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March 21, 2016 - 11:29am
posted by Billie Owens in elba, Onion Festival, news.

The nearly 80-year-old Onion Festival held in Elba every summer is already just a memory.

Proceeds from it helped pay for Elba's fire equipment and supplies. Now what?

"We are going to look at other money-making options," said Elba Fire Department President Ken Miller this morning. "But without rides, without a car raffle, can you call it the Onion Festival? We haven't decided 100 percent what we're going to do, what we can do. But the festival is done."

What, if anything, will take place there in mid-August has yet to be decided. Miller said the board of directors for the all-volunteer fire company will meet and discuss the situation in a couple of weeks.

More and more, ride operators are skipping the small-town events that last a couple days, like the one in Elba, and sticking with bigger venues where they can turn a profit after they pay for insurance, wages and others costs of doing business. The result for places like Elba is fewer attendees -- not enough to buy tickets, only sold locally, to raffle off a new car.

Other little fire companies are facing similar circumstances.

Assemblyman Steve Hawley has introduced legislation to allow charitable organizations holding raffles to accept checks and credit cards and to allow them to advertise raffle tickets online, thereby boosting sales and reaching more people. Hawley is also going to introduce a constitutional amendment to allow nonprofit organizations more fundraising flexibility.

March 18, 2016 - 1:24pm
posted by Billie Owens in elba, Onion Festival, news.

Lean times may lie ahead for the Elba Fire Department. It's biggest fundraiser of the year -- the Elba Onion Festival -- will not feature rides this year, nor will there be a raffle for a shiny new Ford Mustang.

Whatever other money-making options might be employed for the all-volunteer fire company will be discussed at its next meeting in two weeks. But the Onion Festival will still take place in mid-August, just as it has for the past 79 years. 

The decision not to have rides is actually the result of not being able to secure a company to provide them, said Elba Fire Department President Ken Miller.

"It comes down to money," he said. "The ride companies don't want to go to small-town events. Ours is just Friday and Saturday. After they get insurance and pay wages, there's not enough money in it for them."

Miller said the trend is hurting fundraising efforts for small, volunteer fire companies -- two or three in Monroe County have cancelled fundraisers featuring rides this year.

For at least the last 50 years, Elba has raffled off a car at the Onion Festival. They only sell tickets in Genesee County.

Elba not having a Mustang raffle in 2016 is the result of a trickle-down effect: No rides, fewer people, not enough money to buy the car.

It has nothing to do with Stafford Volunteer Fire Company, which had this year's Corvette raffle suspended by the State Gaming Commission because it had online raffle tickets ads posted last year in violation of the rules. (Refunds are being issued to Stafford raffle ticket buyers.)

Proceeds from the Onion Festival help pay for Elba's fire equipment and supplies.

"It hurts," Miller said. "It's a huge community deal. People come from all over. It's like a big family picnic. But things change."

Meanwhile, Assemblyman Steve Hawley is co-sponsoring two bills which would allow charitable organizations holding raffles to accept checks and credit cards and to allow them to advertise raffle tickets online, thereby boosting sales and reaching more people. Hawley said he will also be introducing a constitutional amendment to allow nonprofit organizations more latitude in their fundraising efforts.

March 16, 2016 - 12:43pm
posted by Billie Owens in crime, batavia, elba, news.

Crystal Marie Bouter, 27, of Hutchins Street, Batavia, was arrested on March 15 on a bench warrant out of Town of Elba Court. It is alleged that she violated the terms of her supervised release while on Drake Street in Oakfield at 5 p.m. March 14. She was jailed in lieu of $1,000 bail. The case was investigated by Sheriff's Deputy Richard Schildwaster.

March 4, 2016 - 8:55am
posted by Howard B. Owens in elba, accident.

Smoke is coming from a vehicle with heavy front-end damage following an accident at Route 98 and Lockport Road, Elba.

There's a possible minor injury.

Elba Fire and Mercy EMS dispatched.

Law enforcement is on scene.

UPDATE 8:56 a.m.: Lockport Road is completely blocked.

March 3, 2016 - 3:37am
posted by Billie Owens in batavia, elba, accidents, news.

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A passerby reports a car crashed into a house at 7797 Oak Orchard Road, unknown injuries, but the male driver is said to be responsive. A natural gas line was struck and is leaking. A power line is also down across the roadway, which is not passable. Northbound traffic on Route 98 and Batavia-Elba Town Line Road (Daws Corners) will have to be shut down, according to first responders. Elba Fire Police are called for traffic control; Town of Batavia Fire Department personnel are on scene. Mercy medics are also responding. There's a strong smell of natural gas, but the gas line "has been secured." The residence has been evacuated. National Fuel and National Grid are contacted and are dispatching crews; no ETA. Responders are told to use caution upon approach because the road conditions are icy.

UPDATE 3:44 a.m.: The driver is allegedly intoxicated and will be transported to UMMC for evaluation. A code enforcement officer is called to the scene.

UPDATE 4:28 a.m.: Deputy on scene said the cause of the accident is under investigation. The vehicle was southbound and crossed the road, striking a pole on the residential property and then striking the porch of the house. There were reportedly icy conditions. The driver was in the vehicle when Town of Batavia fire arrived on scene, but self-extricated. State Police are assisting in the investigation.

UPDATE 4:53 a.m.: Route 98 is open in both directions. Town of Batavia fire and Elba Fire Police back in service.

UPDATE 9:16 a.m.: Joshua D. McGuire, 22, of Albion, is charged with DWI. Other charges are pending. The accident is being investigated by Deputy Joseph Loftus.

February 26, 2016 - 12:58pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in elba central school district, schools, education, elba, news.

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Press release:

In a recent Buffalo Business First magazine, Elba Central Middle and High Schools' combined ranking placed in the top spot among all 17 schools in the Eastern Tier (Orleans, Genesee & Wyoming counties).

Factors used in determining each school's ranking are percentage of graduates who received Regents diplomas, Regents scores in 10 subjects and scores on statewide English and math tests -- all over the last four years.

Elba Central was also the only school of the 22 schools in the Genesee Valley to have a 100-percent passing rate on the Geometry Regents and the U.S. History Regents.

“Because we’re small, it’s difficult for any student to get lost in the shuffle," explained Elba Schools Superintendent Keith Palmer. “And even though we’re a public school, our staff treat our students as if we’re providing a private education, focusing on individual needs with individual interventions and taking the time to work with students who need it."

Submitted photo.

February 24, 2016 - 11:47am
posted by Howard B. Owens in elba, basketball, sports.

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When you hold an opponent to 43 points, you would think you would walk away with a win, Elba's Head Coach Ciaci Zambito said after the Lancers' loss Tuesday night to Lima Christian in a Class C2 Section V semifinal at Le Roy High School.

Defense wins games, but only if you put hit shots on the other end, and there were simply too many missed shots Tuesday night.

"You cannot afford to go through lulls where you don't put the ball in the basket," Zambito said.

The Lancers managed only 18 points in the first half and were down by a point at the 10-minute break. Then Lima came out firing and Elba came out cold in the third quarter, with Lima Christian building a 14-point lead.

For most of the third, Elba fired and fired and fired from beyond the arc and failed to hit. Then in the fourth, the Lancers started to drive into the paint and put together a scrappy 11-0 run, with eight points coming on free throws following fouls, to pull within three.

"They're a group of fighters," Zambito said. "I never, ever once thought that the game was going to be over and we would lose until the final buzzer."

The game, in fact, wasn't decided until the closing seconds, with great plays by Elba's Henry Pflaumer and Lima's Conell Christiansen perhaps deciding the final outcome (top photo). With seconds left and Elba down by three, Pflaumer stole an inbound pass, took a dribble and a step to the three-point line. Christiansen leaped and with his long reach got a hand on the ball, blocking Pflaumer's shot. Who knows if Pflaumer would have knocked down the game-tying bucket, but Christiansen arguably made the play of the game, capping off his 19-point performance.

"Lima did good," Zambito said. "The story line in the paper tomorrow shouldn't be what we did wrong. It should be what Lima did well."

John Hocmuth lead Elba's scoring with 15 points. Shane O’Halloran scored nine. Jayson Faynor added 11 for Lima.

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To purchase prints, click here.

February 21, 2016 - 1:28pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in elba, basketball, sports.

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Webster Christian held close to the Elba Lancers through three quarters, but in the fourth, the #1 seed in Class D2 demonstrated how dominating they can be, pulling away for a 60-36 win.

Next up, the #5 seed, Lima-Christian, in a semifinal game, 7 p.m., at Le Roy HS.

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To purchase prints, click here.

January 30, 2016 - 3:39pm
posted by Billie Owens in GCC, elba, business.

Photo provided by Maxine (Palmer) Koberg taken early on the job in 1969 as a Civil Service clerical worker for Genesee Community College.

In October, 1969, Maxine Koberg (nee Palmer), was excited to start her new job as a clerical worker at the fledgling Genesee Community College.

The Batavia native had graduated from high school five years earlier and worked steadily since turning 18. When she found an opportunity to take a Civil Service test, she didn't hesitate and was subsequently delighted to learn she'd passed the clerical exam and was eligible for employment. After landing a job at the college, she said she liked it and was capable of performing the duties and she planned to stick with it.

And stick with it, she did, for more than 46 years.

"You don't think about it," Koberg said. "The years go by. You know you'll retire someday, but you don't really think about it. And now here I am."

It dawned on her recently that the familiar route commuting to and from the college and her home in Elba would no longer be part of her daily itinerary after Friday, which was her last day.

The original route was different in the beginning of her employment at GCC.

The campus at One College Road off Stephen R. Hawley Drive in the Town of Batavia did not yet exist.

The college was chartered in 1966 and its first digs were in 56,000 square feet of space in the "Valu Tech Center" on West Main Street in Batavia, which was home to the Valu department store. The first class of 378 full-time and 243 part-time students began their studies the following fall semester. 

"In the beginning, I was working with students," Koberg said. "You tried to be helpful and they were fun and polite and you got to stay with them a couple of years. There were plenty 'please' and 'thank-yous'."

Koberg recalled the library was in front and there were a couple of offices in the back. Her department consisted of two clerks, including herself, a secretary and a Librarian David Brewster. Things were not computerized then. Keeping track of orders, payments, inventory, book loans, etc., was done manually.

In 1972, The Big Move to the new campus came. Boxing up the books and hauling them to the new location and organizing them -- "It was quite a big job," Koberg said. Staff supervised college students in the work/study program who did the bulk of the heavy lifting.

"When we first went to the new building, I was at the circulation desk. That's where you signed out books, reserved materials for students, and supervised the work/study students. And you greet everybody."

There was a growing population of international students, who could sometimes be difficult to understand because of the language barrier, Koberg said, but throughout the years, the 'please' and 'thank-yous' were abundantly offered. Although, as always, she noted some students have better manners than others. A noticeable difference campus-wide, of course, is the proliferation of electronic gadgets that students appear glued to.

At some point, she was asked if she wanted to leave the front desk and the students, and work on library's clerical staff ordering books and doing related tasks. She decided to take the challenge, which eventually included learning daunting new computer skills and paying bills.

"There was never a time when I didn't like working with books. I knew my programs and how to get books ordered and get them on the shelf. As courses changed, books changed -- like for our Allied Health Program -- but it's all office work."

Which means paying attention to details.

"Be careful about what you're doing, get the right books ordered, received and processed. Get the bills paid, in the right amount. Live within your budget. We have a good system and we work together."

After more than four decades on the job, her coworkers were like a second family and the workplace, a sort of home away from home. She says her colleagues held down the fort while she took two maternity leaves, helped her through some rough patches on the road of life, and she has appreciated their supportiveness, assistance and the camaraderie along the way.

The staff meshed at the Alfred C. O'Connell Library, named after the college's first president.

"We did work well together."

As for her newly retired status, it'll take some getting used to. No big plans afoot. No vacation in the works.

"I'm just going to take it day by day and see how it goes," Koberg said.

January 16, 2016 - 12:55pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in accident, Oakfield, elba.

Speed and alcohol were factors in the motor-vehicle accident death of David Beehler Jr., 37, of Maltby Road, Oakfield, according to Chief Deputy Gordon Dibble of the Genesee County Sheriff's Office.

No other details of the accident were released following the completion earlier this week of a preliminary investigation.

Beehler was pronounced dead at the scene of the accident on Fisher Road, Oakfield, on Dec. 22.

He was reportedly driving his 2009 Dodge Ram pickup truck when it hit a tree and a utility pole. Beehler was ejected from the vehicle, according to information released after the accident.

Beehler was a local volunteer firefighter.

January 15, 2016 - 2:57pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in sports, basketball, elba, oakfield-alabama.

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In the second half of Elba's 56-40 victory over Oakfield-Alabama on Thursday night, #55 John Hochmuth demonstrated what a dominant big man can do to lift a team.

Displaying solid and practiced post-play skills, the 6' 4" senior scored 19 points and blocked five shots in the game, with the third and fourth quarters being his most productive.

I've never seen a high school kid who works harder than John," said Head Coach Ciaci Zambito. "He makes my job easy. It's so much fun to coach him. He is our best practice player every single day, and finally, I think, all of his hard work that he has done throughout his career is really starting to pay off."

Zambito wouldn't go out on a limb and say Hochmuth is the most dominant player in the Genesee Region, but he still gives him very high grades.

"John is the most dominant post player I've seen at Elba, ever," Zambito said. "I played with a couple of good post players. But especially in terms of the defensive end of things, he doesn't just block shots, he changes shots, and obviously you know what he can do underneath the basket on offense."

The test of where Hochmuth stands in GR could come when Elba faces Attica, whenever that might be, since a recent game was canceled and needs to be rescheduled.  Attica has 6' 5" junior Owen Thompson, who scored 20 last night in the Blue Devils' 77-44 victory over Wheatland-Chili.

The Lancers are off to a 12-0 start on the year and Hochmuth said it's fun to be part of a team that has really grown into a bonded unit.

"We're all brothers on the team," Hochmuth said. "We all like each other outside of school, in school. We're family and that's why we play great together."

Basketball is a team game and one reason Hochmuth is able to thrive in the post is his teammates offer their own scoring threats, and when the defense opens a little space to guard them, they know how to feed Hochmuth the ball.

"Opposing teams focus on John," Zambito said. "They game plan for John, as I would. But when you've got down a guy who knocks down 11 threes in a game (as Henry Pflaumer did in a game earlier this season), and you've got a guy who comes in tonight and knocks down back-to-back threes, you've got to start honoring that a little bit more. You've got to pick your poison. Do you want to guard the perimeter and leave John one-on-one? Or do you want to double John? You can't double everybody."

Thursday, Pflaumer scored 13 for the Lancers, with Tucker Bezon adding 11 and Dakota Dillon six.

It was Bezon's best game of the season, Zambito said.

Oakfield-Alabama scored 18 points in the first quarter, but was held to 22 the rest of the way.

Zambito said he told the team after the first quarter that they weren't playing the Lancer brand of basketball.

"Oakfield likes to get up in you," Zambito said. "They like to press you, but we're more of a half-court team. I think we kind of fell into the trap the first eight minutes of the game where we were trying to play up to their tempo. But we can't do that. We get ourselves into some big trouble when we start doing things like that."

Jon Harris scored seven for the Hornets and Jake Mandez had six. Trey Nadolinski scored five to go with seven rebounds and four assists.

It's been a long time since Elba's boys team has experienced this level of success, and the current Lancers' roster hasn't forgotten the bad times, which is what keeps them from getting too comfortable with their 12-0 start, Zambito said.

"All I have to do is show them the records from the past two years," Zambito said. "Less than 12 months ago, these kids weren't experiencing any success. It's a different feel. We really have a good thing going, great chemistry. There's a nice bond going on. They trust each other. They're hungry and they'll stay hungry. I've told them from day one, I don't care how many games we win, we're looking to win a title."

The Lancers are currently #1 in the GR, #1 in Section V Class D2 and ranked #5 in the state.

"We've always had potential," Hochmuth said. "Now we're showing it."

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January 11, 2016 - 3:03pm
posted by Billie Owens in crime, batavia, elba.

David Lavalle Andrews , 28, of State Street, Batavia, was arrested at 1 p.m. on Jan. 14 after allegedly failing to appear in Town of Batavia Court nearly two years ago after being released on bail. Andrews allegedly failed to turn himself in within 30 of a court appearance scheduled on Feb. 27, 2014. He is charged with third-degree bail jumping and is now in Genesee County jail. He was to appear in Batavia Town Court today. The case was handled by Deputy Thomas Sanfratello, assisted by Deputy Patrick Reeves.

Edward Jordan White, 20, of Michigan Street, Lockport, is charged with second-degree bail jumping. He was arrested at 9 a.m. on Jan. 12 and put in Genesee County Jail for allegedly failing to appear in County Court on April 7, 2015, for a felony proceeding and then not turning himself in within 30 days of the court date. The case was handled by Deputy Thomas Sanfratello.

Dennis Wayne Narvaez, 34, of Bank Street Road, Elba, is charged with speeding (77 in a 55-mph zone), refusal to take breath test, driving while ability impaired by alcohol (DWAI), and aggravated unlicensed operation, 3rd. Narvaez was arrested at 1:09 a.m. on Jan. 9 on Clinton Street Road in Stafford following a traffic stop. The case was handled by Deputy Kevin Forsyth, assisted by Deputy Howard Carlson.

A 16-year-old who lives on Porter Avenue in Batavia was arrested at 4:30 p.m. on Jan. 10 and charged with petit larceny. The arrest was made following a complaint of shoplifting at Kohl's. A 14-year-old accomplice was also allegedly involved. The defendant was released with an appearance ticket. The case was handled by Deputy Matthew Fleming.

January 1, 2016 - 4:01pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in accident, elba.

A two-car accident with injuries is reported at Oak Orchard Road and North Byron Road, Elba.

Elba fire, Mercy EMS dispatched.

UPDATE 4:03 p.m.: Extrication is required.

UPDATE 4:25 p.m.: A second ambulance is requested to the scene.

January 1, 2016 - 5:33am
posted by Billie Owens in accident, elba.

A motor-vehicle accident with injuries is reported on Lockport Road just west of Route 98. Elba Fire Department is responding along with Mercy medic #3. A Sheriff's deputy is on scene.

December 29, 2015 - 12:36pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Pavilion, elba, fire services.

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Volunteer firefighter David Beehler Jr., 37, was laid to rest today in Fairview Cemetery in Pavilion.

Beehler died Dec. 22 in an off-duty motor-vehicle accident on Fisher Road, Oakfield.

A former member of Pavilion Volunteer Fire Department, where he served as a captain, Beehler was a member of the Elba Volunteer Fire Department at the time of his death.

Read his full obituary here.

December 27, 2015 - 5:07pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in crime, elba.

A white male has reportedly attempted a robbery at the Yellow Goose, 64 S. Main St., Elba.

The would-be robber "threatened with a gun," according to a dispatcher. He issued verbal threats only, the dispatcher said.

The suspect is described as a white male, brown hair, bangs straight across, wearing a dark blue jacket and a baseball cap.

It's unclear if the suspect received any cash or left empty-handed.

The suspect left on foot, unknown direction of travel.

Law enforcement responding.

UPDATE 5:09 p.m.: A deputy on scene reports, "no robbery here." He said a person told the clerk, "If somebody enters with a weapon, duck."

December 25, 2015 - 12:35pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Christmas lights, batavia, Stafford, elba.

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Merry Christmas from all of us at The Batavian.

Here are some pictures from yesterday evening of local Christmas lights, starting with the DiSalvos on Fargo Road, Stafford, followed by the Calls' place on Main Road, Stafford, a house on Naramore Drive, Batavia, Joe Gerace's place on Vine Street, Batavia, a house on Washington Avenue, two on Richmond Avenue, South Main Street, Batavia, then Elba, and finally, the window display for Charles Men's Shop, which won the BID window display contest.

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December 24, 2015 - 1:54pm
posted by Billie Owens in elba, byron.

(Submitted photo and info from Lucky Ducky Daycare.)
 
Lucky Ducky Daycare gets a very special visit from Santa every year. Isabella, pictured above, got to tell Santa all her Christmas wishes.
 
Indeed, this is a very special family tradition for Tim McKenrick, of Elba. He's a lifetime volunteer at the Byron Fire Department and follows in his father’s footsteps, the late Ken McKenrick.
 
Knowing Santa very well, if you know what we mean, Ken would arrange to have Santa visit the children of Byron at the Fire Hall and take note of their many Christmas wishes.
 
For several years now, Tim McKenrick has followed suit by arranging for Santa's annual visit to Lucky Ducky Daycare in Batavia, to the delight of several good boys and girls in the area.
 
"Christmas would not be the same without our Special Santa," says Kathy Seweryniak, director of the daycare center.
 
Santa typically leaves the daycare center with these jolly departing words: “Ho! Ho! Ho! and a merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!"
December 23, 2015 - 2:17pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in crime, batavia, pembroke, Stafford, elba.

Debra M. McKnight, 56, of West Main Street, Le Roy, is charged with grand larceny, 4th. McKnight allegedly stole a wallet at Batavia Downs. McKnight was arraigned in City Court and ordered held without bail.

Matthew Williams, 27, no residence provided, is charged with petit larceny. Williams is accused of stealing an ATV from a location on South Main Street, Elba. State Police say Williams noticed an ATV on private property and pushed it down a trail, where he filled it with gas and drove it away.

Maria L. Martinez, 20, no residence provided, is charged with criminal possession of a controlled substance, 7th, unlawful possession of marijuana and controlled substance not in original container. Martinez was stopped by State Police on Route 237, Stafford, for allegedly speeding. Troopers say she was in possession of 32 diazepam pills in a plastic bag and nine grams of marijuana.

Michelle Blanche Alberico, 51, of Mapledale Acres, Barneveld, is charged with possession of 10,000 or more untaxed cigarettes, possession or transportation of untaxed cigarettes for sale, operator's view obstructed, and aggravated unlicensed operation, 3rd. Alberico was stopped at 1:47 a.m. on Route 77, Pembroke, by Deputy Andrew Hale. Alberico was allegedly in possession of 450 cartons of untaxed cigarettes.

Earle D. Webb Jr., 29, of Joseph Avenue, Rochester, is charged with criminal mischief, 4th, and criminal trespas,s 2nd. Webb allegedly broke the door and entered the residence of an acquaintance at 12:30 p.m. Friday at a location on Central Avenue, Batavia.

Mael L. Tomlin, 23, of Chase Parkway, Batavia, is charged with harassment, 2nd. Tomlin is accused of pulling a woman's hair during an argument.

Joseph Matthew Mika, 18, of Pine Hollow Drive, Batavia, is charged with aggravated harassment, 2nd. Mika is accused of sending harassing text messages to a female victim.

December 23, 2015 - 5:31am
posted by Howard B. Owens in accident, elba, Oakfield.

Investigators have yet to determine the cause of the accident that claimed the life of a volunteer firefighter on Fisher Road, Oakfield, at 8:04 p.m., Tuesday.

David Beehler Jr., 37, of 3514 Maltby Road, Oakfield, was pronounced dead at the scene. 

The accident was reported as a single-vehicle crash. Beehler was driving a 2009 Dodge Ram pickup truck, which hit a tree and a utility pole. He was the sole occupant and was ejected.

Assisting at the scene was the Oakfield and Elba fire departments, Mercy EMS, the Crash Management Team and State Police.

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