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May 15, 2012 - 7:08pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, crime.

The husband of a woman previously charged in a welfare fraud cause has been arrested on similar charges and is accused of stealing more than $17,000 in unwarranted public assistance.

Taken into custody following a DSS investigation is Michael Schramm, 36, formerly of Hutchins Place, Batavia.

Schramm is married to Deborah Schramm, who was previously charged.

Michael Schramm is charged with felony counts of grand larceny and offering a false instrument for filing.

He is accused of filing falisified documents from February through August last year in order to receive medical assistance and food stamps.

The total aid allegedly provided to the Schramm's above what  they were entitled to was $17,026.39.

The suspect was located in Butler County, Ohio, by Warrant Officer Eric Olsen and a warrant was issued for his arrest.

The warrant also covered a failure to appear in Batavia Town Court on April 25 on an unrelated case.

Olsen and Deputy John Baicco retrieved Schramm from Ohio.

Following arraignment, Schramm was jailed without bail.

In July, both Deborah and Michael Schramm were accused of shoplifting from Walmart.

May 15, 2012 - 6:26pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in steve hawley, agricutlure.

Press release:

Assemblyman Steve Hawley (R,I,C-Batavia) recently joined a number of his Assembly colleagues, requesting that the governor petition the federal government to make a federal disaster declaration for much of New York’s farming community. Due to the unanticipated early thaw in March and April that was followed by an extended frost period, many fruit crops in Western New York have been irreparably damaged. Statewide data collected by the Federal Farm Agency indicates that losses already meet the threshold for disaster assistance in many areas.

“Fruit crops in Western New York, and throughout the state, have been decimated by this year’s bizarre and destructive weather,” Hawley said. “Farmers who rely on the sale of grapes, apples, sour cherries, peaches, apricots and strawberries now have their livelihood hanging in the balance. Helping our farmers in this time of need is precisely what federal disaster funding was created for, and I sincerely hope the governor will petition the federal government to do right by New York’s agricultural industry.”

May 15, 2012 - 5:42pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business, agriculture, USDA.

During some of the darkest days of the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln wondered why agriculture, such a vital industry to the well being of the nation, was represented in the federal government by only a clerk.

At his prompting, Congress created the U.S. Department of Agriculture and 150 years ago today, the USDA was born.

The USDA now handles a wide variety of rural issues and is the primary conduit for a rural voice in the federal government. The USDA has a significant presence in Genesee County through its office on Liberty Street.

Local USDA staff celebrated the anniversary -- as USDA offices all over the nation did -- with cake, cookies and punch.

Photo submitted by David M. Klafehn.

May 15, 2012 - 3:41pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business.

An out-of-town auto dealer, or possibly BJ's Wholesale Club, where a "blowout event" was held in Batavia last week, is under investigation by the NYS Department of Motor Vehicles, according to a spokeswoman for the DMV.

Jackie McGinnis said she can't discuss the details of an "active case."

A spokeswoman for the Attorney General's Office said there are certainly laws governing how such sales are conducted, but referred further inquiries to the DMV, saying she couldn't comment on an active case.

More than a week ago, some 50,000 mail pieces were sent to homes in the GLOW region advertising a "Blowout Event at BJ's Wholesale Club."

The mailer potentially violated NYS law on dealership advertising, since the name of the dealer is not apparently printed on the mailer.

The dealer conducting the sale was reportedly Ideal Nissan out of Rochester.

Ideal has not responded to a request for an interview and a spokeswoman for BJ's referred questions to Ideal.

The eight-page mailer is covered on every page with BJ's logo and mentions BJ's directly or indirectly more than 30 times, but there's no mention we could find of Ideal Nissan or any other dealer.

The DMV would not confirm BJ's dealership status, if any.

Without further information from the DMV, the exact nature of the investigation is unclear, but state law clearly states that dealers must include their dealership name or identification number on advertising pieces.

The promotional piece promises customers the chance to win numerous prizes, including BJ's gift cards. The promoted grand prize was two vehicles or $100,000 cash. The odds of winning the prize are listed at 1 in 5 million.

The contest rules do reference a "dealer or event coordinator," saying the companies are not responsible for any "lost, late, copied or misdirected prize piece" but doesn't say who the dealer or event coordinator is.

Interestingly, the companies behind the promotion have an easy out for awarding any prizes with the rule, "Typos void all prizes," without defining where those typos might or might not appear.

Local dealers said they found the mailer deceptive and noted customers don't usually save any money going through these "gypsy" dealerships.

Temporary dealers have tremendous overhead, local dealers noted, from spending a dollar or more for each of the mailers sent out -- meaning, Ideal Nissan, or its agent, may have spent more than $50,000 promoting its sale -- plus the cost of bringing in commissioned sales reps from all over the country to conduct the sale.

Those kinds of expenses means the gypsy dealer needs to sell a lot of cars or have very high margins on each vehicle sold just to break even.

 "I don't think local dealers are selling vehicles for any more, and probably for less, than what's being sold on a transient or gypsy basis," said Ken Barrett, owner of Barrett Chevrolet and Cadillac. "We want to take care of our customers and our neighbors. It's our responsibility to provide the best price and best value."

Dealers we spoke with were uniformly bothered by the gypsy lot popping up in the Town of Batavia, with some questioning how Ideal Nissan could have received approval for the temporary dealership and all expressing concern that local customers will be buying cars without local sales and service standing behind the products.

"These are traveling sales reps," said Guy Pellegrino of Pellegrino Auto Sales. "They hit you hard to make the deal and say, 'see you later.' You'll never see these guys again."

Greg Strauss, co-owner of Castilone Chrystler Dodge and Jeep said some customers coming into his store, including ones who made a purchase at BJ's, were confused after talking with sales reps at the sale. He said some customers walked away with the impression that Castilone and other local dealers were involved in the sale.

"The sales reps aren't even from New York in most cases," Strauss said. "What concerns me is that people are getting taken advantage of and then they're gone."

Steve Castilone said that while local dealers all believe in free enterprise and don't begrudge fair competition, they are naturally concerned about losing business to gypsy dealers who not only don't provide the same level of service as a local dealer, but also aren't paying local property taxes or otherwise supporting the local community.

"Local dealers benefit the community," Castilone said. "They donate to baseball, to football, to hockey and community events. (The gypsy dealers) don't do anything for the community."

Every dealer we spoke with expressed concern for how customers are treated after the sale from a gypsy dealer.

While a manager at the BJ's lot on Thursday said customers are provided an 800 number to call if they're are problems, and that Ideal has service centers in Buffalo and Rochester, the local dealers questioned whether that's really providing ideal customer service.

"Normally, when a vehicle breaks down, it's never in a situation where a customer says, 'I've got an extra couple of hours to take in the vehicle to have it fixed, if it's drivable at all," Barrett said.

"There's a reason," he added, "there are local dealers -- not so much for the sales aspect of it, but to stand behind the customer and the sale. That's the real value for the customer and the consumer."

Several dealers wondered how the Town of Batavia could have approved the dealership at BJs, but Town Supervisor Greg Post said the hands of the town are pretty much tied in such situations.

Post acknowledged that there was a breakdown in communication in the approval process that led to a temporary use permit not being reviewed by the town planning board, but even if the review had taken place, the permit probably would have been issued.

"I don't have any authority, any way or means not to allow it to happen," Post said.

Post noted that the town's master plan is up for review in six weeks and how to deal with such temporary use permits in the future will be a subject for discussion. He invited any local business owners who want to provide input on such regulations to get involved in the planning process.

May 15, 2012 - 11:18am
posted by Howard B. Owens in fire, Le Roy.

A large grass fire is reported in the area of 7921 E. Main Road, Le Roy, behind the old Le Roy Machine location.

Le Roy Fire Department and ambulance responding.

UPDATE 11:20 a.m.: It's a rubbish fire on the west side of the building. A chief notes the no open burn regulation is in effect for one more day.

UPDATE 11:26 a.m.: The fire is not near a field nor a building. The owner is tending to it and the burn is on a concrete surface. Le Roy fIre is back in service.

View Larger Map

May 15, 2012 - 11:16am

It was a beautiful morning and on the spur of the moment, I decided to drop in on the Batavia Wastewater Treatment Plant and take some pictures of birds at the facility. Here are six shots from this morning.

Previously: Batavia Wastewater Treatment Plant, one of city's hidden treasures

May 14, 2012 - 10:56pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Basom, crime, accident, pembroke, corfu.

A 24-year-old Corfu resident was charged with drunken driving following an accident on Indian Falls Road, Pembroke, this afternoon that sent both himself and the other driver to the hospital.

Timothy D. Largey, of Phelps Road, Corfu, was reportedly on Cleveland Road when he stopped his 2000 Dodge SUV at the intersection of Cleveland and Indian Falls roads.

Largey then allegedly proceeded into the intersection and his car was struck by a 2002 pickup driven by Jeffrey C. McGiveron, 49, of Phelps Road, Basom.

Both drivers were transported to UMMC by Mercy EMS.

Largey was also cited for alleged failure to yield.

The accident was investigated by Sgt. Greg Walker. Deputy Howard Carlson made the DWI arrest.

(Intial report)

May 14, 2012 - 10:36pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business, downtown.

The Batavia City Council will take up the issue of downtown parking, especially overnight parking, at its next conference meeting, probably May 29.

Downtown business owner Jerry Condello spoke Monday night during the public comments section of the council meeting and spoke out against overnight parking enforcement.

That prompted Councilwoman Rose Mary Christian to ask for the issue to be brought to the council for a full discussion.

Condello brought up issues about employees parking after the closing of businesses at 2 a.m. or before they open at 6 a.m., and the issue of responsible drivers electing not to drive after drinking and hence leaving their cars in a city parking lot.

City Manager Jason Molino said the Batavia PD isn't simply writing a ticket for every car found in a city lot between 2 a.m. and 6 a.m., but they're using discretion, looking for repeat offenders who haven't gotten an overnight parking pass.

He said keeping the parking lots clear wasn't just about snow removal, or even keeping RV and truck traffic out -- which can easily go to Walmart -- but also parking lot cleanup by sweepers overnight.

He said if somebody who has been drinking at a downtown bar and decides not to drive home but still gets a ticket has ample opportunity to appeal the ticket.

Condello said he hopes there's a big turn out at the May 29 council meeting in order to bring more pressure on the council to change the rules.

May 14, 2012 - 10:23pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Memorial Day Parade.

A C-41 aircraft will fly directly over Main Street, Batavia, on Memorial Day, May 28, Councilwoman Rose Mary Christian told the city council on Monday night.

The flight to kickoff the Memorial Day parade was arranged by former council member Bob Bialkowski, Christian said.

The grand marshall for the parade, she said will be former NYS Assembly member, and father of Batavia's current Assembly representative, Stephen Hawley.

The parade will start at 10 a.m. in the Eastown Plaza.

May 14, 2012 - 10:12pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in genesee county.

When county legislators went looking for ways to cut expenses in 2012, they asked several department heads to target certain percentages of cost reductions.

Gary Horton, public defender, needed to trim 10 percent from his budget.

That meant ending one of the services his office provides, he said. He couldn't cut criminal defense, and he couldn't reduce family court expenditures.

That left, he told the Public Service Committee today, his office's appeals division.

The division was staffed by a single attorney, and that attorney is now in private practice, receiving assignments from Randy Zickl, the attorney who handles the county's assigned attorney program.

Zickl told the committee that while the assigned counsel program is slightly under budget, it won't end the year that way because the office will be picking up so much of the appeals work for indigent defendants.

It wasn't an expense anticipated in the county's budget for the assigned counsel office.

"It hasn't been too bad, but it's building up," Zickl said.

Committee Chairman Ray Cianfrini guesstimated the eventual cost overrun could be $100,000. Zickl didn't argue the estimate and Horton told Cianfrini if the original appeals attorney was still on his staff, the cost would be significantly less.

An appeal can cost the county from $2,400 (sometimes, but rarely, less) up to the thousands of dollars, Zickl said.

And since defendants have a constitutional right to adequate defense, the county has no choice but to foot the bill one way or the other.

"There's much more work to do on the defense side of an appeal," Horton said.

The defense attorney must read every page of every transcript from every appearance a defendant makes in court, identify points to appeal, formulate an argument, find the proper citations and write a 50-page or longer brief.

The prosecution, he said, need only respond to the points raised by the defense and such responses tend to be about only five pages long, Horton said.

That's why, he said, appeals can get so expensive.

Years ago, he said, his office didn't handle appeals. They were always handled by assigned counsel, and that's another reason he said that if cuts to his office were mandated, cutting appeals made the most sense.

Horton also explained that Genesee County is joining with several other counties in the region to apply for a grant that would create a regionwide appeals office that would assist defendents with appeals throughout the region.

If the program doesn't come together, Horton still hopes Genesee County will get the grant -- it was the first county to apply for the funds from the state. The money can be applied to funding a local appeals division.

May 14, 2012 - 9:50pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in genesee county, budget, mandate relief.

Genesee County officials took dead aim at Medicaid on Monday afternoon -- not at the idea that the neediest among us receive free medical care, but that the state and federally mandated program is forced on local governments with no cost controls.

About 40 percent of the tax bill of each property owner in Genesee County -- a total of $9.8 million -- goes to help fund Medicaid.

Each week, the county wires $185,572 to the state to pay for Medicaid.

"As a county, we have waited to present our case -- that change needs to happen and fast before the ship sinks," said Legislator Annie Lawrence (pictured). "I ask you now Albany electeds, don't come home without real mandate relief for all counties in the state."

Lawrence was among several county officials who spoke at a "May Day" rally for mandate relief for local governments.

County officials also took aim at health care premiums that can't be reduced by law, and the spiraling cost of employee pensions.

All told, the nearly $2.2 million in anticipated new costs from these mandated expenses exceed the ceiling of the property tax cap by more than $1 million.

Officials are calling on Albany to enact meaningful mandate relief so that local taxes can go to local programs, such as law enforcement and highways.

The rally is being duplicated this week in counties across the state.

May 14, 2012 - 2:36pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, batavia city schools.

Batavia City School officials have released an FAQ related to the proposed school budget that is posted on the district's Web site (PDF).

The FAQ covers such topics as administrative salaries, positions eliminated by school consolidation and moving to a centralized business office at BOCES.

The vote on the school budget, along with the trustee election, is tomorrow. Polls are open from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m.

May 14, 2012 - 2:24pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business, Stan's Harley-Davidson.

Saturday is Race Day at Stan's Harley-Davidson, when visitors can stop by the store and meet racers, check out their bikes and learn more about dirt track racing. The event is from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Jeff Eddy's (pictured above) Team 126 will be at the store signing autographs.  Area 51 will provide free passes for races at its track for people who attend. At 11 a.m. there will be a children's Big Wheel drag race. Stan's Harley-Davidson is located at 4425 W. Saile Drive, Batavia.

May 14, 2012 - 12:15pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in crime, Darien.

Sheriff's investigators are looking for information on a spate of weekend vandalism in Darien that left several mailboxes damaged, a railroad crossing broken and a burned-out motor home in its wake.

Officials aren't sure if all of the incidents are related, but they suspect some of it is, and some of it may be tied to prior vandalism in the same area, said Chief Deputy Gordon Dibble.

Some time between 11:30 p.m. Saturday and 2:45 a.m. Sunday, a person riding in a car or truck and wielding an aluminum baseball bat struck six mailboxes on on Countyline Road and possibly another four on Fargo Road.

According to Dibble, Erie County law enforcement also reports eight mailboxes struck in the same time frame.

"This (mailbox vandalism) has been a problem as long as I've been in law enforcement," Dibble said. "Lately it's kind of plagued the area there."

Within the past few weeks, similar vandalism has occurred on Mammot Road and Seven Day Road, Dibble said.

Also, during the same time frame somebody smashed warning lights at the railroad crossing at Fargo Road and broke the crossing gates.

"This sort of crime is hard to solve," Dibble said. "It's the sort of thing where you're here today and gone in minutes."

There was also a mysterious motor home fire with no obvious cause on Countyline Road near Route 33, Dibble said.

While it occurred during the same time as the other vandalism, he said a fire doesn't really fit the pattern of quick-hit vandalism.

Dibble said that while this sort of vandalism is common in rural areas, it's frustrating for home owners who must then go to the trouble and expense of repairing or replacing mailboxes.

He said somebody in Darien must know who is responsible for the vandalism and he would encourage anybody with information to call the Sheriff's Office at (585) 343-5000.

May 14, 2012 - 7:56am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, crime, Darien, Pavilion.

Paul Edward Reynolds, 57, of Rose Road, Batavia, is charged with felony DWI, felony driving with a BAC of .18 or greater, following too close, leaving scene of property damage accident and operating without proof of insurance. Reynolds is accused of following another vehicle too closely and then rear-ending that vehicle at the intersection of Rose Road and Wortendyke Road at 4:20 p.m., Saturday. Reynolds allegedly failed to produce an appropriate exchange of information and then left the scene. Sheriff's deputies allegedly located him and his Toyota pickup a short time later at his residence.

Jordan-Albert Grayson Finnin, 16, of West Main Street Road, Batavia, is charged with attempted assault, 2nd. Finnin is accused of trying to stab a DSS youth worker during a home visit. Finnin was jailed on $10,000 bail.

Joshua Lanair Webster, 25, of York Road, Pavilion, is charged with criminal possession of a controlled substance. Webster is accused of illegally possessing hydrocodone on April 16 while being arrested on a burglary charge. Webster was arrested on the new charge Friday while already being detained in the Genesee County Jail on prior charges.

Michael J. Elmore, 21, of 148 Walnut St., Batavia, is charged with criminal mischief, 4th. Elmore is accused of damaging another person's vehicle.

Christopher James Gorman, 20, of Darien, is charged with possession/consumption of alcohol under 21. Gorman was allegedly found in possession of alcohol after being involved in an off-road motor-vehicle accident at 8:10 p.m., April 30.

Dakota Dean Roberts, 20, of Darien, is charged with possession/consumption of alcohol under 21. Roberts was allegedly found in possession of alcohol after being involved in an off-road motor-vehicle accident at 8:10 p.m., April 30.

Keith E. Robinson-Blue, 19, of Rugby Road, Rochester and Shawn D. R. Phillips Jr., 20, of Bartlett Street, Rochester, are charged with trespass. No details were released.

Charlene Anastasia, 40, with no permanent address, Batavia, is charged with criminal trespass, 3rd. Anastasia was allegedly located inside a locked storage facility and was there without permission of the owner. Anastasia was jailed on $500 bail.

Veronica Paula Barajas, 17, of Albion, is charged with petit larceny. Barajas is accused of shoplifting from Kmart.

Victoria Marie Fleck, 18, of Albion, is charged with petit larceny. Fleck is accused of shoplifting from Kmart.

May 14, 2012 - 7:28am
posted by Howard B. Owens in advertising, Sponsored Post, contests.

Reminder: To be eligible for the drawing, you must both "Like" the page on Facebook and complete the registration form. Only registered entrants are eligible in the drawing.

To enter the contest, click on the graphic, or click here.

May 13, 2012 - 8:29pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, accident, thruway.

A car has hit a deer on the Thruway in the area of mile marker 387.7 in the eastbound lane.

A person is reportedly injured.

The location would put it in the area adjacent the college.

Town of Batavia Fire Department and Mercy EMS responding.

May 13, 2012 - 6:02pm

This post has been updated with the write-up for the Griffen home.

Press release:

The Landmark Society of Genesee County will hold its annual Preservation Awards Dinner on May 19 at the St. James Episcopal Church ((405 E. Main St., Batavia). The dinner will begin at 6 p.m. and the awards presentation will follow (at approximately 7 p.m.).

Six buildings in Genesee County will be recognized this year. Each year the awards committee tries to choose a group of structures that is varied in styles of architecture, geographic location, building materials, and type of building such as residences, churches, commercial, and public facilities.

“Historic preservation does not mean that everything must stay the same.  Rather, it focuses on the character and quality of construction,” explained Landmark Society President Laurie Oltramarie.

“Preservation comes in many forms --renovation, restoration, adaptive re-use, rehabilitation, and even reproduction. In a neighborhood, the ultimate goal of preservation is to maintain the character of a place and activity within it. And we think this year’s honorees accomplish that beautifully.”

The Landmark Society of Genesee County is a nonprofit, volunteer operated organization. Since 1965, The Landmark Society has encouraged local communities and individuals to work together to preserve our architectural heritage. Preservation, protection, and improvement of the landmarks located throughout Genesee County are the objectives of this organization.

Above, the home of Dave Howe on Alexander Road, Alexander. Here's more info on the house:

David Howe purchased this circa 1888 Shingle Style home in 1986. This handsome home features multiple gables and the original porte cochere.  Mr. Howe recently had the cedar shingles and clapboards restored and repainted. The interior features leaded and stained glass windows, inlaid hardwood floors, three original fireplaces with elaborate oak trim and ceramic tiles, original sliding window shutters, and natural oak trim.  Leaded glass windows in the dining room are bowed to produce a rainbow effect throughout the room. The matching shingled carriage house still stands and was recently re-roofed.

Here's a slide show of pictures of each the winners. If you have trouble viewing the slide show, click here. After the jump (click on the headline), pictures and write-ups of each of the other winners.





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