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July 30, 2011 - 8:32pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in history, byron, hiscock site, byron dig.

More than 13,000 years ago, a bit of history sunk in the mud of what is now a small swamp off a back road in Byron, and unearthing that archeological record has been the life's work of Richard Laub.

A chapter of local history closes some time in the coming week when Laub wraps up his final dig at a place he calls the Hiscock Site and most local residents know as the "Byron Dig."

Laub started archeological work at the site in 1982 and that work has continued unabated for 29 years. 

Several factors, Laub said, have led to the tough decision to shut down the dig. While being non-specific about all the factors, he acknowledged that financing the effort has become increasingly difficult in recent years.

"It’s been such a wonderful project, such a wonderful experience, especially working with these people (the volunteers at the site), that I used to wonder, ‘How do I let go?' to say, 'OK, it’s time to quit,'" Laub said. "Fortunately, with these factors converging, other forces are telling me it’s time to quit, and I’m looking at the whole situation and going, ‘Yeah, it’s time to let go.’ I guess you could say providence gave me a little kick in the pants."

The dig is probably among the top three archeological sites for uncovering mastodon remains in the world, and it's also given up a treasure trove of human habitation finds.

More than 70 scientific papers have been published related to the dig, Laub said.

The significance and the history of the research at the site will probably mean that at some point in the future -- who knows how far into the future -- another paleontologist will want to take over excavation of the dig, Laub said.

Complete excavation will take decades.

"This is a site that is known internationally," Laub said. "It’s been extremely productive and very rich in terms of what it taught us, so I would think there would be other people who are interested in it."

The name, the Hiscock Site, comes from Charles Hiscock, the land's former owner, who in 1959, decided to dig a pond and instead dug up a mastodon tusk.

Hiscock notified the Buffalo Museum of Science and that was as far as the discovery went. Hiscock kept his mastodon parts and nobody at the museum seemed much interested in the site until the early 1980s.

In 1982, an anthropologist at the museum, Richard Michael Gramly, Ph.D, heard from another staff member about the site and thought he should do a sample dig to see if he could find evidence of human and mastodone co-existence.

He did a sample dig and was dissatisfied with the results (evidence of human habitation would eventually be found there).

"So I figured things had gone that far," Laub recalled, "that with that opening crack in the doorway, I had an obligation as a paleontologist to take a look."

Typically, Laub said, property owners are reluctant to let archeologists keep what they find in excavations, but unless the artifacts are properly secured, there isn't much point in digging them up.

"Hiscock was extremely cordial," Laub said. "I was just absolutely bowled over."

Not only would Laub be allowed to keep what he found, but Hiscock turned over to the museum the tusks and bones he had already unearthed.

"We could not have started our research if he had not allowed our institution to keep those things," Laub said. "...that was a very generous thing and it made all the difference in the world.

In 1989, Hiscock donated the land to the museum.

"We became close friends," Laub said. "We spent a lot of evenings together after a day's digging and I miss him very much."

The significance of the dig can't be understated, according to Laub.

"I don’t know too many collections in museums (like this)," he said. "There are collections in museums of rodents from a particular cave or pottery shards from a particular site, but something that takes into account the human and the non-human and the environmental aspects, I don’t think there are a lot of places like this."

As clouded as the future is for the dig, so it is for Richard Laub.

Beyond the next few months, his future is "completely opaque."

But he said he does know there is a future for him, just as there is for the dig.

"There’s a saying, 'If all you are is what you do, you’re not very much,'" Laub said. "So if my being is defined exclusively by this, then basically I’m dead after it ends. And I know that life goes on, so the important thing is to appreciate what has been done here and build upon it."

Below, slide show of photos taken at the site on Friday. Be sure to click the button in the lower right to view in full-screen mode.

July 30, 2011 - 7:33pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in byron.

It's been a beautiful day for a picnic in Byron and residents went to the park for hot dogs, hamburgers, ice cream, live music, prizes and a parade of classic cars.

Above, the Ghost Riders perform, one of several live acts in the pavilion today.

More photos in the slide show below -- be sure to click on the "enlarge" button in the lower right.

July 30, 2011 - 7:18pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Darien, darien lake theme park.

The family of Sgt. James Hackemer, the Iraq war veteran killed July 8 when he was ejected from the Ride of Steel at Darien Lake Theme Park has filed a wrongful death suit against the two companies responsible for the amusement park.

From the Buffalo News

According to family attorney Denis J. Bastible, park employees violated Darien Lake’s own safety rules when they allowed the double amputee to ride the coaster.

“They didn’t train their employees to follow the rules and the result was tragic,” Bastible told the Buffalo News. “[Hackemer] leaves two very young children behind, and his family is doing terribly.”

Two weeks after the accident, state Labor Department investigators cited “operator error” as a factor in the death. Labor Department officials cited the amusement park for two violations, saying ride operators were improperly trained on safety requirements for the ride.

Named in the suit were CNL Income Darien Lake LLC, a real estate firm based in Dallas, owner of the park's land, and Herschend Family Entertainment, which manages the park.

According to the news article, Bastible is not concerned by remarks made by family members immediately following Hackemer's death saying they didn't hold Darien Lake accountable in the accident. Bastible said the remarks were made in the heat of the moment and the family gave thoughtful consideration to the decision to file a lawsuit.

July 30, 2011 - 6:56pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, photos, The Manor House.

The Manor House hosted a summer picnic for residents today. CEO Gordon Davis said there was a big turnout of friends and family joining the residents for lunch and live music.

Music was performed by Just for Fun, a group from Riga.

July 30, 2011 - 6:45pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in crime, darien lake.

There were nine arrests and 56 citations issued by the Genesee County Sheriff's Office in connection with the Goo Goo Dolls concert at Darien Lakes Performing Arts Center on Sunday (At the Brad Paisley show, there were 14 arrests and 56 alleged ABC violations).

Jonathan L. Fohl, 19, of Ledge Lane, Williamsville, was charged with disorderly conduct after allegedly causing a disturbance in the venue parking lot.

Sean M. Price, 19, of Eighth Ave, North Tonawanda, was charged with disorderly conduct after allegedly fighting with security guards while being ejected from the venue.

Jeffrey J. DiLuca, 18, of Wyeth Drive, Getzville, was charged with trespass and possession of alcohol being under age 21 after allegedly refusing to leave the concert venue and being found to have been under age 21 consuming alcohol.

Joseph A. Kurtz, 22, of Glenwood Drive, Hamburg, was charged with trespass after allegedly refusing to leave the concert venue.

Vincent T. Vertalino, 18, of Woodrich Court, Hamburg, was charged with disorderly conduct after allegedly urinating in public view inside the amusement park.

James E. Galanti, 19, of Pebble Beach Drive, Hamburg, was charged with disorderly conduct after allegedly urinating in public inside the amusement park.

Russell B. Bermel, 25, of Mapleleaf Road, Williamsville, was charged with trespass after allegedly attempting to reenter the venue after being ejected and told not to return.

Nicholas J. Falzone, 18, of Connor Road, East Amherst, was charged with trespass after allegedly entering the concert venue without a ticket after being denied entry.

Jaqueline D. Deiley, 21, of Old Oak Road, McMurry, Pa., was charged with petit larceny after allegedly stealing an item from the medical facility inside the concert venue.

The following people received citations for allegedly possessing/consuming alcohol under age 21.

A 17-year-old of Ridge Road, Lackawana
Samantha M. Fitzpatrick, 18, of Ridgewood Circle, Lackawana
Ryan P. Zawodinski, 20, of Cynthia Circle, Orchard Park
Russell W. Hurley, 20, of Hawthorn Drive, Orchard Park
Molly M. Erickson, 18, of Jackman Lane, Elma
A 16-year-old of Birchwood Drive, Lake View
Andrew J. Baranyl, 18, of Carriage Hill East, Williamsville
Jennifer L. Mooney, 19, of Pierpont Avenue, Williamsville
A 17-year-old of BiaMarina Drive, Williamsville
A 17-year-old of Shetland Drive, Williamsville
A 17-year-old of Oakfield Lane, Williamsville
Sarah E. Cinski, 18, of Lilly Ridge Drive, East Amherst
William H. White III, 19, of Darwin Drive, Amherst
Joseph R. Cantiafio, 19, of Lilly Ridge Drive, East Amherst
Jay W. Schafer, 19, of Broadway Road, Darien
Sean M. McGrath, 18, of Paul Place, Buffalo
A 17-year-old  of Woodacres Drive, Williamsville
A 17-year-old  of Lamarck Drive, Amherst
A 17-year-old of Landing Creek Court, Williamsville
Jenelle K. Chapman, 20, of Apple Court, Niagara Falls
Sean A. Battisti, 20, of Ashwood Lane, Orchard Park
John V. Oddo, 18, of Athens Boulevard, Buffalo
A 17-year-old  of Audubon Drive, Amherst
Jacob G. DiMatteo, 20, of Fairmont Avenue, North Tonawanda
A 17-year-old of Baron Court, Getzville
James E. Ryan, 19, of Independence Drive, Orchard Park
Brian J. Sciandra, 20, of Argon Drive, Kenmore
Ashley M. Prentiss, 19, of Frontenac Avenue, Buffalo
Nicholas A. Cusenz, 20, of Bel Air Court, Williamsville
Ashleigh T. Szulist, 18, of Rutland Street, Buffalo
Ashley A. Fitzpatrick, 19, of Dearborn Street, Buffalo
Derek M. Paradowski, 19, of Maryvale Drive, Cheektowaga
Kallie L. Stahl, 19, of West State Route 579, Williston, Ohio
Mary Kathryn Sumbrum, 20, of Sheron Drive, West Seneca
Katie M. Felschow, 19, of O’Connell Avenue, Buffalo
Connor N. Sumbrum, 18, of Sheron Drive, West Seneca
Benjamin C. Gordon, 19, of Fairway Drive, Orchard Park
Jeffrey R. Baker, 19, of Scherff Road, Orchard Park
Patrick M. Violanti, 19, of Scherff Road, Orchard Park
Sean J. Rimmer, 19, of Harvard Place, Orchard Park
Rachel M. Biddle, 20, of Winspear Road, Elma
Amanda N. Lees, 18, of Quail Run Lane, Lancaster
A 17-year-old of Derby Road, Derby
A 17-year-old of Summer Street, Buffalo
A 17-year-old of Old Lakeshore Road, Lakeview
Michael J. Anderson, 18, of Rollingwood Street, Williamsville
Tyler J. Gerling, 18, of Rosscommon Crescent, Fairport
A 17-year-old of Joseph Street, Rochester
Ryan L. Danna, 18, of Oakridge Road, Hamberg
Rebecca L. Baia, 19, of Candlewood Lane, Williamsville
Jordan W. Fanestock, 20, of South Sausalito Drive, East Amherst
Lisa A. Samuels, 19, of Breezewood Commons, East Amherst
Elisabeth M. Mars, 20, of Lawrence Avenue, East Aurora
Ann M. Milks, 20, of Lawrence Avenue, East Aurora
Mary E. Angrisano, 20, of Snyder Road, East Aurora

July 30, 2011 - 4:06pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, accident.

A tractor-trailer has reportedly taken down a pole and wires at the Batavia Mobile Home Park, 3322 W. Main Street Road.

The wires are reportedly on the trailer.

It's unclear if any wires or portion of the pole is on West Main Street Road.

East Pembroke Fire Department is dispatched.

UPDATE 4:17 p.m.: Live wires reported on the truck.


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July 30, 2011 - 12:39pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Oakfield, fire.

A fire in a bedroom at 3561 Lockport Road, Oakfield, was knocked down quickly, shortly after tones went out for several fire departments to respond.

A chief on scene confirms the fire is knocked down.

Initially dispatched were all Oakfield units along with tankers and engines from Alabama, Elba and Batavia.

All Oakfield units can now proceed non-emergency and all other units are put back in service.

UPDATE 12:44 p.m.: All Oakfield units back in service.


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July 30, 2011 - 12:32pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, batavia bulldawgs, football, sports, Kibbe Avenue.

The coaches of the Batavia Bulldawgs hosted a youth football clinic at Kibbe Park over Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

July 30, 2011 - 12:33am
posted by Howard B. Owens in accident, alexander.

One person is trapped in a car and a passenger is believed to be unconscious following a motor-vehicle accident on Pike Road, Alexander.

The location is in the area of 2900 Pike Road.

Alexander Fire and Mercy EMS dispatched.

First law enforcement officer on scene advises, "step it up."

UPDATE 12:34 a.m.: Mercy Flight being started to the scene. Alexander Engine 6 requested to scene for extrication tools. Engine 7 requested to start up a landing zone.

UPDATE 12:40 a.m.: East Pembroke Fire requested to the scene to assist with extrication.

UPDATE 12:48 a.m.: Mercy Flight has landed.

UPDATE 12:56 a.m.: Another ambulance requested to the scene.

UPDATE 1:04 a.m.: Eastbound traffic is being shut down on Pike Road.

UPDATE: According to a Sheriff's Office news release, the driver was Eric Wyatt J. Becker, 21, of Sumner Road, Darien. He was transported by ground ambulance with minor injuries to ECMC. The passenger was Luke M. Taracki, 20, of Rusher Road, Alden. He was extricated from the vehicle and taken by Mercy Flight to ECMC with serious injuries. It's not known what caused Becker's 1998 Pontiac Bonneville to leave the roadway and strike a tree. Speed and alcohol are considered factors. The accident is being investigated by Deputy John Weis, Deputy Kevin McCarthy, Deputy Chad Minuto, Sgt. Greg Walker, Sgt. Steve Mullen and Deputy Eric Seppala.


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July 30, 2011 - 12:20am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, downtown, music, entertainment.

It wasn't the Beatles, but an area band known as Monkey in a Bottle, put on a good grove atop the roof of Glass Roots on Friday evening.

The band started playing shortly after the end of the Jackson Square concert, with Glass Roots providing some refreshments to guests and a parking lot cleared of cars, giving plenty of room to enjoy the music.

July 30, 2011 - 12:15am
posted by Howard B. Owens in byron.

I've driven down Route 262 in Byron dozens of times. I don't know why I noticed today for the first time a memorial set up to the victims of a May 2008 fire. The fire claimed the lives of four people, Sherri Reis, 51, along with her three children: Timothy Reis, 17; Emily Reis, 19; and Virginia Reis, 21.

An area resident told me, "the memorial just keeps growing year after year."

July 29, 2011 - 7:35pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, GCC.

When classes begin at Genesee Community College in the fall, the name of one assistant professor will be new to many students, but the teacher won't be.

Candice Faulring, entering her fifth year of teaching at GCC, will be known as Ms. Vacin from now on.

On Monday, Candice, 37, and her partner Sara Vacin, 35, became among the first 1,600 same-sex couples in New York to enter into a legal marriage.

"It's really exciting," Faulring said.

Now in the third year and fourth month of their relationship, Candice and Sara have been talking about marriage since their first anniversary. Sara proposed on New Year's Eve 2008.

They expected the Marriage Equality Act to pass in 2009 and had planned a big ceremony for last summer.  

After they got over the disappointment of the legislation failing in the Senate, they went to Canada to get married.

But that still wasn't the same as having a legally recognized marriage in New York, said Candice, who is originally from Lewiston. 

"When we told people we were married, it always seemed like they were thinking we were like kids having a tea party, or kids doing something that only adults do for real," Candice said. "This is a legal marriage with all the rights and responsibilities that go with marriage, so it's much more significant."

The Vacins, who live in North Buffalo, took part in a group wedding at Niagara Falls where 45 same-sex couples were married on Monday.

When the Marriage Equality Act came before the Senate again this year, Candice said she was live blogging and tweeting developments for four days. When the vote finally came, she was with a group of friends.

"We got together to watch the vote," Candice said. "It was very emotional (that day), as was our arrival at Niagara Falls on Monday. I didn't think it would be as emotional as it was."

Legalized same-sex marriage has had a tremendous impact on her outlook on life, Candice said.

"After the vote, I walked around feeling different," Candice said. "I walked around feeling validated and that I didn’t have to hide anymore."

Photo: Submitted by Candice Vacin (left) and Sara Vacin (right).

July 29, 2011 - 7:01pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, crime.

A 23-year-old East Main Street resident has been charged with assault in the first degree for allegedly running down a pedestrian June 6 while on Central Avenue.

The pedestrian suffered serious injuries and was taken to Strong Memorial Hospital.

Jailed on $10,000 bail following arraignment in Genesee County Court today was Brandon K. Macioszek, of 519 E. Main St., Batavia.

Macioszek was indicted by the Genesee County Grand Jury on the assault charge, which was sought following an investigation into the incident.

On June 7, Macioszek was issued traffic citations by Darryl Streeter for alleged aggravated unlicensed operation and leaving the scene of a personal injury accident.

July 29, 2011 - 6:49pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in NY-26, kathy hochul.

Press release:

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Congresswoman Kathy Hochul offered the Democrats’ final argument against Speaker John Boehner’s plan that only aims to postpone a U.S. default by six months, while drastically cutting discretionary spending.

“Never in our history has there been an intentional disaster, perpetrated by the very people who were elected to be the caretakers of this country,” said Congresswoman Hochul.  “That is exactly what will happen if we refuse to take action to prevent default and pay our nation’s bills now."

Congresswoman Hochul introduced her own amendment that would prioritize where spending cuts come from: cutting subsidies to Big Oil and corporate jets owners, before cutting education funding.

“Tell me why at a time when we all agree that the deficit must be reduced, we don’t ask Big Oil and companies with corporate jets to help out the country that helped them.

“Seaman’s Hardware Store in Genesee County pays more in federal taxes than many companies that are enjoying off the chart profits, while some of my constituents can barely afford to fill a gas tank so they can get to their minimum wage jobs at the dollar discount store.

[PART OF PREPARED REMARKS]

“There is one value we all share and that is fairness. Two things that are fundamentally unfair about this plan: It is unfair to put this country through this disgraceful, political gamesmanship again in another 6 months. 

“It is also unfair to cut money from education.  Education is the one chance for economic equality among our young people, and the one shot for them to reach their full potential.

“By making tax loopholes and tax breaks for Big Oil and corporate jets a priority over education, we are harming the economic engines across the country, and particularly in my district: our colleges and universities.  University at Buffalo, Geneseo, SUNY Brockport, Erie and Genesee Community Colleges – each is critical to our local economy and to the future of our students.”

July 29, 2011 - 11:00am
posted by Howard B. Owens in weather.

More than an inch of rain has already fallen on Genesee County this morning and more than an inch more is expected by 1 p.m., according to the National Weather Service.

There is an increased chance of flooding on roadways.

Creeks and streams may see water levels rise with some cresting at the top of their banks.

A front of heavy rain showers and thunderstorms are expected to move through the area from now until 1 p.m.

Areas with poor drainage are expected to flood.

The weather service warns that most flood-related deaths are come people driving across flooded roads.

"Flood waters are usually deeper than they appear," warns the weather service. "Just one foot of flowing water is powerful enough to sweep vehicles off the road."

July 29, 2011 - 10:52am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, crime.

A Batavia resident wanted on a warrant out of city court was arrested Thursday and allegedly found in possession of a quantity of cocaine and drug paraphernalia.

Members of the Local Drug Enforcement Task force went to the home of Ryan M. Shrauger, 42, of Hull Park, Batavia, to arrest him on the warrant.

While inside Shrauger's home, investigators allegedly found drugs and drug-related items.

Shrauger was charged with criminal possession of a controlled substance, 7th, and criminal use of drug paraphernalia, 2nd.

Following court arraignment, he was jailed on $2,500 bail.

July 29, 2011 - 10:43am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, crime.

A 59-year-old Ellicott Street resident has been arrested by members of the Local Drug Enforcement Task Force as part of an ongoing investigation into suspected cocaine dealing in Batavia.

A search warrant was served on Julious "Fatboy" Murphy on Thursday afternoon for his home and car.

Officials say they found a quantity of cocaine, a quantity of U.S. currency and five weapons.

Murphy is being charged with criminal possession of a controlled substance, 7th, and criminal possession of a weapon, 4th.

Following arraignment in Batavia City Court, Murphy was jailed on $5,000 bail.

July 28, 2011 - 8:05pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in business, steve hawley.

Press release:

Assemblyman Steve Hawley (R,I,C – Batavia) recently attended a press conference at Monroe Community College announcing the creation of the area’s first Regional Economic Development Council. Joining Governor Andrew Cuomo and Lieutenant Governor Robert Duffy, Hawley expressed his optimism to see such hands-on efforts to improve the economy here in Western New York.

“Today signals the beginning of a new day for the Western New York economy,” Hawley said. “I am especially pleased to see that Lieutenant Governor Robert Duffy will be the chair of all 10 regional councils. Hailing from our region, he has been a tremendous advocate on behalf of Western New York, and I have full confidence that he will be even more helpful in this new capacity.

"I have had a number of face-to-face and phone conversations with him to discuss the priorities facing the business owners and job creators in my district, and I know that the formation of this regional council will only continue to spur the growth and revitalization of Western New York’s economy.”

Ten regional economic development councils will be created across the state to compete for $1 billion in funding that will be geared toward jump-starting local economies. The panels are comprised of leaders from government, business and academia, and will partner with community leaders and state legislators to craft projects that will benefit their geographic and demographic needs.

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