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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.

June 9, 2011 - 10:21am
posted by Howard B. Owens in accident, Darien.

A young woman from Varysburg was struck by a car on Sumner Road early this morning and taken by Mercy Flight to ECMC, according to the Sheriff's Office.

According to a press release, 18-year-old Iesha Vetter is in stable condition at the hospital.

Vetter was on foot when she was hit by a car driven by Mitchell J. Irish, 29, of Rochester.

Irish was driving a 2008 Chevrolet Cobalt.

Vetter reportedly suffered internal injuries.

A cause of the accident has not been determined and it remains under investigation. 

The investigation is being conducted by Deputy Kevin McCarthy, Deputy Frank Bordonaro, Sgt. Greg Walker and Sgt. Brian Frieday. Assisting at the scene were the NY State Police, Darien Fire Department and Mercy EMS.

June 8, 2011 - 4:16pm

As part of the Richmond Memorial Library's regular series, "Books Sandwiched In," the publisher of the Batavia Daily News spoke today about his assigned book: "The Death and Life of American Journalism," by Robert W. McChesney and John Nichols.

As Turnbull explained, the book examines why commercial journalism has declined in the United States and what might be done about it.

The authors take the position that robust journalism is essential to a functioning democracy, and if there are fewer reporters and fewer media outlets, the public will be less informed and more susceptible to be misled by the government.

The book opens with some sobering statistics about circulation declines for newspapers (broadcast news is hardly mentioned in the book) and correctly notes that the declines started well before the advent of the web.

While the authors place some blame on free online news and loss of revenue to sites such as Craigslist, the real problem, according to McChesney and Nichols, is corporate journalism.  

Conglomerates, not merely chains, that owe a greater allegiance to shareholders than readers, started depending on higher and higher profit margins in the 1990s, leading to cuts in news rooms and a decline in journalistic quality at many newspapers.

Not satisfied with the 15 percent profit margins many family owned newspapers maintained throughout most of the 19th and 20th centuries, shareholders and CEOs beholden to them upped the ante to 30 and 35 percent profit margins.

The explosion of the Internet only added to the woes of newspapers with an abundance of free content -- most of it supplied by newspapers -- and competitors that robbed newspapers of vital classified advertising revenue. The recession made things worse, and in 2009 more than 15,000 newspaper employees lost their jobs.

If journalism is going to be saved, according to McChesney and Nichols, it won't come from a free-market approach with Internet entrepreneurs inventing a new news industry, and it won't come from the government allowing newspapers to form a cartel to protect their interests.

Instead, the authors argue that the solution is some form of government subsidy -- from vouchers for readers to direct handouts -- and the ability of newspaper ownership groups to more easily form nonprofit entities.

As Turnbull notes, even the authors acknowledge none of these solutions are perfect. They're all expensive, and Turnbull indicated he didn't see politicians -- or the public -- supporting subsidy solutions.

"The authors make a really strong argument at the end of the book that subsidies are not only necessary, but worth it," Turnbull said. "I think when you look at this book, it's not really a blueprint for the future of journalism, but a series of talking points."

While Turnbull didn't offer up his own version of what the future of journalism will look like, he did express concern that it isn't possible yet for a news operation the size of the Daily News to generate enough revenue online from advertising sales.

Turnbull is also skeptical that readers will pay for their news online. While there are various experiments in "pay walls" being conducted by newspapers around the country, Turnbull noted that none have yet proven successful.

Meanwhile, Turnbull said, subscription fees for the print newspaper are an important part of the Daily's revenue pie.

"Almost everybody reads everything on the Internet," Turnbull said. "And like I said, we can’t find a way to make money on that."

In an audience of mostly retirees, they all indicated they are avid Daily News readers.

"You're my favorite group (to speak to)," Turnbull said with a smile, and one audience member piped up with, "The day’s not complete without a good solid reading of the Batavia Daily News."

UPDATE: Tom Turnbull sends along a couple of clarifications. Regarding the quote "Almost everybody reads everything on the Internet," Turnbull said. "And like I said, we can’t find a way to make money on that." 

Turnbull said to be clear we should note that comment was in response to somebody in the audience talking about the media habits of the "younger generation." Also, " we can't find a way to make money on that yet."

June 8, 2011 - 3:20pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in business, thebatavian.

We've hired new marketing and sales coordinator at The Batavian.

She's Lisa Ace, a resident of Batavia who has a wealth of experience in marketing and graphic design.

Ace, originally from Utica, moved to Batavia 13 years ago to attend GCC. She stayed after meeting Chris, a native of Stafford.

After they got married, they decided to stay in Genesee County.

Ace has worked locally at the Batavia Daily News and p.w. minor in marketing and graphics. She's also done free-lance work for a variety of clients.

She has a degree in design from Buffalo State College.

Her hobbies include making beaded jewelry, baking and her two cats.

Ace replaces Ethan Thompson, who has accepted a one-year scholarship for a Christian education opportunity in the Adriondacks.  

So, best wishes and congratulations to Ethan and welcome, Lisa!

June 8, 2011 - 9:46am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Pavilion.

A group of seniors at Pavilion High School drove tractors to school today.

Above, from left, Jonathan White, Andy Kelkenberg, Emma Jensen, Morgan Schumacher, Rosie Darby, Kyle Kalpper, Taylor Richardson and Dan Kelkenberg.

Below, substituting riding lawn mowers for tractors, are Jake Elliott and Cody Reinhardt.

June 8, 2011 - 9:37am
posted by Howard B. Owens in crime, Oakfield, Stafford.

Andrew James Skalsky, 26, of Nelson Drive, Silver Bay, Minn., is charged with soliciting without a permit. Also charged is Samuel Joseph Helland, 20, of 18th SW St., Owatonna, Minn. Both men are accused of soliciting without a permit within the boundaries of the Town of Oakfield on May 26.

Kristen Lynn Brightenfield, 18, of Main Road, Stafford, is charged with providing a false written statement. Brightenfield is accused of providing a false written statement May 24 during an investigation into an alleged assault.

June 8, 2011 - 9:36am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Batavia Police, crime.

From May 23 through June 4, Batavia Police participated in a statewide Buckle-Up New York campaign and issued 105 citations during that period.

Citations were issued for seat belt violations as well as talking on mobile phones and equipment violations.

In all, officers logged 140 hours working the buckle-up detail.

Police officials said the goal of the campaign was to address the dangers of seat belt and mobile phone violations through aggressive enforcement.

June 8, 2011 - 9:34am
posted by Howard B. Owens in accident.

A 12-year-old Bergen girl who apparently rode her bike into traffic Tuesday night suffered non-life threatening injuries, according to the Sheriff's Office.

Jaclyn J. Stone, of South Lake Street, Bergen, was riding her bike at about 8:30 p.m. when she rode onto South Lake just as a car was coming.

The driver of the car, Cai Xiang Huang, was unable to stop in time.

No citations were issued.

The Sheriff's Office report indicates Stone was transported to Strong Memorial Hospital, but patient information at Strong doesn't show Stone being a patient at the hospital.

The Sheriff's Office report indicates Stone had a hip injury and was in shock following the accident.

Neither Huang or either passenger in his car were injured.

The accident was investigated by Deputy Timothy Wescott.

June 8, 2011 - 12:04am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, land use, Gardner Estates.

The developers of a proposed housing development off Stringham Drive have been given an 11-page document by the Town of Batavia Planning Board and asked to respond within 60 days to issues and questions the board still has about the project.

The "scoping document" is an essential part of the environmental review process and the project, known as the Gardner Estate Subdivision, cannot go forward without passing the environmental review.

"Scoping involves looking at what they need to do to meet (the environmental review guidelines)," Board Chairwoman Kathy Jasinski said.

The scoping document asks for information on such things as the purpose and need of the project, type of ownership and compliance with current zoning as well as impacts on traffic and water.

Gardner Estates is being proposed by Rochester-based Nathaniel Development Corp.

Originally, the company was proposing apartment complexes, then, when that met with resistance from the community and the board, Nathaniel proposed condominiums. After that proposal was rejected, they developed a plan for single-family homes, which is under review now.

From the start, Nathaniel has seemed intent on building low-income housing in the area, which neighboring residents oppose and doesn't necessarily fit into the town's master plan.

The town needs more middle-income housing, and the Stringham Drive area was intended to provide parcels to accomodate that type of growth -- especially if the Genesee Valley Agri-Business Park proves successful.

However, Jasinski noted that Nathaniel has been willing to mold its plans all along to address board concerns, so Nathaniel might very well turn in a satisfactory scoping document.

If the developer meets the requirements of the environmental review process, there will be little the board can do to block the project.

"We have to abide by rules of zoning," Board Member Paul McCullough said.  "We can’t look at it and say 'In my heart of hearts, we don’t want X.' If it doesn't say that in the book of rules, tough. We have to abide by the rules."

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

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