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June 11, 2011 - 4:46pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, sports, Notre Dame, softball.

The Notre Dame girls softball team won its semi-final championship game in Glens Falls today by a score of 16-0.

The team will begin a game within the hour to decide the state champion in its class.

June 11, 2011 - 3:13pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in accident, corfu.

Fatigue is the apparent cause of an accident in the Village of Corfu overnight when a driver reportedly fell asleep and struck a utility pole in the area of 37 Main St.

Randel J. Seweryniak, of 9635 Colby Road, Corfu, suffered a minor injury in the accident and was transported to UMMC.

Seweryniak was driving a 2001 Dodge pickup truck when the truck struck a National Grid pole at 12:04 a.m.

Two mailboxes were also damaged.

No citations were issued.

The accident was investigated by Sgt. Brian Frieday.

(initial report)

June 11, 2011 - 3:05pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in accident, Stafford, Sweetland Road.

A driver involved in a one-car accident on Sweetland Road, Stafford has been charged with DWI.

Ricky O. Cooper, Jr., 34, of 9344 Warsaw Road, Le Roy, suffered facial cuts and was transported to Strong Memorial Hospital after his 1992 Chevy pickup truck struck a utility pole in the area 6208 Sweetland Road.

Cooper said he was attempting to avoid a deer that had entered the road near a curve when he struck the pole.

The accident was investigated by Deputy Joseph Graff and Deputy Matt Butler.

(initials report)

June 11, 2011 - 2:25pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in crime, Le Roy.

A Mt. Morris man with a prior criminal record was allegedly observed selling heroin in a Village of Le Roy parking lot, leading to his arrest on multiple drug dealing and possession charges.

Shaun M. Theriault, 30, of Parker Road, is being held in the Genesee County Jail without bail.

Theriault may also be wanted in Florida, but that hasn't been confirmed. He has prior convictions in New York for grand larceny, 4th, and robbery, 1st.

The Sheriff's Office reports that members of the Local Drug Enforcement Task Force and the Le Roy Police Department observed Theriault allegedly conducting a drug transaction in a municipal parking lot in the village.

Upon approaching Theriault's car, officers allegedly found a quantity of suspected heroin, packaging baggies, a digital scale and $506 in U.S. currency. 

Theriault was arraigned in Town of Le Roy court for alleged attempted criminal sale of a controlled substance, 3rd, attempted criminal possession of a controlled substance, 3rd, attempted criminal possession of a controlled substance, 4th, and criminal using drug paraphernalia, 2nd.

A web site out of Florida lists a Shaun M. Theriault with a birthdate of April 20, 1981 as wanted on a fugitive extradition warrant. Theriault is listed on the site as a Nunda resident. The mug shot on the site shows a blond man, but some facial features are similar. The warrant is from 2004, so may no longer be current.

Theriault was held in the state prision in Wyoming County from 2004 until Jan. 14, 2011, when he was released on parole. The crime was robbery, 1st, committed in Livingston County. He was previously in state prison in 2000 to 2001.

June 11, 2011 - 1:22pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business, downtown, Jackson Street, Valle Jewelers.

Valle Jewelers is celebrating its 60th year in business today with sales, prize drawings and refreshments. There was a good number of people in the store this morning when we stopped by.

Previously: Three generations and 60 years later, Valle family business still sparkles

June 11, 2011 - 11:11am
posted by Howard B. Owens in fire, Bethany.

A tractor fire is reported at 10071 Bethany Center Road, Bethany.

The tractor is reportedly near a barn.

Bethany Fire is dispatched.

UPDATE 11:12 a.m.: It's a skid loader. It's been moved from the barn, but still close to the structure.

UPDATE 11:14 a.m.: Fire appears to be out. Units can respond non-emergency.


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June 10, 2011 - 8:44pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in fire, Le Roy.

There is a report of a brush fire near the back of the cemetery, off North Street in Le Roy.

Le Roy Fire and Le Roy Ambulance responding.

UPDATE 8:48 p.m.: A chief reports, "It appears to be fairly decent size ... but we're not going to get it from here." He's recommending units repond to Church Street. Another chief requests law enforcement to the scene on the Church Street side.

UPDATE 8:57 p.m.: Fire knocked down.

June 10, 2011 - 6:28pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, John Kennedy School, schools, education.

The cafeteria at John Kennedy School was transported back in time today to the 1950s, when Beatniks ruled the poetry world.

The second grade class dressed in tie-die and berets for poetry readings and multi-media presentations for an audience of parents and teachers.

Not all of the poets represented in the readings were Beats, but the list included Shel Silverstein, Langston Hughes, John Gardner, Vachel Lindsay and Jeff Foxworthy.

Guest readers included Superintendent Margaret Puzio and school Principle Mr. Kesler.

The annual event was organized by second-grade teachers Ms. Mancuso, Mrs. Hallman and Mrs. Calandra. 

Pictured above are five of the students who participated, Juan Martinez, James Cooley, Ben Skalny, Haylee Thornley and Clair Griffith.

June 10, 2011 - 1:41pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, crime, Le Roy, Chris Charvella, Jay Grasso.

UPDATED 3:26 p.m., with clarification of a quote.

In the interest of justice, the aggravated harassment in the second-degree charges filed against political activist Chris Charvella should be dropped, Charvella's attorney argued in Town of Batavia Court this morning.

The hearing was prompted by the defense's motion to dismiss the case.

"If you allow this case to go forward, what is the public going to think?" Charvella's attorney, E. Robert Fussell, told Justice Mike Cleveland. "Are they going to trust a system where a politician is allowed to call the police and have a political opponent silenced?"

Assistant District Attorney Melissa Cianfrini, representing the people, argued that the case against Charvella is neither political nor does it conflict with the First Amendment.

The case is entirely about Charvella's conduct, Cianfrini argued. The key question is whether that conduct violates the harassment, 2nd, statute against making phone calls with no legitimate purpose.

Charvella is accused of placing a phone call to Legislator Jay Grasso and leaving a message on his answering machine. The message said, "Thank you for reading my blog."

Cianfrini argued that the message had no legitimate purpose and taken within the context of comments made by Charvella on The Batavian and on his own blog, constitutes an attempt to threaten and intimidate Grasso.

"What Mr. Charvella did was serious," Cianfrini said. "It wasn't a light moment. He wasn't trying to be funny. It was serious and if you look at the whole body of conduct, it is serious."

In order for the case to be considered serious, Fussell argued, the conduct of Charvella would have to be seen by a reasonable person as intimidating. Just because the alleged victim, he argued, felt alarmed doesn't mean the conduct is in fact harassing.

"Mr. Grasso is either an exceptionally sensitive person who is easily frightened, or he is acting to shut out Mr. Charvella from the political process," Fussell said. 

A key fact disputed during the hearing was the timing of the phone message in relation to a post Charvella did with a picture of an Ewok with the caption, "Prepare your anus."

Cianfrini said the posting of the picture followed by the phone message was clear evidence that Charvella intended to intimidate Grasso.

Fussell countered that the Ewok picture was posted after the phone call, so Grasso could not have seen the picture before getting the phone message.  

To which Cianfrini replied that if that's the case, Charvella's conduct potentially constituted a threat.

Fussell quickly replied that Charvella hadn't been charged with such a crime.

"If those are the facts that come out at trial, the people reserve the right to file that charge," Cianfrini said. "He's on notice."

A few times during the oral arguments, Cianfrini made the point that Grasso wasn't acting in his capacity as a sitting legislator, so the First Amendment didn't apply to the case.

The events around the case were entirely personal, Cianfrini argued, and not about politics or anything Grasso did as a government official.

"That’s what the First Amendment deals with, the government not politics  the placement of a political sign or personal conflicts," Cianfrini said.*

And even if it is a political issue, Cianfrini said, the case isn't about the content of any postings or messages. It's about Charvella's conduct, which Cianfrini argued, was clearly intended to intimidate and harass Grasso, causing him to feel alarmed.

One key piece of evidence not available in the case, Fussell complained, is the phone message itself. The recording was not preserved.

Fussell said the recording would provide important context to the message -- what was Charvella's tone of voice? Was it threatening? Was it humorous? 

It's hard to believe, Fussell said, given Grasso's background in law enforcement, that he didn't know to preserve the evidence.

Cianfrini said Grasso's law enforcement training is irrelevant to the case and that the recording is not needed since Charvella doesn't dispute the fact that he left the message.

As the oral arguments before Justice Cleveland wore down, the tensions between the attorneys intensified.

A couple of times near the close, Fussell made the point that if the case goes forward, Charvella will incur significant legal expenses (Charvella has already spent $7,000 on the case) while Grasso is getting the services of Cianfrini for free.

"That's not accurate, you're honor," Cianfrini said. "I take exception to that remark, I represent the people of the State of New York and I can't stand here and let that go on the record."

*NOTE: Quote clarified after further discussion with Melissa Cianfrini. 

June 10, 2011 - 12:30pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in schools, education, Robert Morris School.

Construction has begun on the new playground for Robert Morris School. The funds for the new playground were the result of the school applying for and winning a grant from Pepsi Co. Today, crews are taking care of heavy-constructions issues, such as stone bedding and grading. Next Saturday, teachers and parents will get involved in installing equipment.

June 10, 2011 - 12:20pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, schools, education, Robert Morris School.

It's Studio Day at Robert Morris School -- a day when community members come into the school to share what they know with students, whether it be about fire fighting, skating, mask making, tennis or just having fun.

Teacher Liz Mundell said the day exposes students to career options, different kinds of hobbies or a chance for a little extra play.

"It's a different way for them to learn rather than just what they would find in a book," Mundell said.

June 10, 2011 - 12:00pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, sports, Notre Dame, softball.

The Notre Dame girls softball team has a chance to play for the state championship this saturday and students and faculty gathered in the school's gym this morning to give the girls a rousing send-off.

The team plays in a state championship semi-finals game at 11:30 a.m. in Glens Falls on Saturday. If they win that game, they'll play in the finals at 4:30 p.m.

The team is coached by Rick Mancuso.

June 9, 2011 - 11:05pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, downtown, music, entertainment, Larry's Steakhouse.

It's always fun to take pictures of musicians playing live and so with Kay McMahon, Jim Catino and Bill MacDonald laying down some countrified grooves on the patio of Larry's Steakhouse this evening, I thought I should stop by.

The trio plays an acoustic set at Larry's each Thursday through the summer.

And Bill wanted me to remind everybody that the Ramble Music and Arts Fest is coming. Mark your calendars for July 2.

June 9, 2011 - 10:37pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in photos, tractors.

A parked tractor on West Main Street Road, Batavia.

June 9, 2011 - 10:20pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in crime, Darien.

The mellow fans of Phish didn't cause many problems for the Sheriff's Office during the band's concert at Darien Lake on Wednesday.

Only one arrest was made and only one underage drinking citation issued.

"The fact that only Phish concertgoers were in the amusement park, hotel, camping and the concert yesterday, seemed to make for a pleasant day for all," said Deputy Chief Gordon Dibble.

He said EMS was kept busy with heat and alcohol- and drug-related issues.

Arrested were:

Brandon A. Eisenberg, 27, of  Village Gate Court, Williamsville, is charged with criminal possession of marijuana, 4th. Eisenberg is accused of possessing a large quantity of marijuana. Additional charges may be pending.

Adam M. McNamara, 19, of Dean Street, Schenectady, was cited for allegedly possessing alcohol under 21 years of age.

June 9, 2011 - 4:11pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business, Valle Jewelers.

As a third-generation Valle working in the family business, Stephen Valle says he's really come to understand what time and jewelry mean to each other.

Valle helps many first-time customers select the perfect diamond ring, a ring that may get passed down from mother to daughter, as well provide the service needed to preserve memories for customers who bought what has become a family heirloom from Stephen's grandfather, Dominic Valle.

"I see the sentimental value of a piece of jewelry and it gives me a respect for the business, maybe one I didn’t have when I first started," Stephen said. "You might have an older lady who received an engagement ring from grandpa in 1967 or 1958 and she’s bringing in her grandson to buy a ring. Slowly and surely I've come to appreciate how long the business has been around."

Dominic Valle first opened the doors of Valle Jewelers May 3, 1951, in what was once the Carey Mansion (now torn down, but used to be across the street from City Church on East Main Street).

At one time or another, pretty much every member of the Valle family has worked in Valle Jewelers over the past 60 years, and it was the birth of a new generation of Valles that kept the family from celebrating the store's 60th anniversary in May, so they're doing it this month.

Though all of June, there is a storewide sale -- with some items discounted as much as 60 percent. But the big celebration is Saturday when store guests can register for prize drawings (no purchase necessary on many of the prizes), with refreshments thoughout the day, hot dogs and hamburgers for lunch and a live broadcast from the store by WBTA from 10 a.m. to noon.

"I think most importantly the anniversary is a tribute to my father-in-law and my family and how a family can survive through difficult financial times," Mary Valle said. "We’ve been so blessed, but it’s because of the community. We’ve been trusted and patronized by customers and friends."

Mary's husband Dom Valle, Dominic's son, said his dad, who passed away in 2005, was probably attracted to the jewelry business because he always liked the finer things in life. As a soldier stationed in Cairo during World War II, while his comrades sent home war souvenirs, Dominic Valle was buying things like Persian rugs and sending them back to Batavia.

"We still have a few of those rugs in the family," Dom said.

After the war, Dominic went to work for Reed Jewelers in Niagara Falls. A couple of years later, he returned to Batavia to work for Ways Jewelry. He then worked for local jeweler Herb Brenner about a month before deciding to open his own store.

The store has been in several locations through the years -- 90 E. Main St., 122 E. Main St., the Genesee Country Mall and starting in 2000, its current location at 19 Jackson St., Batavia.

At each step of the way, the business has grown, Dom said.

"For as much as a white elephant the mall turned out to be, our business did really good there," Dom said. "The mall has always had its drawbacks from day one to the present. But strangely enough, our business improved every year we were there. Not by leaps and bounds, but we were blessed to say that we had even just a little increase every year."

In 1999, when the building on Jackson Street came up at auction, the Valles decided to put in a bid, and it was a good thing they got the building at a good price, Dom said, because they've put "a ton of money" into its restoration.

But it's proven to be a good business move, Dom said, and Valle Jewelers has continued to prosper on Jackson Street.

"There was nothing pushing us out of the mall," Dom said. "We just wanted a change of scenery."

With the move to Jackson Street, Mary Valle, who had a 26-year career as a registered nurse, started working in the store.

In 2003, Stephen Valle decided to enter the business. Like his father, he went to school to learn goldsmithing and diamond setting, and to become a GIA certified diamond grader. He then returned to assume a spot on the repair bench right next to Dom.

"My father got to see the third genration come in and that made him happy," Dom said. "Futurewise, what I would hope for Stephen is that some day he'll have a son and a fourth generation will go into the business. That would be pretty nice."

Like father like son -- both Dom and Stephen were attracted to the business because they were around it and saw what their fathers' did.

For Dom, it was coming in after school and helping out by sweeping the floor or cleaning windows.

But when his father needed heart surgery when he was in eighth grade, it was really impressed upon him that Valles was a whole family business. While Dominic recovered, Dom's sisters pitched in and his uncle ran the store.

As he grew older, there was just no question Dom would follow Dominic into the jewelry trade.

"I've always been happy to be in the business," Dom said.

Even though it hasn't always been easy -- especially with the long hours required in retail and the demands of raising a family -- Dom said, he found a way to make it work.

"I always say I broke the cardinal rule of retailing to take Saturdays off to go to Stephen's hockey games," Dom said. "I always said I wasn’t going to let these times pass me by, so I didn’t work on Saturdays."

Over the years, Stephen has worked with aunts, cousins and sisters. And with each family member getting a say in how the business is run, there isn't always total agreement, but he wouldn't have it any other way.

"At end of the day, we have lot of family and sometimes it’s a little too many chiefs, but we all have the same goal," Stephen said. "We may not always see things the same way every day, but at the end of every month it seems to work out."

The future of the business is in the hands of Stephan and his sister, Carrie Lawrence, and Mary feels pretty good about that.

“I actually feel that he is capable of taking it to even a higher level than we have,” Mary said. “I believe that his motivation and passion, and with the help of his sister, with her business background, her good taste, organization skills and leadership, the two of them can make it even a better place than it’s been through all of these years.” 

Photos of Stephen Valle working at the bench by Howard Owens. Bottom photo submitted by Valle Jewelers. Pictured are Carrie Lawrence, left, staff member Adam Luckenbach, Mary Valle, Dom Valle Jr., office manager Mary Louise Fridmann and Stephen Valle.

June 9, 2011 - 1:07pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, crime.

A Georgia resident who is accused of running from law enforcement on June 2 appeared for the first time with his attorney in city court today.

Derick Barker, 25, remains in jail without bail and he's schedule to appear in city court again on July 5.

He maintained his option to have a pre-trial hearing or have his case submitted to a grand jury, according to attorney Thomas Burns.

Justin Barker, 22, of Oakfield, was also in court today. He was Derick Barker at the Days Inn before Derick Barker allegedly ran from a Batavia police officer, He waived his pre-trial hearing and his case will be sent to a grand jury.

Derick Barker is charged with one count of criminal trespass, two counts of criminal possession of a controlled substance, 3rd, and one count of criminally using drug paraphernalia.

Justin Barker was charged with one count of criminal trespass, two counts of criminal possession of a controlled substance, 3rd, and one count of criminally using drug paraphernalia.

The case started with Officer Dan Coffey responding to the Days Inn on a complaint of guests allegedly staying in a room they hadn't paid for. While Coffey did a wants and warrants check, Derick Barker allegedly ran from the scene.

Multiple law enforcement agencies responded to the scene to search for Barker, who was reportedly found trying to hide in a farm field on the north side of the Thruway.

A third person allegedly involved in the situation, Benjamin Santiago, appeared in court earlier in the week but we don't have information on his case.

Santiago was charged with one count of criminal trespass, two counts of criminal possession of a controlled substance, 3rd, one count of criminally using drug paraphernalia and one count of unlawful possession of marijuana.

June 9, 2011 - 10:59am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business, downtown, South Beach Restaurant.

Crews have been working yesterday and today to remove the concrete and plants that once made a little park between the HSBC building and South Beach Restaurant.

South Beach owner Ken Mistler acquired the strip of land from the city in order to create a BBQ pit and outdoor dining area for his restaurant.  

The new space will also contain a greenway with a walking path and bricks inlayed as a fundraiser for the Kiwanis Club (the park was formerly known as Kiwanis Park).

June 9, 2011 - 10:26am
posted by Howard B. Owens in crime, alexander.

Shannon Mowbray Graham, 34, of Colonnade Drive, Rochester, is charged with DWI, aggravated unlicensed operation, 1st, refusal to take breath test, failure to stop for stop sign and inadequate exhaust. Graham was stopped at 12:06 a.m. on Route 98 in Alexander by Deputy Joseph Graff.

A 17-year-old resident of Wood Road, Holley, is charged with unlawful possession of alcohol under age 21. The youth was arrested following a report of an underage person allegedly buying alcohol in Bergen.

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