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July 13, 2010 - 11:01am
posted by Howard B. Owens in baseball, Batavia Muckdogs, sports.

After pushing a 2-2 tie into the 15th inning last night, Batavia and Staten Island lit up the scoreboard with seven runs in the decisive inning.

Fortunately for the Muckdogs, the balance of the runs tipped their way, giving them their 11th victory of the season, against 13 losses.

The 6-5 victory was powered by first basemen Victor Sanchez. The San Diego State University product hit a three-run blast in the 15th for his first home run of the season.

Yunier Castillo added what proved to be a much needed insurance run with a single later in the frame, driving in Adam Melker.

Relief pitcher and Riverside, Calif., native LaCurtis Mayes, in his third season with the Muckdogs, got the win. He's now 2-1.

Colin Walsh, playing second base, picked up three hits, as did third baseman Jonathan Rodriguez. Right Fielder Melker also had three hits, and Sanchez had two.

The Muckdogs return to Dwyer Stadium tonight to begin a six-game home stand, starting with a three-game series against the Red Sox farm club from Lowell, following by three games against longtime NY-Penn League rival Jamestown.

Wednesday is Volunteer Firefighters' Night. There will be fireworks after Friday's game. Saturday features a sun-visor giveaway, a community sleepover and music by Papa and Mama Root.

July 13, 2010 - 10:35am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, accident.

A three-car accident with injuries has been reported in the area of 9 College View Drive, Batavia.

Town of Batavia Fire and Mercy EMS are being dispatched.

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July 13, 2010 - 10:10am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, crime.

Brittany Marie Smith, 18, of Ellicott Street, Batavia, is charged with petit larceny. Smith is accused of shoplifting multiple items from Kmart on Monday afternoon.

Robert Joseph Propst, 30, of Spencer Street, Batavia, is charged with petit larceny. Propst is accused of stealing multiple items from Kmart on Monday afternoon.

July 13, 2010 - 9:59am
posted by Howard B. Owens in accident, Le Roy, Bethany.

As many as 620 National Grid customers were without power last night following two separate accidents on the same road involving the same vehicle.

Two utility poles were knocked down.

The reported driver, Charles H. Colf Jr., 64, of 6774 Westcott Road, Stafford, suffered head and chest injuries and was transported by ground ambulance to UMMC.

He received three citations, including two for alleged speeding and one for leaving the scene of an accident.

The first accident occurred at 7:47 p.m in the area of 6836 East Bethany-Le Roy Townline Road.

Colf reportedly drove his 2007 Hyundai sedan into a ditch and then out back onto the roadway. A witness reported this incident to Sheriff's dispatch.

At 7:49 p.m, the second accident was called in. Colf's car reportedly hit a utility pole in the area of 7098 East Bethany-Le Roy Townline Road, knocking it down. When that pole fell, it pulled down another pole.

One of the poles had a transformer on it.

Power outages were reported in Bethany and the Village of Le Roy.

No other vehicles were involved in the accidents.

The accidents were investigated by Deputy Frank Bordonaro, Deputy Matthew Butler and Sgt. Thomas Sanfratello.

(initial report)




July 12, 2010 - 10:33pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, taxes, neighborhood improvement.

With unanimous conscent Monday night, the Batavia City Council agreed to move forward with a plan to provide some tax relief to homeowners who undertake renovations.

jason_molino.jpgIn September there will likely be a public hearing on the plan, which will provide a tax credit over an eight-year period on the increased assessed value caused by improvements.

"This is important because, even if you do improvements, the value doesn’t necessarily change, but if the value does change because of that improvement, you can get an exemption on the increase of the assessment," City Manager Jason Molino said.

The exemption is possible by state law, which allows for a municipal government to institute the tax credit. The credit can be spread over eight years, with no tax on the increased assessed value, and 12.5 percent of tax on the increase being added each year.

The homeowner must make at least a $3,000 improvement, and the assessor must find that the improvement, not some other factor, caused the increased assessment. 

bill_cox_assessment.jpg"I think this is long over due," Councilman Bill Cox said. "I think it will encourage people to improve their homes and it’s a sign that the City Council wants to encourage people to improve their neighborhoods."

Councilman Frank Ferrando also spoke in favor of the tax exemption.

"I like the idea that it’s the community investing in itself," Ferrando said.

July 12, 2010 - 9:28pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in crime, Oakfield.


Kerry H. Hoffman, the former Oakfield-Alabama band teacher who admitted May 10 to an inappropriate relationship with a female student, will serve 60-days working for the county jail on weekends, three years probation and is required to surrender his teaching credentials.

The sentence was close to what Hoffman agreed to in a plea bargain two months ago.

Rather than jail time, Justice Thomas Graham said he wanted Hoffman working for the jail, out in the community, where people could see him.

"I don't feel that jail is much of a punishment, where you can sit around playing cards and watching TV," Graham said.

Hoffman will be required to lecture twice a year on teacher ethics at a teacher's college. Graham said he wanted future teachers to learn from Hoffman's mistakes.

He will also be required to undergo sexual abuse counseling, even though it was not part of the plea agreement and the probation department pre-sentence investigation found he is highly unlikely to commit sexual abuse in the future.

Hoffman, in pleading guilty in May, did not admit to sexual relations with the girl.

When given a chance to speak prior to sentencing by Graham, Hoffman declined.

The victim's mother did speak and she accused Hoffman of destroying her relationship with her daughter.

"She won't even talk with me anymore," the mother said. "You filled her head full of lies. You told her I didn't care about her or understand her. How was I supposed to compete with that?"

Hoffman is accused of taking the girl shopping and sending her numerous text-messages.

Her friends are said to have alerted her mother about the relationship with Hoffman, whose wife gave birth to a little girl within the past year.

But both her mother and Assistant District Attorney Kevin Finnell describe a situation in which the girl is no longer able to attend school, that she's been robbed of her senior year, because some at the school have apparently taken Hoffman's side.

Twenty years from now when Oakfield-Alabama holds its reunion, this is going to be what she thinks about," Finnell said. "Her 20th reunion, her 30th reunion, her 50th reunion, if she even attends. It's always going to be there, what he's done to her."

If not for people coming forward and alerting her parents, Finnell said, the situation was "just a whisper away" from becoming something more serious.

Attorney Thomas D. Calandra said that in giving up his teaching credentials, Hoffman, who has no prior criminal record, will suffer punishment enough.

"He has master's degree in music that is probably of little use to him now and in the future," Calandra said.

Calandra reported that Hoffman completed three different sexual offender tests for the probation department, and in all of them he scored only one or two points (one test out of a possible 12 and another out of a possible 54).

"He's absolutely no danger to the community," Calandra said.

Graham said it was a very tough case to decide.

"You were given a position of trust," Graham said. "An educator has an extremely high level of responsibility and trust. You hurt the victim, the victim's parents, the victim's family, your wife, your daughter, your family and her family. That bond of trust was broken by you."

But, Graham noted, Hoffman has a lot going for him -- the love of his wife and support of his family, including his in-laws (his father-in-law nodded vigorously as Graham spoke). 

"I can only hope that everyone can heal," Graham said. "Something that you will understand with your Christian background, Mr. Hoffman, someday you will be judged by a higher authority other than myself."

July 12, 2010 - 8:08pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Le Roy.

Le Roy Fire is responding to a second call in its district -- this time, wires arcing in the area of 65 Lake St.

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July 12, 2010 - 7:58pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in accident, Le Roy.

A car has multiple utility poles, one apparently an electric pole, in the area of 7101 East Bethany-Le Roy Road.

The driver suffered a head injury, but is conscious and is out of the car.

Minutes earlier, a Cadillac was reported on the same road swerving onto the shoulder and then re-entering the roadway.

Le Roy Fire is responding, along with EMS.

Fire Police are shutting down the road.

UPDATE 8:19 p.m.: The driver apparently suffered a medical problem while driving.

UPDATE 9:01 p.m.: At one point, the stoplight in front of Tops was out, reportedly because of the accident. A little while ago, somebody reported power restored at Le Roy Village Greens. National Grid was still reporting 620 customers without power. The accident scene was cleared by Le Roy Fire 10 or 15 minutes ago.

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July 12, 2010 - 5:17pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in crime, Jerome Brewster, unsolved murders.


As Chief Deputy Jerome Brewster and his investigation team in the Genesee County Sheriff's Office get seemingly closer to making an arrest in 2005 shooting death of Bill Fickel, that headline-grabbing, unsolved murder isn't the only mysterious death that keeps the 35-year veteran awake at night.

The other names that haunt his memory include Annie Lee, Eddie Freson and Kisha Sullivan.

“I live with every single one," Brewster said during an interview in his office last week. "My personality type is that I need to know. Good, bad or indifferent, I need to figure it out. So, when I have cases like these that you can’t figure out, they bother me."

Brewster said he constantly turns over in his head whether the right questions were asked, who said what, what the available evidence means. Is there anything that's been missed? But mostly, he wonders if he and his staff are looking at the case from the right perspective.

"A lot of times what I question is, are we looking at this thing the right way?" Brewster said.

A murder investigation begins as soon as a death is called in -- it doesn't matter if it's an apparent suicide, a drug overdose, a drowning, a hunting accident or granny finally expired in her bed. Every reported death begins with the question, "was it murder?"

Often, it's quickly obvious that there was no crime committed. But it's important that in the initial moments when law enforcement is on scene, that nothing be overlooked.

"That’s a pretty good way to operate because then hopefully you don’t miss anything," Brewster said.

Sometimes, it's obvious that there's been a homicide. The death of 66-year-old Joseph Benaquist might be a case in point.

Besides the fact that Scott F. Doll (who was convicted of the murder in May) was found with blood on his clothes wandering on a road near the victim's house, when Benaquist's body was found, it was pretty obvious the retired corrections officer had been beaten to death only hours earlier.

There was ample physical evidence at the scene (though Doll's defense attorney continues to insist, ample evidence of reasonable doubt, as well) and a suspect already in custody.

When Brewster has physical evidence, a body found at the scene of the crime and a suspect, he says making an arrest is just a matter of "getting our ducks in a row."

Even on such "smoking gun" cases, Brewster wants to make sure the charges stick.

With eight investigators at his disposal (all of whom have other duties), as well as the cooperation of the State Police and other agencies, Brewster supervises the investigation and makes sure all of the proper procedures are covered.

"Just because a guy says he killed his wife doesn’t mean you will get a conviction if you don’t do your job," Brewster said.

But what happens when the body isn't found at the scene, or there's no DNA evidence, or the body isn't found until weeks after the crime?

That's when the job gets tough.

"If you’re going to solve (the case) quickly, you usually have enough at the scene," Brewster said. "If you’re not going to solve it (at the scene), then you’re in for a long haul, a long haul. The worst calls you want to get are ‘I just found a dead body along the road.'"

In the cases of Lee, Freson, Sullivan and Fickel, Brewster has been in it for the long haul. He continues to work the cases, though not all of them every day, and continues to search for answers, and in two of the cases he may be getting close to finding the right answers.

Starting tomorrow, we'll look at each of these cases individually and tell you the latest information Chief Brewster has to share.

(Note: WBTA is running a parallel series this week based on our interview with Chief Brewster. It will air Tuesday and Wednesday.)

July 12, 2010 - 2:16pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in fire, Darien.

A truck fire is being reported on Colby Road, south of Sumner, in Darien.

Darien Fire is being dispatched.

UPDATE 2:24 p.m.: A Pavilion chief on scene reports that the tractor-trailer is pretty much gone and suggested that requested tankers from East Pembroke, Corfu and Alexander won't be needed. There is a request for a grass truck to the location. The vehicle on fire is in the middle of a field without much vegetation.

UPDATE 2:56 p.m.: Fire is out.

UPDATE: The vehicle was not a tractor-trailer. It was a tractor.

July 12, 2010 - 12:41pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, accident.

A car reportedly backed into a child in the area of 511 E. Main St., Batavia.

The child suffered a wrist injury.

Mercy EMS is being dispatched.

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July 12, 2010 - 10:43am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, crime, byron, Darien, corfu.

Anthony Vincent Aidrich, 33, of Kirkpatrick Street, Syracuse, is charged with criminal possession of stolen property. Aidrich is accused of possessing 75 stolen Darien Lake passes. Aidrich was allegedly found with the passes while trying to enter the theme park using an allegedly stolen pass. He was jailed on $10,000 bail or $20,000 bond.

Stephanie Ruth Cotton, 34, of 6319 Mechanic Road, Byron, is charged with a violation of probation. Cotton is accused of missing a probation appointment and failure to appear for sentencing in Genesee County Court. Cotton was arrested at 11:05 a.m., Friday, and was allegedly found hiding in her attic under insulation.

Jacob A. Staskiewicz, 24, of Batavia, is charged with DWI, driving with a BAC of .18 or greater, failure to keep right and moving from lane unsafely. Staskiewicz was stopped at 2:26 a.m., Saturday, on Railroad Avenue, where his car allegedly hit a guardrail, by Deputy Kevin McCarthy.

Anthony V. Firman, 21, of 82 Gilbert St., Le Roy, is charged with criminal contempt, 2nd. Firman is accused of violating conditions of probation. He was jailed on $2,500 bail.

Tim Christopher Fox, 41, of Drake Street, Oakfield, is charged with two counts of harassment, 2nd, and two counts of endangering the welfare of a child. Fox allegedly pushed another person during an argument. He then allegedly fell on two children while being restrained.

Lance A. Mercado, 20, of 110 Bank St., Batavia and Jeanne D. Fuller, 23, of 399 Manitou Road, Hilton, are each charged with harassment, 2nd. A friend filed charges against Mercado and Fuller, accusing Mercado of pushing him and Fuller attempting to hit him.

Sara J. Falker, 22, of 41 Maple St., Batavia, is charged with endangering the welfare of a child. Falker is accused of leaving her 2-year-old child unsupervised while at home with the child and of maintaining less than favorable living conditions.

Robert M. Freeman, 18, of 285 East Avenue, Batavia, is charged with criminal mischief, 4th. Freeman is accused of egging a car on May 28, causing damage to the paint.

Joseph P. Urtel, 32, of 19 Pringle Ave., is charged with criminal mischief, 3rd. Urtel is accused of damaging the laptop of a female friend. Urtel was jailed without bail.

July 11, 2010 - 5:15pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in accident, corfu.

A car has hit a utility pole and a tree in the area of 8993 South Lake Road, Corfu.

The pole and wires are down.

At least one injury reported.

Pembroke and Indian Falls Fire and Mercy EMS are responding.

UPDATE 5:19 p.m.: Mercy Flight being dispatched.

UPDATE 5:21 p.m.: Corfu Fire being dispatched to shut down traffic at Lake and Cohocton and set up a possible landing zone on Cohocton.

UPDATE 5:34 p.m.: Victim extricated.

UPDATE 5:36 p.m.: Mercy Flight has landed.

UPDATE 5:50 p.m.: Mercy Flight is airborne.

UPDATE, Monday, 10 a.m.: The driver has been identified as Edward J. Siminski, 83, of North Lake Road, Corfu. Siminski reportedly fell asleep while driving.

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July 11, 2010 - 3:48pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in accident, Le Roy, Stafford.

A two-car accident has been reported at the intersection of Randall and Buckley roads, Le Roy, with injuries.

Stafford Fire is responding.

One vehicle is blocking traffic.

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July 11, 2010 - 1:53pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, accident.

A two-car accident with injuries has been reported at the intersection of Ellicott Street Road and Shepard Road, Batavia.

Two ambulances have been requested to the scene.

One woman reportedly has her leg trapped.

Town of Batavia Fire is also responding.

UPDATE 1:55 p.m.: Report now, woman trapped only by a door. Her body is not entrapped. City PD being dispatched to close Route 63 at Cedar Street.

UPDATE 2:16 p.m.: Southbound Route 63 is now open.


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July 11, 2010 - 1:38am
posted by Howard B. Owens in photos, alexander.


Today was Alexander's annual parade, part of its annual carnival and tractor pull.

The Stafford Fire Color Guard, above, along with volunteer fire departments from throughout the region as well as businesses and community groups participated in the parade.

More pictures after the jump:

July 11, 2010 - 1:01am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business, photos, kites, Eric Olson.


While on Lewiston Road late Friday afternoon, I spotted these kites flying over the Batavia Downs' parking lot and so I swung down Park Road to investigate.

I should have known, it was Eric Olson, Batavia's Kite Man, out with his kite trailer looking to lure customers to his location.

Olson, whose day job is with the Genesee County Sheriff's Office, runs a sideline business selling kites at community events, and such.



July 11, 2010 - 12:50am
posted by Howard B. Owens in BARNS, photos, Le Roy, Stafford.


You know, if I'm driving out in Genesee County somewhere, I'm looking for barns and other interesting photographic opportunities.

The barn above is on Randall Road in Morgansville.


This flower (Anybody know what it's called?) was in the field across from the barn.

More pictures after the jump:




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