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May 24, 2014 - 6:26pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in business, Darien, darien lake theme park, nik wallenda.

Nik Wallenda, "The King of the Highwire," performed at Darien Lake for the first time on a 750-foot-long wire stretched over one of the lakes.

He performed with is wife, Erendira, and Nick Slimick and Alec Bryant, who were making their professional debut. Slimick and Bryant are graduates of a high school in Sarasota, Fla., where they studied circus performing.

Wallenda drove a specially equipped motorcycle across the wire, which was 150 feet above the water at its apex, with Erendira and either Nick or Alec on a trapeze bar attached below. At the apex, Wallanda performed a handstand on the bike seat on one trip. On another he stood on the seat. On other trips, Erendira and the two young men performed stunts. The final trip was just Nik and Erendira and they performed barrel rolls at the far end of the wire.

This isn't the show Wallenda will be performing at Darien Lake this summer.

The show this summer will be in the Galaxy Theater (to be renamed the Nik Wallenda Theater). Shows start June 24 and run through Sept. 1. The 10-week run will feature two performances every day (4 p.m. and 7 p.m.) except Monday.

The hour-long show will feature top aerialists and stunt performers, Wallenda said. The finale will feature the Wallenda Family Pyramid on the Wire, untethered high above the stage.

During the show's run, performers will entertain park guests with wandering performances throughout the park, called "pop up performances." There will also be a regular interactive 20-minute show on the Gazebo Stage.

Wallenda said one reason he agreed to perform at Darien Lake is he that felt the need to give back to Western New York after being so warmly embraced during the run-up to his highwire walk over Niagara Falls.

"When I got off that cable in Niagara Falls, I said there will always be a piece of my heart that is in this region," Wallenda said. "This community has embraced me. It's been amazing. I get goosebumps.

"I think this shows my commitment to this region, to Western New York and Toronto," Wallenda said. "The community has been so good to me."

More pictures after the jump:

May 24, 2014 - 5:48pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, austin park.

A child is trapped in a swing at Austin Park.

No word on how he is trapped. No report of any injury.

City fire is responding and a dispatcher says, "you may need tools to disassemble the swing set."

UPDATE 6:02 p.m.: The 9-year-old child was in a toddler swing and became stuck. No tools were needed to release him.

May 24, 2014 - 4:39pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in sports, elba, Notre Dame, softball.

The Elba Lancers softball team scored four runs in the top of the 7th inning to upset the Notre Dame Fighting Irish in a Class D Section V playoff game played at Genesee Community College on Friday.

May 24, 2014 - 11:37am
posted by Nick Sabato in baseball, sports, Notre Dame.

Sometimes in sports a star player can get rolling and it’s hard to stop him.

That’s what happened as Alec Covel started off hot on the mound and never looked back as Notre Dame blanked Fillmore 5-0 in the Class DD quarterfinals at Dwyer Stadium.

Covel started out the game hot, as he struck out his first five batters and he dominated the Eagles all night long.

“He was strong tonight, he had good stuff,” said Notre Dame Head Coach Mike Rapone. “His last couple starts, he’s pitched well, and actually he’s pitched well all year. He has good command of the strike zone, he doesn’t walk many people. When you don’t walk anybody, it’s hard to score.”

The senior right-hander pitched seven scoreless innings, allowing just two hits and striking out 13 batters to improve his record to 4-1 on the season, with an astounding 0.55 ERA.

“I threw real well tonight,” Covel said. “I’ve had a lot of time off to get ready for this game, and I’ve got a week if we make it to the finals.”

Notre Dame got off to a solid start from the plate after Cal Tygart scored on a sac fly from Louis Reynolds in the bottom of the second to take a 1-0 lead.

The Fighting Irish would score two more in the third on a 2-run triple from Andrew Mullen, before adding two more in the fifth on an RBI double from Tygart and an RBI single from sophomore Tyler Prospero.

“We had some nice hits,” Rapone said. “We got the ball up in the air too much, we’ve got to keep the ball down a little bit more, but we didn’t strike out so that’s good.”

The only time that Covel appeared to be in any danger, was in the sixth inning after loading the bases on two walks and a hit batter with one out. He quickly dug himself out of the hole, picking off Joe Mullen at second base, before getting a strike out to end the inning and preserve the shut out.

Notre Dame (13-3) appears to have a double-headed monster on the mound with Covel and Tyler Stroud, who is 3-1 with a 1.11 ERA.

“It’s a big advantage having two pitchers,” Rapone said. “We didn’t have to space Covel out tonight, say when we want to pull him out and get somebody else in, because he’s not going to pitch Tuesday, Stroud is.”

The second-seeded Fighting Irish will play Tuesday as Tyler Stroud takes the mound with a chance to advance to the Class DD finals.

Kyle Redman allowed five runs on seven hits while striking out four batters for Fillmore.

May 24, 2014 - 11:33am
posted by Nick Sabato in batavia, baseball, sports, Batavia HS.

In baseball, getting strong play from your pitcher is as important as a quarterback in football, and that was evident as Batavia topped Wayne 8-2 in the Class A quarterfinals at Dwyer Stadium.

The sixth-seeded Blue Devils got strong pitching from starter Jake Scheuerlein and reliever Greg Mruczek, while capitalizing on pitching errors from the 14th-seed Eagles.

Scheuerlein pitched four no-hit innings without allowing a run before Mruczek came in to close out the contest.

“Both pitchers threw the ball really well,” said Batavia Head Coach Rick Saunders. “I’m riding both Scheuerlein and Mruczek all the way through sectionals as long as the run goes.”

On the other side, Wayne pitcher Nate Currier struggled with his command all afternoon, as the Blue Devils got their first five runs without recording a hit.

Batavia struck first as Rich Francis scored from third on a sacrifice fly from James Fazio to take a 1-0 lead in the second inning. Then the floodgates opened in the third.

The third frame saw the Blue Devils score four runs on an error and three passed balls before Ryan Mullen singled (the team’s first hit of the game) in the final run of the inning to take a commanding 6-0 lead.

“Guys had quality at-bats to get on base,” Saunders said. “If they don’t catch the ball behind the plate, that’s a nice way to get a lead. It makes a little more relaxing as a coach. At this point in the tournament, you’ll take them any way you can get them.”

Fazio would score Batavia’s final two runs on a 2-run double in the fifth to go up 8-0.

Batavia would lose their no-hit bid on the first at-bat of the sixth, before finally scoring on an RBI single by Joe Dell’Olio.

Despite giving up two runs on two hits in three innings of work, Mruczek pitched a strong game as he struck out five batters, showing that the Blue Devils have a strong one-two punch on the mound.

“I like it because it puts a lot of pressure on a high school guy to go seven innings,” Saunders said. “Especially this year with the weather being so bad, it’s hard to stretch guys out. This way I can keep them both fresh the whole way, you roll the dice and take a shot.”

The Blue Devils were led by Fazio, who finished 1-for-2 with three RBIs, while Francis and Zeke Lynn added two runs each.

Batavia (13-5) will next face second-seeded Brighton on Tuesday.

Currier pitched five innings, allowing eight runs on four hits, while striking out four batters for Wayne (7-13).

 

May 24, 2014 - 8:41am
posted by Howard B. Owens in fire, thruway.

A tractor-trailer fire is reported on the Thruway near the rock cut by Genesee Community College.

Smoke and flames coming from the cab, according to the initial caller.

The truck is believed to be in the westbound lane.

Town of Batavia fire dispatched.

UPDATE 8:44 a.m.: Call back from the driver. It's near mile marker 387 in the eastbond lane. The driver reports the fire knocked down, but there's still smoke in the cab. The saddle tank was damaged by the fire. It's still smoldering. There is a fuel leak.

May 24, 2014 - 7:36am
posted by Howard B. Owens in business, Le Roy, Frost Ridge Campground.

There can no amplified music at Frost Ridge Campground, ruled Judge Robert C. Noonan, in a decision handed down yesterday afternoon, at least temporarily.  

Noonan said the Town of Le Roy showed sufficient proof that it would prevail in its lawsuit on the alleged zoning code violation related to an amplified concert venue and restaurant at Frost Ridge.

He denied the same motion made by plaintiffs Cleere and Collins.

In a statement to The Batavian this morning, Frost Ridge co-owner David Luetticke-Archbell asked the public to be patient and understand that from the owners' point of view, Noonan has not been presented with all the facts by the plaintiffs.

"The most recent came from Mr. Whiting when he stated that the reason the Zoning Board of Appeals was not present was because they chose not to be," Luetticke-Archbell  said. "The truth is that they were never notified that they were being sued. He knew, but they did not ... a fact confirmed with them earlier today."

We are unable to get in contact this morning with Whiting nor a representative from the ZBA for comment.

"We just hope people will be patient, as we have had to be patient," Luetticke-Archbell added. "We need to allow this process to be worked through. There may be a few bumps along the way, but everyone who knows us will realize that we work through issues to resolve them."

We've e-mailed Luetticke-Archbell asking for confirmation whether their planned live music show for Memorial Day is being cancelled.

Noonan said in his five-page ruling that prior cases and NYS code gives the town the right to an injunction in the matter of an alleged zoning code violation, a right not available to the other plaintiffs, who have a higher standard to meet.

"As indicated above, the Town has clearly established that the concert venue and restaurant are in violation of the Town's zoning ordinance," Noonan wrote. "Further, the existence of safety hazards, public order and noise concerns creates a balance of equities in favor of the Town."

The town is not required to prove any special public damage in order to receive "injunctive relief," Noonan said, based on prior case law, just that there's the potential to prevail on a violation of it's zoning code law. 

Prior rulings also require Noonan to set a limit on what the town's damages would be if it ultimately didn't prevail in its lawsuit. If the town loses the suit, Frost Ridge could request Noonan to order the town to pay $225,536 in damages.

Noonan sided with the town on the live music and restaurant injunction, but did not order the campsites shut down.

The ruling acknowledges that the town, through the ZBA, may have misled the Luetticke-Archbells in September about whether live music was permissible, or "grandfathered in," only to contradict that ZBA finding the next day when the zoning code enforcement officer issued a letter barring live music.

The injunction was not granted to Cleere and Collins, the ruling indicates, because there is insufficient evidence of irreparable injury.

The ruling leaves open the ongoing disagreement between the town and Frost Ridge over whether campsites at that location are a preexisting nonconforming use, having been in place prior to adoption of the current zoning rules in 1967.

The town claims Frost Ridge was only a ski area, without campsites, prior to 1967. The Frost Ridge owners claim there were campsites on the property prior to 1967 and that the property was considered a "recreation" use, which means all recreation activity -- including live music -- is grandfathered in.

Noonan has ordered all parties back to his courtroom for a conference on the suit at each party's earliest possible convienence. 

UPDATE: In response to our request for clarification on whether live music will be cancelled Monday, David Luetticke-Archbell responded:

No, it is not cancelled. We are however going to comply with the order from Judge Noonan. I did read your article this morning, and would like to offer a correction. The injunction states:

"Therefore, the motion for a preliminary injunction by plaintiffs Cleere and Collins shall be denied; but the motion for preliminary injunction for the Town of LeRoy shall be granted to the extent of 'amplified outdoor concerts and alcohol service.' "

Frost Ridge shall comply with both of these.

Previously: 

May 23, 2014 - 9:48pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, drugs, Mike Ranzenhofer, drug abuse.

Daniel Placek seemed to have everything going for him. After graduating from Niagara Falls High School, he joined the Navy, served in Japan and came home, taking a job as a plumber five days after his discharge. By age 23, he owned his own home.

As the only child of Dan and Cheryl Placek, he was given every middle-class advantage in life. He was involved in sports, made lots of friends, worked hard, and he could always count on his parents when he needed help.

What they couldn't help him with, though, despite their best efforts, was drug addiction.

Five years into his career as a plumber, Daniel hurt his back. His doctor prescribed opiate-based pain medication.

"We could see a change in him over the last year of his life," Cheryl said. "We didn't know what it was. He was anxious. We couldn't figure it out. His friends were concerned. His employer called me a few months before he died and said what's up with Dan and we didn't know either."

Finally, Daniel confessed to his parents. He couldn't stop taking the pain medication he was prescribed.

Cheryl went with him to see his doctor. The doctor's solution: prescribe suboxone.

Suboxone is an opiate-based narcotic. It's often used to treat heroin addicts and others addicted to opiate-based pain medications, but suboxone is itself habit forming.

"Within days of withdrawing, Daniel became paranoid," Cheryl said. "He was talking about not wanting to live. We took him to ECMC, but we couldn't get a bed. We were there for 17 hours on Christmas Day in 2011."

Finally, they were referred to Lakeshore Hospital and Lakeshore agreed to admit him for seven days. On the fifth day, he was released to an outpatient clinic.

"They said he wasn't talking about taking his life so he was OK," Cheryl said. "It's like they were only listening to what he was saying and not what we were telling them, and here's my son who wasn't thinking straight."

They family tried getting Daniel into another program and hit roadblock after roadblock.

"He said, 'mom, don't you see, people don't want to help me anyway.' " 

Sheriff Gary Maha

Against their original doctor's advice, Cheryl finally called the VA and begged the VA to take Daniel as a drug-treatment patient. It took two weeks, but the VA finally admitted Daniel to an inpatient program.

"He went in with full family support," Cheryl said. "We were there, his best friend was there, his girlfriend was there. That night at 1:15, the nurse called me and said, 'your son's passed away.' I asked her what happened. She was reluctant to tell me, but finally she told me. He took is own life."

The story of Daniel Placek is not very different from a half-dozen other stories that came out this morning during a two-hour State Senate Hearing at Batavia City Hall on the state's growing opiate-based drug problems.

When Cheryl Placek spoke, she held the picture of her son, pointed to him, and said, "This is the face of addiction."

She wasn't the first mother Friday to use that phrase during the hearing, and the faces being pointed to weren't burned-out crank heads living in the squalor of urban blight, but healthy, well-scrubbed faces of young men and women who grew up in rural communities, went to good schools, got good grades, came from strong nuclear families.

"In 2001, the Sisters Hospital wanted to open a methadone clinic here so we took a look at our opiate addictions and we had three active patients," said John Bennett, director of GCASA. "Roll the clock ahead, we now have 175 active admissions at any given time. We've treated 483 people since 2008 for opiate addiction. None of them look like, for lack of a better term, the traditional junkie.

"It used to be nobody wanted to be a junkie, that was leper of the addicts," Bennett added. "You roll the clock ahead and it's young kids using opiates and heroin."

The hearing was led by State Senator Phil Boyle, chairman of the Senate Committee on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse, and State Senator Michael Ranzenhofer, who arranged for the hearing in Batavia. On the panel where members of the local criminal justice community as well as leaders in drug-treatment programs. In the audience were those who deal with drug addicts, their parents and a few recovering addicts themselves.

The themes heard in Placek's story were repeated by both the professionals, those who have been through treatment, and the parents of addicts.

  • It's too hard to get into treatment;
  • Treatment is often over too soon;
  • There's little or no follow up, and if you're off drugs, you can't get treatment even if you still feel you need it;
  • Opiate-based drugs are easier than ever to get and more widespread in the community than ever before.

It was the same story for Mary Flippi, a mother of five. Two of her sons are addicts.

For one son, his first experience with drugs was at age 11. A friend introduced him to marijuana. She said by the time he was 15, he was addicted to heroin. By the time he was 22, he had overdosed three times.

To get him into rehab one time, she called every facility in Western New York she could find. Then she drove around Pennsylvania trying to find a facility to admit him. Finally, he found treatment for her boy in Louisiana.

"He was there for seven months, but within the first hour of him leaving, he relapsed," Flippi said. "He was at the airport waiting for his plane and the anxiety got to him. He went to the bar and spent the $10 they had given him for the trip home."

Flippi observed, "drugs are not the problem for the addict. Reality is the problem for the addict."

As he continued down the path of renewed drug use, Flippi again tried to find a treatment facility that would take him.

John Bennett, director of GCASA

Eventually, she became so desperate that after he stole a dirt bike from his own family, she had him arrested just so he could go to jail while she continued to work on getting him into treatment.

Later, Boyle would recall this statement and remark, "It's a story we've heard repeatedly around the state. A parent is put in a position where she must have her child arrested to get him into treatment. That is a system that truly needs reform and that's what we're doing here."

After jail, Flippi's son was placed in a 28-day treatment program, but within a week of his release, he was drinking again. Four days ago, he tested positive for heroin and cocaine.

"I'm at my wit's end," Flippi said. "I don't know where to go from here, because there is no place. There are placed to go, but they are no help. Twenty-eight days doesn't work, and just to get to 28 days, you have to fail in outpatient first before you even get 28 days."

Sheriff Gary Maha said heroin and opiate use is a significant and growing problem in Genesee County.

Most of the drugs sold here come out of Rochester.

Heroin is a growing problem because it's cheaper than pain pills. He said he's heard of people selling their pills for $25 and more per pill so they could buy heroin at $10 to $20 a bag.

"A few years ago, heroin was unheard of in Genesee County," Maha said. "Now it's very prevalent and very available. Half the buys by our Local Drug Task Force now involve heroin."

After the meeting, Maha said he thought it was an important discussion.

"What I heard today was very enlightening, even for me as somebody who has been in the business a long time," Maha said. "When you hear from the families of the addicted persons, even the recovering addicts, it kind of opens your eyes. We look sometimes strictly from a law enforcement perspective, not even thinking about the treatment and the education parts, but it's going to take a concerted effort by everybody to fight this thing. It's a difficult and complex issue."

Where heroin used to the drug of last resort for the most addicted junkies, said Bennett, it's now part of the potential mix for first time and novice drug users.

Teens use heroin, but more commonly, they raid grandma's medicine cabinet and swipe her pain pills.

"They're getting together on Friday nights and they think they're just having fun, but what we know about opiates is, if you use them for two or three weeks -- and some of these kids are popping them every day thinking that's just what grandma is taking -- that when they try to stop, they find they are getting sick, so they start taking pills before going to school just so they don't get sick."

Augusta Welsh, director of community services, Genesee County Mental Health Services, said she's a big fan of drug take-back days hosted by local police agencies.

"One thing we see kids doing is they will take anything and everything just to try it," Welsh said. "They call it fishing They will put all of the pills they got from their grandmothers' and put them in a bowl and say, 'look at all the pretty colors,' then they'll pull something out. If they take it with alcohol, then it delivers the effect much quicker."

With the rise of heroin and opiate-based drugs in Genesee County, UMMC's emergency room has been much busier, said Mary Beth Bowen, chief nursing officer.

She said in 2013, ER admitted 62 overdose patients. There have been 130 so far this year. Now that number includes all brands of ODs, including alcohol, but the underlying root cause is heroin and pain medications, she said.

What UMMC is also starting to see is more use of e-cigarettes as a drug delivery method, and several panelists and audience members expressed concern about e-cigs as a kind of gateway into drug use or tobacco cigarettes.

Audience member Nicholas Burk, a resource officer at Batavia High School, said he one time he witnessed a BHS student beg her mother for an e-cigarette. This was a girl, he said, who was a athlete-scholar, a straight-A student who never received a referral in her life.

All of her friends had e-cigs, she said, so she wanted to be part of the crowd.

"She thinks it's OK," he said.

There was a lot of back and forth about whether marijuana is a gateway drug. Some in the audience are convinced it is.

Rose Mary Christian expressed shock and dismay that the Legislature would even consider medical marijuana. Ranzenhofer said it's a complex issue. It's hard to turn down a parent who says marijuana is the only drug that will stop her child's seizures and prevent almost certain death.

Boyle said there's a lot of discussion in Albany about medical marijuana, but he promised that recreational marijuana will never be legal in New York.

Dr. Bruce Baker, medical director for GCASA, said the data doesn't support the notion of marijuana as a gateway drug, but it does lower inhibitions and many young people have been introduced to harder drugs just because marijuana brought them into closer contact with people already using harder drugs.

Two recovering addicts also spoke. One was a woman currently living in Batavia who said she got into prostitution to support her drug habit and has seen other young women fall into the same trap. She wants to warn young women away from drugs for that reason. She was among the speakers who complained about how difficult it is to get into drug treatment.

One speaker challenged the panel to look at the people in the room talking about addiction and how it affected their lives personally. It was largely a white, rural and middle-class audience.

"This is the face of addiction," She said. "We are very typical people and I hope we can give it a voice and get more help in our community because it's here and it's big."

Boyle said the message was heard loud and clear, and with modern technology being what it is today, changes are already in the works.

"As we've been talking, I've been texting with my staff in Albany about what some of you have been saying," Boyle said. "They've already done the research and sent back some draft legislation that we could introduce as soon as next week to address some of the concerns raised here."

May 23, 2014 - 7:32pm
posted by Bob Harker in politics, Obama, polls, opinions.

Has anyone that has EVER given a hand UP - be it employment or otherwise, seen a positive influence by the obama Administation other than a hand OUT? Please document it.

 

Howard, I hope you post this as a poll.

May 23, 2014 - 3:03pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in veterans, Mike Ranzenhofer, Veterans Hall of Fame.

Press release:

United States Army Specialist 5th Class James B. Neider has been selected – by State Senator Michael H. Ranzenhofer – as a New York State Senate Veterans’ Hall of Fame Honoree for the 61st District for his gallantry in the U.S. Armed Forces and service to the community.

Neider volunteered to serve in 1968 after receiving a bachelor's degree in Education. He served in Germany with the 3rd Armored Division’s 503rd Military Police Company.

“While Jim first enlisted decades ago, he remains committed to serving his country to this day. As a founder of the Joint Veterans’ Honor Guard of Genesee County and with his efforts to locate a National Military Cemetery to the region, Jim’s service to his fellow veterans and their families is unwavering,” Ranzenhofer said. “Jim exemplifies compassion, advocacy and dedication to our local veterans.”

“It has been such an honor to travel to the State Capitol and join so many distinguished veterans as a member of the State Senate’s Veterans’ Hall of Fame. Thank you to Senator Ranzenhofer for nominating me. Working with veterans is all that I do, and this honor serves as inspiration to continue advocating for veterans in Genesee County,” Neider said.

Neider earned Master of Science degree in Education on the G.I. Bill upon completing his military service, then started teaching at an elementary school in Alexander. He retired in 2000 with 30 years of service. He also served as Batavia Town Justice for 14 years. Today, he is an instructor for the American Legion’s Flags for First-Graders program and a coordinator for the annual Four Chaplains’ Sunday. 

Neider has received numerous awards for his distinguished service: the National Defense Service Medal, Good Conduct Medal and Expert M-14 Badge. He has also served in numerous leadership positions, including: chairman, Genesee County Joint Veterans’ Council; president, Genesee Veterans’ Club; board member, Genesee Veterans’ Support Network; chairman, Batavia Memorial Day Committee; and treasurer, Genesee County War Memorial Fund.

Jim and his wife, Mary Ann, live in the Town of Stafford.

May 23, 2014 - 2:12pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Batavia PD.

If you're going to spend 36 years in law enforcement, you better enjoy it, and Chuck Dudek says he's enjoyed every minute.

The Batavia police detective retired this week and put a cap on a career that started with episodes of "Adam-12" and included making arrests for everything from false imprisonment to homicide.

"It was right up to two weeks ago before I actually decided I was going to retire," Dudek said."That was unbelievably difficult to do. It surprised me in a way. It was difficult to say, 'I'm retiring,' because I've really enjoyed this career."

Like many in law enforcement who grew up in the 1970s, Dudek first found inspiration in the television series Adam-12, the Jack Webb-created 30-minute drama that for seven years tracked the lives and careers of two Los Angeles police officers. The show was so realistic that some departments around the country used it as a training video.

Dudek thought it would sound strange to admit the show influenced him, but he said from a very young age, he wanted to be a cop.

Born and raised in Attica, Dudek attended Notre Dame High School and then got his degree in criminal justice at Genesee Community College. He interned with Attica PD and in 1978 he was given a badge and a gun and told to patrol on his own. It would be another year before he could attend the police academy in Niagara County.

"I was on the road and on my own within the first week or two," Dudek said. "We were one-man patrols, so I didn't have anybody to ask for help or advice. I would go home with my penal law book and my V&T book and ask myself, 'if this happens, what do I do,?' and I would have to look through the books. For the first year, I was self-taught."

Dudek tends to recall his career as a series of cases.

Two cases in Attica stand out in his mind.

During his first year, he was on patrol and doing a routine security check on Attica's former bowling alley. Dudek happened to catch the glimpse of a shadow of somebody inside the building. He called for back-up, but in Attica, back-up is often minutes or longer away.

By the time another officer arrived, the would-be burglar had slipped out of the building. Inside, the officers found tools, vending machines cut open and a safe that the perpetrator was trying to get open when Dudek spotted him.

The money was recovered -- left at the scene -- but the criminal was never captured.

"I had a pretty good solve rate in Attica, but that was one of the few that we never figured out who it was," Dudek said.

The second case came near the end of his stint with Attica, just months before he was hired by Batavia PD.

It's the closest Dudek came, he said, to losing his life while on duty.

One day in March, two young men, brothers, from Warsaw came into town and Dudek said they were looking for trouble. They tried to pick fights with pool players in a couple of local bars and then went to a local pizzeria and started hassling the owner. He called the cops.

When Dudek arrived, he asked the two men for their IDs and as he tried to reach for one, the other brother cold-cocked him, hitting him in the head. That started a scuffle that spilled out into the street with the three men rolling around on the ground. When Dudek managed to stand up, both men started hitting him and he fell face first to the sidewalk, unconscious.

By the time he woke up, the two brothers were at least 30 yards down the road and he was missing his metal flashlight.

He chased after them, joined by a civilian. As he approached, one of the men stopped, turned and started coming at him with the flashlight. Dudek pulled his service revolver and trained it on the assailant.

"That's the closest I ever came to shooting anybody," Dudek said. "I had my revolver with the hammer pulled back to single action. They stopped, thought about it, threw down the flashlight and started running."

They ran past the fire hall, where some volunteers were listening to the call on their scanner. An off-duty police officer was there and the two men were apprehended.

"One of them said to me, 'I should have split your head open with the flashlight when I had the chance,' " Dudek remembered. "That was a close call."

Dudek and his wife, Kathy, both attended Notre Dame, but the didn't get to really know each other until college. They both attended GCC and worked at Tops Market, and that's where a bit of romance blossomed.

They were married while Dudek was an officer in Attica and they settled in Batavia.

On July 4, 1982, Dudek patrolled the City of Batavia for the first time.

In his first year with Batavia PD, Dudek helped save the lives of a South Pearl Road family when he answered a phone line.

The young patrol officer was in the city's dispatch office, but the on-duty dispatcher was tied up on another call, so when the 9-1-1 line rang, Dudek answered.

He heard ... silence.

In those days, there was no caller ID. There was no way to identify the location of the call, but it took both parties to hang up to disconnect the call.

Dudek stayed on the line and listened for a few minutes to silence.

Then he thought he could hear labored breathing. Finally, a man's voice came on the line. He was weak, but he was able to give his address.  

It was outside the city, so Dudek used the intercom system to contact Genesee County dispatchers.

The family had suffered carbon monoxide poisoning, but help got to them in the nick of time and they were saved.

"It felt good to be a piece in that chain that helped save them," Dudek said.

As a patrol officer, he also helped save a woman from an unknown, but surely horrible fate.

"In those days, if it was warm, I liked to patrol with the windows rolled down so I could hear things," Dudek said.

What he heard that early morning was a woman screaming.

He was in the shopping center just east of 400 Towers.

He found a man dragging a woman down the embankment near the 400 Towers' parking lot. He grabbed the man and the man said, "she's my girlfriend. She's just drunk."

The woman screamed, Dudek said, that she had never seen the man before in her life.

Dudek took the man into custody and back to the station for questioning. He was in fact a total stranger to the woman. He was charged with unlawful imprisonment and assault.

"I don't know what he had in mind for her, but it kind of makes you feel good when you're able to save somebody from something bad," Dudek said.

Working patrols in Attica for more than three years gave Dudek a taste for investigations. The department was too small to hire detectives, so the full-time patrol officers were akin to Malloy and Reed and Sherlock Holmes all rolled into one.

In 1988, there were two openings in the detective bureau and Dudek and Pat Corona (who also retired recently) both applied and both got the jobs.

Two years later, Dudek took a position with the Local Drug Enforcement Task Force, which gave him a unique position in the history of the police department. He was the first whose service weapon was an automatic rather than a revolver. He was issued a Smith & Wesson .45.

A short time later, the city spent enough money to get about half of the department's patrol officers automatic pistols. The second purchase came when a drug case that Dudek helped crack netted local law enforcement more than $100,000 in seized drug money. A portion of the money went to Batavia PD and the department outfitted the rest of the officers with automatic pistols.

Right after leaving the task force, Dudek picked up a case that at first seemed pretty routine.

A woman had moved back to Oakfield from Kentucky with her boyfriend. Shortly after returning, she came home and found her boyfriend molesting her 12-year-old daughter.

The crime itself was only chargeable as a misdemeanor, but Dudek decided to interview the suspect further.

He ended up confessing to a series of more serious sexual assaults in Bowling Green, Ky. Dudek turned the case over to detectives there and the man was charged with multiple felonies.

"It was a pretty interesting case," Dudek said. "I ended up getting called down to Bowling Green to testify. He got convicted and was sentenced to 125 years in prison."

Dudek's proudest moment as a detective, though, came in helping to solve the the murder of Desean Gooch.

Gooch was killed in 2006.

The day after the murder, Dudek found that insurance broker Mike Stasko had a video camera on the back of his office building off Dellinger Avenue.  

The lens was partially covered by a spider web, the video quality was poor and it was shot at night, but it did show a sedan pulling up, four men getting out and going into an apartment. Soon after, the men run out and Gooch appears briefly, then they disappear. A second later, three of the men run from the apartment and try to get in the car, but it's locked and the driver hasn't arrived yet, so they run.

A copy of the video was sent to State Police investigators in Albany to see if they could enhance the quality. They couldn't.

Dudek contacted a guy who was a reported expert in something called "reverse projection," which was a technique used in other cases to help solve murders, but the process was expensive.

So while the DA's office and police department wrangled over how to pay for it, Dudek decided to see what he could do on his own.

Because one suspect was already in custody, police had the car and Dudek was able to use it to match against the video. He recorded it going to the same location and traveling the same path.

The suspect car, like the car in the video, had a busted fog light and one of the back-up lights was burned out. These were things not apparent in the video, except in the light patterns created.

Dudek, in speaking to a grand jury, was able to testify to a dozen matches between the seized suspect vehicle and the vehicle in the Stasko video.

"It's like a fingerprint," Dudek said. "You make the comparison and if you find seven or eight points that are the same and there's nothing different, that's a match."

The breakthrough helped lead to the arrest and conviction of Andrew Figgins for murder.

"I was named Officer of the Year by Kiwanis that year and I think it's mostly for that," Dudek said.

What will Dudek do in retirement? He's not sure yet. Travel at first. Keep biking (he rides at least a dozen miles four or five times a week) and read (favorite reading material is American history, but also some fiction -- like all of the Harry Potter books). He thinks he might like to be a private investigator or find a similar line of work.

"The most rewarding part of the job is being able to make a difference, to help people, to help victims," Dudek said. "That's what I'll miss besides the people I worked with. Being able to make a difference gives you a kind of purpose. That's something I've been very happy to do for 36 years."

May 23, 2014 - 1:25pm
posted by Andrew Crofts in GCC, sports, lacrosse.

 

Genesee Community College's Ashley Makowski (Kendall, NY) and Kaleigh Murray (Syracuse, NY) were recently selected to the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) women's lacrosse Region III All-Region team. Makowski was named to the All-Region first team and Murray was named to the All-Region second team.

In her freshman season, Makowski led the Cougars in assists with 12 and was second on the team in goals (20) and total points (32). She played in and started all ten games this spring for GCC, collected 27 ground balls and caused 14 turnovers. She was also selected to the Western New York Athletic Conference (WNYAC) All-Conference first team this spring.

Murray, a freshman, scored a team-leading 33 goals this season, the second highest single-season mark in school history. She added three assists to total a team-high 36 points and controlled 26 draws. She was also named to the WNYAC All-Conference first team this year.

Genesee advanced to the Region III playoffs for the first time in school history this spring. The Cougars set the school record for most wins in a season, finishing the year 6-4.

May 23, 2014 - 9:18am
posted by Howard B. Owens in veterans, steve hawley, Mike Ranzenhofer.

Assemblyman Steve Hawley and State Senator Mike Ranzenhofer held a dedication ceremony in Attica this morning for the designation of Route 98 as the Genesee and Orleans Veterans Memorial Highway. The designation, passed by the Legislature and signed by the governor, covers the portion of Route 98 bisecting Hawley's 139th Assembly District, from the Genesee County/Wyoming County line to Point Breeze.

May 23, 2014 - 8:12am
posted by Paul Draper III in music, entertainment.

May 23, 2014 - 2:43am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, accident.

Two tractor-trailer trucks have collided on Ellicott Street at Cedar Street, Batavia, and a large diesel fuel leak is reported.

Large enough that the Fourth Platoon has been ordered to City Station to standby in quarters.

No injuries are reported.

UPDATE 3:09 a.m.: About 60 gallons of fuel have spilled. One truck is hauling an unknown cargo. The other truck is hauling milk. The location is west of Cedar Street. Both trucks are off the road and the road is open. 

UPDATE 3:13 a.m.: The box truck is hauling banana puree. It's the truck with a damaged saddle tank. That company is sending an environmental clean-up crew. No fuel has leaked into the sewer. The spill is presently contained. 

UPDATE 4:12 a.m.: The milk truck was hauling cream. It was parked due to a possible mechanical issue. The box truck sideswiped it. Fire and police expect to be on scene for some time yet. The westbound lane is blocked and traffic is being directed in both directions through the eastbound lane.

May 22, 2014 - 6:50pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, animals, pets, corfu.

Ed and Leslie Carney rescued this Chihuahua on Vine Street. Leslie said not even animal control could catch the dog when it was running around in the street. Finally, it got tired and came to take a nap next to her cat on her back porch. The Carneys let it into the house and have had it for two days now. They're hoping the owners will contact them. The dog didn't have any tags. They are at 33 Vine St. or can be reached at (585) 343-0256.

UPDATE: Here's another lost dog, pictured below. This one was found on Genesee Street in Corfu by Rachel Doktor. She said, "she was walking in the middle of the road. Her fur is knotted and matted, looks like she's been without care for a few weeks." I've asked Mary to provide contact information we can share, but in the meantime, I wanted to get this posted.

UPDATE: Here's Rachel Doktor's number -- (585) 297-2241. If the owner isn't found, Mary is looking for a foster home for the dog. If interested, call her.

UPDATE Saturday, May 24: We called Rachel to see about getting the dog pictured below some badly needed grooming. She told us that the day after she found the dog she had it professionally groomed. Its fur was so matted and knotted and neglected for so long that it deformed the animal's paws. So now the toes curl upward. The good news is the dog is all spiffed up and has been adopted by a nice lady.

May 22, 2014 - 6:42pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Boy Scouts.

Press release:

The Iroquois Trail Council Boy Scouts of America recognized several distinguished citizens at the May 21 Annual Boypower Dinner held at Genesee Community College. The Boypower Distinguished Citizen’s Award recognizes positive countywide impact through community and professional service, and a long tenure of service both through business and personal involvement in community causes.

Event Chairman Dr. Roger Triftshauser and Scout Executive James McMullen are pleased to recognize the 2014 Honor Roll of Distinguished Citizens:

  • Craig Bolesky, C&R Food Service (Livingston County)
  • Jodi Gaines, Claims Recovery Financial Services (Orleans County)
  • William Hayes, Turnbull Heating & Air Conditioning (Genesee County)
  • Peter Robinson, NYS Court Officer, Niagara Command (Niagara County)
  • James Rutowski, Sinclair Pharmacy & Warsaw Redevelopment Corp. (Wyoming County)

The annual Boypower Dinner is the premier event to raise funds to support scouting programs of the Iroquois Trail Council, which serves nearly 3,000 boys from 7-20 years of age and girls ages 14-21 in Genesee, Wyoming, Orleans, Eastern Niagara, and Livingston counties.

The event featured guest speaker Eagle Scout and NY State Supreme Court Justice Jeremiah J. Moriarty III, along with emcee and award presenter Daniel Fischer of WBTA 1490 radio.

The Boy Scouts of America is the nation’s foremost youth program of character development and values-based leadership training. The scouting organization is composed of 2.7 million youth members between the ages of 7 and 20, 1.1 million volunteers and nearly 300 local councils throughout the United States and its territories.

May 22, 2014 - 4:28pm
posted by Billie Owens in sports.

Current summer baseball players ages 9 thru 17 can extend their season through the fall with Team New Era Fall Elite Travel Teams. Teams will participate in league and tournament play in September and October.

Tryouts will be held at New Era Park in Depew, 3950 Broadway, as follows:

  • Current summer  players ages 9 thru 11: Thursday June 12th at 6 p.m. and Sunday June 22nd at 5:30 p.m.
  • Current summer players ages 12 thru 14: Thursday June 12th at 7:30 p.m and Sunday June 22nd at 7 p.m.

Fall College Showcase team tryouts (for current summer players ages 15 thru 17): Monday June 16th at 6 p.m. and Saturday June 21st at  6 p.m. Players need only attend one tryout.

For more information see www.teamnewerabaseball.com <http://www.teamnewerabaseball.com> or contact New Era Park at 716-681-3001.

Submitted by: Rich Wozniak, president, New Era Park.

May 22, 2014 - 4:13pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in GCC, education.

Press release:

Last week, the Genesee Community College Board of Trustees unanimously approved a $38.70 million budget for the 2014-2015 academic year. The budget increases expenses by 1.65 percent over last year's $38.07 million budget.

The budget now moves to the Genesee County Legislature's Ways and Means Committee, which will review the budget prior to its submission to the Genesee County Legislature, sponsor of the College.

The budget covers the fiscal year beginning Sept. 1. It is a carefully constructed, maintenance-of-effort budget, said President James M. Sunser. The budget provides for inflationary cost increases and maintains the quality of academic programs, but holds costs down wherever possible, Sunser said.

The 2014-2015 budget:

• Increases tuition for full-time students by $75 per semester, bringing tuition from $1,850 per semester to $1,925 per semester. Tuition for part-time students will increase by $5 per credit hour, from $150 to $155. The College's Technology fee will increase from $25 to $50 per semester for full-time students, and the new Academic Support Fee will be $25 per semester for full-time students. Both fees help the College maintain the quality of academic technology and instructional support services to students. The majority of Genesee students will see the increases covered by their financial assistance packages, and Genesee remains one of the most affordable colleges in the SUNY system, Sunser told trustees.

• Holds College staffing at current levels.

• Provides for anticipated increases in the cost of heating and lighting, other building-related costs, and contractually obligated salary and wage increases.

• Assumes New York State "base aid" at $2,497 per full-time-equivalent student. While the New York State Legislature and Governor approved this figure for 2014-2015, it is almost 7-percent less than the $2,675 the College received five years ago.

• Asks Genesee County to consider an increase in sponsorship support of $500,000, to $2.53 million. Sunser noted that there is increased interest throughout the SUNY system in creating "regional" community colleges instead of locally sponsored colleges, and that increasing sponsor support may help preserve local sponsorship as well as save Genesee County money over the long term.

Developing the 2014-2015 budget was one of the most challenging fiscal tasks facing GCC in recent years, Sunser said.

"We are committed to maintaining our position as one of the nation's great community colleges, but we face declining state support, increased inflation, and a tighter regulatory environment," he said. "Putting together a budget that combines programmatic excellence, fiscal conservatism, and affordability for students is indeed a challenge."

Trustees believed the College had met the challenge head-on. Trustee Benjamin J. Bonarigo called the 2014-2015 fiscal plan "a remarkable budget." He said that "building a budget with only a 1.65-percent increase is a great testament to the hard work of Dr. Sunser, Kevin Hamilton [vice president for Finance and Operations], and the entire administration."

In other business at the May meeting, the Board of Trustees:

• Approved the granting of degrees and certificates to 646 Genesee students this month, subject to their satisfactory completion of academic requirements. Eighteen students will receive the associate in arts (A.A.) degree; 273 students, the associate in science (A.S.) degree; 303 students, the associate in Applied Science (A.A.S.) degree, and 52 students, certificates.

• Approved Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs Kathleen (Kate) Schiefen membership of GCC's 25 Advisory Committees, and the introduction of the new Online Learning Advisory Committee. The refreshed roster of members in all 26 committees includes more than 330 GLOW-area professionals. Through their important work and their collective contribution, they ensure the consistent high quality programs that GCC students and the community have come to expect.

• Heard Chair Maureen T. Marshall propose the four-member Nominating Committee. Appointed were Laurie A. Miller, Chair; Benjamin J. Bonarigo, Peter R. Call and Donna M. Ferry.

• Heard the probationary appointment of David Johnson, Ph.D., as GCC's new biology instructor. Johnson has been a GCC adjunct instructor and advisor in biochemistry and molecular biology since 2006. He has taught at Finger Lakes Community College and Nazareth College, co-authored several science publications, and he also serves as a volunteer firefighter in Spencerport.

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