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July 7, 2012 - 10:39am
posted by Howard B. Owens in fire, Bethany.

A shed fire is reported at 10330 Bethany Center Road, East Bethany.

Bethany Fire Department with mutual aid from Town of Batavia responding.

UPDATE 10:41 a.m.: Homeowner appears to have put out the fire with a garden hose.

UPDATE 10:45 a.m.: Town of Batavia back in service.

UPDATE 11:05 a.m.: A Bethany tanker has gone back in service.

UPDATE 11:16 a.m.: Bethany is back in service.

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June 27, 2012 - 11:08am
posted by Howard B. Owens in accident, Bethany.

Two cars attempting to move aside for a southbound ambulance on Route 63 on Tuesday ended up bumping each other, sending one car off the roadway and into a sign post.

One person was slightly injured in the 10:58 a.m. accident.

Katelynn M. Hale, 19, of Stafford, was in the passing lane in the area of 5769 Ellicott St. Road, Bethany, when a Mercy EMS ambulance responding to an emergency call approached from behind.

Hale pulled to the right and collided with a car driven by Rita C. Vannorman, 25, of Arkport.

Vannorman was also attempting to pull over for the emergency vehicle. Her front right bumper hit Hale's back right bumper.

Hale complained of neck pain but did not require transport to a hospital.

No citations were issued.

The accident was investigated by Deputy Joseph Graff.

June 20, 2012 - 2:15pm
posted by Billie Owens in sports, elba, Oakfield, Le Roy, Bethany, Milestones, bergen.

Several student-athletes from Genesee Community College were named to the NJCAA Academic All-Region List for the 2011-2012 athletic seasons. Students honored on the NJCAA Academic All-Region List have maintained full-time enrollment and earned a grade point average of 3.5 (roughly equivalent to an A) or better.

Those who made the list include:

  • Summer Bliss, of Bethany, a member of the women's soccer team;
  • Lauren Hughes, of Elba, a member of the volleyball and swimming and diving teams;
  • Cody Niccloy, of Le Roy, a member of the men's soccer team;
  • Emily Mott, of Oakfield, a member of the swimming and diving team;
  • Lindsay Chatt, of Oakfield, a member of the softball team;
  • Amanda Brown, of Bergen, a member of the women's soccer team.

Genesee Community College Athletics Program endeavors to provide a quality and competitive intercollegiate athletics program consistent with the National Junior Collegiate Athletics Association (NJCAA) philosophy and the overall educational mission of Genesee Community College.

Participation in collegiate athletics should be an extension of the total educational experience for the student athlete. The inherent philosophy emphasizes the athletic setting as a classroom used to teach character, commitment, work ethic, respect for differences, and the importance of sacrifice, teamwork and cooperation.

For further information and pictures go to Genesee's Athletic Web page, which is updated regularly with game results, team rosters, photographs and information about Genesee's overall athletic program.

June 11, 2012 - 5:17pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Basom, crime, Bethany, Alabama.

Valerie Ann Parker, 32, of Parker Road, Basom, is charged with assault, 3rd. Parker was reportedly involved in a verbal argument with another woman when she allegedly head-butted the woman, breaking her nose.

Shawn MIchael Twardowski, 29, of Vine Street, Batavia, is charged with criminal contempt, 1st, and aggravated harassment, 2nd. Twardowski was taken into custody on a warrant out of Town of Oakfield Court and jailed on $2,500 bail.

Albert Andrew Ackerman, 47, of Silver Road, Bethany, is charged with harassment, 2nd. Ackerman is accused of grabbing, pushing and punching a woman during a domestic dispute. An order of protection was issued requiring Ackerman to stay away from the woman.

Jason Robert Sando, 45, of Walkers Corners Road, Byron, is charged with unlawful imprisonment, 2nd, and harassment, 2nd. Sando is accused of restricting a woman's movements and subjecting her to physical contact during a domestic dispute. He was jailed on $1,000 bail.

Tammy L. Price, 40, of 1526 Kingsley Road, Wyoming, is charged with DWI, driving with a BAC of .08 or higher, unsafe start and uninspected motor vehicle. Price was taken into custody by Le Roy PD after her vehicle was allegedly observed pulling out of a parking lot in an unsafe manner.

Joshua A. Mead, 27, of Downing Avenue, Buffalo, is charged with DWI, driving with a BAC of .08 or greater and following too closely. Mead is accused driving drunk at the time he was involved in a motor-vehicle accident at 12:04 a.m. Sunday on Route 77 in Darien. Mead was taken into custody by Sgt. Greg Walker. Darien Fire Department assisted at the scene. (Initial Report)

Terrance A. Falk, 47, of West Main Street, Le Roy, is charged with harassment, 2nd. Falk is accused of dumping a plastic tote filled with paper over his wife's head during a domestic dispute.

Ashley Allen Wayne, 46, of Rose Circle, Hamlin, is accused of being a fugitive from justice and was cited for no seat belt. Wayne was stopped on Route 237, Byron, for allegedly not wearing a seat belt. During the stop, Deputy Chris Parker discovered Wayne was wanted on a warrant out of Pennsylvania for allegedly endangering another person. Wayne was jailed pending extradition.

Daniel Gordon Vanderwalle, 33, of Stuart Avenue, Newark, was arrested on a bench warrant. Vanderwalle is accused of not appearing on a charge of petit larceny in Town of Batavia Court.

May 29, 2012 - 1:51am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Memorial Day, Bethany, bergen.

There were several Memorial Day observances throughout Genesee County today.  Here are photos from the Genesee County Park, Williams Park, the VA Center, the Bergen parade, the Batavia parade and the St. Jerome's ceremony.

If you're unable to view the slide show below, click here.

To purchase prints of these photos, click here.

May 16, 2012 - 5:17pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, crime, alexander, Bethany.

William Delose Hirsch, 25, of Buchman Road, Bethany, is charged with menacing, 2nd, reckless endangerment, 2nd, and unlawful imprisonment, 2nd. Hirsch is accused of driving a motor vehicle at 8:49 p.m., Monday, from Batavia to Pavilion in a manner that was reckless and menacing to his female passenger. Hirsch is accused of not letting that woman exit the vehicle while on Ellicott Street in the City of Batavia. Hirsch was arraigned in Pavilion on the first two counts and in city court on the third. He was released on his own recognizance.

Neil Patrick Jacobs, 48, of Creek Road, Batavia, is charged with two counts of criminal contempt, 2nd. Jacobs is accused of possessing a firearm after being ordered to surrender all firearms to the Genesee County Sheriff's Office. The alleged failure to surrender the firearm was in violation of two orders of protection issued by Family Court on April 23. Following arraignment, Jacobs was placed under the supervision of Genesee Justice.

A 16-year-old resident of of Railroad Avenue, Alexander, is charged with unlawful dealing with a child. The youth is accused of hosting an underage drinking party.

Daniel E. Plath, 62, of Old Creek Road, Alexander, is charged with felony DWI, felony driving with a BAC of .08 or greater, aggravated unlicensed operation, 1st, unlicensed operation, operating a motor vehicle with an open container of alcohol and driver's view obstructed. Plath was reportedly on his way home from his girlfriend's house in Batavia at 2:44 a.m., May 12, when deputies were called for a report of a possibly drunk person trying to buy beer at a store.

May 10, 2012 - 11:41pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Bethany, county planning.

County Planning Director Jim Duval is retiring after 36 years with the county June 14.

To help celebrate his final planning board meeting, Board Member Lucine Kauffman baked him a chocolate cake decorated with symbols of some of the planning issues the county has dealt with, such as signs, windmills and the STAMP project (symbol: a postage stamp on a stick).

Other members brought in drinks, cookies, cheese and crackers and other refreshments, which were served after the meeting.

Duval, a Bethany resident and Bethany volunteer firefighter, plans to stay in the area.

He noted that he'll now have more time to respond to daytime emergency calls.

Duval also told board members they will be left in good hands with an outstanding planning staff.

April 24, 2012 - 9:25am
posted by Howard B. Owens in accident, Bethany, Stafford.

A 70-year-old man from Gates was involved in a single-car accident Monday night that caused 231 National Grid customers to lose power for about four hours.

Morley J. Pray, of Ashton Drive, Gates, was driving southbound on Clipnock Road at 7:13 p.m. when his vehicle went off the west shoulder of the road for an unknown reason.

Pray was reportedly unable to get the 2004 Chevy pickup back on the road before striking a petroleum pipeline cap and then a National Grid utility pole in the area of 9455 Clipnock Road.

No citations were issued.

Pray suffered minor injuries, but did not require transport to a hospital.

The accident was investigated by Sgt. Greg Walker.

April 23, 2012 - 9:24pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in weather, Bethany, Stafford.

Some 231 National Grid customers in Bethany and Stafford are without power.

The cause is not known at this time.

National Grid estimates power will be restored at 11:15 p.m.

Power went out at 7:59 p.m.

The location is from Ellicott Street Road, including Little Canada, spreading northeast toward Route 5, across Transit Road.

March 28, 2012 - 6:47pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in photos, Bethany.

Driving down Francis Road this afternoon, I spotted this stand of trees at the crest of the hill with the fluffy clouds blowing by in the background and thought it might make a nice shot.

March 28, 2012 - 6:39pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in business, Bethany, Lei-Ti Campground.

Lei-Ti Campground on Francis Road, Bethany, was voted by users of the Woodall's Campground Directory, as one of the top 100 campgrounds in the United States.

There are 1,700 campgrounds in the U.S.

Woodall's is a popular and widely used campground directory, owned by Affinity Group, based in Ventura, Calif.

There were reportedly hundreds of thousands of votes cast over the 10-month long contest, according to Woodall's, which was also a sweepstakes for a chance to win a seven-day cruise to Hawaii.

Photo: John Hollwendel, owner of Lei-Ti.

March 7, 2012 - 1:01pm
posted by Billie Owens in fire, Bethany.

A grass fire is reported at 9624 Clipnock Road in Bethany. It's between Torrey and Little Canada roads. Bethany Fire Department is responding.

UPDATE 1:12 p.m.: A brush truck out of Stafford is requested to provide mutual aid.

UPDATE 1:14 p.m.: The fire has progressed to the woods. All available manpower out of Bethany Fire Department is requested. Plus, a tanker from Stafford is called in. Town of Batavia is called to provide a brush truck and one tanker.

UPDATE 1:18 p.m.: A tanker and Gaitors (fire-resistant leg protection wear) an all-terrain vehicle known as a Gator from Alexander, plus all its available firefighters, are called in.

From reader Destin Danser:

"It's actually a Gator from Alexander, as in the all terrain vehicle made by John Deere. Not gaitors. They have one outfitted with tracks and a water pump on the back that they use for fighting grass fires, plus a medical back for it to use for search and rescue."

UPDATE 1:27 p.m.: A full crew from Darien is standing by in its fire hall.

UPDATE 1:32 p.m.: A deputy was expedited to the scene because of a male-female domestic incident at the location. One of them left in a vehicle on Clipnock Road.

UPDATE 1:37 p.m.: A Pavilion pumper/tanker is requested to approach from Transit Road, as County Highway personnel report the fire is heading in that direction.

UPDATE 1:46 p.m.: A portion of the fire is out or nearly out. But there are hot spots along the swath eastward.

UPDATE 1:49 p.m.: Town of Batavia's response is cancelled and the unit(s) returning. The firefighters report the Transit Road area is under control.

UPDATE 1:52 p.m.: The fire near Transit Road is completely out. Mercy medics are called to the scene ASAP by the Bethany fire command. An adult male in his 50s is reportedly having trouble breathing, is passed out now and has a history of heart problems.

UPDATE 1:55 p.m.: Fire command directs a unit to the staging area to provide oxygen.

UPDATE 2:01 p.m.: All traffic is being shut down at East Bethany Le Roy Road.

UPDATE 2:13 p.m.: The roadway is reopened.

UPDATE 2:24 p.m.: Pavilion units are back in service. Mercy transported a patient to UMMC.

UPDATE 2:35 p.m.: Stafford units back in service. Some of Bethany's personnel clearing the scene.

UPDATE 2:43 p.m.: The fire is out. Darien is standing down from standby duty in its quarters. Alexander is back in service. Bethany is back in service.

March 5, 2012 - 1:10pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in BARNS, photos, Bethany, Little Tonawanda Creek.

I took a drive out to Bethany and back this morning -- came away with two photos: Above, a barn on Cook Road (taken from Creek Road) and below, the Little Tonawanda as it winds along the side of Mill Road.

February 27, 2012 - 5:50pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Bethany, Sheriff's Office.

The newest deputy the Sheriff's Office is no rookie. He has more than seven years experience in law enforcement, including about a year with the Batavia Police Department.

Matthew C. Fleming joined the force six days ago and said he's been readily accepted by everybody in the department.

"Ever since I decided I wanted to be a cop, I always looked at the Genesee County Sheriff’s Office as the ideal place to end up," Fleming said. "When these opportunities come up, you want to take advantage of the opportunity."

The Fleming family goes back a few generations in Bethany, and as a lifelong county resident, Fleming said he thought it was natural to be out patrolling the county.

"Genesee County was a great place to grow up and I feel like growing up here gave me a great shot at life, just everything the area has to offer," Fleming said. "It means a lot ot patrol the same areas I grew up in and hopefully offer something back."

A 2003 high school regents graduate from Alexander Central School, Fleming studied criminal justice at SUNY Brockport. He completed his basic police training in 2007 and has worked as a public safety officer/dispatcher with the New York Park Police and New York State University Police in Oswego and Buffalo.  He is a certified general topics instructor, firearms instructor and OC spray instructor.

Fleming replaces a deputy who retired Dec. 31.

"Deputy Fleming will be a great asset to the Genesee County Sheriff's Office," Sheriff Gary Maha said. "He possesses all the qualities we look for in our deputies -- integrity, professionalism, dedication and dependability. We are pleased to have him as part of our team."

February 15, 2012 - 12:06pm
posted by Billie Owens in fire, Bethany, Stafford.

A fully involved barn fire is reported at 5816 Torrey Road in the Town of Bethany. Bethany and Stafford fire departments are responding.

The location is between Clipnock and Little Canada roads.

UPDATE 12:10 p.m.: Attica, Alexander, South Byron are also called in, along with all equipment from Pavilion Fire Department. National Grid is called to the scene.

UPDATE 12:13 p.m.: York Fire Department is put on standby.

UPDATE 12:27 p.m.: The fill-in from York is cancelled. All units headed to the scene are told to come in non-emergency mode.

UPDATE 12:42 p.m.: The structure is actually a work shed. The homeowner was welding inside the shed when it caught fire.

UPDATE 1:08 p.m.: The fire is out.

February 11, 2012 - 8:05pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in alexander, Bethany, outdoors.

John Starkweather is lucky to be alive. He knows it. He wants other hunters to know it, too.

According to hunting safety instructor Bill Fox, in Western New York this past season, five people fell from tree stands. Four died. Starkweather made it, though he almost didn't.

"I love hunting," said Starkweather, whose father, a chicken farmer in Pavilion, first took him out looking for game 30 years ago. "If I can save one person, whoever it is, I would feel I've done my part. I don't want someone to go through what I've gone through."

An avid bow hunter and a truck driver for Wegmans, Starkweather scheduled his vacation to coincide with bow season, and on his second day out, Nov. 1, Starkweather went to a tree stand he's used a few times over the past four years.

He arrived at about noon on his aunt's property on Gilhooly Road in Alexander and climbed up to the stand with his bow and arrows.

And he waited. And he waited. And he waited. Starkweather was skunked.

As evening approached and an afternoon of zero game passing within range, Starkweather decided it was time to climb out of the tree stand.

The 45-year-old father of two teenagers unbuckled from his harness and climbed out of the stand.

"I've stepped on that branch many times over the years," Starkweather said. "This time, the branch broke."

He fell 26 feet.

He doesn't know how long he laid on the ground unconscious.

When he awoke, he knew he was badly hurt. But he was able to reach his mobile phone in his pocket and call 9-1-1.

Alexander Fire Department arrived within minutes, with firefighters riding a gator to his location, guided by information he gave to emergency dispatchers who relayed it to responders. 

Mercy Flight was called to the scene and he was airlifted to Erie County Medical Center.

His injuries were extensive and serious.

"I had eight broken ribs, a broken shoulder blade, collapsed lung, lacerated liver and two cracked vertebrae," Starkweather said, and looking at his wife, Stephani, "Is that it?"

"Yes," she replied.

"Oh, and two chipped teeth," John added. "There was so much. The list never stops."

After a week in the hospital, Starkweather returned home to begin his recovery.

On his fourth day home, Starkweather tried to scratch his back and the main artery to his liver broke open.

Stefani, an assistant physical therapist, said he stopped breathing and was turning blue. She could hear his heart, and also knew because of the cracked ribs, chest compressions were not an option. She started mouth-to-mouth and their son called 9-1-1.

When East Bethany firefighters arrived they put him on oxygen and he started to revive. He remembers being carried outside and when the cold air hit him, he said he was fully aware from that moment on of what was going on.

He needed another airlift, but Mercy Flight #5 was out of the area and too far away (Starkweather was likely the first patient on the brand new Mercy Flight #5 on Nov. 1). The State Police helicopter from Batavia was called to the scene and Starkweather was airlifted to Erie County Medical Center.

Surgeons opened Starkweather, who was in an induced coma, and left his body open for three days to ensure all bleeding was controlled. They inserted a stainless steal tube to replace his damaged artery.

"I was in the hospital for my vacation, my birthday and Thanksgiving," Starkweather said.

He still has visible bed sores on the back of his head.

"He's lucky," Fox said. "He's absolutely lucky. That's why I so intensely want him to come and talk (to a safety class). Hopefully, for the younger generation, instead of us telling them, 'This is what can happen,' he can show them."

Fox said it's especially important to stress tree stand safety with bow hunters. Because of the limited range of bows, they use tree stands in the hope of passing game and the chance to get within 20 or 30 yards in order to fire off a shot.

The week Starkweather was in the hospital, another bow hunter seeking game in Genesee County, fell to his death.

Charles E. Sossong, 42, of Lockport-Olcott Road, Newfane, was in a tree stand located off Sour Springs Road, Alabama. When he didn't meet his hunting partner, his partner went looking for him and found him on the ground seriously injured.

There are no details available on how Sossong fell or what safety device he might have been using.

"It's a big issue and we stress tree stand safety a lot in the course because it's especially important for bow hunters," Fox said.

In Starkweather's home are a few trophies bagged with his bow, from a bear to a deer with a nice eight-point rack and the skull of a wild boar he killed on a hunting reserve overseas.

He said he knows all about safety, but on Nov. 1, maybe he got just a little bit complacent, a little too comfortable with something he's done many times.

Starkweather said the harness he was using that day was kind of old-school. It's designed to hold the hunter in the tree stand once he takes position. It offers no protection while getting in and out of the stand, which is the most dangerous time.

A newer harness would connect from the top of the stand to the ground, and if a hunter started to fall, the belt clip would catch, much like a car's seat belt, preventing a fall.

The systems are expensive, though, which may be why hunters still don't use them as much as they should, though Starkweather is now convinced they're worth it.

"You always say, it can't happen to me," Starkweather said. "That's the cliche, right? Well, it can happen to you."

As for Starkweather, he said the only tree stands he will climb into in the future will use a ladder. He's not taking any more chances.

"There's never been any doubt he would keep hunting," Stefani said. "He loves it too much. It's who he is."

Just like John, Stefani doesn't want to see another hunter's family go through what the Starkweathers have been though, which is why she supports John talking about his injuries so publicly.

"He's always been so active, so strong and so on the go," said Stefeni, who for the first time while we talked, struggled against a few tears. "Seeing him so injured, having to put his life on hold, has been hard, especially for somebody you love so much."

Starkweather knows just how fortunate he is, and part of the reason he's alive, he acknowledged, are the emergency personnel who responded, first to his accident, and then to his medical emergency at home.

He especially wanted to thank the personnel of the Alexander and East Bethany volunteer fire departments, Mercy EMS, Mercy Flight, the Sheriff's Office and State Police.

"I'll never get another piece of paper from Mercy Flight or a volunteer fire company asking for money and just throw it out," Starkweather said.

February 6, 2012 - 3:29pm
posted by Billie Owens in Announcements, sports, alexander, Darien, Bethany.

Tri-Town Youth Athletics is planning to start a youth football program and has scheduled a meeting for Thursday, Feb. 16 to provide more information to interested parents. It begins at 7 p.m. in the Alexander Elementary School Gym, located at 3314 Buffalo St. between routes 20 and 98.

Tri-Town Youth Athletics primarily serves the Alexander Central School District -- covering Alexander, Darien and Bethany -- but kids from all over the area are welcome to take part. It also offers baseball, softball, basketball and soccer programs.

The new football and cheerleading programs, which the organization last sponsored more than 20 years ago, are open to boys and girls ages 6 to 13.

Tri-Town Youth Football will be led by several experienced football coaches and youth sports administrators. Additional football and cheerleading coaches, as well as a cheerleading commissioner, are wanted.

Anyone interested should call 356-7571 or email [email protected]. Other opportunities for parents to take part in planning, fundraising and game-day operations are also available.

February 1, 2012 - 10:53am
posted by Howard B. Owens in accident, Bethany.

A driver involved in a head-on collision on Route 63, Bethany, on Jan. 20 died at 7 p.m., Tuesday, at Strong Memorial Hospital.

Gene L. Kelsey, 70, reportedly died as a result of injuries sustained in the crash.

According to a Sheriff's Office investigation, Kelsey failed to stop at a stop sign coming off of Fargo Road.

He was also allegedly driving drunk.

A passenger in Kelsey's truck, Michael Snyder, age unknown and no listed address, was also injured in the crash.

January 28, 2012 - 6:42pm
posted by Billie Owens in accident, Bethany.

A one-vehicle rollover accident without injuries is reported on Route 20 in the area of West Bethany Road. The driver is out of the vehicle. Bethany Fire Department is responding. So are medics as a precaution.

January 24, 2012 - 1:32am
posted by Billie Owens in Bethany, accidents.

An accident involving multiple vehicles is reported on Route 63 near Transit Road. It is completely blocking the roadway. There is no entrapment. Wires are everywhere. National Grid is called. Bethany Fire Department is responding along with Mercy EMS.

Pavilion Fire Department is asked to respond as mutual aid and shut down Route 63 at Bethany Center Road. Southbound traffic is to be shut down at Bethany Center Road / Batavia Stafford Townline Road at Route 63 by Town of Batavia Fire Department, responding as mutual aid.

The roadway is slippery and wet. One person in a minivan has minor injuries, according to law enforcement on scene. At least one car is off the road.

UPDATE 1:33 a.m.: Traffic on Transit Road is backed up at least all the way to East Bethany Le Roy Townline Road. Pole number 6084 6072 is damaged.

UPDATE 1:36 a.m.: The person in the minivan is "all set," and medics are asked to check on the driver of a tractor-trailer. The transformer on the damaged pole is leaking. National Grid has an ETA of 35 minutes. Northbound traffic is also shut down on Route 63 at the juncture with Route 20.

UPDATE 1:50 a.m.: One car struck the utility pole. And a tractor-trailer that followed pulled down the wires. (It is considered two separate accidents, and other drivers involved responded to that sequence of events.) Mercy medics are back in service. The mother of the minivan driver responded to the scene.

UPDATE 1:59 a.m.: At this point, it appears to be just a matter of getting vehicles towed as needed and clearing the roadway so traffic flow can resume.

UPDATE 2:08 a.m.: There will be no further updates to this post.




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