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July 25, 2015 - 11:57pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in accident, Darien.

A one-vehicle roll over accident is reported in the area of 175 Genesee St., Darien. 

A person is believed to be trapped. 

Dispatchers are checking on the availability of Mercy Flight. One helicopter is already tied up on a medical call in Stafford. 

Darien fire and ambulance dispatched. 

UPDATE: No serious injuries reported.

July 25, 2015 - 3:19pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in byron, byron heritage day.

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July 25, 2015 - 7:43am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Genesee County Fair.

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Janice Spagnola works on a balloon sculpture in the exhibit hall at the Genesee County Fair during Saturday's events. Among the events was the annual Demolition Derby, which drew a capacity crowd.

Today at the fair -- tractor pulls.

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To purchase prints, click here.

July 24, 2015 - 10:36pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Brandi Bruggman, art.

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As we reported earlier, local artist Brandi Bruggman was invited to be featured at a show in New York City. Brandi sent us this picture and I asked her to write something up about her experience:

RAW Artist's event Glimpse at the Highline Ballroom in Manhattan last night was met with a great success! Two live bands were followed by five fashion shows, live special FX makeup artists, and two floors of showcasing artists and photographers.

Brandi Bruggman, a local multimedia artist who was showcasing her fine art recapped the event in saying, "I had so much fun! My artwork was well received by a wide variety of people there. I made new friends, received a lot of responses, and sold some great artwork! It was an incredible first-time showcasing experience!"

Bruggman will continue to create fine artwork and ship it internationally. She currently has a full collection up for viewing for the summer inside West End Bagels in Clifton Park.

July 24, 2015 - 5:46pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in steve hawley.

Press release:

In response to last week’s shooting at a National Guard recruiting center in Tennessee, Assemblyman Steve Hawley (R,C,I-Batavia) is introducing new legislation that would improve security at these facilities in New York State. The bill will be cosponsored by state Senator Rob Ortt.

“There is nothing more important than securing public safety – especially the safety of the brave men and women who defend our nation and communities in the National Guard, military and emergency responders. We cannot allow what happened in Tennessee to be repeated here in New York and I am doing everything I can to ensure that those who protect us are safe here at home,” said Hawley, who is the Ranking Minority Member of the Assembly Veterans’ Affairs Committee and recently hosted the committee’s chairman on a tour of facilities in Western New York.

The new legislation will establish a work group to examine and make recommendations on ways safety can be improved at National Guard recruitment centers in our state. The committee will have 13 members, including representatives from the state Division of Military Affairs, Commission on Homeland Security and Emergency Services, State Police, legislative committee chairs, and four members appointed by the governor, and two members appointed by each of the Assembly Speaker and Temporary President of the Senate.

Upon enactment of the legislation, the work group would have until Dec. 1, 2016 to submit its first periodic report to the state Division of Military and Naval Affairs, which would be empowered to implement any approved recommendations of the group.

July 24, 2015 - 2:10pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in crime, Bethany, pembroke, corfu.
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  Hannah Dibble

A Pembroke woman who was reportedly behind the wheel of a 1997 Chevrolet Geo in February when it crossed Route 20 at Molasses Hill Road, Bethany, and was struck by a semi-truck has been indicted by a grand jury on a count of manslaughter in the second degree.

Hannah E. Dibble, 22, appeared in Genesee County Court today to be charged under the 11-count indictment, where she pled not guilty and was released under supervision of Genesee Justice.

Her friend, Alyson D. Krzanak, 18, of Corfu, died as a result of injuries sustained in the crash. Suffering serious physical injuries in the collision Feb. 21 were James Scherer, 21, Brandon Danser, 22, and Felecia J. Fazzio, 20.

Dibble was also indicted on counts of vehicular manslaughter in the second degree, vehicular assault in the first degree, three counts of assault in the second degree, three counts of vehicular assault in the second degree, and two counts of DWI.

July 23, 2015 - 10:52pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Genesee County Fair.

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Good weather and lots to see and do highlighted Thursday night at the Genesee County Fair.

There were stock car races, the 4-H livestock auction, rides and games, and music and the talent show (which was over before I got there).

Top photo: Brendan Pimm with his sheep during the auction. Brendan donated the proceeds to the medical care to his friend Buddy Oderkirck, also in the ring.

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Michael Ermantrout.

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Mandy Ross

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Taylor Augello

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To purchase prints, click here.

July 23, 2015 - 9:28pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Care-A-Van Ministries, crime, batavia.

A small group of juveniles got into a ruckus this evening at Austin Park during the weekly Care-A-Van Ministries cookout event and Batavia PD was called to respond, said Sgt. Chris Camp.

Camp said normally you want parents who are present to get involved and deal with their children, but tonight the parents got too involved. They started yelling at each other.

Four city units and three county units responded to the call as a result.

Camp said it's unfortunate that 95 to 98 percent of the people who attend the Care-A-Van event never cause a problem, but Thursday night calls to Austin Park are becoming routine, he said.

July 23, 2015 - 2:15pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in crossroads house, batavia.

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There is certainly a train load of stuff to consider buying at the Crossroads House garage sale today, and all of it is priced to sell.

The sale, on School Street between Liberty and Swan, goes until 4 p.m. It resumes at 9 a.m. tomorrow and goes to 4 p.m., and then 9 a.m. to noon on Saturday.

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July 23, 2015 - 9:21am
posted by Howard B. Owens in jobs, economy, business.

The unemployment rate for Genesee County hit a 100-month low for June, according to Department of Labor statistics.

The rate fell to 4.5 percent. The last time the rate was that low or lower was October 2007, when the rate stood at 4.2 percent.

The lowest rate of that year was 3.8 percent in August and in May.

A year ago, the June rate was 4.8 percent. It was 4.7 percent this May.

For June, there were 24,300 non-farm jobs in Genesee County, down from 24,600 in June 2015.  That June number is still the highest it's been so far in 2015, and with exception of last June, the highest it's been since July 2010.

Unemployment in Wyoming County is 4.9 percent, it's 6.1 in Orleans, and 5.3 in Livingston. In the Buffalo area, it's 5.3 percent and in the Rochester region, it's 5.1.

July 23, 2015 - 8:48am
posted by Howard B. Owens in genesee county, budget.

The county's department managers are being asked to turn in austere budgets that add no new staff with an eye toward leaving vacant positions unfilled as County Manager Jay Gsell tries to hold the line on spending in the face of continued expense pressure from the state's unfunded mandates.

State and federal spending mandates, including Medicaid, probation, indigent defense and public assistance consume 82 percent of the county's property tax levy, with the county's share of Medicaid expense now topping $10 million, Gsell said in a memo to county leaders.

The escalating cost of unfunded mandates, with no other increase in spending, will likely create a budget deficit.

"A conservative guestimate of a 'status quo' 2016 General Fund Budget of $106,401,244 would create an expense vs. revenue gap of almost $3.5 million vs. the 2015 Adopted General Fund balanced Budget," Gsell wrote. "This could include the last five year annual average of $2.5 million in fund balance use to stave off property tax increases that help the County again stay under the tax cap ceiling imposed by New York State, but the availability is not guaranteed."

The Legislature will be loathed to support a property tax increase that goes over the levy cap, Gsell said. 

"The County Legislature has not done so for the first four years of the tax cap mandate and 2016 being an election year is unlikely to change that reality/sentiment," Gsell wrote. "New York State/Governor Cuomo armed with the 'now' permanent tax cap legislation has set a negative dynamic for local governments, including school districts and the constituents/taxpayers with the promise of the tax rebates and possible State income tax circuit breakers/tax credits, that challenges we at the local government level to exceed said tax cap and thus suffer the 'wrath' of Albany and unilateral, top down recriminations in the media, with our taxpayers and the possibility of negative state aid implications."

The sale of the county nursing home will help, but that deal won't close until the end of the first quarter of 2016, so the money-losing property will continue to drain county resources in the upcoming budget year, Gsell said.

Gsell said the county is a workforce-intensive business and 32 percent of the county's general fund budget goes to wages and benefits. Pension and health care costs for personnel continue to increase, Gsell said, with new collective bargaining agreements pending.

Even new employee positions funded initially by state and federal grants should be scrutinized closely for long-term impacts on spending, Gsell said. 

If managers want to fill current vacancies or anticipated vacancies, they will need to show business necessity that it is essential to operations, or the position is justified as a basic level of service or required by mandates or can be funded through an equal increase in revenue. 

"Your overall operating budget request should be developed from a 'bare bones' perspective," Gsell wrote. "No sacred cows/no guarantees -- including those portions of your staffing, etc., that are attached to 'mandated services' and related operating expenses and options for better/more efficient utilization of existing staff should be presented."

July 23, 2015 - 8:00am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Sheriff's Office.

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Press release:

The Genesee County Sheriff’s Office has filled two vacant Deputy Sheriff positions with the hiring of Chad P. Cummings and Richard S. Schildwaster.

Deputy Cummings is an Army veteran and is a 1996 high school graduate from BMC Durfee High School in Fall River, Mass. Following high school, Deputy Cummings enlisted in the Army from 1998 to 2008 and held the position of platoon sergeant and earned several commendations and awards. He began his college education at Jefferson Community College while stationed at Fort Drum and transferred to Genesee Community College, earning an A.A.S Degree in Criminal Justice in 2011. Deputy Cummings was previously employed by the NYS Thruway Authority and the Valley Metro-Barbosa Group.

Deputy Schildwaster is a Navy veteran. While enlisted, he held the positions of mechanic, military police and recruiter and earned several medals. Deputy Schildwaster attended Genesee Community College for studies in Criminal Justice. He was previously employed by the Air Force and Veterans’ Affairs as a police officer.

Deputy Cummings and Schildwaster recently graduated from the Monroe County Law Enforcement Academy at Monroe Community College on July 10. Deputy Cummings was class platoon lieutenant. The keynote speaker at the graduation was Brockport Police Department Chief Daniel Varrenti.

Sheriff Gary Maha stated, “Deputy Cummings and Deputy Schildwaster have completed our 14-week field-training program and performed exceptionally well. They are great additions to our road patrol.”

July 22, 2015 - 2:49pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in crime, Pavilion.

Beniluis Ruiz didn't say he is sorry. He expressed no regret or remorse. Convicted by a jury of 12 Genesee County residents of sex abuse, Ruiz told Judge Robert C. Noonan at his sentencing that he wanted to return to work and his family life.

Noonan acknowledged that Ruiz continues to profess his innocence, but said based on the jury conviction and the evidence he heard during the trial in May, Ruiz needed to go to prison, so he ordered him locked away for four years.

Ruiz, of Pavilion, was convicted of sexual abuse, 1st, criminal sexual act, 2nd, rape, 2nd, endangering the welfare of a child and unlawful dealing with a child.

According to statements by ADA Kevin Finnell, Ruiz introduced a female relative to cigarettes and liquor and took advantage of her when she was drinking. He called the 40-year-old Ruiz dangerous and said he would take advantage of other teenage girls if given the chance.

As a result of being victimized, the teenager returned to Puerto Rico to live with her mother rather than continue her education in Genesee County.

As part of restitution, there was a request to order Ruiz to pay for a quality education for her in Puerto Rico, but Noonan agreed with the defense attorney that the issue should be taken up in Family Court.

There were dozens of letters of support for Ruiz and his attorney noted that his wife continues to stand by him, but Finnell said he's often observed that sexual predators are able to lead dual lives.

"I'm not surprised by the numbers of letters attached to (the pre-sentencing report)," Finnell said. "I've often seen defendants able to present two faces. One a public face and one a private face. Whether people don't want to believe the charges are true even after a jury conviction, or if he has somehow convinced them he didn't commit these acts, a jury was convinced he committed these crimes against (the family member)."

July 22, 2015 - 2:09pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in crime, byron.
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Justin Sanders

A family who took a young man into their home and treated him like a son told Judge Robert C. Noonan today about the anger and sense of betrayal they felt after he stole thousands of dollars worth of jewelry, some of the pieces family heirlooms, and other items.

The attorney for 23-year-old Justin L. Sanders tried to convince Noonan that her client deserved a chance at probation and rehabilitation.  Noonan rejected the idea out of hand.

"One of the biggest surprises of my career was the recommendation by the Probation Department that you not be sent to prison," Noonan said. "You're a con man. You got a good deal for yourself in getting an indeterminate sentence. I could not in good conscious release you on a community-based sentence."

Noonan told Sanders he would go to state prison for one and a quarter years to four years.

Before the sentence was handed down, Sanders told Noonan he regretted what he had done and through the power of salvation, he was a changed man.

Sanders has spent the past several months in a Christian-based drug-rehabilitation facility and the pastor in charge of the camp wrote Noonan a letter extolling the progress Sanders has made at the facility and asking Noonan to return him to the facility to complete his rehabilitation.

One of the victims of the thefts, the mother of the young lady Sanders was dating, said she didn't believe Sanders ever had a drug problem and that he was a compulsive liar.

She told of how Sanders wrote to her daughter from jail and promised to repay the family for the items he stole using a portion of the more than $1 million he was inheriting from his grandfather.

"You can't believe a word he says," the woman said. "We know he's just saying those things to further his own gain."

Later, when Noonan asked his attorney Lisa Kroemer if there were indeed such funds available for Sanders to pay his more than $26,000 in restitution, Kroemer said she didn't believe any such funds existed.

The initial larcenies were reported from a residence on Route 237, Byron, in late November through December; two burglaries were reported at a residence on Townline Road, Byron, on Jan. 13 and Jan. 20. 

The mother of his ex-girlfriend said to this day, they're still discovering items that are missing that she believes Sanders stole.

"A home should be a place of safety and he destroyed all that," she said.

The woman said her daughters have always been told they could only date young men of faith who were full-time students or full-time workers. Sanders, a Culinary Arts student, had food industry jobs and professed to be a Christian when he was allowed to move into the home.

She said he was accepted as part of the family and called her "Mom."

When the thefts were discovered, there was a family meeting and Sanders denied any involvement and promised to find out who stole the items. He later planted stolen jewelry in another daughter's car and tried to blame her, she said.

As the investigation progressed, he left town saying he had to visit his mother who was undergoing cancer surgery and chemotherapy. It turned out, she said, his mother wasn't sick at all.

The woman then read a letter from her daughter who wrote of Sanders, "You disgust me" and "I hate you."

July 22, 2015 - 8:29am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Nicholas Mruczek, alexander, crime.

The man accused of killing Alexander resident Nicholas Mruczek was assigned a public defender in Chester County, Pa., on Tuesday and his attorney immediately requested a new date for a scheduled felony evidence hearing.

The hearing for Zachary Ludwig, 22, of King Street, Spring City, Pa., has been moved to 1 p.m., July 30. The delay will give the defendant's new attorney time to familiarize himself with the case.

Ludwig is charged with murder, accused of calling Mruczek out of his apartment the evening of July 15 and shooting him in the chest at close range with a sawed-off shotgun. Mruczek succumbed to his wounds the following day.

Mruczek was allegedly targeted by Ludwig because Mruczek started dating Ludwig's former girlfriend.

A mass of Christian burial for Mruczek will take place at 10 this morning at Ascension Parish, corner of Swan and Sumner streets, Batavia.

July 21, 2015 - 7:15pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in corfu, BARNS.

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After an appointment in Darien, I headed down Fargo Road and spotted this barn.

July 21, 2015 - 2:12pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Genesee County Fair, agriculture.

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Throughout the morning and early afternoon, the Genesee County Fair has been slowing coming into shape.

A little later this afternoon, the fairgrounds should really be humming.

Here's today's schedule:

2:30pm - 4-H Market Sheep Show & Showmanship - Show Ring
2:30pm - 4-H Meat Goat Show & Showmanship - Open Dairy Building
2-8pm - Mr. Scribbles - Exhibition Building
5-10pm - MIDWAY OPENS - Amusement Area
5:30pm - PARADE LINE-UP, Raceway 5 Pits - Fairgrounds
6pm - 4-H Beef Show & Showmanship - Show Ring
6:30pm - GENESEE CO. FAIR GRAND PARADE through the Fairgrounds
7:30pm - Barrel Racing - Horse Arena
8pm - Fair Queen Part 1 - Entertainment Tent Stage
10pm - EXHIBIT HALLS & BUILDINGS CLOSE 

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July 21, 2015 - 9:05am
posted by Howard B. Owens in The Divine Tree, business, Le Roy.

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Genesee County's newest retail business -- it opened Saturday -- is catching the consumer trend toward more authentic and artisanal products.

Stocked with handcrafted, infused olive oils and vinegars, speciality chocolates, handcrafted bath items, gourmet spreads and sauces, and one-of-a-kind gift items, The Divine Tree on Main Street in Le Roy was designed by owner Renee Mancini Johnson to appeal to customers who appreciate quality and healthy alternatives to what you might find in a Walmart Superstore.

"I took a lot of time, honestly, I didn't have a lot of time, but I did my homework," Johnson said. "I wanted to get some items that aren't everyday to everyone. It is unique in this aspect in that not everyone knows what to do with an infused olive oil, but there is so much you can do with them. For instance, the butter olive oil, you substitute for any butter or margin you use in a recipe."

Johnson, a lifelong Le Royan, hopes the store will not only appeal to local residents but help bring people from outside the area to shop in Le Roy.

Located inside of one of Le Roy's old Main Street buildings -- most recently a Radio Shack location -- Johnson completed the purchase of the building in April and immediately got busy with remodelling. The original idea was to find the original interior brick walls and expose them, but after stripping away the existing walls, no brick was found, so brick walls were built. The original ornate brass ceiling was uncovered. It had been painted white, so Johnson had it painted with brass metallic paint to bring back that old-time feel.

"A lot of people come in and say they feel like they're not even in Le Roy anymore, and that's what I want," Johnson said.

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July 21, 2015 - 8:00am
posted by Howard B. Owens in polls.

July 20, 2015 - 6:21pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Crocker's Ace Hardware, Le Roy, business.

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Brad Crocker. Photo by Howard Owens.

Press release:

America's most celebrated “helpful place” is celebrating the grand opening of its newest lumber yard, located in Le Roy. The new lumber yard is an expansion to the existing Crocker's Ace Hardware Store located 8457 North Street Road in Le Roy. Crocker's Hardware and lumber staff will bring the company's unique blend of nationally recognized customer service and quality home-improvement knowledge and products back to Le Roy and the surrounding area residents.

Crocker's Ace Hardware is owned by Brad Crocker and Dan Diskin. Brad is the third generation from the Crocker family to own a business in the Town of Le Roy  His grandfather, Clarence, owned and operated a feed mill and farm supply store on Selden Road. His father, Judd, continued the tradition with his brothers, James and Louis, and built Crocker's Ace Hardware on the current site in 1969. Dan Diskin, Brad's partner,  is a native Le Royan also. He started working at Crocker's in college. Brad and Dan purchased the business from Judd and his brothers in 1998.

Brad lives on Selden Road in Le Roy with his sons, Ben and Cole Crocker, his girlfriend, Nicole Boyce, and her daughter, Christina Woodrow. He keeps busy around the house with his watercross snowmobile racing team. Their kids are active in four-wheeling with dad, Cub Scouts, swimming, youth soccer and youth volleyball. Nicole is a professional photographer who enjoys capturing everything from racing to senior portraits.

Dan is a village resident. At home on Myrtle Street are his wife, Cheryl, their daughters, Jenna and Alison, and son, Jack. A third daughter, Tess Diskin Ryan, recently married Joseph P. Ryan, formally of Batavia. They reside in Camp Lejeune, N.C. Cheryl is the records clerk for the Village of Le Roy Police Department. Jenna is a LIVES graduate of SUNY Geneseo; Alison works at JC Penney in Batavia and is a GCC student. Jack is junior at Le Roy High School and enjoys band and theater.

Brad and Dan have been planning the lumber expansion for several years.

“A lumber yard is something that LeRoy always has had,” Dan Diskin said. “For a long time, Le Roy had two -- Wickes and Lapp Lumber. When Potter Lumber (the former Lapp Lumber) closed, it was just the spark we needed to bring lumber back to the people of Le Roy!”

Brad and Dan worked closely with Mickey Hyde and the team at Bank of Castile to finance the project.

“We felt that working with our hometown bank was the best way for us to do business,” Brad explained. “Using government tax breaks and promising that we could add so many jobs if we got a loan did not interest us at this time.”

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