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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.

July 13, 2011 - 10:40am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Darien, darien lake theme park.

Current update: 12:42 p.m.

Despite warning signs for patrons and training of employees regarding certain people with physical disabilities not being allowed on the Ride of Steel at Darien Lake, Sgt. James Hackemer was able to embark on the rollercoaster.

Hackemer should have been able to see a warning sign prior to boarding the ride that said patrons must have two legs, and the employee training manual mentions in more than one place that people with specific disabilities cannot be allowed on the ride, according to Sheriff Gary Maha.

“Darien Lake violated their own policies and procedures by allowing him to get on this ride,” Maha said.

Maha presented the findings of Sheriff's Office investigators at a press conference in Batavia this morning.

Hackemer, who lost both of his legs -- one leg was amputated up to his pelvis -- to a roadside bomb in Iraq, died at Darien Lake on Friday after being ejected from a seat at the front of the ride's red train.

Operators at the Ride of Steel were well aware of Hackemer when he boarded the ride and knew that he didn't have legs, Maha said.

The operators -- typically teenagers -- had no explanation for why they violated Darien Lake Theme Park policy by allowing Hackemer to board the ride, Maha said.

The ride rules, which are posted at both the entrance and exit, read "For the restraint devices on this ride to fully and safely engage, guests must have two legs and be within a certain range of size and physical dimension. In addition, guests must have sufficient body strength and the complete use of a least one arm and hand to hold the grab bar. No guests may ride holding anything or with artificial limbs attached."

The ride's exit ramp, in compliance with the American With Disabilities Act, serves as the entrance for disabled patrons. Hackemer boarded the ride after coming up that ramp. According to Sgt. Steve Mullen, Hackemer would have passed the sign to board the ride.

When Hackemer was ejected, his body was thrown forward and then struck the front of the train. At that point, Hackemer's body was thrown clear of the train and the tracks and landed on a grassy area below the train's third hill, which is on the Route 77 side of the ride.

"With the amount of force of the ride, he didn’t have the physical attributes necessary to be on the ride," Maha said.

Like many theme park rides, the rollercoaster has automated cameras near the end of the ride which takes pictures of patrons that can later be purchased. The picture of Hackemer's car, according to Maha, shows an empty seat with the lap bar still down and the safety belt still buckled.

"He just came out of his seat," Maha said.

Maha emphasized that the ride is safe. It was inspected the Department of Labor in May and again following the accident and no mechanical problems were found.

"I would get on the ride," Maha said. "It is safe ride."

Hackemer's nephew helped the Gowanda resident into the ride and was sitting next to him in the front car.

"There was very little discussion between the ride attendants and Mr. Hackemer or his nephew (while he as getting on the ride)," Mullen said.

There's no indication that Hackemer was in any trouble during the ride prior to the ride's third hill.

Maha described the nephew as "in shock" when investigator's interviewed him after the accident.

Darien Lake provided grief counselors to employees, Hackemer's family and any patrons who sought help the night of the accident, Mullen said.

The Ride of Steel has two trains -- a red one and a blue one -- and each is comprised of eight cars that hold four people each. The red train Hackemer was on was not full, so only about 24 people where on the train at the time of the accident.

Because ride attendants did not hold all of the riders at the location following the accident, investigators have only been able to interview those riders who have made themselves known.

While investigators would have liked to have talked with all the riders, Maha said that the few investigators could interview gave consistent reports of what they saw.

As the ride pulled into the boarding area, riders were screaming and yelling, according to Mullen, making it very clear there had been an accident and that a rider had been thrown from the train.

The accident has been investigated by both the Sheriff's Office and the NYS Department of Labor. The DOL's investigation is not entirely completed, but DOL officials met with the Sheriff's investigators yesterday to go over their findings.

The Sheriff's Office investigation was aimed primarily at determining if there was any criminal liability in the death of Hackemer and the investigation, after consultation with District Attorney Lawrence Friedman, concluded the death was accidental. Criminal charges are unlikely.

July 13, 2011 - 8:53am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia.

Press release:

Missing: Ronald Murray, 16 years of age.

Ronald Murray left his residence on July 5th, 2011.  There is no reason to believe that there are any criminal circumstances regarding his missing status. The Batavia Police are asking for assistance in locating Ronald Murray to confirm his well being. If seen, or a person has knowledge of his location, please call police dispatch 345-6350 to report.

July 13, 2011 - 8:44am
posted by Howard B. Owens in crime, darien lake, Darien.

The following arrests were reported in connection with the Vans Warped Tour at Darien Lake Performing Arts Center on Tuesday.

Eric C. Page, 20, of DeGroff Road, Nunda, is charged with trespass for allegedly allegedly jumping a fence to enter the venue without a ticket.

Matthew F. Abbruzzi,  20, of Christopher Way, Hawley, Pa., is charged with false personation and possession of alcohol under age 21. Abbruzzi allegedly gave a false name to police while in possession of alcohol. Abbruzzi was released on $200 bail. 

Elena M. V. Johnson, 17, of Parkside Avenue, Buffalo, is charged with false personation and possession of alcohol under age 21. Johnson allegedly gave a false name to police  while in possession of alcohol. Johnson was released on $100 bail.

After the jump, the names of individuals cited for allegedly possessing alcohol under age 21.

July 13, 2011 - 8:09am
posted by Howard B. Owens in accident, elba.

A landing zone for Mercy Flight is being set up at Watson and Strouts roads, Elba, for a man who was injured after falling 15 feet from a ladder.

The man, working at a residence in the area, may have internal injuries.

Elba Fire and Mercy EMS are on scene.

UPDATE 8:15 a.m.: Mercy Flight on the ground.

UPDATE 8:28 a.m.: Mercy Flight in route to Strong.


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

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

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

She may be in the Batavia area.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here's the question and answer Levy mentions:

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

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

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

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

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

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

(Photo: file photo)

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

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

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

Maha declined to discuss findings from the investigation until tomorrow.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The funeral was in Attica.

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

He was buried at Forest Hill Cemetery in Attica.

Photo submitted by a reader.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

From WBTA:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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