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June 22, 2016 - 10:21am
posted by Howard B. Owens in baseball, sports, batavia, muckdogs, news.

Batavia has a rich baseball history, and Bill Kauffman and Bill Dougherty, each in their own way, have written about that history. Last year, Dougherty released "A View from the Bleachers: Batavia Baseball," and Kauffman, whose latest book is "Poetry Night at the Ballpark," has used Batavia baseball in his books and essays to frame his love for a life lived at human scale where neighbors rub shoulders and crack wise between pitches.

In anticipation of at least one more Batavia Muckdogs baseball season, we sat down in the stands at Dwyer Stadium with Bill and Bill to talk baseball, writing and life in Batavia.  

Baseball in Batavia, at least professional baseball, is listed on the endangered species list, soon to join the dodo bird and the passenger pigeon on the list of treasures lost to history. We know we have the 2016 season, and we are pretty sure there will be a 2017 season, but beyond that, the profiteers in the commissioner's office of Ben J. Hayes can't wait to yank the franchise away from the league's ancestral home. 

It's a myth that the Muckdogs lack sufficient local fan support. While Batavia ranks dead last in total attendance, it's actually one of the more stoutly supported teams in the league, ranking eighth in per-capita attendance, drawing a healthy 6 percent of the city's population on an average game night.

"Baseball is one of the things that gives Batavia its character, its flavor, its savor," Kauffman said. "It keeps us from drifting into the great American nothingness that has consumed so much of this country. This is the birthplace of the New York-Penn League, and the league, unfortunately, is on this crazy madcap expansion where it stretches now from Burlington, Vermont to Morgantown, West Virginia. It’s insane. It's driven transportation and lodging costs way up and makes it very hard for small market teams to survive. If Batavia lost its franchise, I think the league would lose its heart and soul."

It's debatable, of course, whether the league still has any heart or soul, having some time ago crassly moved its headquarters out of New York to St. Petersburg, Fla.

Writers love baseball for the same reason some sports fans have drifted to faster-paced contests. It's the lulls between pitches, between hitters and between innings, that give baseball its grace, making it a game for fans with active minds and a gift for gab.

"There’s a lot of room in between things in baseball and the things that fill up that room are to me what make it a real special experience," Kauffman said.

Minor league baseball is its own special treat, says Dougherty, especially at this level, short-season Single A, where even the most experienced player hasn't even played 100 games yet of professional ball and many, when they first walk onto Dwyer's lush infield, haven't seen their first professional pitch.

"They come here, and they're not too polished, but as the season goes on you notice a definite improvement in overall play," Dougherty said. "They know what to do and some of the plays you would actually say, ‘that’s a major league play.’ I appreciate the ambiance and seeing the players develop right before your eyes.”

The name of Kauffman's book comes from a somewhat historical, or perhaps, ignominious night in Batavia baseball lore, the night and when he and Club President Brian Paris decided that rather than playing canned music -- which they both hate -- between innings, they and a few others would read poems about baseball.

"You can already tell, this was a horrible idea," Kauffman said.

After the few innings, Paris asked the fans, music or poetry? The cry of the fans -- decidedly not fans of Charles Bukowski and Marianne Moore -- filled the air, "music."

They read more poetry.

"The fact that it didn’t go over well, it was a Batavia thing," Kauffman said. "If it was San Francisco, people would go, ‘oh, that’s cool,’ but Batavia is unselfconscious and I like that."

The Batavia Muckdogs open their home schedule tonight at Dwyer Stadium. Game time is 7 p.m.

June 22, 2016 - 10:12am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Le Roy, pets, animals, news.

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Jay is missing Ginger in the Village of Le Roy. Jay is offering a reward for Ginger's safe return. Ginger was last seen on Saturday. If you find Ginger, call Jay at (585) 820-7818.

June 21, 2016 - 7:36pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in crime, batavia.
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      James Pontillo

James D. Pontillo, 48, of Griswold Road, Byron, is charged with offering for file a false instrument, 2nd, grand larceny, 4th, falsifying business records, 1st, and forgery, 2nd.

Pontillo, who is the recorded owner of nine pieces of property in the City of Batavia, is accused of falsely portraying himself as the owner of a multi-dwelling property in the city and of filing documents indicating he was the owner and of collecting benefits from the State of New York.

Following arraignment in City Court yesterday, Pontillo was released without bail.

Previously:

June 21, 2016 - 6:53pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in crime, batavia, news.
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      Bradley J. Broadbent

A 36-year-old Hutchins Street resident with a long history local of drug-related arrests, most notoriously in 2012 when he got caught up in synthetic drug use, leading to bizarre behavior, has been arrested in two counties for allegedly selling heroin.

Bradley J. Broadbent is accused of selling heroin to a fellow inmate in the Genesee County Jail and of selling heroin to an agent of the Wyoming County Local Drug Task Force in Perry.

In Genesee County, Broadbent is facing charges of criminal sale of a controlled substance, 3rd, criminal possession of a controlled substance, 3rd, and promoting prison contraband, 1st.

In Wyoming County, he is charged with criminal sale of a controlled substance in the 4th and 5th degrees and criminal possession of a controlled substance in the 4th and 5th degrees.

Also arrested with Broadbent in Batavia, following an investigation by the Local Drug Task Force, was Ryan M. Bobzin, 27, of West Bergen Road, Bergen. Bobzin is charged with promoting prison contraband, 1st, and criminal possession of a controlled substance, 7th. 

The transaction allegedly took place April 24 after both Broadbent and Bobzin were incarcerated on unrelated charges. Broadbent is accused of smuggling the heroin into the jail.

Both men were arraigned in City Court and Broadbent was ordered held on no bail and Bobzin was released on his own recognizance.

Broadbent was ordered held on $100,000 in Wyoming County, where he is currently incarcerated. 

In 2012, during the summer of bath salts in Batavia, Broadbent made the news for climbing on the roofs of houses on Hutchins Street after rampaging through a commercial building on Liberty Street.

Prior to his March 6, 2013 sentencing on convictions stemming from those events, Broadbent approached a reporter in the courtroom and talked about how he wanted to turn his life around and he apologized to the community for his behavior.

Later, during sentencing, he told Judge Robert C. Noonan, "I'm never going to be behind this table again, your honor."

He also told Noonan, "I've been in jail almost my whole life. I know with my record, saying I'm sincerely sorry is hard to take seriously, but I am sorry. This is the last time I'm ever going to be at this table, your honor, regardless of what you sentence me to."

Broadbent was convicted in a jury trial of misdemeanors and Noonan sentenced him to two one-year sentences to be served consecutively.

Noonan told Broadbent at the sentencing that he hoped he could turn his life around.

"You're a poster child for why bath salts had to be banned," Noonan said. "The evidence of your behavior in this trial was nothing short of bizarre, and not only in terms of what you did, but what you were able to do with almost superhuman feats while under the influence of those substances."

June 21, 2016 - 1:32pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in accident, Darien, news.

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Lots of twisted metal, but only a minor injury in an accident on Route 77 in Darien on Father's Day.

The driver of an empty milk truck was cited for allegedly following too closely.

That driver, Harold T. Scheg, 51, of Clarence, had a complaint of pain in his hand and arm, but was not taken to a hospital.

The other driver, James Tischendorf, was not injured.

According to an accident report prepared by Deputy Chris Parker, Scheg was northbound on Route 77 near O'Connor Road, following a truck and trailer driven by Tischendorf. Scheg initiated a passing maneuver because, according to the report, Tischendorf's vehicle was "moving slow." At that point, Tishendorf started a left turn into a driveway.

Scheg said he didn't see a turn signal. Tishendorf said he signaled. 

The accident was reported at 2:07 p.m.

Submitted photos.

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June 21, 2016 - 12:57pm

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Dancer and choreographer Shoulin Young has traveled the world, working and performing with the likes of Brittany Spears, Chris Brown, Jason Darulo and Justin Beiber. Monday, he was in Batavia, conducting classes with students at Kristen's Performing Arts Center on East Main Street.

"I love what she (Kristen) has going on here, especially for a small town like Batavia," said Young, who is originally from Rochester, but now lives in Tampa, Fla. "Any chance I get to come here and work with these kids, I love to do it. The kids always have great energy. I love every second of it."

Owner Kristen Drilling opened the studio 10 months ago and offers a wide range of classes in performing arts, including all styles of dance, theater, music and pageant training. Each summer, she tries to bring in an accomplished and well-known instructor to conduct classes for a day.

Students from the studio have won competitions in Niagara Falls and Rochester, which has drawn attention from choreographers such as Young, she said.

"They see a lot of talent through our girls," Drilling said. "They see we're from a small town, so when we have really talented girls go out and win first place over all these big cities, we get a lot of choreographers in our studio to see what our girls have."

Young said he sees the talent, but more importantly, he sees an enthusiasm for hip-hop that a lot of people might not expect from a small town.

"When you think of Batavia or smaller towns in Upstate New York, you don’t really think hip-hop, but the hip-hop talent specifically here is very, very impressive," Young said. "There are lots of kids who are very hungry for it and dance in general is something that younger kids really want and the style of hip-hop is just a music that they all love.  I’m very impressed with the dancers I see here."

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June 21, 2016 - 11:15am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Stafford, news.

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Photos and info provided by Rob Radley.

To help offset the cancellation of the Stafford Carnival, an annual fundraiser for the Stafford Fire Department, local musician Bill Pitcher, organized a jamboree Sunday at the Stafford Fire Hall. Several bands played, the firefighters prepared a chicken BBQ, while the exempts prepared hamburgers and hot dogs.

Pictured are members of The Sky Cats. 

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June 21, 2016 - 8:47am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Alabama, accident.

A rollover accident, unknown injuries, is reported in the area of 6684 Alleghany Road, Alabama.

Alabama fire and Mercy EMS dispatched.

UPDATE 8:50 a.m.: A first responder reports, "this is not an ongoing rollover. They're already out of the vehicle and home."

UPDATE 8:53 a.m.: One minor injury reported.

June 20, 2016 - 9:59pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in weather.

A severe thunderstorm warning has been issued for parts of Genesee County, including Batavia.

It is in effect until 10:15 p.m.

A large storm is heading toward the Southwestern portion of the county and is expected to come as far north as Batavia.

The storm is moving at 55 mph. 

Wind gusts of 60 mph are expected with possible quarter-size hail.

June 20, 2016 - 9:10pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in accident, Pavilion.

A Mercy Flight landing zone is being set up following the report of a motorcycle and deer collision in the area of 123 Transit Road, Pavilion.

Pavilion fire and Mercy EMS have responded.

June 20, 2016 - 3:53pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in crime, batavia.
      Kyle Ratulowski

A 20-year-old Batavia resident will get a second chance as the result of a plea deal stemming for a pair of alleged burglaries of a family member's home if he can successfully complete substance abuse treatment.

Kyle Robert Ratulowski entered guilty pleas today to burglary, 2nd, and grand larceny, 4th, with the understanding that if he successfully completes the program, he will be given a chance to withdraw his guilty plea on the burglary charge and receive a probationary sentence on the grand larceny charge.

Ratulowski is currently in county custody, held without bail, while awaiting a "bed-to-bed" transfer to a drug treatment facility.

A bed at the facility should open within a week.

Interim Judge Michael Pietruszka told Ratulowski that if he washed out of the program, he would be looking of a possible maximum prison sentence of 15 years.

Ratulowski was arrested in April and accused of breaking into a home on Clinton Street, Batavia. He allegedly took a wallet containing a debit card. He told the court that he did not use the debit card. If there is a claim for restitution, Ratulowski will be required to pay it.

Sentencing is set for 1:30 p.m. on Aug. 16.

June 20, 2016 - 3:03pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in agriculture, NY Farm Bureau, business.

Press release:

New York Farm Bureau seeks to intervene in the farm labor lawsuit filed against the State of New York and Governor Cuomo. The grassroots farm organization will file a motion today in State Supreme Court of Albany County to gain intervenor status in a lawsuit filed by the New York Civil Liberties Union Foundation. The NYCLUF seeks to create a constitutional right for farmworkers to collectively bargain. The ultimate goal of NYFB with today’s motion is for the court to dismiss the lawsuit.

NYFB is taking this major step to defend farmers, who feel they have been abandoned by the Governor and the New York Attorney General. Both leaders have made public statements supporting the lawsuit and refusing to defend state law, despite its importance to agriculture in New York State.

NYFB believes it has the right to intervene because the interest of its members will not be represented by the defendants – the Governor and Attorney General - and the ability of the organization’s members to continue to produce food for New York residents would be harmed in the event the plaintiffs prevail in this action.

The motion reads, “Farm Bureau is uniquely situated to represent the varied perspectives of its member farms and to zealously defend the constitutionality of the challenged farm labor exemption.”

Farm Bureau believes that the exemption of farmworkers from collective bargaining rights is constitutional, and that the exclusion of farmworkers from the State Labor Relations Act law is based on decades of rational public policy and legal precedent that will be outlined in NYFB’s motions to intervene and to dismiss.

New York Farm Bureau believes that the legal precedent is clear. This is not a question for the courts, and the NYCLUF is attempting to make an end-run around the legislature, which has not approved collective bargaining for farmworkers despite numerous opportunities.

“New York Farm Bureau has a century-long record of defending the state’s family farms, and today’s action is one of the most important in our long history. If we can’t count on our state leaders to do the right thing in this case, we are prepared to stand up for our members in court to protect their rights,” said Dean Norton, New York Farm Bureau president.

June 20, 2016 - 12:05pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in crime, batavia, news.

A young man already serving a three-year prison sentence on a gang assault conviction admitted in Genesee County Court this morning that he attempted to sell cocaine to an undercover agent Oct. 14 in the Town of Batavia.

Leonard A. Johnson III was dressed in a green prison jumpsuit and accompanied by two state corrections officers and had family members in the courtroom as he appeared before Interim Judge MIchael Pietruszka to plead guilty to the Class C felony of attempted criminal possession of a controlled substance, 3rd.

The plea satisfies five pending charges, none of which had yet been referred to the grand jury, stemming from an investigation by the Local Drug Task Force into the sale of narcotics in the city and Town of Batavia.

The plea deal includes the stipulation that any sentence imposed by the County Court in September be served concurrently with Johnson's current prison term. The conviction carries a maximum possible sentence of five years.

Johnson entered the guilty plea to the gang assault charge, along with two accomplices, in January. The three young men were accused of beating and kicking a victim on Holland Avenue.

Because of the timing of that conviction and these additional charges, this new conviction will not count on Johnson's record as a second felony offense, which is an issue only if Johnson is ever charged with another felony. (Two prior felony convictions for sentencing purposes could lead to a longer prison term.)

Under questioning from Pietruszka, Johnson said he is currently undergoing substance use counseling while incarcerated.

June 18, 2016 - 10:36pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Beertavia, batavia, downtown, BID, news.

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Beer, sun and fun at Beertavia today.

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June 18, 2016 - 9:13am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Le Roy, accident, news.

A car has driven into the building at Burger King on East Main Street, Le Roy.

No injuries reported.

Le Roy fire responding.

UPDATE 9:30 a.m.: The vehicle has been removed. The fire department will attempt to get the doors reopened.

June 18, 2016 - 8:47am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Le Roy, news.

There are power lines down in the area of Summit Street and Wolcott Street, Le Roy.

Le Roy fire is on scene. Fire police were dispatched. Mutual aid requested non-emergency from Stafford.

UPDATE: 9:26 a.m.: Road is back open.

June 13, 2016 - 9:14am
posted by Howard B. Owens in thebatavian.

Many readers probably remember that about three months ago I had surgery for a detached retina. I was unable to work for three weeks.

That surgery went well and I seem to have healed fine. Now it's time to have the silicon oil put in my eye to hold the retina in place while it healed removed. That surgery is this morning.

This time, the doctor says I can't work for a week.

At least, if all goes well, when it's over, my vision should be back to where it was.

We have our great freelancers to help with coverage, and Billie, of course, and our news partnerships with WBTA and 13WHAM to help out, so we should be fine, but that's why I won't be doing much over the next week.

June 12, 2016 - 7:03pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Flag Day, VA Hospital, batavia, news.

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Michael Mazutta, an Afghanistan and Iraq war veteran, was the keynote speaker at a Flag Day ceremony this afternoon at the VA hospital in Batavia.

Included in the ceremony were certificates of appreciation to Vernon Rowe and Joe Gerace. After Rowe received his certificate from Mazutta, he volunteered to present Gerace with his certificate.

Students from Batavia Middle School presented handmade gifts to the veterans who are residents at the hospital.

The St. Joe's band performed after the ceremony.

Prior to his invocation, Chaplain Robert Chambers called for a moment of silence to honor the victims of the mass shooting in Orlando and then prayed for them and their grieving families.

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June 12, 2016 - 6:43pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in MöbileSchlägen, Oakfield, business, news.

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Three guys in Oakfield think they've hit the nail on the head when it comes to their new business.

They've put a new twist on an old German game. They introduced the concept at a tournament yesterday held at the Caryville Inn.

The game is MöbileSchlägen, a portable version of hammerschlägen.

In schlägen, you get a cross-peen hammer and a nail and you get one whack at the nail per turn, hitting it with the wedge (or peen) end. The starting position is with the hammer on the table outside the wood block, making it harder to aim. The nail is tapped in to a depth equal to a line on the hammer, so everybody starts at an equal distance.

The first person with the head of the nail flush with the wood wins.

"Being first is pretty cool, but the last thing you want to do is be last," said Marc Johnson, one of the co-inventors of the mobile version of the game.

Last means ridicule from your buddies, at the least, and if alcohol is involved, it might mean buying a round of drinks.

Teasing and harassing is part of the fun of the game, because if you can goad a competitor into talking while he or she holds the hammer, (the rule is, "no hammer talk") that person loses a turn.

Johnson said for years, every time he hosts a party at his house, he and the guests play hammerschlägen, but hauling around the giant tree stumps needed for the game made it impractical for tailgate parties or picnics.

A few years ago, he brought two logs to a family gathering in Vermont and that's when he started to think there had to be a better way.

"Everybody loved it, but it killed my back," Johnson said. "It was a bad idea. You’re on a mountain and you’re rolling those stumps around."

When he got home, he and his friend James Betters started imagining a mobile version of the game, but lacked the engineering background to make it a reality, so Dan Mangus joined the team.

They formed a company, drew up their plans and filed for a patent, which was issued in March.

The end-grain wood plate, which can be laser etched with any possible logo, fits snuggly in a hard plastic base, which rests on sturdy, but foldable, legs.

"Basically, it fits in a bag that looks like a big banjo and you can throw it over your shoulder and carry it a lot easier than a 300-pound stump," Mangus said.

It took a few prototypes to get the right design and then a long search to find the right end-grain wood with the right density to take in a pounded nail easily, but not too easily. 

And lest would-be competitors might think they can make their own log inserts (the inserts need to be replaced after they fill up with nails), the design requires a properly cut and fitted log into the reverse-cupped holder. This design not only improves safety and durability, but with the patent, it also prevents copycat manufacturers from making replacement parts.

Some 40 or 50 people showed up for the game's public debut at the Caryville Inn yesterday to compete in the first official MöbileSchlägen tournament.  

There seemed to be no shortage of fun nor frustration during the tournament.

The next big step for the entrepreneurs is a Kickstarter campaign to fund the manufacturing of games for consumers. If that does well, they hope to ship the first games to customers by Spring.

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June 12, 2016 - 12:39pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in BARNS, Stafford, news.

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Returning from Le Roy last night, I stopped for a few scenic shots.

Above, a tractor in a field off Randall Road, Stafford.

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A barn off Randall Road.

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One of my favorite trees (we had a picture just last week) off Route 33 in Stafford.

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