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May 11, 2015 - 4:30pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in alexander, Barber Conable.

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The flowering crabapple trees that line the streets in the Village of Alexander perfectly capture the spirit of her father said Emily Conable, daughter of the late Barber Conable, the former U.S. Congressman and World Bank president.

"The trees are really typical of the way he thought," Emily said. "He liked color, he liked trees, he liked the shape of the crabapple trees and he liked that they didn't produce a lot of fruit that would create a mess for neighbors to deal with."

Inspired by the seasonal bloom of cherry trees in Washington, D.C., many years ago Conable embarked on a mission to populate his hometown village with its own distinctive arborous splendor. 

A placist and Alexander loyalist even as he rubbed shoulders with presidents and potentates, Conable dreamed of a village that would burst forth in vibrant raspberry sherbet every spring, giving Alexander its own distinctive flavor.

"He loved Alexander," said Jane Schiemder, another daughter. "He was so enormously attached to that place as his home that he wanted to give it a beautiful gift and pay it back, at the same time making it more beautiful with its own special identity."

Conable offered to buy trees every year for the village, for the school, for any resident, business or church willing to have one planted in a yard or along a drive.

"One year he did five, another 10, another three," Emily said. "It really came down to how much time he had and how many people wanted trees."

At one point, Jane said, village officials were concerned they were running out of places to plant new trees, yet the statesman of local values wanted to buy more, and more.

Both Emily and Jane said Conable would certainly want to see his gift to the village enhanced by residents and officials buying more trees. The tree is not necessarily common anymore, said Emily, who currently works at an arboretum in Pennsylvania, Longwood Gardens. She said the tree can still be found at some garden shops locally and online.

Conable planted nearly a dozen trees in the Alexander Cemetery. He always planned to be buried there, as he was, even though he could have been buried at Arlington National Cemetery. The cemetery is next to the Schmieder property.

"He wanted the Schmieder cows to come to his funeral," Emily said.

Jane lives in Bethany now and drives through Alexander frequently, where she can take in the rugged, radiant brilliance of her father's bequest. He would be heartened to know, she said, that people still notice.

"I'm proud he did that," Jane said. "I really enjoy seeing such a beautiful addition to a really nice small town."

FOOTNOTE: We use the word "placist." In our conversation, Jane said the trees were part of her father's "placism." Though already familiar with the word, for whatever reason, I decided to google "placist." Every online dictionary defines the word along the lines of "somebody who discriminates against people from other places." That's never been my understanding of the word's meaning. So I called Bill Kauffman, one of the nation's leading experts on placism. Bill was surprised the word is even in dictionaries. "I thought I made up the word," he said (he's used it in his books). "No, that's not what the word means," he said. "It means somebody who loves their own place." Loving one's place is hardly the same as resenting those from other places. We hope they love their place, too. Bill and I agreed -- we're taking ownership of the word. There's no negative connotation in it whatsoever.

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May 11, 2015 - 1:32pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in crime, batavia, alexander, bergen, Alabama.

Chad A. Allen, 36, of Oak Street, Batavia, is charged with burglary, 2nd, and criminal mischief, 3rd. Batavia PD observed Allen allegedly inside a vacant residence on Oak Street, Batavia. He allegedly damaged copper pipe inside the residence. He was ordered held without bail.

A 17-year-old resident of Walnut Street, Batavia, is charged with criminal mischief, 3rd, and criminal contempt, 1st. The youth is accused of causing more than $250 in damage to the property of another person. That person was also the subject of a protective order. The youth was jailed without bail. Name withheld by Batavia PD.

Robert M. Freeman, 23, of Pearl Street, Batavia, was arrested on warrants related to several charges and for alleged failure to abide by terms of a drug treatment program. Freeman's charges include forgery, 2nd, and two counts each of criminal contempt, 2nd, and petit larceny. Freeman was located during a traffic stop on West Main Street, Batavia. He was order held without bail.

Matthew S. Williams, 27, of Ellicott Street, Batavia, is charged with aggravated unlicensed operation and uninspected motor vehicle. Williams was stopped at 11:29 a.m. Thursday on Ellicott Street by Officer Frank Klimjack for allegedly operating an uninspected motor vehicle. A license check revealed an alleged five previous license suspensions. Williams was jailed on $1,000 bail.

Samual R. Smith, 28, of Columbia Avenue, Batavia, was arrested on a warrant for alleged failure to appear on an overnight parking ticket. The ticket was issued in March 2014. Smith posted $100 cash bail.

Ralph A. Golding III, 50, of Buell Street, Akron, was arrested on a warrant for alleged failure to appear on a petit larceny charge. Golding was arrested by Akron PD and turned over to Batavia PD. He was jailed on $2,500 bail or $5,000 bond.

Nicholas J. Elmore, 26, of Liberty Street, Batavia, is charged with harassment, 2nd. Elmore allegedly sent several threatening text messages to another person.

Dixie Lee Smith, 49, of Kriger Road, Attica, is charged with DWI, driving with a BAC of .08 or greater, moving from lane unsafely and failure to keep right. Smith was involved in a property damage accident at 3:48 p.m. Sunday on Day Road, Alexander. The accident was investigated by Deputy Michael Lute.

Larry William Toal, 60, South Main Street Road, Batavia, is charged with DWI, driving with a BAC of .08 or greater, reckless driving, speeding and driving left of pavement markings. Toal was allegedly operating a motorcycle on Route 5, Batavia, at 6:35 p.m. Sunday while intoxicated when stopped by Deputy Joseph Corona.

Aaron Paul Soloman, 38, of Liverpool Heights, Chili, is charged with driving while ability impaired by drugs, speeding and unlawful possession of marijuana. Soloman was stopped at 12:30 a.m., Sunday, on Lewiston Road, Batavia, by Sgt. Thomas Sanfratello.

Thomas Edward Murtagh, 57, of Parkview Drive, Bergen, is charged with driving while ability impaired by alcohol, refusal to take breath test and drinking in a motor vehicle. Murtagh was located in his vehicle parked on Townline Road, Alabama, at 10:30 p.m. Saturday by Deputy Michael Lute.

Tyler Austin Stoddard, 20, of Meiser Road, Alabama, is charged with aggravated harassment, 2nd. Stoddard is accused of continuing to contact and leave messages for another person that were harassing in nature to that person.

May 9, 2015 - 6:57am
posted by Howard B. Owens in crime, batavia, corfu, alexander, Le Roy, pembroke.
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Nicholas Elmore

Nicholas J. Elmore, 26, of Batavia, is charged with theft of services, petit larceny and criminal possession of a controlled substance, 7th. Elmore was arrested by Macedon PD for alleged shoplifting. He hired a cab for a ride from Macedon PD's office to a hotel in Batavia. He allegedly fled through a back door of the hotel without paying his $144 cab fare. State Police were dispatched to the complaint. They located Macedon PD paperwork related to the shoplifting arrest on the back seat of the cab. Elmore had used another person's ID with the Macedon PD. That person was located by troopers and interviewed. Troopers secured a photo of Elmore and shared it with Macedon PD who confirmed Elmore was the actual suspect in the shoplifting case. Elmore was located in a local hotel and arrested. At the time of his arrest, he allegedly possessed three packages of heroin. He was jailed on $800 bail.

Matthew Lilly, 25, of Marshall Road, Lyndonville, was arrested on a warrant. Lilly allegedly failed to appear on a disorderly conduct charge from April, 2014. He was jailed on $200 bail.

Gregory Scott Snyder, 46, of Alleghany Road, Darien, is charged with assault, 3rd. Snyder allegedly punched another person in the face during an argument reported 10 p.m. Thursday on Genesee Street, Alexander. The alleged victim was transported to Warsaw Hospital for treatment.

Cory Lynn Hyde, 33, of South Main Street, Mount Morris, is charged with disorderly conduct. Hyde was arrested on a warrant out of Town of Darien Court. He was jailed on $200 bail.

John Charles Siracuse III, 31, of Pringle Avenue, Batavia, is charged with falsely reporting information about an actual incident. Siracuse is accused of providing information about a motor-vehicle accident that wasn't truthful. The accident was reported at 3:20 p.m. Thursday on Lewiston Road.

A 17-year-old resident of North Main Street, Oakfield, is charged with harassment, 2nd. The youth is accused of striking another person while in a vehicle at 8:30 p.m. Tuesday in Oakfield.

Ryan Michael Bobzin, 26, of West Bergen Road, Bergen, is charged with petit larceny. Bobzin allegedly stole an Xbox Kinect with a value of $100 from a family member April 22. He was jailed on $1,500 bail or $3,000 bond.

Leslie Charles Sage, 47, of Wight Road, Basom, is charged with aggraveted unlicensed operation, 3rd, driving on a suspended registration and driving a vehicle without an inspection sticker. Sage was stopped 3:28 p.m. March 28 on Park Road, Batavia, by Deputy Joseph Corona. He was jailed on $1,000 bail or $2,000 bond.

Barbara A. Hofert, 54, of Washington Avenue, Batavia, is charged with DWI, driving with a BAC of .18 or greater and obstructed license plate. Hofert was stopped at 7:54 p.m. Tuesday on Porter Avenue, Batavia, by Officer Mitchell Cowen.

Juan Pozotempan-Ahuejote, 37, of Wood Street, Batavia, is charged with menacing, 3rd. Pozotempan-Ahuejote allegedly threatened another person with a raised, clinched fist during an argument reported at 3:50 p.m., Wednesday. He was jailed on $3,000 or $6,000 bond.

TyAnna D. Green, 20 of Holland Avenue, Batavia, is charged with disorderly conduct. Green was allegedly involved in an incident in the parking lot of Dunn Tire at midnight, Thursday.

Winston A. Lockhart, 20, of East Main Street, Batavia, is charged with disorderly conduct and unlawful possession of marijuana. Lockhart was allegedly involved in the incident with Gree, above.

Brody A. Jorgenson, 20, of Ellicott Street, Batavia, is charged with possession of alcohol under age 21. Jorgenson was allegedly involved with an underage drinking party reported at 1:14 a.m. Sunday at 340 Ellicott St., Batavia. Also charged Joshua A. Wester, 20, of Ellicott Street, Batavia.

Leonard A. Johnson III, 22, of Holland Avenue, Batavia, is charged with assault, 3rd. Johnson was arrested as the result of an investigation into an incident reported April 29 on Holland Avenue.

Jennifer Lynne Judkins, 20, of Dodgeson Road, Alexander, is charged with petit larceny. Judkins allegedly stole $43 in clothing from Kmart.

Jason Andrew Barnhart Sr., 28, of Pratt Road, Batavia, is charged with petit larceny, criminal contempt, 2nd, and criminal trespass, 3rd. Barnhart allegedly stole two DVDs from Walmart, and in the process violated an order of protection and being restricted from the property.

Christine Aminta Soler, 37, of Phelps Road, Pembroke, is charged with harassment, 2nd. Soler allegedly struck another person during an argument at 2:41 p.m., Wednesday. 

Luke Paul Simmons, 18, of Harper Road, Corfu, is charged with unlawful possession of marijuana. Simmons was arrested by Deputy Kevin McCarthy following an investigation into a report of a suspicous vehicle on Route 20 at 9:19 p.m., April 24.

Orentheo Jamar Flowers, is charged with aggravated unlicensed operation and unlicensed operator. Flowers was arrested on a warrant for an alleged failure to appear on the charges.

Shayne Robert Patterson, 49, of Killian Road, Corfu, is charged wit DWI, driving with a BAC of .18 or greater and drinking in a motor vehicle. Patterson was stopped at 8:38 p.m. Monday by Deputy Joseph Corona.

Crystal L. Wojtkowiak, 19, of Attica, is charged with false reporting and obstructing governmental administration. Garry P. Pitz, 20, of Depew, is charged with false reporting, obstructing governmental administration, reckless driving and other traffic violations. Wojtkowiak allegedly claimed to be the driver of a 2004 black Chevorlet Blazer involved in a rollover accident April 12 on Bowen Road, Alexander. State Police investigated and determined Wojtkowiak wasn't in the vehicle at the time of the accident and that Pitz was the actual driver. Pitz was reportedly driving northbound no Bowen Road when he made an alleged unsafe start and lost control of the Blazer, causing it to go off the east shoulder. He then overcorrected and spun around, causing the vehicle to rollover, coming to rest in the field on the east side of the highway. No deer were involved.

John J. Haire, 67, of Chili Riga Center Road, Churchville, was charged with DWI and driving with a BAC of .18 or higher. Haire was arrested following a complaint of a man urinating in the Top's Market parking lot in the Village of Le Roy.

May 8, 2015 - 1:57pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Darien, alexander.

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It's a great stretch of weather we've been enjoying. I figure after this past winter, Mother Nature owe's us this one.

First four shots along Bennett Road, Darien, then Dodgeson Road, Alexander, and bottom, a new windmill that's appeared along Bennett Road.

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May 4, 2015 - 3:35pm
posted by Billie Owens in fire, alexander.

A structure fire is reported at 942 Gulf Road, Attica. It's a two-story, wood-frame house. Attica fire is responding along with mutual aid from Alexander.

UPDATE 3:39 p.m.: The city's Fast Team is requested to the scene. The location is near McGrath Road.

UPDATE 3:44 p.m.: The city's First Platoon is called to headquarters. Alexander requests a crew from Darien to stand by in Darien's own fire hall.

UPDATE 3:56 p.m.: Town of Batavia fire is requested to stand by in Alexander's fire hall. East Pembroke is asked to fill in at Darien's fire hall.

UPDATE 4:22 p.m.: Darien is now requested to the scene.

UPDATE 4:55 p.m.: Bethany Fire Department is asked to fill in at Attica's fire hall.

April 27, 2015 - 8:23pm
posted by Billie Owens in alexander, accidents.

A one-vehicle rollover accident with minor injuries is reported at 10799 Stroh Road. Alexander fire and ambulance responding.

April 22, 2015 - 6:00pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, crime, Oakfield, alexander, Le Roy.

Jason P. Andrews, 38, of Lake Street Road, Le Roy, is charged with two counts of criminal sale of a controlled substance, 5th, and two counts of criminal possession of a controlled substance, 5th. Andrews is accused of selling an unspecified controlled substance in the form of pills to an agent of the Local Drug Task Force. Andrews was arrested at his residence, arraigned and released under supervision of Genesee Justice.

Jonathon Grant Browne, 22, of Leighton Avenue, Rochester, is charged with possession of untaxed cigarettes, unlawful possession of marijuana, aggravated unlicensed operation, 2nd, speeding and driving a vehicle without stop lights. Browne was stopped at 4:08 p.m. Tuesday on Main Street, Oakfield, by Deputy Joseph Corona.

A 17-year-old youth, residence not specified, is charged with criminal mischief, 3rd. The youth was arrested in Alexander by State Police. No further details released.

Jenna L. Josephite, 26, of Batavia, is charged with criminal possession of a controlled substance, 7th, and Dillon M. Brito, 23, of Batavia, is charged with unlawful possession of marijuana. Josephite and Brito were arrested and charged by State Police at 3:30 p.m. Sunday on Route 5, Town of Batavia. No further details released.

Grand Jury Report:

Veronica Garcia is indicted on a count of felony DWI, felony driving with a BAC of .18 or higher, two counts of driving drunk with a child less than 15 years of age in the vehicle and endangering the welfare of a child. Garcia is accused of driving drunk Dec. 19 on Route 98, Alexander, with two children in the vehicle. She allegedly has a prior DWI conviction from February, 2011, in the City of Batavia.

April 17, 2015 - 11:24am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, crime, alexander, pembroke.

Jayson W. Dersham, 31, of Wortendyke Road, Alexander, is charged with attempted arson, 2nd. Dersham was arrested following an investigation into an incident on Maple Street in February. He was jailed on no bail.

Nickolas R. Miller, 23, of State Street, Batavia, was arrested on a warrant related to an unspecified charge. He turned himself in, was arraigned and jailed on $5,000 bail.

Glenn Homer Quintern, 56, of Jackson Street, Batavia, is charged with exposure of a person. Quintern allegedly exposed his bare bottom at 4:38 p.m. Tuesday while on Central Avenue, in front of an adult and some children.

Kevin A. Cole, 36, of North Lyon Street, Batavia, is charged with criminal contempt, 2nd. Cole allegedly visited a person at that person's residence where the protected party resides in alleged violation of a stay away order.

Dan M. Carter, 53, of Hutchins Street, Batavia, is charged with aggravated unlicensed operation, 2nd, and unregistered motor vehicle. Carter was stopped at 6:54 p.m. Wednesday on East Main Street for an alleged traffic infraction by Officer Nedim Catovic.

Vicky L. Devie, 57, of Bank Street, Batavia, is charged with uninspected motor vehicle and parking in city lot over the 15-minute limit. Devie turned herself in on a warrant and posted a $50 police bail.

Shane Zimblis, 44, of Hutchins Street, Batavia, is charged with assault, 3rd. Zimblis is accused of stabbing another person in the arm with a kitchen fork during an argument.

Maurice A. Glasco, 36, of North Avenue, Medina, is charged with falsely reporting incident and unlawful possession of marijuana. Glasco is accused of falsely reporting an incident at 12:59 a.m. Saturday at 20 Main St., Batavia.

Colleen Frances Walker, 40, of Garfield Street, Rochester, is charged with possession of more than 400 untaxed cigarettes, speeding and unlicensed operator. Walker was stopped at 11:47 a.m., Thursday, on Route 77, Pembroke, by Deputy Patrick Reeves. She allegedly possessed 1,200 untaxed cigarettes.

April 17, 2015 - 11:21am
posted by Julia Ferrini in business, alexander.

“The biggest thing; I’ve always liked the direct result of what we do,” Luke Harding said. “It’s always gratifying to know that if I'm working hard, I'm earning an income, and if I'm slacking I have no one to blame but myself.”

With that philosophy in mind, it was just a matter of time before Harding became the sole proprietor of his own business. Therefore, since his grandmother had been entertaining the idea of selling Bloomz Florist, Harding jumped at the chance, made her an offer and became the new owner of the flower shop April 10.

“I thought about buying it for years,” Harding said, “but I wasn’t sure who wanted it and buying it off my grandma...”

“My age made me decide to sell,” said former Bloomz owner Sarah Harding. “I’m 83 years old. I’ve owned the shop for 10 years and right now, I want to concentrate on my book. I loved the flower shop.”

The elder Harding is the author of “Rise Catholic Women: You Hold The Key” and was featured in the Wyoming County Free Press, December 2014.

The younger Harding’s dilemma was due to his grandma having seven children and for Harding it was a question of him “stepping on someone's toes” who was also interested in buying the flower shop. According to Harding, it all worked out in the end. 

The Attican didn’t just buy Bloomz, he bought the entire piece of property and the buildings on it. While he said the property and buildings are in good shape, he wants to do a bit of work on his new purchase to give it more curb appeal.

Harding is no stranger to entrepreneurship. As a matter of fact, he seems to be predisposed to being his own boss. According to the 25-year-old, the whole Harding family are entrepreneurs. His uncle owned Super Duper grocery stores and currently, the young Harding, his dad, his uncle, and his aunt, all own Harding’s Attica Furniture. While his grandmother may have sold Bloomz, she is still the owner of Parsons Place – a Christian bookstore next to Bloomz. 

“I like this kind of work (florist) because it’s a predicable business,” Harding said. 

Although there are peak seasons in the flower business, Harding said they are opened year-round and have extended their hours: 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday. 

“The most unique part of this business is Tammy James is our flower designer and we use premium product so they last longer,” Harding said.

In addition to cut-flower arrangements, Bloomz also does silk arrangements, cemetery urns, and dish and bulb gardens. They also have potted flowers and green plants available for purchase.

“Dish gardens are green plants that would stay in your house,” said Bloomz Flower designer Laurie Bellucci. “Then there is a bulb barden. The bulbs can be planted in the fall, which makes it an everlasting gift. It's a great idea for someone who does gardening. They can remember the person that gave it to them.

“Some people come in and know exactly what they want,” Bellucci said. “Some have no idea and we help them out with creating something unique for them. That's what we do. We serve our customers.”

Bloomz Florist is located at 11155 Alexander Road (Route 98), on the Attica/Alexander town line. They can also be found on Facebook or visit their Web site at http://www.bloomzflorists.net/.

April 16, 2015 - 8:55am
posted by Howard B. Owens in crime, alexander, Le Roy, bergen.

An 18-year-old Le Roy resident and a 17-year-old Le Roy resident are charged with endangering the welfare of a child and unlawful possession of marijuana. Le Roy PD responded to a report of the smell of marijuana in an apartment. After a brief investigation, officers concluded the youths possessed and smoked marijuana in the apartment while two youths under age 17 were present. The 18-year-old was jailed on $500 bail. Le Roy PD did not release the names of either individual.

Christopher E. Merrell, 53, of Bergen, is charged with aggravated unlicensed operation, 2nd, no seat belt, inadequate exhaust, illegal window tint and unlicensed operation. Merrell was stopped by State Police on Route 98, Alexander.

April 13, 2015 - 11:29am
Event Date and Time: 
April 16, 2015 -
6:00pm to 8:00pm

Health & Wellness Fair

April 16, 2015 • 6-8pm • Alexander's High School Cafeteria

Join us for face painting, exercise challenges, balloon animals, BMI, blood pressure, sumemr camp info. Pulse oxygen tests, raffles, food samples, essential oils, nail care and first aid.

Sponsored by Alexander United Teachers

April 6, 2015 - 3:25pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in alexander.

Press Release:

The Alexander Republican Committee is seeking registered party members interested in being selected as the Endorsed Republican Candidates for the following offices in the November 3rd, 2015 general election:  Town Supervisor, Town Council Member (2 Seats), Town Clerk, Town Highway Superintendent, County Legislator, District #6 (Pavilion, Bethany, Alexander).

Interested persons are requested to send a letter of interest and resume to:  Barbara J. Eddy, Alexander Republican Chairperson, 11054 Alexander Rd., Attica, NY  14011.  Letters must be postmarked no later than Monday, April 13, 2015.  Endorsement meeting will take place April 23, 2015 at the Alexander Town Hall at 7:00 p.m.

March 26, 2015 - 10:25am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, crime, alexander, pembroke.

Deborah E. Lamartina, 34, of Linnet Street, Rochester, is charged with criminal possession of a controlled substance, 7th, aggravated unlicensed operation, 1st, DWAI/drugs, criminal possession of a hypodermic instrument and possession of a controlled substance not in original container. Lamartina was stopped at 3:12 a.m. March 21 on Oak Street, Batavia, by Officer Stephen Cronmiller.

Saphan Touch, 64, of Rochester, is charged with driving while ability impaired by alcohol, failure to stop at a stop sign and improper turn/no signal. Touch was stopped by State Police on Route 33, City of Batavia. Touch allegedly failed a field sobriety test. He was processed at the Batavia Barracks and administered a BAC test, which allegedly registered .07.

Danny J. Torok Sr., 47, of Spencerport, is charged with criminal possession o a weapon, assault and attempted assault. Torok allegedly used a steak knife during an argument in Oakfield with a family member and caused small cuts to the victim. He was jailed on $500 bail.

John Allen Thomas, 50, of State Street, Batavia, is charged with criminal contempt, 2nd. Thomas allegedly spoke to a person he is barred by court order from contacting.

Travis L. Bartz Jr., 19, of Church Street, Alexander, was arrested on warrants for alleged false personation and endangering the welfare of a child, criminal mischief, 4th, and petit larceny. Bartz allegedly gave a false name to police officers in October. He also allegedly tried to break into a car by breaking a window.

Klarissa C. Price, 37, of 22nd Street, Niagara Falls, was arrested on a warrant for alleged failure to appear on an unauthorized use of a vehicle charge. Price was arrested by Niagara County Sheriffs and turned over to Batavia PD. She was jailed on $1,000 bail.

Shaqueta Lashaun Irvin, 23, of Highland Park, Batavia, was arrested on a warrant for allegedly failing to report for weekend jail terms related to a petit larceny conviction. Irvin was located in Family Court and taken into custody and jailed on $5,000 bail.

Teshawn A. Lang-Smith, 18, of Dellinger Avenue, Batavia, was arrested on a warrant for alleged failure to comply with a released under supervision contract. Lang-Smith turned himself in and released under supervision.

Kim Marie Mannix, 46, of Wishing Well Circle, Penfield, is charged with possession of more than 400 untaxed cigarettes. Mannix was stopped at 1:20 p.m. Tuesday on Route 77, Pembroke, by Deputy Patrick Reeves. Mannix allegedly possessed 2,360 untaxed cigarettes.

March 16, 2015 - 6:24pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in arts, music, alexander, Emily Helenbrook.

It's a long way from Alexander, New York, to the Metropolitan Opera House, much further than the 536 miles measured on a Google map, but it's the road Emily Helenbrook has traced in her dreams nearly all her life.

At age 20, Helenbrook is building the resume that just might carry her from small town to big city, including a sixth engagement March 27 and 28 with the Buffalo Philharmonic.

A student at Eastman School of Music at the University of Rochester, Helenbrook's aqua eyes glimmer when she talks about what she loves. 

"I'm obsessed with classical music," Helenbrook said. "I can't get enough of it. Even at Eastman, where everybody loves music and that's what they want to do with their lives, I'm still the one who is constantly listening to more music and I love it. My grandpa was the same way. Music was his life and seeing him as I grew and grew into being a musician, I saw how much he was devoted and I wanted to be like that."

That love of classical music began at home. Arias and etudes weren't something she was introduced to. It was what she was born into.  

Her grandfather, Mathew Tworek was an original member of the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra as a violinist, and master musician and a member for more than 60 years. Her aunt, Adrienne Gryta, was a vocalist and frequent performer with the BPO and Helenbrook's first vocal instructor.

Growing up, all three of the Helenbrook children were introduced to music. Older brother Jason, now a local auctioneer, played flute and twin brother Eric played piano.  

For Emily, music quickly surpassed the hobby stage, however, and became the driving passion of her life.

Passion is what carries her through the hard work of learning her craft and building a career.

People tend to think, Helenbrook acknowledges, that singers just get up and sing, but there's so much more that goes into it. Learning the intricacies of vocal technique is grueling and takes years to master. They also need to research repertoire, study languages and diction, and for performance they must learn more than their own parts, but know and understand other characters, the history of the period and the story.

And that's just the singing part of her life. There are the academics that go into earning her music degree as well as her second degree in political science.

None of that is daunting, though, Helenbrook said.

"For a break, it's my practice time," Helenbrook said. "I don't think of practice as a chore. It's still fun for me, even though it's hard work, it's still fun."

When she needs to get away, she comes home, where there's more space, more quiet and more green.

"I really do appreciate being home," Helenbrook said. "Being in the country is a good way to escape the humdrum of city life. I can't stand it after a while and coming back home to something more simple is really important with the sort of speed of classical music and trying to be a musician."

Success came early for Helenbrook. At 17 she won the Barry/Alexander International Voice Competition, which led to a performance at the Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall and an afternoon-long voice lesson with her childhood idol, four-time Grammy winner Renee Fleming.

"She has the most beautiful voice and she's such a nice person," Helenbrook said. "She's a great role model for young singers. I always dreamed maybe some day I could sing for her and maybe she could teach me some things and that's exactly what happened and it was in her house in New York City. It was the craziest thing."

Performing at Carnegie was also a crazy thing, she said.

"That was an out-of-body experience that I don't remember as much as I would like," Helenbrook said. "It was kind of like a dream, in every respect."

It's hard to believe she won't make it back to that great venue. Talented, beautiful, hard working, passionate about her art and establishing the connections that build careers, Helenbrook is doing more than just dreaming.

She also understands, there are no guarantees, which explains the second degree in political science and her plans for law school after graduation. It's a long way from anywhere to the Met.

"Even really, really good singers don't make it," Helenbrook said. "I've seen people at the Met auditions and they're really good, but nothing happens because a lot of it is luck and being the right place at the right time. I know that and I'm trying to be realistic about it. I know what I want. I want to be a singer and I want to at least try to make a career of it, but it's also important to have a backup plan."

For more on Helenbrook's upcoming performance with the BPO and to purchase tickets, click here.

March 14, 2015 - 2:13pm
posted by Billie Owens in batavia, Attica, fire, alexander, Darien.

A house fire is reported at 4 Genesee St. in the Village of Attica and Alexander fire is responding. A fire chief on scene confirms heavy smoke showing.

UPDATE 2:21 p.m.: Town of Batavia fire is requested to the scene. Mutual aid from Warsaw and Bennington also responding.

UPDATE 2:35 p.m.: Inmates from Wyoming Correctional Facility called in to help. Checking with Attica water utility to make sure hydrants are working correctly. A fire crew from Darien is asked to stand by in Alexander's hall.

March 3, 2015 - 4:28pm
posted by Billie Owens in alexander, accidents.

A two-car accident with injuries and entrapment is reported at 9473 Route 98. Alexander and two Mercy medic units are responding along with mutual aid from the Town of Batavia.

UPDATE 5:10 p.m.: Route 98 is shut down in both directions between Pike and Dodgeson roads.

UPDATE 5:19 p.m.: Sgt. Ron Meides tells Howard at the scene that a pickup truck driven by a female was on Route 98 when she lost control of the vehicle in slushy road conditions. The truck spun around and was T-boned by van heading in the opposite direction driven by a male. The pickup truck driver suffered non-life threatening injuries. The van driver was entrapped, possibly suffering internal injuries, and would have been taken to the hospital via Mercy Flight if it wasn't grounded due to weather. Both drivers were taken by ambulance to ECMC.

February 18, 2015 - 1:50pm
posted by Billie Owens in alexander.

About nine or 10 cows are running loose on Peaviner Road approximately two miles east of Route 98 in Alexander. No farms are really close by says an officer who called the matter into dispatch. "I don't know how long they've been out here or where they came from." After dispatch did some checking, a resident in the area says he has some cows out that way and will go check it out. The officer is no longer on scene.

UPDATE 1:55 p.m.: It is reported that a farmer is with the cows on Old Creek Road but it's not yet known if he owns them.

UPDATE 2:26 p.m.: An officer says the farmer is securing the animals and will be taking them home, 9950 Old Creek Road.

February 12, 2015 - 5:24pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in crime, alexander.

A 17-year-old has been charged with three felonies after being observed allegedly selling narcotics on school grounds in Alexander.

Nicholas David Frayne, of Chick Road, Darien, is charged with criminal sale of a controlled substance on school grounds, criminal sale of a controlled substance, 3rd, criminal possession of a controlled substance, 3rd, and criminal possession of controlled substance as a Class A misdemeanor. 

The alleged sale was reported at 9 a.m. Tuesday at Alexander Central School.

Officials did not say who observed the alleged sale.

The case was investigated by Deputy Patrick Reeves and Sgt. Greg Walker.

Frayne was arraigned in Town of Alexander Court and released under supervision of Genesee Justice.

February 7, 2015 - 10:34pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Attica, crime, alexander.

A former Marchias resident has been identified as the Attican Motel resident who told authorities he was armed Friday night, leading to a four-hour standoff that ended after the use of teargas. He's been charged with a felony.

Michael A. Balla, 39, was arrested by Attica PD, Chief Dean Hendershott announced this evening, and he is being held in the Genesee County Jail on $10,000 cash bail or $20,000 bond.

Balla is charged with falsely reporting an incident, 2nd. 

Authorities say Balla called 9-1-1 and reported that he had a loaded gun, that he did not want anyone coming there because there would be an explosion when they walked in the door. 

Hendershott was dispatched to the scene and he requested backup from deputies in both counties along with State Police.

A State Police negotiator tried to talk Balla out of the Attican's Room 101 and the State Police robot was used at one point to check the room and as a communications device to try and convince Balla to surrender.

When he didn't teargas was fired into room. 

After being taken into custody, Balla was transported to Wyoming County Community Hospital for treatment of an apparent overdose and a mental health evaluation. 

He was arrested on the charge when he was released from care at 3:30 p.m.

Balla is schedule for a felony hearing at 4 p.m. Feb. 10 in Alexander Town Court.

The investigation is ongoing and additional charges are pending.

January 28, 2015 - 1:57pm
posted by Billie Owens in batavia, alexander.

The body of an 84-year-old Batavia man was found in a field off Cookson Road late this morning following a search by state troopers and Sheriff's deputies.

Alphonse Spiotta was last seen by a family member yesterday evening, a trooper said. His daughter reported him missing this morning.

At around 10 a.m., a county road maintenance worker reported finding a car off the roadway at 4312 Cookson Road, Alexander, that crashed into a tree. No one was around the vehicle, which was just around the curve where Dorman becomes Cookson. The worker told dispatch he first spotted the vehicle yesterday.

About 10 minutes later dispatch got a call from a woman who said her father was missing and that he was last seen yesterday.

A State Police helicopter was dispatched to the scene, but officers found the body shortly before it arrived. Sheriff's and State Police K-9s assisted in the search.

The man's body was found along a tree line next to the field some 300 yards south / southeast from where the car was found.

Alexander fire and Mercy EMS also responded to the scene.

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