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July 16, 2011 - 4:08pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Pavilion, missing person.

A teenager from Pavilion who was reported to State Police as missing on July 9 was located about 30 minutes ago, according to Trooper Holly Hansel.

Hansel said 17-year-old Brittany Hackett is fine and she is safe. The case has been closed.

July 16, 2011 - 10:26am
posted by Howard B. Owens in agriculture, Torrey Farms, kathy hochul.

Genesee County's farms are facing some of the same difficulties hitting farmers across the nation -- a combination of increased use of E-verify, bureaucratic difficulties with H-2A visas, a dwindling supply of immigrant labor and few U.S. citizens willing to do the work, making it difficult to bring crops in on time.

The confluence of events led to an unusual meeting in Washington, D.C., this past week, organized for Rep. Lois Slaughter (D-Fairport), with participation from Rep. Kathy Hochul and one of Genesee County's farmers, Maureen Torrey.

Torrey, owner of Torrey Farms, said the meeting was the first time high-level representatives of the U.S. Department of Labor, congressional representatives and famers have been able to sit down and discuss immigration issues.

The meeting lasted longer than planned, going two hours.

"Some of the old-timers there were surprised at some of the responses that we got," Torrey said. "We do think maybe there might be some improvement."

Hochul also said the meeting was productive and a unique opportunity to bring together two sides -- the DOL and farmers -- who are historically adversarial. 

"There is so much bureaucratic red tape it that it becomes a challenge for the farmers to get the workers they need," Hochul said. "These are people who are playing by the rules and they deserve all the help they can get from the government."

Torrey said the way the H-2A visa program is handled can really jeopardize the ability of farmers to harvest crops at the right time.

For example, she said, apples need to be picked on just the right day and pickers need to be experienced at recognizing the right color and firmness to pick apples at the right time, as well as be able to handle them properly to avoid damaging the fruit.

U.S. citizens, Torrey said, typically don't want the jobs and they lack the experience and training necessary to do the job properly.

Farmers want to be able bring back the same workers year after year to ensure they have the best labor force.

H-2A visas can be held up for a variety of reasons -- mistakes in the multiple pages of paperwork, a barely missed deadline, or a bureaucrat snafu can delay approval past harvest time.

Torrey said that a farmer might submit a batch of applications, have one disapproved and then face getting the entire batch rejected if she appeals just the one disapproval.

Hochul said the situation is just unacceptable.

"Some of the fields can’t be brought to market in time because they don't have enough popele to harvest the crops," Hochul said.

While the H-2A program requires that farmers first seek qualified labor among U.S. citizens, Torrey said few American ever respond to the required job listings.

In states such as Georgia, Florida and Alabama, where state legislatures have mandated use of a program called E-verify to check the legal status of workers, crops have been left to rot in the fields because there's been no workers available.

Torrey said even the DOL admits there are only about 50,000 qualified legal agricultural workers in the United States, but the annual demand is for 900,000 to one million workers.

Torrey said even Darien Lake Theme Park has trouble filling all of its season worker positions with citizen workers. The park hires about 300 foreign students  on J-1 visas.

"If Darien Lake needs 300 people on J-1 visas, it just shows you there are not enough people to take these jobs," Torrey said. "And that's fun work compared to working in a field."

Until there is a sustainable guest worker program, Torrey said, farmers are going to struggle to fill positions at harvest time.

A guest worker program has been under negotiation for 16 years, Torrey said, and while it wasn't the topic of the meeting organized by Slaughter, Torrey did attend a meeting on the subject while in D.C.

Meanwhile, according to a recent story in  The New York Times, the immigrant labor pool from Mexico is drying up. As economic and educational opportunities improve in Mexico, and the Baby Boom population that fueled the big illegal immigration moves in previous decades is getting older, there are fewer workers willing to take the risk of coming to America for work.

It's all of these forces pushing down the labor pool that made the meetings in Washington so important, Torrey said, and why she's glad they seemed so productive.

"It was really positive," Torrey said. "It is not only going to help Genesee County, but it's going to help farmers all across the country who are having the same issues, so our peers were really happy these meetings took place."

July 16, 2011 - 9:17am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Batavia Downs, food, Genesee Country Farmers' Market.

We've come into that part of the season where there is an abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables at the local farmers markets. Yesterday afternoon, I stopped by the Genesee Country Farmers' Market at Batavia Downs and took a few pictures.

The market is open Tuesdays and Fridays.

July 15, 2011 - 11:17pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, photos, County Airport.

While out at the Genesee County Airport tonight, I noticed the beautiful full moon right after a Mercy Flight helicopter landed.

July 15, 2011 - 1:43pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, crime, Darien, Stafford.

Mark D. Tooley, 28, of Main Road, Stafford, is charged with a felony count of DWAI-Drugs, felony aggravated unlicensed operation and criminal possession of a controlled substance, 7th. At 2:28 p.m., the Sheriff's Office received a report of a red Dodge Caravan being driven erratically on Westbound Route 33, Bergen. The vehicle was located driving on Route 33 in Stafford and observed crossing a double solid center line and weaving within its own lane. The car was stopped and Tooley was charged with the offenses listed above along with criminal impersonation, 2nd, for allegedly giving a false name and date of birth to a deputy and driving left of pavement markings. Tooley was was jailed on $25,000 bail.

Steven Keith Snyder, 46, of Westside Drive, Chili, is charged with DWI, driving with a BAC of .08 or greater, failure to reduce speed and refusal to submit to breath test. Snyder was arrested during an investigation into a property damage accident reported at 12:02 a.m. Thursday on Walker Road, Darien, by Sgt. Brian Frieday.

Earl Shateek Anthony Lockhart, 18, of East Main Street, Batavia, is charged with petit larceny. Lockhart is accused of shoplifting from Kmart on June 21, but he could not be apprehended that day. He is accused of stealing $54.23 in merchandise. Lockhart was jailed on $1,000 bail.

July 14, 2011 - 8:15pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in veterans, elba.

Assemblyman Steve Hawley, Elba and Genesee County officials along with a group of veterans and residents were on hand at the Maplelawn Cemetery in Elba this evening to dedicate a new Veterans' Memorial Garden.

July 14, 2011 - 6:47pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, accident.

About five minutes ago, there was a minor three-car accident on East Main Street at Center Street. No injuries. City Fire Department called to deal with an antifreeze leak. City police on scene to take a report.

July 14, 2011 - 6:06pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, crime, Oakfield, pembroke, corfu.

Jody Blaine Gillett, 50, of Pine Hollow Drive, Batavia, is charged with DWI, aggravated DWI and moving from lane unsafely. Following a lengthy investigation into an accident on Clinton Street Road, Batavia, on Feb. 23, Gillett was accused of driving while intoxicated.

Douglas Paul Cornelius, 32, of Pratt Road, Pembroke, is charged with petit larceny. Cornelius is accused of stealing woodworking equipment from a location on Pratt Road, Pembroke. 

Tyler P. Schroeder, 19, of Lewiston Road, Batavia, is charged with petit larceny. Schroeder is accused of stealing $700 from a residence in Elba on June 3. Schroeder was arraigned in Oakfield because no Elba town justice was available and remanded to Genesee Jail on $3,000 bail.

Earl Shateek Anthony Lockhart, 18, of East Main Street, Batavia, is charged with unlawful possession of marijuana. Lockhart is accused of trying to hand off marijuana he had in his pocket to a girlfriend while in Town of Batavia Court on an unrelated criminal charge.

William Andrew Johnson, 23, of Alexander Street, Rochester, is charged with unlawful possession of marijuana. Johnson was allegedly found in possession of marijuana during a traffic stop at 8:43 p.m., Tuesday, on Route 77, Corfu, by Deputy Patrick Reeves.

John Jeffery McCombs, 23, of Oxford Street, Rochester, is charged with unlawful possession of marijuana. McCombs was a passenger in a vehicle stopped for alleged traffic violations at 8:43 p.m., Tuesday, on Route 77, Corfu, when he was allegedly found in possession of marijuana by Deputy Patrick Reeves.

Nathaniel Michael Dickens, 18, of Broadway Street, Oakfield, is charged with harassment, 2nd. Dickens is accused of striking another person during an incident on July 7.

Deborah A. Schramm, 30, of East Main Street, Batavia, and Michael R. Schramm, 35, of East Main Street, Batavia, are charged with petit larceny. Deborah and Michael are accused of shoplifting at Walmart.

July 14, 2011 - 1:59pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, accident.

A pedestrian has been hit by a car at the Rite Aid location on Lewiston Road.

Town of Batavia Fire Department and Mercy EMS responding.

No word yet on the extent of injuries.

UPDATE 2 p.m.: The victim is conscious and alert.

July 14, 2011 - 12:58pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, crime, history, hlom.

It's a ticket to one of the last hangings in Genesee County and it was last seen hanging in the Holland Land Office Museum in the early 1970s.

It was around that time, maybe a couple of years earlier, that it was apparently stolen.

In 1973, an unidentified couple bought it from a guy selling antiques out of the trunk of his car in Pavilion.

A few weeks ago, the now-elderly couple decided to donate it to the Genesee Country Museum, but the museum director there immediately recognized it as property of HLOM and called up Director Jeffrey Donahue to see about returning it.

A few days ago, Don Read, Bob Turk and Donahue drove to Mumford to recover the framed relic.

The ticket was issued in May 1866 by Sheriff Parley Upton (unknown family connection to Gen. Emery Upton) to Henry Todd, a local newspaper editor. It was donated to the HLOM by Philip Skelton Jr.

The murderer hanged was Levi Mayhew, a veteran of the Civil War who became the lover of another man's wife. The cuckold's wife wanted her husband dead and tried to get Mayhew to poison him, but he wouldn't do it. When she threatened to do it herself, Mayhew decided to kill the husband, Theodore Dunham, himself by beating him to death in Indian Falls.

Mayhew was hanged on May 4, 1866.

The last hanging in Genesee County was apparently 10 years later when Thomas B. Quackenbush was punished for the Dec. 3, 1875 murder of Sarah Norton, also in Indian Falls. He was executed by hanging in August 1876 by Sheriff Ward.

UPDATE: It looks like the last execution was Charles Stockley, hanged on Aug. 19, 1881 at the age of 24. Stockley shot and killed his former boss in a dispute over the man's daughter.

July 14, 2011 - 10:11am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Sheriff's Office, Genesee County Jail.

Investigators have yet to determine the cause of death of 42-year-old Nikko C. Gambino, an inmate of the Genesee County Jail, who died Friday after being transported to UMMC.

Gambino was reportedly going through withdrawals from drugs and suffered various other medical issues, according to Sheriff Gary Maha.

Medical examiners have yet to determine the cause of death and are conducting an autopsy.

Gambino most recently made news locally after he was caught allegedly smuggling drugs into the jail. In that case, the search warrant was executed at UMMC, where Gambino reportedly had to pass the drugs before they could be recovered.

At the time, the Covington resident was serving an intermittent jail sentence for impersonating a federal law enforcement officer.

In a press release, Maha said Gambino was being closely monitored by corrections officers and medical personnel because of his health issues.

On Friday, at 2:12 p.m., a corrections officer spoke with Gambino who reportedly motioned he was OK. At 2:26 p.m., an officer making his rounds "noticed that Mr. Gambino wasn't doing well," Maha said.

The officer summoned assistance and another corrections officer administered CPR.

Gambino was transported to UMMC by Mercy EMS. He was pronounced dead at the hospital at 3:05 p.m.

As required by regulations, the NYS Commission of Corrections was notified immediately of Gambino's death. The commission will conduct its own investigation, as required by law.

There is no sign of foul play, Maha said.

July 14, 2011 - 9:07am
posted by Howard B. Owens in crime, darien lake, Darien.

The following arrests were made in connection with the Kid Rock concert at Darien Lake Performing Arts Center on Wednesday.

Richard W. Wilson, 16, of Lemunyan Hill Road. Wilson is charged with assault, 2nd, resisting arrest, disorderly conduct and sale of imitation drugs. Wilson allegedly sold an imitation drug and then fought with deputies. A deputy was injured during the scuffle, suffering numerous cuts on his forearm, requiring several stitches. Wilson was jailed on $20,000 bail. The injured deputy is Youth Officer Chris Erion.

David T. Costrino, 50, of Brown School House Road, Holley, is charged with criminal possession of a controlled substance, 7th, and unlawful possession of marijuana. Costrino was allegedly found in possession of Ecstasy, hallucinogenic mushrooms and marijuana.

Austin G. Costrino, 25, of Brown School House Road, Holley, is charged with criminal possession of a controlled substance, 7th, and unlawful possession of marijuana. Costrino was allegedly found in possession of Ecstasy, hallucinogenic mushrooms and marijuana.

Travis M. Queary, 28, of 7038 Texas Road, Croghan, is charged with arrested for trespass, disorderly conduct and unlawful possession of marijuana. Queary allegedly refused to leave the concert venue after being ejected. He then allegedly caused a disturbance in the campground area and during the investigation of that incident was allegedly found in possession of marijuana.  

Tara M. Victor, 32, of Juniata Place, Buffalo, is charged with criminal possession of a controlled substance, 7th, and possession of a controlled substance not in original container. Victor allegedly possessed a controlled substance in an unmarked bottle with out a prescription.

Joseph G. Marchese, 49, of Ladner Avenue, Buffalo, is charged with harassment, 2nd. Marchese allegedly punched a security guard while being escorted from the venue.

A 17-year-old of Hulberton Road, Holley, is charged with disorderly conduct. The youth allegedly caused a disturbance in the parking lot. The person was jailed on $250 bail.

A 17-year-old of Allen Road, East Concord, was charged with trespass. The youth allegedly returned to the concert venue after being ejected and told not to return.

Kelly L. Prue, 40, of Strathmore Circle, Rochester, is charged with disorderly conduct. Prue allegedly spat on a passing employee.

Burt T. Lyon Jr., 46, of Wehrle Drive, Lancaster, is charged with petit larceny. Lyon allegedly stole a display sign.

The following citations were issued for allegedly possessing alcohol under age 21:

Samuel J. Kroter, 20, of Church Street, Barton
Korey D. Hunsinger, 20, of Cole Hill Road, Nichols
Zachary K. Spaulding, 20, of Grove Street, Angola
Graig G. Leone, 20, of Grove Street, Angola
Cassondra M. Duckman, 20, of University Avenue, Atlanta
Christopher W. Moody, 19, of Cainal Lane, Grand Island
A 16-year-old of Hulberton Road, Claredon
A 16-year-old of Ridge Road, Holley
A 16-year-old of Vanderbilt Avenue, Niagara Falls
Matthew Soto, 20, of 20th Street, Niagara Falls
Joshua J. Clark, 18, of 12 C Street, Niagara Falls
Carleigh M. Preisch, 19, of 20th Street, Niagara Falls
Alexander J. Kaempf, 20, of Willow Ridge Lane, Lancaster
Tyler D. Guarasci, 18, of Williamsburg Lane, Lancaster
Chantal R. Ellis, 20, of Richland Road, Rochester
Kara M. Morris, 18, of Wendhurst Drive, Rochester

July 14, 2011 - 8:23am
posted by Howard B. Owens in crime, Le Roy.

A Village of Le Roy resident was arrested early this morning after a brief overnight investigation into a report of a gun being fired into a residence at 36 E. Main St., Le Roy, at 12:05 a.m.

Taken into custody and held on $5,000 bail is Travis J. Hubbard, 21, of Clay Street.

It's not clear why Hubbard fired the gun, described as a shotgun, into the apartment. The circumstances that prompted the incident remain under investigation.

Hubbard was charged with reckless endangerment, 2nd, criminal mischief, 4th, and unlawful possession of marijuana.

The suspect allegedly broke the front door window of the victim's apartment and discharged the shotgun into the stairwell.

(Initial report)

July 14, 2011 - 8:08am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, police, labor unions.

An arbitration panel will consider the positions of both the City of Batavia and Police Benevolent Association today after PBA members rejected a tentative contract negotiated by union leaders and city officials.

The 30-member union rejected the proposed contract negotiated by its leadership with city officials that included a 2.25 percent annual pay increase retroactive to 2007.

The proposed contract would have ran through March 2013.

Sources told WBTA that the contract included some health benefit concessions.

"Both parties worked hard to come to an agreement and I think we both thought it was OK," said City Manager Jason Molino.  "It’s unfortunate it wasn’t accepted."

Molino could not confirm the details of the rejected agreement.

We left a message asking for comment from PBA president Dan Coffey at his work number yesterday and haven't heard back from him yet.

An arbitration panel will consider police officers' pay in comparably sized communities, the positions of members and the city, as well as a community's ability to pay.

Molino said this is likely the first time a police contract has come before an arbitration panel since the state passed a property tax cap.

The cap could greatly impact a municipality's ability to adjust its budget to absorb union contract costs, but it's unclear if the cap will be an issue in this case.

"You would think the panel would consider it, but each arbitration is different and each panel is different," Molino said. 

The arbitration panel meeting is held in secret. It could be months before a decision is announced.

Under terms of the Taylor Law, when police and fire unions are unable to reach an agreement with government agencies, the dispute must be decided by an arbitration panel. Other government unions do not enjoy automatic arbitration and must reach a negotiated agreement.

July 14, 2011 - 1:04am
posted by Howard B. Owens in photos, Pavilion, Bethany.

An orange tractor sits in a field recently cut and baled along Ellicott Street Road in Bethany.

A barn off Mayne Road near Ellicott Street Road, Bethany.

Rolled bales of hay off Bethany Center Road, Bethany.

Two tractors on a farm on Cook Road, Pavilion. The top three photos were taken on Wednesday. This photo was actually taken on Monday.

July 14, 2011 - 12:45am
posted by Howard B. Owens in crime, pembroke.

Mercy EMS requested to the Pembroke Service Center on the New York State Thruway to evaluate a person reportedly thrown from a moving limousine in the area.

The person reportedly suffered only minor cuts and abrasions.

No word on what law enforcement is on scene, but this would likely be a Troop T (State troopers who patrol the Thruway) call, which we don't pick up on our scanner.

East Pembroke Fire also dispatched as required for an EMS call.

UPDATE 12:49 a.m.: When the East Pembroke chief arrived, he couldn't find the individual. Dispatchers recontacted Thruway authorities and were told that he had gone inside the service center and personnel should ask for a waitress named "Bunny" who could point him out. The chief spoke to personnel at the service center who said the individual walked out. There was also a report of a person walking on the Thruway, but he was spotted two miles east of the service center. "It may be one and the same call," says a dispatcher. There was no law enforcement on scene, but a trooper is dispatched. Now a chief says he has a visual on the subject, "but he wants nothing to do with us."

UPDATE 1:11 a.m.: Troopers on scene. Subject in custody.

UPDATE 1:18 a.m.: Medic with the subject now. Dispatch has received more calls about an apparently intoxicated male walking on the Thruway. Checking on availability of troopers to respond.

UPDATE 1:24 a.m.: Apparently, the two troopers handling the case at the service center are the only two Troop T officers on duty on the stretch of Thruway between Buffalo to Rochester.

UPDATE 1:36 a.m.: Troopers now checking eastbound. East Pembroke chief standing by.

UPDATE 1:57 a.m.: The pedestrian subject has been located. No medical assistance needed. East Pembroke back in service.

July 14, 2011 - 12:16am
posted by Howard B. Owens in crime, Le Roy.

A resident in the area of East Main Street and South Street in Le Roy has reported he and his family were awoken by the sound of a gun shot.

Upon investigation, the resident says a bullet apparently entered the apartment through a window and lodged in a wall.

There is no suspect description available.

Nobody was injured by the shot.

Le Roy Police are responding.

July 13, 2011 - 11:43pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, crime.

Members of the Local Drug Enforcement Task Force have reportedly seized about $3,000 in cocaine after executing a search warrant against two individuals suspected of dealing drugs.

Taken into custody and jailed without bail were Edward J. Fuller (aka "Taz"), 21, of Parsells Street, Rochester, and Alex S. Dumbleton, 18, of Washington Avenue, Batavia.

Both are charged with two counts of criminal possession of a controlled substance, 3rd.

Task Force members executed the search warrant late Tuesday night by initiating a traffic stop on a vehicle occupied by Fuller and Dumbleton. The stop was made on Ellicott Street.

A search was conducted of the car and of a residence on Jackson Street.

The pair were allegedly found in possession of more than an ounce of cocaine with a street value in excess of $3,000.

Assisting in the arrest were the District Attorney's Office, Batavia police officers and Sheriff's deputies.

Photos: Top, Fuller; bottom, Dumbleton.




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