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Episcopal Diocese settles suit with former Batavia priest

By Howard B. Owens

WBKW in Buffalo reports that Simon Howson's lawsuit against the Episcopal Diocese of Wester New York (story with video) has been settled.

Howson was a priest at St. James Episcopal Church in Batavia in 2004 when he was accused of stealing and dismissed.  He claimed his firing was retaliation for him making a sexual harrassment claim against another priest.

Howson says he is finally publicly exonerated and the diocese is apologizing. "The bishop has stepped up and he's going to apologize in writing for what happened to Simon Howson." said attorney Andrew Fleming.

"You asked me how I feel," said Howson. "Numb. Numb." Howson filed a same sex discrimination and retaliation suit claiming Bishop Michael Garrison removed him from the church after he complained, that an admitted homosexual Episcopalian priest, now serving in Massachusetts, was sexually harassing him with unwanted advances. Howson is heterosexual. "Simon is a man of God. This was very difficult for him in a sense that this was very challenging to his faith journey." said Fleming.

Here's the Buffalo News story.

Week 5 football previews in sports

By Brian Hillabush

 All of the Week 5 High School football previews are located in the sports section now. I'd like to hear what The Batavian readers think about these games, so please pick games that you are interested in and post comments and predictions after the preview story.

Here is the list of games with links to the previews:

Batavia (2-2) at Penn Yan (1-3)

Notre Dame (2-2) at Holley (0-4)

Le Roy (4-0) at Avon (3-1)

Oakfield-Alabama (4-0) at Attica (3-1)

Alexander (1-3) at Elba/Byron-Bergen (1-3)

Pembroke (4-0) at Barker (1-3)

O-A's Tim Smith is Player of the Week

By Brian Hillabush

 This was a pretty easy call for the folks that pick the Players of the Week in Section 5.

Oakfield-Alabama's Tim Smith put up sick numbers against a solid opponent and because of that was named Class C Offensive Player of the Week.

He is the second local player in a row to earn the honor as Andy Ruddock won in Class B last week.

Smith's Hornets had a slim 7-0 lead at Notre Dame on Saturday and he blew up in the second half en route to a 28-6 win.

Smith gained 185 yards on the ground, picking up 25 carries. The number of carries alone is an amazing number in O-A's offensive system.

He had 79 punt return yards and intercepted two passes and returned them for 54 yards.

His 6-yard TD run in the second quarter put the Hornets on top before he added a 21-yard touchdown run and broke a 31-yarder on a fourth-and-1 that set up his 8-yard score.

Smith has 489 yards and seven touchdowns this season.

Kauffman dubbed 'patriot of Batavia' in review of new book

By Howard B. Owens

In the Charelston City Paper, Dylan Hales reviews Bill Kauffman's new book about Luther Martin, and refers to Kauffman as "the patriot of Batavia." 

I kind of like that better than Gore Vidal's "sage of Batavia."

It's a favorable review.

As Kauffman aptly notes, the Founders are often revered as the designers of a "federal compact," wary of the dangers of big government tyranny.

In fact, it was the "anti-Federalists" who were the true advocates of self-government, and Martin was their most spirited proponent.

One of the implied theses of the book is that history is written by the winners, and we are all worse off for it. Kauffman is at his best noting Martin's unfair treatment by Constitutional scholars and historians, who have for the most part regarded him as "the town drunk, the class bore, the motormouth."

Kauffman thoroughly debunks this as obtuse obstructionism. In fact, Martin was a relatively modest participant at the Constitutional Convention. His attachment to the Articles of Confederation was predicated on a reverence for local government as well as the illegality of the usurpation of power promoted by Hamilton, Madison and the gang.

I just started reading the book last night.  I'll probably post something about it after I finish it.  The book can be purchased at Present Tense, where last I heard, there were still autographed copies available.

News roundup: Fire house open house

By Philip Anselmo

An open house has been scheduled at the town of of Batavia Fire Hall, according to the Daily News. Folks are welcome to come down this Sunday, between 11:00am and 3:00pm, for free hot dogs and soda, and to pick up a free smoke detector and learn a little more about fire prevention. The Fire Hall is located at 8382 Lewiston Road in Batavia. (The Batavian put up a post yesterday with the news that the Le Roy Fire Department is doing much the same. An announcement on the department's Web site even offers to install the free smoke detector.)

News of the opening of Larry's Steakhouse, featured today on the front page, was announced here on The Batavian yesterday. You can also check out that post to download a full menu for the restaurant.

On the Beat: DWI in Pembroke

By Philip Anselmo

Edwin L. Stancliff, 29, of Florida, was charged with driving while intoxicated Tuesday in the town of Pembroke, Genesee County sheriff's deputies said. Stancliff crashed his vehicle on Route 5, damaging property, then fled the scene. He was also ticketed with unlicensed operation, moving from the lane unsafely and leaving the scene of a property damage accident.

News roundup: Child safety seats

By Philip Anselmo

City police installed and inspected several child safety seats yesterday, according to WBTA's Dan Fischer. Det. John Zola told Fischer that anyone can schedule an appointment to bring their safety seat into the department to have it installed properly. There are even a few new child safety seats that the department is willing to give parents who do not have one of their own. For parents who choose to install their own, Det. Zola has this advice: "check for recalls, fit the child to the seat and fit the seat to the vehicle."

Phillips a top assistant

By Brian Hillabush

There is further proof that being a solid role player for the Batavia High basketball team is a great place to start if you want to get into college coaching.

Last week we reported that Joe Zinni had recently accepted an assistant coaching position with Saginaw Valley State University women's basketball, and now Russ Phillips is moving up the ladder at his college alma-matter, SUNY Cortland. He will be serving as the top assistant to coach Tom Spanbauer this winter.

Phillips led Batavia's team on the floor as a point guard and that knowledge along with the work ethic it takes to play BHS coach Buddy Brasky's high-octane pressure defense has translated well into his coaching career.

 Phillips went right from his playing days to coaching when he started working as an assistant coach for the Batavia jayvee program in 2004. 

He picked up valuable experience as an assistant with both the jayvee and varsity squads at BHS for two years. During that time he also was the head coach for four different Rochester Area Players AAU teams. He also worked as a member of the Board of Directors for RAP where he was involved in planning AAU tournaments.

Phillips has also been Brasky's assistant coach for the Western Scholastic boys basketball teams at the Empire State Games for the past two summers.

At Cortland, he got his start in college coaching as a team manager during the 2006-2007 season, where he handled film work along with game and practice preparation.

He was promoted to student-assistant coach last year.

His work in assisting Spanbauer, scouting, coordinating practice and game day video along with breaking down statistics earned him the top assistant position.

Phillips appears to be on the fast-track to achieving his career goal of being a head basketball coach for a college team.

New restaurant will open on Main Street

By Philip Anselmo

Larry's Steakhouse is set to open this Thursday for lunch and dinner. Larry's is located at 60 Main Street, attached to the Genesee Country Mall, with front-door access on Main Street.

We stopped by the restaurant today to wish them well and find out more about what they've got to offer. You can download the complete menu here. We also asked owner Steve Mullen if he could describe the place in a single sentence. He told us: "It's a great new dining experience with a very affordable menu." They've got everything from Guinness artichoke dip to marinated Mahi Mahi.

It's not hard to guess that steak is the specialty. Steve recommends the everyday steak special: a 14 ounce NY Strip, with a cup of chili or soup de jour, a salad and a side for $17.99.

News roundup: Mercy Flight needs more money, food pantries need more food

By Philip Anselmo

Mercy Flight is asking Genesee County for an additional $5,000 next year to keep up with the steady increase in emergency transport calls coming out of the county, according to the Daily News. In the past decade, reports Paul Mrozek, calls for service have doubled while funding has seen only one increase, starting in 2006, from $10,000 to $15,000. Now, Mercy Flight is asking for $20,000 in 2009.

In other news, area food pantries are afraid that demand will soon outpace supply, leaving the cupboards empty. One pantry in Wyoming County reported a 350 percent increase in requests for food. The Salvation Army and area churches all accept donations. In particular, the Batavia pantry is in need of peanut butter, crackers, spaghetti sauce and pork and beans.

We encourage you to pick up a copy of the Daily News at your local newsstand. Or, better yet, subscribe at

700 Billion Dollar "Bailout"

By Mark Wiatrowski

Let me begin by saying that I'm far from being a genius. All this talk about this large bailout has me concerned and confused.

Big corporations and lending institutions have made a grave misjudgement in how they handle their finances. The apparent answer is for the American people to pay the government this money that they gave to these institutions to keep operating.

Why do we have to foot the bill for other peoples mistakes? If I mishandle my finances, I'm sure not going to ask my neighbors to pay for it.

I understand the country is in trouble, but I feel that the ones responsible for this situation should be the ones to correct it.

On the Beat: Scuffle at the Park

By Philip Anselmo

Darryl M. Cummings, 31, of Buffalo, was charged with third-degree assault related to an incident at Darien Lake Theme Park in August, Genesee County sheriff's deputies said. Cummings is accused of punching a man in the face during an argument at the park.

George Dagraca, of 5 Thomas Ave., Apt. 2, Batavia, was charged with a felony county of failure to register as a sex offender, city police said. Dagraca allegedly moved from Massachusetts to Batavia on August 11 or 12, but he did not register with the city police department until August 28.

Don't have a fire detector? Le Roy crew will install one in your home for free

By Philip Anselmo

An announcement on the Web site for the Le Roy Fire Department claims that the fire crews will install a smoke detector in your home for free. All you have to do is follow the link on the site to send them an e-mail to request yours.

There is no indication on the site of who is eleigible for the free smoke detectors—only folks in Le Roy or across the county, we don't know. We've put in a call to the department to find out more info. We'll get it up as soon as it comes to us.

Rainy days make for good reading

By Philip Anselmo

Rainy days and chilly mornings don't make for garden walk weather. That's fine. Richmond Memorial Library has got you covered. Wednesday is a bit of a double feature at the library on Ross Street.

Author E. Robert Fussell will be stopping by in the afternoon for the next session of Books Sandiwched In, the library's literary lunchtime book chat. Fussell is the editor of Unbridled Cowboy, which is based on his grandfather's memoirs.

Anyone interested in hearing more about that book can stop by the library's Gallery Room at 12:10pm. The session runs until 1:00pm, and folks are encouraged to bring their lunch. Coffee, tea and cookies will be provided. This event is free, and all are welcome. Call (585) 343-9550 for more information.

Then, in the evening, the library will host its 100th Anniversary Celebration of Anne of Green Gables, from 6:00 to 8:00pm in the Gallery Room.

Activities for this event include a cookie baking contest, an old-time spelling bee starting at 6:00 p.m. and an intergenerational book discussion at 7:00 p.m.  Copies of the book are available at the front desk.  For information on the cookie contest and the spelling bee, please stop by the library or call (585) 343-9550, ext. 4.

Visit the library's Web site to find out more about these and other upcoming events.

News roundup: Burglary at the Harvester

By Philip Anselmo

City police were alerted to a break in at the Harvester Center yesterday by one of the shop owners there, according to WBTA's Dan Fischer. Police located 27-year-old Brian Jurewicz, of North Spruce Street, Batavia, nearby. Jurewicz was charged with a felony count of burglary and may face additional charges. Police allege that Jurewicz entered several businesses at the center and caused damage inside. He was sent to Genesee County Jail on $10,000 bail. There is no mention in the report of the degree of the burglary charge, nor of what Jurewicz took from the businesses, if anything.

In other news, city police are looking for the owner of a dog that bit a child on the leg Sunday night. No charges are pending, but the police want to verify the vaccination records for the dog. The owner is described as a black male, between 35 and 40 years old. He was walking the dog on Jackson Street nearby the Salvation Army when the dog nipped the child on the leg.

Reynolds gives brief explanation for why he supported bailout bill

By Howard B. Owens

Lame duck Rep. Tom Reynolds has not yet posted any news release to his web site explaining his vote yesterday in favor of the Bush-requested, Democratic-sponsored $700 billion bailout for Wall Street banks.

The following passage from the Buffalo News contains a brief quote from Reynolds explaining his position:

Rep. Jeb Hensarling, R-Texas, said the bill would have put the nation “on the slippery slope to socialism. If you lose your ability to fail, soon you will lose your ability to succeed.”

Some Democrats indicated that the consequences of refusing to act had been exaggerated. “Like the Iraq War and the Patriot Act, this bill is fueled on fear and hinges on haste,” said Rep. Lloyd Doggett, D-Texas.

Reynolds and Higgins disagreed.

“This is one of the last votes I will cast on behalf of the people of Western New York, and it may be the most important one,” Reynolds said.

Acknowledging that he wished he could support a more cost-effective alternative, Reynolds said: “But if there’s one thing I’ve learned in my over three decades in public service, it’s that you cannot let the perfect be the enemy of the good. Too many jobs, too many homes, too many 401(k)s, too many college educations, too many community banks are on the line to risk further inaction.”

In contrast, Rep. Randy Kuhl (R-29), issued a statement immediately after the vote.  He's also posted an alternate plan. Blogger Rottenchester says the plan is hardly serious.

As for the positions of the two candidates for the 26th district on what to do in regard to current economic conditions, still no word from Republican Chris Lee. Several days prior to yesterday's vote, Alice Kryzan issued this statement.

UPDATE: Via the 26th District blog, we get an updated statement from Kryzan.  Kryzan talks about the importance of consumer protection and oversight, but the plan rejected yesterday was weak in both those areas. Also, the blog contains this quote:

“Chris Lee has made deregulating our economy a centerpiece of his campaign,” said spokesperson Anne Wadsworth. “Now that we’ve seen the disastrous result of continuing Bush’s failed policies, he has nothing to say. The people of this district need answers, not knee-jerk deregulation rhetoric.”

The problem with the statement is there is already no lack of regulation in place -- such as the job-killing Sarbanes-Oxley Act -- and none of it  prevented the current situation. The housing bubble has a lot more to do with Clinton-era policies, which Bush neglected to address, and with the Fed manipulating interest rates (which Bush doesn't control at all).  I'm not defending Bush here by any stretch, just trying to keep the record straight.  If you want to blame Bush for anything, blame him for trying to shove this "rush to bailout" down the throats of Americans, which House Democrats (except for 95 brave souls) seemed quite willing buy into hook, line and sinker.

Mysteries of Genesee County's History: "The Naked Lady Statue"

By Philip Anselmo

A few weeks ago, I was chatting with Anne Barone who told me how her husband, City Councilman Sam Barone, has always wanted to know what happened with the "naked lady statue" that used to be in Austin Park. Wouldn't that be an interesting story to tell, she mused.

Such was the genesis of The Batavian's newest series: Mysteries of Genesee County's History. It has one goal: Search out the lost memories and forgotten stories from our county and find out what happened.

In order to find some answers to our first mystery—the naked lady statue that went missing from Austin Park—I recruited Batavia's City Historian Larry Barnes to sleuth about. Larry filed the following report this morning:

A couple weeks ago, I received a call from Philip Anselmo of TheBatavian who wondered if I knew what had become of the “naked lady” in Austin Park.  The “naked lady,” Anselmo explained, was a statue that Councilman Sam Barone remembered seeing in his youth but then disappeared from the Park.  I didn’t have an answer initially, but with some detective work I have discovered that the “naked lady” has gone to Cincinnati.

The “naked lady” of Barone’s recollections is a life-sized bronze statue of a pubescent female holding aloft a bowl designed to hold water from which birds can drink.  In fact, the statue includes a bird flitting by the arm of the young girl.  The girl herself is not actually naked, but her garment is so thin that her anatomical features including navel and nipples are fully revealed.

The statue is the creation of an internationally renowned artist, Bessie Potter Vonnoh.  It was given to the City in 1931 for placement in Austin Park by Frances Washburn, wife of the County Judge, Edward Washburn.  It was intended to be part of a bird sanctuary in the Park.  An identical figure is part of a fountain group in Central Park in New York City.

The City had great plans for Austin Park.  A design developed by landscape architect Harold Olmsted included a band shell, pool, tennis courts, playing field, playground, comfort station, winding paths, and elaborate landscaping.  Most of this never materialized; and by the 1960s, Austin Park had fallen into a state of deterioration hastened by recurring vandalism. It was about this time that the “naked lady” was rescued from an uncertain fate.

The statue’s rescuer was Rowena Atwater, the daughter of donor Frances Washburn.  Mrs. Washburn was now dead; and Mrs. Atwater took the statue home to her garden.  That garden was next to the white house on East Main Street now owned by GCASA.  The statue remained in its new haven until the death of Rowena Atwater.

In 1996, the adult children of Mrs. Atwater, Edward, James and Julian Atwater, donated the “naked lady” to the Memorial Art Gallery in Rochester.  The Gallery placed the statue in the Fountain Court, located inside the main entrance to the Gallery.  Ordinarily, if you were to visit the Gallery, you could see the statue of Sam Barone’s memory standing in the left rear corner.

Today, however, the “naked lady” of Austin Park is on tour.  Currently, she is visiting the Cincinnati Art Museum.  So, you’ll have to travel some distance if you want an up close and personal view.  I can’t resist saying that this is what happens when a community doesn’t honor its cultural treasures.  The “naked lady” has gone the way of the Cary Mansion, the Richmond Mansion, and other wonders that once distinguished our fair city.  At least she hasn’t landed in a landfill.

Be sure to check back in a few weeks for our next Mystery of Genesee County's History.

Photo courtesy of the Memorial Art Gallery Web site.

Three Questions: Alice Kryzan

By Philip Anselmo

Over a month ago, The Batavian sent out three questions to candidates running for the 61st Senate and 26th Congressional District. Alice Kryzan's campaign got us her responses today. Kryzan is the Democratic nominee for the 26th District.

Here are her responses:

What is your favorite thing to do in Genesee County?

Elba Onion Festival

When you meet a person who has never been to Western New York, what is the first thing you tell him or her about the region?

It is a wonderful place to raise a family. The people are down to earth, hard-working, generous and friendly.The region is beautiful and there are many ways to enjoy it. Once we moved here, over 30 yrs ago for my husbands job, we never wanted to be someplace else.

What is your favorite book about Western New York?

Secret Places: Treasures of WNY and S Ontario, by Bruce Kershner

Answers from Republican Chris Lee were posted two weeks ago. We have not yet heard from the campaigns of Joe Mesi and Mike Ranzenhofer who will square off in the 61st Senate District.

Bailout Fails House on the first go

By Philip Anselmo

The $700 billion "bailout" has failed to pass the House of Representatives. This from the New York Times:

The vote against the measure was 228 to 205. Supporters vowed to try to bring the rescue package up for consideration against as soon as possible.

Stock markets plunged sharply at midday as it appeared that the measure was go down.

House leaders pushing for the package kept the voting period open for some 40 minutes past the allotted time, trying to convert “no” votes by pointing to damage being done to the markets, but to no avail.

Should the measure somehow clear the House on a second try, the Senate is expected to vote later in the week. The Jewish holidays and potential procedural obstacles made a vote before Wednesday virtually impossible, but Senate vote-counters predicted that there was enough support in the chamber for the measure to pass. President Bush has urged passage and spent much of the morning telephoning wavering Republicans to plead for their support.


The Dow, which had been trading down about 300 points for most of the afternoon, fell to a 600-point deficit before recovering slightly. The index was down more than 550 points as lawmakers scrambled, but failed, to round up votes to pass the package.

The Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index was down 6.5 percent after dropping as far as 7 percent.

(UPDATE) This from Reuters:

The White House, expressing disappointment on Monday with the House of Representatives' rejection of a financial bailout plan, said President George W. Bush would meet his economic team to determine further steps and contact congressional leaders.

"There's no question the economy is facing a difficult crisis that needs to be addressed," White House spokesman Tony Fratto told reporters.

News roundup: Ghost walks downtown

By Philip Anselmo

Folks looking for a good haunting with a touch of local history will get several chances to tour the eerie side of downtown Batavia in the month of October, according to the Daily News. City Ghost Walks kick off this Friday.

Tours out of the east end of the city start at GO ART! Cultural Center and stop at the Masonic Temple, the Cary Mansion, the Mancuso Theater (now City Church), St. Joseph's Church and Richmond Mansion. From there, folks will head to Ross Street and learn about a few haunted houses at Nos. 20, 39 and 41 Ross St., then head on to Present Tense Bookstore at 101 Washington Ave. West end tours start at the Genesee County History Department on West Main Street, where County Historian Sue Conklin will show off her copper divining rods.

Joanne Beck writes of the west end itinerary:

Visitors will tour the former Engine House building and move onto 4 Mix Place, once granted a permit to be a burial ground. The tour also includes the Oak Street Specter and the first known graveyard on the corner of Oak and West Main Streets, where seven known hangings and the man "who was hung twice" occurred.

There's just too much great history and eeriness packed into these walks. Don't know about anyone else, but I'm darned excited.

East end tours will run on October 3, 17 and 24. Two runs will head out each evening, one at 6:00pm and another at 7:30pm. West end tours will run on October 10 and 24, also twice each evening at the same times. Cost is $10 per person. Visit the cultural center's calendar of events for more info.

We encourage you to pick up a copy of the Daily News at your local newsstand. Or, better yet, subscribe at

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