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April 24, 2010 - 8:32pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Arbor Day, genesee county, photo, Earth Day.

earthday09a.jpg

City and county officials were heading up Earth Day/Arbor Day activities at three locations in Genesee Park. At Austin Park, the city hosted a park clean-up day. At Dewitt Recreation Area, volunteers and children were out to clean up the park, plant trees and post birdhouses, and at Genesee County Park, volunteers were on hand to clean up the trails.

After the jump are more pictures:

April 24, 2010 - 5:27pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in accident, thruway, pembroke.

An accident has been reported on the eastbound off-ramp, Exit 48, of the Thruway. There are apparently injuries.

Pembroke and Indian Falls fire are responding.

UPDATE 5:28 p.m.: Pembroke fire chief reports one victim with a shoulder injury. The patient is trapped in the car, but extrication is not possible until traffic is under control.

April 24, 2010 - 4:32pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in thebatavian.

The only reason registration on The Batavian is required is if you want to leave a comment or create a blog post or post a classified.

The majority of people who register never do any of the above, which is fine. I think many people register just because they like being affiliated with the site.

However, because registration is tied to participation, we require people to register using their real names. We expect people making comments and creating blog posts to do so using their real names.

I've got a good deal more sophisticated in how I spot registrations where people do not seem to be using their real names.

As it stands right now, I'm caught up on registration review and approval. If your account didn't get approved, the reason would be that I don't believe you were registering using your real name.

One reason I'm posting this is because I got a nasty e-mail from somebody this morning complaining because his attempts to register never get approved. Of course, the person was using a fake return e-mail address and not his real name to complain ... gee, wonder why his registration never gets approved ...

For all of those who did get approved -- welcome to The Batavian. Thank you for joining us.

April 23, 2010 - 3:20pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Announcements, volunteers, CASA.

From Tara Pariso:

Genesee County CASA for Children, Inc. would like to thank all of its volunteer advocates. Not only is this National Volunteer Appreciation Week,  but our advocates deserve recognition all year long for their hard work,  dedication, and caring for the abused and neglected children in Genesee  County.  The work the advocates do can be stressful, heart wrenching, and  trying at times, but in the end knowing that you are advocating for a child  in need is what makes it worth it.  A huge Thank You to all of the CASA's in  Genesee County.

*In picture: Tara Pariso, Executive Director, Thelma Montreal, Deborah Davis,  Peggy Lamb, Eric Friedhaber, Linda Buzzell, and Donna Machowiak.  Not  pictured: Lisa Cochrane, Fran Moyles, Irene McNutt, Diane Mills, Marilynn  Palotti, Amanda Rissinger, Dawn Jaszko.

 

April 23, 2010 - 2:33pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, crime, city council, sex offenders.

Because state law already regulates the residency of convicted sex offenders, Batavia cannot legally enact its own residency restriction, City Attorney George Van Nest informed the City Council this week.

In a memo included in the agenda package for Monday's City Council meeting, Van Nest said that because state law gives the Division of Parole and Division of Probation the responsibility of establishing residency restrictions, local governments are preempted from establishing their own rules.

The state Constitution specifically prohibits local governments from passing laws that are already covered in New York statutes.

Van Nest cited several cases that have invalidated local laws for sex offender residency, and noted that none of the cases have been heard by an appeals court.

"Based on the foregoing," Van Nest writes in the conclusion, "although passage of a local law may be viewed in isolation to have merit, a comprehensive scheme of New York State statutes already exist in this area and such State legislation will be viewed as a basis to find preemption. In addition, there are significant constitutional challenges that might be brought against a local law adopting residency restrictions.

"Therefore, in the event the law is passed, enforcement action is taken by the City and a third party challenges the law, it is likely that the City will be forced to expend resources defending a local law that will ultimately be deemed in effective by a reviewing court."

April 23, 2010 - 12:49pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in genesee county, courts.

chiefjudge04a.jpg

The judiciary should take over administration of probation departments in New York, especially juvenile programs, New York's top judge told a gathering of Genesee County's legal community today at the County Courthouse.

New York State Chief Judge, Hon. Jonathan Lippman, said studies show that the state's juvenile facilities -- where young offenders are housed -- are making the problems of juvenile crime worse, not better.

"The results of those investigations are that those facilities become high schools for crime," Lippman said. "In these detention facilities, kids who didn’t necessarily commit a very high level of crime, not the equivalent of a felony, but a kind of misdemeanor, and you send them there and they come back criminals."

In response to a question from Julie Smith, head of Genesee County's Probation Department, Lippman went further and said not only should juvenile probation be administered by the judiciary-- a change which is already being debated in the State Legislature -- but adult probation, too.

Lippman said the state judiciary wants to ensure that probation leads to better outcomes. He used the judiciary's experience with drug courts as an example of how judges are trained to work with defendants to guide them toward reform rather than a life of crime.

"A judge oversees their recovery from their addiction(s) and makes them useful citizens again instead of having them come into court over and over...until they commit a real serious crime and then we throw away the key," Lippman said.

Among other reforms Lippman discussed is giving the state's judges their first raise in a decade. He said if members of the judiciary don't get raises, it will be harder to attract top-notch legal minds to the bench. 

Lippman also said it's important to keep funding levels up for legal representation for indigent people involved in civil cases.

In lawsuits where a person's very well-being is at stake, such as potentially losing a house, a court-appointed attorney is vital for those who cannot afford one. Lippman says that that person's legal representation is just as important as it is for indigents needing counsel in a criminal-defense case.

In previous years, the state's fund for civil legal services was financed from interest on various investment accounts, but with the dip in the economy those funds have dried up.  So Lippman said the judiciary is setting aside $15 million from its budget to fill the gap.

Below, Stephen Wieczorek receives an award, with his grandson in attendance, from Judge Lippman.

chiefjudge01.jpg

More pictures after the jump.

April 23, 2010 - 7:44am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Deal of the Day.

Delavan's Restaurant and Tavern, 107 Evans St., Batavia, NY: To me, Delavan's is one of those restaurants where you want to eat frequently until you try everything on the menu. We have a $20 gift certificate for $10.

T.F. Brown's, at 214 E. Main St., Batavia, NY: T.F. Brown's is a great place for a good meal, good friends and to catch up on what's going on in the sports world. "If it happens in sports, it happens at Brown's." We have a $20 gift card for $10.

Matty's Pizzeria, 4152 W. Main St., Batavia, NY: Matty's is another Batavia favorite for pizza and wings. We have a $20 gift certificate for $10.

Sallome's Italian Deli, 40 Oak St., Batavia, NY: Wraps, subs, paninis and pasta as well as pizzas -- Sallome's offers a tasty variety of Italian deli items for eat-in or take-out. We have $10 gift certificates for $5 each.

Settler's Restaurant, 353 W. Main St., Batavia, NY: Settler's has a 25-year history of serving great, affordable breakfasts, lunches and dinners to Batavians. We have a $20 gift certificate for $10.

Alex's Place, 8322 Park Road, Batavia, NY: People come from all over the region for a fine dining experience at Alex's. It's best known for its ribs, of course, but Alex's seafood is also a favorite of the restaurant's diners. We have a $25 gift certificate for $12.50.

Margarita's Mexican Restaurant, 15 Jackson St., Batavia, NY: When you're looking for an authentic Mexican meal, Margarita's is the place to go. The food and atmosphere are perfect and the service is always outstanding. We have a $20 gift certificate for $10.

NOTE: If you've never bought Deal of the Day before, or are otherwise unfamiliar with the rules and process, click here.

SOLD OUT

April 22, 2010 - 9:40pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in BARNS, photos, Stafford.

stafford_yellow_barn.jpg

This yellow barn is on a piece of property next to the Stafford Fire Hall.

April 22, 2010 - 9:10pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Stafford, Joe Gerace, Genesee Cancer Assistance.

gerace.jpg

Joe and Lois Gerace were in the Stafford Fire Hall this evening serving up heaping helpings of Joe's famous spaghetti. The dinner was a benefit for Genesee Cancer Assistance.

I'm proud to say that in the Chinese auction, Billie and I won a painting by John Hodgins and a Batavia Muckdogs sign with a mounted baseball bat.

April 22, 2010 - 5:49pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in genesee county, nursing home.

There's now a time line in place for the Center for Governmental Research to conduct its study on the future of the Genesee County Nursing Home.

It starts with meetings of key stakeholders at the nursing home and ends with a final report delivered to the County Legislature in September.

During the process, CGR consultants will meet regularly with the legislature's steering committee.

The full time line is available here (pdf).

April 22, 2010 - 5:31pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business, Pauly's Pizza.

paulyskids.jpg

Alexandra Reigle, 11, and her 8-year-old brother Devyn, spent the day at Pauly's Pizza on Ellicott Street learning more about what their father does for a living. Kevin Reigle, in the back at the far right, has been a manager at Pauly's for five years. He brought his children into the shop today for "Take Your Kids to Work Day." 

They started when the doors opened in the morning and stayed until nearly 5 p.m. doing many of the same tasks their dad does.

Above, they help get pizza dough ready for rolling with the help of Jake Laverick.

Kevin said the day was really eye opening for them. He said they gained a real appreciation for what it is that Dad does for a living.

April 22, 2010 - 4:21pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in agriculture, Mike Ranzenhofer, Dean Norton, farm labor.

farmbillpc01.jpg

From left, Dale Stein, Sen. Mike Ranzenhofer and Dean Norton.

Following the defeat of a farm labor bill in the Senate Agriculture Committee this week, New York Farm Bureau President Dean Norton said agriculture leaders are more than willing to sit down with farm labor advocates and discuss compromise legislation.

He said while proponents of the recently defeated bill said they agreed to compromise on changes, that isn't really how it worked.

"There was no compromise," Norton said. "They came in and said, ‘OK, we tweaked it a little bit. Take it or leave it.’ In my world, that’s not a compromise."

Now that the bill is dead, Norton said maybe the farm-labor advocates will realize they tried to take too big a bite out of the apple, and will be willing to sit down and really talk.

"I think with 2247B being defeated, perhaps we have the opportunity to go back and have that open dialogue," Norton said. "I hope the other side really takes the opportunity to do that."

Norton's remarks came at the end of a press conference with Sen. Mike Ranzenhofer to discuss the bill's defeat.

Ranzenhofer thanked Norton and Genesee County farmers, with dairyman Dale Stein at his side, for their efforts to help defeat the bill, which he said would have killed agriculture in New York.

Getting the bill out of the labor committee -- where he said it was just rubber-stamped -- and into the agriculture committee was key to giving the bill a fair hearing and have it publicly weighed on its merits.

The hearings, he said, brought in both opponents and proponents of the bill.

Ranzenhofer once again praised the work of Daily News staff writer Tom Rivers for his series on farm labor, which he said opened eyes in Albany to what farm labor is really like, and made it harder for bill supporters to spread misinformation about farm-labor practices.

Stein said the misinformation spread by bill supporters really made him unhappy.

"Where can you make $34,000 or $35,000 a year in Genesee County without a high school diploma, without a driver's license?" Stein asked rhetorically. "On a farm. You can’t do it anywhere else. They’re not telling the truth about what the farm workers are making. And that’s my real disagreement with them."

A key factor in getting the bill defeated, Ranzenhofer acknowledged, was the willingness of  Sen. Darrel Aubertine, a Democrat from the Watertown area, to buck his party and get the bill moved into the ag committee, which he chairs.

Aubertine is the first Democrat in 100 years to represent that area of New York in the Senate. His district still leans Republican, but based on comments from Ranzenhofer today (in response to a reporter's question), it doesn't sound like the GOP will cut Aubertine any slack in November's election.

Asked if Ranzenhofer would endorse Aubertine, Ranzenhofer said flatly, "No."

"At the end of the day," Ranzenhofer said, "when you vote for a budget, like he did last year, that increases taxes $8.5 billion, increases spending over $12 billion, I mean that to me is a non-starter. When you take a position like that, which continues to kill the whole economy in the State of New York, I mean, I didn’t vote that way. I don’t support that point of view and I can’t support senators who advocate for increasing taxes and increasing spending."

April 22, 2010 - 11:13am
posted by Howard B. Owens in crime, Oakfield.

A man with a lengthy criminal record will need to come up with $250,000 if he wants to get out of Genesee County jail while waiting for his criminal case on a stolen truck charge to proceed.

Judge Robert Noonan said grand larceny, 3rd, charge normally warrants a chance for a defendant to make bail, but given the criminal record of Carl Rivers, a pretty stiff bail or bond is in order.

Rivers can either post $250,000 cash or get a bond for $500,000, Noonan said.

The tall, lanky defendant, dressed in orange jail garb and shackles, was clearly not pleased in court today when Noonan issued the bail order. He flipped his head and shoulders back and made a kind of clucking sound.

Prior to imposing bail, Noonan read a bit of his criminal history -- five felony convictions in New York and criminal convictions in four other states, Noonan said.

Assistant District Attorney Kevin Fennel said Rivers has a history of not following release orders when he has been let out of jail.

On March 19, a pickup truck in Oakfield was reportedly stolen and Rivers is the suspect.

April 22, 2010 - 8:35am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Deal of the Day.

T.F. Brown's, at 214 E. Main St., Batavia, NY: T.F. Brown's is a great place for a good meal, good friends and to catch up on what's going on in the sports world. "If it happens in sports, it happens at Brown's." We have a $20 gift card for $10.

Matty's Pizzeria, 4152 W. Main St., Batavia, NY: Matty's is another Batavia favorite for pizza and wings. We have a $20 gift certificate for $10.

Margarita's Mexican Restaurant, 15 Jackson St., Batavia, NY: When you're looking for an authentic Mexican meal, Margarita's is the place to go. The food and atmosphere are perfect and the service is always outstanding. We have a $20 gift certificate for $10.

Settler's Restaurant, 353 W. Main St., Batavia, NY: Settler's has a 25-year history of serving great, affordable breakfasts, lunches and dinners to Batavians. We have a $20 gift certificate for $10.

Alex's Place, 8322 Park Road, Batavia, NY: People come from all over the region for a fine dining experience at Alex's. It's best known for its ribs, of course, but Alex's seafood is also a favorite of the restaurant's diners. We have a $25 gift certificate for $12.50.

Delavan's Restaurant and Tavern, 107 Evans St., Batavia, NY: To me, Delavan's is one of those restaurants where you want to eat frequently until you try everything on the menu. We have a $20 gift certificate for $10.

Sallome's Italian Deli, 40 Oak St., Batavia, NY: Wraps, subs, paninis and pasta as well as pizzas -- Sallome's offers a tasty variety of Italian deli items for eat-in or take-out. We have $10 gift certificates for $5 each.

SOLD OUT

April 21, 2010 - 10:42pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in genesee county, Leandra's Law.

When the interlock-device provision of Leandra's Law is implemented on Aug. 15, there may be only one local auto-service shop certified to install the devices on the cars of convicted drunken drivers.

billsauto.jpgBill's Auto at 101 Evans St., Batavia, is an authorized service agent for Des Moines, Iowa-based Intoxalock, one of six manufacturers certified by New York to sell the devices under court-mandated penalties for DWI. So far, no other Genesee County repair shop has apparently become certified to install interlock devices for any of the other manufacturers.

Business might be booming soon for Bill Ruffino -- with an estimated 300 to 400 cars in Genesee County required to get the device in the next year -- but Ruffino isn't sure that's a good thing.

Devices must be installed on every car a convicted drunken driver might drive. Once installed, a monthly inspection is required for each device, so for some drivers that might mean multiple trips to Bill's Auto.

Ruffino also figures that some people will be just flat embarrassed that they were convicted of DWI.

At the end of the day, some convicted drunken drivers may not have a warm-and-fuzzy feeling about Bill's Auto after going through the process.

"They’re not going to be happy people coming in here if they have to have it on multiple vehicles and get it inspected," Ruffino said. "It’s going to be a hassle. I’m not sure how happy they are going to be to see me."

Leandra's Law was passed in November in a rush following the death of Leandra Rosado, an 11-year-old passenger in the car of an allegedly driven drunken driver. It stipulates that interlock devices be required for six-months or longer on the cars owned or operated by convicted drunken drivers.

Ruffino said he isn't sure how it's all going to work -- the state has yet to produce guidelines, but he does know his shop is going to be doing a lot more installations and monthly inspections.

Yes, monthly inspections. Each car with the device will be required to roll into the shop for a visual inspection, and a piece of the device that contains a data chip will be taken out, put in a box and mailed to the manufacturer. Then technicians there download the data and provide it to Genesee County officials.

Currently, Bill's Auto has only two clients with interlock devices installed, so he said he really isn't clear how his shop, the county and state will work together on the new program.

"I never actually spoke with the county when I signed up for this," Ruffino said. "It was just a rep from the manufacturer itself who got a hold of me and asked me to do it, but until this came through, I’d never spoken with anybody (from the county) about it."

Earlier this week, Genesee County officials raised concerns about the lack of details from the state on how the new program will work and who will pay for administration of the program, but a spokesman for Intoxalock said many of the county concerns are already taken care of by state law.

For example, county taxpayers will not be burdened with the cost of the devices for so-called indigent convicts.

Brad Fralick, director of government relations for Intoxalock, said that New York already requires manufactures to cover devices for convicted drunken drivers who can't afford the devices. 

While the state is working out a scheme for an assessment to be charged to convicts who can afford the devices, that sort of arrangement isn't unusual. Fralick said in other states, such assessments are used either to pay for device installations, or for administrative costs.

A press release on the Intoxalock website says that interlock devices reduce repeat offenses by 64 percent.

Even though New York's installations are expected to jump from 2,500 to 25,000 under Leandra's Law, Fralick said his company is prepared -- already ramping up production -- to handle the increased business.

The cost for a convicted drunken driver, will exceed $1,000. On each car, the convict will be required to pay $65 per month, plus $19 to Bill's Auto for monthly inspections, and $112 for the initial installations and $40 to have it removed once the monitoring period is over.

Fralick pointed out that the cost is a lot less than the $10,000 to $15,000 a second DWI conviction would cost the driver.

Fralick doesn't expect county taxpayers to take on the cost of installation and monitoring of the devices. He said it's already New York law that the manufacturers provide the devices for drivers who can't provide them. And negotiations are under way to create an assessment on those drivers who can afford the devices, to pay for those who can't.

In all, 47 states have some type of law requiring interlock devices, Fralick said.

In related news, the county's Ways and Means Committee passed a draft resolution Wednesday asking the State Legislature to amend Leandra's Law to give local court judges discretion on whether a convicted drunken driver would be required to install interlock devices.

April 21, 2010 - 2:24pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, crime.

Today, a jury took less than 30 minutes to decide the case of Leon C. Bloom, 27, of Batavia.

The jury found Bloom guilty of grand larceny, 4th.

According to District Attorney Lawrence Friedman, Bloom cashed two checks, and attempted a third, from a closed HSBC account at Tonawanda Valley Federal Credit Union on March 17, 2009.

The checks came from a closed account belonging to Jessica Langmaid-Culver, who distributed the checks to friends. Langmaid-Culver pled guilty last week to grand larceny, 3rd. The cashed checks that came from her account exceeded $6,000.

A total of 10 checks were cashed from the closed account.

Langmaid-Culver's husband, Thomas Culver, is charged with grand larceny, 4th. His trial is set for July, with a plea cutoff date of May 14.

Friedman said that Bloom entered the credit union three times on March 19, dressed slightly differently each time, and presented checks in numerical sequence, 164, 165 and 166. On this third attempt, a teller became suspicious and went to get a manager, at which time Bloom left the building.

This is Bloom's second felony conviction. He faces a possible prison term of one-and-a-third-to three years, or a two- to four-year term.

Sentencing is scheduled for June 3.

April 21, 2010 - 1:08pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, traffic, Ellicott Street, main street.

countingcars.jpg

Joseph Neth and Marcy Crandall are Town of Batavia employees. Their assignment today: Sit for two hours at the corner of Main and Ellicott streets and count cars. Neth said it's his understanding that the state is thinking of reducing the lanes of traffic through the intersection and the car counts are part of the study for that proposal.

April 21, 2010 - 1:01pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, photo, Upton Monument.

tulips_baseofupton.jpg

Tulips at the base of the Emory Upton Monument have come into bloom.

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