntz agreed to the arrangement.

For prior coverage on Muntz, click here.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013 at 6:27 pm

Jason Jewett remembered with love, honor and respect

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, byron, Oakfield

Honor, duty, country. For Jason M. Jewett, those words were more than platitudes, said family and friends following his funeral today in North Pembroke.

His coffin was draped in stars and stripes when it arrived at the cemetery after a procession of more than 100 cars through Batavia and East Pembroke. Two honor guards, with white cotton gloves and golden aiguillettes, removed the flag from the casket and with solemn precision folded it into a razor-sharp triangle.

A guard raised his white-gloved hand toward the deep blue sky. Honor, duty, country, he pronounced loudly enough for God to hear.

"For a young man, he was very patriotic," said his mother, Joyce Jewett, after the service. "He loved his country. He loved his fellow man. He helped people in need everywhere he saw people in need. For a young man with a short career, he accomplished a lot in a short time."

Jewett was an agent with ICE and helped train the agency's Special Response Team.

Team members traveled from as far away as Texas to honor their comrade, who died Friday in a traffic accident on East Eden Road, Eden, in Erie County.

More than 250 people attended his funeral.

The Oakfield native touched many lives, making friends instantly with everybody he met, regardless of race or background or means, said longtime friend Nathan Fix.

"He could walk into a room and, even though you never met him, you would smile," Fix said. "He would smile. He had no enemies."

Deputy Joseph Corona counted Jewett as his best friend.

It was Jewett who lured Corona into law enforcement.

"Law enforcement is a path we both enjoyed," Corona said. "He made me passionate about it and made me want to strive for more. He opened doors for me when I had turmoil in my life and uncertainty, and he always led me on the right path."

The outpouring of love for Jewett following his death came from all quarters and from around the country. It showed, said Corona, what a special man he was.

"I'm happy that he was so loved," Corona said. "Everything that he represented was represented here today."

Joyce Jewett said the funeral was not an end, but a transition.

"Right now, we don't consider him gone," Joyce said. "We consider him onto the next mission. God has a mission for him."

Jewett received a 21-gun salute, taps on a trumpet and "Amazing Grace" on bagpipes. His perfectly folded American flag was presented by a member of the SRT to Joyce and his father Joe. The gloves that folded the flag were laid to rest on the casket.

One-by-one, members of SRT placed their division patches on top of the casket. The INS guards filed through the tent where family sat and each gave each member of the family a hug. Then Jason's parents walked over to the line of SRT members and the line of Sheriff's deputies and officers and hugged each of them. Joe Jewett had a private word with each man. Men and women in the assembled gathering sniffled and cried.

 "Jason deserved this," Joyce said. "He worked hard and he loved his job."

Fix said in their long friendship, they never drifted apart even as their careers took different paths.

"No matter what Jason did, it was always the right thing," said Fix, who first met Jewett when they were security offices together at Darien Lake years and years ago. Jewett helped Fix when he needed it most and they were neighbors in Oakfield for awhile.

"It was an honor to be at the funeral today," Fix said. "He was like a true guardian angel."

Everything happens for a reason, Joyce said. God has a plan. He brought Corona and her son together and built a special bond between them. That friendship helped form new relationships between ICE and the Sheriff's Office, she said (and Fix, who is a dispatcher and volunteer firefighter agreed). Before, agents and deputies might talk on the phone, but now they know each other personally, Joyce said. That relationship will improve both agencies, she said.

Corona said will never forget his friend.

"He is buried here in a part of a town that I patrol and I'll be here every day that I can be to pay my respects," Corona said. "He'll always be remembered as my best friend."

Joyce Jewett found a few bullet hole stickers among her son's belongings, so she gave them to SRT members and Joseph Corona. Jewett like a good practical joke, she said, and putting the stickers on his casket is the kind of thing he'd appreciate, she said.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013 at 6:58 am

Awards from Oakfield Labor Days Parade

post by Howard B. Owens in Oakfield

Here are the awards that judges handed out following the Oakfield Labor Days Parade on Monday:

Veterans Color Guard

  • 1st Prize: Vietnam Veteran’s Chapter #193
  • 2nd Place: Oakfield-Alabama American Legion #626

Fire Departments

  • 1st Prize Best Appearing: Stafford Volunteer Fire Department
  • 2nd Prize Best Appearing: Alabama Volunteer Fire Department
  • 3rd Prize Best Appearing: Oakfield Volunteer Fire Department
  • Best Appearing Aerial: Town of Batavia Fire Department
  • Best Appearing Pumper: Stafford Volunteer Fire Department
  • Best Appearing Tanker: Byron Volunteer Fire Department
  • Best Appearing Utility & Rescue Vehicle: Alabama Volunteer Fire Department
  • Best Appearing Antique Hand Drawn Fire Apparatus: Attica Fire Company
  • Best Appearing Antique Motorized Fire Equipment: Attica Fire Company

Marching Bands

  • 1st Prize: Alexander Fireman's Marching Band
  • 2nd Prize: Akron Tigers Marching Band
  • 3rd Prize: Oakfield-Alabama Marching Band

Best Novelty Band, Act or Float

  • Grand Prize: Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation
  • 1st Prize: Crossroads House
  • 2nd Prize: Genesee Country Church
  • 3rd Prize: Batavia Silver Stars
Monday, September 2, 2013 at 10:01 pm

Jason Jewett's love of cars honored by car club attending calling hours at Gilmartin

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, byron, Oakfield

More than 300 people showed up this evening for calling hours at the Gilmartin Funeral Home on West Main Street, Batavia, to pay respects to the memory and the family of Jason M. Jewett.

Among the mourners were about three dozen members of a nationwide car club that was proud to include Jason among its members.

Jewett, 31, of South Byron and originally from Oakfield, died Friday in a car crash in Erie County.

The car club members who attended tonight came from throughout the Northeast, but the majority were from Rochester. They represented three teams within the club: Style by Choice, Sunworks and Street Kings.

Any hardcore car enthusiast, regardless of make or model the member owns, is welcome into the club.

Jewett was all in once he became passionate about cars, according to Kyle McGuckin, team leader of Style by Choice.

His car was a black and yellow Mitsubishi Evolution club members called Pikachu.

"Jay loved his car and everybody knew his car," McGuckin said. "It was bright yellow. You could not miss it."

There's a tight bond between club members, McGuckin said. It just happens to bring them together.

"We wouldn't have known any of these guys without cars," McGuckin said. "We're definitely more about family than just a car crew."

Also honoring Jewett tonight were several members of the local law enforcement community, where Jewett had many friends. He was an agent at the Immigration Customs Enforcement & Deportation facility in Batavia along with being one of 13 instructors for the Special Response Team.

He had worked in and around law enforcement in Genesee County much of his adult life.

Calling hours will continue tomorrow from 3 to 8 p.m.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be held at 9:30 a.m., Wednesday, at Resurrection Parish, 303 East Main St., Batavia. Interment will be in North Pembroke Cemetery.

Click here for Jewett's obituary.

Jason's nephew Nate Jewett, also a car club member, with his BMW. Nate is active duty Navy currently stationed at Port Hueneme in Ventura County, California.

Besides his car, Jason owned a gray Dodge Ram 1500 that he was proud of. A friend brought it to the wake. With it are Nate Jewett, Zach Hallatt and Huseyin Damlar.

Monday, September 2, 2013 at 7:34 pm

What is a Christian? An example to follow!

I am a Christian was the title of a recent sermon I heard that got my attention. What exactly is a Christian? A Christian is a person who believes with their heart that Jesus Christ died on the cross for their sins. It is a person who confesses their sin to God in prayer and asks for His forgiveness (Romans 10:9-10). It is a person who desires to live a life pleasing to God. It is a person who denies himself to become a follower of Christ (Luke 9:23). What does it mean to become a follower of Christ? It is a choice to commit yourself to God moment by moment, making your relationship with Him important, putting Him first. It’s about making choices that will please our Lord, striving to become more and more like Him. The bible says, “This is how we know we are in Him: whoever claims to be in Him must walk as Jesus did (1 John 2:6). Let’s look at Jesus, who He is and what He has done. The bible tells us that God the Father sent His only Son, Jesus Christ, to die on the cross for us, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have ever lasting life (John 3:16). He came to serve, and to become a ransom for many (Matthew 20:28). It doesn’t take long after watching or reading the news to see that we live in a world that is far from perfect. It is a world full of sin and evil. Jesus came and laid down His life for us, He was nailed to the cross to take our sin for us. Those who call to Him for forgiveness will be saved from the consequence of their sin, eternal separation from Him (Isaiah 59:2; Romans 6:23). Jesus Christ carried the burden of all our sins out of His love for us. He was beaten, spit upon, mocked, and whipped to the point of near death. He had a crown of thorns placed upon His head, stripped of His clothes, and then nailed to a cross (Mark 15:16-32; Matthew 27:26-31). He did this for you and for me. He endured the suffering for us and took our place. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only ours but also for the sins of the whole world (1 John 2:2). While Jesus was on earth, He humbly served others, putting them before himself. He was a teacher of God’s Word and told others how to receive eternal life through Him (John 3:1-21; John 4:1-26). He would withdraw to desolate places often to seek His Father in heaven (Luke 5:16). He was a man of prayer! The bible tells us that Jesus was raised from the dead after three days and now sits on the right hand of God the Father where He intercedes for us. Jesus Christ is still praying, praying for you and for me (Romans 8:34). Do you say, “I am a Christian?” Are there some things we as Christians need to change? Look again at our example in Jesus Christ. He was forgiving…are we? He was willing to be mocked for the sake of doing His Fathers will…are we? He served others and put them before himself…do we? He told others about the way to eternal life…do we? He was a praying man…are we? May we as Christians do what we need to do to become followers of Jesus Christ. He is our example! One way to become more like Him is to learn how to pray. The bible teaches us about prayer. Batavia Assembly of God, located at 24 North Spruce Street, is hosting its 3rd annual prayer conference September 13th from 6pm to 9pm (registration from 6pm-7pm), and September 14th from 8am to 4pm. Dick LaFountain will be the keynote speaker. Dick's passion is to motivate a renewed love for prayer and the presence of God in our churches. The title for the conference is “Presence, Prayer and the Power of God”. Elmwood Drive will lead worship. The registration fee is $15 per person, $20 per couple. Breakfast and lunch are included. You may register by calling the church at 585-343-8521. Please register by Sept 6th. Payment is at the door. Hope to see you there.

Event Date and Time

September 2, 2013 - 8:25pm
Monday, September 2, 2013 at 6:09 pm

Photos: Oakfield Labor Days Parade 2013

post by Howard B. Owens in Labor Day Parade, Oakfield, parades

Elaine Forti was honored to be Grand Marshal of the Oakfield Labor Days Parade. She was surprised when current and former students started singing the Oakfield-Alabama spirit song, "Nothing Is Going to Stop Us Now." Forti wrote the lyrics for the song in 1988.

Each year, the Oakfield parade seems to grow a little bigger and it's always well attended.

Here are some shots -- including one you've probably never seen before: A City of Batavia Fire Department truck in a parade outside the city. 

To purchase prints of photos, click here.

NOTE: It turns out, not all of the pictures have finished uploading yet ... in progress ...

Saturday, August 31, 2013 at 12:00 pm

Family surprised by van with signs supporting their annual charity lemonade stand in Oakfield

post by Howard B. Owens in Oakfield

For the past five years, the Williams family of Oakfield has been setting up a lemonade stand at Oakfield Labor Days to help raise money for cancer research.

This year Alex's Lemonade Stand, named after their son, could surpass the $10,000 it's raised so far. At least that's the goal. All proceeds go to pediatric cancer research.

Alex’s Lemonade Stand is a national charity named after Alexandra Scott who lost her battle with neuroblastoma in 2004.  She had a vision for kids all over the world to hold lemonade stands to raise money to find a cure.

Brady Williams, age 6, was diagnosed in 2009 with neuroblastoma.

For the past several years, Megen Williams and Christina Sosnowski have talked about having a float in the annual Labor Days Parade, but once again this year, circumstances weren't going to make that possible.

So Sosnowski decided to do what she thought might be the next best thing: Get her minivan decked out with Alex's Lemonade Stand signs.

The van was shown to Megan yesterday evening for the first time.

"I was in shock (when I saw it)," Williams said. "I think I screamed then I kind of cried. I was blown away. It's really cool."

The work was completed by Joe Bradt of Vinyl Sticks in Batavia.

For more about the Alex's Lemonade Stand Foundation, click here.

Monday, August 26, 2013 at 1:12 pm

Severe thunderstorm warning for Genesee County until 3 p.m.

post by Billie Owens in Oakfield, weather

A severe thunderstorm warning for Genesee County and other parts of Western New York is in effect until 3 p.m.

According to the National Weather Service in Buffalo, Doplar Radar shows a line of severe thunderstorms capable of producing quarter-size hail and damaging winds in excess of 60 mph. These storms were located along a line extending from five miles north of Youngstown to 20 miles west of Lewiston, moving east at 50 mph.

In Genesee County, Oakfield is mentioned in particular.

For the remainder of the day, the weather service predicts a chance of showers and thunderstorms, mainly after 4 p.m. Cloudy, with a high near 78. West wind around 16 mph. Chance of precipitation is 30 percent. New rainfall amounts of less than a 10th of an inch, except higher amounts possible in thunderstorms.

Tonight, it looks like showers and thunderstorms before midnight, then a chance of showers. Some of the storms could produce heavy rain. Patchy fog after 3 a.m. Low around 68. West wind 7 to 13 mph. Chance of precipitation is 100 percent. New rainfall amounts between a quarter and half of an inch possible.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013 at 6:45 am

Team DirecTV takes Oakfield softball championship

post by Howard B. Owens in Oakfield, softball, sports

Information and photo provided by Tony Ray.

Team DirecTV is the champs of the Monday Night Oakfield Softball League. DirecTV beat Larry's Steakhouse in the playoff 13-1 and beat Oakfield Hotel for the championship, 30-7.

First row from left to right: Jason Pratt, Chuck Gugel, Ryan Gugel, Ron Klienback. Back row: Evan Nenni, Andre Kinder, Tony Ray, Matt Dimartino, Otis Thomas, Drew Crofts and Rich Baird.

Friday, August 16, 2013 at 2:12 pm

Car fire on Batavia Oakfield TL Road

post by Billie Owens in fire, Oakfield

A fully involved car fire is reported in the area of 3137 Batavia Oakfield Town Line Road. Oakfield Fire Department is responding. It's between two houses, but "well away from the structures."

UPDATE 3:13 p.m.: Oakfield Fire Police are asked to shut down traffic at Town Line Road, west of South Pearl Road. Alabama Fire Police are asked to shut down traffic at Town Line and Macomber roads.

UPDATE 3:19 p.m.: Fire police are also going to stop traffic at Town Line and Hutton roads. A tanker is requested to the scene.

UPDATE 3:25 p.m.: The car fire is knocked down.

UPDATE 3:27 p.m.: Oakfield command says the road closures will remain in place until further notice.

UPDATE 4:06 p.m.: All units back in service. Road reopened.

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