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March 20, 2012 - 11:35pm

A plan for Ken Mistler to remodel the patio of the former South Beach Restaurant on Main Street received glowing reviews and eventual approval from members of the city's Design Review Committee on Tuesday.

The board opened its meeting with a field trip to South Beach were Mistler explained the concept.

Mistler intends to enclose the patio, but use retractable glass panels (something like a garage door made of glass panes) so that he can operate the patio as a bar, dining room and music venue 12 months out of the year.

"We'll close the windows for weather or when it's windy," Mistler said.

The concept has already received a positive recommendation from the Genesee County Planning Board and once the Design Review Committee approves his final plans in 30 days, Mistler will be able to proceed with construction.

Mistler is planning a Southwestern/Western theme with urban flair for the new restaurant and bar. It will be called City Slickers.

While the restaurant continues to cater parties in the basement bar and dining area, Mistler is completely remodeling the inside of the bar and dining area (the new custom-built wooden bars are stunning).

He expects to open City Slickers around the third week of April.

Photo below: Mistler holds a picture of the former Kiwanis Park that was west of South Beach from before Mistler remodeled it to the present patio.

March 20, 2012 - 11:20pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, photos, Batavia Down.

I think every picture I've seen of the Batavia Downs sign so far has been from the more straight-on position north of the track. Recently, I've been experimenting with angles more to the south.

March 20, 2012 - 11:15pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, photos, Tonawanda Creek.

Taken this evening off West Main Street, almost behind the Lambert's store.

March 20, 2012 - 10:16pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, recreation, Tonawanda Creek.

This summer, the Town of Batavia will build a small boat launch -- for canoes and kayaks -- behind Kiwanis Park, giving visitors and local residents a way to easily access the Tonawanda Creek between the city and East Pembroke.

There was a time -- in the early 20th Century -- when the Tonawanda in Batavia was more favored by local residents seeking recreation.

Officials with the town and the Soil and Water Conservation District hope the boat launch is just one more piece in place toward transforming the small river into a recreational asset again.

"We definitely want to encourage recreational use," said George Squires, conservation district manager. "Canoeing, kayaking, fishing, taking a look at nature -- there's a whole lot of things going on along the creek that people probably won't see if they aren't paddling along the creek somewhere."

The boat launch is being paid for with a $6,000 grant secured by the conversation district.

The town is supplying the design and engineering work.

Tom Lichtenthal, assistant town engineer and highway superintendent, said it will take two months to complete the permits.

Squires said he's hoping for a July 4th opening.

The launch will be constructed along an inlet stream that runs between Kiwanis Park and the former location of the Batavia Motel (acquired by the Town of Batavia).

Lichtenthal explained that there will be a path from the parking lot down to the water and a stone launch for the boats.

Only small boats will be allowed to use the launch. If the boat needs to be hauled by a trailer, it's too big.

While it's not part of the plan, Lichtenthal said he dreams of the day there might be funding to create a walking path -- or paving for bikes, too -- from River Street in the city to East Pembroke.

Some time in the middle part of the 20th Century, the creek apparently lost some of its appeal for recreational use.

Squires suspects property owners who adjoin the publicly owned waterway and creek banks restricted access.

Or it could have been the dredging of the creek, making its banks steeper and therefore harder to access.

Lictenthal -- and Squires says it was a problem -- suspects foul water from the previous wastewater plant kept people away.

Twenty years ago, the city -- with cooperation from the town -- installed a lagoon-style wastewater plant, meaning the water from the sewer plant is much, much cleaner by the time it's piped to the creek.

"We can point to a definite improvement in the creek," Squires said. "The water quality wasn't as good before the city upgraded the sewage system and that deterred some people from thinking of doing things on the creek. Now, the creek is in pretty good shape."

The access, Lichtenthal explained, will help return a "natural element" to the creek and hopefully be inviting enough for people to make good use of the launch.

The new boat launch will give people access to the creek from the dam behind the courthouse (if people want to paddle upstream and then drift back to the launch), down to the falls in East Pembroke (and people will need to paddle upstream to get back to the launch).

At some point, town officials would like to provide a second launch downstream in East Pembroke so boaters can travel downstream and not worry about getting back to the launch upstream.

There's also a launch behind Kibbe Park in the city -- that Lichtenthal said is hard to access and use -- but because of the falls behind the courthouse, it won't be possible for boaters to start in the city and end at the town's new launch.

Photo from the book "Batavia," by Barbara Ann Toal. In 1910, two brothers built three boats capable of carrying recreational passengers on the Tonawanda Creek. The Bluebelle, above, was destroyed in a flood in 1922.


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March 20, 2012 - 9:37pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Oakfield, corfu.

Election results  from the Village of Corfu (vote for two):

Trustee: (2) Years – Democrat   – Arthur Ianni, 30                 
Trustee: (2) Years – Republican – Kenneth Lauer, 29                                
Trustee: (2) Years – Republican – Michael Tost (write in), 17

We've not received reports from the other villages. Jeremy Yasses has posted on Facebook that he won seat in the Village of Oakfield by 35 votes.

UPDATE: Lorie Longhany reports the winners in Le Roy: Greg Rogers, mayor; and, trustees Jim Bonacquisti and Mike Tucci.

March 20, 2012 - 7:00pm
posted by Billie Owens in bergen.

Several callers have notified dispatch that a cow is loose and creating a dangerous condition for drivers. Law enforcement is looking for the animal, last spotted in the vicinity of Church and Gibson streets in the Village of Bergen, we believe.

A couple of people in a pickup tried to corral the bovine creature and got it into the truck bed but, alas, it jumped back out and subsequently refused to be re-corraled.

UPDATE 7:12 p.m.: The cow is now tied up.

This post was corrected, hopefully, correctly. It did not happen, as previously reported, in Alabama.

March 20, 2012 - 5:02pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Oakfield.

Two bodies have been found in the Genesee River near the Elmwood Avenue bridge, reports WHAM13.

The bodies were found about a mile apart.

Officials have said they will not "speculate" as to whether the bodies are of David and Michael King, of Oakfield, who disappeared the night of Feb. 19 after apparently trying to cross the I-390 on foot at a spot above the Genesee River.

Previously: State Police still searching for brothers who may have mistakenly jumped into Genesee River

March 20, 2012 - 3:46pm
posted by Billie Owens in fire, Alabama.

A grass fire is reported at 2408 Lewiston Road. Alabama Fire Department is responding. The location is between Lockport and Knowlesville roads.

UPDATE 3:57 p.m.: East Pembroke Fire Department's grass truck is requested to the scene.

UPDATE 4:05 p.m.: Manpower and an engine out of Oakfield are requested. Also, they have called for mutual aid from Wolcottsville, in Niagara County. "It's up into the woods pretty good," says a firefighter at the scene.

UPDATE 4:08 p.m.: Some of the flames are heading toward a barn. "All the fire is up at the west end here." In one section, as soon as a firefighter beats down the flames, they are said to come back twice as big.

UPDATE 4:20 p.m.: They seem to be making progress on fighting the blaze and it is contained in some places. They are going to concentrate on the north edge of the fire now.

UPDATE 4:23 p.m.: Some firefighters say they are "all set" and they are going to start picking up their water lines. But there's still a 7- to 8-foot swath of fire that's moving northward. 

UPDATE 4:27 p.m.: "The fire's been extinguished." They are checking the perimeter one last time.

UPDATE 4:45 p.m.: A fire engine from Elba also responded and is now back in service.

UPDATE 4:52 p.m.: Wolcottsville responders are thanked and released from the assignment. Others at the scene are filling up tanks and otherwise breaking down and preparing to leave.

March 20, 2012 - 3:04pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in bergen.

An abandoned car with Mexican license plates drew the attention of local law enforcement this morning, with members of the Local Drug Enforcement Task Force responding, assisted by K-9 "Pharoah."

The car was thoroughly searched by hand and by "Pharoah," and no contraband nor other signs of illegal activity were found, said Sgt. Steve Mullen.

Through conversations with the U.S. Border Patrol, investigators were able to piece together that the car was purchased in Mexico by a Canadian citizen, who drove it to the Peace Bridge crossing. Canadian Customs, however, for an unknown reason, wouldn't let the man bring the car into his native country.

The man apparently made some statement to officials that he intended to ditch the car.

The car was towed and if it's not claimed, the tow company will likely sell it for scrap in order to recover tow and storage costs.

March 20, 2012 - 12:23pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, missing children.

Police are looking for a 14-year-old boy described as a willful runaway and believed to be in Batavia.

The youth is identified as Timothy Vail. He was last seen wearing a black uniform. He has visible cuts and scrapes on his left forearm.

Timothy has green eyes and blond hair and is 5'1", 128 lbs.

Anybody with information, contact Genesee County Dispatch at 345-6350.

UPDATE: Timothy has been located and is safe.

March 20, 2012 - 11:46am
posted by Billie Owens in batavia, fire.

A vehicle fire is reported in the parking lot of Richmond Memorial Library in the City of Batavia. It is located at 19 Ross St. City firefighters are responding.

UPDATE 12:07 p.m.: The fire is out. City fire is back in service.

March 20, 2012 - 10:46am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, crime.

A 40-year-old Batavia resident is facing multiple tax fraud, grand larceny and forgery charges following a joint investigation by the State Police and the Department of Taxation and Finance.

Heidi L. Schollard, of 161 Bank St., is being held on $25,000 bail.

Schollard is accused of stealing money from two elderly women whom she cared for and filing false tax returns.  Schollard also allegedly received NYS benefits while employed.

The charges include two counts of criminal tax fraud, 3rd, two counts of grand larceny, 3rd, one count of grand larceny, 4th, 13 counts of offering a false instrument for filing, five counts of forgery and 10 counts of falsifying business records.

March 20, 2012 - 10:03am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, sports, mock trials.

A team other than Batavia High School has a chance to win the 2012 Mock Trial Competition for the Genesee area, and following a quarter-final round Monday night, four teams are left, including two from Genesee County.

Those remaining are Pembroke, Notre Dame, Attica and Warsaw. They will compete at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday in the Warsaw County Courthouse.

It's the first time in the nine-year history of the competition that Batavia won't be among the semi-finalists.

In fact, the team that wins this year will be the first team in nine years not from Batavia to win.

The Blue Devils failed to even make the quarter finals.

A first-time quarterfinalist, however, was Pavilion, which had never won a trial before this year.

Pavilion has two new coaches -- Thomas A. Burns, a Batavia-based attorney, and Assistant District Attorney William Zickl Kevin T. Finnell.

The 2012 case involves an assault at a nightclub. The victim and the suspect were known to each other prior to the night of the attack. The victim bumped into the alleged attacker and spilled his/her drink. The suspect gave, according to witnesses, "a look that could kill." The victim was struck on the back of the head. The victim did not see the face of his/her attacker, but he/she believes he/she recognized the voice of the attacker singing a rap song about hitting a person on the head with a crowbar. The arresting officer is an admittedly rogue cop who works alone and uses his/her own investigative techniques. The cop previously Tasered and arrested the suspect on a case that was thrown out and for which the cop was disciplined and denied a promotion.

It's apparently a tough case for the prosecuting teams to win.

In mock trials, however, points are awarded on a number of factors and it's possible for the prosecution to lose the case but win on points, or conversely, the defense can lose the case and win on points.

The photos are of the Pavilion and Notre Dame teams.

Pavilion Team members: Joshua Yunke, Mackenzie Grasso, Tiffani Bragg, Hannah Smart, Gabrielle Henry, Heather Stefan, Austin Wolcott, Alexis Boundry and Sara Thompson.

Notre Dame team members: Meghan Zickl, Anneliese Aliasso, Andrew Fischer, Matthew Sausher, Kendra Wall, John Lapple, Ariana Aliasso, Rosalie Mortellaro, Jake Krajewski, Brittany Perzia, Caleb Nellis, James Spear, Anna Arner, Natalie Mouton, Katie Fischer, Andrew Cheverie and Rosemary Fulmerfeld.

Judges in the pictures are Eric, Adams, Jerry Ader and Micahel Mohun. Also judging during the quarter finals was William Zickl.

The finals will be at 5:30 p.m. Monday in the Genesee County Courthouse with Judge Robert C. Noonan on the bench.

If you're unable to view the slide show, click here. To purchase prints of these photos, click here.

March 20, 2012 - 8:34am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business, downtown, BID.

Press release:

The Batavia Business Improvement District has awarded two more façade improvement grants to downtown businesses. The recipients were Francis Marchese, owner of 238 Ellicott St., and Brian and Beth Kemp, owners of T-Shirts Etc., 111 Main St.  

Both businesses received matching grants for improvements to their facades. Marchese received $1,550 for installing new windows and frames at his Ellicott Street property. The Kemps were awarded $447.66 for signage that brings back some nostalgia by mimicking the old J.J. Newberry-type letters. These funds were awarded based upon the Business Improvement District’s design guidelines  

The B.I.D. Design Committee has now awarded 78 matching grants totaling over $319,933 in funds to revitalize businesses within the district.  Currently, there are two more projects that have been approved and should be completed within the next two months.

The Business Improvement District façade improvement program was established in 1998 to provide economic assistance to property owners and tenants for exterior improvements to their buildings. It has contributed to the renewed vitality of downtown by providing economic assistance and preserving the character of its structures. 

According to Don Burkel, B.I.D. downtown manager, these improvements demonstrate a long-term commitment by these business owners to downtown and  positive steps for its future.  When you consider that 78 businesses have reinvested in total project costs of over $2,626,600 in the district, that’s pretty impressive.

Find out more about why it would benefit you to set up shop in Downtown Batavia. Contact Don Burkel, B.I.D. downtown manager, at (585) 344-0900 or visit www.downtownbataviany.com.

March 19, 2012 - 4:47pm
posted by Billie Owens in Oakfield, fire.

A brush fire was reported at 3692 Maltby Road in Oakfield. But now it's contained to a willow tree. Oakfield firefighters are on scene. The location is in between Fisher and Weatherwax roads. Responders are proceeding in non-emergency mode.

UPDATE 5 p.m.: The fire is out. Oakfield is back in service.

March 19, 2012 - 3:01pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Basom, crime, byron, Le Roy, Alabama, corfu.

Jason William Wolf, 36, of Hutchins Street, Batavia, is charged with felony DWI, driving with a BAC of .18 or greater, unlicensed operator and aggravated unlicensed operation, 1st. Deputy Kevin McCarthy was reportedly on routine patrol in the Village of Corfu at 3:51 a.m. Sunday when he observed a vehicle pulling randomly into driveways. Wolf was arrested following further investigation.

Jessica M. Miller, 18, of South Pearl Street, Oakfield, is charged with harassment, 2nd. Miller is accused of hitting another person during a dispute.

Evan Ryan Anderson, 30, of 2832 Pearl St. Road, Batavia, is charged with operating while ability impaired by drugs. Officer Darryle Streeter responded to a report at 3:43 a.m. Saturday of a person passed out behind the wheel of a car with its engine running at 419 W. Main St. Anderson was allegedly found at the wheel of the car.

Daniel Jeffrey McGiveron, 26, Phelps Road, Basom, is charged with criminal possession of a controlled substance, 7th. During an unrelated investigation at 9:50 p.m. Saturday in Oakfield, McGiveron was allegedly found in possession of suboxone. Deputy Brian Thompson was assisted by K-9 "Pharoah."

Jessie Lee Jackson, 27, of Byron Holley Road, Byron, is charged with criminal mischief, 4th, and harassment, 2nd. Jackson was reportedly involved in a domestic incident in which he allegedly struck a vehicle with a skateboard and hit a person in the side of the head with his hand. Jackson was jailed on $800 bail.

Alexandra R. Wood, 21, of 8193 McCall Road, Le Roy, is charged with DWI, unsafe start and failing to yield the right of way. Wood was stopped at 2:14 a.m. Friday on Myrtle Street by Sgt. Michael Hare. Wood allegedly refused to submit to a breath test.

March 19, 2012 - 2:48pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in fire, Le Roy.

A caller reports seeing flames and smoke in the area of 8993 Asbury Road.

A chief already on seen reports a possible large controlled burn at a property on East Main Road.

Le Roy firefighters will respond and put out the fire.

UPDATE 2:54 p.m.: A homeowner on East Main Road was advised of the open burn law and the fire department will put out the fire.

UPDATE 3:56 p.m.: The hydrant used at this incident now won't shut off. Monroe County Water notified. A chief reports it's cause a bit of a traffic problem on Route 5.


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March 19, 2012 - 11:48am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, crime, STOP-DWI.

In one of the first-of-its-kind "enhanced" DWI check points in the state Saturday night, only two people were arrested for driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

Local law enforcement is considering that a success, according to Chief Deputy Gordon Dibble.

"The fact that people know we're out there helps," Dibble said. "A lot of people say, 'why put out a press release and let people know what you're doing,' but the whole idea is to cut down on drinking and driving."

The program was funded by a grant from the governor's office and was designed to make it harder for people to avoid the checkpoints.

The checkpoints were set up in three different locations -- all in the City of Batavia -- during the course of Saturday night, and extra patrols were in the area looking for people who might be trying to avoid the checkpoint.

When the checkpoints were moved, the patrols involved would engage in a period of saturation patrols looking for drunken drivers before the next checkpoint was set up.

Le Roy PD participated Saturday with extra DWI patrols in the village.

"Only 1 percent of DWI arrests come at checkpoints," Dibble said. "But what they do is raise public awareness as much as anything else."

The vast majority of people, Dibble said (as well as officers on scene Saturday night) were cooperative and even thanked officers for the extra effort to get drunken drivers off the road.

One misconception about the enhanced checkpoints that Dibble clarified is what conduct will lead an officer to stop a car.

Merely turning down a street prior to a checkpoint is not necessarily enough reason to stop somebody.

Dibble said there is case law dealing with the these kinds of stops. In one case, a car turned into a parking lot of a closed business prior to a checkpoint. That stop was upheld by the courts. In another case, a car turned down a street prior to a checkpoint and that case was thrown out.

"It makes a lot of sense to me," Dibble said. "What we tell our patrols is we want probable cause to pull somebody over anyways. Turning may warrant a closer look to see how they're driving, but we're going to look for how you are driving, how you're making a turn and do you appear like you should be on a highway."

During the course of Saturday night, the Sheriff's Office and Batavia PD set up roadblocks on Clinton and Oak streets, and Ellicott Street just west of Cedar Street.

Arrested on Saturday were Dale R. Maxwell, 51, of Hamilton Street, Albion, and Aaron R. Rodger, 23, of Ellicott Road, Caledonia.

Maxwell was charged with DWI, driving with a BAC of .08 or more and consumption of alcohol in a motor vehicle.

Rodger was charged with driving under the influence.

Additionally, 26 citations were issued, including citations for operating while registration suspended, unlicensed operation, expired inspection, consuming alcohol in a motor vehicle, unregistered motor vehicle, uninsured operation, uninspected motor vehicle, inadequate headlights, tinted windows, aggravated unlicensed operation, 3rd, and failure to yield right of way.

The governor's grant covers three more enhanced checkpoints this summer.

Dibble said the Sheriff's Office considers them a good idea and will continue to run them on high profile weekends when they can do the most good.

"It's all about keeping our highways safe for the people," Dibble said. "We want people to have a good time and to get home safely. That can easily be done with a little forethought and a little planning ahead."

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