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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.


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.


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.


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.


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

April 21, 2010 - 12:41pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Deal of the Day.

Carlson's Studio, 39 Jackson St., Batavia, NY: Weddings, new babies, family portraits, pet portraits and group events -- preserve those memories with professional photographs. We have a $100 gift card for $50 (+$2 PayPal Service fee). JUST IN TIME FOR MOTHER'S DAY and FATHER'S DAY.

South Main Country Gifts, 3356 Main St. Road, Batavia, NY: Handcrafted items, gifts with a regional flair, candles, teas and spices -- South Main has a wide selection to please most any interest. We have a $20 gift certificate for $10.

Adam Miller Toy & Bicycles, 8 Center St., Batavia, NY: Feel like a kid in a toy store again, or treat your kids to the greatest toy store they will ever see. We have a $25 gift certificate for $12.50.

The Enchanted Florist, 202 E. Main St., Batavia, NY: Mother's Day is just around the corner! We have a $20 gift certificate for $9.50.

The Mane Attraction, 99 E. Main St., Batavia, NY: The Mane Attraction is a spa and salon offering pedicures, manicures, hairstyling and massage. We have a $20 gift certificate for $10.

Blue Pearl Yoga, 200 E. Main St., Batavia, NY: Exercise your soul as well as your body in a friendly and relaxing atmosphere. We have a gift certificate for five weeks of yoga, a $50 value, for $25.

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

April 21, 2010 - 9:32am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, crime, Oakfield.

Julie B. Wescott, 27, of 335 Bank St., Apt. B3, Batavia, is charged with endangering the welfare of a child and unlawful possession of marijuana. Wescott was arrested at 3:50 p.m., Tuesday, by Officer Matt Baldwin after an investigation revealed Wescott allegedly failed to provide adequate supervision for two children.

Keith Joseph Lyman, 36, of 217 Bank St., Batavia, is charged with criminal contempt. Lyman is accused of violating an order of protection. He was arraigned in Town of Oakfield Court and jailed on $500 bail.

April 20, 2010 - 8:51pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in fire, Darien.

Darien Fire is responding to a reported grass fire north of the CSX railroad crossing and Countyline Road.

The fire is south of Route 33.

UPDATE 9:09 p.m.: Fire extinguished. All Darien units back in service.

April 20, 2010 - 8:47pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in accident, thruway, Le Roy.

A car has reportedly hit a deer on the Thruway at mile marker 379.4.

One person reportedly suffered a head injury and another person is complaining of back pain.

Le Roy Fire and Ambulance have been dispatched.

April 20, 2010 - 6:45pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business, Pontillo's, Dave's Produce.


Kathy Pettinella says in November 2008, she almost lost her business -- a business started and built by her late husband and late son 15 years ago.

Her business, Dave's Produce, relies on cash in the bank so she can buy product at farmers' markets and deliver it to local restaurants.

So when one local restaurant allegedly stiffed her for nearly $70,000, it really hurt.

"Oh, my God -- I am done. I’m absolutely done." Pettinella said were her first thoughts when she learned of the original Pontillo's Pizzeria closing. "Looking at all that money, I went through all my bank statements, my deposit slips, I was in trouble. I couldn’t cut back anything anymore out of my household budget."

How and why Pontillo's was allegedly able to run up all that debt is something Kathy still can't fully explain, but until last week, when The Batavian wrote about the debt in a story on  financial issues surrounding the Pontillo family and their legendary pizza business, she said nobody in Batavia knew about the debt. It was something she wanted to keep secret.

She said she was shaking the first time she answered a call from The Batavian asking about the debt.

"I was petrified," Pettinella said of her long-standing fear of people finding out about the debt. "I was was afraid people would think, ‘What a stupid woman. That’s why women don’t run businesses because they would drive it into the ground.'"

"That was my initial thought -- that I just made a bad example for the rest of women who are working so hard to run their own small businesses."

April 20, 2010 - 6:13pm

Genesee County's two elected state legislators applaud the get-tough-on-drunken-driving provisions in Leandra's Law, even while saying they need to work toward making the new law less burdensome on local government.

While county officials raised a number of objections to a provision of the law that will require all drivers convicted of DWI to install an ignition interlock device, both Sen. Mike Ranzenhofer and Assemblyman Steve Hawley said that was an aspect of the new law they fully supported.

Razenhofer pointed to the county probation's chief, Julie Smith, who said interlock devices are effective at stopping drunk drivers from getting behind the wheel.

"I knew it (the provision) was in there and I thought it was a good idea," said Ranzenhofer. "It's supposed to be a deterrent to keep drunks off the road. The point is to keep the person off the road so he doesn't kill, maim or harm other individuals."

Hawley said if people are going to drink and drive, when they're convicted, the need to "pay the price."

"The alternative," he said, "is to go to jail, and that is an alternative."

Both Ranzenhofer and Hawley said they are talking with Genesee County officials and trying to find ways to address their concerns, but Hawley also said of all the counties he represents, only Genesee is raising vocal objections. The other counties, he said, indicated they can find a way to accommodate the provisions of the law.

Hawley said he wants to see if it's possible to delay implimenation so counties with concerns can find ways to get them addressed.

Neither Hawley nor Ranzenhofer expressed a lot of sympathy for the spouse of a person convicted of DWI who might also be required to start blowing into a tube to start his or her car.

"My sympathies lie with the victims, the people who are hurt or killed by drunken drivers," Ranzenhofer said.

As for the cost, Hawley said the county shouldn't pay for these devices if someone convicted of DWI can't afford it.

"If they can afford the alcohol, and they can afford the insurance, and they can afford the car, then they can certainly afford the device," Hawley said. "If not, they have to get rid of their cars."

April 20, 2010 - 5:30pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in crime, alexander, Dodgeson Road.


Two women who are charged with endangering the welfare of a child for allegedly having a 2-year-old living in squalor are apparently being given a chance to clean up their act.

A neighbor says the child appears to be still living at the home on 3181 Dodgeson Road, Alexander, which yesterday had a Dumpster filled with trash parked in the driveway.

The home is owned by Lynda Rae Morrill, the 44-year-old grandmother charged in the case. She purchased the 1,288-square-foot home from Habitat for Humanity in October, 2003, according to public records. The home, which sits on more than an acre of land, is assessed at $131,900.

A neighbor, who said the yard was quite a mess before the clean up started -- she doesn't know what it was like inside -- said she believes six adults have been living there. She said she was told that Morrill and her daughter, Lisa Rene Richmond, 22, have been given 30 days to clean up the residence.

Eileen Kirkpatrick, commission of the Department of Social Services, said she can't discuss the specific case, but she did talk about general practice in child-welfare cases.

She said when a complaint comes in, there is an investigation, with Child Protective Services trying to determine whether the issue of the complaint -- such as a child not showing up for school -- is the extent of the problem, or if there are other issues in the home, such as abuse.

Child Protective Services does try to work with parents to correct problems, she said, rather than just take the child away.

"It's our job to try and fix the problem," Kirkpatrick said. "We make all attempts to try and keep the child in the home. We try to keep families intact."

If the problem isn't fixed, then the issue can be brought to Family Court.

Jessica M. Maguire-Tomidy, executive director of Habitat for Humanity of Genesee County, said prospective Habitat home recipients go through an extensive background check. Not only must the applicant meet financial requirements, but references -- including landlords -- are checked.

"After their application is taken, we do a credit check, a criminal background check, a home visit, and send out landlord and employment references to be completed by individuals the family works for and has rented from," Maguire-Tomidy said in an e-mail. "We review all of the above to determine need for decent housing, and willingness to partner with us. Should we feel that they would be a good match for our program, we ultimately take our recommendation to the Board of Directors for a voted approval as a Habitat partner family."

Home recipients do more than pay for the house, they must also work 300-500 hours on the construction of the building.

She said she couldn't discuss any specific recipient.

"We try very diligently to pick the right families, and this is a stringent screening process," Maguire-Tomidy said. "For about every 15 families that come to apply to our program only one will ultimately qualify for recommendation to the Board of Directors."

April 20, 2010 - 5:03pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in BARNS, photos, Bethany.


On a story quest that didn't quite work out, I was down in the Bethany area.

The barn above is at Putnam and Sheppard roads. Below is a barn on Transit Road and a barn on Silver Road.



April 20, 2010 - 4:45pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, photos, Cedar Street.


When I drove past this oddly parked car with a flag sticking out of the passenger window, I had to turn around go back and get a picture. I have no idea why the car is parked this way. Perhaps it's somebody's creative way of trying to draw attention to the building behind it that's for rent.





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