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Dairy industry gives NY senator an earful

By Billie Owens

BATAVIA, NY -- About 200 people attended a formal Senate hearing this afternoon at Genesee Community College focused on a dairy industry in crisis and possible solutions.

New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand heard testimony from producers and processors, economists and dairy industry experts. At the end of the two-hour hearing, which started about a half hour late, she said she was taking some good ideas back to Washington to use in developing long-term fixes.

The dairy industry is hard hit by: a pricing structure that's based on only 2 percent of the industry's products: higher fuel and feed costs; trade inequities; the expense of meeting increased regulations and standards not required by international competitors; and by a swiftly fluctuating market -- stemming from changing demands, the impact of product perishibility and supply -- plus many other factors.

It's a tough business and it requires a certain youthfulness to do the heavy physical labor, 365-days-a-year, with a liklihood of losing money at the end of the year instead of making a profit.

One of the surest ways of increasing the health of the dairy industry, is to increase consumer demand for its products. Several spoke in favor of the federal government doing more to help out, such as buying more milk for school breakfast programs, stocking up food banks with cheese or buying powdered milk for women and infant nutrition programs. In other words, use more Department of Agriculture money going toward food purchases anyway to beef up dairy consumption.

To compete with a ever-increasing variety of thirst-quenching beverages, the dairy industry needs to develop new products and boost the flavor, "mouth feel," and nutrition of milk without adding fat or calories.

They also called for leveling the field when it comes to trade. Why does an American dairy farmer have to pay a 15-cent per-hundred-weight fee for marketing and promotion, when the foreign importer does not yet still enjoys the benefits?

One good way to boost oversees consumption is to sell more solid milk product, which is in great demand worldwide. But more production plants are needed. Yet a capital expansion program for Batavia has been on hold since 2005 pending USDA approvals.

Rep. Eric Massa said he'll enlist his colleagues to pressure the USDA to speed things up if Kim Pickard-Dudley drafts him a letter on why the capital expansion program is critical for Western New York. She spoke as a representative of the farmer-owned Upstate Niagara Co-op.

Robert Church advocated "market-driven solutions" and federalizing uniform industry standards, so states like California, do not have unfair advantage over Western New York's dairy industry. He's herd manager for Patterson Farms, a 980-cow operation west of Auburn.

"You said one-size-fits-all," Massa told Church. "My job is to protect New York. That's what I'm here to do."

The problems faced by New Mexico, California or Arizona dairies, compared to here, are vastly different because their circumstances are different, Massa said, about as different in fact as Mars is from Pluto.

"California cows are happy cows," so goes the marketing slogan, but Massa said here it's more like "New York cows are really angry cows."

U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry Hearing at GCC

By Bea McManis

Congressman Massa, Senator Gillibrand, and Congressman Lee listened to two panels.  The first Producers and Processors, the second consisted of Economists and Experts.

The best lines of the day....Congressman Massa, after learning that each NY dairy farmer must contribute to a national promotion fund, part of which is used by the State of California to promote their California Happy Cow ads in New York State. Fifteen cents per hundredweight is levied on all milk marketed commercially in NYS.

He asked, "Why can't we produce ads for...let's say... New York Happy Yankee Cows, and play them in California?".

When told that it is tradition that  dairy farmers' have responsibility to transport milk to the processor...just like lobster fisherman must arrange transportation of their catch from the ship to the cannery.

Congressman Massa mused, "I don't know how to milk a lobster."

The Old Meets the New!

By Loren Penman

Members of Beta Alpha Chapter of Delta Kappa Gamma (DKG), a Genesee County society for women educators, met this summer for a personal/ professional growth activity at the historic Adams Basin Inn (between Brockport and Spencerport).

Innkeepers David and Pat Haines served lunch in the tavern dining room, then graciously allowed the ladies to tour their nearly 200-year-old home which they operate as a bed and breakfast.  David, a former teacher, gave a witty and fascinating history of the structure that was built along the Erie Canal as a bar and general store; in fact, the Adams Basin Inn has the only known original bar-room left in existence along the 363-mile-long waterway.   Meticulously restored and updated, the Adams Basin Inn is a frequent stop for bicyclists along the Canal towpath.

Blended into the charm of the old is the efficiency of the new:  the Inn is using the latest in solar technology with 18 state-of-the-art solar modules and a power inverter.  The system is capable of producing over 4,000 kilowatts of electric per year and will produce clean, solar generated power over its 30-year projected lifecycle.  This renewable energy system will offset approximately 40% of the Inn's electrical needs -- and its environmentally friendly!

In the photo, DKG members enjoy perusing artifacts during Mr. Haines' informative talk.

Man who pulled knife after getting caught shoplifting at Target gets seven years

By Howard B. Owens

Marcos Juan Gomez had a chance to turn his life around fairly quickly, but as he admitted to Judge Robert Noonan this morning, "I blew that up."

Gomez pled guilty in early May to robbery and Judge Noonan agreed to consider a lesser prison term if Gomez successfully completed a drug rehab program at a clinic in Rochester.

Outside the courthouse, Attorney Fred Rarik could only shake his head at the chance Gomez traded away for a maximum seven-year prison term imposed by Noonan this morning.

"I've seen Judge Noonan tell people 'I really didn't expect you to follow my orders' and reward them," said Attorney Fred Rarik outside the courtroom.

Gomez was back in court for sentencing on his robbery conviction because he reportedly left the rehab clinic before completing treatment and stealing something in order to get some money to buy heroin.

Rarik argued that Gomez deserved a chance to kick his addition.

"I've seen people struggle with addiction and fail many times before success," Rarik told Noonan. "I ask that you limit his incarceration to sufficient time for him to get treatment. I ask for three years."

But Gomez didn't just steal some DVDs to buy drugs from Target back in April, Noonan said. Gomez committed a violent felony, pulling out a large knife on a loss prevention officer.

"I see drug addicts day after day," Noonan said. "I spend a lot of time trying to figure out how to protect the community and at the same time help people deal with their addictions ... you committed a violent act because of your addition, so it is my responsibility, and I feel very comfortable with that responsibility, to separate you from society as long as possible."

Gomez expressed remorse for his crimes and his addiction.

"I've never been the type of person who would hurt somebody and I guess the drugs really got to me," Gomez said.

Police Beat: Damages to Darien Lake trailer lead to arrest of Canadian man

By Howard B. Owens

George Michael Thompson, 32, of 310 Wilson Drive, Milton, Ontario, Canada, is charged with criminal mischief and endangering the welfare of a child. Thompson allegedly got in a argument with a woman at Darien Lake Theme Park and proceeded to cause at least $250 damage to a camping trailer owned by the facility.  A 12-year-old child was present during the incident.

A 17-year-old from Albion is charged with petit larceny for allegedly stealing $53 worth of merchandise from K-Mart.

Wendy M. Cilnyk, 25, of 9 Liberty Ave., Lancaster, is charged with DWI, refusal to take breath test and moving from lane unsafely. Cilnyk was stopped by officer Chris Camp on Pearl Street after police received several calls about an erratic driver.

Jane Amanda Richardson, 24, of 788 Route 33, Corfu, is charged with falsifying business records and petit larceny. Richardson allegedly falsified business records at the Elba Yellow Goose store. The case was investigated by Deputy Brian Thompson.

Today's Deals: Pudgie's, Picasso's, Adam Miller, T.F. Brown's and more

By Howard B. Owens

T.F. Brown's, at 214 E. Main St., Batavia, N.Y.: 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. When you need to book your next party, think T.F. Brown's. See the ad on the right side of the page for contact information. We have a $20 gift card for $10.

The Enchanted Florist, 202 E. Main St., Batavia, N.Y.: Brighten up your home or office with flowers!  We have a $20 gift certificate for $8.50.

Picasso's Pizza, 419 W. Main St., Batavia, N.Y.: A great variety of pizza, subs and salads -- and try the wings, too. We have three $5 booklets of $1 gift certificates ($15 value) for $7.50. The gift certificates can be used collectively or individually).

South Main Country Gifts, 3356 Main St. Road, Batavia, N.Y.: From cozy to contemporary is what you'll find at this well-stocked gift store. We have a $20 gift certificate for $9.

Pudgie's Lawn and Garden Center, 3646 West Main Road, Batavia, N.Y.: It's just about time to plant your fall bulbs for gorgeous spring flowers. Check out Pudgie's bulb selection. We have a $25 gift certificate for $12.50.

Adam Miller Toy & Bicycles, 8 Center St., Batavia, N.Y.: 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.

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


Texting While Driving Accidents

By Robin Walters

My daughter turns 17 this Saturday. She will be going to take her driving test.

Last night, I received this video on my facebook. This video is so graphic of what happens when texting while driving. I am sure many of us have been guilty of texting or talking while driving. I believe this is a wake up call to all. This is a must see for all teenagers!

Motocyclist who didn't see the car was stopped suffers minor injury

By Howard B. Owens

A motorcycle driver suffered a minor head injury yesterday afternoon when he came up behind a car on Bloomingdale Road that he thought was moving, only to realize once he was upon it that it was stopped, causing him to swerve off the roadway.

Gary Newton, 63, 11909 Boncliff, Alden, was not transported to the hospital following the accident.

The driver of the other vehicle was not identified.  It was apparently stopped at Bloomingdale Road and Martin Road in Alabama to make a left-hand turn.

Deputy Timothy Wescott investigated the accident.

Today's Deals: New today, Matty's Pizzeria

By Howard B. Owens

New Today, Matty's Pizzeria, 4152 W. Main St., Batavia, N.Y.: Matty's is another Batavia favorite for pizza and wings. We have a $20 gift certificate for $10.

Alex's Place, 8322 Park Road, Batavia, N.Y.: 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.

T.F. Brown's, at 214 E. Main St., Batavia, N.Y.: 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. When you need to book your next party, think T.F. Brown's. See the ad on the right side of the page for contact information. We have a $20 gift card for $10.

Settler's Restaurant, 353 W. Main St., Batavia, N.Y.: Settler's has a 25-year history in Batavia of serving great, affordable breakfasts, lunches and dinners to Batavians. We have a $20 gift certificate for $10.

Jackson St. Grill, 9 Jackson St., Batavia, N.Y.: Try the fresh, skinless haddock fish fry on Fridays. We have a $10 gift certificate for $5.

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




Former Grugnale's owners open new deli on West Main

By Howard B. Owens

Scott and Lynn Garlock and Rachel Bradt opened their new deli, Kravings, in the Valu Plaza on West Main Street in Batavia this week.  The Garlock's previously owned and operated Grugnale's Italian Market & Deli on Jackson Street.

Need a place to nap?

By Howard B. Owens

Some wiseacre sent along this picture captured from the Marchese Computer shop web cam with the remark, "no body's laid down yet."

Police Beat: Oakfield man accused of menancing outside court house

By Howard B. Owens

Michael C. Buzzell, 31, 26 Main St., Oakfield, is started with stalking and menacing following an incident outside the County Courthouse yesterday afternoon. Buzzell allegedly threatened another person in the parking lot of the court facility around 12:15 p.m. He and the other person were apparently appearing in court yesterday on the same matter. The alleged victim reports being threatened repeatedly by Buzzell. Buzzell was taken into custody at 4:42 p.m.

Lynn Desiree Bettilyon, 21, of 749 Washington St., Spencerport, is charged with attempt to evade or defeat tax and possession of untaxed cigarettes. Bettilyon was stopped for allegedly speeding in the Town of Alabama. She was allegedly traveling at 51 mph in a 40 mph zone. Deputy Tim Wescott investigated and allegedly found her in possession of 400 untaxed cigarettes. Bettilyon was also issued citations for unlicensed driving and driving left of pavement marking.

Vacant house on Batavia-Elba Townline Road destroyed in early morning fire

By Howard B. Owens

We received an e-mail reporting a working fire on Batavia-Elba Townline Road between State Street and Norton Road at 4:14 a.m.

Later, we received this picture from a volunteer at the scene.  I'll post more information about the fire as soon as I get it.

UPDATE 8:58 a.m.: The wife of a firefighter e-mailed this to us:

An Abandoned house was on fire in Elba this morning around 3:30am on  Batavia-Elba townline rd! They put it out around 5am! My husband just came  home from it and said they were waiting for someone to come knock it down to  the ground! Elba Oakfield S.Byron and town of batavia fire dept were called  and Barre was on stand by in Elbas hall.

UPDATE 9:12 a.m.: From a report filed by the Sheriff's Office:

The fire was reported at 3:17 a.m. at 4681 Batavia-Elba Townline Road, Elba. The house was vacant and owned by Ron Green, of 4975 Batavia-Elba Townline Road, Elba. The fire originated on the first floor or basement on the northeast corner.  The house was a total loss and uninsured. The cause is unknown.  Fire departments responding: Elba, Town of Batavia, Oakfield, South Byron, Byron, Albabam and Albion.

UPDATE 9:32 a.m.: Just spoke with Tim Yaeger, emergency management coordinator for Genesee County. He said the cause remains under investigation, but that the house still had electricity and water running to it, so investigators will probably be looking most closely at the possibility that it was an electrical fire.  There is nothing suspicious about the fire at this time, he said. The house is still smoldering, but it was burnt completely to the ground.  He said it's believed the house had been in an abandoned state for two months.

NOTE: We received this video this morning, but for some reason, it took YouTube a long time to process it. It's from a cellphone camera, presumably from a volunteer firefighter.

Ken Mistler making progress on new downtown gym

By Howard B. Owens

Judging from the pictures Ken Mislter posted to the Facebook page for Next Level Fitness, he and his workers are making good progress toward getting his downtown gym opened.  Mistler posted 15 new pictures showing the finishing touches being put into place.  No word on when he expects to open.

St. Nick's Club will pay off loans, president promises

By Howard B. Owens

St. Nick's Social Club has paid back more than $10,000 of the $36,000 it borrowed through a city program in 2006, reports Joanne Beck.

“We don’t plan on stiffing anybody,” Club President Michael Rimmer told Beck, saying the club promised to pay the entire balance.

No payment has been made since May 2008.

The loans have already gone to a collections agency, Professional Account Solutions of Spencerport.

City Attorney George Van Nest said he didn't know what arrangements or collateral the club offered when it took out the loans because he wasn't city attorney at the time.

Cool cars, hot evening at downtown Tuesday Night Car Cruise

By Howard B. Owens

I've always dreamed of owning a powder blue Chevy Bel Air. Earlier this evening, I spotted one of the cars of my dreams at the Tuesday Night Classic Car Cruise downtown. I also saw the Mustang of my dreams, and the Impala of my dreams and the Camaro of my dreams. Unfortunately, no Cadillac El Dorado of my dreams, though.

Next Tuesday night is the last night to catch these classic beauties, if you haven't been yet this summer.

One of accused Elba bank robbers agrees to guilty plea

By Howard B. Owens

BATAVIA, N.Y. -- Demone Dillon, one of three men accused of robbing the Elba M&T Bank on June 18, entered a guilty plea this afternoon to robbery in the second degree with a recommended prison term of 3 1/2 to 10 years.

As part of the plea bargain, Dillon agreed to testify in any trial of either of the co-defendants.  He also agreed to acknowledge that his confessions the night of the alleged robbery are truthful.

Under oath, while being questioned by Judge Robert Noonan, Dillon admitted that he accompanied Michael Wells and Dennis Abrams to Elba on June 18 and that at the time he entered the vestibule of the bank, he knew the intention of Wells and Abrams was to hold up the branch.

Dillon said he held the door open because the two other suspects feared getting locked in, and he was also supposed to alert Wells and Abrams if he saw the police, but admitted he didn't watch too closely for the cops.

He also couldn't see what was going on in the branch office while the robbery was in progress, he said.

"Everybody admits he's the least culpable of the three," said his attorney, Richard R. Shaw II, after the hearing. "We think that for what he's charged with, this is a fair plea."

Shaw also said he believes at least one of the other co-defendants will soon enter a guilty plea.

The attorney for Abrams, Daniel Killelea, had a closed-door conference with District Attorney Lawrence Friedman and Judge Noonan this afternoon.

Thomas Burns, the attorney for Wells, recently filed a series of motions challenging the prosecution's case and requested a change of venue for a potential trial.

"I imagine they'll all eventually plea," Shaw said.

Dillon's bail was reduced to $250,000 cash OR $250,000 bond. Previously, it was set at $250,000 cash AND $500,000 bond.

Judge Noonan will sentence Dillon at a later date after a probation department review of the case and interviews with Dillon, family members and victims.

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