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May 22, 2011 - 9:26pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in accident, thruway.

A car is off the road on the Thruway in the area of mile marker 396, which puts it about 8/10 of a mile east of the Slusser Road overpass.

Unknown injuries.

East Pembroke fire and Mercy EMS responding.

UPDATE 9:28 p.m.: Another caller indicates a vehicle is on its side. No person is seen outside the vehicle.

UPDATE 9:32 p.m.: First responder reports car on all four wheels. Mercy EMS can respond non-emergency.

May 22, 2011 - 9:14pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, fire.

A tractor-trailer fire has been reported on the Thruway in the area of mile marker 389.8.

The driver reported engine trouble. The turbo was revving fast and he was unable to power it down.

The fire is contained to the engine compartment at this time.

Unknown what cargo the truck is hauling.

Town of Batavia Fire Department responding.

UPDATE 9:17 p.m.: The location is just west of the State Street overpass. The visible fire is out. The driver reports the engine has seized up. The truck is hauling welding rods.

May 22, 2011 - 7:31pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Jack Davis, NY-26, Jane Corwin, Ian Murphy.

As part of our ongoing series of questions for candidates, we close with questions about "intellectual life."

From my perspective, to be qualified for office, it's not just about your policy positions, it's also about what you know, how you think and how you learn, because elected officials are asked to deal with problems that aren't always easily grasped by political ideology. Being intellectually curious is important to any job that's essentially a job of the mind.

The deadline for questions was Thursday at 11 a.m. None of the candidates, perhaps understandably, met the deadline. Kathy Hochul and Ian Murphy turned in answers Thursday evening.

In effort to get answers from either Jane Corwin or Jack Davis, I waited until Friday afternoon to post the questions and answers, but then we had a big breaking news story.

Jack eventually turned in partial answers. Jane Corwin, despite repeated calls and emails to Matthew Harakal, including one conversation in which he promised the answers "soon," we have yet to receive any answers. We requested them again today.

Below are the questions, after the jump, answers in the order received.

Perhaps write-in candidates Jeff Allen and JoAnne Rock would like to provide their answers in the comments.

What three books first published in the past 100 years have been most meaningful to you?

Name your three favorite songwriters and pick one song from one of those writers and tell us what that song has meant to you?

If you were asked to read a poem on the floor of the House of Representatives, what poem would it be and why?

Tell us about a museum you’ve visited any time in your life and how it had a lasting impact on your intellectual life or imagination.

Who is your favorite Western New York writer, musician or artist (any genre/style/medium)?

Do you have any hidden artistic talent? What is it (sing, draw, photography, etc.)?  If not, is there anything along those lines you aspire to -- ‘I really wish I could .... ?’

May 21, 2011 - 10:48pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, fire, State Street.

There is report of smoke in the hallway of an apartment at 106 State St.

City fire responding.

UPDATE 10:58 p.m.: Burnt food. City fire back in service.


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May 21, 2011 - 1:51pm
posted by Howard B. Owens.

The annual day of renewal in Bergen -- where community members come out to plant flowers and spruce up parks -- became a time for reflection this morning as the small village honored the memory of Eric C. Wall.

The 16-year-old Bergen resident was struck and killed by a train on Friday afternoon.

Pastors Matt Farrell of the United Methodist Church and Michael Merry of the Presbyterian Church led a short service and Mayor Ralph Marsocci said a few works of condolences.

Merry spoke briefly before singing a song, but said he didn't know what to say on an occasion such as this.

"We have a high school that’s in shock, a community that is in shock," Merry said. "We have people of all different walks of life and none of us know, and I don’t know, how to comfort all of you, but I do know, there is always hope. What I know of Eric and the Wall family, they would want us to continue. They would want us to plant flowers."

Farrell also spoke of hope, the hope that is in the community and the hope promised by Jesus Christ.

After the service, Merry said he's spoken with his own child about the dangers of the train tracks going through the village before, and he wished he had included the same thoughts in his own remarks.

"We have to be careful around the trains," Merry said. "They go by here all the time and so it’s easy to forget about taking basic precautions. We can take them for granted but they are dangerous. By the time a conductor sees you, it's too late. They can't stop quickly at all.

"What I tell my own child," he added,  "is if you see the arms start to come down, stop immediately -- even if you're 20 feet away. You’re not invincible. If you see the arms come down, stop and wait."

After the ceremony, Eric's 12-year-old brother, Grady, helped plant an apple tree in the fountain park less than 50 yards from where Eric was killed. The memorial tree was a gift from the community to young Grady.

May 21, 2011 - 8:49am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, NY-26, 400 Towers, kathy hochul.

Jon "Bowzer" Bauman, star of Sha-Na-Na, stopped by 400 Towers on Friday evening to talk with residents about Medicare, Social Security and his career in music and television.

Though Bauman's appearance was sponsored by Kathy Hochul, his talk was pretty non-political. Bauman mostly stuck to the facts of the programs and proposals, at least as he sees them.

Above, Bea McManis escorts Bauman into 400 Towers as Bauman displays Bowzer's trademark muscle flex.


May 20, 2011 - 11:24pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in accident.

A 16-year-old Byron-Bergen High School student apparently tried to dash across train tracks on the north side of Lake Avenue on Friday afternoon and was struck by a westbound Amtrak train.

The youth was then hit by an eastbound CSX train.

Pronounced dead at the scene by Coroner Robert Yungfleish was Eric C. Wall, of Bergen.

Eric walked home from school with two friends Friday. At some point on Lake Avenue, Eric and his friends went their separate ways and Eric started running north, toward home. He went under a pedestrian gate at the train crossing even while warning bells were clanging, according to witnesses.

Deputy Chief Gordon Dibble said it's impossible to know what Eric's intentions were or if he was aware that not just one, but two trains were bearing down on the intersection.

One village resident said there has been a problem recently with the crossing gates going down and the bells ringing even though no train was coming.

Eric made it across one pair of tracks before being struck, Dibble said.

After he was struck, Eric's body was apparently thrown across Lake Avenue, landing on the south shoulder of the roadway near the train tracks.

The accident was reported at 2:47 p.m. By 3:15 p.m., dozens of students from Byron-Bergen were in the village, all seemingly aware of what had happened and who had been killed. Many students were in tears.

At least six school officials, a few wearing "crisis team" badges, were on scene.

Mayor Ralph Marsocci said he knew Eric. Like many Byron-Bergen students, Eric would stop into Ralph and Rosie's delicatessen after school for a slice of pizza.

"He was a wonderful kid, as most of them are," Marsocci said. "He was always very polite, always said 'thank you.'"

In a village of only 1,200 people, Eric's tragic death would be felt by the whole community, Marsocci said.

"People are devastated," Marsocci.

Friends of Eric's who spoke with the media said that Eric was fun to be around.

"He was really funny," Nicole Adams said. "He was like awkward funny. He would make stupid jokes, but everybody would laugh. Whoever was with him was always happy because he was always funny."

Her sister, Shauna, added, "I barely knew him and every time I talked to him he made me laugh."

The girls said they found out about the accident because a friend was on a school bus that was in the area and saw the whole thing and called them immediately.

Dibble said investigators gathered a number of statements from eyewitnesses. 

The investigation is ongoing.

Assisting at the scene were the Bergen Fire Department and State Police.

May 20, 2011 - 2:51pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in accident.

A train conductor has called in a train-vs.-pedestrian accident at the North Lake Avenue railroad crossing in Bergen.

Bergen Fire and Mercy EMS responding.

Dispatchers checking on the availability of Mercy Flight.

UPDATE 2:56 p.m.: Emergency medical response canceled.

UPDATE 3:38 p.m.: On scene, confirmed fatality.

UPDATE 6:30 p.m.: A student of Byron-Bergen High School was killed in the accident. His name has not yet been released. The youth was apparently headed northbound on the east side of North Lake Avenue when he decided to try crossing the tracks. There was an eastbound CSX training coming and a westbound Amtrak train. He was struck by the Amtrak train. There were several eyewitnesses to the accident, according to Deputy Chief Gordon Dibble. He said investigators are still determining the details and comparing statements. Dozens of Byron-Bergen students were on scene within minutes of the accident, many of them in tears. Students we spoke to described the youth as popular and fun to be around. The accident apparently happened right in front of a school bus with students on board. At least a half-dozen school officials were on scene, many of them wearing "crisis team" badges. We'll have a complete story later tonight. The roadway is just now being reopened.

UPDATE 6:45 p.m.: Also, grief counselors are at the school tonight starting at 7 p.m. for anyone in the community who needs to talk.

May 20, 2011 - 1:38pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business, Empire Tractor.

After 17 years of selling and servicing farm equipment at 5563 E. Main St. Road, Batavia, Empire Tractor (former Tri-County Tractor at that location) is moving into a much bigger space about a mile down the road.

The move will allow the company to expand its main building from 8,400 sq. ft. to 22,000 sq. ft., according to company president Tim Call.

"The thing is, farm equipment is getting much bigger," said Call, one of six owners of Empire Tractor, which has locations throughout Western New York. "We couldn't even get some of it into our shop."

The new shop will allow for more repairs to be handled simultaneously and for the bigger equipment to be worked on no matter what the weather.

In anticipation of the move, Empire Tractor has hired three more employees and will hire two or three more after the move is completed.

The new location, formerly a Ford dealership owned by Mike Ognibene, is 5.5 acres and includes two additional buildings (matching in size and function to the buildings at Empire Tractor's current location).

The contiguous space will allow Empire Tractor to consolidate its display and parking space on a single lot. At the current location, for example, some new equipment for sale must be parked across a very busy Route 5.

"This is a lot nicer," Call said. "It's all one side of the road, all blacktop, cleaner, neater. This is a lot nicer."

The location is a bit of a homecoming for Call. One of the buildings on the lot is where his father opened Batavia Farm Equipment in 1960.

Call acquired Tri-County Tractor 17 years ago and eventually merged his company with other farm equipment outlets to form Empire Tractor.  

He is anticipating a big year for Empire Tractor. With corn going from $3 a bushel to $7 and milk from $12 to $19, Call said he anticipates the market for farm equipment will increase. He said the company anticipates a 20 to 25 percent increase in sales.

May 20, 2011 - 11:58am
posted by Howard B. Owens in business, GCEDC, Kirtsen Gillibrand, foreign trade zone.

Press Release:

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand is urging U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke to approve the application submitted by the Genesee County Economic Development Corporation (GCEDC) and the Genesee Gateway Local Development Corporation (GCLDC) for a Foreign Trade Zone (FTZ), a measure that could help attract more businesses to the region, help local businesses find new markets, and create more local jobs. 

In her letter to Secretary Locke, Senator Gillibrand wrote, “This designation would allow for important incentives that could help reduce the cost of doing business for participating companies, increase their competitiveness, and help them access new opportunities to expand their markets. The foreign trade zone designation will also minimize the need for businesses to shift their operations to foreign countries to be nearer to new markets, keeping more jobs within the United States.”

“A foreign trade zone designation for Genesee County will allow existing companies to compete in the global marketplace and attract new companies to Western New York,” stated Steve Hyde, President and CEO of the GCEDC. “Many existing companies will save money on parts they import allowing them to hire more local employees.”

Specifically, an FTZ designation allows for substantial cost savings for businesses on import duties, merchandise processing fees, faster delivery, and higher security. Thousands of businesses use FTZs to handle both foreign and domestic products each year, with more than $30 billion in merchandise exported from FTZs to foreign markets.

The GCEDC is an organization devoted to fostering increased economic activity in local communities throughout the Genesee County region. The GCEDC’s efforts include actively marketing the county to businesses and facilitating capital investment that contributes to the creation of jobs in the region. In fact, GCEDC has sponsored 160 projects, leveraging nearly $45 million in private investment into local businesses, and helping to create or save nearly 6,000 local jobs in the last six years alone.

May 20, 2011 - 9:53am
posted by Howard B. Owens in crime, fire, alexander, Darien.

A trailer owned by an ardent Jack Davis supporter in Darien that was badly damaged in a fire on May 9 is being investigated as an arson, according to Chief Deputy Jerome Brewster.

But the torching is not considered a political act, Brewster said.

It's probably related to an April 1 fire in an unoccupied fire at 9427 Alexander Road, Alexander.

In both cases, holes were found in the floors of the trailers, which is consistent with somebody setting a fire and using an accelerant.

In both cases, no other cause -- electrical, natural gas, lightning, etc. -- could be uncovered.

"When there's nothing there that is believed to have been able to cause it to catch fire, then we have to look at possible human involvement," Brewster said.

No suspects have been identified.  

Brewster said investigators have little to go on -- no gas can left behind with finger prints, no witnesses, no physical evidence.

"Bottom line, unless you have something that connects somebody to that fire, you’re stuck," Brewster said. "It's very difficult. Arsons are very difficult."

Brewster said investigators have been canvassing the neighborhoods looking for witnesses.

He said there's no indication the owner of either trailer had somebody motivated to damage their property for personal reasons.

The May 9 fire was at 11198 Tinkham Road, Darien. The property is owned by Charlie Flagg, a local artist who had planted 5,000 Jack Davis signs in his yard.

"When you have a structure that is not being used and all the sudden it catches on fire, all the sudden your eyebrows are going to go up," Brewster said.

Anybody with information that might assist in the investigation are asked to call the Sheriff's Office at 343-5000.

May 20, 2011 - 7:42am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Jack Davis, NY-26, Jane Corwin, kathy hochul.

The Jack Davis campaign is claiming that their own polling numbers show Kathy Hochul ahead in the NY-26 special election race with Jane Corwin coming in a distant third.

In the words of the Davis campaign press release, "it appears support for Jane Corwin is collapsing."

The Davis campaign claims that Corwin's numbers have dropped to 17 percent, with Hochul polling 44 percent. Davis, in the Davis poll, is at 27 percent.

According to the press release, 4,602 "frequent voters" were surveyed. The poll was conducted between May 18 and May 19.

Seventeen percent were undecided.

From the press release:

“It’s clear that if conservatives, Republicans and Tea Party patriots want to keep Kathy Hochul, a Nancy Pelosi Democrat, from representing this district, they must vote for Jack Davis,” said Jack Davis campaign manager Curtis Ellis.

Late last night, I emailed both the Corwin and Hochul campaigns for a response.

Fabien Levy, with Kathy Hochul, replied but has not provided a response for publication yet and we haven't heard from Matthew Harakal with Jane Corwin's campaign at all. This post will be updated with any responses.

UPDATE 8:16 a.m.: Statement from Levy: "Every poll shows Kathy Hochul garnering the support of more and more voters in the 26th District. Voters here know Kathy is the only candidate in this race fighting to protect both Social Security and Medicare, which is why they are running away from her two conservatives opponents."

May 20, 2011 - 7:37am
posted by Howard B. Owens in thebatavian, NY-26.

Three or four years ago I was in Washington, D.C. to speak at some journalism conference and I stopped into the office of Reason, the libertarian magazine. A good friend of mine, Matt Welch, had recently moved to D.C. to become editor-in-chief of Reason.

I ended up going to dinner with the entire Reason crew, which included, at the time Dave Weigel, which is how we met.

Dave is now a national political correspondent for Slate Magazine (an online magazine).

Because of a piece Dave did about Jack Davis, I figured out that Dave was apparently hanging out in WNY. I got in touch with Dave and said, "You really need to come out to Batavia, the heartland of the district."

Late yesterday afternoon, I got a call from Dave. He was on his way to Rochester for yet another dreary campaign event but decided his limited amount of time might be better spent in Batavia.

I called Bill Kauffman, Elba resident, nationally known political/history author and former Reason editor, and it was agreed we'd all meet at O'Lacy's (I would have loved to have taken Dave around to more places and shown him more of the town (though I did show him our "urban renewal" project), but he was on a tight schedule.

Dave interviewed co-owner Kent Ewell, above. Below center is Bill Dougherty with Bill Kauffman.

That's a long way of saying -- yup, the eyes of the nation are on the NY-26.

And our goal is to get the people in Genesee County out to vote on May 24. Let's show the nation we care about who is elected to represent us.

It's a close special election, every vote counts, so vote.

If Genesee County leads the district in voter turn out, The Batavian will donate $100 to Genesee Justice.  

Other pledges made so far: 

Jeff Allen has offered to match it with $100 to Care-A-Van Ministries; Dan Jones has offered to match it with $26 dollars to Care-A-Van ministries and another $26 dollars to the USO; and Dave Olsen is offer a $25 matching donation for GJ plus donate $50 to The Loyola Recovery Foundation.

Lorie Longhany has pledged $26 to the Child Advocacy Center wing of Genesee Justice; Ricky G. Hale, a local plumber, has pledged $100 to Genesee Justice and challenged other business owners to step forward with pledges; JoAnne Rock has pledged $25 to Genesee Justice.

District Attorney Lawrence Friedman has pledged $1,000 -- with $500 going to the Genesee Justice Foundation and $500 going to Justice For Children GLOW Foundation. Any other members of the legal community like to step forward?

Ken Mistler pledged $100 for Volunteers for Animals.

County Clerk Don Read has pledged $100 for Crossroads House. 

In round numbers, we're up to $1,650 in donations. Who wants to step forward today and make it $2,000?

 

May 19, 2011 - 11:31pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in thebatavian.

Late this afternoon, I returned to my office and no sooner had I sat down and put my fingers on the keyboard of my laptop then I hear a voice from downstairs, "Howard?"

You know, sometimes how you think you hear somebody calling your name but nobody is? This wasn't one of those times.

I walked over to the top of the stairs and Jim Lewis tells me his son, 10-year-old Nick, spotted me walking into the office and wanted to say hello.

So I invited the Lewis trio up to the office, and with a fan of The Batavian like Nick, well, I thought he should get his picture on The Batavian.

With Nick and Jim is Adrianna, 8. Both Nick and Adrianna are students at John Kennedy.

May 19, 2011 - 5:00pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, crime.

A reward offered for the arrest the person suspected of tagging downtown buildings won't be collected because none of the tips that led to the arrest of an Albion man came from people who seemed aware of the reward offer.

In fact, the primary witness in the case wasn't even somebody who came forward, according to Det. Todd Crossett.

Police found the witness through a tip from a community member and made the arrest after getting a statement from the witness, Crossett said.

Taken into custody Wednesday evening was Mark Shareiko Jr., 23, of 413 W. Bank St., Albion.

While Shareiko wasn't living in Batavia at the time of the alleged tagging, around Feb. 15, he was spending a lot of time in town at the time, according to Crossett.

While graffiti can be associated with gang members, Crossett said Shareiko has no known gang affiliation.

Ken Mistler, a downtown business owner who offered a $500 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the tagger, said that even though no reward will be claimed, he's glad a suspect was caught.

"I'm glad to hear it," Mistler said. "It's too bad it didn't happen sooner."

Even though none of the community members who offered information in the case mentioned the reward, Crossett said, "I'm sure they would all be interested in the reward."

May 19, 2011 - 12:30pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, crime, elba, Oakfield.

Mark Shareiko Jr., 23, of 413 W. Bank St., Albion, is charged with six counts of making graffiti. Shareiko was taken into custody Wednesday and accused of tagging several downtown businesses on Feb. 15. Det. Todd Crossett requests any other downtown business owners who wish to press charges call him at 345-6353.

Francis Carr, 50, of Washington Avenue, Batavia, is charged with obstructing governmental administration. Carr was also arrested on a parole warrant. NYS Parole officers located Carr on Washington Avenue near Willow Street and allegedly observed Carr flee into a residence on Washington Avenue. Batavia PD and Deputy Chris Parker responded. As Parker arrived on scene, he observed the suspect attempting to exit from a second story window. Parker established a perimeter with the assistance of Officer Jay Andrews. After an extensive search of the residence by parole officers and Lt. Eugene Jankowski, Det. Todd Crossett and Det. Kevin Czora, Carr was located by Officer Dan Coffey hiding underneath the porch. Carr was jailed without bail.

Gregory Joseph Warfle, 41, of Chapel Street, lower, Elba, is charged with assault, 3rd, and endangering the welfare of a child. Warfle is accused of striking his 15-year-old son several times in the face with his open hand during a domestic dispute. The alleged incident took place in the presence of his 8-year-old daughter. Warfle was jailed on $1,000 bail.

A 16-year-old resident of Transit Road, Elba, is charged with harassment, 2nd. The youth allegedly threw a pair of glasses at another male striking that person on the side of the neck during an argument. 

John Terry Boyce Jr., 22, of Maple Avenue, Oakfield, is charged with criminal contempt, 2nd. Boyce is accused of sending text messages to his estranged girlfriend in violation of an order of protection.

Justin Robert Dunn, 20, of Indian Falls Road, Akron, and Jennifer Marie Dauer, 36, of North Lake Street, Bergen, are charged with nine counts of grand larceny, 4th, and petit larceny. Dunn and Dauer are accused of purse snatching at 4133 Veterans Memorial Drive at 2:30 p.m., May 12. For Dunn, bail was set at $10,000 and bail for Dauer was set at $5,000.

May 19, 2011 - 11:01am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, crime.

A Level 3 sex offender accused of sexually abusing a child under 11, less than four months after being released from prison, turned down a plea offer today that would have given him the minimum sentence available under statute.

Ronald Smith, 18, last of 679 E. Main St., Batavia, turned down both plea offers.

Smith is charged with three counts of sexual abuse and failure to register a change of address.

The two sets of charges have been separated and today was the plea cutoff for the failure to register charge.

By turning down the plea offer, Smith will go to trial on the failure to register charge on June 20.

The offer was for one-and-a-half to two years in state prison on the failure to register charge and five years minimum on the sex abuse charges with the sentences served concurrently.

After Smith's attorney, Public Defender Gary Horton, told District Attorney Lawrence Friedman that Smith wouldn't accept the offer, Friedman offered one-and-half to three years on the failure to register charge.

Today, Smith turned down that offer with an admonishment from Judge Robert Noonan that once he walked out of the court there would be no second chance to accept the offer. His case would proceed to trial.

No court date has been set yet for the sexual abuse charges.

May 19, 2011 - 9:34am
posted by Howard B. Owens in NY-26, Jane Corwin.

Press release:

WILLIAMSVILLE – Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL), a leading force in the national debate to cut spending and reduce taxes, endorsed Jane Corwin for Congress today. Senator Rubio also called 60,000 homes across Western New York to ask that they support Jane Corwin in the May 24th Special Election for New York’s 26th Congressional District.

“Marco Rubio is leading the fight in Washington to cut spending, reduce taxes, and create private sector jobs in our communities,” Corwin said. “Senator Rubio and I understand that our country is at a crossroads, and I appreciate him talking to Western New York voters to discuss our shared goal to improve the fiscal situation for current and future generations.”

Script of the Call:

This is Senator Marco Rubio with a short but important message. DC needs strong conservatives like Jane Corwin. We have changed the debate, we are moving in the right direction but we are in the middle of the fight. Jane Corwin will be a voice we need to keep that momentum up. Join me in supporting Jane and please go vote this coming Tuesday, May 24th in the Special Election. It is CRITICAL. Thank you so much for your time.

May 19, 2011 - 9:04am
posted by Howard B. Owens in NY-26.

Coverage from the past view days from around the nation of the NY-26 special election race (remember to vote on May 24).

UPDATE: This just out, a profile of Davis by Dave Weigel for Slate. The Human Torch: Jack Davis personifies the Tea Party. Is that why Republicans are so afraid of him?

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