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September 2, 2016 - 12:45pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in crime, Oakfield, news.
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      Serena Snyder

A 31-year-old Oakfield resident has been accused of smuggling suboxone and heroin into the Genesee County Jail and delivering them to her husband, who is an inmate.

Serena L. Snyder is accused of bringing the narcotics to Cody E. Snyder, 25.

Serena Snyder was allegedly found possession of heroin while at the jail on a visitation to her husband.

The Local Drug Task Force handled the investigation. Agents concluded Serena Snyder had allegedly delivered drugs to her husband on two prior occasions.

Task Force members, along with Deputy Chris Erion and K-9 Destro searched Serena Snyder's car and allegedly found heroin and crack cocaine. 

Serena Snyder was charged with attempted criminal sale of a controlled substance, 3rd, criminal sale of a controlled substance, 4th, two counts of criminal possession of a controlled substance, 5th, conspiracy, 4th, promoting prison contraband, 1st, and two counts of criminal possession of a controlled substance, 7th.

Cody Snyder was charged with conspiracy, 4th.

Serena Snyder was arraigned in City Court and released under supervision of Genesee Justice.

September 2, 2016 - 8:53am
posted by Howard B. Owens in football, sports.

Here's a collection of all our pre-season, training camp, football pictures.

To purchase prints of preseason football pictures, click here.

Here's our pre-season previews:

The season opens tonight.

Tonight's games:

  • Batavia hosts Greece Olympia/Odyssey, 7 p.m.
  • Pembroke hosts Attica, 7 p.m.
  • Byron-Bergen, now with Cal-Mum, is at Livonia, 7:30 p.m.
  • York/Pavilion is at Letchworth/Warsaw, 7:30 p.m.
  • Le Roy is at Bath, 7:30 p.m.

Tomorrow's games:

  • Oakfield-Alabama/Elba is at C.G. Finney/Northstar, 1:30 p.m.
  • Alexander plays Notre Dame in Warsaw, 7:30 p.m.
September 2, 2016 - 6:21am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Deal of the Day, advertisement.

Reminders of how the new Deal of the Day program works:

  • To make purchases, you must be registered. This is its own registration system, separate from the main registration for The Batavian.
  • Once registered you must be logged in.
  • You click on the orange button, if the item is not sold out, and it takes you to a PayPal button. This allows you to pay either with your PayPal account or with a credit card/debit card. The login for PayPal is completely separate from our accounts.
  • The first person to successfully complete the PayPal transaction wins the gift certificate.
  • You are eligible to buy the same item only once in a four-month period. We use the registration system to track this for you so you don't have to.
September 1, 2016 - 10:07pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in animals, agricultre, Bethany, news.

We just received this message:

There are 7 white sheep wandering around lost in the Bethany area after escaping through an open gate. Last sighted on a trail cam near Cackner Rd. and Bethany Center Rd. Please contact Barbara Hollands 585-734-2236 if you see them. They are a bit shy of people but like grain and will come to someone shaking a bucket of grain.

UPDATE Friday, 10:23 a.m.: Thanks to the help of neighbor Pat Pietrzykowski, all seven sheep have been located, rounded up and returned home, where they are safe and sound.

September 1, 2016 - 5:50pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Foxprowl, downtown, batavia, business.

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It's a lot of work moving thousands of collectible toys along with 40,000 comic books, but that's what Bill Hume, along with his wife, Joy, staff member Wayne Stahler along with helpers and friends have been doing for the past few days.

Hume opened Foxprowl at its new location at Main and Jackson, downtown Batavia today, even though not everything is unboxed or on the shelves yet.

We've covered Foxprowl from its opening on Ellicott Street over the years and watched the business grow. The store expanded, added inventory and Hume hosted a convention in Batavia last year (it will return this year; details to be announced).

Several other small businesses have come and gone in Batavia in that time, but Hume has persisted and succeeded. He said lasting and growing has had a lot to do with his passion for the business, his passion for collectibles and his willingness and enjoyment to work the long hours necessary.

September 1, 2016 - 5:16pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in accident, bergen, news.

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A reader submitted this photo of a tractor-trailer that went off the around 4:20 p.m. on Bergen Road. No injuries reported.

September 1, 2016 - 1:06pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in pembroke, schools, education.

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Pembroke Junior/Senior High School unveiled a new logo and new sign in a brief ceremony Wednesday evening.

The new logo was designed by Matt Steinburg, a 1991 graduate of Pembroke who now lives in Corfu with his wife, Anne, and son, Benjamin. He is creative director for Visit Buffalo and won the new logo contest. Matt also created a custom font for "Pembroke." He estimated he put in more than 100 hours of volunteer time into the effort.

September 1, 2016 - 12:58pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in pembroke, football, sports.

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Pembroke has a new Head Coach, Ray Stoldt, but the only returning starting QB in the Genesee Region League.

Reid Miano will take snaps behind an experienced line, but they've got the size to protect him once they make the adjustment to the speed and technique of varsity-level football.

"I think they come around later in the year," said Stoldt, who has spent his career with Pembroke as an assistant on varsity and then coach of modified the past two seasons.

Blocking will be key because Miano, given time, can pass well and he's got some weapons at wideout, Stoldt said.

"I think every coach will always like to be a little further ahead at this point, but we’re young and we’re getting better every snap," Stoldt said.

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September 1, 2016 - 11:30am
posted by Howard B. Owens in football, sports, alexander.

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With 15 seniors and a trio of returning all-league defensive players and a new QB with a strong arm and field smarts, Alexander's Head Coach Tim Sawyer likes what he sees so far of the 2016 Trojans.

"I feel like I’ve got a fast and physical group of kids who understand our systems both offensively and defensively," Sawyer said. "It’s been fun. It’s been a good camp this year."

Alexander opens against Notre Dame tonight (at 7 p.m. in Perry, (NOTE: As soon as I hit publish on this story I got an e-mail from a Section V official saying the game has been moved to Saturday in Warsaw) because of renovations to Alexander's home field. 

Sawyer knows the Fighting Irish will be a tough match right out of the gate.

"There's not a lot of kids (at Notre Dame), but they get after it," Sawyer said. "It doesn’t matter the size, those kids will play. They always play tough."

Week two doesn't get any easier because the Trojans face perennial powerhouse Attica.

"Within the first two weeks, we’re going to know kinda where we stand," Sawyer said.

The starting QB is P.J. Brennan, a senior who was Jared Browne's backup last season. He's not big, Sawyer said, but he's got a strong arm and he handles read-options well.

Among his weapons is returning wideout Derrick Busch. He'll also marshal a rotation of running backs.

Josh Hylkema, Dustin Schmeider and Jake Jasen, all over 200 pounds and all all-league on defense last year, are back and ready to anchor a squad that also includes Busch, Dane Heberlein, Jacob Bykowski and Erik Scharlau (who's also expected to have an impact at tight end this season).

And for the first time in school history, Alexander will have a girl on the squad. Rather than play soccer this year, Hannah Paolucci will be one of two place kickers on the Trojans (bottom photo).

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September 1, 2016 - 10:17am

The latest legal challenges to live, amplified music at Frost Ridge Campground in Le Roy have been dismissed by Judge Emilio Colaiacovo, meaning owners David and Greg Lueticke-Archbell will be able to continue their concert series, Jam at the Ridge.

Colaiacovo ruled that the Zoning Board of Appeals acted with appropriate consideration and diligence when deciding live, amplified music was a prior non-conforming use and that there was no substantive violation of the state's open meetings law when it reached that decision in February.

Attorneys for David and Amy Cleere and Scott and Betsy Collins challenged the ZBA's decision on both of those counts.

The decision seemingly concludes two years of legal fights initiated by the Cleeres and Collins and initially backed by the Town of Le Roy.

The plaintiffs maintained all along that Frost Ridge violated the town's zoning laws, because it is in an agricultural-residential district, by hosting music concerts at the campground.

The owners and their supporters countered that both live music and amplified music had been part of the operations of the campground since the 1960s, which means those uses were grandfathered in, or prior, non-conforming uses, before the R-A district was created.

The ZBA met at least twice prior to the lawsuits being filed and sided with David and Greg Lueticke-Archbell, but Judge Robert C. Noonan, who retired earlier this year, ruled that the ZBA meetings where these decisions were made were not properly noticed (a violation of the state's open meetings law), so he ordered the ZBA to hold a new public hearing.

The town board then tried to disband the ZBA -- which at the time was a joint board of the town and the village -- but Noonan barred dissolution of the ZBA until after it conducted a new hearing and issued a decision. 

The ZBA met in December and collected documents and testimony at the time, but never publicly deliberated the issue and issued its decision without a public vote in February. 

Colaiacovo ruled that even if these actions were a technical violation of the open meeting law, the record is clear that the ZBA members had ample information about the issue without the need for public deliberation and there was no evidence presented that the matter was discussed in a closed meeting by the board. 

"The Court finds that the alleged failure to vote on its decision in public is a de minimis technical violation that, in light of the exhaustive record and consistency of the ZBA's determination that there exists a prior, non-conforming use, injunctive relief is not warranted," Colaiacovo wrote in his decision.

Colaiacovo said it was not the court's place, based on case law, to decide whether the ZBA reached the correct decision, only that the decision was reasonable and not arbitrary and capricious.

The mere fact that the plaintiffs disagree with the decision is not evidence that it is arbitrary and capricious, he said.

Courts must be careful, according to case law, not to overturn local decisions that are based on substantial evidence and are rational, he said.

The record shows the ZBA had a substantial amount of testimony and evidence to consider that seemed to back the conclusion of a prior, non-conforming use, he said. 

"The ZBA held that these activities occurred to varying degrees prior to the adoption of the Town Zoning Code," Colaiacovo wrote. "The ZBA referenced Mr. (Eugene) Sinclair's testimony, which established that the defendants' actions were 'consistent with the essential character of the property as a prior, non-conforming use.' Accordingly, the ZBA, after exhausting its reasons for its determination, found that the use of the property as a campground, which permitted live and recorded music, limited food service, and allowed the use of recreational vehicles, was a prior, non-conforming use as permitted by the Town of Le Roy Zoning Code.

"Based on the foregoing," he continued, "the Court finds that the determination of the ZBA is based on substantial evidence that was made part of an extensive record. As such, because the ZBA had a rational basis to reach its decision, this Court will not disturb it."

He added, "Nothing in the record demonstrates that the ZBA reached its determination haphazardly."

August 31, 2016 - 2:55pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Emergency Dispatch, Steve Sharpe, news.

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Photo, from left: Undersheriff Bill Sheron, Joseph Grube, Steve Sharpe and Sheriff Gary Maha.

Steve Sharpe, director of communications for the Genesee County Sheriff's Office, was honored yesterday with an industry award that recognizes his dedication to the profession and his job.

The PSAP (Public Safety Access Point) Finest Director of the Year award was selected by industry professionals from a national pool of nominees.

The award was sponsored by emergency communications company NICE and presented by Joseph Grube, director of public safety for Wilmac, another public safety company.

Grube said Sharp was selected based on his habits of lifelong learning, his self-motivation toward excellence, his involvement in several industry associations and groups and his advocacy for the 25 staff members who report to him in ensuring they have the best equipment and training.

“The public safety community is a better place because of people like Steve,” Grube said.

Sharp said the award really reflects what a great team he has around him, from the County Legislature that supports professional emergency communication, to the Sheriff's Office administration, to the dispatchers in the emergency dispatch center, nothing would be possible without their hard work and dedication, he said.

“I think the biggest thing people have got  to understand is it's about the team," Sharpe said. "It’s always going to be about the team. It’s the people you put in the right place. It’s about learning. I’ve had some pretty spectacular failures as a leader, and I’ve had some pretty spectacular failures here in this job, but my failures were mitigated by their strengths. It all comes back to team.”

August 31, 2016 - 1:56pm

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Willis Middleton moves into a new apartment in Batavia tomorrow, and the day before yesterday, he signed his lease and picked up his keys.

At first, he didn't think much of it. He went back to his room at the VA Center, in the Cazenovia Recovery Program, and sat down on his bed and started looking for a keychain.

"After I put all the keys on the chain, I just stared at it and I was like, dang these are my keys," Middleton said. "I mean, I’ve had that before, but it just means a whole lot more. I was just staring at those keys and I was like, ‘wow.’ It’s been a long road and I’m very appreciative of the people who helped me. It’s just a great feeling, it really is."

The ladies of the VFW Auxiliary Veness Strollo Post #1602 in Batavia were among those who helped Middleton get to this point, which comes after years of struggling with addiction, in and out of rehab programs, until he was finally brought to one that is making a difference.

One of the key benefits of the program, Middleton said that at the end of it, counselors make sure patients don't go back to the same community and the same life and same associates they were mired in before.

"Let’s be honest, we all do rehab really well," Middleton said. "We all go in and make these promises we’re going to do better, we’re going to do this and we’re going to do that, but then when it’s time to leave, we really didn’t have the resources, so basically we got threw back into that environment that we came from. Excuse my French, but snowballs stand a better chance in hell with that situation. But here, it gives you an opportunity to change everything, even your environment. I think that’s more important than anything, those resources and employment are more important than anything."

Middleton, originally from Cross, S.C., and most recently a resident of Durham, N.C., is getting a fresh start in Batavia.

He thinks that's wonderful.

"By the time this program came, it saved my life," Middleton said. "That’s really all I can say. It saved my life because I was thinking crazy, I was doing irrational things and, well, I ended up in the psych ward at the Durham VA. That was the beginning that put me on this road right here and I’ve been blessed to be on this road for so long, Thank God. I’ve been seeing all of these wonderful things that are happening to me now."

The VFW Auxillary is providing many of the necessities Middleton will need to get a good start in his new apartment. They've purchased for him, as they do many other veterans who have been through Cazenovia, a coffee pot, pots, pans, dishes, silverware, dishpans, a strainer, utensils, kitchen trash can, cleaning products, dish towels, oven mitts and potholders, sheets, blankets, a shower curtain, curtain rings, a wastebasket, toilet brush, plunger, towels, toothpaste, toothbrush, floss, shaving products, alcohol-free mouthwash, curtains and furniture.

They ladies buy all that for multiple veterans with funds raised from Buddy Poppy sales, social events and raffles.

Middleton joined the Army when he was 17 and served four years. His problems, he said, started when he got out. He struggled with drugs and homelessness off and on, though he also had times of stability, but hit rock bottom in Durham.

"When I got here at first started learning about myself, it wasn’t a pretty picture at all," Middleton said. "It was kind of ugly, to be honest, but the more I stayed the course, the more it just was so obvious that if I didn’t want to die in my addiction, I knew that I had to change. I just had to get down and dirty and do it.

"This program has meant a lot to me," he added.

Photo: Pictured with Middleton are Jean Dolph, Daphne Cross and Judy Cooper, of the VFW Auxiliary Veness Strollo Post #1602.

August 31, 2016 - 1:47pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Deal of the Day, advertisement.

Reminders of how the new Deal of the Day program works:

  • To make purchases, you must be registered. This is its own registration system, separate from the main registration for The Batavian.
  • Once registered you must be logged in.
  • You click on the orange button, if the item is not sold out, and it takes you to a PayPal button. This allows you to pay either with your PayPal account or with a credit card/debit card. The login for PayPal is completely separate from our accounts.
  • The first person to successfully complete the PayPal transaction wins the gift certificate.
  • You are eligible to buy the same item only once in a four-month period. We use the registration system to track this for you so you don't have to.
August 30, 2016 - 4:35pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in crime, byron, news.

In keeping with his plea deal, David O'Connor, 55, was sentenced to 12-and-a-half years in state prision for using .22-caliber rifle to shoot out the window of a deputy's patrol car while the deputy was sitting in it during a traffic stop in Byron.

O'Connor's appearance in County Court was brief. Other than telling Interim Judge Michael Pietruszka, "No thank you, your honor," when asked if he'd like to make a statement, O'Connor said nothing.

If the case had gone to trial, O'Connor could have been looking at a 40-year-to-life sentence, if the jury had convicted him.

"On the other hand, if he had only been convicted of reckless endangerment first (degree), the maximum would have been seven years," said District Attorney Lawrence Friedman.

The plea deal also includes five years post-release supervision.

Outside of court, Friedman said O'Connor had been drinking the day of the shooting and that he made some anti-law enforcement remarks when deputies entered his room on the second floor of the Byron Hotel.

O'Connor reportedly told authorities that he had been aiming at the tires of the patrol vehicle while Deputy Andrew Hale sat in it.

This case is one of a few recently with weapons involved, where local law enforcement has exercised restraint in the face of potential dire consequences. In this case, after Hale's window was shot out, the only thing officers knew at first was that there was a man on the second floor of a building with a rifle. Yet, they managed to take him into custody without more gun fire.

"I'm glad to say that in this county, we've had a number of incidents where the police have shown admirable and appropriate restraint in situations like that," Friedman said. 

August 30, 2016 - 3:17pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Jason Lang, business, Grab-a-Cab, batavia.

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jasonlangaug2016.jpgJason Lang is trying to fashion for himself something that is rare in life: a do-over. And if he does, maybe he can set an example for others who fell for drugs as hard as he did.

Lang had a good life, as he sees it. He was running a successful cab company, making good money, and then he wanted to expand his entrepreneurial horizons.

He thought there might be a place in Batavia for a head shop with a tattoo and piercing parlor attached. He called it The Laughing Budda.  

Good name. Bad business.

"I opened the smoke shop and that was like the worse mistake of my life," Lang said. " I opened that because at the time, I was bored. The cab company at its peak and I wanted to find something new. As an entrepreneur, I was always thinking of different ideas so I thought of a tattoo, piercing and smoke shop and then the troubles that came with that business took me out of reality.

"It’s just a big regret," he added, "...If I could go back in time, I would have put more into the cab company instead of choosing another business."

Lang said he didn't start using drugs, specifically bath salts, until after law enforcement raided his shop and seized much of his inventory.

The seizure cost him more than $200,000, he said, and brought him to the brink of financial ruin.

He became depressed, he said.

Authorities had seized much of the synthetic drugs stored in his shop, but they didn't get all of it. The inventory he had left over, he started using.

This was the spring of 2012, when news was starting to spread across the country of people doing bizarre things while reportedly high on a form of synthetic drugs known as bath salts. 

By the summer, the strange behavior had spread to Batavia, with people climbing on roofs, getting into odd confrontations, causing trouble in the emergency room at UMMC, and Lang himself calling police with reports of gunshots at a local hotel (it didn't happen, and he was arrested for making a false report) and weaving tales of elaborate conspiracy theories.

"I just lost my mind," Lang said. "I was acting completely crazy. I had no concept of reality. I thought all these strange, crazy things were going on. I kept having run-ins with law enforcement and I got placed under mental arrest. It was just insane."

Lang knows he contributed to the rise of bath salt usage in Genesee County, and he now regrets it and apologizes to the community for it. But about the time his shop was closed, the 420 Emporium opened at 400 Ellicott St. The insanity continued until federal, state and local authorities raided that shop and another of the chain's locations in Brockport and Fulton as part of a nationwide operation to rein in bath salt distribution.

At first, the Laughing Buddha was much like any other head shop that had existed for decades. It sold paraphernalia, such as glass pipes, that technically had legitimate uses other than the consumption of illicit drugs, and the shop also offered tattoos and piercings, but in the process of building his business, Lang attended conventions in Atlantic City and Las Vegas. Distributors there were pushing products such as K2, Spice (synthetic marijuana) and Amp, among other products generally known as "bath salts" that were said to mimic harder drugs, such as cocaine.

"They were really pushing it on the smoke shops saying, ‘it’s legal. It’s nothing to worry about,'" Lang said. "They said there were these huge profits involved."

So, Lang stocked up. The packets were available under glass at his front counter. The law at the time was a bit more ambiguous. The federal law dealing with what are called analogues was considered hard to enforce and Lang's shop wasn't raided until after state health officials determined the drugs violated health and safety standards.

At the time, Lang said then and admits now, he didn't think the drugs were a big deal and back then he defended his business practices.

"At the time I was like, ‘I don’t care. It’s their choice,’ " Lang said. "If somebody wants to do any drug, that’s their choice. That’s the outlook I had on it. Now, that I’ve been on the other side of the fence and addicted to drugs, I would never open a business like that again or sell drugs, or be involved with anything like that, because now I know firsthand what it does to people. I was naive to that before."

Lang's fall was probably as complete as they come.  

According to Lang, by 2012, seven years after starting Batavia Cab, he was doing pretty well, pulling in $5,000 to $6,000 a week and by his own admission, feeling pretty cocky. He thought he had it good.

Before the year was out, he would have spent his first night in jail, had his name spread through the media from Rochester to Buffalo and be on the verge of losing his cab operation -- he did eventually sell it in 2013, and it is still in operation, with its third owner.

Criminal prosecution led to a chance at rehab, and through rehab, Lang met heroin.

"It was a big relief when I first started doing heroin because it took away all the paranoia and it got me away from the bath salts," said Lang, explaining the opiate's initial allure.

Of course, with heroin, once addicted -- and it's highly addictive -- the high you chase is elusive yet it's hard to function without the drug in your system. You need the drug just to feel normal (according to medical literature).

It didn't take long for heroin to wipe out what little money Lang had left and then he turned to shoplifiting. He was arrested in multiple jurisdictions, including as far away as Hamburg and Victor.  

"I was even homeless at one point, which was a huge turnaround for me because just years prior I was vacationing all over with my family and staying in nice hotels, and then I’m homeless in Rochester and I’m a heroin addict," Lang said.

He was eventually arrested on felonies in Orleans and Ontario counties, which led to a prison term.

Prison included three months of 23-hours-a-day locked by himself in a cell. That gave him a lot of time to think, he said.

"I wasn’t using drugs and in those moments of clarity I could think about everything," Lang said. "That's all you could do is sit and think all day. I realized I really screwed up. I decided to just get through the prison time. I choose not to use drugs in prison, and there are tons of drugs in prison, and I stayed clean the whole time I was in there. Because of that, they sent me to shock camp where I became a squad leader for my platoon. I really excelled through all of that and I just decided I wanted to get back to the old me."

Once home, his son, Lathan, started pushing him to get back into the cab business. Lang said Lathan is already bitten by the entrepreneurial bug and helped him plan his return.

Lathan even came up with the name for the new cab company, Grab-A-Cab.

Lang had already determined he wanted to stay away from a name with a regional identification. He felt calling his previous cab company, Batavia Cab, limited its growth potential. It made it hard to expand into other counties.

"I liked that name," Lang said of Grab-A-Cab. "It seemed kind of modern and trendy and I thought it would be a good name that would go with expanding the business and developing an app."

Lang admits to having big plans. The new cab company should launch soon. He's got one cab painted and decaled and ready to go and he's hired six drivers and plans to add a second cab to his fleet as soon as he can. And, yes, he hopes to build an app for cabbies. He said it will borrow ideas from Uber, which can't legally operate in Upstate, but for licensed and properly insured hacks.

"I miss the cab business," Lang said. "I love driving. I love meeting people, talking with people, knowing people, knowing other business owners. I miss it."

He thinks Batavia is still a wide open market and he's heard from friends and family and former customers who say the cab business in Batavia hasn't been the same since he got out of it. He said he's already lined up several transportation contracts, so he'll get off to a good start.

But he knows to keep it going, he's got to stay clean, and that means not associating with the people he did back when he was hooked on narcotics.

"I don’t talk to anybody who is involved in selling drugs or using drugs," Lang said. "I stay away from all of that now. I’ve got a lot of clean time now and I just want to do good. I know I have the potential to do good and I have good ideas. I learned a big lesson from everything."

If he does good, he thinks both his example, the money he earns and the business he's able to build, will enable him to be in a position to help other addicts.

He's gone from a guy who thought drugs were just a recreational activity that only losers couldn't handle to somebody who now understands drugs can grab ahold of anybody and change their lives in horrible ways.  

"I met people who have been using drugs since their teenage years and they don’t have any faith that there is any better life out there," Lang said. "They just keep relapsing and they just think there is nothing better. I want to prove to people that you can pull it together.

"I know people just look at addicts like scum of the earth," Lang added. "They're really not. There are a lot of really great people I’ve met in rehabs. A lot of people I met in prison, even though they may keep relapsing, going back to it, they don’t want that life. They don't want to be shoplifting and they don’t want to be committing whatever crimes they’re doing. They just have a really bad addiction that keeps leading them back to that."

He'd like to start a program for people who need a hand up, out of addiction.

"I'd like to help people who don't have entrepreneurial skills because nobody is going to give them a fair shot," Lang said. "There’s not a hot of help out there for people like that. Maybe I can help them with some other business venture, or help guys that need employment and need guidance and help them out because there's nobody who cares about them."

August 30, 2016 - 10:12am
posted by Howard B. Owens in football, sports, Notre Dame.

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After graduating 15 seniors, Notre Dame's starting varsity will feature a lot of new faces, but Head Coach Rick Mancuso says his players are working hard and will be ready for Thursday's season-opening kickoff at Alexander.

"We have a good group of kids," Mancuso said. "We’re really happy with the effort. We just came off our scrimmage the other day. We’ve got a lot of stuff to clean up, but the effort that they’re putting in is good."

Brendan Klotzbach takes over at QB and a trio of players -- Jordan Weatherwax, Jake Weatherwax and Cam Clark -- will rotate through the backfield.

The offensive and defensive lines are strong.

"We're down in numbers, but what we have is quality," Mancuso said. "We’ve got lot of growing pains to get through to get up to speed as quick as we can."

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August 29, 2016 - 8:14pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in p.w. minor, business, batavia, news.

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About 3,900 pairs of shoes are rolling down a highway tonight in the back of a semi-trailer bound for Louisiana.

The shoes are being donated to flood victims in the Baton Rouge area by p.w. minor.

CEO Pete Zeliff said he decided to make the donation just as a way to give back.

"Nothing more than that," he said.

"We partnered with a program called Soles for Souls through the National Shoe Retailers Association," Zeliff said. "They paid to send the truck and pay the freight and we specified that they go to Louisiana."

Most of the shoes on the 27 pallets loaded onto the truck this afternoon were manufactured in China and were being sold as closeouts, but Zeliff said he decided it would be better to donate them to flood victims.

Over the past several months, p.w. minor has moved production out of China with the goal of making all of the company's shoes in Batavia.

"We'll be making 500 pair a day by the end of this year and 1,000 pair a day by next August," Zeliff said.

Much of the ramp-up in production is made possible by a bevy of new machines that automate much of the shoe production process.

Zeliff said with a robot and another automated machine in place, the plant is already 20-percent automated. Nine more machines arrived within the past week and are being put into service.

The jobs of one of the machines in production can perform is to rough up the leather on the shoe so the glue binds better when the sole is attached.

"We went from five minutes to rough a pair of shoes to last week to Denise did a six-pair rack in 40 seconds," Zeliff said.

It's been his goal to move all of the company's shoe production back to Batavia since he and a partner rescued the business just before it was shut down, but the process has taken longer than expected.

"It will take three years from the time we invested in the assets of this company," Zeliff said. "It’s not as quick as I would have liked it to have been, but it’s still a pretty good accomplishment, I feel."

Below, photo provided by Pete Zeliff of his granddaughter, Nicole, with a country star Keith Urban and his band new pair of p.w. minor shoes. Zeliff took his family to see Urban at his show in Camden, N.J.

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August 29, 2016 - 7:32am
posted by Howard B. Owens in accident, Bethany, news.

A car has reportedly hit a tree at East Road and Raymond Road, Bethany.

The driver was able to get out of the vehicle and has a complaint of chest pain.

Bethany fire and Mercy EMS responding.

August 28, 2016 - 10:42am

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In five years of covering concerts at Frostridge, there are four shows I'm sure I'll always remember: Marty Stuart in 2011, which was my introduction to Jam at the Ridge, The Farm, featuring Alexander native Krista Marie, the time Blackjack Billy upstaged the night's headliner, Blackberry Smoke, that same year, and finally, Blackjack Billy's return to Le Roy last night.

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August 27, 2016 - 2:50pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Sheriff's Office, batavia, news.

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Over his 28 years in law enforcement, Kris Kautz has helped a lot of people and that's the best part of the job.

Mostly, it's about helping the victims of crime, mainly by finding the people who stole from them or harmed them or a member of their families.

But sometimes it's helping those same criminals get their lives turned around.

Now he's moving on to a job he thinks will be just as gratifying -- a security aide for Batavia City Schools.

"It’s a more laid-back position, obviously, but I’m looking forward to it, working with the kids and the school seems awesome," said Kautz, whose last day with the Sheriff's Office was Friday.

Kautz started with the department in 1988, three years after earning an associate degree in criminal justice at GCC.

"After I graduated, I realized to get those jobs, I would need to take exams," Kautz said. "That’s a good theory, I think. Do well on the exam and you should be a good candidate. Unfortunately, I wasn’t a very good test taker. I took many exams before I actually got a phone call. It was almost three full years before I got a job offer, and then, of course, I got three decent job offers within a month-and-a-half. Luckily, this job was one of them and it was really the job I was hoping for, so I accepted the position as a deputy."

Kautz was on road patrol for five years when he was promoted to investigator, the job he wanted all along.

He said he's been fortunate to stay in that position for 23 years, but now it's time to move on.

"You do reach a burnout factor," Kautz said. "I've probably reached the end of my shelf life. I'm not embarrassed to say that. I like to think I’ve done my part and it’s time to move on."

Leaving now isn't without its drawbacks. There are unsolved cases Kautz wishes were closed during his time in the investigator's office

"Those are kind of a sore spot," Kautz said. "Sometimes you know who you think did it, and you’re really close to solving it, but you just don’t have that extra piece."

Among the unsolved cases, Kautz worked are on is the Fickel murder.

"We worked long and hard on that for many, many months after that happened and unfortunately, the leads kind of started drying out and obvious we had another case load we needed to attend to," Kautz said. "It doesn’t get the attention we wish it would. We don’t have the luxury of having a quote-unquote 'homicide division' or 'burglary task force' or a 'sex crimes team.' "

Kautz leaves with cases pending, but there is a person of interest and some solid evidence that might one day hold up in court, but it will be up to other investigators to uncover the piece of evidence that wraps things up.

"We have been actively pursuing it and we’re just kind of crossing our fingers that maybe that one little piece of the puzzle we don’t have yet might show up one of these days," Kautz said.

(If you have information that might assist in the case, contact the Genesee County Sheriff's Office at (585) 343-5000.)

Much has changed over 23 years in how investigators do their jobs. There is new technology and new techniques, but the basics remain the same -- gather evidence, safeguard it, ask questions, test answers and build a case.

"I'm not saying it (new technology) has made it easier to solve cases, but it's really solidified convictions," Kautz said. "When there is a fingerprint or DNA evidence at a crime scene, you can't dispute it. You have a hard time explaining that away when you're a defendant."

Too many cases, just by the nature of things, go unsolved, but when they are solved, it's a great feeling, he said, especially when you see the satisfaction on the faces of the victims.

"It’s all about the victims because when you come home after working a hard day, working an honest job, and come home and your door is kicked in and your TV and your family heirlooms are gone, you’re furious and it's devastating," Kautz said. "That’s where the cops come in and do their best to solve it and it’s very, very, very gratifying when you do solve it for them."

And sometimes, solving a crime helps another person improve their own lives, and that's a good feeling, too, Kautz said.

"People always say this is the best job in the world and I really think that," Kautz said. "You really have a chance to make a difference for people, in people’s lives, not only making it right for the victims but also maybe contributing to the improvement of some of the defendants' lives. Maybe getting arrested can often be a positive thing in the long run for somebody. They know they screwed up. They know they’ve got problems. They know they’ve got things they need to address. Sometimes getting arrested will be that last little push they need to really get their lives straightened out."

Photo: Kris Kautz with his family, wife Susan, and daughters Kelsey, Adeline and Ella.

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

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