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Can we ever fix Albany?

By Philip Anselmo

Buffalo News columnist Rod Watson doesn't hold back in his indictment of our state legislature in today's edition of the paper. He goes for the jugular in this piece, comparing the cast of characters in Albany to the fabled mafia crew of television's Sopranos.

Consider what passes for governance here:

Legalized bribery and extortion, which is what the campaign system amounts to. Buying loyalty with high-priced, do-nothing committee assignments. Running a front-operation that meets in the legislative chamber while all of the decisions are made in the back room.


But even when the needed reforms — campaign finance limits, independent redistricting, etc. — are apparent, how do you change a system when the ones who write the laws are the ones who benefit most from it?

Of course, the answer, as always, is us. It's all about us paying attention and demanding change. Watson calls for a C-SPAN of the state legislature. If they're being watched all the time, maybe they will start to behave. Or that's the idea.

What do you think? Are we capable of paying attention en masse, because that's what it would take, it seems? A few gadflies here and there will only get swatted down. Or are we too complacent, too ready to buy into the aggressive campaigning of specialty groups who spur an uproar every time their funding is threatened? Or too complacent, too willing to chew on the fodder of smallish political victories passed off as significant achievements—think of Chris Lee recently championing how he saved local libraries from the big bad government? Or should we even be blaming ourselves?

While you brood over that, I would recommend checking out Watson's article.

A Look Back At The World Record Tiger Shark: Part II


At the conclusion of Monday’s post, Walter Maxwell and his fishing companions watched in disbelief as a monster tiger shark swam off with their homemade gaff. The shark came away the victor after an hour-long battle at the Cherry Grove, South Carolina pier. Down but not deterred, the trio spent the rest of that day and the entire evening fishing from the pier.

 At daybreak on Sunday, June 14th, 1964 the anglers caught several skates – small rays – and rigged them on large hooks. Using a row boat, one of Maxwell’s companions took the skates a considerable distance from the pier and dropped them over the side. The only action early on came from smaller sharks which persisted in picking up the baits and running for a short distance before dropping them. Eventually a group of larger sharks moved into the area, one of which inhaled a skate, ran with it a short distance before cutting through the line. Not long afterward, while watching one of his friends fight a rather large shark, another fish took Maxwell’s bait. The fish was about thirty yards from the end of the pier when it jumped clear of the water. The noise made by the gargantuan fish as it landed back on the surface startled the anglers as well as the spectators that had gathered. As this was taking place, the aforementioned school of large sharks began inhaling the other baits. This resulted in more chaos – and broken lines.              

During all the fuss and ado, Walter Maxwell’s line was sizzling once again, and he jammed the butt of his fishing rod into the belly plate of his shoulder harness. Tightening the drag, he was instantly pulled against the pier railing and knocked off his feet. Struggling to stand, Maxwell had all he could do to control his fishing rod as it bucked and lurched. Moments later onlookers gasped as the shark once again breached the surface, this time 500 feet from the pier.

The shark then began a line-sizzling run to the northeast, in the process nearly stripping all 1400 yards of 130 lb. test line from Maxwell’s reel. At this point his friends began pouring water onto the scorching reel.  The giant shark was nearly ¾ of a mile from the pier before Maxwell was able to finally halt its run. The reprieve was momentary, however, as the shark began another powerful run, this time heading southeast. To everyone’s relief, with but a few yards of line left on the spool, rather than swim out to sea, the fish began swimming parallel to the beach.

 As the fight neared the five hour mark, Maxwell brought the leviathan alongside the pier. By this time it was after 6 p.m. It wasn’t until the next morning when the shark was weighed on government certified scales. With overnight temperatures in the 80’s, it was estimated the shark lost 10% of its body weight due to dehydration. Nonetheless, it still pushed the scales to the 1780 lbs. mark.

Eleven years after Maxwell brought his big “tiger” alongside the pier, big sharks hit the silver screen.  In the years immediately after Steven Spielberg’s epic “Jaws”, shark mania was at an all time high. Even today shark fishing became the rage on many fronts, with weekend shark tournaments being held up and down both coasts. From Martha’s Vineyard to Miami, from Port Hueneme to San Diego, teams of shark hunters head offshore in search of monster fish.

Despite the influx of shark fishermen and their state-of-the-art equipment, Walter Maxwell’s tiger shark remains the all-tackle world record for the species. His record catch came long before the shark gained such widespread notoriety. And he wasn’t fishing for a record. Nor was he looking to pad his wallet - he and his buddies went down to the Cherry Grove Pier just to fish on their day off. 

NOTE: This was the second in a three-part series on sharks. Friday’s post will feature a seldom told account, a catalyst behind the shark’s notoriety


Snowman stands proud on Main Street Batavia

By Philip Anselmo

We spied this snowman built up out front of T-shirts Etc. on Main Street Batavia earlier today and thought to take a photo.

Let's call this a challenge to all Main Street merchants. Bring out your snowmen!

Are professional athletes role models?

By Brian Hillabush

 By now, everybody has seen the photo of Olympic star Michael Phelps smoking marijuana out of a bong.

Phelps is 22 years old and won a record eight gold medals in the 2008 Olympics, propelling him to iconic status. He picked up many many endorsement deals and fans in the process.

But he attended a party at the University of South Carolina with a female student he was seeing when the now-famous photo was snapped. 

Some people think Phelps needs to be role model because he is a professional athlete and should not doing anything like this in public, while many people don't think it is a big deal because he is college age and doing what many kids that age do.

What is your opinion?

Would you want your children to look at professional athletes as role models?
( polls)

Poll: Should the government institute executive salary caps?

By Philip Anselmo

The New York Times reports this morning that there are plans to institute a $500,000 salary cap for executives whose companies will receive large amounts in the proposed bailout. From that article:

The new rules would be far tougher than any restrictions imposed during the Bush administration, and they could force executives to accept deep reductions in their current pay. They come amid rising public fury about huge pay packages for executives at financial companies being propped up by federal tax dollars.

Executives at companies that have already received money from the Treasury Department would not have to make any changes. But analysts and administration officials are bracing for a huge wave of new losses, largely because of the deepening recession, and many companies that have already received federal money may well be coming back.

What are your thoughts?

Should the government institute executive salary caps?
( surveys)

Lee quotes Perry businesswoman in speech to Congress

By Philip Anselmo

From the office of Rep. Chris Lee:

In a speech today on the House floor, Congressman Chris Lee (NY-26) read a message from a small business owner in Wyoming County to demonstrate the need for action on a swift, effective, and fiscally responsible recovery plan that creates jobs in Western New York:

Meet the NEW Intern!

By Tasia Boland

Hi everyone! My name is Tasia and I currently live in Batavia. I am an undergraduate  student at SUNY Brockport majoring in journalism. For the next four months I am going to be doing an internship with The Batavian and am very excited to get to know the community better.

 I enjoy spending time with my husband and my puppy, Jake. I love being outdoors and can not wait for summer time. I hope to have a novel published someday and I am always jotting things down in a notebook.

I am excited to cover the area's school districts and be an active positive voice in our community.

Genesee Symphony Orchestra: Concert on February 22 at GCC

By Philip Anselmo

From the Genesee Symphony Orchestra:

On Sunday, February 22 the Genesee Symphony Orchestra will present their third concert of the season. Featured in this concert will be the participants of the String Workshop playing Grieg's Holberg Suite with the members of the GSO. Our guest artist is violinist, Wilfredo Deglans, Associate Concertmaster of the Rochester Philharmonic. The program includes: Mendelssohn, Symphony No. 5 (Reformation); Chausson, Poeme, op 25—violin and orchestra—Grieg, Holberg Suite, op 40; Ravel, Tzigane, rapsodie de concert, for violin and orchestra. The concert will be performed at GCC-Stuart Steiner Theatre at 4:00 PM. Tickets may be purchased in Batavia at GoArt!, Roxy's Music Store, Enchanted Florist and at GCC Box office. In LeRoy tickets may be purchased from the Bank of Castile and in Oakfield at Water Street Printing.

On the Beat: Batavia man accused of having sexual relationship with minor

By Philip Anselmo

Kevin C. Johnson, 24, of 112 Jackson St., Batavia, was charged with two felony counts of second-degree rape, three felony counts of second-degree criminal sexual act and three counts of endangering the welfare of a child, a misdemeanor charge, city police said. Johnson was arrested Tuesday and sent to Genesee County Jail in lieu of $10,000 bail. He is accused of maintaining a sexual relationship with a 14-year-old girl from September, 2008 through to February of this year. Johnson would allegedly have the girl stay over at his house where they engaged in sexual relations.

Juan Roman, 32, of 28 Porter Ave., Batavia, was charged with first-degree unlawful imprisonment, third-degree assault and petit larceny, city police said. Roman was arrested Tuesday and sent to Genesee County Jail in lieu of $10,000 bail. No details were given on the crimes which are alleged to have occurred in September, last year.

William Hirsch, 21, of Pavilion, was charged with second-degree criminal contempt Sunday, Genesee County sheriff's deputies said. Hirsch is accused of violating an order of protection.

Did you know what you were getting into Super Bowl Sunday when you saw the Denny's Ad?

By Lori Ann Santini

     I will keep this short and to the point. My hats off to the staff at Denny's Restaurant  in Batavia today.  I could not believe how well they survived the overwhelming crowd that formed early this morning and continued through the day.

     One of the ads for the Super Bowl announced that between 6am and 2pm you could receive a free Grand Slam Breakfast meal at Dennys.  After searching the internet to confirm this, I decided that I would give it a try. I loaded up my two toddlers and headed out.

     When we arrived at Dennys I thought for sure that I had made a mistake. The lot was full. Total strangers were helping to direct traffic. The waiting area was full to beyond capacity. The crowd was calm and patient. The staff took names and the number of people in the party. We waited about an hour. I didn't think that was too bad for the crowd. The staff was better then some fine quality restaurants I have eaten in.

     Thank you to my waitress Lori, The busboy that would play peekaboo with my son,  the lovely Mom/Son (Sue) group that ate with us, and everyone in the kitchen. I applaud the job very well done.

     By the way, we did not know Sue and her son when we entered Denny's. I offered to have a couple join us in order to make room for another group at another table. It was a great experience. It was a delight for my kids to have someone elses attention for awhile too. Thank you.

Snow mounds in Batavia growing tall

By Philip Anselmo

Driving along Main Street this afternoon, it dawned on me that I couldn't see some of the shopping plazas I normally pass by on my drive between Clinton Street Road and Center Street. Well, they were still there, only they were blocked by the mounds of snow like walls stacked high at the front of the parking lots. Down near Masse Place, in fact, you can't see any of the shops from the street. This is all you're going to see:

So this got me wondering: Where's the tallest snow mound in Batavia? This one looks like it could fit the bill, but I haven't been everywhere.

Local libraries will not have to destroy children's books... phew!

By Philip Anselmo

Last year, in response to the several successive lead scares resulting from contaminated Chinese products, Congress pushed through the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act, a 63-page document that, among other things, would lay the ground rules for ensuring that the parents of America never have to fear lead poisoning from children's toys.

Writing for Forbes, Richard Epstein notes that the passage of the bill gained bipartisan support, because what politician would ever want to be on record as voting against "safety" and "lead posioning." In fact, it passed the Senate 89 to three and the House by 424 to one—Ron Paul was the sole vote of dissent in the latter. Epstein writes:

Instead of targeting the known sources of lead contamination, this ill-conceived statute extended coverage to the max by solemnly requiring third-party testing and certification, using only the best in scientific techniques, for all children's products. Just to be on the safe side, these were defined generously to include all products that are "primarily" intended for children 12 years or age and under. Congress gave the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) six months to prepare the needed regulations.

Unfortunately, this exercise in statutory aggrandizement shows that it is far easier for Congress to set public goals than for agencies to implement them. "Primarily" is a necessary weasel word. Remove it, and all products need testing because some infant might just suck on a wet paint brush. But determining which products are primarily directed to children requires a detailed examination of market structure that no small business is able to undertake.

So, when it came to implementing the rules, people suddenly realized that organizations such as Goodwill would have to either prove that all of its second-hand children's products—toys and clothing—were free of lead, or get rid of them. We realized that libraries would have to pay to test all their books or dump their children's collections. Obviously, second-hand clothing stores and community libraries could never afford such advanced testing. So then, they would have to destroy everything!

Yeah, right.

Did anyone honestly believe that libraries would have been forced to destroy all their copies of Curious George because of a failure to comply with overzealous safety regulations pushed through by politicians too scared to say no? No one could have seriously expected this to come to pass. And of course, it didn't. So we found many of the same scaredy-cat politicians who passed this act now lining up at the microphones to decry its enforcement. Of course, they were joined by a host of newcomers who saw a chance to snatch up some healthy PR and prove themselves true representatives of the people.

Enter, Rep. Chris Lee. From his office, released yesterday:

The Consumer Product Safety Commission issued a one-year stay of enforcement for testing and certification requirements under the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act after a weeks-long effort on the part of Congressman Lee to protect local libraries. On January 9, Congressman Lee brought the issue up on behalf of local libraries in a phone conversation with the Commission’s acting chairman, Nancy A. Nord. When the Commission did not clarify whether local libraries would receive a reprieve, Congressman Lee joined with the American Library Association early last week to help persuade the Commission to protect library collections.

“I am pleased to see that the Commission has recognized the need to re-evaluate regulations that would potentially force libraries to destroy their children’s book collections,” Congressman Lee said. “Though this is good news, our libraries may still be susceptible to these burdensome regulations in one year’s time. Now the Congress and the Commission must go back to the drawing board and work together to protect children’s book collections in Western New York and around the country.”

“Libraries now have a little room to breathe, but this announcement is not an end to this problem,” Emily Sheketoff, executive director of the American Library Association. “Since we know children’s books are safe, libraries are still asking to be exempt from regulation under this law. We appreciate Congressman Lee’s continued efforts on behalf of our libraries.”

Lee deserves some credit, here, for sure. We should be glad. He did the right thing. He spoke out against the enforcement of this silly act. But he's leaning a little too hard on the savior button here, and isn't that what got us in this mess to begin with. Let's instead take this chance to step back and keep ourselves—read: keep our politicians—from getting too fired up on their sense of self-worth and wind up overreacting again. This isn't about you, Chris Lee, or any of your colleagues. If we're to be completely honest, this isn't about the libraries either. As Walter Olson writes for Forbes, the act was passed "in a frenzy of self-congratulation following last year's overblown panic over Chinese toys with lead paint." Let's not bury it in the same spirit. Let's take our time this time. Olson continues:

The failure here runs deeper. This was not some enactment slipped through in the dead of night: It was one of the most highly publicized pieces of legislation to pass Congress last year.

And yet now it appears precious few lawmakers took the time to check what was in the bill, while precious few in the press (which ran countless let's-pass-a-law articles) cared to raise even the most basic questions about what the law was going to require.

Yes, something's being exposed as systematically defective here. But it's not the contents of our kids' toy chests. It's the way we make public policy.

I couldn't agree more. So shouldn't this be a chance to learn a lesson? When we get "back to the drawing board," as Lee urges, let's make sure everyone is watching the paper instead of ignorantly trumpeting their triumph at the nearest microphone as they had done in round one. Let's not fool ourselves into conflating the two situations here. We need to rectify a big fat policy blunder. Curious George and friends will be fine. We've got some new faces in their now, like you, Chris Lee, so please: do the right thing.

Poll: Predicting winter's end...

By Philip Anselmo

Punxsutawney Phil climbed out of his burrow on Gobbler's Knob yesterday to find his shadow and thus predict for us another six weeks of winter. From the Washington Post:

According to legend, if a hibernating animal wakes up and casts a shadow on Feb. 2, winter will last six more weeks. If there is no shadow, spring will supposedly come early.

Early American farmers relied on groundhogs, though there is no scientific evidence that the animal has any weather-predicting skills.

What do you think?

Another six weeks of winter...?
( polls)

On the Beat: Man accused of cursing, refusing to leave Sugar Creek

By Philip Anselmo

Ryan Park, 25, of unknown domicile, was charged yesterday with disorderly conduct and petit larceny, Genesee County sheriff's deputies said. Park was located in a Sugar Creek store in Bergen, which he was allegedly refusing to leave. Deputies had received reports that Park was intoxicated, and when they attempted to remove him from the store, Park allegedly used "obscene language."

An alcohol sales compliance check in the city over the weekend yielded charges for one sales clerk. From the city police department:

The Police in conjunction with Drug Free Communities conducted an Alcohol Compliance check. The compliance check is designed to ensure alcohol retail establishments are properly determining alcohol is not being served to underage individuals. The results of Saturday’s check were positive; several establishments diligently checked the underage “agents” ID confirming he was not of age to buy alcohol. Only one store did not check ID and sold alcohol to our underage agent. The Clerk who sold the alcohol was ticketed for the charge of providing alcohol to a minor. The clerk is a youthful offender and will have a court appearance in the City of Batavia Court. As part of the program the clerk will be offered the chance to partake in server training, a program sponsored by GCASA (Genesee County Alcohol and Substance Abuse). Successful completion will result in the dismissal of charges.

Mark A. Antinore, 30, of 5100 Clinton Street Road, Batavia, was charged with driving while intoxicated and aggravated DWI Monday, Genesee County sheriff's deputies said. Antinore was stopped on Route 33 in Stafford following reports of an erratic driver in the area. Antinore was also ticketed with speeding.

News roundup: City school board cuts a half million from budget

By Philip Anselmo

After slimming the budget by a half million dollars last night, the Batavia City School Board has already cut the proposed property tax increase from 23 to 16 percent, according to WBTA's Dan Fischer. City Schools Superintendent Margaret Puzio told Fischer that she hopes an offer of early retirement option to three labor unions could help stave off any outright layoffs of teachers or staff. Puzio also hopes and expects to further reduce the tax increase. Visit the WBTA Web site to hear her comments on that.

Batavia city schools are closed today for Superintendent's Conference Day. Also, LeRoy BOCES school is closed today due to a water main break.

Michael Napoleone Memorial Foundation is making a difference

By Brian Hillabush

When Michael Napoleone was diagnosed with Burkitt's Lymphoma/Leukemia, he wasn't going to give in without a fight.

The child fought the disease, and was as strong and positive as any eight year old kid would be in the situation.

But, he couldn't fight anymore and wound up passing away from the cancer on December 30.

Michael played youth baseball and football before becoming ill. He was also a big Notre Dame fan and was able to visit the University of Notre Dame three months before his passing.

While Michael was fighting the disease, the Batavia community rallied and helped the family out. The Napoleone's were struggling to to pay for food, gas and medical bills.

They appreciated what the community was doing for them.

After Michael's death, parents Michael and Laurie founded the Michael Napoleone Memorial Foundation, with the hopes of raising money to help fight childhood cancer.

At Monday night's game between Pavilion and Notre Dame, there was t-shirts and hats as well as raffle tickets for sale to raise money. The game was called "The Michael Napoleone Foundation Cancer Awareness Girls Basketball Game" and both Pavilion and Notre Dame's team was wearing shirts to support the cause.

Dave Pero is Michael's uncle and got together with Pavilion coach Verne Brooks to work out the details of setting up the fundraising game.

The Pavilion girls wore t-shirts that said "Gopher a cure", which plays off the Golden Gophers mascot. Notre Dame's shirts said "Irish for a cure".

The Foundation started small but with the support of the community has grown to be pretty big and is helping a lot of people out. Money has been raised by countless donations and fundraisers. 

At last count, 63 families have been helped out by the foundation in just over a year.

The Foundation also purchased the scoreboard at Lyons Park in Michael's memory, after youth football was banished from Dwyer Stadium.

The big one is donating $5,000 to the Golisano Children's Hospital at Strong Memorial. That money went towards purchasing a machine that analyzes cells. A test like that used to take the hospital a week, and now it can be finished within a day.

The Foundation has also made large donations to United Memorial Medical Center and Roswell Park Cancer Institute.

If you are interested in donating to the charity you can e-mail the Foundation at


Sunnys offers to honor unused South Beach gift certificates

By Howard B. Owens

Tina Rose, co-owner of Sunnys Restaurant in the Genesee Country Mall, left a comment on The Batavian about an hour ago offering to honor unused gift certificates from South Beach, which was shuttered Sunday.

Long time Batavia Restaurant Owners comes to aid:

Local family owned Sunnys Restaurant in the Batavia City Centre is stepping in to honor Gift Certificates.
Anyone who has purchased or received a Southbeach Gift Cert.- Sunnys owners Michael and Tina Rose will honor at their Restaurant. In these tough economic times no one wants or can afford to lose money. Simply give us a call at 343-4578 or stop in.

*some restrictions may apply*

That's a generous offer, but also smart business.

UPDATE: Cori Majors from Center Street Smokehouse says gift certificates may also be redeemed there, and there may be job openings.

Colleen Odessa, sales manager for Alex's Place, also said certicates can be redeemed there as well.

Batavia Consolidation Plan gets its own Web site

By Philip Anselmo

City and town of Batavia officials announced today that a Web site will be launched by the end of the week devoted to the consolidation plan right now being put together for the municipalities. We've included most of the text from that press release below. We also received a "Consolidation Plan Process Flow Chart" that details the process for approving the potential consolidation.

Noting that the "topic of consolidation has generated tremendous interest in Batavia in recent weeks," Town Supervisor Greg Post and City Council President Charlie Mallow today issued a joint statement endorsing the work of the joint consolidation planning committee. They also announced that by the end of the week the City and Town websites will have links to a special "Batavia Consolidation Plan" website so that area residents can stay informed about the planning process.

Mallow and Post pointed out that the actual work of developing the plan is the responsibility of the seven-member City/Town Consolidation Study Committee that is working with the Center for Governmental Research (CGR), a nonprofit consulting group based in Rochester. "We were both please with its decision — one recently endorsed by our respective boards — to move from a 'study' to a 'plan,'" they said.

Post added, "I'm a believer in smaller government and I'm action-oriented. This community does not need a study that sits on a shelf. It needs a plan so that Town voters have the choice of saying yes or no."

Mallow said, "I'm a firm believer in consolidating the City and Town, because there are so many benefits for our community going forward. Consolidation will positively impact every generation that comes after us."

They pointed out that the Committee will develop a report of model options for the combined community by June 1. The Committee will then hold community forums for the public to provide input in June and July. Based on the input, the Committee will develop a draft plan to present to the City Council and Town Board in early August. Assuming City Council and Town Board approve, a consolidation plan will be presented to City and Town voters at the November 3 election.

Please click here to download the full press release.

A Look Back At The World Record Tiger Shark: The Story Behind The Catch


The largest game fish are oceanic giants, often pushing the scales past the thousand pound mark. With little to fear, they swim about their cobalt-blue world in an endless search for food. The blue marlin, the swordfish, the giant blue fin tuna and the big sharks - the Mako and the Great White – are at the top of the food chain. For the most part, the only predator they need fear are sea-going fishermen, those willing to travel offshore in the hope of sampling their awesome power. The International Game Fishing Association’s record books are filled with outstanding catches of giant bill fish, huge tuna and mammoth sharks. Oftentimes, even more incredible is the story behind the catch. One such record belongs to Walter Maxwell and his story is quite unique when compared to the rest. Because it has withstood the test of time, in order to take a look at his accomplishment, we need to go back some 45 years.

 Walter Maxwell was a blue collar type, a fisherman without sponsors. Neither did he possess a sleek and speedy sea-going vessel in which to enjoy his pastime. He was, you might say, a weekend warrior, able to fish only when his schedule allowed. And needless to say, such a fisherman does not wet a line in pursuit of world records.

It was Sunday, June 14th, 1964, when Maxwell managed to raise a few eyebrows among saltwater anglers when he landed a world record tiger shark. What made the feat remarkable was, unlike other salt water big game fishing records, Maxwell made his historic catch from a pier. Strange as it may seem, he nearly did it twice in a 24 hour period. The day prior to his record catch, he latched onto an even bigger tiger shark, only to lose it at the edge of the pier.     

On Saturday, June 13th, the beach at Cherry Grove South Carolina was bustling with vacationers, probably none of which paid any mind to three anglers out on the pier. (Photo: Cherry Grove Pier)

At about 2 pm line began slowly peeling out of Maxwell’s large saltwater reel. He slipped on his shoulder harness and braced himself before rearing back on the rod, setting the hooks. The battle was underway.

The initial run was strong and steady as the fish took out several hundred yards of line, indicative of a very big fish. Maxwell knew then the fish on the end of his line was not your garden variety man-eater. During the next hour the shark made several more line-sizzling runs. A stone mason by trade, the muscular Maxwell was able to bring the big tiger shark alongside the pier. He was about to discover one hour is insufficient time to tire a shark of such proportions.

Their gaff consisted of a fiberglass vaulting pole with a stainless steel hook attached on the end. When one of Maxwell’s companions leaned over the railing and sunk the gaff hook into the tiger’s mouth, he was immediately slammed into the railing. Feeling the fish’s ferocity, he knew at once he wouldn’t be able to hold the monster that was thrashing violently in the waves ten feet below.

In the next instant Maxwell’s hooks came free and his buddy was left holding the gaff. The big fish then dropped into a trough between ocean swells and the gaff was yanked from his hands. The big shark swam seaward, the gaff protruding above the waves. How big was the shark? One of Maxwell’s companions said it looked like a heifer wallowing in the ocean swells. They estimated the fish to be eighteen feet in length and weigh in excess of two thousand pounds.

The following day Maxwell and his friends were at it again, this time with different results.  

NOTE: This is the first in a three part series on sharks. Wednesday we’ll wrap up Maxwell’s big catch before shifting gears somewhat, looking at sharks from an altogether different angle on Friday.  


Storage barn fire in Batavia burns man

By Philip Anselmo

A Gasport man was taken to the hospital this afternoon after suffering burns to his head, face, neck and hands when a fire broke out in a barn in the town of Batavia, Genesee County sheriff's deputies said. Twenty-nine-year-old James Putnam Jr. is recovering in the burn unit of the Erie County Medical Center at this hour.

Fire crews from the East Pemrboke volunteer squad were the first on scene at 9161 Wilkinson Road, where reports had come in shortly after 12:30 p.m. of a fire in the storage barn. Firefighters found flames coming out of the structure when they arrived shortly thereafter. Putnam was immediately taken to the hospital by city of Batavia ambulance.

Batavia, Darien, Alexander, Corfu, Oakfield and Elba also sent crews to the scene, and the fire was extinguished before it spread to an unattached house. The barn and everything inside of it were destroyed in the blaze. The barn is owned by Gabriele J. Miller, of 9161 Wilkinson Road.

"The preliminary investigation into the cause and origin of the fire indicates that the fire is accidental and was a result of the work that was being performed inside the workshop at the time of the fire," deputies said. Genesee County's Office of Emergency Management assisted in the investigation

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