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August 5, 2011 - 12:53am
posted by Howard B. Owens in photos, pembroke, indian falls.

Like the headline reads, a tree in a cornfield on Phelps Road, Indian Falls.

August 5, 2011 - 12:50am
posted by Howard B. Owens in photos, Alabama.

Every once in a while I'll drive down a road I've been down many times and spot something I've never seen before. Today, it as the First Universalist Cemetery on Maple Street Road in Alabama. The cemetery features a large, jagged stone with a wood sign in front of it listing all of the people believed to be buried in the cemetery. All of them appear to have died before the middle part of the 19th Century. Most of the grave markers are moved or broken.

August 5, 2011 - 12:43am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, photo.

Thursday afternoon I stopped at a produce stand on Francis Road to buy some sweet corn (I never get enough sweet corn in the summer) and found these baskets piled up in the corner of the shed.

August 5, 2011 - 12:15am
posted by Howard B. Owens in GCC, Jim Sunser.

Dr. Jim Sunser is settling in quickly as the new president of Genesee Community College.

Even though the president's office, vacated by Dr. Stuart Steiner upon his retirement, has no furniture yet (to paraphrase a line from M.A.S.H. -- it's a big giant empty), Sunser has found a place to live, at least one good local restaurant (he mentioned O'Lacy's) and is getting to know the staff and the campus.

"This is a beautiful part of the state," Sunser said. "We're really enjoying it and everybody’s been as nice as they can be. Even though I’m familiar with Western New York, at least I thought I was, I’m learning more about it every day."

Sunser and his wife, Roseann, who have relocated from the Syracuse area, bought a house in Indian Falls.

Though Sunser enjoyed doing his own home repairs and remodeling in the past, he said, he figured the new job would keep him too busy for much house maintenance, so they sought out a newer home in an attractive location.

The search gave him and Roseann a chance to explore Genesee County and they were impressed by the variety of vistas and the beauty of the environment.

"The topography really changes as you cross the county from Pembroke to Pavilion," Sunser said. "Of course, the view of the hills from the campus is just gorgeous."

Four days into his new job, he's not formed many opinions about what, if anything, he might do differently, or what big plans he might like to launch, but he said it's natural to look for possible improvements.

"I'm starting to get to know people better and starting to come up with ideas as far as continuous improvement," Sunser said.

"But, I’m fortunate," he added. "It’s a great school with excellent people and I’m sure we’re all going to work well together to continue the tradition of excellence that we have here."

August 4, 2011 - 2:53pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business, alexander.

Molasses Hill Bulk Foods is relocating from the Village of Alexander to a building on Ellicott Street.

Owner Shannon Harder said she hopes the new site will be open on Aug. 9.

Harder said moving was a simple business decision. While she had a core group of loyal customers in Alexander, there just weren't enough to sustain the business. She's hoping the bigger customer base of Batavia will help generate the kind of revenue she needs to stay open.

She also pointed out that the outside of the building (formerly Time Bomb Tattoo) will be repainted.

August 4, 2011 - 2:46pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Batavia Cemetery, crime.

Some time in the past week, vandals knocked over at least six obelisks and gravestones at the Batavia Cemetery.

Jon McManis, with the Batavia Cemetery Association, returned from vacation and spotted the damaged obelisks above and the next day he surveyed the cemetery and found more damage.

"I wish these idiots would realize they're not just tipping over stones, they're wrecking history," McManis said.

The obelisk pictured above -- for the Lewis family -- is the only obelisk with any apparent damage. McManis isn't sure how it can be repaired.  

The others are simply heavy -- weighing 100lbs per column foot -- and the association doesn't necessarily have the spare funds to pay for them to be put back in place.

One gravestone was broke off at its base.

"Why would you want to get your jollies from doing something like this?" McManis asked while looking down at the broken Lewis obelisk.

Anybody with information that might lead to police identifying suspects in the case can call the confidential tip line at 345-6370.

August 4, 2011 - 2:34pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in GCC.

The main entrance area to Genesee Community College is getting a makeover this summer. The $650,000 project will modernize and beautify the area, but perhaps more importantly, it will help fix some drainage problems that caused inconvenient pools of water in the area. V.J. Gautieri Constructors, Inc., of Batavia is overseeing the project and Kaplan Schmidt Electric, of Pittsford, was the successful bidder for the electrical work.

August 4, 2011 - 2:17pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business, GCC, Mike Ranzenhofer.

Sen. Mike Ranzenhofer met with a group of business leaders at GCC this morning to provide an update on the recently completed legislative session in Albany and get feedback on issues of concern to local business.

Ranzenhofer opened with a talk highlighting the on-time budget that closed a $10 billion deficit with no tax increases and the first reduction in state spending in 15 years.

When the discussion opened, participants raised issues about the number of school districts in Genesee County, tourism grants, as well as Albany's seemingly less hostile attitude toward business and services provided by local government.

Jim Fulmer, CEO of the Bank of Castile and a former Le Roy School Board trustee, expressed concern about duplicative administrative services in the county's nine school districts.

"At some point, somebody will need to absolutely need to take a hold of this issue and deal with it," Fulmer said. "This has the potential to make some fundamental change in our tax structure."

Ranzenhofer said the governor and Senate are absolutely committed to making such fundamental changes in the structure of local governance.

Jeff Boshart, chairman of the Chamber of Commerce board and president of Boshart Enterprises, asked whether the state would continue to fund grants for promotion of tourism in the county, which he said is essential to attracting visitors from all over the region.

A year ago, when the grants were not funded, Ranzenhofer said it wasn't because the money wasn't available, rather it was spent on other priorities, adding, "priorities I didn't vote for or support."

He said the money would continue to be available so long as the legislature made it a priority.

In a statement that seemed to allude to the recent controversy in Le Roy over the fate of that community's public pool, Jerry McCullough (pictured, inset), representing the Le Roy Business Council, the Rotary Club and his own business, expressed concern about local governments using the recently approved property tax cap as an excuse to cut services.

"They're hiding behind the tax cap and cutting things that young families would enjoy," McCullough said. "They're cutting things that would bring young families to our community and help our business community. We're left with a lot of nothing and it's still costing us the same amount of money."

Ranzenhofer said as a person who owns a business located in a village, he understands the importance of village services that improve the business environment.

"I’ve seen first hand what a beautification project will do, what a sidewalk project will do, what a facade project will do, what a light project will do," the senator said. "I think these projects help improve the business climate."

Whether state grants are made available to help with such projects, Ranzenhofer said, depends on what priorities the governor and legislature set in future budgets.

Also attending were: Craig Alexander, O-AT-KA Milk; Allan Davis, Liberty Pumps; Jerry Kozowski, BEST Center; Rachael Tabelski (formerly Millspaugh), GCEDC; Steve Hyde, GCEDC; and Katie White, Le Roy Business Council.

August 3, 2011 - 11:24pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Sheriff's Office.

Sheriff Gary Maha told the Ways and Means Committee today that for new detective vehicles, nothing else but full-size sedans will really do.

Those smaller cars aren’t made to hold up under our driving conditions," Maha said. "They’re not made for police work."

Maha also said smaller sedans are less safe and detectives need all the trunk space of a full-sized sedan.

Highway Superintendent Tim Hens had presented bids for the county to buy three new sedans for detectives at Tuesday's Public Service Committee meeting and questioned were raised about the expense of big cars.

Maha appeared before the Ways and Means Committee today to explain the need for them.

Hens also came with additional information on the purchase.

It turns out, stepping down from a Chevy Impala to a Malibu would save only $200 per car.

That's because the GM fleet discount for Impalas is more than $1,000 greater for the bigger car.

There also wouldn't be a significant savings on gas, with the Malibu rated at 34 miles per gallon highway and the Impalas getting 29 mpg.

"If the different was a $1,000 I’d tell you to cram the stuff into the smaller trunk, but for $200, I’m more than happy to pay that," Legislator Jay Grasso said.

Maha said a typical detective carries in his trunk a shovel, muck boots, an arson kit, a DNA kit, camera equipment, a fingerprint kit, a crime scene kit, the hardware for the car's communications and computer-related supplies.

The lowest bid for the Impalas, at $20,010 per car, came from Ken Barrett Chevrolet in Batavia.

August 3, 2011 - 10:50pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, County Building #1.

The lowest bid for a new roof on County Building #1 was higher than anticipated and the Genesee County Legislature is being asked to increase the budget allotment for the project.

Assistant County Manager Frank Ciaccia said the lowest bid came in $2,500 more than budgeted, and the original budget contained wiggle room for unanticipated expenses.

Ciaccia asked the Ways and Means Committee today to transfer $12,000 from the county's sales tax reserve to cover the more than $214,000 cost of the roof replacement plus any unforeseen expenses.

"We don't know what we'll find when we take the roof off," Ciaccia said. "We may find some additional damage." 

County Building #1 is the main administration building at 14 W. Main St., Batavia. The original section was built in 1926, with additions being made in 1951 and in the 1990s.

The roof hasn't been replaced since 1985.

The new roof will be a rubber material.

The lowest of four bids came from Elmer W. Davis, Inc., of Rochester.

The committee approved both the budget adjustment and awarding the bid to Davis. The resolutions will be considered by the full legislature at its next meeting.

August 3, 2011 - 9:43pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business, Pontillo's.

There's a pizza joint in town that calls itself "Batavia's Original" and claims it was established in 1947, but whatever claim the shop has to a once legendary local pizzeria was lost three weeks ago when the company fired its manager, Sam Pontillo.

Pontillo helped a group of Rochester investors open the pizzeria at 500 E. Main St., Batavia, in a building that was once home to a Pontillo's restaurant owned and operated by Sam's parents, Sal and Betty Pontillo. 

Sal, more commonly known as Sam, with his brother Anthony, opened the original Pontillo's at the corner of Liberty and Ellicott streets in 1947. The original Pontillo's was the first pizzeria in Batavia and helped create a new pizzeria industry in Western New York.

Sam Pontillo says it's time for the Rochester-based owners to stop trading on his family's name.

Besides the claim to being established in 1947, the restaurant's menu also has a picture of Sal Pontillo right in the middle of it (pictured above).

"It (the menu picture) should come off now," Sam said. "There's no Pontillo involved and we’re not getting residual from it. They're going to milk it for as long as they can, but they should do the stand-up thing and remove it."

"As for the 1947," Sam added, "how can they really use it? There’s a family attachment to 1947. I’m sure some lawyer will say it’s just a number, but it’s a significant number to my family."

Batavia's Original is a DBA of Batavia Pizza, LLC, a creation of Thomas Masaschi, Jeffrey Reddish and Jason Teller.

The Rochester-based group acquired the 500 E. Main St. location in 2009 after a bank foreclosed on the property.

The owners then hired Sam, who still operated the Pontillo's location in Le Roy, as the new shop's general manager and opened as Pontillo's in April 2010.

A few months later, Anthony Pontillo's heirs (Anthony filed for a federal trademark on "Pontillo's" in the 1980s) filed a trademark infringement suit against Batavia Pizza, LLC.

The suit was settled out of court and and the name of the restaurant was changed.

Local sources who have followed the Pontillo's saga immediately speculated that without the ability to use the Pontillo's name, Sam Pontillo wouldn't be long for employment at Batavia's Original.

It's a bit of speculation that Sam, now out of Batavia's Original, doesn't argue against.

"I make no bones about it," Sam said. "I told our management staff that when the owners felt they could do it on their own, they wouldn't need me anymore because there was no longer a Pontillo's name on the sign."

Sam said he was let go three weeks ago because, he said he was told, he wasn't bringing in enough money.

"Of course, at some point about this time, I was due for a pay increase," Pontillo said. "It's a corporate thing. It's a story that's repeated all the time. They're hardcore businessmen."

The Batavian called the real estate investment office of Thomas Masaschi this afternoon and requested an interview. We were told he wasn't available and left a message. The call has not yet been returned.

Sam Pontillo said he isn't rooting against Batavia's Original at all. He said he's proud of the people he hired and trained and believes they will do a great job with the business.

"I think it will go on as long as everybody gets their noses to the grindstone and does what I taught them to do," Sam said. "It will continue to be a great place that employs a lot of kids from the community and continues to serve the community as it has always done." 

Sam Pontillo isn't the only Pontillo who takes issue with Batavia's Original trying to trade on the Pontillo's name. Sam's brother John was quite pointed in his remarks this morning.

"They're using my father's face on their menu and it's not right," John said. "I don't think it's very respectful to use a picture of a man who is dead. He hasn't endorsed their business."

John currently operates a pizzeria -- Gio Vanna's -- in Geneseo and was planning to open a shop in the former Pontillo's location in Le Roy.

After paying off back taxes on the property, John said he was planning to buy the building from the estate of Betty Pontillo, but he claims Sam removed the furnace and the hot water heater.

"The building we agreed to buy is not the same building the estate has for sale," John said.

Sam disagrees.

"If he would just look on the roof, there's a practically brand new heating system there," Sam said.

As for hot water, there's still hot water available in the building, Sam said.

He added that he thinks the Le Roy location is a fine building that he cared for meticulously.

"I hope somebody buys it," he said. "It's a great location."

As for Sam's future, it's wide open, he said.

He's looking at options for new businesses from Brooklyn to Albany and even Dubai.

"I'm 52," Sam said. "I figure I'll ride out the next project out until retire. Hopefully it will be rewarding, so I’m just being careful before I move on. 

"I'll tell you," he added. "I'm not missing working seven days a week."

Whatever the future, Sam said he doesn't see himself going back in business with his brothers John and Paul. There's just too much water under the bridge after a few years of disagreements.

"It's unfortunate how things worked out," Sam said. "We were all great buddies growing up, but business got in the way and killed those relationships."

But none of what has happened means there won't be a Pontillo's in Genesee County again some day.

"If I could swing it some time and open a Pontillo’s and show the neon sign again in Batavia, it would be a big hit," Sam said.

Even if isn't owned by Sam, he said he's got at least one son, now studying hospitality in college, who might want to operate a Pontillo's some day.

"If that’s what he wants, I'll absolutely go to it and get it done for him," Sam said.

He said he feels he still owns the rights to a Pontillo's business in Genesee County.

Asked if there was anything he wanted to add, Sam thanked his staff and customers.

"You're only as good as people around you," Sam said. "I had a great staff around me. I also just need to thank people of Batavia and Le Roy, where I think I still have a following. It was a pleasure to serve them, it was a ball, it was riot. I will miss the customers. Maybe someday I'll throw a party somewhere and invite them all over." 

For previous coverage of Pontillo's, click here.

August 3, 2011 - 2:35pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, crime, Le Roy.

Ryan M. Shrauger, 41, of 6 Hull Park, Batavia, is charged with forgery, 2nd, possession of a forged instrument, 2nd, and petit larceny. Shrauger is being held in the Genesee County Jail on unrelated charges. Shrauger allegedly forged checks and asked an acquaintance to cash them for him at a local financial institution.

Nicholas F. Donoghue, 21, of 206 Callan Road, Le Roy, is charged with unlawful dealing with a child, 1st. Donoghue is accused of providing alcohol to a person under age 21 while in the park on Munson Street, Le Roy.

Duffy L. Starks, 19, of 20 N. Spruce St., Batavia, is charged with criminal contempt, 1st, assault, 3rd, and endangering the welfare of a child. Starks was arrested on a warrant issued following an investigation into an incident in the city June 6. Starks was taken into custody without incident when he was found in a vacant apartment at 1 Dawson. Starks is being held without bail.

Ryan Michael Carr, 23, of Filner Avenue, North Tonawanda, is charged with aggravated harassment, 2nd. Carr is accused of making more than 140 phone calls to known persons in the Town of Alexander. The calls were allegedly harassing in nature. Carr was jailed on $1,000 bail.

Pamela Lynn McKenzie, 36, of Covell Road, Pavilion, is charged with petit larceny. McKenzie is accused of stealing jewelry from a store at Darien Lake Theme Park.

August 3, 2011 - 2:13pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in crime, accident, alexander, Darien.

A 21-year-old driver involved in a serious injury motor-vehicle accident on Pike Road, Alexander, is being accused of driving drunk and faces a felony charge of vehicular assault, 2nd.

Wyatt J. Becker, 21, of Sumner Road, Darien, was driving a 1998 Pontiac Bonneville when he allegedly lost control of the car and struck a tree. The incident happened at 12:26 a.m., July 30.

His passenger, Luke M. Taracki, 20, of Rusher Road, Alden, needed to be extricated from the vehicle and taken by Mercy Flight to ECMC with serious injuries.

Becker is also charged with DWI, speed not reasonable and prudent, failure to keep right and refusal to take a breath test.

August 3, 2011 - 1:49pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, sports, soccer, Batavia Soccer Club.

Batavia Soccer Club U19 girls soccer team finished off an undefeated season Tuesday with a championship win over Spencerport, 4-2.

The team finishes the year with a 12-0 record in the Monroe United Recreational Soccer League.

Scoring for Batavia were Randi Zakes, Kaeleigh DiSalvo and Haley Tangeman. Goalie Brooke Ranney had 11 saves.

Batavia was able to pull out a victory despite having only enough players Tuesday to cover the field. There were no substitutes available.

Players on the team, which is sponsored by Genesee Orthopedics, range in age from 14 to 19, and include four pairs of sisters.

"This year this team of old and young players really meshed," Coach Gary DiSalvo said.

The roster consisted of (players in bold participated in Tuesday's game): Kaitlyn Allen, Allison Bartholomew, Raven Bentkowski, Brenda Castaneda, Chelsea Cleveland, Kaeleigh DiSalvo, Nicole DiSalvo, Taylor Dziuba, Andrea Easton, Taylor Grazioplene, Erin Hale, Michaela Hale, Cady Hume, Jenna Hume, Jenifer Igoe, Savannah Matteson, Katie Newton, Brooke Ranney, Emily Sallome, Haley Tangeman, Bittany Wall, Morgan Zakes and Randi Zakes.

Over the course of the season, Batavia beat teams from Gates; Irondequoit; Churchville, Chili, Spencerport, Le Roy/Pavilion and Rush/Henrietta.

Slide show of more photos from the game below. To purchase photographic prints from this event, click here.

August 3, 2011 - 9:43am
posted by Howard B. Owens in fire, Orleans County.

Fire units from Oakfield, Elba and Batavia are being sent to Orleans County for a mutual aid fire call.

There is a house fire at  5717 Burns Road, Barre.

A pumper and tanker from Oakfield are at the scene, Elba requested to fill in at Barre's fire hall and Batavia's Fast Team requested to the scene.

UPDATE 9:47 a.m.: Alabama pumper requested to fill in at the East Shelby fire hall.


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August 2, 2011 - 11:45pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia.

City officials, local law enforcement, firefighters and community groups were at Birchwood Village this evening for the second in a series of three "National Night Out" events in the city.

The goal of National Night Out is to foster community understanding of city services and build relationships between city officials, especially law enforcement, and the community.

August 2, 2011 - 4:13pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in thebatavian, top posts.

Here are the most viewed posts for July 2011:

July was a record traffic month for The Batavian, beating out records set in August 2010.

Visits: 335,359
Page Views: 601,325
Unique Visitors: 81,875

For comparison sake, the August 2010 numbers:

Visits: 256,391
Page Views: 443,330
Unique Visitors: 70,638

I knew I hadn't posted the most-read posts for a little while, but was surprised to find I hadn't done it since January. After the jump, the missing months.

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

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