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March 6, 2014 - 3:50pm
posted by Billie Owens in batavia, crime, elba.

Nikkia M. Phillips, 27, of West Main Street Road, Batavia, was arrested Wednesday afternoon on a bench warrant issued by Batavia City Court for alleged failure to appear at a previous court date on a charge of second-degree aggrevated unlicensed operation of a vehicle. She was jailed on $500 bail or $1,000 bond and is to appear in city court on March 12.

Christopher Lee Taylor, 25, of Frost Avenue, Rochester, was arrested today on a warrant out of Town of Elba Court for aggravated unlicensed operation of a vehicle, 3rd, and no/inadequate headlights. The violations allegedly occurred on Maple Avenue in Elba on Feb. 11. He was jailed with bail set at $250.

Justine Denae McWethy, 27, of Richmond Avenue, Batavia, was arrested Tuesday night for petit larceny for allegedly stealing $73.85 in merchandise from Walmart. She was issued an appearance ticket and is to appear in Batavia Town Court on March 27.

Ronald Louis MacGregor Jr., 45, of Washington Avenue, Batavia, was arrested Monday afternoon for petit larceny for allegedly stealing $29.88 in merchandise from Walmart. He was issued an appearance ticket and is to appear in Town of Batavia Court on March 27.

March 4, 2014 - 2:11pm
posted by Billie Owens in elba, Milestones.

SUNY Geneseo student Michael Ramsey from Elba was recently inducted into the Golden Key International Honour Society during an induction ceremony on campus. Juniors or seniors with a grade-point average that places them in the top 15 percent of their class are eligible for membership.

Golden Key International Honour Society provides academic recognition to top-performing college and university students as well as scholarships and awards, career and internship opportunities, networking, service and leadership development opportunities. The society has more than 400 chapters at colleges and universities around the world.

March 4, 2014 - 10:12am
posted by Howard B. Owens in accident, elba.

A driver involved in a two-car accident on Norton Road yesterday said he was had something in his left eye and was rubbing it while making a left-hand turn. As a result, he said, he never saw the car that hit his.

The other driver was taken to ECMC by Mercy Flight, were she was treated in the emergency room and released.

James J. Heschke, 60, of East Pembroke, was driving a 1998 Ford SUV south on Norton Road at 1:29 p.m. when he made a left-hand turn onto property owned by Torrey Farms at 7170 Norton Road.

At that point, he said, he had something in his left eye.

Amanda C. Demare, 19, of Barrville Road, Elba, was driving a 2000 Subaru SUV north on Norton Road.

Heschke said he never saw Demare's vehicle until they hit.

Demare's SUV was pushed into a utility pole off the east shoulder of the road. A telephone wire came down, but the pole appeared undamaged, according to the accident report.

Heschke received a citation for alleged failure to yield right of way.

Elba fire and Mercy EMS responded to the scene.

The accident was investigated by Deputy Brian Thompson.

(Initial Report)

Illustration: Diagram from accident report.

March 3, 2014 - 1:38pm
posted by Billie Owens in elba, accidents.

A two-car accident with injuries is reported at 7170 Norton Road. Elba Fire Department and Mercy medics are responding, along with mutual aid from Town of Batavia fire. The location is between Edgerton and Ford roads. One subject "is now conscious but not alert."

UPDATE 1:39 p.m.: A crew is asked to be ready to set up a landing zone for Mercy Flight, if it is needed.

UPDATE 1:41 p.m.: Fire police are asked to shut down Norton at Ford Road and at Edgerton Road.

UPDATE 1:53 p.m.: Mercy Flight was called to the scene and is about to land.

UPDATE: Patient transported to ECMC. Elba cleared the scene shortly after 2 p.m.

March 3, 2014 - 9:26am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, crime, elba, byron, Bethany, corfu.

Joshua Lee Baltz, 37, of Tracy Avenue, Batavia, is charged with unlawful possession of marijuana. Baltz allegedly was found to be carrying marijuana while entering the City Court facility.

John Robert Gerhardt, 64, of Centerline Road, Varysburg, is charged with DWI, driving with a BAC of .08 or greater and moving from lane unsafely. Gerhardt was stopped at 6:32 p.m. Friday on River Street, Batavia, by Deputy James Diehl.

Lisa M. Durham, 42, of Thorpe Street, Batavia, is charged with misapplication of property and falsifying business records, 1st. Durham allegedly rented merchandise from Rent-A-Center and pawned it at Pawn King.

Steven Michael Meyers, 34, of East Bethany - Le Roy Road, Bethany, is charged with menacing, 2nd. Meyers allegedly displayed a firearm during a dispute with another person.

Jenae M. Macleod, 29, of Genesee Street, Corfu, was arrested on a bench warrant out of City Court. Macleod was located by deputies from the Erie County Sheriff's Office during an investigation of an incident and discovered to have an active warrant. She was turned over to the Genesee County Sheriff's Office, arraigned, and jailed on $500 bail.

Tracy A. Hilton Sr., 33, of Jackson Street, Batavia, is charged with harassment, 2nd. Hilton was allegedly involved in a domestic incident at 12:07 a.m. Saturday.

Tyler D. Macey, 18, of Grandview Terrace, Batavia, is charged with strangulation, 2nd, acting in a manor likely to be injurious to a child and assault, 3rd. Macey is accused of being involved in a domestic incident.

Joshua A. Laraby, 23, of Byron, is charged with unlawful possession of marijuana and a traffic violation. Laraby was stopped at 5:56 p.m. Friday by State Police.

Daniel J. Laudico, 20, of Elba, is charged with DWI, driving with a BAC of .08 or greater, failure to keep right and speeding. Laudico was stopped at 1:02 a.m. Sunday on North Byron Road, Elba, by State Police.

February 21, 2014 - 6:26pm
posted by Billie Owens in elba, byron, corfu.

A leaking propane tank at 7556 Bank Street Road has prompted the response of Elba fire, which is in command, along with mutual aid from Corfu and Byron. The location is just north of Batavia Elba Town Line Road.

The homeowners have contacted the fuel company and a rep is responding to the scene.

UPDATE 6:32 p.m.: Elba has requested a tanker from Barre to stand by in Elba's fire hall.

UPDATE 7:01 p.m.: The fuel company rep is on scene. Barre is now in Elba's fire hall.

UPDATE 7:18 p.m.: Byron is leaving the scene, returning to service.

UPDATE 7:20 p.m.: The roadway, which had been closed by Fire Police, is being reopened. The assignment is back in service or will be shortly. Barre is released from standby.

February 21, 2014 - 3:48am

The following local residents made the dean's list for Fall 2013 semester at Rochester Institute of Technology:

Michael Anauo, Elba, is a fourth-year student in the molecular bioscience and biotechnology program in RIT's College of Science.
Joshua Barnard, of Bergen, is a fourth-year student in the industrial design program in RIT's College of Imaging Arts and Sciences.
Hannah Belliveau, of Oakfield, is a third-year student in the biology program in RIT's College of Science.
Benjamin Bliss, of Pavilion, is a second-year student in the illustration program in RIT's College of Imaging Arts and Sciences.
Dustin Bordonaro, of Batavia, is a fifth-year student in the mechanical engineering program in RIT's Kate Gleason College of Engineering.
Kari Branton, of Le Roy, is a fourth-year student in the hospitality and service management program in RIT's College of Applied Science and Technology.
Maura Chmielowiec, of Batavia, is a fifth-year student in the mechanical engineering program in RIT's Kate Gleason College of Engineering.
Jennifer Crossen, of Basom, is a second-year student in the chemical engineering program in RIT's Kate Gleason College of Engineering.
Erin Crossen, of Basom, is a fourth-year student in the computational mathematics program in RIT's College of Science.
Sophia Del Plato, of Batavia, is a fourth-year student in the graphic design program in RIT's College of Imaging Arts and Sciences.
Anna Dorman, of Batavia, is a first-year student in the industrial engineering program in RIT's Kate Gleason College of Engineering.
Benjamin Ezard, of Byron, is a second-year student in the chemical engineering program in RIT's Kate Gleason College of Engineering.
Nicholas Flumerfeldt, of Corfu, is a fifth-year student in the mechanical engineering technology program in RIT's College of Applied Science and Technology.
Rachel Henrici, of Batavia, is a first-year student in the chemical engineering program in RIT's Kate Gleason College of Engineering.
Erica Hickey, of Byron, is a first-year student in the journalism program in RIT's College of Liberal Arts.
Ryan Hochreiter, of Le Roy, is a third-year student in the mechanical engineering program in RIT's Kate Gleason College of Engineering.
Joshua Horning, of Le Roy, is a fourth-year student in the computer science program in RIT's B. Thomas Golisano College of Computing and Information Sciences.
Rachel Kobel, of Bergen, is a first-year student in the environmental sustainability, health and safety program in RIT's College of Applied Science and Technology.
Peter Madau, of Le Roy, is a second-year student in the chemical engineering program in RIT's Kate Gleason College of Engineering.
Samantha Mitchell, of Batavia, is a first-year student in the electrical engineering program in RIT's Kate Gleason College of Engineering.
Evyn Morgan, of Pavilion, is a fourth-year student in the professional photographic illustration program in RIT's College of Imaging Arts and Sciences.
Robert Osborn, of Darien Center, is a fourth-year student in the mechanical engineering program in RIT's Kate Gleason College of Engineering.
Karl Pajak, of Corfu, is a fourth-year student in the film and animation program in RIT's College of Imaging Arts and Sciences.
Clayton Pitcher, of Batavia, is a first-year student in the information technology program in RIT's B. Thomas Golisano College of Computing and Information Sciences.
Alycia Sabatino, of Batavia, is a first-year student in the diagnostic medical sonography program in RIT's College of Health Sciences and Technology.
Brittani Scharlau, of Alexander, is a fourth-year student in the diagnostic medical sonography program in RIT's College of Health Sciences and Technology.
Michael Slack, of Bergen, is a fourth-year student in the film and animation program in RIT's College of Imaging Arts and Sciences.
Christopher Snyder, of Darien Center, is a third-year student in the bioinformatics program in RIT's College of Science.
Joanna Stacy, of Bergen, is a third-year student in the graphic design program in RIT's College of Imaging Arts and Sciences.
Kristen Stacy, of Le Roy, is a fourth-year student in the professional photographic illustration program in RIT's College of Imaging Arts and Sciences.
Eric Stella, of Le Roy, is a fourth-year student in the packaging science program in RIT's College of Applied Science and Technology.
Travis Swede, of Pavilion, is a fourth-year student in the packaging science program in RIT's College of Applied Science and Technology.
Traci Turner, of Bergen, is a second-year student in the journalism program in RIT's College of Liberal Arts.
Ryan Warner, of Batavia, is a first-year student in the physics program in RIT's College of Science.

Degree-seeking undergraduate students are eligible for dean's list if their quarterly GPA is greater than or equal to 3.400; they do not have any grades of "Incomplete", "D" or "F"; and they have registered for, and completed, at least 12 credit hours.

Rochester Institute of Technology is internationally recognized for academic leadership in business, computing, engineering, imaging science, liberal arts, sustainability, and fine and applied arts. In addition, the university offers unparalleled support services for deaf and hard-of-hearing students. RIT enrolls 18,000 full- and part-time students in more than 200 career-oriented and professional programs, and its cooperative education program is one of the oldest and largest in the nation.
 

February 4, 2014 - 11:58pm
posted by Nick Sabato in basketball, sports, elba, high school sports, Notre Dame.

The Notre Dame girls are just one win away from clinching their 11th Genesee Region League title in school history after pounding Elba, 69-37.

The resounding victory also marks the first time that the Lady Irish have swept Elba in league play since the 2010-2011 season.

The Lady Lancers kept things close in the first quarter, but Notre Dame blew the game open in the second, led by Mel Taylor.

Taylor scored 12 of her game-high 24 points in the second quarter as the Irish increased their  seven-point lead after the first quarter to 23 at half time.

“It’s getting down near crunch time,” said Notre Dame Head Coach Dave Pero. “We’re trying to stress that you have to be more aggressive on whatever you do [well]. Mel is a scorer and we want her to try and score as much as possible.”

In the third quarter, junior Emma Francis picked up where Taylor left off, scoring 10 of her 15 points in the frame to put the contest out of reach.

“Emma’s got potential,” Pero said. “She’s starting to believe in herself and it’s a great time to believe. If we have Emma Francis at full-go come sectional time, we’ll be a tough team to beat.”

Taylor was not as terrific scoring the ball, but she had a splendid game overall, adding 11 rebounds, six steals and four assists.

Shea Norton also played strong underneath, scoring 13 points and 10 rebounds. Senior Laurie Call chipped in with seven steals, six assists and five rebounds for Notre Dame (15-1).

Kelsey Bezon had another solid game in defeat, scoring 14 points and grabbing four rebounds. Haley Brown chipped in with 10 points for Elba (12-4).

Photos by Howard Owens

To purchase prints, click here.

February 4, 2014 - 3:57pm
posted by Billie Owens in batavia, elba, accidents.

A three-vehicle accident, which is blocking traffic, is reported at 7797 Oak Orchard Road. A tractor-trailer, SUV and van are involved. Two Mercy ambulances are called in. Extrication of a patient in the van will be required. Town of Batavia fire is responding along with mutual aid from Elba's rescue unit. Elba Fire Police are asked to shut down southbound traffic at Daws Corners and northbound Route 98 traffic will be shut down at West Saile Drive.

UPDATE 4:02 p.m.: The patient from the van has been extricated.

UPDATE 6:25 p.m.: The Town of Batavia's assignment is back in service. At least one person was taken to UMMC -- an adult female with a small puncture wound on her lower leg.

February 1, 2014 - 12:41pm
posted by Michelle Case in elba, musical, drama club.
Event Date and Time: 
February 21, 2014 - 7:00pm to February 22, 2014 - 7:00pm

February 21st and 22nd

7 pm

ECS Auditorium

57 South Main Street, Elba

Tickets: $6 student/senior   $8 adult

Available in District Office or at the door on show nights

Info: (585) 757-9967

January 13, 2014 - 9:32am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, crime, elba, byron, pembroke, Le Roy, Stafford, corfu.

Bruce J. Brade, 33, of Galloway Road, Batavia, is charged with identify theft, 2nd, and grand larceny, 4th. Brade is accused of fraudulent use of a debit card. Brade allegedly used the card to purchase items over the Internet. Following arraignment in Batavia City Court, Brade was released under supervision of Genesee Justice.

Douglas Robert Brown, 45, of South Main Street, Elba, is charged with criminal possession of a weapon, 4th. Brown was arrested following an investigation into a complaint of an irate truck driver who made a delivery to Automotive Corp., Inc. Brown was allegedly found in possession of a billy club.

Thomas James Rose, 18, of Ford Road, Elba, is charged with criminal possession of a controlled substance, 7th, criminal possession of a hypodermic instrument, criminal use of drug paraphernalia and unlawful possession of marijuana. Rose was found to allegedly possess drugs and paraphernalia during an investigation by Deputy Joseph Corona and Deputy Howard Carlson of an incident at a residence in Byron at 2:30 a.m., Saturday.

Arthur Mack Osborne, 47, of West Main Street Road, Batavia, is charged with criminal contempt, 2nd. Osborne is accused of violating a complete stay away order by going to the residence of the protected person and being in contact with that person.

Paul Joseph Kirch, 27, of Angling Road, Corfu, was arrested on a warrant out of the Town of Amherst related to a disorderly conduct charge. Kirch was located when a deputy checked on a vehicle parked on the shoulder of a roadway. Upon investigation, Kirch was identified as a suspect with an active arrest warrant.

Cynthia Louise Reschke, 50, of Transit Road, Stafford, is charged with DWI, driving with a BAC of .08 or greater, failure to keep right, moving from lane unsafely. Reschke was stopped at 1:36 a.m. Sunday on Morganville Road, Stafford, by Deputy Joseph Corona.

Stephen A. Getty, 43, of Gilbert Street, Le Roy, is charged with DWI, driving with a BAC of .08 or greater, moving from lane unsafely and drinking alcohol in a motor vehicle on a highway. Getty was stopped at 5:11 p.m. Friday on Main Road, Pembroke, by Deputy Kevin McCarthy.

Louis Levon Wooden, 28, of Salina Street, Rochester, is charged with petit larceny. Wooden is accused of shoplifting at Walmart. Also charged with petit larceny is Tymekia T. Gaskin, 39, of Champlain Street, Rochester.

Ann Lee Cox, 42, of Main Street, Attica, is charged with criminal possession of a controlled substance, driving while ability impaired by drugs, driving while ability impaired by combined drugs and moving from lane unsafely. Cox was arrested following an investigation by Deputy Kevin McCarthy into a single-car accident on Route 98, Alexander, at 4:22 a.m. on Oct. 20.

Emily Grace Lemen, 19, of Lake Street, Le Roy, is charged with DWI, driving with a BAC of .18 or greater and moving from lane unsafely. Lemen was allegedly driving a vehicle at 4 p.m. on Jan. 6 that went down an embankment at the 490 off-ramp at Route 19. The accident was investigated by Deputy Matthew Butler.

January 9, 2014 - 2:13pm
posted by Billie Owens in batavia, elba, Oakfield, fire, Alabama.

A house fire is reported at 2884 E. Shelby Road, between Burns and Crane roads. Fire is "in the wall with flames seen." Oakfield Fire Department is responding, along with mutual aid from Alabama, Town of Batavia and Elba.

UPDATE 2:17 p.m.: Upon arriving, the fire chief reports no fire seen.

UPDATE 2:21 p.m.: The chief is holding everything to equipment already in route. Cancelling Town of Batavia.

UPDATE 2:29 p.m.: Alabama and Elba units returning, in service.

January 4, 2014 - 2:10pm
posted by Billie Owens in batavia, accident, elba.

A motor-vehicle accident with possible serious injuries is reported at 4167 Batavia Elba Town Line Road, west of Route 98. Elba Fire Department is responding along with Mercy medics and Town of Batavia fire. Mercy Flight is on standby. Two ambulances are needed. "Car into tree, head injury," says responder on scene.

UPDATE 2:11 p.m.: It's determined to be in the Town of Batavia's fire district. Extrication will be needed. Traffic police are asked to shut down traffic at Pekin Road. State troopers and deputies are also on scene.

UPDATE 2:14 p.m.: The road will also be closed at Route 98.

UPDATE 2:16 p.m.: Command calls for the helicopter in Buffalo to start flying to the Batavia hangar.

UPDATE 2:21 p.m.: Two helicopters -- one in Batavia and the other coming from Buffalo -- are both called to the scene.

UPDATE 2:27 p.m.: One patient has been extricated.

UPDATE 2:30 p.m.: Mercy Flight #5 has landed. The second patient has been extricated.

UPDATE 2:34 p.m.: Mercy Flight #7 has landed.

UPDATE 2:43 p.m.: Mercy Flight #5 is airborne and headed to Strong Memorial Hospital.

UPDATE 2:51 p.m.: Mercy Flight #7 is airborne and also going to Strong.

UPDATE 3:01 p.m.: Howard at the scene was told the passanger vehicle was westbound on Batavia Elba Town Line Road when it hit a snow drift and the driver lost control of the car and it struck a tree. Authorities urge drivers to be aware that snow drifts are causing dangerous driving conditions on roads throughout the county and they should use extreme caution when driving.

UPDATE 3:06 p.m.: The injuries sustained by both patients are not considered to be life-threatening.

UPDATE 3:12 p.m.: Town of Batavia command is putting the assignment back in service and Elba Fire Police are opening the road.

UPDATE 4:46 p.m.: The driver of the vehicle was a 16-year-old female from Batavia (State Police are not releasing her name). The passenger was Ronald Filbert, 43, of Lockport. Both were taken to strong with non-life-threatening injuries. Both were conscious and alert at the time they were transported.

January 1, 2014 - 10:25am
posted by Billie Owens in elba, Oakfield, fire, Alabama, east pembroke.

A possible chimney fire is reported at 6842 Fisher Road, Oakfield. Flames were seen shooting from the chimney, but no flames or smoke are showing now, says a firefighter. The residence has been evacuated. Oakfield fire is on scene. Mutual aid response was cancelled but units are asked to stand by in their quarters from Alabama, Elba and East Pembroke.

UPDATE 10:41 a.m.: Oakfield fire back in service.

December 30, 2013 - 8:37am
posted by Howard B. Owens in elba, fire.

A possible electrical fire is reported at 4346 Drake Street Road, the lower apartment, Elba.

Smoke is coming from the washer or the dryer.

Elba and Town of Batavia fire dispatched.

UPDATE 8:39 p.m.: Fire is out. Town of Batavia can go back in service, per Elba chief.

UPDATE 8:53 a.m.: Elba back in service.

December 27, 2013 - 6:11pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in agriculture, elba, Genesee County Farms.

This is the sixth in our series on Genesee County's farms and farmers. For previous stories, click here. (Obviously, I started this story in late fall and am only now publishing it.)

Onions. It seems simple, right? Plant a seed and a few months later pull up a bulb and soak in the pungent aroma of one America's most essential foods.

Try making a stew or a salad without an onion. Edible? Maybe. Good? Hardly.

But which onion? 

The cook considers white, red, yellow or perhaps green.

The farmer considers Bradley, Walla Walla, Candy, Sterling, Yankee, Sedona, Redwing and Crocket, among hundreds of other varieties.

A rose by any other name may smell just as sweet, but for the onion farmer, the name on the seed bag he plants in the spring has a lot to do with yield he can expect in the fall.

The seed, the weather, the soil depth, the week of planting, the plot location, length of storage and what's going on in onion markets all over the world are the layers an onion farmer peels away each season hoping to rediscover that savory recipe called profits.

"There are dozens and dozens of varieties," said Matt Mortellaro, co-owner with his brother Paul, of G. Mortellaro & Sons, and Elba-based onion farm. "It's hard to know each year which varieties are working well. Every piece of ground is a little different and every season is a little different. You can have varieties growing hundreds of yards apart and get different results. The rain falls more in one location. It floods a little more. There's the wind and the soil. You can have so many different conditions, which is why we grow so many different varieties."

Paul and Matt were born into this, growing onions on the muck.

Paul helped out on the family farm from a young age. Matt being younger was spared by more modern farm equipment the hours of grueling seed and sprout planting and weed pulling under the blistering sun on the black muck.

"Mainly, I remember riding around in the truck with my dad," Matt said.

Matt studied natural resources, conservation and biology at Cornell before deciding to concentrate on ag production and plant biology.

Paul set out as a young man to be an engineer, earning a degree with the University at Buffalo and he worked in that field for a few years before feeling the tug of the family farm.

"It was strange," Paul said. "The engineering wasn't bad, but it really wasn't the lifestyle I was used to. You go to work and you're done at the end of the day. I feel like I'm a farmer twenty-four-seven."

As a farm owner, you get up early to check the weather. You take calls from customers needing to pick up a load of onions at 11 p.m.  You make repairs, check crop reports and answer e-mails long after the guy with an office job has hopped in his car, made the long drive home and is tuning into Sports Center.

"That's typical for employees and I can't say I blame them," Paul said. "Without the ownership interest, they just disappear and there is no way to retrieve them. I guess I don't need that. I don't need to feel like my responsibilities end at five o'clock."

Paul and Matt's grandfather started the family in the onion farming business in 1935 with eight acres of muckland. 

Gerlando Mortellaro didn't speak English and worked other jobs to make ends meet. By the time he handed the farm off to his two sons -- Paul and Matt's father and uncle -- the family owned 110 acres of muckland.

The farm is 260 acres today, and while other family farms in the area have diversified and added crops on the uplands, the Mortellaros stick with with what they know -- onions grown in the dark, decaying organic matter that made Elba famous.

"I think I would like growing anything, but onions is what I know," Paul said. "I've been exposed to onions for 41 years. It's kind of in my blood now. I don't know what else to do."

Paul said he kind of imagines if he was plunked down in a strange country, it wouldn't be long before he started growing onions again.  When he meets strangers, he said, it's hard not to assume they're onion farmers, too.

 "I have actually said it a couple of times, kind of as a joke, 'tell me about your onion operations,' " Paul said.

Matt is just as focused on growing onions on the muck.

"I don't have experience commercially growing other things on mineral soil, so it's hard to compare," Matt said. "I know the frustrations of growing on the muck, but I don't know if that's different from growing different things on other soil types."

Both Paul and Matt have been able to find enough time away from onion farming to get married and raise families.

Paul is married to Tricia and they have two daughters -- Rosalie, 19, an engineering student at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, and Grace, 17, a student at Notre Dame High School.

Matt is married to Stephanie and they have two boys, Mateo, 13, and Tiago, 10.

With the variety of onions the Mortellaros might choose to grow in any one season, there is one trait they all share -- they're what's known as long-day onions.

There are short-day onions and long-day onions. The two types use different triggers for when to form a bulb. For the short-day onion, it's just a matter of time, how many days since the seed was planted. Long-day onions know when the longest day of the summer has arrived and that's its signal to form a bulb.

Long-day onions not only grow better in our region, they make for better storage onions.

The Mortellaros sell onions all year long, even when temperatures outside dip into the teens and no plow can possibly till any soil.

In a good growing season, those 260 acres of muckland have filled the Mortellaros 50,000-square-foot storage facility on Transit Road with enough pungency to last into spring.

When customers need onions, or the price is right, Paul and Matt -- under the brand name Crybaby Onions -- almost always have onions to sell.

"With storage onions, we don't have to discount it to get rid of it," Paul said. "Out West, they sell onions for three weeks and then they're onto melons or something else. Here, you can just wait. If you don't like the price, you can wait. When you get a price you like, you go. That is a much better way to maintain steady customers. That's the beauty of storage, whether it's onions, potatoes or cabbage. You can sell it all in one week, but that's usually a disadvantage."

Storage adds to the pungency of an onion and Paul likes a pungent onion -- hence the Crybaby brand, but Paul warned the home cook not to think that storing a store-bought onion will improve its quality.

By the time an onion reaches the produce section of a supermarket, it's been through cold storage and a warming period, which is the onion's signal to sprout (an onion in its first year produces a bulb; in it's second year, it goes to seed). 

"The onion only knows it's ready to go," Paul said. "There's no turning back. It's really hard to buy an onion that hasn't been through the cold and warm cycle, so my advice is to eat an onion fast. Sprouted onions are actually very good, but you can always buy more."

With onions such a staple of America's diet, Paul and Matt always want to grow the best quality onion possible at the highest profit margin possible, even if Mother Nature doesn't always cooperate.

"Growing onions is somewhat of an art and somewhat of a science," Matt said. "Certain onions are ready for harvest in 95 days, others in 120. Depending on where you're planting, some need more time. Certain varities do better in different ground and some are marginal. Certain varieties produce more tonnage, but the bulb is not that great, and others don't have as high a yield, but have big, beautiful bulbs. So there's a lot of thought that goes into deciding what to plant in a particular piece of ground."

Onion farming, like the onion itself, may look simple from the outside, but then, just start peeling away the layers. The Mortellaros do it, day in and day out, 365 days a year.

December 27, 2013 - 4:02pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in elba, fire.

The cab of a truck hauling onions on Old Oak Orchard Road is reportedly on fire and stopped just south of Ridge Road, Elba.

Elba fire is responding.

UPDATE 4:08 p.m.: A chief is on scene. The fire is out.

December 24, 2013 - 9:16am
posted by Howard B. Owens in accident, elba.

A two-car accident is reported at Oak Orchard and North Byron roads.

Traffic is being shut down on Route 98.

Initially, the accident was reported as minor injury, but the Mercy EMS response has been canceled by the chief on scene.

Elba fire is responding.

December 19, 2013 - 11:40am
posted by Billie Owens in accident, elba.

A two-car accident with minor injuries is reported at Oak Orchard and Lockport roads. It is not blocking traffic. Elba Fire Department and Mercy medics are responding.

UPDATE 11:42 a.m.: One person is complaining of back pain and another is declining medical treatment. Oak Orchard Road will be shut down at the intersection to accommodate responders.

December 12, 2013 - 11:59pm
posted by Alecia Kaus in basketball, elba, high school sports, Notre Dame. sports.

Notre Dame 83, Elba 39

Tim McCulley scored 25 points and had 10 rebounds to lead the Fighting Irish to their second win of the season.

The Elba Lancers opened up the scoring in the first quarter when John Hochmuth put up three points, but they quickly found themselves behind later in the second quarter.

The Lancers were not able to stop Tim McCulley as he scored 21 points on 18 shots in the first half. Notre Dame held a 37-15 lead at halftime.

In the third quarter Notre Dame went on a scoring streak. Scoring 29 points to Elba's 10. By the fourth quarter the game was out of reach.

Notre Dame's Josh Johnson and Elba's John Hochmuth each had 15 points.

Notre Dame's next game will be at home next Wednesday against Lyndonville.

Elba is 1-3 on the season.

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