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May 13, 2012 - 4:27pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in pembroke.

Volunteers were in Pembroke yesterday installing new playground equipment partially funded by a Pepsi Challenge grant. The total cost is about $60,000 and the grant was for $50,000.

The playground is nearly finished -- some concrete needs to cure and then the final touches can be completed.

Photos by Brian Schollard.

May 13, 2012 - 2:29pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, City Fire.

Seven ducklings lost their mommy on Mother's Day morning. Batavia resident Sarah Grice watched them helplessly as they all walked over a storm drain grate near the Bank of Castile building downtown and fell in. She called city fire and firefighters responded to rescue them.

Firefighters had to remove the grates from four drains on the north side of Main Street and round them up.

The firefighters then search a wide area of downtown looking for mom, but without luck.

Officials at Godfrey's Pond have agreed to take in the ducklings and care for them in one of their pens until they're ready to fly free.

Photos below submitted by Grice.

May 13, 2012 - 1:01pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in history, photos, urban renewal, dowtown.

A few weeks ago, we ran pictures of the destruction of Downtown Batavia by local photographer Antoinette Dempski. That prompted Todd Jantzi to share these photos with me. Jantzi owns Bontrager's and came across two sets of photos in a box of auction items. He gave one set to the Holland Land Office Museum and kept the other for himself. He doesn't know who the photographer was.

May 13, 2012 - 12:46pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in David Bellavia, NY-27, chris collins.

Press release:

BATAVIA, NY – The Bellavia campaign today invited Collins campaign officials to negotiate the details of a series of debates leading up to the June 26th Republican Primary in New York’s 27th Congressional District.

“It is unfortunate Mr. Collins took so long to assent to the wishes of voters,” Paul Cole, campaign manager for Bellavia for Congress, wrote in a letter to Michael Hook, general consultant for the Collins campaign. “But there is still time to assure the constituents of all eight counties are all afforded opportunities to see the candidates discuss the vital issues of the day.”

On March 27th, Bellavia challenged Mr. Collins to a series of eight debates in the eight counties of the 27th District. Saturday, 47 days later, Collins acquiesced and agreed to debate. The text of Cole’s letter to the Collins campaign can be found below.

Text of letter after the jump (click on headline to read):

May 12, 2012 - 8:05am
posted by Howard B. Owens in business, entertainment, Darien, darien lake theme park.

Darien Lake Theme Park had a media day yesterday, but I got there way late (finishing up the Ranzenhofer story took up most of my day yesterday) so just about everybody was gone and all but one of the new rides was shut down.

Still, I grabbed some photos of the new rides.

The park has turned over pretty much all of its management and with the changes comes a new energy. Besides the new rides, there are other differences at the park. After the jump (click on the headline to read more) is a press release from April 2 about the new rides and other changes. After that is a press release about today's grand opening for the season.

May 11, 2012 - 3:18pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in David Bellavia, michael ranzenhofer, NY-27, chris collins.

Petitions filed by the campaign of Chris Collins to help the Erie County millionaire qualify for the Conservative line on the NY-27 Congressional District ballot indicate Sen. Mike Ranzenhofer may not be as neutral in the race as he claims to be.

Though, even after being told of the petitions, the senator maintained he is staunchly neutral in the race.

"I have not endorsed and I will not endorse," Ranzenhofer said. "It's important that the voters in the district decide who will represent them in the general election. I do not even live in the district."

Ranzenhofer's involvement in the race became an issue last week when a former staff member told the Buffalo News she believed she was fired from the senator's office for supporting David Bellavia, the Iraq War veteran running against Collins.

The Batavian has obtained a half-dozen pages of Collins petitions (PDF) that indicate that paid legislative staff who report to Ranzenhofer worked in a coordinated manner to help gather signatures for the Collins campaign.

The fired staffer, Michelle McCulloch, a 45-year-old Attica resident, mother of four children, and Wyoming County GOP Committee member, said the message was sent loud and clear to staff members that Ranzenhofer expected all hands on deck to help Collins.

"This is a primary race," McCulloch said. "There are two candidates. If the senator wants to be neutral, that's a great thing to do, but when you direct your staff to do something else, that's a whole other thing."

After numerous attempts this week to get Ranzenhofer on the phone to discuss this issue, the senator called The Batavian today and denied that he directed staff members to gather signatures for Collins.

Ranzenhofer said that he cannot discuss specific personnel matters, but did say he "disagreed" with the assertion by McCulloch that he directed staff to help the Collins campaign.

"I believe I have staff members who are helping both candidates," Ranzenhofer said. "It's not unusual for staff members to circulate petitions for candidates and it's my belief that staff members have circulated petitions for both candidates."

Bellavia said he's only aware of two Ranzenhofer aides who have done anything for his campaign.

But McCulloch isn't the only member of the Bellavia steering committee who was harassed in his or her place of employment after the steering committee was announced, Bellavia said.

He's offered all steering committee members the chance to remove their names from the publically available list, but none have accepted the offer he said. He did add, however, that three new steering committee members asked that their names not be added to the list for fear of reprisal.

Also on the steering committee is Jay Grasso, a former Genesee County legislator who represents Ranzenhofer in the county.

Grasso has declined repeated requests for comment.

While Grasso and McCulloch have been publicly associated with the Bellavia campaign, all indications from McCulloch and other sources are that what they've done for Bellavia, they've done on their own.

The Collins petition effort, however, has the appearance of being a coordinated effort directed by somebody in authority.

The six staff members involved in the petition drive for Collins are all notaries public, enabling them to collect signatures across party lines (it's not uncommon for aides to be notaries just for this purpose). 

The petitions were for signatures on the Conservative line.

The petitions were passed only in Newstead and Akron (with some spillover into Clarence), which McCulloch said was a conscious decision by the Collins campaign not to bother with collecting signatures in any of the GLOW counties.

The staff members involved were McCulloch, Emily Berry, Dan Aikin, Jon McNulty, Kathy Donner and Carol Wojkowski.

And while Bellavia-supporter McCulloch gathered signatures for Collins, she said she only did so because she felt directed to take part in the effort.

In an interview with The Batavian today, McCulloch detailed why she believed she was fired for her support of Bellavia, who currently lives in Batavia and is a lifelong GLOW-area resident.

On April 17, Bellavia's campaign released the names of people throughout the NY-27 serving on his steering committee.

Within minutes of the news of the steering committee coming out, Ranzenhofer staff member and Collins ally McNulty sent McCulloch a text message that read, "Hook called ranz. Just want to warn you."

"Hook" refers to Michael Hook, a Washington political consultant who has worked on previous Collins campaigns (and may be working with Collins now, though it's not been publicly announced since Hook has been tainted by the campaign losses of Jane Corwin for Congress and the last Collins campaign for Erie County executive).

It was Corwin's loss that led McCulloch to seek a job with Ranzenhofer, whom she respected and thought would be a good elected official to serve. 

Previously, McCulloch had worked for Rep. Tom Reynolds until she took a position on Chris Lee's congressional campaign in 2008 and then she worked for Lee until Lee resigned in disgrace.

After the "Craigslist Congressman" resigned, McCulloch retained her job in the congressional office, which was ordered to conduct all of its business, on and off the clock, in a nonpartisan manner, so McCulloch was not in any way involved in Corwin's campaign.

A couple of hours after McNulty's message, Erie County GOP Chairman Nick Langworthy sent text messages to McCulloch questioning her support of Bellavia.

Up until this incident, McCulloch said she considered Langworthy a good friend -- he had been over for family dinners and taken her sons to sporting events.

While Langworthy hasn't publicly endorsed Collins, in political circles he's considered a Collins ally and in his text to McCulloch he made it clear he supported Collins.

In a response to Langworthy, McCulloch suggested Langworthy had called Hook.

Langworthy responded, "I haven't talked to your boss or Michael Hook. I am fully with Chris Collins. Hook is one of your boss' best friends."

Ranzenhofer said he's been good friends with Hook for more than 30 years, going back to a time before either were in politics and both were in Jaycees.

When McCulloch returned home that day, she received a call from Ranzenhofer.

"He discussed his displeasure with me being on the steering committee, that it didn't matter that it was in Wyoming County or not, whether I was a committee member or not, and that further political actions by me needed to be reported to him immediately," McCulloch.

She said it was noteworthy that Ranzenhofer didn't demand that she resign from the steering committee.

On April 26, Bellavia called McCulloch, she said, and asked if she would be willing to introduce Bellavia to Republicans at a fundraiser later that night in Attica. Since she was a steering committee member, a county committee member and a lifelong Wyoming County resident, so McCulloch agreed to introduce Bellavia around.

Wyoming County is entirely outside of Ranzenhofer's senatorial district.

She said she introduced Bellavia to five or six people that night.

The next morning, McCulloch said she sent an email to Ranzenhofer and to his Chief of Staff Kathy Donner informing them of her political activity, which she understood to be the direction given to her by the senator.

The following Friday, Donner called McCulloch into her office and told her her services would no longer be needed.

There was no explanation given for her termination, McCulloch said.

Up to that point, according to McCulloch, she had never been reprimanded, suspended or otherwise given any indication she has not performed her job in an outstanding matter. She said, in fact, she had always been praised for her work.

It was the first time in her life she had been fired.

McCulloch initially didn't want to talk about the situation, she said, but then personnel from state agencies and other elected officials started calling her to find out what was going on.

She didn't want the story to be, even if just in rumor, that she was fired with no explanation, and since she believed she was fired for helping Bellavia, she wanted to tell that story.

"To say I was fired for the first time in my life for a reason that’s not there, I couldn’t just sit there and let that happen," McCulloch said. "I didn’t want to put myself in a position for people to think I was fired for any other reason because it’s just not true."

She's also speaking out for the sake of her four children, she said, whom she said she has always encouraged to get involved in politics and support candidates they believe in. She said she thought they shouldn't see her just backing down when she doesn't believe she was treated fairly.

Her firing, McCulloch said, may also make her a rather public casualty of a growing rift between the Erie County GOP -- at least the Langworthy/Hook/Collins wing of it -- and GLOW Republicans.

Many key GLOW GOP activists are supporting Bellavia, and McCulloch said she doesn't believe Collins gets the rural counties. He's hardly even stepped foot into any parts of the district outside of Erie County since the campaign began.

She said the Erie County GOP is trying to bully its way into a primary win.

"It’s not about the issues and who the candidates are (with the Erie County GOP)," she said. "It's about their strength and force and what they can do to our rural counties and it’s not fair to our rural counties."

May 11, 2012 - 2:27pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, schools, education, kathy hochul, art, Batavia HS.

Rep. Kathy Hochul was in Batavia today, making three stops, including one at Batavia High School, where she presented an award to Siena Pullinzi, winner of the annual NY-26 Congressional Art Competition.

Hochul noted that Siena beat out students from five other counties in the district.

Siena's artwork is to be displayed in the halls of the Capitol for the next year. She will also now have the opportunity to visit Washington, D.C., to participate in a ceremony for Congressional Art Competition winners.

While at the school, Hochul stopped by both art classes that were in session and stopped to talk with several students, noting their good work and encouraging them to continue on with art.

At one point she stopped and said, "I can just feel the creativity in this room."

Besides BHS, Hochul spoke at a luncheon at Terry Hills for Independent Living of Genesee Region and this afternoon will visit Arctic Refrigeration, Genesee County Chamber of Commerce’s 2011 Business of the Year.

May 11, 2012 - 8:30am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business.

For four or five years Ignacio Urvizu thought Genesee County needed a grocery store that catered to the culinary needs of people who like to eat Mexican and other Hispanic food.

His wife, Jennifer, noted that there's nothing closer to Batavia than Medina or Albion where you can buy Mexican spices, mixes, breads and treats.

Two weeks ago, the couple opened La Mexicana in the Valu Plaza (the former location of Matty's Pizza).

Even with very little publicity, Jennifer said the store has already attracted a wide variety of customers happy to finally find a store that caters to their needs.

"We've had some local farmers come in and some people who don't know what they're looking for," Jennifer said. "They come in and talk to us and learn something new and try something different."

While the family has lived in Le Roy for 16 years, Jennifer said they picked their Batavia location because it's centrally located and the Valu Plaza location -- with a laundry, a deli, other retail stores -- is a place where customers can make several stops at once.

Jennifer said she and Ignacio are pretty confident the store will be successful.

"People from this area will travel a long way to get what they're looking for," she said.

May 11, 2012 - 7:51am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia.

Local residents Jim Collins, a.k.a., Jimi Jam, and Margot, are building a house divided.

Jim is a diehard Bills fan and Margot is equally passionate about the Patriots.

For their wedding, they decided to embrace their one fundamental difference in life and hold an NFL-themed wedding.

The wedding was recently highlighted on ESPN's Web site.

Collins wrote to us:

We got a Bills/Pats mat to stand on, the minister dressed as a ref. We exited the ceremony to a string quartet playing the NFL on CBS theme. For the reception, I donned a Cookie Gilchrist jersey and the ushers wore eye black. Guests were invited to wear a jersey if they wished at the reception, where we served the usual wedding fare and tailgate-style food, including hot dogs & beer. The cake was a logo masterpiece with a very cool cake topper. For the kids we set up a big screen with Madden on XBox and we cut the wedding cake to the Bills "Shout Song."

People said it was the most fun they ever had at a wedding.

The video below played before the couple entered the reception:

May 11, 2012 - 7:37am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, sports, soccer, Batavia Sports Park.

This weekend, nearly 100 spectators will be in at the Batavia Sports Park to watch an anticipated 800 boys and girls high-school soccer players -- the premier players in the region -- display their skills at the 6th Annual Empire Cup College Showcase.

From a press release:

Similar events are held annually in places like Ohio, Florida, Maryland and Nevada.

"It's not something that we invented obviously, but we've been sending teams all over for college showcases, and about five years ago we thought it was time to have one in Western New York," tournament Director Michael Henderson said.

The timing must have been right. Henderson, a high-school coach himself in Rochester, said the recruiter turnout was beyond what was originally expected.

"It's nice for the coaches, because for them, it's relatively local," said Henderson. "They don't have to travel as far either."

Due in part to the tournament's connection to college coaching circles, it has taken major steps in aiding the recruiters ability to see who they want, and when.

Prior to the start of the weekend, each participating player has the option of filling out an online profile. That, in turn, gives the recruiting coaches an idea of each player's personal feelings about school, including what they want to study and what their soccer ambitions are.

Also, the form allows for players to submit GPA numbers and other pertinent test scores such as the SAT or ACT, giving the coaches an advanced screening as to whether or not certain players have the grades to get in.

"It helps tremendously knowing that going into the tournament," Henderson said. "You may see some great players, but at the end of the day, they may not by able to get into your school. Obviously you are looking for good athletic ability and game understanding, but it has to be a fit with your college."

To go with that, tournament organizers were overly stringent on who was going to be playing. As youth soccer goes, this field ended up being extremely competitive and draws teams from Pennsylvania, Ohio, Vermont, as well as New York and Canada.

Forty-six premier teams will compete, and many were turned away.

"We didn't accept everybody,"  says Henderson. "This is somewhat an elite tournament. It's for the kids that are serious about going on and playing in college."

"We have the interest, we have the need and we have the facility," Henderson said. "I'm pretty sure we'll do this again next year, and hopefully for many years to come."

May 10, 2012 - 11:41pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Bethany, county planning.

County Planning Director Jim Duval is retiring after 36 years with the county June 14.

To help celebrate his final planning board meeting, Board Member Lucine Kauffman baked him a chocolate cake decorated with symbols of some of the planning issues the county has dealt with, such as signs, windmills and the STAMP project (symbol: a postage stamp on a stick).

Other members brought in drinks, cookies, cheese and crackers and other refreshments, which were served after the meeting.

Duval, a Bethany resident and Bethany volunteer firefighter, plans to stay in the area.

He noted that he'll now have more time to respond to daytime emergency calls.

Duval also told board members they will be left in good hands with an outstanding planning staff.

May 10, 2012 - 11:17pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Le Roy, land use.

Pete McQuillen is pushing forward once again with his plans to build a senior living community off Robbins Road in Le Roy, and if Thursday's Genesee County Planning Board meeting is any indication, he's going to face renewed opposition.

The board voted unanimously to recommend approval of a zoning change to allow the project to move forward.

McQuillen spoke to the board, and so did David Boyce, a Filmore Street resident who joined his neighbor, Town Supervisor Stephen Barbeau, in a lawsuit against the Village and the Town of Le Roy.

The lawsuit eventually led to the village concluding some of its procedures in approving the project were not in compliance with state law, which has left McQuillen with no choice but to start the approval process over.

Boyce said emphatically he is favor of the project, but then listed a series of complaints, that if completely addressed would completely nullify McQuillen's current plans.

Chief among Boyce's complaints is that in targeting 55-and-older residents, Robbins Nest Drive doesn't comply with the village master plan.

Boyce said the master plan calls for housing for the 30 to 55 age group, which is a primary source of spending.

He also said the project density is out of compliance with the master plan.

Jim Duval, county planning director, said staff has concluded the project does comply with the master plan.

Robbins Nest Drive must still go through several more steps of approval, including approval of a final plan, before McQuillen can proceed with construction.

Also, in another matter, the planning board recommended that the City of Batavia not approve a sign variance for Gold Rush at 4152 W. Main St., Batavia.

Owner Jim Vo put up several large promotional signs in windows in a belief that they complied with city ordinance. City code inspectors later told him the signs were out of compliance, even though they are similar in content and size to signs that had been allowed for a previous tenant.

Besides advertising his business, the signs are also important privacy screens for customers while they are in his store, he said.

However, Vo said he wants to be a good business neighbor and if he can't get approval for his signs, he'll find a way to comply with the code and meet his customers' expectations for privacy.

May 10, 2012 - 6:30pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, crime, Le Roy, Stafford.

Nicholas J. Pascucci Jr. is indicted on a count of criminal possession of a controlled substance, 4th, criminal possession of a controlled substance, 4th, and unlawful possession of marijuana. Pascucci is accused of possessing with the intent to sell 44 oxycodone tables on Nov. 25 in the Town of Le Roy.

Robert L. Ealey is indicted on a count of driving while ability impaired by the combined influence of drugs and alcohol and aggravated unlicensed operation. Ealey is accused of DWAI on Jan. 1, on Church Street, Le Roy. Ealey was previously convicted of DWI on Jan. 29, 2009.

MIchael D. Pacer is indicted on a felony of DWI and felony driving with a BAC of .08 or greater. Pacer is accused of driving drunk on Sweetland Road, Stafford, on Dec. 1. Pacer was convicted of DWI July 7, 2008.

Melvin G. Draper is indicted on a felony count of DWI, felony driving with a BAC of .18 or greater, and aggravated unlicensed operation, 1st. Draper is accused of driving drunk Oct. 29 while in the Town of Batavia. Draper was previously convicted of DWI on March 3, 2009.

The Grand Jury returned a "no bill" on the charge of aggravated criminal contempt against Eric M. Duda.

The Grand Jury returned a "no bill" on the charge of criminal contempt, 1st, against Jerry K. Scroger Jr.

May 10, 2012 - 5:33pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, crime.

A man wanted on a warrant for alleged petit larceny turned himself in to authorities today, reportedly because he had seen his picture on the home page of The Batavian.

Veshaun D. "Shortie" Thomas was jailed on $1,000 bail after surrendering to the Sheriff's Office.

Warrant Officer Eric Olsen said the Sheriff's Office received numerous tips about the whereabouts of Thomas as a result of the post on The Batavian, but added, "I really think it was your article that put the pressure on him to surrender."

May 10, 2012 - 4:31pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, crime.
Gregory Phillips Brian Bordinaro Lance Engel

The City of Batavia has begun a disciplinary proceeding against a pair of city firefighters who stand accused of participating in an illegal bookmaking operation and are charged with felonies under New York's racketeering law.

Gregory Phillips and Brian Bordinaro have been suspended without pay, according to City Manager Jason Molino.

Under civil service law, Phillips and Bordinaro are entitled to a disciplinary hearing within 30 days of being suspected without pay.

Bordinaro was suspended without pay on April 27, and Phillips on May 2.

The hearing officer will determine what sort of disciplinary action -- if any -- should be taken against the two men. Options range from fines to termination if the officer finds the firefighters guilty of misconduct.

Bordinaro  was within two years of retirement at the time of his suspension, and Phillips was about three years out. 

City officials declined to release the actual disciplinary documents. City Clerk Heidi Parker, who is the freedom of information officer for the city, cited the "fair trial" provision the Freedom of Information Law because the documents may contain information gathered by law enforcement that has not been released to the public.

When originally arrested in February, following a months-long investigation by detectives with the Local Drug Enforcement Task Force, Phillips and Bordinaro were charged with criminal possession of gambling records. Phillips was also accused of possessing a small amount of cocaine.

In April, the men were also charged with enterprise corruption. The provision is a Class B felony that serves as New York's anti-racketeering law. The charge carries a maximum possible prison term of eight-and-a-third to 25 years.

Arrested and charged with Phllips and Bordonaro was Lance Engel, a cook at the NYS vet's home in Batavia. No information has been obtained on his employment status.

There are no scheduled court appearances for the three men until October and  District Attorney Lawrence Friedman has yet to say whether his office will seek grand jury indictments or proceed in another manner with the case.

At their last court appearance, the attorneys for the three men were all given inches-thick documents containing alleged evidence of their gambling operation.

According to investigators, the operation handled more than $1 million in bets in a single year and generated about $70,000 in profits off the vig.

May 10, 2012 - 3:34pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, crime.

A 24-year-old Tracy Avenue resident was arrested today and accused of sexual contact with a teenager he knew.

Dennis D. Benson Jr., of 62 Tracy Ave., Batavia, is charged with three counts of criminal sexual act, 3rd.

Det. Charles Dudek conducted an investigation and arrested Benson at 7 a.m. following a traffic stop on Hartshorn Road, Pembroke.

The sexual contact is alleged to have taken place at Benson's residence on three separate occasions in March.

Benson was arraigned in Batavia City Court and released under supervision of the Probation Department.

May 10, 2012 - 3:03pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in crime, corfu.

A Springville man accused of stealing copper from a business in Corfu has a chance of getting out of jail today after his bail was reduced to $10,000 cash or bond.

Scott J. Taylor, 45, was originally jailed without bail after being arrested late Monday night on the property of Ed Arnold Scrap Processors on Angling Road.

Taylor was originally held without bail when he was arraigned in Pembroke Town Court because lower courts are required to hold suspects with prior felony convictions.

His attorney, Keith Perla, of Buffalo, asked for the bail review hearing and argued that Taylor should be released under supervision because Taylor has a history of making his court dates and lives on a farm where he cares for his elderly mother.

Assistant District Attorney Robert Zickl argued that bail for Taylor should be set at $50,000 because of his four prior felonies in four different counties -- all for similar crimes and wrapped into a single one-year prison sentence more than seven years ago -- and because Taylor faces being labled a persistent felony offender (meaning a longer jail term).

Zickl also said Taylor allegedly made statements indicating he has a compulsion to steal.

According to Perla, a report by Genesee Justice on Taylor said Taylor was eligible for release under supervision.

Zickl said the current grading system doesn't give sufficient weight to the multiple prior felonies.

Judge Robert C. Noonan said he helped draft the bail review point system and agreed it didn't put multiple prior felony convictions in proper context, but because for larceny type of crimes, he isn't likely to find a defendant a persistent felony offender, he didn't think a high bail was required.

Taylor is accused of entering the scrap yard five times in April and May. He is charged with four counts of grand larceny, 4th, one count of attempted grand larceny and five counts of criminal trespass, 3rd.

May 10, 2012 - 2:21pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in crime, alexander.

Wyatt J. Becker, 21 and facing five years in prison, told Judge Robert C. Noonan today that he's a changed man.

He said he's gone from only thinking of himself to seeing how he's hurt people and understanding their point of view.

"I can't believe how selfish I used to be," Becker said. "I don't know ho to make up for all of the damage I've done and how to say how much remorse I have for the victim and his family. Forgiveness shouldn't be granted for me for my words, but should be because of my future actions."

Becker promised Noonan he would never see him in court again. He read from a statement that appeared to be typed on a sheet of yellow legal paper.

On March 15, Becker entered a guilty plea to assault, 2nd, and DWI. As part of the plea deal, he as facing a maximum of five years in prison, and that's exactly the sentenced handed down by Noonan.

Becker was the driver in an Aug. 3 accident on Pike Road, Alexander, that seriously injured his passenger.

The accident led to the felony assault charge against Becker.

By November, Becker was a fugitive after missing an arraignment date in Noonan's court. He was arrested in December.

The five sober months Becker has spent in jail has given him a chance to reflect on his life and his bad choices, Becker told Noonan.

Noonan told Becker today that in reading his pre-sentencing report he noted the Becker claimed his actions in August were not out of the ordinary for a person his age.

Noonan disagreed.

"Any recognition or reflection on your conduct should start with the realization that your incarceration is the result of a lot of bad choices that are not reflective on the population as a whole," Noonan said. "The population on the whole is made up of a lot of 21 year olds who have never been in a courtroom and never will be in a courtroom."

The judge said he hoped by the time Becker gets out of jail, he'll realize that his peers, on the whole, are not engaging in conduct that gets them in trouble with the law.

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