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February 20, 2011 - 6:09pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in photos, fire.

An old barn -- the owner believes it was the oldest on Swamp Road -- was destroyed in a fire of undetermined origin this afternoon.

The barn was owned by Howard and Sandra Lee Brew, of 7557 Swamp Road, Bergen. Brew said he has lived on the farm, once owned by his father, his entire life. He's 67.

Bergen Fire Department along with mutual aid from several other departments (we don't have the complete list yet, but we believe it included Byron, South Byron, City of Batavia (Fast Team), Town of Batavia, Le Roy, Brockport, Churchville, Holley, Pavilion and York, which had a crew on standby in its hall.  The Sheriff's Office and Emergency Services were also on scene.

The initial call came in at about 12:50 p.m.

(Initial Report)

More pictures after the jump:

February 20, 2011 - 5:33pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in roundabout, Oak Street.

A police officer has been dispatched to the Oak Street roundabout to check on a report of a tan sedan going in circles through the roundabout, repeatedly, at a high rate of speed.

February 19, 2011 - 4:15pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Oak Street, code enforcement.

An Oak Street man with a fondness for waterfowl will get to keep his ducks and continue some of his hobbies in his yard, but with new restrictions.

As part of a plea bargain, Ron Graziaplena, of 172 Oak St., admitted to keeping debris in his back yard, a violation of city code, and agreed to a number of conditions on his continued ability to keep 10 mallard ducks as pets and grow tomatoes and build waterfowl-related projects.

The deal was worked out Friday afternoon over three and a half hours, at a time when his trial on numerous alleged code violations was scheduled. Almost all the negotiations were held in open court with Batavia City Court Judge Robert Balbick presiding.

Balbick told Graziaplena that he would be fair with him if Graziaplena made substantial progress toward complying with the plea agreement between now and his sentencing on April 15.

The main agreement regarding the ducks is that Graziaplena can keep only 10, except when there are hatchlings, which must be released in an Elba swamp owned by Graziaplena's family before Oct. 1 of each year.

A neutral, non-governmental, qualified inspector will visit the property twice a year -- on or about July 1 and on or about Oct. -- to ensure Graziaplena is maintaining only a 10-duck population and they are kept in sanitary, humane conditions.

Graziaplena will be required to build a six-foot-high stockade-type fence along his south property line from the garage to the back corner of the lot and for some distance along the back property line. 

He must also install a stockade-style gate across his driveway from the southeast corner of his house to his property line on the south.

The gate is intended to create a visual barrier for anything on his driveway, from construction materials for his projects and his tomato boxes.

Graziaplena prefers to work on his projects in the front yard. He can continue to do so during the day, but come nightfall, he will be required to put all construction materials behind the gate.

He must also keep his BBQ grill behind the gate rather than in the yard.

In recent months, Graziaplena has mounted a number of duck decoys atop 10-foot-high poles along his south property line, and more recently added waterfowl-themed wind vanes that he said he made.

He acknowledged that some of his neighbors are aggravated by the poles, but said the decoys are left over from his hunting days and just a symbol of his hobby. He said he plans to start selling the wind vanes.

"I've gotten many compliments on them, your honor," Graziaplena said. "Several of my friends want them for themselves. Perhaps you would like one?"

Balbick said he couldn't accept the offer.

The judge ordered that all of the pole structures be taken down before sentencing and that they remain down for at least the duration of Graziaplena's conditional discharge (a six-month period after his sentence in which Graziaplena must remain violation free to avoid having the original charges reinstated).

Graziaplena also keeps a boat on the north side of his house. He must either put a driveway on the north side to set the boat on or start keeping the boat on his south side driveway.

About a half dozen of Graziaplena's supporters were at the courthouse Friday, many of them planning to testify in the trial. One neighbor who is unhappy with the situation on Graziaplena's property attended the hearing.

"I want to see that property code compliant," Balbick told Graziaplena after accepting his guilty plea. "I'm not going to punish you just for the purpose of punishing you, but I do have an obligation to the people of this city to see that the yard is safe and there isn't debris strewn about throughout the yard and that the yard is sanitary."

Photos: Take at Graziaplena's residence on Friday.

February 19, 2011 - 10:11am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Darien.

UPDATED 11:15 a.m.

The body of 73-year-old Kimberly Drew was found in Murder Creek this morning, about 400 yards from where his ATV overturned Friday afternoon.

Drew was reportedly out on his property gathering maple sap for his syrup business when he apparently tried to cross the swollen creek, according to Chief Deputy Gordon Dibble.

Dibble said it was a portion of the creek he frequently crosses, but this time the waters were much higher than usual. It's unclear what happened at that point.

Drew, who lived on Broadway Road, is a former town supervisor, serving from 2000 through 2003.

"He was a very nice man, a good guy," said current Supervisor David Hagelberger. "The town would like to express our condolences to his family and friends."

According to Dibble, Drew left his house about 1 p.m.  He was scene by somebody about 2 p.m.  Concerned family members reported him missing at 5:20 p.m.  His ATV was found on a portion of Murder Creek near on the south side of Route 20 in the Harper Road area of Darien. The creek passes under Route 20 just west of Harper Road.

More than 50 volunteer firefighters participated in the search, which began about 6:30 on Friday, was suspended overnight and resumed at 7:30 this morning.

Drew's body was found at 8:40 a.m. on the side of the creek. Dibble said the water receded overnight making the search easier.

In all, seven fire companies participated, including Darien, Corfu, East Pembroke, Alexander, Alden, Crittenden, Attica and Bennington. Genesee County Emergency Services and Sheriff's Office also participated in the search. During Friday's search, Mercy Flight was in the air for about 30 minutes before winds forced the helicopter back to base. Water rescue teams from East Pembroke and Alden helped in the search.

"It was a team effort," said Darien Chief Dale Breitwieser.

The cause of death has not yet been determined. Dibble said it's not known at this time if Drew sustained injuries in the accident or if there was another medical issue that precipitated the accident.

February 19, 2011 - 8:14am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, weather.

The roof on the Kwik Fill at Jackson and Ellicott streets, Batavia, was peeled right off by strong winds this morning.

The incident was reported at 6:23 a.m.

City fire responded.

An electrical line was arcing so National Grid was called in to shut off power.

There is a wind advisory in place until 6 p.m 

The wind may hamper search efforts for the missing man in Darien.  It's possible that any aircraft that could be used to assist in the search will be grounded due to high winds.

Scattered snow showers are expected throughout the day.

February 18, 2011 - 11:23pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Darien.

The search for a man reported missing in Darien has been scaled back for the night and will resume at 8:30 a.m.

The 73-year-old man was reported missing late Friday afternoon. His ATV was found in a creek behind My Saloon of Route 20 near Harper Road.

Water rescue teams from Alden and East Pembroke fire departments participated in the search and will return in the morning.

Darien fire along with Alexander and Corfu fire departments are participating in the search.

Overnight, a smaller search team will remain in the area, periodically checking the creek, according to Tim Yeager, emergency management coordinator.

The Office of Emergency Services along with State Police and the Sheriff's Office are also taking part in the operation.

(Initial Report)


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February 18, 2011 - 4:22pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, crime, Corrections.

Yesterday, in our story on the scuffle at the DSS office, we identified the suspect as Steven Joseph. His correct name is Steven Joseph Mancuso-Haitz.

We also said he was a resident of a complex called Mancuso Heights in Stafford.

It is unlikely there is a development in Stafford called Mancuso Heights, or even in the Town of Batavia, as one of our readers suggested this morning.

Mancuso-Haitz is apparently homeless and had only recently arrived in Batavia on a bus from Florida.

I'd feel a lot worse about this, but the Batavia Daily News reporter misunderstood the information in the same way I did.

I ran into one of the deputies from the scene at the courthouse this afternoon and as we discussed the confusion, it was clear how it came about. We all, I'm sure, regret the error.

February 18, 2011 - 12:45pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in crime, Grand Jury.

Adam R. Kopp is indicted on charges of burglary, 2nd, criminal possession of a controlled substance, 5th, and petit larceny. Kopp is accused of entering a residence on Bloomingdale Road, Alabama, on Jan. 12, with the intent of committing crimes once inside. On that date, he is accused of possessing hydrocodone and acetaminophen. He is accused of stealing on that date hydrocodone and acetaminophen tablets.

Shawn R. Hugar is indicted on charges of DWI as a misdemeanor, driving with a BAC of .08 or greater and aggravated DWI ("Leandra's Law"). Hugar is accused of driving drunk on Aug. 23 in the Town of Darien while a child less than 15 years old was in the vehicle.

Lynn A. Hertweck is indicted on charges of DWI as a felony and driving with a BAC of .18 or greater as a felony. Hertweck is accused of driving drunk on Oct. 3 on Route 19, Town of Bergen.

February 18, 2011 - 12:24pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, crime, pembroke.

Dustin M. Locicero, 26, formerly of 16 Gibson St., Bergen, is charged with criminal possession of stolen property, 4th, and four counts of identity theft. Locicero, currently an inmate at the Elmira Correctional Facility, is accused of possessing a stolen credit card at the Wilson Farms store, 8132 Buffalo Road, Bergen, on March 18, and allegedly using it to make three separate ATM withdrawls and one merchandise purchase. The investigation was conducted by Deputy Dana Richardson and Investigator Timothy Weis.

Stephen John Farrell, 44, of the Bare Hill Correctional Facility, Malone, is charged with burglary, 3rd, and criminal mischief, 4th. Farrell is accused of using force to enter a Bergen business during the early morning hours of Feb. 11. The entry door was damaged. Farrell was arraigned in Genesee County Court and bail was set at $10,000.

Cody James Sundown, 20, of Sailles Plank Road, Irving, is charged with criminal mischief, 4th. Sundown was arrested on a bench warrant out of Town of Pembroke Court. Sundown is accused of damaging another person's vehicle on Nov. 27.

Matthew Scott Williams, 23, of 21 Maple St., upper, Batavia, is charged with a violation of probation. Williams was taken into custody at 7:47 p.m., Thursday. Williams was wanted on a bench warrant out of Town of Elba Court. He was jailed on $5,000 bail. (For previous arrest reports on Williams, click here.)

February 18, 2011 - 12:03pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, fire, Tracy Avenue.

A futon caught on fire this morning at 29 Tracy Ave., but the apartment was not damaged.

The initial alarm came in around 10 a.m. and city firefighters responded.

Firefighters found the futon outside the apartment, where the resident had dragged it.

According to Lt. Jay Steinbrenner, the resident was apparently smoking on the futon when he fell asleep. When he woke up, he tried putting the fire out himself. He apparently tried a few times, according ot Steinbrenner.

"This apparently went on for an hour and a half," Steinbrenner said.

When the futon flamed up pretty good, the resident dragged it outside and called 9-1-1.

February 18, 2011 - 11:50am
posted by Howard B. Owens in photos, weather.

It's 50 degrees, the skies are clear, the sun is out -- yeah, sure, it's windy, but surely this is a sign of early spring, right?

Don't get your hopes up.

By 9 p.m., temperatures are expected to dip to 36 degrees, and it will be below freezing by 10 a.m.

There's a 50-percent chance of snow over night.

The the next 10-day forecast shows nothing much above 30 degrees.

BTW: There's also a wind advisory in effect until 6 p.m. Winds will be 20 to 30 mph with gusts of 55 mph.

February 18, 2011 - 12:13am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Terry Anderson, Peace Garden.

It's an auspicious time for Terry Anderson to return to Batavia to dedicate a peace garden.

Anderson, who grew up in Batavia, was chief Middle East correspondent for Associated Press when he was abducted on March 16, 1985, in Beirut following a game of tennis. Anderson was held in captivity by Hezbollah for six years and nine months.

As Anderson returns to his boyhood home, the Middle East is exploding in a way it never has before. Governments in Tunisia and Egypt have been toppled by pro-democracy demonstrators. Even the Iranian government, which backs Hezbollah, is facing youthful opposition.

Anderson is cautiously optimistic about what he sees happening.

"I watched Yasser Arafat and Isaac Rabin shake hands on the White House lawn," Anderson said tonight during a meet-and-greet at Batavia Downs. "It was one of the most optimistic days of my life, because I covered that conflict for years, and (look at) what has happened since.

"It doesn’t always turn out for the best. But yes, I see something new in the Middle East. I see something that promises something hopeful for the future."

One of America's most acclaimed and recognized journalists, Anderson was invited to return to his former hometown to help raise funds for a War of 1812 Peace Garden planned for a plot of land adjacent to the Holland Land Office Museum.

Anderson will have a busy day Friday, starting with an 8 a.m. visit to Batavia High School. He will also have lunch with GCC President Stuart Steiner followed by a public lecture at noon at GCC. At 2 p.m., there will be a press conference with Anderson at the Genesee County History Office, 7 W. Main St., and at 5 p.m., the main event -- a dinner at Terry Hills ($25 per person), where Anderson will be the featured speaker.

Thursday night, Anderson arrived at Batavia Downs shortly after 7 p.m. and he was warmly greeted by a few old friends as well as people involved in organizing the peace garden effort. Anderson also took a few minutes to talk with members of the media who where there.

Anderson -- who recently finished a teaching stint at the University of Kentucky and is now contemplating a return to residency in Upstate New York -- was animated as soon as the topic turned to the turmoil in the Middle East.

He recalled that he was in captivity when Marcos fell in the Philippines, and that was followed by the regime falling in South Africa and then, of course, the toppling of the Berlin Wall and the fall of the Soviet Union.

"It just proves again what we knew then – you can have all of the police and secret police and guns and thugs in the world, and when your people stand up and say, ‘no, we’re tired of you,’ you’re gone," Anderson said.

He added, "Every country is different, but there is something going around that they all seem to have in common: They are tired of dictators and corruption and denial of human rights."

A Vietnam veteran, Anderson said that as a 19-year-old Marine, he visited the most famous peace garden in the world, the one at ground zero in Hiroshima, Japan. So when he was invited to return to Batavia to help bring about a new peace garden he thought, "who's not in favor of peace?

"Why would I miss a chance to dedicate a peace garden? It may be on a smaller scale, but why wouldn't I support it?"

Photo: Jim Owen gets an autograph from Terry Anderson on one of his books.

February 17, 2011 - 5:27pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business.

A public hearing has been set with the Town of Batavia Planning Board to discuss a proposed change to the location of Oil Doctor, 4003 W. Main St. Road, Batavia.

Owner Ben Thompson has requested permission to convert a portion of the existing building to an area for motorcycle sales.

The hearing will be at 7:30 p.m., March 1, at town hall, 3833 W. Main St. Road, Batavia.

A copy of the application is available at town hall for review.

February 17, 2011 - 4:10pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business, Clarion Hotel.

Construction has begun on a $2 million project to add an indoor water park to the Clarion Hotel on Park Road, Batavia.

Owner Chan Patel (above) said he is looking forward providing year-round recreation to the region. He expects to draw customs from Buffalo and Rochester, not just Genesee County.

"We have a big staff," Patel said. "Even in the winter, we have 60 people on staff. During the summer there's plenty of work, but in the winter I have to cut down their hours. It's not fair because they have to support their families, too."

The 12,000-square-foot facility -- Palm Island Indoor Water Park -- includes a 197-foot and a 169-foot water slide, a pool equipped with basketball hoops, a spa, a play lagoon with waterfalls, small slides and dumping buckets, as well as birthday party rooms, a food and beverage concession and an arcade room with 15 games.

Patel said he planned the park so that there would be activities that would appeal to all ages.

"This will bring more business into town," Patel said. "It will be a benefit to the whole community."

He's even partnering, he said, with local businesses to help ensure his guests patronize those businesses.

He's also using local or regional contractors. The design was completed by Smart Design, of Batavia. Whitney East, of Rochester, is the general contractor, and Batavia's Arctic Refrigeration is handling all of the mechanical work.

The project received tax abatements from the Genesee County Economic Development Center worth about $91,600. That includes partial abatement of property taxes for 10 years worth $18,800, a mortgage-tax abatement worth $12,800, and exemption from sales tax on materials for construction of the park worth $60,000.

GCEDC estimates the $91,600 in tax abatement will have more than a $5 million multiplier-effect benefit for the local economy.

February 17, 2011 - 4:06pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in fire, corfu.

A chimney fire has been reported at 9565 Colby Road, Corfu.

Darien Fire Department along with a tanker from Alexander and Corfu fire have been dispatched.

UPDATE 5:03 p.m.: Power has been shut off to the residence. Pembroke fire requested to fill in at Corfu's hall.

UPDATE 5:13 p.m.: Fire appears contained to the chimney.


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February 17, 2011 - 12:02pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, crime.

A 26-year-old Stafford man apparently had a bad day at the Department of Social Services office and when a security guard told him it was time to leave, he didn't immediately comply.

"The situation became verbal and then it became physical," said Trooper Mark Catanzaro.

The initial 9-1-1 call for assistance came into the Emergency Dispatch Center at 11:14 a.m.

Taken into custody and facing a possible harassment, 2nd, charge is Steven Joseph, who listed an address in Mancuso Heights, off Seven Springs Road, Stafford.

The security guard was checked by Mercy EMS as a precaution, but was not injured, though his jacket was torn.

Joseph did not appear injured either. 

Catanzaro said Joseph was at DSS seeking services, but "it wasn't going well." He became agitated and the security guard suggested he leave and come back another day.

During the confrontation, the guard wrestled Joseph to the ground and held him there until law enforcement arrived.

Catanzaro was first on scene. A city police officer and Sheriff's deputy arrived on scene seconds later.

UPDATE: A reader sent an e-mail saying that Mancuso Heights is actually in the Town of Batavia.

February 16, 2011 - 9:27pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in photos, Bethany.

I spent most of the afternoon in Le Roy looking for news. I came up blank, but as the sun started to set, I took some back roads home to Batavia. This was shot on Smith Road, Pavilion Bethany.

February 16, 2011 - 10:38am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, crime, downtown.

At least eight buildings in Downtown Batavia were tagged with graffiti some time since later yesterday evening, according to police.

The police report doesn't specify which buildings, but the building owners were notified that police officers spotted the graffiti sometime around 2 a.m.

There has been a little tagging of downtown buildings in the past, but this new tagging does not match the previous words/symbols left.

Chief Randy Baker said the police officer wasn't even sure what the message of the tags were.

Baker suggested that anybody who is downtown after dark call police and report any suspicious activity around buildings.

UPDATE: Downtown property owner Ken Mistler is offering a $500 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the tagger.

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