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July 12, 2011 - 10:43pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Pavilion.

Family members are very worried about the whereabouts of Brittany Hackett.

The 17-year-old Pavilion girl has been missing since Saturday.

She may be in the Batavia area.

Brittany is described at 5' 5" tall, 120 lbs., with brown hair with blonde highlights and brown eyes.

In an e-mail, a family member says, "Any information you have would be greatly appreciated as her siblings are mourning over her disappearance."

Anyone with any information at all is asked to call either State Police at 344-6200 or Tammy Hackett at 261-1816.

July 12, 2011 - 7:05pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business.

CPR (Computer and Phone Repair) is now open for business and co-owner Rich Clark said he wants people to know the new shop will emphasize customer service.

"Our motto is 'pay for what's needed and nothing more,'" Clark said. "We focus on the customer and try to save them as much as we possibly can."

The store opened two weeks ago and Clark and partner Jim Vo hosted a grand opening over the weekend, but word is already spreading fast about the new shop, Clark said.

“We want people to feel like they're getting more than what they're paying for," Clark said. "We stand behind all of our work. Don’t forget we were once on the other side of the desk and understand how it is to be the consumer. We understand that our customers may not know as much as we do, so we want them to feel comfortable and not as if they're being belittled or taken advantage of.”

A Batavia native, Clark has years of experience in computer repair, including stints at other local repair shops.

As the name says, CPR does more than repair computers. These days, many phones are just miniature computers and they can be as expensive as some desktops.

“Most people don't know that the cell phone they received when starting their contract can run as much as $700 to replace," Clark said.

CPR is an authorized Dish Network retail outlet and has also partnered with a Rochester-based company to offer website design.

The new shop is located at 216 E. Main St., Batavia, and is open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Friday and 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturdays. The store number is 344-7085.

Photo: Rich Clark in his repair shop holding a laptop that has previously been mentioned in The Batavian. In December, 2008, Clark posted a free classified ad about the laptop being stolen. The ad may have led to the return of the computer.

July 12, 2011 - 6:37pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in free trade, kathy hochul.

The Obama Administration is stepping up pressure on Congress to pass new free trade agreements, but Rep. Kathy Hochul (NY-26), elected to represent WNY in a special election a month ago, says she will stand by her campaign promise to vote against the proposed treaties.

In response to a question from The Batavian, her congressional spokesman, Fabien Levy, sent the follow message:

She still remains very opposed to all of the free trade agreements. I remember that during the campaign she went beyond your question on one free trade deal and answered it on all the free trade deals.  

Here's the question and answer Levy mentions:

Q: The next representative of the NY-26 is likely going to be asked on vote on the South Korea – United States Free Trade Agreement. If elected, will you vote “Yes” or “No.” After offering a straight up or down answer, please explain your yes or no vote.

A: No, I do not support the U.S./South Korea Free Trade Agreement. I also do not support the U.S./Panama or the U.S./Colombia Free Trade Agreements.

Millions of hard-working Americans have lost their jobs due to unfair trade deals like NAFTA and CAFTA and entering into additional free trade agreements will only further harm our economy. Instead of expanding trade policies that have resulted in thousands of good paying Western New York jobs being sent overseas, we need to focus on creating an environment that gives smalls businesses the opportunity to innovate and grow, right here in the 26th District.

Hochul's opponent, Jane Corwin, took a far less solid stand on trade issues, but did say during a campaign appearance in Batavia that she supported "fair trade" and wasn't a "protectionist."

Trade arguably played an important role in Hochul winning the election. Polls seem to indicate that voters switched support for the outspoken anti-free trade candidate Jack Davis to Hochul, rather than Corwin, in the final week of the election.

Related to Hochul's position on free trade last week, the newly minted representative supported measures to crack down on currency manipulation by China.

(Photo: file photo)

A full press release from Hochul's office on that issue after the jump.

July 12, 2011 - 6:15pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Darien, darien lake theme park.

Sheriff Gary Maha met briefly with a couple of members of local media and announced that the Sheriff's Office will conduct a press conference at 10 a.m., Wednesday, to discuss the investigation into the death of James Hackemer at Darien Lake Theme Park.

Maha declined to discuss findings from the investigation until tomorrow.

Officials from the Sheriff's Office reportedly met this afternoon with investigators from the Department of Labor.

Hackemer was ejected from the Ride of Steel at Darien Lake on Friday.

July 12, 2011 - 5:53pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Pavilion, Route 20.

As of yesterday, the bridge on Route 20 over Oatka Creek, Pavilion, has been closed for repairs. 

The closure is apparently part of a $2.8 million NYS DOT project to repair several bridges in Western New York.

We called the DOT today to try and get more information, but have not received a call back.

No word on when it will reopen (though, yesterday at 6 p.m., traffic was still going over the bridge, even though there were "road closed" signs at Texaco Town.

July 12, 2011 - 5:46pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, crime.

Police requested to the scene of Austin Park where a male who is described as 6' 4" and 220 pound is accused of spitting in the face of a woman.

The two people reportedly had an argument, non-domestic, in the area of the spray park.

July 12, 2011 - 5:28pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Attica, Darien.

Veterans lined the funeral route this morning for Senior Airman Kyle J. Schunk, 23, of Darien, who died in a motorcycle accident July 5 in Louisiana.

The funeral was in Attica.

Schunk was a Class of 2007 graduate of Alexander High School and a jet engine mechanic on B-52 bombers. 

He was buried at Forest Hill Cemetery in Attica.

Photo submitted by a reader.

July 12, 2011 - 5:14pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in darien lake theme park, kathy hochul.

Upon a request from The Batavian, Congresswoman Kathy Hochul provided this statement on proposed legislation to increase federal oversign of rides at theme parks.

“The accident at Darien Lake was not only a tragedy because we lost a war hero, but because it reminded us that current loopholes in our laws can jeopardize the safety of patrons at fixed site amusement parks. Permanent theme parks should not be exempt from federal safety oversight, which is why I plan to work with Congressman Ed Markey (MA-7) to co-sponsor legislation that will ensure the Consumer Product Safety Commission has the ability to oversee amusement park rides.”

Rep. Edward Markey, a Democrat from Massachusetts, who pushing such legislation prior to the accident, has revived his proposal following the death Friday of disabled Iraq War James Hackemer on a rollercoaster at Darien Lake Theme Park.

July 12, 2011 - 5:04pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in accident, Pavilion.

Mercy Flight has been requested to the scene of a motocross accident in the Town of Covington, Wyoming County.

The location is within the Pavilion Fire District, and Pavilion volunteers are on scene on Brownell Road.

The rider lost consciousness, then regained consciousness, but was not entirely alert initially. He is now reportedly alert and has an arm burn.

UPDATE 5:21 p.m.: Mercy Flight in route to Strong. Pavilion back in service.

July 12, 2011 - 4:28pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia.

It only took one vote to prevent the Batavia City Council on Monday from passing a ban on drinking in public parks. But stopping passage of the ordinance change is only temporary.

The city council will likely vote on the proposed ordinance at its next business meeting in August, and with only three dissenting views on council, it will likely pass.

Rosemary Christian, Kathy Briggs and Sam Barone all cast no votes.

Christian clashed with Council President Marianne Clattenburg over the proposed change in the law as well as a new policy making the parks tobacco-free zones.

Christian, a smoker, objects to the policy change on smoking in public parks without the creation of designated smoking areas.

Twice Clattenburg gavelled down Christian as she argued over the smoking policy.

The policy isn't a law. Legally people can still smoke in the parks, but police officers will be instructed to ask smokers not to smoke or to leave if they want to continue smoking.

Signs will be posted informing park patrons that the areas are tobacco-free areas.

As for drinking, Christian is concerned that the change in the ordinance will prohibit the seemingly innocent pastime of a couple enjoying a picnic with beer.

From WBTA:

"You mean to tell me you can't go with your friend or your husband, and have a little picnic...and then you have a beer and you're going to be arrested?" she asked. 

"Do you really think that's going to happen?" Clattenburg asked. "I sure hope not, but what's the point of even passing it?" Christian fired back.

"We have an issue...people loitering and drinking in our parks. That's what we're trying to fix here," Clattenburg said. "It's got nothing to do with you and your honey having a beer on a picnic," she added.

The exchange opened a discussion about how police can't enforce the law against one group of people, or say you can have two beers but not four.

Because we're already in the middle of summer, the bill was being fast-tracked so enforcement could begin immediately, but under state regulations, a fast-track bill requires unanimous approval. Because of the three no votes, the bill is not yet law. The council will vote again -- when a simply majority is all that's needed for passage -- at its August business meeting.

For full coverage from The Batavian's news partner, WBTA, click here.

July 12, 2011 - 1:51pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business, GCEDC, corfu.

The following projects have been approved for tax abatements for job-creation and retention projects, according to the Genesee County Economic Development Center:

  • An $18,000 sales tax exemption has been approved by the GCEDC board for Ken Barrett Chevrolet, 229 W. Main St., Batavia, for expansion of its collision shop. The shop will expand from 7,833 square feet to 15,536 square feet and will cost $635,000. Three new jobs will be created and 10 jobs retained.
  • Graham Manufacturing, 20 Florence Ave., is planning an expansion of its finishing (sandblasting and painting) operation. GCEDC has granted a sales tax exemption of $36,818 and a PILOT tax abatement of $89,088. The project will create an estimated 30 new jobs and help retain 278 existing jobs. The $1.8 million expansion will add 10,000 square feet of manufacturing space to the facility.
  • Angelica Textile Services, Inc., 1-3 Apollo Drive, will receive a $15,125 mortgage tax exemption to help refinance its current $1.2 million mortgage. The project will help retain 78 jobs in Batavia.
  • J&L Feed is planning on converting current greenhouses at 47 West Main St., Corfu, into a project called "The Market," which will create a floral shop, fresh meat and deli market and a general store. An approximately 3,400-square-foot building will be constructed and existing greenhouses will be demolished. J&L will receive a $22,000 property tax exemption, $4,800 sales tax exemption and a $1,250 mortgage tax exemption. An estimated three jobs will be created.
July 12, 2011 - 1:10pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in veterans, elba.

Press release:

The Maplelawn Cemetery Veterans’ Memorial Garden was created to honor the dedicated men and women who have served in the United States armed forces. 

The Town of Elba will hold a dedication ceremony at 7 p.m. on Thursday July 14. Assemblyman Stephen Hawley and the color guard from the American Legion will participate in the ceremony. 

This project would not have been possible without the generosity of the following donors: 

• Sackett Merrill White American Legion Post 575
• Eugene and Susan Bezon
• Daniel and Penny Bridge
• CY Farms
• Dave and Sylvia Hebell
• Derrick Monument
• Genesee Veterans Club
• H.E. Turner and Co., Inc.
• Darryl Horzempa
• The Insurance Center
• Norton Farms
• Steve Davis
• VVA Chapter 193
• Gene Warren
• Home Depot
• Delre's Greenhouse and Garden Centre
• The American Legion, Batavia post

More than a year ago, Steve Davis, the Town of Elba cemetery caretaker, asked the town board for its support of the project. After securing the board’s approval, he obtained the plants and landscaped the garden. 

“Steve came up with the idea and worked to make it happen," said Town Supervisor Lucinne Kauffman. "He’s really gone above and beyond with this project."

Steve also ordered and installed a granite bench with a bronze plaque dedicated to the veterans.

“Now the project is complete and we would like to publicly thank the men and women to whom the garden is dedicated,” Kauffman said.

The public is invited to attend the dedication ceremony. Maplelawn Cemetery is located on Maple Avenue Extension between the Town Hall and the Historical Society Museum.

July 12, 2011 - 11:43am
posted by Howard B. Owens in baseball, sports.

Submitted by Kim Koziol.

Batavia beat Le Roy twice to win the District 3 Championship.

In the first game, Nick Bezinque had the big hit knocking in three runs with a bases loaded triple. Cameron Ells, Griffin Moore, Casey Radka, A.J. Marcello, Michael Calderon, Taylor Stefaniak and Philip Koziol all had hits for Batavia. Radka went the distance on the mound striking out seven and only two walks. Le Roy’s Cole Biggins played a great game at short stop in the 6-4 loss.

In the second game, A.J. Marcello was the big hitter with two doubles and a monstrous home run. Cameron Ells, Jerry Reinhart, Nick Bezinque, Philip Koziol, Evan Bender, Michael Calderon and Taylor Stefaniak also had big hits for Batavia in the 11-3 win. Alex Jones and Jerry Reinhart pitched a great game holding Le Roy to three  runs.

Front row: Taylor Stefaniak, Griffin Moore, Evan Bender, Cameron Ells, Phil Koziol. Second row: Michael Calderon, Casey Radka, Alex Jones, Jerry Reinhart, Nick Bezinque A.J. Marcello. Third row: Coach Todd Bender, Coach Jerry Reinhart, Manager James "Beef" Soggs, Coach Dave Hall, Coach Sean Radka.

July 12, 2011 - 11:33am
posted by Howard B. Owens in charity, alexander, Darien, Pavilion, Bethany.

Matt Mondoux, a resident of Grand Island and an Iraq and Afghanistan veteran, is walking for Lou.

Mondoux, who passed through Genesee County yesterday, is walking the width of New York, all the way to Yankee Stadium, in order to raise money for research into Lou Gehrig's Disease.

"When you see a bunch of people who aren’t getting the kind of help you think they deserve, you realize they need somebody who isn’t directly effected by the disease to help out," Mondoux.

Lou Gehrig's Disease wasn't something Mondoux paid much attention to until a friend was diagnosed and he started doing a little research.

He said reading the blogs of victims raised his awareness and concern for people who have been afflicted.

"Reading up on it, I got kind of emotionally attached," he said. "It was kind of sad that even though I’m a New York Yankee fan, I didn’t know exactly what Lou Gehrig’s Disease was."

Mondoux served 10 years in the Army, but works now at a Seneca-Niagara casino. While he said his employer has been exceptionally supportive of his walk, the 14 days he's taking for the trek is an unpaid leave of absence.

People along the route have already been incredibily supportive, he said.

While he stopped in Bethany and spoke with a reporter, somebody drove up and handed him $2, apologizing that he didn't have more money with him.

A guy walking down the road in a Yankees uniform gets a lot of attention, Mondoux said.

Once he arrives at Yankee Stadium, Mondoux will attend a game using donated tickets. He hopes to be able to get all of the Yankee players to sign his jersey.

If he can raise $2 million, he said, he would like to donate the jersey to the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown to help raise awareness of Lou Gehrig's Disease.

"I'll even give them my lucky hat," he said.

He bought the Yankees cap on Sept. 11, 2001, just outside of New York City -- he could see the towers burning that day from where he was, he said.

"It's been with me everywhere," he said. "It's been with me in Iraq and Afghanistan. I wore it the day my daughter was born. It's been everywhere, from Europe to Las Vegas."

Now it's going to Yankee Stadium.

To donate and to track Matt's progress, visit Walking4Lou.com.

July 11, 2011 - 5:33pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Darien, darien lake theme park.

State regulators are expected to meet with investigators from the Sheriff's Office tomorrow and present their findings from their investigation into the death Friday of Iraq war hero James Hackemer, who was ejected from the Ride of Steel at Darien Lake Theme Park.

Until then, it's hard to say, according to Deputy Chief Jerome Brewster, if there will be any evidence to take to the District Attorney's Office for possible prosecution of any staff members at the theme park.

"At this point, we don't see any evidence of criminality," Brewster said. "But we'll have to see what the Department of Labor comes up with in their half of the investigation. If in their half, they find training records that show a supervisor or employees were trained not to let an amputee on the ride (for example), then maybe there is something to take to the District Attorney to review."

Brewster said, rather than a criminal complaint the findings might support a possible civil action by Hackemer's family, noting, however, that in any case where there is an injury or death on an amusement park ride, some sort of civil action is likely.

"Just off the top of my head I would think there’s some potential for civil liability, but criminal liability remains to be seen," Brewster said.

The Sheriff's Office has completed its investigation, Brewster said. The DOL investigators were at the scene of the accident today and are expected to return to Darien Lake in the morning before meeting with the Sheriff's Office in the afternoon.

Darien Lake officials are being exceptionally tight lipped about the accident.

Cassandra Okon, spokeswoman for the theme park, today repeated what she's told every news outlet that's called her: Officials at the park have no idea how long the investigation will take and until then park officials have no comment on the accident.

Asked if there would be a press conference after the investigation is completed, Okon said that hasn't been decided.

She took The Batavian's e-mail address and said if there are any further statements from Darien Lake, the statements will be e-mailed to all of the media outlets on her list.

The story of Hackemer's death has been reported throughout the world.

He lost both of his legs to a roadside bomb in Iraq and twice nearly died as a result of his wounds.

Hackemer's family told the Buffalo News that the 29-year-old father of two "died happy."

"I have no doubt in my mind that he died happy," his sister, Jody Hackemer, said Saturday as the family gathered at Hackemer's parents' farmhouse in Gowanda. "I know that's hard to comprehend. But really, he was doing what he wanted to do. And that's the important thing."

While there have been rumors since the accident that Hackemer insisted on getting on the ride over the objections of Darien Lake staff, the family contradicts those account in the Buffalo News article.

"We in no shape or form hold Darien Lake accountable," the sister said. "They weren't negligent. It's nobody's fault. It was an accident. James thought it wasn't an issue."

Brewster said that what he's seen from the investigation reports so far indicate that Hackemer wanted to get on the ride and family and staff assisted him. There was no attempt that Brewster is aware of to stop Hackemer from taking a seat on the Ride of Steel.

"Nobody has indicated that at this point," Brewster said.

Brewster confirmed accounts that Hackemer was ejected from the ride at the crest of a hill on the ride the runs parallel Route 77 where other rides have said the gravitational shift causes riders to lift out of their seats.  

Hackemer had already been though bigger hills in the ride, so it's still not clear why he was ejected at this point in the ride.

The accident has revived an attempt by a Massachusetts congressman to take theme park regulation out of the hands of state officials and put regulation and investigation into federal officials' hands.

The local and state regulators who currently oversee amusement parks may lack the budget resources and technical experience to carry out effective safety checks and investigate accidents, Markey said.

"While the cause of the accident that claimed the life of Sgt. Hackemer is still unknown, one thing is crystal clear: Hypercoasters that hurtle riders at speeds exceeding 70 miles per hour along 200-foot drops should not be exempt from federal safety oversight," Markey said.

He plans to introduce legislation, which he has proposed multiple times before, to make fixed-site amusement parks subject to the regulatory authority of the Consumer Product Safety Commission, a federal consumer protection body. The move could prevent future injuries, he said.

July 11, 2011 - 4:28pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in accident, pembroke, Indian Falls Road.

The driver of a red SUV that crossed the center line causing a serious-injury accident on Indian Falls Road on Thursday, remains in serious condition at ECMC and hasn't been available for interviews, Undersheriff Bill Sheron said. 

Sonya M. Charache, 30, of Gorton Road, suffered a head injury in the accident. It's unclear what caused her SUV to cross the center line, Sheron said.

"It's not unusual that in such accidents where there are head injuries that the victims don't remember much of the accident, or they can't recall what happened just prior to the accident," Sheron said.

It's possible prescription drugs could have been a factor, Sheron said, but toxicology reports have not been returned yet, so neither drugs nor alcohol as a contributing factor have been ruled out.

Three children in Charache's SUV and the driver of a blue pickup truck that was eastbound on Indian Falls Road were also injured.

The other driver, Donald Sage, 70, of Judge Road, Oakfield, remains hospitalized at Strong with multiple fractures and facial injuries.

The 6-year-old injured, Garrett M. Talbot, remains hospitalized. Sheron said he is making good progress toward recovery.

"None of the injuries are considered life threatening at this point," Sheron said.

The other two children, Jackson K. Gilbert, 2, and Kayda L. Charache, 1, both of Gorton Road, Alabama, are out of the hospital.

July 11, 2011 - 2:20pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, crime.

A former Bergen resident who was recently accused of stealing a mailbox from a neighbor is facing a grand larceny charge for allegedly stealing $14,650 from her former employer.

Michele Ann Case, 46, of 1037 Chili Center-Coldwater Road, Rochester, a registered nurse, is accused of submitting inflated mileage claims and fraudulent "call-in" claims that, in effect, diverted $14,650 from her employer.

Case worked for the company, which is not named in the press release, from late 2008 through January 2011. She is accused of filing the inflated claims from January 2009 through January 2011.

Following arraignment in Batavia City Court, Case was released under supervision of Genesee Justice.

The alleged larceny was investigated by Det. Charles F. Dudek, Batavia PD.

In June, Case, who was listed as a resident of North Bergen Road, Bergen, in previous arrest reports, was accused of stealing a mailbox. In comments on The Batavian, Case said she thought the mailbox was unused and was merely recycling it.

Previous stories about Case:

July 11, 2011 - 12:56pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, crime.

A total of 36 tickets were issued to 11 drivers of commercial vehicles during a check point set up on Route 98 near the Thruway entrance on June 23, Batavia Police announced.

Besides the citations, two trucks were taken out of service until necessary repairs could be made.

The city's enforcement effort was funded through a Selective Enforcement Program grant through the Governor's Traffic Safety Committee.

The police department said such enforcement details will continue throughout the summer and fall.

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