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February 24, 2011 - 10:55am
posted by Howard B. Owens in schools, education.

Proposed cuts in state aid to school districts will hit rural districts harder, local educators told Sen. Mike Ranzenhofer and Assemblyman Steve Hawley at a well-attended gathering Wednesday night at John Kennedy School.

The hour-long session centered on school district leaders from throughout Genesee County expressing their concern and asking questions about the proposed cuts.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is proposing a $1.5 billion reduction in state aid to schools. But the funding formula currently in place would make the cuts inequitable, to the detriment of rural school districts, local education leaders say.

Some downstate districts will see funding drop about $700 per student, while rural districts will get $1,200 to $1,700 less.

"Our concern isn’t that we won’t make the cuts," said Mark Johnson (inset, left), a trustee in the Oakfield-Alabama School District. "We’ll do the same with less. The issue is we just want the cuts to be equitable."

Hawley said he will only support a 2-percent property tax cap if there is mandate relief.

"There has to be mandate relief," Hawley said. "These are costly, cumbersome and overburdening mandates by the state of New York on districts that know how to operate a business."

City Schools Superintendent Margaret Puzio said the meeting was fruitful, if for no other reason than to hear Ranzenhofer say there is a conversation going on in Albany about the inequality of the budget proposal.

"Our kids have to compete with kids from rich urban districts," Puzio said. "If they can’t get the same AP course, the same gifted and talented programs, the same chances in athletics, how can that be fair?"

February 24, 2011 - 10:22am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, crime, Pavilion.

A 16-year-old resident of Sparks Road, Pavilion, is charged with petit larceny. The youth is accused of shoplifting from Kmart on Tuesday.

A 17-year-old resident of Wyoming Road, Wyoming, is charged with petit larceny. The youth is accused of shoplifting from Kmart on Tuesday.

A 17-year-old resident of Black Street Road, Le Roy, is charged with unlawful possession of marijuana. K-9 "Pharoah," handled by Deputy Brian Thompson, alerted on a car parked in the East Park Street area of Pavilion. After an interview with the driver, Thompson allegedly found a small quantity of suspected marijuana and three pipes with suspected marijuana residue.

February 24, 2011 - 10:01am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, accident.

The cause of a rollover accident on Clinton Street Road yesterday evening remains under investigation.

The driver was taken to Strong Memorial Hospital by Mercy Flight with non-life threatening injuries.

No citations have been issued.

Jody B. Gillette, 50, of Pine Hollow Drive, Batavia, was driving a 1993 Chrysler sedan east on Route 33 when he lost control of his car for an unknown reason. The car left the roadway, struck a sewer pipe and overturned coming to rest on its roof.

Town of Batavia fire, State Troopers, Sheriff's deputies and Mercy EMS responded to the 6:32 p.m. accident near Terry Hills.

The accident is being investigated by Deputy Cory Mower.

(Initial Report)

February 23, 2011 - 11:23pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in photos, Alabama, Gabbey Road.

Before all heck broke loose this evening, I was out in the western part of the county looking for a good sunset picture when I came across this scene.  Picture shot on Gabbey Road (just west of Route 77) in Pembroke/Indian Falls.

February 23, 2011 - 11:20pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in politics, NY-26.

While Republicans are rallying around Jane Corwin as their standard-bearer in any upcoming special election to replace the fallen Chris Lee in the 26th Congressional District, and the Democrats have yet to select a leading candidate, the potential field of candidates could yet get crowded.

Three-time loser Jack Davis is saying he plans to run as an Independent, according to the Buffalo News, and YNN reports that Batavia resident and Iraq vet David Bellavia has registered an exploratory committee.

Buffalo News:

Davis, an Amherst resident, said Tuesday he is committed to participating in the contest for recently resigned Republican Rep. Chris Lee’s former seat one way or another, and is not reneging on his promise to spend $3 million in the process.

“As far as I’m concerned, I no longer have it; it’s spent,” he said. “It’s for a good cause with the powers behind it, and it’s for a good cause without the powers behind it.”


Bellavia’s communications director tells YNN that Bellavia has formed an exploratory committee and filed with the Federal Elections Commission. The move allows Bellavia to start raising funds for a run in the yet-to-be announced special election to replace former Congressman Chris Lee. The communications director said that Bellavia would seek the Conservative Party endorsement.

All of this before Gov. Andrew Cuomo has even announced a special election to replace Lee.

February 23, 2011 - 11:00pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, crime, accident.

A Rochester man was arrested for allegedly possessing brass knuckles Wednesday after getting involved in a one-car, non-injury accident on Park Road.

Charged with criminal possession of a weapon, 4th, was Joseph Samuel Caiazza, 32, of Elmwood Avenue, Rochester.

Caiazza said he was pulling out of the parking lot of the Best Western Hotel at 10:38 a.m. when his phone rang. When he went to answer it, he struck a utility pole.

Caiazza also received citations for alleged failure to maintain lane and alleged equipment violations.

The accident was investigated by Deputy Chris Parker.

February 23, 2011 - 5:18pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Democrats, NY-26.

Calling the GOP's selection of Jane Corwin as its choice to replace Chris Lee in the 26th Congressional District, Democrats today issued a press release saying they were taking their time to evaluate candidates.

Genesee County Democratic Chairwoman Lorie Longhany sent along the press release signed by all of the county chairs in the district.

The press release invites interested potential candidates to contact their county chairs if they would like to be interviewed for a possible endorsement.

Full press release after the jump:

February 23, 2011 - 5:08pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in politics, NY-26, Jane Corwin.

Proclaiming herself anti-tax and anti-deficit spending, Erie County's Jane Corwin stopped by Batavia's Old Courthouse today to let everybody know, yes, she's really running for Congress.

"America is at a crossroads," Corwin said. "You all know the numbers, a $1.5 trillion annual deficit. We borrow one dollar for every three that we spend. That’s simply unsustainable. Our nation’s debt tops out at over $14 trillion. That’s nearly $50,000 for every man, woman and child living in the United States today. With numbers like those, what kind of legacy are we leaving for our children?"

Flanked by some of Genesee County's leading Republicans, including Sheriff Gary Maha, County Clerk Don Read, Coroner Jack Taylor and Legislature Chair Mary Pat Hancock, Corwin, a second-term assemblywoman, received the endorsement of her colleague Assemblyman Steve Hawley.

"As you get to know her, as you get to speak with her, and more importantly, as she listens to you, you are going to see she is going to be the kind of Congress person we grew accustomed to back in the days of Barber Conable," Hawley said.

He said Corwin has the dignity and honesty and caring for people to give him confidence that she will do the same kind of job Conable did.

Asked by WBTA's Dan Fischer what she might tell a friend about Genesee County, Corwin replied, "First, I'd talk about downtown Batavia. I love to spend weekends here. My son plays hockey, so we’re over at the ice rink every few weeks or so. Genesee County is beautiful. It’s a rural area. It’s got a strong agriculture history. It’s something that I think is a shining part of Upstate New York. I believe this could be a thriving area if we could just get our national affairs in order."

As for the speculation and any issue around the idea that Corwin will fund her own campaign, Corwin said she will also engage in fund raising, but certainly, she will spend some of her own money as well on the campaign.

"I don’t believe a candidate can buy a race because a race isn’t about money, it’s about ideas," Corwin said. "The ideas that I put out there, do they make sense to the voters in the area? Is it something they can relate to? Do they agree with what my plan is in the future? That’s what wins elections."

Meanwhile, the Democrat & Chronicle reports that Corwin is close to winning the conservative endorsement in Monroe County.

Also, a bill introduced by Gov. Cuomo could delay any special election. Cuomo has said the bill is necessary to ensure the election conforms with federal regulations, and if passed, the election would take place 70 to 80 days after it's called instead of the past 30 to 40 days.

February 23, 2011 - 4:34pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in weather.

Accumulations of heavy, wet snow -- up to 10 inches -- are expected to hit the region within the next 24 hours by late Thursday night.

A winter weather watch is in place starting tonight late Thursday night through Friday afternoon.

Winds will be 10 to 20 mph from the northeast.

The storm will reach from all of Western New York into Central New York.

During heavy snowfall, visibility will be cut to quarter mile.

Temperatures will be around 32 at the start of the storm, dropping to the 20s, according to the weather service.

The forecaster confidence: High for the Southern Tier to the Finger Lakes, medium for Buffalo to Rochester and the North Country.

February 23, 2011 - 2:35pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, crime.

A former Batavia resident, already serving up to seven years for second-degree rape and sexual abuse, will spend five more years in prison for raping another young victim, Judge Robert C. Noonan ruled today.

Philip Kroft, 23, admitted to rape, 2nd, in November as part of a plea deal that would cap his possible sentence at five years.

Noonan gave Kroft the five years, but denied a request by defense attorney Fred Rarick that Kroft's sentence be consecutive concurrent with the time he's already serving.

Rarick said that Kroft has completed his GED while in prison and also earned a welding certificate.

"Adding an additional five years I don’t think is necessary, may be considered harsh and excessive punishment," Rarick said. "He regrets what he’s done in the past and he’s looking forward to his future."

Kroft's 14-year-old victim gave birth to a child and Kroft would like to be involved in the child's life, according to his attorney.

At the time of the rape, Kroft was 21.

The crime occurred around the time of his previous arrest in 2008, which resulted in a conviction for rape, 2nd, sexual abuse, 1st, criminal possession of a weapon, 3rd, and conspiracy, 4th.

Kroft was eligible for parole on those convictions in 2015.

When asked for a statement, Kroft said he does know he made mistakes and he is trying to turn his life around. He said he has also enrolled for some college courses.

If the second rape had come to light during proceedings on the original charge, perhaps the crime would have been wrapped into the sentence with the first. That's what Rarick suggested to Noonan, who replied that the opposite could also be true.

"It would be an equally good argument that had both charges come before me, I would have given him four or five more years based on him victimizing yet another young girl," the judge said. 

Kroft is serving his sentence in Elmira Correctional Facility.

February 23, 2011 - 11:14am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, crime, Alabama.

Darik Robert Michael Orbaker, 18, of Forest Edge Drive, Batavia, is charged with criminal contempt. Orbaker is accused of violating an order of protection.

Frank G. Frainier, 47, of Lewiston Road, Royalton, is charged with DWI, driving with a BAC of .08 or greater and improper right turn. Frainier was arrested after the Sheriff's Office received a report at 6:47 p.m., Monday, of a car off the road on Route 77, Alabama.

February 23, 2011 - 7:57am
posted by Howard B. Owens in fire, Darien.

A wood shop fire has been reported at 9877 Simonds Road, Darien.

Darien Fire with mutual aid from Alexander and Corfu dispatched to the scene.

UPDATE 8:04 a.m.: Darien chief on scene reports, "working fire."

UPDATE 8:17 a.m.: Attica requested to fill in at Alexander Fire Hall.

View Larger Map

February 22, 2011 - 11:50pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in photos, Le Roy.

Tonight I went to the Le Roy Central School District board meeting to see if anything interesting happened. Nothing did, but as I was leaving, I saw this wonderfully shaped tree with the great mural in the well-lit hallway in background and thought it should make a good picture. As long as I had the tripod out, I took the picture below of the Woodward Memorial Library.

February 22, 2011 - 11:40pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in photos, Bethany, Francis Road.

I had a little time to drive around a bit late this afternoon and headed out to Bethany. Driving down Francis Road, I came across a couple of picture opportunities.

February 22, 2011 - 11:27pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business, downtown.

Ken and Andrea Mistler have made some big changes to their former coffee and smoothie shop at the corner of Main and Jackson streets.

The former Daily Grind is now Espresso Salads and Subs.

Ken Mistler said it was time to expand what the shop offered. While a prep area has been added for food service, much of the food prep -- including baking fresh sub rolls daily -- takes place at Mistler's other food establishment downtown, South Beach Restaurant.

Andrea manages day-to-day operations for the  sub and salad shop.

Subs and salads are made to order with fresh ingredients.

For the coffee and smoothie crowd, the full selection of the Daily Grind remains on the menu.

Mistler has also added free wi-fi and there are now leather chairs and couches available for customers. In the summer, Ken said, he will add outdoor seating.

February 22, 2011 - 11:05pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, downtown, Jackson Street, girl scouts.

The local Girl Scouts have a new home, 5 Jackson St., Batavia.

After the location the Girl Scouts occupied in City Centre was sold, the local office and retail shop was relocated to vacant retail space just about a block away.

It took about a month to get settled in, but the retail shop is now set up and the staff is ready to help local scouts and leaders.

The scouts will host an open house at its new location from 3 to 6 p.m., Monday, Feb. 28.

The grand opening will include free drawings, prizes and discounts on scouting items as well as a food drive for the Salvation Army and Batavia Agri-Business Child Development.

The shop is open from 11:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, with the service center opening at 8:30 a.m.

Pictured above, from left, Stephanie Burgett, customer service, Marlene Worthington, membership manager, Kathie Waika, program manager and Robin Ettinger, membership manager.

February 22, 2011 - 6:26pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in crime, pembroke.

A 29-year-old Pembroke man was arrested today on a sealed grand jury indictment for allegedly selling cocaine to an undercover agent on two separate occasions.

Arraigned before Judge Robert C. Noonan this afternoon was Brandon R. Brade, of Genesee Street, Pembroke.

Brade was taken into custody at his place of employment, where he has worked for two months, he told Noonan.

"I'd kind of like to keep my job," Brade said, asking for a bail lower than the $50,000 requested by Assistant District Attorney Will Zickl.

Noonan set bail at $10,000 and gave Brade a week to hire an attorney (Brade said he could afford to hire his own) before his next court appearance.

Brade is charged with two counts of criminal sale of a controlled substance, 3rd, and two counts of possession of a controlled substance, 3rd.

According to a Sheriff's Office press release, Brade allegedly sold quantities of cocaine to an agent of the Local Drug Enforcement Task Force.

Zickl asked for the high bail because of Brade's prior record, which includes convictions for DWI (2005), resisting arrest (2002) and stalking (2000).

Noonan said Brade will get another shot at a lower bail after Genesee Justice files a bail evaluation report, which would require Brade's cooperation.

February 22, 2011 - 11:16am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, crime.

UPDATED 2:34 p.m.

A former Batavia resident is expected to soon plead guilty in a Milwaukee county court to charges that he impersonated a lawyer and committed forgery.

According to investigators in Wisconsin, Thomas J. Lyon, 28, not only represented several "clients" in legal proceedings, but also forged checks, stole money, assumed the identity of a deceased notary public and operated a prostitution ring.

According to court documents, Lyon reportedly bragged to an associate at one time that he was like Frank Abagnale Jr., the former con artist depicted by Leonardo DiCaprio in the hit movie, "Catch Me If You Can."

Besides Batavia, a public records search shows that Lyon has also apparently lived in Warsaw, where he was born, Buffalo and Hamburg.

Wisconsin court documents state that Lyon was on probation in New York and had his probation transferred to Wisconsin. According to the documents, he was previously convicted in New York of grand larceny, stalking and false imprisonment.

Lyon was arrested for allegedly issuing a bad check in Genesee County in July 2008, according to the Sheriff's Office. According to the arrest report, Lyon lived on Saltvale Road in Middlebury at the time.

In Milwaukee, Lyon is accused of assuming the legal identity of Thomas J. Lyons, a Minnesota-based attorney -- also licensed to practice law in Wisconsin -- who told investigators he hadn't appeared in a Milwaukee court in years. 

Lyon allegedly used the bar identity number of attorney Lyons to pass himself off as the attorney.

Police searched the office space reportedly rented by Lyon at 5301 W. Hampton Ave., Milwaukee, which reportedly had a sign on it saying it was the offices of "Thomas J. Lyons & Associates, Inc.," and found documents indicating Lyon had at least nine legal clients.

On at least one occasion, Lyon allegedly kept a settlement check for $3,000 that was intended for one of his clients.

Lyon also apparently set up a Web site to advertise his alleged legal services.

The documents also include quotes from court transcripts where Lyon allegedly referred to himself as an attorney and questioned witnesses as if he were an attorney.

One of Lyon's employees is also quoted in the documents saying that besides being a secretary in his office, she worked as a prostitute for him.

Though not charged with any prostitution-related crimes, the court documents say that Lyon allegedly operated an escort service called "Lacuna Limited," and that it was really a front for prostitution.

According to the documents, Lyon booked rooms at a Comfort Suites Inn in Milwaukee and set rates at $200 to $250 per hour. Lyon also allegedly hired a guard for the prostitutes. 

He allegedly recruited prostitutes by advertising for lingerie models.

Lyon allegedly collected prostitution proceeds in cash and kept computer records of the proceeds.

In all, 11 charges were originally filed against Lyon.

He is charged with two misdemeanor counts of practicing law without a license, a felony count of theft, three felony counts of unauthorized use of personal identifying information or documents, and five felony counts of forgery.

Lyon was jailed on $20,000 bail and apparently remains in custody. His attorney last appeared in court for him Jan. 28 and a court appearance date of March 3 was set for Lyon, when he is expected to plead guilty to at least some of the charges.

The terms of the plea bargain have not been released.

The forgery charges carry a maximum sentence of a $10,000 fine for each charge and six years in jail.




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Contact: Howard Owens, publisher (howard (at) the batavian dot com); (585) 250-4118

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