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March 16, 2011 - 10:21am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, crime, corfu.

Earl Lockhart, 18, of 437 E. Main St., Batavia, is charged with burglary, 2nd, criminal mischief, 4th, and petit larceny. Lockhart was arrested by Det. Kevin Czora for allegedly breaking into a neighbor's residence in February 2009.

Jonathan A. Brenkus, 22, of 5244 Bridge Road, Elba, is charged with unlawful possession of marijuana. Brenkus was stopped for an alleged equipment violation on his vehicle at 4:53 p.m., Tuesday, by Officer Thad Mart, on Clinton Street. During the traffic stop, Brenkus was found to allegedly possess marijuana.

Jon D. Vega, 45, of 518 E. Main St., Batavia, is charged with aggravated harassment, 2nd. Vega allegedly threatened a person with physical harm during a phone call.

Terry L. Smith, 55, of Corfu, is charged with DWI, failure to use designated lane, crossing road hazard markings and refusal to take breath test. Smith was stopped by State Police at 9:25 p.m., Sunday, on Route 77 and Indian Falls Road, Pembroke. Smith was held in jail on an unspecified bail status.

March 15, 2011 - 10:58pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in photos, Alabama.

Here are four pictures from an evening drive in Alabama.

Above, an old farm wagon and rundown car on Roberts Road.

Combine on Roberts Road.

I took this picture on Sour Springs Road. If my online sleuthing is correct, this reed, which I see in Genesee County a lot, is commonly called a Burma Reed (Neyraudia reynaudiana) and is non-native in North America and highly invasive.

Telephone poles as the sun sets along Maple Street Road.

March 15, 2011 - 8:33pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in baseball, Spring, photos, elba, Oakfield.

Nothing says spring more than baseball.

Today, in Oakfield, I came across Ryan Byrnes and Joe Colon, both originally from Elba, having a first catch of the season.

They said nothing felt better after a long winter than tossing a ball around.

March 15, 2011 - 3:26pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, crime.

A police check on a parolee Saturday night led to the arrest of three Batavia residents on drug charges.

Numerous bags of cocaine were reportedly found either on the individuals or in an apartment at 29 Central Ave.

Taken into custody were Derek Leach, 31, of 29 Central Ave., Eric Williams, 45, of 219 Washington Ave., and Randy G. Leach II, 24, of 58 South Main St.

All three were charged with crimes, including criminal sale of a controlled substance, criminal possession of a controlled substance and criminal using drug paraphernalia.

The incident began at 8:30 p.m. when a NYS parole officer went to 29 Central Ave. to do a home check on Derek Leach.

Once there, the officer heard several voices inside the house and called for assistance. Officers Chris Camp, Eric Boles and Marc Lawrence arrived on scene.

Once officers were inside the house, a second parolee, Eric Williams, was identified.

Williams was searched and allegedly found in possession of a large quantity of individually wrapped bags of cocaine. He was charged with criminal possession of a controlled substance, 3rd (with intent to sell).

Randy G. Leach II, was identified as a suspect wanted on a warrant out of drug court.

A small bag of cocaine was allegedly found on Randy Leach. In addition to the warrant charge, Leach was charged with criminal possession of a controlled substance, 7th.

Randy Leach was jailed on $50,000 bail.

Police then searched Derek Leach's residence and allegedly found a large amount of individually wrapped bags of cocaine, scales and packaging material.

Derek Leach was charged with criminal possession of a controlled substance, 3rd (with intent to sale) and criminal using drug paraphernalia.

Williams and Derek Leach were jailed without bail.

The Sheriff's Office K-9 unit assisted in the search. Det. Todd Crossett also participated in the investigation.

Photos: Top, Derek Leach, Eric Williams, Randy Leach.

March 15, 2011 - 3:03pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, crime.

David Allan Showler, 43, Trumbull Parkway, Batavia, is charged with criminal possession of a controlled substance, 7th, aggravated unlicensed operation, 2nd, and unlicensed operation. Showler was stopped on Trumbull Parkway at 5:09 p.m. Monday, by Sgt. Greg Walker. Showler was jailed on $2,000 bail.

Robert Howard Harris, 29, of Stephanie Court, Hilton, is charged with aggravated harassment, 2nd.  Harris is accused of making a phone call that was harassing in nature.

Darik Robert Michael Orbaker, 18, of Forest Edge Drive, Batavia, is charged with criminal contempt, 2nd. Orbaker was allegedly at a residence at 9:50 a.m. Monday that he was barred from being at by a Town of Batavia Court order.

David T. Neuhaus, 24, 335 Bank St., Batavia, is charged with unauthorized use of a vehicle. Neuhaus is accused of taking a car belonging to an acquaintance without permission.

March 15, 2011 - 2:45pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, State Street.

City crews were on State Street late this morning dealing with dirt and an old stump where a tree once stood.

The tree was among 30 dead or dying trees removed from around the city over the winter.

March 15, 2011 - 2:18pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, GCC, schools, education, Bullying.

More than 400 middle-school students were at Genesee Community College this morning for the 2011 Genesee County Youth Conference.

Students heard a keynote speech by bullying expert Michael Nerney (pictured below during a workshop later in the morning with teachers) called "Taking the Bully by the Horns."

Then they broke into a series of workshops lasting less than an hour each in three consecutive sessions. The workshops included "Hmmm ... is this the right decision?", "Energy Smart Choices," "Who Wants to Make a Good First Impression?", "Building Your Potential," "Nutritional Jeopardy" and yoga.

Above, Joni Yaskulski leads a class through a yoga session.

Nerney's talk focused on adolescent brain development and the negative effects of bullying on development. The message was geared to the concept of changing social norms among middle-school students so that everyone, especially bystanders, understand that bullying is not acceptable nor is it harmless.

Students from Holy Family, Oakfield-Alabama, Batavia, Elba, Alexander, St. Joe's, Byron-Bergen, Le Roy and Pavilion participated in the program.

The conference was organized and sponsored by Genesee Youth In Action, 4-H, NYS Office of Children and Family Services, Students Against Destructive Decisions, Genesee County Stop-DWI.

March 15, 2011 - 1:43pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in thebatavian.

We've added a new section to the site: "Milestones."

It's a place were you can post those important events in your life or the lives of friends and relatives, such as births, engagements, weddings, graduations, dean's list, military service, promotions, etc.

To post to "Milestones" you must be registered and logged in. Once logged in, go to the "Create Content" link and then click on "Blog Entry." Tag your post "milestones" and once it's saved it will automatically show up in that section.

March 15, 2011 - 1:38pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in fire, Bethany.

A tractor is reportedly on fire at a farm in the area of 10423 East Road, Bethany.

The tractor is near a structure.

Bethany Fire Department being dispatched.

UPDATE 1:39 p.m.: Pavilion fire is being dispatched, along with Wyoming fire for mutual aid.

UPDATE 1:45 p.m.: The structure is smaller and not yet involved in the blaze.

UPDATE 2:12 p.m.: Fire is out.

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March 15, 2011 - 1:26pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, schools, education.

A dozen city school students in second through fifth grade met at Jackson School today for a spelling bee to determine the top speller at each grade level.

Students represented Jackson, John Kennedy and Robert Morris.

Pictured here are fourth graders Jonathan Slezak (John Kennedy), Ellen Fulton (Robert Morris) and Caitline Kingston (Jackson).

Fulton won the fourth-grade round.

Also winning today were Brandon Bartz, second grade, John Kennedy; Madeline Taggart, third grade, John Kennedy; and, Carli Reynolds, fifth grade, Jackson.

March 15, 2011 - 12:55pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in business, GCC, chamber of commerce, social media.

About 20 local business owners and managers attended a talk by Kevin Manne at T.F. Brown's this morning on social media, sponsored by the Genesee County Chamber of Commerce.

Manne, new media specialist for Genesee Community College spoke about how digital media is empowering customers, how that power can be harnessed to benefit a business and how to effectively promote a business on social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare and YouTube.

Previously: College hires new media specialist, sees rapid online growth

March 14, 2011 - 7:59pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in genesee county, Highway Department.

It would be a good idea, according to County Highway Superintendent Tim Hens, to install cameras to monitor the gas pumps used to fill up county vehicles.

In some counties employees have been caught stealing gas. Hens didn't come right out and say any Genesee County personnel are stealing gas, but he would like to have a system that would much such theft easier to prove.

"The only way to catch somebody now is to compare like vehicle to like vehicle," Hens said. "If one pickup truck is getting 15 miles to the gallon and another is getting only nine, then I'm going to say 'something is not right here,' but you're still dealing with somebody with only circumstantial numbers."

A camera would allow supervisors to check tapes (digitally stored) and see if employees are bringing in personal vehicles at the same time they fuel county vehicles, or filling up gas cans.

Legislators Ray Cianfrini and Bob Baush balked at the $19,000 price tag for the video surveillance system during the Public Service meeting Monday. They wondered if fewer cameras could be used, or if surveillance was necessary at all.

"Is it worth paying $19,000 to save $40 in gas?" Cianfrini asked.

Besides monitoring the pumps, the proposed system can also monitor the parts garage and could eventually be expanded to monitor nearby DeWitt Park.

Hens said that as much as $2,000 annually from potentially pilfered gas could be saved and the camera system -- which needs to be infrared to read license plates at night -- has a 10-year life expectancy.

But it isn't all about how much might be stolen, which is a hard number to pin down with the current system, Hens said.

"On principle, I don’t know if you want an employee who is stealing $40 of gas," Hens said. "I think you would rather catch those people."

Currently, fueling county vehicles involves a two-card process -- one card for the employee and one card for the vehicle.

As the meeting progressed, Tim Yaeger, director of Emergency Services, walked in. He and Undersheriff Bill Sheron spoke briefly and then Yaeger piped up, saying there might be Homeland Security grants available for the camera system.

Since the fuel yard is essential to critical services in an emergency, it needs to be protected, Yaeger said.

The motion to buy the system was tabled until Yaeger could research the availability of grants.

March 14, 2011 - 7:42pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in thebatavian.

Local businesses can now use The Batavian to help promote their social media marketing efforts.

Glance down the right side rail of local ads and you'll find two boxes, one with links to the Facebook pages of local businesses and another to promote the Twitter feeds of local businesses.

Social media is becoming a powerful tool for small businesses to connect with customers and one of our primary goals at The Batavian is to help local businesses use the Internet intelligently.

Besides offering the best online advertising program in the region, working with local businesses in their social media efforts helps us further that goal.

If your business already has a presence on Facebook or Twitter, call Howard Owens at 260-6970 to find out how to get a link added to our Facebook and Twitter boxes. And if you haven't put your business on Facebook or Twitter yet, call us and we'll help you get started. We can even manage your social media efforts for your business.

March 14, 2011 - 6:52pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Genesee Justice.

The Genesee Justice Foundation can now accept your donations.

The foundation was formed in the wake of the County Legislature nearly shuttering the pioneering restorative justice program when writing the 2010-11 county budget.

Only after then-director Ed Minardo resigned and staff agreed to cut back its hours was the program saved, but with the intent of creating a nonprofit fundraising arm.

The cuts saved $100,000, and that's how much the foundation must raise in 2011 to keep Genesee Justice going and restore staffing levels.

Some of that revenue may come from a grant the county's Job Development Bureau is applying for this week.

Both the Genesee Justice Foundation and the Child Advocacy Foundation have 501(c)3 (nonprofit) status pending, but until granted, the American Baptist Churches of Genesee County have agreed to accept donations on the behalf of the Genesee Justice Foundation.

Tiffany Szymanek, assistant director of Genesee Justice, delivered a report on the status of Genesee Justice on Monday afternoon to the legislature's Public Service Committee.

Szymanek said the agency is managing to do more with less, however.

Genesee Justice's case load is up significantly over a year ago.

Currently, Genesee Justice has 183 people in its offender programs, compared to 127 at this time last year, and 91 people, compared to 54 a year ago, are doing community service.

"It's harder than it was last year, but we're keeping up," Szymanek said.

In effort to save money, GJ renegotiated its lease, knocking down its rent on the former Sheriff's Office on West Main Street from $1,500 per month to $1,200 per month. (See clarification below)

Most of that savings came because GJ agreed to take over its own lawn maintenance and snow removal.

The Batavia Kiwanis have adopted Genesee Justice as its annual project, and besides raising funds for GJ, the club has volunteered to help with lawn service and snow removal.

"We also have community service workers," Szymanek said.

The new foundation is being headed by Jane Schmider, president, and Mike Mohun, vice president.

As for the job development grant, that money would be used to fund a program to provide job training to young offenders (18-24). While the grant would come through the county's Job Development Bureau, GJ would administer the program. The grant could restore most of the staff's hours.

After Minardo resigned, a part-time position with Genesee Justice became vacant and Minardo took on the DWI conditional release tasks.

Szymanek said the foundation is eager for donations either from individuals or corporations. She said she will also be working on additional grant applications.

If the foundation is successful in fundraising, the annual revenue would be allocated to the county to cover Genesee Justice expenses and the legislature would decide how to budget the department.

Legislator Bob Radley asked Szymanek to provide a document showing revenue benchmarks and information on fundraising efforts.

Mary Pat Hancock, chair of the legislature, wondered how far along the fundraising effort was going.

"On paper, I understand the intent is to raise $100,000, but that's not the same as raising $100,000," Hancock said.

Szymanek said she will start providing a progress report on fundraising.

There will be a fundraiser for the Child Advocacy Foundation March 24 at Tully's.

CLARIFICATIONS: The lease issue and snow removal/lawn refers only to the Child Advocacy Center at 108 Bank St.  Also, both Kiwansis and American Baptist boards still need to vote to approve their organizations' participation in supporting Genesee Justice.

March 14, 2011 - 3:11pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, downtown, gulls, Latina's.

Right on schedule, the migratory gulls that have plagued downtown buildings the past few years -- most notably the former Latina's location on Ellicott Street -- are returning.

This March, they're getting a slightly different reception.

The one-time Montgomery Ward store has a new owner, V J Gautieri Constructors, Inc., and CEO Vito Gautieri is determined both to get new tenants in the building and keep the gulls away.

"The key is to keep them from nesting," Gautieri said. "Once they nest, we can't touch them."

To that end, employees of Gautieri's were recently on the roof installing streamers and decoy owls (mean-looking ones at that).

Today, the gulls circled the building and cried their perpetually angry sounding cry, but none were landing on the roof.

Friday, Don Burkel, executive director of the Business Improvement District, sent a message to BID members asking them to deal with any developing gull problems promptly.

As the gulls return downtown we should be prepared to resolve any problems that may develop. If they are beginning to nest or create a problem with your property do not hesitate to contact us. We can put in touch with the Wildlife Services who professionalyl deal with these issues promptly.

As for the building on Jackson, Gautieri said he is weeks away from signing at least one new tenant for the building, and possibly two. He said he's had interest in the building from two or three grocery store operators and discount retailers. One particular retailer and one grocery store would be a particularly good fit as neighbors in the building, he said.

"They would be a draw for each other," Gautieri said.

Gautieri recently closed his purchase of the building from Tom Lewin's LKLWL Properties. Lewin made regional headlines late last summer as the city took steps to condemn the building and press code violations charges against the Buffalo-area resident.

Gautieri said it's in his best interest to keep the property clean and gull free, especially if he hopes to attract a grocery store to the location.

The second floor, Gautieri said, will also be available for office space or apartments. The plans are still being drawn up but, in either case, Gautieri said he is planning to install an elevator to help draw tenants to the location.

Gautieri was the contractor who built the structure and he said because of a high water table under the building, it was too expensive to put in a basement, so the second floor was originally designed as warehouse space with the ability to hold a150 lbs.-per-square-foot load.

March 14, 2011 - 1:50pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Le Roy.

A patient apparently suffered a cut hand and bump on the head in a car-tractor trailer accident on Route 490 on or near the county line by the Bovee Road overpass.

Le Roy Fire Department is dispatched.

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March 14, 2011 - 12:33pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Alabama.

Alabama Fire is responding to 2082 Lewiston Road for a flooded basement and possibly related gas leak.


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

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