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January 17, 2011 - 3:15pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, YWCA.

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About 70 people were on hand at the YWCA on North Street today to honor Martin Luther King Jr. and give tribute to his legacy.

Alex Nesbeth, below, read King's "I Have a Dream" speech. Above, Grace Marthrel sings a gospel song with Raymond Doward on piano. After the jump, another picture of Marthrel and Doward as well as one of Marthrel singing with her daughter, Lashonna Mims.

Marthrel gave an outstanding gospel performance. She said she sings regularly at the Prayer Room Church of Christ on North Lyon.

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January 17, 2011 - 3:05pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, photos, weather.

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It's been a beautiful day, even if a bit cold -- my truck's thermostat read 8 degrees this morning. Too much work to do today to get out and shoot a lot of pictures, but still taking advantage of the nice sky.

Above the white barn of Partridge Farm on Ellicott Street Road and below, the cement plant of Bonsal American on Cedar Street.

Weather through tonight, cloudy, with a chance of snow overnight. Tomorrow, warming considerably (into the 30s) with an 80-percent chance of rain, and then back to snow on Thursday.

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January 17, 2011 - 2:42pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, accident.

A two-car accident is tying up traffic a bit in the area of 375 W. Main St., Batavia.

It is believed there are no injuries, though there are unknown type fluids leaking from at least one car.

City Fire and Mercy EMS dispatched.


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January 17, 2011 - 12:05pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Deal of the Day.

South Beach, 59 Main St., Batavia, NY: Try the new lunch buffet. We have a $25 gift certificate for $12.50 (must be used by Feb. 28, 2011).

Margarita's Mexican Restaurant, 15 Jackson St., Batavia, NY: When you're looking for an authentic Mexican meal, Margarita's is the place to go. The food and atmosphere are perfect and the service is always outstanding. We have a $20 gift certificate for $10.

Batavia Downs Grandstand Bar & Grille, 8315 Park Road, Batavia, NY: A full menu, salad bar and drinks in one of the region's most popular entertainment venues. We have $25 gift certificates for $12.50. (Must be new or current Players Club member to redeem.)

T.F. Brown's, at 214 E. Main St., Batavia, NY: T.F. Brown's is a great place for a good meal, good friends and to catch up on what's going on in the sports world. "If it happens in sports, it happens at Brown's." We have a $20 gift card for $10.

Settler's Restaurant, 353 W. Main St., Batavia, NY: Settler's has a 25-year history of serving great, affordable breakfasts, lunches and dinners to Batavians. We have a $20 gift certificate for $10.

Red Osier, Route 5, Stafford, NY: Truly, one of the landmark restaurants of the area. Red Osier features prime rib carved table side. We have $25 gift certificates for $12.50.

Alex's Place, 8322 Park Road, Batavia, NY: People come from all over the region for a fine dining experience at Alex's. It's best known for its ribs, of course, but Alex's seafood is also a favorite of the restaurant's diners. We have a $25 gift certificate for $12.50.

Center Street Smoke House, 20 Center St., Batavia, NY: Authentic Southern BBQ, from ribs to brisket with all the fixin's. We have a $20 gift card for $10.

The Daily Grind, 85 E. Main St., Batavia, NY: For Batavia's finest coffee, smoothies, as well as fast and convenient breakfasts and lunches, stop into The Daily Grind. We have a $10 gift card for $5.

Delavan's Restaurant and Tavern, 107 Evans St., Batavia, NY: To me, Delavan's is one of those restaurants where you want to eat frequently until you try everything on the menu. We have a $20 gift certificate for $10.

NOTE: If you've never bought Deal of the Day before, or are otherwise unfamiliar with the rules and process, click here.

SOLD OUT

January 16, 2011 - 4:06pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, youth, sports, hockey, Harvester Avenue.

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Area youngsters were able to get in a little hockey practice today on Harvester Avenue, where resident Kevin Hamilton built a small hockey rink. Hamilton, who coaches two youth hockey teams, said he constructed the rink out of a wood frame, a plastic sheet base and slowly builds up the ice over time, adding a little water over several days.

January 16, 2011 - 3:05pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business, terry hills, Bridal Show.

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Organizers were pleased with the early turn out at the debut Bridal Show at Terry Hills today. Vendors from Genesee County were on hand to display for prospective brides, grooms and their parents what they offer to ensure the special day remains special.

The show continues until 4 p.m. For more information, click here.

Above, Steve Valle talks with customers about what Valle Jewelers has to offer.

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More pictures after the jump:

January 16, 2011 - 10:42am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, arts, theater, entertainment, WNY Arts Society.

An original Broadway cast member of "RENT," Gwen Stewart, was back in Batavia this weekend, making a side trip while visiting friends in Buffalo, to catch the local performance of the hit musical. Stewart joined the WNY Arts Society cast on stage for one of the production numbers.

WNYAS's final performance of "RENT" is today at 2 at the Ross Street Performing Arts Center, Batavia Middle School, 96 Ross St., Batavia.

The Batavian still has a few specially discounted tickets available. Click here for more information.

January 15, 2011 - 6:31pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in fire, thruway.

A car is reportedly on fire on the Thruway near mile marker 397.4.

It appears the car is in an eastbound lane, though at least a couple of callers have said westbound.

East Pembroke Fire is responding.

UPDATE 6:37 p.m.: A chief on scene reports a fully involved car fire.

January 15, 2011 - 4:05pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in photos, weather.

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We've had pretty steady snowfall today, but nothing to the level that would warrant the National Weather Service to put out an alert or an advisory. Intermittent snow showers are expected to continue into the evening.

The weather seems to have contributed to a number of fender-benders this afternoon.

I went out to Le Roy today and on the route back, I came down Randall Road.

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January 15, 2011 - 3:17pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in accident, Bethany.

A car has hit a pole in the area of Ellicott Street Road and Transit Road.

There is airbag deployment, but no word yet on injuries.

Bethany Fire and Mercy EMS dispatched.

UPDATE 3:25: Correction, Mercy EMS not dispatched. Chief at scene says he should be all set.

January 15, 2011 - 8:52am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Deal of the Day.

We have a limited number of ticket pairs available for this weekend's production of "RENT." The regular price is $30 a pair and we're offering reserved seat tickets for $15 a pair (plus a $1 service fee).

"RENT" is presented by WNY Arts Society at 7:30 p.m. on Jan. 13-15 and at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. on Jan. 16 at the Ross Street Performing Arts Center at Batavia Middle School. This cutting-edge musical tells the story of a group of impoverished young artists struggling to survive in New York City.

Readers who take advantage of this special offer will redeem their PayPal receipt at the door to claim their tickets. This offer is valid for any of the four performances. The box office opens one hour before showtime and the house opens 30 minutes prior to showtime.

January 15, 2011 - 1:16am
posted by Howard B. Owens in photos, Le Roy.

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Ryan Rast, of South Street in Le Roy, stands next to a giant snowman he built in his front yard with his buddy Ben Long.

January 14, 2011 - 8:43pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in crime, Le Roy.

A Le Roy man accused of making at least one sexually explicit video involving a minor isn't being held in jail because of the case's individual circumstances, said the Le Roy Police Department detective who made the arrest.

Det. John Condidorio said it was his recommendation that Stephen M. Smith be released to the supervision of Genesee Justice following his arraignment in Le Roy Town Court on charges of possessing a sexual performance by a child, promoting sexual performance of a child and use of a child in a sexual performance.

The detective said such decisions are rendered on a singular basis and the law.

"Each case needs to be looked at individually and it's totally (up to) the police department, the district attorney's office and the courts," Condidorio said.

It is the "looking at the totality of the case" that explains, Condidorio said, why Smith's case wasn't referred to federal authorities, and why supervision by Genesee Justice while the charges are pending fits the circumstances.

Smith, however, may yet face statutory rape charges once State Police detectives complete their own investigation.

The video, or videos, allegedly involving a minor from Le Roy, were not made in the Village of Le Roy. Condidorio jurisdiction is confined to the village.

Meanwhile, a person who has identified herself as Smith's girlfriend, who is also the minor child who may have been involved in the videos, has left comments on Facebook and sent an e-mail to The Batavian defending Smith.

The girl said Smith is embarrassed by the charges and upset by reading accounts of the case in the media.

She said she's known Smith since 2006 and they've been involved in a relationship since Aug. 24, 2008. She said he is the father of her 8-month-old child.

"I'm writing because I am concerned with what was stated in the posts about Stephen's charges," the girl wrote. "I fully understand that what I have to say most likely won't matter to anyone because people will judge him because of this no matter what is said or isn't said. That is fine, because anyone that KNOWS him on a personal level, knows that he is not some sick predator."

The girl writes that Smith used a camera that had been given to her as a present and indicates that making the video or videos was her idea.

She said she left the camera at Smith's residence unintentionally and it was seized when detectives searched the place.

"I had Stephen call the day after they confiscated our things and informed them that there was going to be inappropriate content on my camera," she wrote.

Condidorio said he couldn't discuss the content of the girl's Facebook post or even confirm that the victim was female.

He said he was prohibited from discussing the case in detail and could only talk in general terms about how similar cases are handled.

"It is our policy in the police department to try and protect victims of any crime as much as possible," Condidorio said. "But it is still a free country and it is not our policy to try and control the actions of victims."

Even though the girl sees herself as somebody who is in a relationship with the accused, at 16 or 17, under New York state law, she is not old enough to consent to sexual relations.

Besides the alleged video involving the girl, Smith is also accused of using a video file sharing service to pass along and download videos involving other minor children engaged in sexual activity.

The type of service Smith is accused of using is called peer-to-peer, which means users install software that allows them to share the contents of specific folders on their own hard drives.

The case was brought to the attention of Le Roy Police when New York State Police Computers Crime Unit notified the Le Roy Police Department that a person at 41 Elm St. in Le Roy allegedly possessed, and was sharing sexual videos of, underage children via the Internet.

Condidorio stressed that there is no evidence that Smith shared video involving the alleged local victim in this case.

The girl said she and Smith were upset when the case was first reportedly publicly.

"It sincerely made me nauseous and shaky when I first read this article on Wednesday night -- to know that the reputation of someone you love has been destroyed for something blown so far out of proportion," the girl wrote.

"And to know that he would be viewed in a disgusting way by the public. The look on Stephen's face when he read this article was unexplainable. I have never felt how I have these past few days."

January 14, 2011 - 7:32pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, crime.

mug_ron_smith.jpgAn 18-year-old Batavia man accused of engaging in sexual activity with a child under 11 years old is less than four months removed from being released from custody on similar charges.

Ronald Smith, of 679 E. Main St., Batavia, was let out of state prison in October as a Level 3 sex offender.

Smith was previously convicted of engaging in sexual activity with girls ages 8 and 9. He was a Genesee County resident at the time of his arrest. He was convicted in March 2008 and sentenced to one to three years in prison.

Upon his release in October, Smith moved to an apartment on Thorpe Street and registered his address with authorities.

In November, Batavia Police sent a notice to residents in the area around Thorpe that a Level 3 sex offender was in their midst.

The address listed was a residence managed by Jeremy Yasses of J.P. Properties. Yasses said residents contacted him immediately about Smith living in one of his dwellings.

He had no idea Smith had moved in with a friend who was a tenant of an apartment.

The day after being notified, Yasses, who manages several properties on Thorpe, demanded that Smith vacate the residence. When he followed up with police, Yasses said he was told that Smith had moved to Oakfield.

"I don't want to live next to them and I don't expect my tenants to live next to them," Yasses said of Level 3 sex offenders. "I wouldn't ask my tenants to live next to anybody I wouldn't live next to myself."

At the time of his arrest today, Smith was, according to police, located at a residence at 679 E. Main St. in Batavia. He was also charged with failure to register his current address, as required by a registered sex offender.

Det. Kevin Czora said the recent allegations that Smith engaged in sexual conduct with a child under 11 were brought to police attention by a parent of the victim.

Smith was jailed on $25,000 bail.

(Initial Post)

January 14, 2011 - 2:52pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Genesee Justice.

Ed Minardo, the former director of Genesee Justice, who sacrificed his management job in order to help save the pioneering restorative justice program, is back at work.

It's a part-time job and not a supervisor's position, but Minardo is back in a role helping handle DWI conditional release cases.

The 19.5-hour position became available on Jan. 1 when another member of the staff quit, County Manager Jay Gsell told WBTA. Minardo was hired by the Sheriff's Office, which oversees Genesee Justice, to fill the position.

"Ed, of course, is familiar with the programs, and with the DWI program," said Sheriff Gary Maha. "He's already had his background investigation completed, he's already been fingerprinted...it just makes sense that if he was interested, we'd hire him.

"It's a win-win situation for us."

For more on the story from WBTA, click here.

January 14, 2011 - 2:42pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, crime.

mug_ron_smith.jpgA Level 3 sex offender has been arrested and accused of having sexual contact with a child under 11 in the City of Batavia on more than one occasion over a period of several months.

Ronald Smith, of 679 E. Main St., Batavia, is facing three charges of sexual abuse, 1st, and failure to report address change.

About a month ago, residents around Thorpe Street were notified by Batavia Police that Smith moved into an address at that location. He apparently did not stay long there.

Smith was jailed on $25,000 bail.

January 14, 2011 - 12:16pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Basom, accident.

An early morning accident in Newstead near the Genesee County border claimed the life of a 44-year-old Basom resident.

Bryan J. Oczkowski was driving westbound on Carney Road in Newstead at 6:30 a.m. when his truck went off the road, rolled over and struck a utility pole.

Oczkowski was wearing a seat belt and an autopsy has been scheduled to determine his cause of death.

(via Buffalo News)

January 14, 2011 - 12:11pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in alexander, Darien, planning.

A Darien resident who wants to open a small business for auto repairs and sell a few cars at 606 Broadway got a little push back from the Genesee County Planning Board.

On Thursday, the board disapproved the proposed business because it apparently does not have a complete site plan according to code.

However, a representative of owner Mark Bernen said the site plan was completed exactly according to instructions from the Town of Darien Planning Board.

"We went back and forth and back and forth with the Town of Darien Planning Board," said Joyce Stevens. "He did everything on plans exactly like they said."

Planning Director Jim Duval said that the county's vote is advisory and the town board has the capacity to override the vote.

In another matter, Andrew Schmieder received approval to construct a new small house at 3438 Railroad Ave., Alexander.

Schmieder purchased the property at the county auction with the intent to restore the existing home, but it was too badly damaged by flooding and had to be torn down.

He said his mother will live in the new house.

January 14, 2011 - 11:59am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, fire.

The courthouse at 1 W. Main St. has been evacuated because of a fire alarm.

The alarm may be related to construction.

City Fire arriving on scene.

UPDATE 12:30 p.m.: There was no fire. False alarm. City fire is back in service. People are back inside the building. (Didn't hear when the scene was cleared.)

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

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