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January 17, 2012 - 6:09pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in weather.

A severe thunderstorm warning is in effect immediately, lasting until 6:15 p.m.

The National Weather Service warns that high winds will proceed any lightning or rain, but people should take cover before hearing any thunder.

Wind damage is likely, according to the weather service.

Winds of 70 mph are predicted. The storm is moving at 70 mph.

UPDATE 6:16 p.m.: Warning extended to 6:45 p.m. From the latest update:

WIND DAMAGE WITH THESE STORMS WILL OCCUR WELL AHEAD OF ANY RAIN OR LIGHTNING. DO NOT WAIT FOR THE SOUND OF THUNDER BEFORE TAKING COVER. SEEK SHELTER IMMEDIATELY INSIDE A STURDY STRUCTURE AND STAY AWAY FROM WINDOWS.

January 17, 2012 - 9:53am
posted by Howard B. Owens in business, Darien, darien lake theme park.

After a summer filled with bad publicity, Darien Lake Theme Park's owners, Herschend Family Entertainment, has announced changes in its top management at the park.

A veteran of the company, Bob Montgomery, has been named vice present and general manager of the park.

Chris Thorpe, who led the park staff through the accidental death of a patron and the closure for unrelated mechanical reasons of the park's signature ride, is now the assistant general manager and will report to Montgomery.

Rochester resident Steve Hallowell, a former director of marketing for Kodak, has been named director of marketing for Darien Lake.

For previous coverage of events at Darien Lake, click here.

Press release:

Darien Lake Theme & Water Park Resort (Darien Lake) has named Bob Montgomery as the park's new vice president and general manager. Montgomery has been employed by Herschend Family Entertainment (HFE), the management company of Darien Lake, for over a decade. Prior to HFE, Montgomery worked as vice president of operations and development at LEGOLAND, director of operations at Toronto's C.N. Tower and director of attractions at Canada's Wonderland, the top two attractions in Canada.

Darien Lake also appoints marketing veteran and Rochester, New York, native Steve Hallowell as director of marketing. He has 25 years of marketing experience and a long tenure at Eastman Kodak Company in Rochester, most recently serving as director of consumer experience marketing.

"The combination of entertainment and accommodations offered at Darien Lake are unique in the industry, and I am excited about this opportunity," said Montgomery. Prior to moving to Darien Lake, Montgomery worked at Wild Adventures, also an HFE property, as vice president and general manager. "The community has a lot of enthusiasm for Darien Lake, and I look forward to leading this great vacation destination, especially as we introduce three new family rides this year."

In his new role, Montgomery oversees all aspects of the park. Chris Thorpe now serves as assistant general manager at the park, reporting directly to Montgomery. Thorpe is responsible for employee development and relations.

Steve Hallowell leads the marketing department with a unique local perspective. "I look forward to working with the marketing team and the Buffalo and Rochester communities to attract even more guests to our park and accommodations," said Hallowell. "As a father of two teenage boys who love to visit the park with their friends, this job definitely promotes me to cool dad."

January 17, 2012 - 9:37am
posted by Howard B. Owens in business, corfu.

Members of the Rupracht family enjoy each other's company so much, they decided to go into business together.

Jim and Lori Rupracht owned and operated the J&L Feed Store in Corfu for 20 years. But as the number of hobby farmers in the area declined, they decided to change locations, build a larger store, add more products and focus on a larger customer base.

That's when son Ryan, who worked at the feed store from the time he was 8 years old, decided to become a partner in the business.

Ryan put up his own money and did the electrical and other work on the new building at 47 W. Main St., Corfu.

"We just really enjoy working working together," Lori said. "None of us can imagine going out and working for someone else. We’re all independent and we like being independent. It’s really important to just have us all together."

The 3,400-square-foot store sits on an eight-acre parcel and cost $250,000 to get up and running. It includes a greenhouse where the Rupracht will eventually grow greens in the winter and hold workshops on gardening.

Jim completed a master gardner course at the Cornell Extension in prepration for the new business.

The store still carries feed and other agricultural and home gardening supplies, but also a line of groceries -- from soft drinks to locally grown fruits and vegetables.

M&M Meats of Batavia are featured in the store and Jennifer Worthington moved her florist shop, Heaven’s Gate, to the new location.

Ryan said he decided to get involved in the retail business not just because he enjoys working with his family, he simply likes living in Corfu.

"We’re all people people," Ryan said. 'We’ve been here 20 years and we’ve gotten to know a lot of people here."

January 17, 2012 - 9:11am
posted by Howard B. Owens in accident, Le Roy.

A two-car accident has been reported in the area of 87 Lake St., Le Roy, with one person having a possible leg injury.

The cars are blocking.

Le Roy Fire Department and Le Roy Ambulance Service dispatched.

UPDATE 9:14 a.m.: No injuries. Le Roy ambulance back in service.

UPDATE 9:38 a.m.: Le Roy fire back in service. Lake Street reopened.


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January 17, 2012 - 9:04am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Le Roy.

Two Le Roy High School students, with their mothers, appeared on NBC's "Today Show" on Tuesday morning to talk about the tic symptoms they've been experiencing and the response to the issue from state health officials.

The segment opened with a feature report on the two girls and what's been going on at Le Roy HS, followed by an interview with Ann Curry.

Thera Sanchez and Katie Krautworst, with their respective mothers Melissa Philips and Beth Miller, were on the set with Curry, along with Dr. Gail Saltz, a mental health specialist.

Curry opened by asking Thera if the situation made her angry, and she said it did, "and frustrated."

Curry asked Philips, Thera's mother, "When the state says there's no environmental factors, that there's no infectious disease, as a mom, what are you thinking?" 

"Where's the proof? Where's the data? Where's the testing? When has this been done?" Philips asked.

"You've not been shown any data?" Curry asked.

"No, nothing."

Miller said she's requested the data, "so we can find a cure for our daughters."

Curry: "Why do you disbelieve what the state is telling you, that this has to be something else?"

"Nothing's been done collectively for our daughters," Philips said. "Everything's been done individually. The testing they say they've had, they have not had. The facts they're stating are just untrue."

Thera said the only thing she's been told is that the tics are stress induced.

Katie said, "They told us that it was traumatic, but I don't think any of us had that traumatic of a life before and that it would randomly happen."

When Curry turned to Saltz, the doctor said that having just met the young women, she could not make a diagnosis, however, since environmental factors have been ruled out and infectious disease has been ruled out, that leaves psychological factors.

Saltz said it could be conversion disorder, which is something psychosomatic.

"It’s important for me to say that’s not fake," Saltz said. "They're  not faking it. They’re real symptoms that are not under their control, that they’re really experiencing. They’re psychologically driven and they need a psychiatric or psychological treatment and treatment does work."

Curry said, "but it's 12 girls," and Saltz started to say, "It can ..." but Curry cut her off and asked Thera what she wanted out of appearing on the Today Show.

"I want an answer and I want a straight answer," Thera said. "I’ve had psychological treatment. They say this is stress induced. (unintelligible) my psychological treatment, all that does is stress me out more and then I get worse."

January 16, 2012 - 8:50pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in kathy hochul.

Press release:

In an effort to streamline services for local businesses, Congresswoman Kathy Hochul today sent a letter to House Speaker John Boehner pushing him to develop and execute a plan to consolidate duplicative economic development agencies and programs in the federal government.

“Over the last few weeks I’ve met with over 50 businesses and Chambers of Commerce, and all of them agree that we must cut the red tape in our federal government, eliminate the redundancy, and make it easier for our businesses to get the support they need,” said Congresswoman Hochul. “Today, I sent a letter to Speaker Boehner, asking him to work with the President and Congress, in an effort to eliminate waste and provide more efficient services to the businesses that drive our economy.

Last week, President Obama identified an opportunity to innovate government and eliminate waste by combining six trade and commerce agencies – the U.S. Department of Commerce, the Small Business Administration, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, the Export-Import Bank, the Overseas Private Investment Corporation, and the U.S. Trade and Development Agency – into one new agency.

At a press conference today at the Amherst Chamber of Commerce, Representative Hochul and Chamber President Colleen DiPirro called for a reduction in government agencies that overlap and cause a confusing maze of federal bureaucracy for business owners.

“I’ve been dealing with businesses, small and large, for 32 years and the challenge that they face day-in and day-out is getting through government regulations,” said DiPirro. “Having one-stop for business will not only save them money, but it will also save them a great deal of time. And as we all know, in business, time is money.”

Hochul added, “Just like businesses must cut wasteful spending, innovate and streamline services to better serve their customers, the federal government must do the same.”

January 16, 2012 - 11:05am
posted by Howard B. Owens in accident, Pavilion.

A driver reportedly failed to stop for a stop sign off Perry Road at Route 20 in Pavilion Sunday night, leading to a two-car collision that sent one person to the hospital.

Lee R. Broadwell, 59, of Sheldon Street, Castile, was reportedly south on Perry at 8:08 p.m., when his 2007 Dodge SUV allegedly went through the stop sign at Route 20.

Broadwell's vehicle struck a 2010 Chevy sedan driven by Donald R. Sweeney, 22, of Peck Road, Hilton.

Sweeney's passenger, Andrew V. Sweeney, 20, was injured and transported by Mercy EMS to Strong Memorial Hospital.

Pavilion Fire Department responded to the scene and extricated Andrew Sweeney from the car.

Neither Donald Sweeney, Broadwell nor Broadwell's passenger were injured.

The accident report does not indicate that a citation was issued.

The incident was investigated by Deputy James Diehl.

(Initial report)

Reader submitted photo.

January 16, 2012 - 10:48am
posted by Howard B. Owens in crime, pembroke, Darien, Le Roy.

Thomas J. Smith, 23, of 8048 E. Main Road, Le Roy, is charged with DWI, driving with a BAC of .08 or greater and criminal possession of a controlled substance, 7th. Smith was stopped at 2:12 a.m. Saturday on Lake Street, Le Roy, by Le Roy Police.

A 17-year-old of South Lake Road, Pembroke, is charged with unlawful possession of marijuana and possession/consumption of alcohol under age 21. The youth was allegedly found by Deputy Patrick Reeves to have concealed a quanity of marijuana and alcohol in a duffle bag during a traffic stop on Main Road, Pembroke.

Brandi Elizabeth Schmiedicker, 18, of Genesee Street, Darien, is charged with unlawful dealing with a child. Schmiedicker is accused of hosting an underage drinking party, which was reported through Tipline.

Paul M. Flis, 19, of Salisbury Lane, Blasdell, is charged with DWI and driving with a BAC of .08 or greater. Flis was allegedly found behind the wheel in a stopped vehicle on Genesee Street, Darien, at 4:19 a.m. Sunday, by Deputy Kevin McCarthy.

January 15, 2012 - 8:23pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in fire, Bethany.

A wire is reportedly down and on fire in the area 9309 Clipknock Road, Bethany.

Bethany Stafford Fire Department dispatched.

UPDATE  8:38 p.m.: National Grid contacted, no ETA given.

UPDATE 8:42 p.m.: National Grid reports 252 customers without power. ETA for restoration is 11:15 p.m.

UPDATE 9:05 p.m.: National Grid on location. Stafford fire back in service.


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January 15, 2012 - 8:19pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in accident, Pavilion.

A two-car accident, with one car rolling over, has been reported on Route 20 just west of Perry Road, Pavilion.

Pavilion Fire dispatched.

Law enforcement on scene requested that medics expediate their response. (Different call)

A chief on scene requests the status of Mercy Flight. Mercy Flight 2 is returning to Batavia from Buffalo and can be routed to the accident if necessary.

Patient is alert and conscious, but extrication will be required.

UPDATE 8:24 p.m.: One injury with complaint of neck and back pain, and three people who will probably not require ambulance transport.

UPDATE 8:28 p.m.: Pavilion command requests Mercy Flight continue to the scene.

UPDATE 8:35 p.m.: Landing zone being set up just south of the accident scene. Mercy Flight as a nine minute ETA. Patient extricated.

UPDATE  8:42 p.m.: Per a Mercy medic on scene, Mercy Flight can go back in service. The patient will be transported by ground ambulance.

UPDATE 9:01 p.m.: Pavilion fire back in service. One fire police remaining on scene to help with traffic control until the vehicles are towed away.

UPDATE 9:29 p.m.: Reader submitted photo added.


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January 15, 2012 - 6:38pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, animals, photos.

Dave McCarthy, a resident of Grandview Terrace in Batavia, had a special visitor today -- a fox decided to help himself (or herself) to suet on the snow. (Photo courtesy McCarthy.)

January 15, 2012 - 3:04pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in crime, Le Roy, synthetic drugs.

UPDATED 3:27 p.m.

Emergency personnel were dispatched Saturday night to an address on Gilbert Street in Le Roy for a report of a youth having a seizure.

Le Roy Ambulance and Le Roy PD arrived on scene and learned that the seizure victim had allegedly smoked "Hammer Head," advertised as "incense" and "not for human consumption."

While on scene, police took into custody Tyler F. Longhini, 20, of 12 Myrtle St., for alleged underage possession of alcohol with intent to consume.

Longhini reportedly agreed to a breath test and allegedly blew a .19 BAC.

Police report that Longhini admitted to consuming Black Velvet whiskey while in the parking lot of McDonald's in the hours prior to police being dispatched to Gilbert Street.

Longhini was issued an appearance ticket and turned over to his grandmother.

Officer Emily Clark said there were three people at the Gilbert Street residence who said they had smoked the "incense," but only one of them suffered a seizure.

She said one of the people on scene said that the "Hammer Head" was purchased at a retail store on the Tonawanda Indian Reservation.

The seizure victim was transported to the hospital by Le Roy Ambulance and the remaining "Hammer Head" product was sent with the patient for medical personnel information.

Clark said this is the first time she's responded to the scene of a medical problem allegedly related to consumption of puportedly synthetic marijuana; however, she has responded to the scene of medical situations involving so called "bath salts." She said she's heard that other members of her department have responded to similar cases.

The victim's name has not been released and we have no information on his or her condition.

Previously: Potentially dangerous synthetic drugs readily available in Genesee County

January 15, 2012 - 2:20pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, budget.

In an effort to grapple with ever increasing retirement and healthcare costs, along with maintaining the city's contingency funds, Batavia City Manager Jason Molino is recommending a property tax increase for fiscal year 2012-13.

The proposed budget increases the tax levy by 4.32 percent, or $241,221, to cover anticipated expenses of $15,758,611.

The increase is about $4,000 less than allowed under the state's tax cap law, according to Molino's budget message.

The rate would become $10.94 per $1,000 of assessed value, or $37 per year, or $3 per month, on a home assessed at $80,000.

Near the end of his budget message, Molino, a huge hockey fan, writes, "Put in perspective, Time Warner Cable increased the standard cable rate December 1, 2011 by $4.55/month or $54.60/year, and now you can’t watch the Sabre’s games."

Molino writes:

However, as stated in this message the City is faced with challenging decisions due to detrimental increases in state mandated costs. Use of reserve funds have been tapped to larger extents this year as fixed costs in retirement and healthcare surge, and needed equipment replacements and sidewalk repairs are required. In addition, for the first year in the last five, it is proposed that the City utilize unappropriated/unreserved fund balance to assist with balancing the budget.

State aid for municipalities will likely be reduced again, Molino said.

Retirement contributions are expected to increase 15 percent over the previous fiscal year, or by $182,000.

Healthcare is expected to go up 16 percent, or $256,000 over the prior year.

Much of the healthcare increase is being driven by an increase in health insurance for retirees.

Even with the increase in taxes, the city will need to tap $100,000 from its undesignated reserves to help balance the budget.

The budget also includes setting aside funds for future, potentially larger, increases in retirement and healthcare costs. Those reserves built up in previous years will be tapped in this budget for $65,000 apiece.

"The State’s woes cannot be an obstacle to the City’s success, and this budget continues to put our best foot forward by building our great City to its fullest potential," Molino said.

Designated reserves for equipment replacement ($210,000) and sidewalk repair ($75,000) are also expected to be used in 2012-13.

The undesignated fund balance as of March 31, 2011 was  $493,273, which Molino said is far below the NYS Comptroller’s recommended levels of 5 to 10 percent of general fund operations, which would mean a healthy reserve would be $750,000 to $1.5 million.

The city will need to spend $36,000 on a new phone system, according to the budget message. The current system was scheduled for replacement in 2009 but wasn't. Its manufacturer will discontinue support for the system this year, making repairs more expensive and less reliable.

Water rates will go up 3 percent, if the proposed budget is approved, to $4.44 per 1,000 gallons. Water customers will also pay $8-per-year for anticipated infrastructure repairs and improvements. The fee increases 50 cents year-over-year.

There are no anticipated adjustments to the sewer rate.

In the conclusion of the budget message, Molino writes:

It is strongly encouraged that the City Council considers the proposed tax increase in order to safeguard against significant increases in retirement, healthcare or other costs. While it is understood that a property tax increase is not a popular decision, approving a modest property tax increase complemented with an increase in the contingency account may avoid the need for a more drastic tax increase in following years, which may require overriding the tax cap.

To read the budget message, click here (pdf).

Photo: City Hall photo, file photo.

January 15, 2012 - 11:08am
posted by Howard B. Owens in animals, DEC.

Press release:

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) is asking the public to report any instances of deer appearing sick or acting abnormally. DEC is only investigating deer that appear to have died from unknown causes and not those that were killed by a vehicle, the agency announced today.

Anyone who sees a white-tailed deer acting abnormally or who finds a dead deer that was not struck by a vehicle is asked to report the animal to the nearest DEC regional office or to an Environmental Conservation Officer or Forest Ranger.

“One of the ways that DEC monitors the health of New York’s deer herd is by performing post-mortem examinations to determine the cause of the illness or death,” said Assistant Commissioner for Natural Resources Kathleen Moser. “We depend on information provided by people who are outdoors to tell us when they see something that does not look right to them.”

Recently, DEC indentified an uncommon bacterial disease in a deer from Warren County. This bacterial disease does not affect humans. However, DEC is seeking additional information to determine the prevalence of this disease in the deer herd and is responding to reports of deer that are acting abnormally. Deer with this bacterial disease may have a swollen head, neck or brisket. They also may exhibit excessive drooling, nasal discharge or respiratory distress. To aid in this investigation, DEC would also like to examine any deer that are found dead from unknown causes.

People should not handle or eat any deer that appears sick or acts abnormally. Sightings of sick, dying or dead deer should be reported to the nearest DEC regional office or an Environmental Conservation Officer or Forest Ranger.

January 14, 2012 - 10:22am
posted by Howard B. Owens in photos, Darien, weather.

Here's five photos from my drive around the county Friday afternoon. It turns out four of them were taken along Simmonds Road in the Town of Darien. The fifth, bottom, on Ellinwood Road.

January 13, 2012 - 12:12pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in photos, weather.

Welcome to Friday the 13th. The weather remains frightful, travel hazardous and a winter weather advisory remains in place until 7 p.m.

There is a wind advisory in effect until 4 p.m.

The pictures in this post were taken as I returned to Batavia from the egg tanker accident.

Above, off Route 20, Alexander

Browns Mill Road, Alexander

Creek Road, Batavia

Creek Road, Batavia

January 13, 2012 - 11:22am
posted by Howard B. Owens in accident, alexander.

A driver hauling liquid egg from Pennsylvania to a plant in Ontario, Canada, was allegedly driving too fast for conditions, according to Deputy Chris Parker, and he lost control of his rig. The truck slid off Route 20 in Alexander and rolled over in a farm field about a half mile east of Sandpit Road.

The truck was hauling more than 6,000 gallons of liquid egg, which was going to be dehydrated and used as an ingredient for dog food. Nearly the entire contents of the truck spilled into the field.

The driver was not injured, though it took volunteer firefighters about 20 minutes to safely get him out the cab of the truck.

The accident was reported at 8:30 a.m. Alexander fire responded, Bethany's fire police handled traffic control on the east side of the accident. Darien fire was put on standby in its hall while Alexander was tied up on the accident.

January 13, 2012 - 7:23am
posted by Howard B. Owens in weather.

High winds and blowing snow have been keeping county salt crews busy so far Friday morning.

There are currently reports of an accident on Route 63 and a report of car off the road in East Pembroke.

A UPS truck can't get up a hill in Pavilion.

Currently, National Grid reports no power outages.

The forecast for Genesee County through noon is for more of the same.

The National Weather Service says "blizzard conditions" exist now, though the morning portion of the storm is expected to bring only about one to three inches of snow.

WBTA reports tha Pavilion Central School is closed today and Alexandar Central has a two-hour delay.

UPDATE 7:27 a.m.: Car off the road on the I-490. An electrical wire is reportedly on fire outside the residence at 10 Maple St., Batavia. The caller reports "hearing electrical problems" in the basement. City fire responding.

UPDATE 7:31 a.m.: Engine 12 on scene at 10 Maple, nothing showing. Mercy EMS dispatched to Route 63 and Ellicott for the accident at that location for a patient evaluation. At 10 Maple, firefighter reports "It's a little smoky" in the basement.

UPDATE 7:39 a.m.: National Grid requested to 10 Maple. Power is out. Water has gotten on the breaker box. The cause of the smoke in the basement is out.  Also, in Le Roy, a truck can't get up a hill in the area of Gilbert Street. Law enforcement responding.

UPDATE 7:45 a.m.: National Grid requested to the scene at 10 Maple ASAP. "We have a signficant electrical situation here," a firefighter reports. There is arcing in the basement.

UPDATE 7:48 a.m.; National Grid has a 15 minute ETA for 10 Maple.

UPDATE 7:49 a.m.: Car off the road on Perry Road, Pavilion.

UPDATE 8:08 a.m.: City code enforcement requested to 10 Maple.

UPDATE 8:13 a.m.: A vehicle has struck a mailbox on Route 63 near Bethany Center Road.

UPDATE 8:30 a.m.: A tractor-trailer has rolled over on Route 20 at Sandpit Road, Alexander. No word on injuries.

UPDATE 8:41 a.m.: Regarding the truck rollover -- no injuries.

UPDATE 8:43 a.m.: Car off the road on Route 77 just north of the Thruway.

UPDATE 8:50 a.m.: Heavy wrecker requested to the truck rollover. The tanker was transporting liquid egg, completely biodegradable, and the liquid egg is draining out of the tank, so it will be empty by the time the wrecker arrives. The driver is now out of the truck.

UPDATE 8:55 a.m.: Red Cross requested to 10 Maple to assist a displaced family.

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