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February 13, 2010 - 6:14pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in business, GCEDC, Alabama, STAMP.


Hunting. Somebody wanted to know today how the proposed STAMP project in Alabama will impact hunting in the area.

Lonra Klotzbach raised the question and noted, "I'm not sure that in most communities' experience that hunting and the impact of such development makes would be as big as a concern as it is in this area."

"That's a good suggestion," said Roger Person, the consultant heading up the environmental review process for the project. "We are doing a threatened and endangered species assessment, but that's not what you're suggesting, so why don't we add that to our scoping document to consider the impacts on hunting grounds."

Earlier, Klotzbach started a discussion about how today's informational meeting -- and one like it on Thursday -- is not required by the environmental review process.

The purpose of today's meeting, as Person noted, was to better define the scope of what the environmental review will cover, and the hunting question illustrated how such an informational meeting can help the consultants better understand unique local issues.

Legally, the only time public input is required is during a public hearing after the draft environmental impact report is written.

For the STAMP project, the Genesee County Economic Development Center is holding four meetings during the review process -- the one today, one this past Thursday and two while the environmental report is being drafted.

Besides hunting, today's meeting uncovered concerns about storm drainage, the impact on the volunteer fire department, traffic and agriculture, as well as what additional impact further housing development might have.

"I think it's exactly what we expect," said Chad Zambito, spokesman for GCEDC. "Take the first meetings we had here and add these, and I think we've seen an evolution of understanding and a growing trust between residents here, and this is what we want -- we want good, honest, open dialogue."

About 30 people attended today's meeting, and Zambito said about 80 people were at Thursday's meeting.

Genesee County residents who wish provide comments to the environmental review process can write to the WNY STAMP Project c/o GCEDC, One Mill St., Batavia, NY 14020. Comments must be received by March 5.


February 13, 2010 - 2:14pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in BARNS, Oakfield, weather.


The Batavia area was blanketed by about an inch of snow over night, and snow will continue through the day, with very little accumulation.

But accumulation tonight should be another one or two inches. By Monday snow showers will turn to flurries.

Temperatures will be in the mid-20s range, with overnight lows dropping below 20 degrees.

Picture: A barn behind a graveyard on Judge Road in Oakfield.

February 13, 2010 - 9:39am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, baseball, Batavia Muckdogs, sports.


Easily more than 200 people gathered at the Batavia Party House last night for the Batavia Muckdogs Booster Club's annual hot stove dinner and auction. There were plenty of laughs and people expressed a lot of excitement about the coming season, which could be a critical year for drawing enough community support to keep the team in Batavia.

At the podium, Brian Paris honors "The Voice of the Muckdogs," Wayne Fuller, for his many years of service to the team as the public address announcer and official score keeper. Fuller stepped aside from those roles after the 2009 season. But his voice won't be far from a microphone during the upcoming season; he'll serve as color man on WBTA's broadcast of games.

More pictures after the jump:

February 12, 2010 - 8:17am
posted by Howard B. Owens in crime, Alabama.

Jason Robert Baker, 28, of 18 N. Main St., Churchville, is charged with trespass. Baker is accused of being in the yard of a residence in Bergen on Jan. 25 and refusing to leave while trying to engage a person there in a fight.

Accidents from the State Police blotter:

1:52 p.m., Feb. 10, Bloomingdale Road, Alabama, two vehicles; Driver 1: Michael Jay Dietz, 31, of Lockport; Driver 2: Nicole L. Dioguardi, 32, of Mt. Morris. No injuries.

February 12, 2010 - 7:46am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Deal of the Day.

Center Street Smoke House, 20 Center St., Batavia, NY: Authentic Southern BBQ, from ribs to brisket with all the fixin's. We have a $25 gift card for $12.50.

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.

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.

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.

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


February 11, 2010 - 11:09pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in fire, alexander.

A garage is reportedly on fire in the Village of Alexander at 10635 Main St.

Alexander Fire and Town of Batavia have been dispatched.

The original alarm reported both house and garage on fire, but now dispatch says it's just the garage and the house has been evacuated.

The Alexander chief has requested a second alarm.

UPDATE 11:11 p.m.: Darien is requested to send a tanker to the scene and an engine to stand by at the Alexander Fire Hall. Bethany has also been dispatched. 

UPDATE 11:14 p.m.: Route 98 is being shut down.

UPDATE 11:15 p.m.: There is a report of pesticides in the garage.

UPDATE 11:16 p.m.: "103 to 104, we've got exposure to both houses. We need to protect them."

UPDATE 11:28 p.m.: Personnel on scene report that there is heat damage to a house. He reports that the resident was working on a car in the garage with a space heater going. He went inside, came back outside and found the garage on fire.

UPDATE 11:32 p.m.: Reader Jon Dayton just sent in the picture now at the top of this post. He reports, "I was closing up my shop to go inside and saw flames rising above the  buildings on the East side of the Village of Alexander at about 10 minutes after 11. By 11:15 Alexander firemen had responded to a fully involved garage fire on Main Street."

UPDATE: Sheriff's Office reports the garage was owned by Paul Thomas Pilc, III. Pilc had been working in the garage, cleaning up his truck, because he had a meeting at work on Friday morning. He took a break and went in the house to use the bathroom and grab a bite to eat. At 11:03 p.m., his son told him the garage was on fire. When Pilc looked, there were flames coming from the back of the garage. Pile got his family safely out of the house and moved his car away from the garage. Pilc said he was using a kerosene heater that belonged to his brother's friend. He said it had seemed to be working fine. An investigation by Alexander Fire found nothing suspicious about the origins of the fire and concluded the likely cause was the heater. New York DEC was notified because Pilc's work truck contained pesticides.

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February 11, 2010 - 4:01pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in crime, Le Roy.

James J. Santiago Jr. was formally charged yesterday with stealing pot from an alleged drug dealer. After a sealed Grand Jury indictment was opened, Santiago was arranged on three felony counts and he entered a non-guilty plea to each count.

santiago.jpgCount one of the indictment alleges that Santiago "forcibly stole property from Eric Merritt."

Merritt has been accused of bringing in friends from Batavia and Corfu and heading to Santiago's residence at 31 Myrtle St. in Le Roy and attempting to recover the marijuana. That attempt on Jan. 22 led to a fight that put three people in the hospital with apparent knife wounds.

The three counts against Santiago are: robbery 3rd, criminal possession of a weapon, 3rd, and assault 2nd.


February 11, 2010 - 11:30am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Batavia Downs, OTB, State Lottery.


The OTB is ready to do just about anything to avoid having the State Lottery pull all of the video lottery terminals from Batavia Downs Casino.

That was the message from Western OTB attorney Timothy McCarthy following a closed session meeting of the board at the casino and racetrack this morning.

"They're the boss and it's important they are treated as such and that we not get in a fight as to what we may have done," McCarthy said.

timothy_mccarthy.jpgWhile characterizing the issues raised by the State Lottery in a Feb. 3 letter to the OTB board as "procedural" and "administrative," he said the board is taking the warning very seriously and will react accordingly.

He stressed that there are no allegations of criminality or missing money.

Before the board went into closed session, McCarthy said a private meeting was necessary in order to discuss possible litigation.

After the meeting, McCarthy said there is no plan to get involved in a lawsuit, but given the nature of the enforcement action, the possibility of a hearing and the need to preserve attorney-client privilege, he thought the private session was necessary.

"We chose not to be pugnacious," McCarthy said. "We chose to try and work with the Lottery. We take the Lottery very seriously. The determination by the board was, 'let's find the best way to keep peace.' The best way to keep the peace is to go hat in hand to the Lottery. There is no benefit to be achieved by being litigious, but nevertheless, that option, as it obviously must, was considered."

McCarthy noted that Batavia Downs has provided $75 million in revenue for state schools since it opened with VLTs (slot machines) in May 2005. The Downs also provides a good deal of revenue to local government agencies.

He said the board will do what's necessary to maintain that cash flow.

"If they (board members) want to characterize it as going to the woodshed, they may very well characterize it as such," McCarthy said.

The board agreed to send a four-person delegation to Schenectady to meet with Lottery officials in order to find a solution to the threat of closure.

Among the Lottery's requests is that the Downs hire a consultant to help put the procedural and administrative issues back in order. McCarthy did not say so explicitly, but the tone and tenor of his remarks indicate a willingness to follow that advice.

The members of the delegation will be Paul Lattimore, from Cayuga County, Richard Bianchi, Monroe, Richard Siebert, Genesee and Marcia Touhey, Orleans.



February 11, 2010 - 9:25am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, city council, landlords.

Michael Pullinzi says he has a record as a landlord that he will stack up against anybody.

He feels he was treated unfairly by the Batavia City Council on Monday when the council voted 5-4 to deny him a property at 9 Willow St. that he won in a city auction of delinquent tax properties.

"I challenge them to do a fair comparison of all landlords in the city on the same seven-year period, and I guarantee I will be near the bottom of that list," Pullinzi said in a comment left on the site. "I put over $100K into my properties last year alone and have several open contracts for windows, roofs, siding, carpet, already for this year. I have always been very cooperative with code personnel and all issues are resolved promptly."

Pullinzi's comment was removed because The Batavian has a policy of not editing comments, but there was one sentence that ran counter to site standards.

A copy of the memo given to council is thin on details, but lists reported violations that appear to have more to do with tenant conduct than landlord misconduct.

The list violations include failure to remove debris, yard waste and garbage. The memo also cites grass violations in "multiple" years at 4 Swan St.

Other reported violations include "paint" and "interior viol."  There was also reportedly an unlicensed auto reported at 44-46 Walnut St. in 2003.

"If they had bothered to contact me, I could have explained the most of the 13 code citations over seven years were tenants putting out an extra bag of trash," Pullinzi said. "Most issues in the notices were resolved before I even received the notice and I never had to received a secondary notice on any matter."

The memo states that all violations were corrected and that none of the property owners who bought property at the auction had any outstanding violations, nor had any of the property owners been billed for corrective actions taken by the city.

Among the violations Pullinzi said he received notice on was for a driveway that needed potholes fixed.

"The problem was that it was not my driveway and instead was a city alleyway along the side of my property," Pullinzi said. "To date, the city has not fixed the potholes they demanded I fix, and it has been years."

While the city memo doesn't specify police calls to properties owned by Pullinzi, he said any concern about such calls is misplaced.

"I rent to a lot of handicapped and special-needs tenants and the majority of the police contacts were for emergency medical care calls," Pullinzi said. "Others were for my finding a tenant in a diabetic coma about a year ago, and another contact was my finding the tenant deceased and contacting police. I guess (City Council President Marianne) Clattenburg and (Councilwoman Kathy) Briggs are saying no one should rent to ARC or special-needs individuals or those with medical concerns."

Pullinzi owns properties at 4 Swan, 44-46 Walnut St., 25 Fisher Park, 203 Ross St. and 511 Ellicott St.

February 10, 2010 - 6:22pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, baseball, Batavia Muckdogs, sports, Russ Salway.


If the Muckdogs don't last in Batavia, it won't be because Russ Salway didn't put every ounce of passion he has behind the effort to save the team.

The Le Roy native spends at least 10 hours a week in an office at Dwyer Stadium calling on local and regional businesses trying to sell season ticket packages and special event attendance as well as stadium advertising.

If you bump into him around town, he's likely going to want to talk at some point about the Muckdogs and the need for fan support this season -- this season, especially.

Salway has also set up a group on Facebook called, appropriately enough, Let's Keep the Batavia Muckdogs in Batavia.

Russ Salway doesn't work for the Muckdogs or the Rochester Red Wings, who took over management of the team three years ago. Salway is a volunteer.

"We are obviously operating with a small staff, so we can't get to everything," said General Manager Travis Sick. "So to have somebody like Russ, who is so familiar with the community and knows a lot of people, is a great help.

"He's a tremendous help to us," Sick added. "A lot of people say they want to help, but very few come through like Russ. He's great."

Salway said he is putting so much time and effort to promote the Muckdogs because he can't image Batavia without minor league baseball.

"If we lose the team, we'll never get another one," Salway said.

Last season, the Muckdogs lost about $150,000. That deficit was covered by Rochester Community Baseball, the community group that owns the Red Wings. Club officials say they can't sustain those kinds of losses indefinitely. 

"The Red Wings are definitely behind baseball here, but we need to show some improvement," Sick said. "This is still a business and we can't sustain a hundred-thousand-dollar loss year after year. I don't want to call this a make-or-break year, but we've got to show some improvement."

And Salway says he's making progress. He's finding more people and businesses willing to make a commitment to the Muckdogs this season.

"People are really stepping up," Salway said. "There is no reason we can't make this work."

Sick said season ticket sales are slightly ahead of sales from this time last year.

Salway has become such an integral part of promoting Muckdogs baseball, that it's hard to forget it's not his real job. He has worked for O-AT-KA Milk Products for 15 years, where he mixes ingredients for speciality drinks. 

His schedule allows him to go to Dwyer Stadium to field phone calls for a couple of hours during the week. He runs the Facebook group from home at night.

You might think all of this extra time spent on a volunteer effort might put a strain on his personal relationships, but Salway said that his fiancee, Kellie Porter, is 110 percent behind his effort and even puts in volunteer hours herself.

Both Salway and Porter are doing it, not just for the community, he said, but for their children.

"My kids grew up down the road from Dwyer and we've been going to games for years," he said. "I want the team to remain for years so I can take my grandchildren. It's such a great thing for the community. It's a safe, family-friendly environment. It's really the last place in the county were you can go and see old friends and make new ones."

Sick said it won't take much for the team to show progress -- if more people would just go to one more game a year and a few bring some friends, that would help. The team draws about 2 percent of the population to games. If that number just ticked up a notch to 3 percent, it would make a huge difference, Sick said.

The Muckdogs are part of a tradition of professional baseball in Batavia that goes back to 1939. The New York-Penn League was founded in Batavia. Salway said Batavia shouldn't lose that continuity and that sense of history.

The next big event in the life of every Muckdog's fan is the Hot Stove Dinner on Friday at the Batavia Party House. It may be possible to purchase tickets ($25) at the door, but it would be better to buy them in advance at Dwyer Stadium.

February 10, 2010 - 5:34pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in genesee county, energy.

County officials are at looking ways to save taxpayer money by eliminating energy waste.

When the Genesee County Legislature meets at 7 tonight in the Old Courthouse, it will vote on a pair of resolutions aimed at greater energy efficiency.

The county has an opportunity to apply for up to $500,000 in federal stimulus funds to upgrade energy infrastructure. The county must also identify what changes can be made in its facilities to achieve the greatest energy savings.

To get help in applying for stimulus funds and to study the county's energy needs, the legislature will vote on whether to approve a pair of contracts with Wendel Energy Services, which has offices in Buffalo, Long Island and Washington, D.C..

"From past experience, I can say we might spend $100,000 to $1 million, but we'll get back more than $1 million over the course of 10 years in savings," said Assistant County Manager Frank Ciaccia.

He said it's impossible right now to put a precise figure on possible savings. "That's what the study will tell us," he said, but it's clear the potential is there.

The study will cost $58,800, but half of that will be paid by a New York energy agency. Applying for the stimulus grants will cost $2,500.

Every building the county owns -- from the fairly new courts facility and the Sheriff's Park Road office, to the Holland Land Office Museum and the Old Courthouse -- would be evaluated by Wendel Energy Services.

The firm has already identified several areas of concern in Genesee County, from inefficient lighting (perhaps too much lighting for a particular room, or a lack of timers and motion detectors to automatically turn off lights) to outdated heating/air-conditioning units. The jail, for example, had its boiler installed in 1984. The county is interested in investigating the cost and return-on-investment of installing a modern boiler.

A key part of the study would be determining which energy projects to fund. Obviously, one consideration is whether the county plans to keep the building. For example, if the county decided it would need a new jail facility within 20 years, replacing the boiler may not be a priority.

"One of our goals is to look at the payback over 10 years and how long we expect to stay in a building," Ciaccia said. "If we decide we won't be in those buildings, that will influence our decision not to select those projects."

The Genesee County Nursing Home is not included in the study package since the county's continued ownership of that facility is currently in doubt. The nursing home could be re-included at some point, Ciaccia said, if a decision is made to keep it.

February 10, 2010 - 2:08pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, animals, pets, pictures.


I happened to stop in Terry Platt's office today and the conversation eventually got around to dog tricks. It turns out his dog, Kiwi, likes to chew gum. That was entertaining to watch.

February 10, 2010 - 10:44am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, fire.

Mary E. Pawlukiewicz, who died last night in a fire at 132 State St., was warned just this past Sunday by fire officials about the dangers of smoking around her oxygen tanks.

schauf-oconnell_firepresser.jpgThat small fire Sunday was the second, and possibly, third smoking-related fire connected to the 57-year-old Pawlukiewicz.

In the summer of 2009, in the parking lot of Walmart, a car reportedly occupied by Pawlukiewicz caught fire and was destroyed. She sustained minor burns in that fire. Smoking and oxygen tanks were reportedly to blame for that blaze.

In 2002, there was a fire at 132 State St., but it hasn't been determined with certainty yet that Pawlukiewicz was living at the residence at the time.

There are currently no regulations requiring no smoking by patients using oxygen tanks.

At least one of Pawlukiewicz's tanks exploded last night.

As for the fire Sunday, Det. Rich Schuaf said at a press conference this morning that when the Fire Department arrived, the oxygen unit had been disabled, but its alarm was sounding and a tube had been disconnected.

"She reported that there was a fire, but it was out by the time the fire department got there," Schauff said.

Last night's fire could have been much worse, according to Schauff. A woman, Melissa Ricigliano, and her three children were just leaving at 5:45 p.m. to visit a neighbor. That was an unusual time for them to leave, Ricigliano reportedly told police. Normally, they wouldn't leave until 6 p.m., in which case her and her children would have been in their apartment not yet in a position to evacuate quickly.

Last night, as soon as Ricigliano opened her door, an alarm sounded and there was an explosion. She was able to quickly get her children, all under age 6, out of the building.

"She felt quite fortunate that her plans changed and she left early that day," Schauf said.

There was an attempt made to rescue Pawlukiewicz. Officer Chris Camp as well as witnesses tried to gain entry to the burning building, but the heat and flames were too intense.

Camp tried to enter through the front door and from a south side window, but couldn't get access.

"He was told there was a good chance that she was (still inside)," Schauf said. "The neighbor had a strong feeling she was there. She wasn't positive. She hadn't seen her that day, but she felt she should be in there. She was persistent that there was a good chance she was in there."

City officials are inspecting the building today to determine whether the other two families living there will be able to re-enter the building any time soon to either recover property or move back in.

Currently, they are receiving assistance from the American Red Cross.

Picture: Det. Rich Schauf, left, and Capt. Patrick O'Donnell, at this morning's press conference.

February 10, 2010 - 9:53am
posted by Howard B. Owens in weather.


We're not going to get a lot of snow today, but it's going to be steady.

And that could make for some slick driving conditions, according to the National Weather Service.

A winter weather advisory has been issued for Genesee County.

Snowfall will be less than an inch an hour and total accumulation shouldn't exceed three or four inches.

The forecast for the rest of the week: More snow, more cold. Tomorrow temperatures will drop into the low 20s, after a blistering high today of 27.

Picture: Tireless bike stuck in a snow bank outside Adam Miller Toy and Bicycles.

February 10, 2010 - 7:24am
posted by Howard B. Owens in crime, Le Roy.

A person checking on a neighbor's house Sunday in Le Roy was surprised to find an intruder hiding in the basement.

Nobody was hurt in the incident, but the Le Roy Police Department is looking for assistance from the public in identifying the burglar.

The incident occurred between 8:30 and 9 p.m. on Hilltop Drive after a person returned home from watching the Super Bowl half-time show at another location and noticed a suspicious person standing near a neighbor's house.

The suspicious person disappeared from sight and the resident checked his neighbor's door and found it ajar. The resident then checked the house and found the intruder in the basement.

The intruder pushed the resident out of the way and fled.

The police press release did not specify whether anything was stolen nor did it provide a description of the suspect.

Police investigators are asking that anybody who might have information related to this incident to call 768-2527.

February 10, 2010 - 12:29am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business, O'Lacy's Irish Pub.

Any bloke can pour a beer, but getting the perfect head on a Guinness -- that's an art.

It turns out that nobody in New York, or the entire Eastern United States for that matter, pours a better Guinness than the staff at O'Lacy's Irish Pub on School Street in Batavia.

The O'Lacy's pour is so good, in fact, that it placed number three in the nation in a contest sponsored by the Ireland-based Diageo Company, makers of Guinness.

The winners were selected based on the text-message votes of patrons of bars that serve Guinness.

O'Lacy's, opened in 1997 and is owned by Kent Ewell & Nancy Bachulak. It beat out 2,100 other contestants for the "best pour" honor.

February 9, 2010 - 11:41pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, fire.


These are pictures from the fire we reported this afternoon on Bank Street Road. The fire was confined to a garage owned by Everett West. The fire appears to have started with a wood stove in one corner of the garage and quickly spread to the second level. Daniel West was working outside of the garage at the time of the fire and spotted smoke coming from the garage and called 9-1-1.

Town of Batavia and Elba fire responded and Oakfield and Stafford provided standby at the Batavia fire halls.

More pictures after the jump:

February 9, 2010 - 8:57pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, fire.


(Post updated 10:18 p.m.)

A woman who'd been reportedly warned about smoking near her oxygen tank died tonight in a fire at 132 State St., Batavia.

The cause of the fire has not yet been determined, but several people reported hearing explosions as the fire broke out.

Batavia Police Officer Chris Camp was the first on scene and reported a fully involved structure fire. Camp and witnesses tried to enter the residence to rescue the woman, but flames, fed by exploding oxygen tanks, prevented them from reaching her.

UPDATE 9:42 a.m., Wednesday: The woman has been identified as Mary E. Pawlukiewicz

The woman's husband arrived at the scene about 6:45 p.m., but other family members had not yet been notified, so the woman's identity was not released. She was 57, reportedly confined to a wheelchair and lived alone in a ground-floor apartment.

chief_ralph_hyde.jpgBatavia Fire Chief Ralph Hyde said city firefighters found the woman's body buried under rubble.

"That was hard on them," he said.

The complex was home to three families, according to landlord Chuck Pero.

"It's just too bad that it happened," Pero said. "She was warned about not smoking with the oxygen. She wouldn't listen to anybody."

When firefighters arrived on scene at 5:45 p.m., flames were already reaching into the attic, according to Hyde.

"I had some report of an oxygen tank exploding, which would have fed that fire very rapidly," Hyde said.

The investigation by Batavia fire and police remains ongoing at 10:15 p.m., with the assistance from Genesee County Deputy Emergency Management Coordinator Keith Hunt and and New York State Fire Investigator Montour Falls.

American Red Cross is assisting the other displaced families.


Above, after learning of a family member's death, relatives console each other with a fire official.

More pictures after the jump:




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