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February 15, 2011 - 6:03pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in thebatavian.

Today was a significant day in the growth of The Batavian -- our first two employees started work.

Granted, both are working on a limited part-time basis, but getting help for Billie and I will give us the latitude to continue growing the business. Over the past couple of months, it's been clear that there simply aren't enough hours in a week to get done all we need to get done, especially if we want to grow.

We've hired Brittany Baker and Ethan Thompson, two people with roots in Genesee County.

And I would be remiss if I didn't mention that Dan Crofts, Gretel Kauffman and Jim Nigro continue on as correspondents and we very much appreciate their ongoing contributions.

Brittany Baker, Staff Writer: I first met Brittany more than 18 months ago when she introduced herself outside a restaurant where she worked. She wanted to write for The Batavian. We brought her on as a correspondent and both Billie and I were impressed with her work ethic and commitment to journalism.

We were exceptionally sorry a couple of months later to see her depart to the Batavia Daily News as a full-time staff writer, but wished her well. In December, I learned Brittany's position at the Daily was eliminated and since I knew I would be creating at least one part-time position in 2011, I immediately contacted her. Billie and I are quite proud that Brittany agreed to rejoin us.

Brittany is 24, born and raised in Genesee County and holds a bachelor's degree in broadcasting from Brockport and an associate's degree from GCC in communications and media arts. Her interests include video games, painting, photography and, of course, writing and reading. She's previously worked for, besides the Daily News, Terry Hills, Hot Shots, Delavan's, Bob Evans and has done some modeling.

She currently resides in Batavia.

Initially, Brittany will work four days per month, with an emphasis on covering the Town of Batavia. We'll add more work days as our revenue grows.

Ethan Thompson, Advertising Support: Ethan is another person who approached me in the early days of The Batavian with an interest in working for us. You may recognize his name. He has covered some football for us and done a couple of other video projects.

Ethan impressed me early on with his ambition and hard work, and when he applied for our advertising support position, I knew I at least had to talk with him about the job. We're very happy he decided to join our staff.

Ethan, 16, lives with his parents in Oakfield and is home-schooled -- he graduates this year. He runs his own media company, Just Passing Thru Productions and works with Ride to Recovery. 

Besides strong video production skills, Ethan can build Web sites in Word Press, knows his way around PhotoShop and other computer programs we use on the advertising side of the business.

One of the tasks I've been having a hard time keeping up with recently is "Deal of the Day," so Ethan's initial duties will be handling all of those responsibilities -- working four mornings a week to post the deals and send out the gift certificates. This should improve the entire process.

Ethan will take on additional responsibilities over the course of the year, all aimed at helping us serve local businesses better and generate more revenue so we can better serve both readers and advertisers.

February 15, 2011 - 1:05pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Le Roy, Le Roy Central School District.

Something happened two weeks ago involving a few Le Roy High School basketball players.

As near as we can tell, it was a serious matter.

Judging by the reaction of some students the following Tuesday (wearing T-shirts in support of one of the alleged aggressors in the situation) and the reaction of the father of the possible alleged victim, emotions were running high around this issue.

WHAM-13's Sean Carroll has been looking into this matter, and I have had numerous conversations with sources as well. There have also been other reporters looking into the issue.

At this point, it appears everybody has lawyered up and clammed up. 

Given the seriousness of the allegations on both sides, it's hard to just shrug and say, "well, it's just some sort of private matter."

It's especially difficult to take that stance when several, shall we say, well-placed Le Roy residents and community leaders keep telling me, "there's more to this," and "you need to keep digging," and "don't let this go."

Kim Cox, the Le Roy Central School District superintendent, cites student confidentially for her unwillingness to discuss the situation, but not all of the questions either Sean or I are asking are covered by student confidentially laws or policies. 

For example, she refused to answer a question regarding some sort of public conflict at a basketball game saying, "the matter is under investigation." The problem with that answer is that it isn't under investigation as far as we can tell. Supposedly, students have been told not to talk to anybody about that incident (or the other) and the police have not been called in to investigate it.

The school board is no less uncooperative. I called four school board members. Two did not return messages, a third said repeatedly "no comment" and a fourth hung up on me.

It's troubling when people whom we regard as highly credible and responsible people are telling us "there's more to this" and "keep digging" and at the same time the school district appears to be taking every step possible to keep a lid on it.

There are serious allegations here involving young people, so it is a very sensitive situation, but it's hard to be confident that it's being handled appropriately when district officials put up a stone wall.

Sean Carroll put out a call in his blog post for witnesses to come forward. I would also welcome information from direct witnesses to either of these incidents. It's hard to say if any this will ever lead to a "story."

But given the requests of knowledgable people not to let this drop, it seems important to let readers know we're concerned that these events may just get swept under the rug.

February 15, 2011 - 10:29am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, city council, War of 1812.

Here's what happened at Monday night's city council meeting.

There were two public hearings -- one on the proposed budget with its $1.59 per-thousand property tax increase and another on the water and sewer rate increase (adding about $12 per year to the average homeowner's bill) -- and no members of the public showed up.

A pair of local residents raised their concerns about a neighbor dispute they would like the police department to take action on.

And Elijah Monroe, above, presented a framed certificate to the Batavia City Council commemorating Batavia for being the Niagara Frontier chapter headquarters for the The Society of the Second War with Great Britain In the State of New York.

The society is affiliated with the General Society of the War of 1812, which is an organization for the male descendants of anyone who served in the War of 1812.

February 14, 2011 - 10:51pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in politics, steve hawley, NY-26.

Press Release:

Assemblyman Steve Hawley (R, I, C – Batavia) recently announced that he will not seek election in the 26th Congressional District. Hawley instead will continue his duties as an assemblyman in the 139th District.

“I have been truly inspired by the outpouring of support I have received from constituents, friends and colleagues regarding a potential run for the United States House of Representatives in the 26th Congressional District,” Hawley said. “Furthermore, the parallels and comparisons I have received to former Rep. Barber Conable Jr. from members of the community have been nothing short of humbling.

"However, after careful consideration, I have decided to forgo a run for Congress and remain in the New York State Assembly, representing my home -- the 139th Assembly District. There may be another day and another time for me to seek such office, but today is not that day and now is not that time.”

“Throughout my time in the Assembly, I have held myself to a core set of principles that continue to propel me through my life of public service,” Hawley said. “From lowering property taxes, attracting and retaining business in Western New York, and supporting and honoring our proud veterans to protecting the viability of New York’s number one industry, agriculture, I have fought day in and day out to meet the needs of my district.

"However, there is still much work left to be done in order to right New York’s ship. That is why I feel it is important for me to continue my role in the state Assembly. There is simply so much more to accomplish right here in our own community.”

On withdrawing his name from the running, Hawley announced his support for Assemblywoman Jane Corwin (R, C, I – Clarence), who represents the 142nd District. Hawley and Corwin have been colleagues in the Assembly minority since 2008.

“It is without hesitation that I endorse Assemblywoman Jane Corwin for the 26th Congressional District,” Hawley said. “Assemblywoman Corwin has shown tireless dedication in representing her constituents and shares many of the same common-sense, pro-business principles that I have made a priority in the state Assembly.

"Assemblywoman Corwin and I were the only two representatives to earn perfect scores on Unshackle Upstate’s 2009-10 Legislative Scorecards, which rate the voting records of all 212 state legislators regarding bills that would support the health and growth of New York’s economy. I take great pride in endorsing my friend and colleague as our next representative in the U.S. House of Representatives.”

February 14, 2011 - 9:07pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in accident.

A car as hit a tree on Lake Road, near Sackett Road, in Bergen.  

The elderly driver is reportedly disoriented.

Bergen Fire and Mercy EMS responding.

UPDATE 9:15 p.m.: Lake Road is not being closed, but Fire Police are trying to slow down traffic.

UPDATE 9:20 p.m.: Mercy's response canceled. No injuries.

February 14, 2011 - 2:08pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, crime, elba, pembroke, Darien, Pavilion.

Kenyada R. Peterkin, 29, of Saxton Street, Rochester, is charged with criminal possession of a controlled substance, 7th, aggravated unlicensed operation, unlicensed operation and unlawful possession of marijuana. Peterkin was arrested following a traffic stop by members of the Local Drug Enforcement Task Force. He was allegedly found in possession of crack cocaine and marijuana. Peterkin was jailed on $1,500 bail.

A 17-year-old from Asbury Road, Pavilion, is charged with criminal contempt, 2nd, and harassment, 2nd. The youth allegedly violated a court order by hitting another person during an argument.

Matthew Joseph Dahl, 19, Tinkham Road, Darien, is charged with DWI, driving with a BAC of .08 or greater, driving left of pavement markings in a no-passing zone and inadequate headlights. Dahl was stopped at 2:06 a.m., Saturday, on Tinkham Road, Darien, by Deputy Jason Saile.

Stephen Daniel Golembiewski, 32, of Main Road, East Pembroke, is charged with DWI, driving with a BAC of .08 or greater, driving left of center pavement markings and obstructed rear plate. Golembiewski was stopped at 1:13 a.m., Sunday, on Indian Falls Road, Pembroke, by Deputy Patrick Reeves.

Jenna Alexandra Kavanagh, 18, of Guaymar Circle, Rochester, is charged with unlawful possession of marijuana. Kavanagh was allegedly found in possession of marijuana during a traffic stop on Thursday by Deputy James Diehl.

Brandy Rose Douglas, 31, of South Main Street, Elba, is charged with DWI, driving with a BAC of .08 or greater, aggravated unlicensed operation and driving left of pavement markings in a no-passing zone. Douglas was stopped at 12:17 a.m., Friday, on Chapel Road, Byron, by Deputy Jason Saile.

February 14, 2011 - 1:48pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in accident, Le Roy.

None of the seven people involved in a two-car accident in Le Roy on Saturday afternoon were injured.

The driver of one car, Cody A. Busch, 19, of Batavia, said he was trying to brake for another car when he lost control of the 1989 Pontiac he was driving and the car spun into oncoming traffic.

The Pontiac struck a 2002 Kia driven by Angelo J. Rampino, 38, of Tonawanda.

No citations were issued following the 5:33 p.m. accident on Route 19 in the area of 8623 Lake Road.

In Busch's car were James K. Goodenow, 39, and Kristine M. Reynolds, 21.  In Rampino's car were Heather C. Rampino, 37, Angelo J. Rampino II, 4, and Deborah A. Gillmor, 57.

The accident was investigated by Deputy Joseph Graff.

February 14, 2011 - 1:34pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in accident, Pavilion.

One person suffered a minor injury and three others were unhurt in a rollover accident on Route 63 on Saturday that was blamed on excessive speed for conditions.

The driver, Laura F. Schimpf, 18, of Bishop Street, Watertown, received a citation.

Her passenger, Lauren S. Aulet, 18, reportedly had minor cuts and glass in her eye.

Uninjured were Stephanie Kingsbury, 19, and Allison J. Cropsey, 18.

Schimpf was reportedly driving north on Ellicott Street Road near Route 20 in Pavilion when her car went off the east shoulder. The 2007 Hyundai sedan struck a snowbank and over turned, coming to rest on its roof.

The accident was investigated by Deputy Chris Parker.

(Initial Report)

February 14, 2011 - 1:12pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in photos, byron.

The residents at 5645 Ebb Road, Byron, found something creative to do with the piles of snow plowed and piled up next to their driveway -- they built a snow dragon.

February 13, 2011 - 7:24pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, fire, thruway.

A car fire has been reported on the Thruway in the area of mile marker 387 in the westbound lane.

Town of Batavia Fire being dispatched.

UPDATE 7:20 p.m.: There's been only one call reporting the fire. Mile maker 387 is about 2/10ths of a mile east of the Byron Road underpass.

UPDATE 7:31 p.m.: A chief on scene reports no flames showing. Engine 21 is returning to quarters.

UPDATE 7:32 p.m.: Engines 23 and 24 arriving on scene. The fire appears to be out.

UPDATE 7:38 p.m.: Mechanical problems. Town of Batavia Fire back in service. The actual mile marker was 387.9.

February 13, 2011 - 5:13pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in restaurants, Darien, Minty Wellness, hotels.

Linda Tyczka never expected Minty Wellness to receive the kind of praise it has from meat eaters in Genesee County and beyond.

Among locals, "they're probably our biggest client base," Tyczka said.

Why wouldn't meat eaters embrace the gourmet restaurant inside the upscale hotel and spa in Darien Center?

Well, there's no meat served at Minty Wellness. It's an entirely vegan and raw food establishment.

Since opening last May, more and more local residents have been discovering Minty Wellness and telling their friends about the food.

"There are so many local people coming," Tyczka said. "We have a group reservation from a local bank. None of them are vegan. They just heard it’s a nice place and the food is good. We’ve taken the vegan menu past granola and beans. We try to do a little gourmet and it’s working well.”

The story of Minty Wellness begins more than three years ago at a raw food seminar in Maine. There, Tyczka met Mary Minihane, who makes her home in Ireland. The two women struck up a friendship and Mary suggested opening a vegan and raw food resort.

Her initial idea was to open it in Costa Rica, but after the women travelled there they couldn't find a suitable location, so Minihane started looking in California and Arizona.  Then she sent Tyczka information on property in the Poconos.

At that point, Tyczka said, "Hey, what about my place."

Tyczka and her husband David own 100 wooded acres in Darien. Minihane researched the market, liked its proximity to Buffalo, Rochester and Toronto, and agreed to back the construction of the facility.

The entire hotel, spa and restaurant are brand-new from the ground up. The eight hotel rooms are each unique, though the entire decor of the hotel is sleek contemporary with a touch of retro modern. The spare, uncluttered environment inside is immediately relaxing, which Tyczka said was the goal all along.

"I'm all about environment," Tyczka said. "It doesn't matter where I go, I want to be in a nice environment. We didn't just want to have a vegan hotel and just plain rooms. We wanted that experience to carry up into the rooms so people would be like, 'I can't wait to get to my room.'"

Some of what the spa offers includes Swedish massage, hot stone massage, soothing soak, Vichy massage and colon hydrotherapy. Laura Koepp is also on staff to offer Naturopathic therapy.

For those looking for an overnight or longer retreat, besides relaxing in the hotel, there are four golf courses within 15 minutes, plus nearby Darien Lake, as well as the wood areas for hikes or snowshoeing.

Overnight stays include a vegan breakfast.

As for the lunch and dinner menu, it features such delectable-sounding dishes Cajun Mayo Avocado, Linguini Alfredo, Tomato Dill Nori Roll and a vegan taco dubbed the "best taco ever."

"It's awesome to be acknowledged by the locals," Tyczka said. "It's one thing to pull people from Rochester, Buffalo and Toronto, but to be recognized by local people is just a really gratifying thing."

February 13, 2011 - 3:29pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in byron, Gillam-Grant Community Center.

For the past seven months, the staff at Gillam-Grant Community Center on West Bergen Road, Bergen, has been hosting members of the community -- a dozen at a time -- for a tour and information session about the 30-year-old center.

The "Growing Gillam-Grant" programs provide insight into what Gillam-Grant is about through the stories of the seniors, adults and children who have benefited from and contributed to Gillam-Grant.

"We share the stories so people understand what we do," said Peggy Swapceinski, executive director.

It's also a chance for members of the community to provide feedback on programs and services so Gillam-Grant can evolve, Swapceinski said, and continue meeting the community's needs.

Gillam-Grant provides programs that vary from adult education and senior meals, to children's day camps and crafts. The current newsletter also promotes an upcoming theater performance, bus trips and fitness classes.

Growing Gillam-Grant sessions are by invitation, but open to anyone who is interested in learning more about the center. To request an invitation to a future event, call (585) 494-1621.

Photos: Above, Loren Penman explains some of Gillam-Grant's programs, and below, Shirley Wade tells the story of a Gillam-Grant patron.

February 13, 2011 - 1:40pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, politics, republicans, NY-26.

Regional GOP leaders expect to name a candidate to run in a special election for Chris Lee's former seat within eight or nine days, said Nick Langworthy, Erie County GOP chairman following a two-hour meeting of county chairs at Batavia's South Beach Restaurant.

"We need to nominate somebody in short order because we believe the election will be held some time in the next six to eight weeks," Langworthy said.

Added Monroe County Chairman Bill Reilich, "Governor Cuomo is not Governor Paterson. He knows we need representation in Washington."

Last year, residents of the 29th Congressional District went eight months without representation because Gov. Paterson refused to call a special election. In that case, Democrats feared losing the seat to Republicans. In this case, some Democrats think they have a fighting chance to take the 26th District.

The GOP county chairs said candidates for the Republican nomination will be interviewed in one week by 21 GOP leaders from throughout the region.  

Any candidate who wants to be considered, Langworthy said, should contact his or her county chair and provide a letter of intent and resume.

"All candidates will be considered," Langworthy said.

Also attending today's meeting were: Mike Norris, Niagara County; Ed Morgan, Orleans County; Gordon Brown, Wyoming County; and Don Read, representing Genesee County while chairman Dick Seibert is on medical leave.

February 12, 2011 - 10:45pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in accident, Bethany.

A snowmobiler was injured this evening in the area of Transit Road, east of Dublin Road.

The accident was reported at 9:20 p.m.

The injured rider was transported to Strong Memorial Hospital by Mercy Flight.

Bethany Fire responded with mutual aid from Alexander and Stafford.

UPDATE: The Sheriff's Office has released additional information: The rider was Steven L. Klien, 41. He was ejected from his snowmobile for an unknown reason while traveling in a southern direction on a marked trail. Klien was then struck by a snowmobile operated by Michael K. Owens, 39. Klien suffered a cut on his leg and a possible broken leg. The investigation is continuing, but alcohol is not considered a factor.

February 12, 2011 - 9:28pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in BARNS, photos, elba, Oakfield, Pekin Road.

My route back from the Snowbox Derby included Bliss Road, above, and Pekin Road, below.

February 12, 2011 - 9:16pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Oakfield, Snowbox Derby.

Nearly 100 people showed up at Veazey Hill on Lockport Road in Oakfield today for Genesee County's inaugural "Snowbox Derby."

The rules are pretty simply -- you build a cardboard sled (you can use only cardboard, glue and duct tape -- and then ride it down the snow-covered hill.

Prizes were given out for fastest and most creative. 

There were dozens of entrants.

Some cardboard sleds were fast and quickly made it to the bottom of the 150-yard-long hill. Others barely made it past the starting line.

The event was organized by Sarah and Kevin Veazey.

To purchase pictures from today, click here.

More pictures after the jump:

February 12, 2011 - 7:44pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in GCEDC, Alabama, STAMP.

More than 200 concerned residents -- not all from Alabama -- turned out Thursday night for a more than two-hour presentation on a proposed high-tech manufacturing park.

The park, known as WNY STAMP (WNY Science & Technology Advanced Manufacturing Park) may be the Genesee County Economic Development Center's most ambitious project yet.

And while the handful of residents who spoke may have asked skeptical and probing questions, nobody at this meeting really spoke out against the proposal.

The 15-year-build-out plan calls for the creating of more than 9,000 new, permanent jobs in 6.1 million square feet of manufacturing space. There will also be 180,000 square feet of retail space and a new town hall and museum in the southeast corner.

GCEDC officials pitched the project as one that would create good-paying, 21st Century jobs (average annual wage, $58,000), reduce the brain-drain of youths leaving WNY, provide new revenue for community services, enhance the local infrastructure and potentially reduce property taxes.

Of course, these jobs and all of this new revenue in the community is only created if businesses decide to build new high-tech manufacturing plants -- such as flat screen monitors, computer chips and solar cells -- in STAMP.

Some residents wanted to know why GCEDC thinks -- especially with the seemingly slow adoption of Buffalo East by new companies coming to town -- that any manufacturers will set up shop in STAMP.

Mark Masse, project manager for GCEDC, explained that in the past couple of years, GCEDC has fielded a few inquiries about appropriate locations from the types of businesses that use STAMP, but because STAMP hadn't even completed the earliest of approval processes yet, the companies had to look else where.

"What they're interested in is 'speed to market,'"said Roger Pearson, lead consultant on the project.

He said they need to know that they can get their new plant open in 12 to 18 months, and right now, if a business committed to the park, it would take much longer than that before they could open.

That speed to market was a concern of John Hatch, too. He's a UB student from Amherst and he wants to work in the kinds of industries STAMP will hopefully attract.

"I'd like to see this happen so I can stay in the area," he said.

Macomber Road resident Mark Williams wanted to know if GCEDC had a guarantee from the New York Power Authority for the cheap hydro power these companies will want for their operations.

Masse said, "There's no guarantees in life. ...But, "if we had a significant client come in, the New York Power Authority is will to work with us to ensure power."

Others wanted to know who was going to pay for the infrastructure development that needs to take place to attract these businesses.

Pearson explained that a project like this is really "shovel ready lite." The goal is to get all of the permits and environmental review processes completed, decreasing the amount of time it takes to build a new manufacturing facility. Much of the infrastructure, he said, wouldn't be built until it was needed and those costs would be covered by developers.

Pearson warned that the project plan presented Thursday is still evolving and some aspects may change as it goes through the planning and permitting process, and some of the changes will be based on feedback from the community.

A draft environmental review is expected to be completed by the end of March, with the final review completed by the middle of July.

February 12, 2011 - 6:47pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in accident, Bethany.

A motor-vehicle accident with injuries has been reported on Route 63 between Clapsaddle and Bethany Center roads.

Bethany Fire Department is responding.

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

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