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California man's confession to a cold-case homicide puts the spotlight on a detective squad in California

By Philip Anselmo

The Batavian picked up a story from the Daily News earlier about Robert Kirkup, a 68-year-old man from Big River, California, who was extradited to Genesee County Jail following Kirkup's recent confession to the murder of his wife during a camping trip back in 1992.

We thought to poke around a bit more online to see if we could dig up some more details on Kirkup, why the 16-year-old cold case was reopened and how detectives got a confession out of a man who admitted nothing for so long.

WHEC News-10 NBC in Rochester had the story posted on its Web site.

The Michigan State Police opened an investigation into the disappearance of Janet Kirkup because at the time, the Kirkup’s were living in Jackson, Michigan. Eventually Robert Kirkup moved to Big River, California, which is located in San Bernardino County. Until this June, Janet Kirkup’s whereabouts and the circumstances surrounding her disappearance were unknown.

After Robert Kirkup relocated to Big River, California, the Kirkup’s daughter, Susan Waller persuaded the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department to interview her father into the disappearance of her mother.

While being interviewed by officers from the Sheriff’s Department, Kirkup revealed that he was responsible for Janet Kirkup’s death. Members from the New York State Police Troop A Violent Crimes Investigative Team flew out to California and interviewed him. The investigation revealed that in August of 1992 while camping in Genesee County, Mr. Kirkup killed his wife, Janet Kirkup. 

The Press-Enterprise of Riverside, California, explained that the murder of Janet Kirkup may have been solved thanks to the renewed efforts of cold-case homicide detectives in San Bernardino County's sheriff's department. Ontario, California's Inland Valley Daily Bulletin profiled the detectives and their two most recent successes earlier this week.

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Their days are spent searching for bridges to the dead.

They've found them in unlikely places: a man's duffel bag, the words of a guilt-ridden husband, residue of a gun and a desert grave.

And that's only in the last month.

The newly created "Cold Case Team" is taking to the hills, valleys and deserts of San Bernardino County in search of 600 killers who have escaped the long arm of the law for years.

"It may be a cold case to us because it's old, but it's never a cold case to the victims' families," District Attorney Michael A. Ramos said Tuesday in his announcement about teaming with the Sheriff's Department.

Investigators said that a search for the body of Janet Kirkup may start soon.

Hello to Summer and So Long.....

By Patrick D. Burk

I like this time of year and I always feel that with the summer comes wonderful times of outdoor activities that all can enjoy in this area.  I also like the idea of High School Graduation and seeing the culmination of all the students who are going out into the real or collegiate world.  I really like the summer...I never complain it is too hot, always dress reasonably comfortable and work on our Summer Youth Theater Program.  The summer for me is indeed a very creative time.

In preparation for the summer vacation and the 4th of July weekend, it also becomes a time to say "so long".  Many people come and go through our lives but this year, I need to pass on some kudos to two wonderful people that have served this area for quite some time.  I know that they are not actually gone, in fact they are all moving onto different roles in other communities or at home.  It is just the idea that Batavia will miss them.  It is the idea that they served our community so well... it is the idea that they truly loved our schools and our children.

This is the last graduating class for Superintendent Richard Stutzman.  At the time of his appointment he was a radical choice that shocked some people.  In his words, Dick was always a "bean counter" that cared more for the dollar and cents and the bottom line.  We need those types of people in a successful education setting.  They are the ones that rein in the tide of spend, spend, spend and to put reality back on the plate before projects and programs go out of wack and costs escalate.  Dick was a champion "bean counter" who had spent time in the classroom at his Mt. Morris Central School. 

The Board of Education at the time decided we were not seeing anyone with Mr. Stutzman's abilities in the mix of candidates for the we asked him to step up and become our Superintendent.   Dick Stutzman turned into the best person ever for this district.  He truly became an advocate for all students and prudently turned our City of Batavia School District into a First Class Educational Facility that is one of the TOP 15 High Schools for Technology through the Prometheum Corportation.  Winning awards and providing training for schools from across the United States and doing it all with a sense of student caring and an "education for all" attitude. 

All I can add is, "Mr. Stutzman - Thank You" ..... you truly are a champion in the field of education. 

Bette Rung has always been involved with Batavia City Schools.  She attended Robert Morris and the old East School (where the Salavation Army Citadel is now.) and she continued working in the district as the Administrative Assistant to the Superintendent of Schools.  She worked for three different men and was also the Clerk for the Board of Education.  Bette was and still is a huge proponent of our School District.  She was always efficient, kind and helpful.  She was also a friend.  There have been many times when my health has not permitted me to be as involved as I should be with the City Board of Education.  Mrs. Rung was right there for me, bringing me information, making sure things were getting signed and issues were being addressed. 

Mrs. Rung has also retired and to those who know her, they will tell you of her dedication to the children of this district.  She has worked with three superintendents, hundreds of Board of Education Members, thousands of staff members and over 50000 children.  She is truly an angel for this district. 

Mrs. Rung, my personal and professional gratitude.  Your kindness will always be cherished, your caring will always be appreciated and your concern for our City School District will always be remembered. 

As these two close the door on one career and look at the future, I wish them luck, love and much health.  I pray they will stay safe and free from care and I hope, and just for one brief moment that they will stop in and say hello.   It is hard to forget those that have left such a huge imprint on one's life.....all we can do is remember the gentle impression and be grateful that you met, you worked together and you did well.

Mr. Stutzman and Mrs. Rung...... you did well..... Happy Retirement!

News roundup: Genesee County inherits a murder from California

By Philip Anselmo

From the Daily News (Thursday):

  • A 68-year-old California man who confessed June 17 to the murder of his wife back in 1992 was extradited to Genesee County Jail on murder charges. Robert Kirkup's wife, Janet, went missing in 1992 when the couple was traveling across country in a mobile home, and an investigation into her disappearance went "cold" in 1999. Detectives in San Bernardino County in California reopened the case on June 10 and took Robert Kirkup into custody following his confession. It is now believed that Janet Kirkup's body is buried somewhere in Genesee County.
  • A story on the front page about United Memorial Medical Center potentially losing IDA funding was reported yesterday on The Batavian — including a link to full coverage of the issue by the Buffalo News.
  • The New York State School for the Blind held its graduation and student awards ceremony yesterday. Amanda Benoit, David Roberts, Andrew Hershelman, Amy Mae Snyder and Catherine Truesdale got their diplomas, and dozens of others were honored with awards.
  • Reporter Roger Muehlig does a good job writing up the current exhibit at GO ART! in Batavia. The show is titled Artitude and features works in pen and ink, watercolor, colored pencil and crayon by members of the Genesee County Mental Health Association's Social Club. You can see the show at the cultural center at 201 E. Main St., Batavia. The gallery is open from 9:00am to 4:00pm daily.

For the complete stories, the Daily News is available on local newsstands, or you can subscribe on

A closer look at the turf — Just what's at stake if Youth Football plays one more season at Dwyer?

By Philip Anselmo

Daily News reporter Joanne Beck paid a visit to Dwyer Stadium yesterday, but she wasn't there for a ball game. She was there to get a closer look at the outfield turf, a plot of grass that has been the center of a controversy over the past week here in Batavia.

At Monday's City Council meeting, Ben Bonarigo stood up and asked the city to let youth football play one more season at Dwyer before it relocated to Kibbe Park at a cost to the city that would not exceed about $19,000. His recommendation was immediately followed by a heated, hour-long debate among Council members, none of whom seemed to agree on even a single detail. (For more details about the meeting and the recommendation by City Manager Jason Molino to relocate the program to Austin Park, check out our two earlier posts.)

At the core of the debate is a simple disagreement between Bonarigo, who is a member of youth football's board of directors, and Council President Charlie Mallow. Bonarigo says that if youth football stays another season at Dwyer, the outfield will suffer no great hurt. Mallow says just the opposite.

Beck writes that if Council approves youth football's request to stay at Dwyer for one more season, "Mallow has no doubt the city will pay another $10,000 next year for field repairs."

We asked Charlie to explain a little more his choice of $10,000 for the city's share of field repair costs. Why that much? He wrote to us in an e-mail:

The city is responsible for the first $10,000. From what I remember it cost the Red Wings $40,000 plus for this season's patch repairs. I expect the city's liabilities to be at least what they were last year. In talking to the baseball people, anything less would not be believable. We can not open ourselves up to escalating costs of field repairs any longer.

Bonarigo countered at the meeting Monday that there is no way youth football would cause so much damage that the city would need to spend that kind of money and that even after the repairs, the field is in the same shape this year as it was last year.

And really, that's what it has come down to: Charlie says this, Bonarigo says that. My question — and I would hope it would be everyone else's question, too — is: Who do we believe?

In Beck's article today, she quotes Muckdogs General Manager Dave Wellenzohn and Red Wings General Manager both saying that Bonarigo is wrong. Wellenzohn says flat out that the "overuse" of the field from youth football "will bring us back to square one," and square one would mean an investment by the city of at least $10,000.

With the quotes from Wellezohn, Mason and Red Wings CEO Naomi Silver, the overall tenor of the article seems very much in support of Charlie's view that: "Council is wasting taxpayer dollars." And it's an argument that should warrant some credence.

Why pay $10,000, $20,000 or even $10 for youth football when that money is not spent on other youth programs, Charlie asks? Why does youth football get special treatment? Or is it special treatment? WBTA seemed to ask the opposite question in their next-day coverage of the meeting Monday: Would one more year of youth football really be that bad?

Unfortunately, Beck also writes that "Bonarigo was unavailable for comment." The Batavian put in a call to Bonarigo's office this morning to take up some of these questions, but he was not in. He should be back later, so we hope to get a comment from him then.

An Oakfield man faces rape charges

By Philip Anselmo

Genesee County sheriff's deputies reported several arrests this week:

  • Twenty-year-old Oakfield resident Jeffrey M. Johnson is in jail on $10,000 bail following a charge of first-degree rape levied by Genesee County sheriff's deputies Wednesday. Johnson has been accused of having forcible intercourse with a female acquaintance at his home in Oakfield. The investigation is ongoing.
  • Michael B. Collier Jr., 16, of Albion, was charged with third-degree burglary Wednesday, sheriff's deputies said. Collier is suspected of being involved in a burglary at Monroe Tractor on Oak Orchard Road in the town of Batavia that happened in the early morning hours between Tuesday and Wednesday. He was sent to Genesee County Jail in lieu of $5,000 bail. Additional charges are pending further investigation.
  • Mark C. Johnson, 46, and his son, Scott R. Johnson, 18, both of Oakfield, were charged with unlawful possession of marijuana at their home Wednesday, sheriff's deputies said.

 Note: All of the above arrests were reported in published releases from the sheriff's office.

News roundup: GCC budget approved

By Philip Anselmo

Check out WBTA for this and other stories:

  • The county Legislature approved the $31 million budget for Genesee Community College last night. Also approved at the meeting was the purchase of 17 bulletproof vests for the Sheriff's Office at a cost of $24,038.
  • The Muckdogs lost 3-1 to the Jamestown Jammers to drop back below .500 for the year. They'll be in Mahoning Valley tonight. Batavia went 2-1 in their last series against the Scrappers earlier this week.

At the fission of being: The art of Karen Reisdorf

By Philip Anselmo

Great art not only makes allowances for the accidental, it thrives on it. Great artists don't despair at their mistakes. Not always. Nor should they. A rip or a stain, say, provides an occasion to seek out a more subtle meaning in a work of art; and an artist enough in tune with the work might recognize the serendipity in the unforeseen and use that chance to elevate the minor to something more. It's the moment when art becomes metamorphosis, when the creator and created act mutually upon one another.

It's how you know you're in the midst of it all and not just painting by numbers or connecting dots.

I can't say whether it was intentional or not — I believe not, and that's all the better — but Karen Reisdorf was right there in that metamorphosis, inside what the French philosopher Maurice Merleau-Ponty calls the fission of Being. Her exhibition of nine paintings currently on display at Pieces Gallery on Main Street is a testament to that.

She has titled the series of mixed-media paintings: The Key. Each started out as a dribble of black paint and turned into an expressionistic depiction of a Greek myth: Pandora, Cupid and Psyche, Orpheus. This one below is titled: "Midas (His Gift)."

Karen never intended for the different parts that make up each work to be brought together as they are. If you look closely at them, you'll see that they are made of a hodegpodge of materials: part plexiglass, part newsprint, part paint, some straight-up pigment and some splotches of colored encaustic.

But it didn't start that way.

She was quite literally sloshing some paint around on squares of plexiglass about a year ago. Her smears, blotches and whips of color began as expressions, as inked remnants of gestures that, as they worked their magic on her over several months, ended by insisting that they be recognized as more literal forms.

She confesses: "I was literally staring at them for six months, wondering what they were going to be."

Fed up with her waiting, they spoke up, and what began as a quite subjective experiment in abstraction turned into a cry for autonomy by the works themselves.

So she set about creating an atmosphere for the original drippings of black paint, adding a splotch of encaustic here, a dusting of gold pigment there. Her ventures into Greek mythology helped her to decipher what the paint was telling her but make no mistake: the works said what they were, not the other way around.

Take "Apollo and Daphne," for example. Karen says flat out that she wanted that piece to be Cupid and Psyche, tried to make it Cupid and Psyche, wished for it, fought for it, but the paint refused to yield to her advances. It told the story of Apollo and Daphne, not Cupid and Psyche, and she couldn't change that.

As she says: "I tried to turn it into Cupid and Psyche, but it wouldn't become that."

It was Apollo and Daphne, and it would only be recognized as such.

"Narcissus was the impetus for the show," she says.

That was the "splotch" that first spoke to her to say: This is what I am. It's one of my favorite pieces, one of those that contain the two elements I most like about Karen's work: the brutality of her expressionistic paint whips subdued, re-imagined in a context and so taken out of their primordial chaos. "Cupid" may achieve this the best. "Pandora" pulls it off in reverse.

It's up for interpretation whether Narcissus is an ironic or an apt beginning to the project. For those unfamiliar with the myth, Narcissus is a young boy who falls in love with his own reflection in a pool of water. Meanwhile, a nymph named Echo falls in love with the boy. In the end, both lovers fail to move their beloved with their mute yet ardent affections.

So... was Karen seeing herself in the works all along? Or were the things themselves staring back at her?

The myth of Narcissus and Echo brings up another prominent theme in Karen's show: love. Karen says the making of all the paintings was a "purging of unrequited love" for her. In a way, then, she is Narcissus and Echo, though she transcends both in the act of creation — by fusing myth with her own emotions, by fusing paint with plastic with newsprint with wax, by cheating accident to make something more.

It makes sense then, when she tells me: "It was a cleansing."

She fulfills the vision of Merleau-Ponty: "Seeing is not a certain mode of thought or presence to self; it is the means given me for being absent from myself, for being present from within at the fission of Being only at the end of which do I close up into myself." That is what I think should truly be meant by artistic vision.

"The eye accomplishes the prodigious work of opening the soul to what is not soul — the joyous realm of things and their god, the sun." —Merleau-Ponty

News roundup: Crop fields begin to rebound after hail storm last week

By Philip Anselmo

From the Daily News (Wednesday):

  • Onion fields in Elba that looked ravaged by the hail storms that tore through the region early last week seem to be recovering nicely. Reporter Tom Rivers writes: "A week later and the onion growers say they couldn't be happier with the turnaround. Many of the plants have shed bruised and battered leaves and grown new ones, with some already a foot high."
  • Incoming Batavia City School Superintendent Margart Puzio told reporter Joanne Beck that she wants to be accessible to all who need her services. "I have an open door," she said. "If there are ever any problems, please, please, please contact me." Puzio takes over as superintendent tomorrow.
  • Another great article by Tom Rivers on the front page today. This one is about a group of onion growers that meets for coffee once a week to chat about their farms, their lives and whatever else. But they don't meet at a coffee shop. Or anywhere else indoors. Instead, this crew gathers beside a frog-filled drainage ditch along Transit Road in Elba. Fun read!
  • Traco Manufacturing, a retail display manufacturer, may soon move into a 24,000-square-foot plant in Gateway I Industrial Park in the town of Batavia. That means a move out of the city, where it currently resides on Mill Street. And, since the plot in the town is categorized as an Empire Zone, that also means Traco will be eligible for tax breaks. For more about last night's meeting of the Genesee County Economic Development Center Board, check out the article by Paul Mrozek.
  • Today's editorial takes up the issue of the upcoming public hearing July 2 on potential changes to the state rules on open burning. The Batavian posted about the hearing about three weeks ago.
  • Brian Hillabush previews the fall lacrosse season at Genesee Community College on the front page of today's sports section. Worth checking out.

For the complete stories, the Daily News is available on local newsstands, or you can subscribe on

Police Blotter: Monday, June 23 and Tuesday, June 24

By Philip Anselmo


  • 8:25am, E. Main Street, accident: motor vehicle and bike
  • 10:12am, Ellicott Avenue, accident: motor vehicle and bike
  • 11:09am, 119 State St. (Apt. 4), harassment
  • 3:48pm, [no address given], harassment
  • 3:57pm, 16 Liberty St., larceny
  • 5:34pm, 439 E. Main St., criminal mischief
  • 6:48pm, 131 State St., criminal mischief
  • 7:15pm, 37 Union St., criminal mischief
  • 7:55pm, 26 Maple St., harassment


  • 10:58am, E. Main St., accident
  • 5:25pm, 54 Hutchins St., harassment
  • 6:43pm, Oak Street, accident: motor vehicle and pedestrian

Note: We don't include noise complaints, domestic disputes and routine police business.

GCC graduate makes the most of her scholarship

By Philip Anselmo

Genesee Community College 2007 graduate Sarina Dorazio didn't waste time after she was awarded funds through the National Science Foundation's Technology Opportunity Pathway scholarship. Fresh off graduation, Sarina took off for the west for an intensive 10-week internship at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Washington.

From there, it was off to the University of Buffalo, where she picked up her BA in Chemistry. She has already been accepted to the PhD program there.

"When I applied for the internship, I was still not sure exactly what path I wanted to take for a career," Sarina said. "After working at [the national laboratory] for the summer I decided that I definitely wanted to continue in a science-related field."

Scholarship funds are still available for full-time students at GCC.

From the press release:

TOP Scholarship resources are still available for full-time students enrolled this fall in the following programs: math / science; engineering, computer support and operations, computer information systems, computer systems and networking, and computerized drafting.

Visit the scholarship Web site or call Ken Mead at (585) 343-0055 for more information.

News roundup: Public hearing on GCC's $31 million budget tonight

By Philip Anselmo

Check out WBTA for these and other stories:

  • A public hearing on Genesee Community College's $31 million budget will be held tonight at the county Legislature meeting at 7:00pm at the Old County Courthouse. Click here for a download of the complete meeting agenda.
  • Batavia City School Superintendent Richard Stutzman told Dan Fischer that the school's annual "report card of test scores" is out for grades three through eight, and they are at least as good as last year's scores, some even better.
  • The state Legislature took off for the season without resolving a dispute between union labor and Industrial Development Agencies that would continue the low-interest funding for non-profit institutions in the state — including United Memorial Medical Center. Check out the article by the Buffalo News for a look back on the season.

Video: World War II Veteran Louis O'Geen

By Philip Anselmo

Eighty-six-year-old Louis O'Geen tells me that the "guy upstairs" took all of his friends from him, all his hunting and fishing buddies, and he's the only one left. He seems resigned to the fact, though slightly bemused by his own good fortune, if he would ever call it that. Probably not. But he isn't above getting a laugh out of it.

Louis fought in World War II. He saw the gore, the portent, the indecipherable anomaly of war up close, nose to nose with bodies chewed to the marrow and eyes sick with the madness of submerged warfare. Louis was a seaman. He joined with the Navy shortly after Pearl Harbor, left his native LeRoy and was dispatched with little haste to some of the most hairy battle theaters in the Pacific and elsewhere.

When the German U-Boats were wreaking havoc not far from Casablanca, he was there. He saw bulkheads torn to shreds. He saw the deck of his destroyer, its hawsers and rails coated two inches thick with ice. He saw the fizzle and flotsam of ships sunk like tinker toy bath boats poked underwater by the vengeful finger of a child.

"I had many close shaves," he says.

Louis almost joined up as a submariner. Almost. Until he saw the subs come up to dock, beaten and barely afloat, ambulances parked on the shore, waiting for the wounded and cracked as they were taken back from the sea that had swallowed their minds whole, often along with some of their limbs.

Ironically, though, the one episode of the war that nearly knocked out Louis O'Geen for good came after the war was already over, in the waters just off the shore of Okinawa when a typhoon tore through the Pacific in early October, 1945. (I think that typhoon was named Louise, and isn't that apt.)

Louis told me that he thought World War II would be the last war. He couldn't imagine how we could do it all over again. Then came Vietnam. Then came Iraq. He's quite fierce in his opposition to the war in Iraq. When I paid Louis a visit Monday, he showed me a drawing he made not long after he got out of the service. The drawing summed up his then and future feelings about war, feelings one can only understand when listening to Louis tell his stories. So let's do that:

Batavia Concert Band: Summer Premiere Wednesday

By Philip Anselmo

Don't forget! Tomorrow is the premiere of the Batavia Concert Band's summer season at Centennial Park. Showtime is 7:00pm. Bring your own lawn chairs. They'll supply the entertainment (and possibly some light refreshments). For a complete schedule of shows, check out our earlier post.

Here's some more info on the band, supplied by Robert Knipe (who also sent us these photos):

"The Batavia Concert Band’s repertoire is wide-ranging in origin, period and style: Sousa-style marches, Broadway show tunes, classical adaptations, fun songs for kids of all ages, big-band and swing numbers, popular songs from hit musicals and movies, rock favorites arranged for concert band… and everything in between.

"The Band consists of forty to fifty brass, woodwind and percussion players ranging from talented local high school students to 50-year veterans. Many have professional experience, and the rest are advanced amateur musicians. All love to play."

All shows are free!

News roundup: Firefighter boot camp — and some thoughts on "going green"

By Philip Anselmo

From the Daily News (Tuesday):

  • Genesee County Emergency Management is hosting a firefighter boot camp at its office on State Street Road over the next few weeks. The camp that started Monday and continues through to graduation on July 11 is an intensive 90-hour course designed for students to get all the requirements they need for level one firefighter training. Emergency Management Coordinator Timothy Yaeger told reporter Scott DeSmit that the camp is the "first of its kind in New York state."
  • Joanne Beck put together a pair of comprehensive articles about last night's City Council meeting. The Batavian featured a post last night on the debate over youth football. Beck has a good summary of Council's business on the front page. Check that out, if you're interested.

As a footnote here, I must admit I'm confused by Beck's lede in the article titled: "Some are hoping for a greener city." She writes: "City Council's review of tree removal companies turned into a desire to go green Monday evening."

That really isn't true.

Nobody on Council talked about going green. Rather, the discussion was about some on Council not wanting to see too many trees cut down in the city. Marianne Clattenburg put it pretty literally when she said that tree removal in the city seems to be decided by which streets have power lines underground and which have them above ground, the latter losing their trees because of it.

I've seen this often lately that when people talk about anything associated with plant life or anything that's pro-environment, other people slap on the rubric 'going green' when it really isn't correct. Not wanting to cut down trees is not the same as wanting to go green. A 'greener city' meant literally that last night: more green. 'Going green,' on the other hand, is more of a conservation movement that at its core means a push toward more natural living and the purging of harmful synthetics — you know, bringing your own reusable cloth bags to the supermarket instead of getting plastic bags every time and then throwing them out. It means reducing or eliminating pollution and being more waste conscious.

Unfortunately, what started as the slogan for a conservation movement has turned into a catch phrase. It's becoming more and more clichéd and senseless and is being used as exactly that, a phrase intended to catch people's attention. It's a marketing tool.

I wouldn't mind hearing Council talk about going green for real. But in the meantime, can't we just let the conversation about not cutting down trees be about the trees?

For the complete stories, the Daily News is available on local newsstands, or you can subscribe on

Police standoff on State Street last night

By Philip Anselmo

Batavia City Police responded to a harassment call at 119 State St. last night, where they were told that 48-year-old Lynn Ells had threatened to kill the individual who had contacted the police. When the officers arrived, Ells allegedly retreated inside up to the second floor apartment of the house, where she shouted from the window and threatened to kill the officers.

Negotiations between the officers and Ells were enough to calm the situation somewhat until the state troopers arrived and continued to negotiate. The police eventually confronted Ells, who then displayed a knife and again threatened the officers. She was disarmed, subdued and taken to the hospital for a mental health evaluation.

Ells currently faces charges of disorderly conduct, harassment, menacing a police officer, criminal possession of a weapon and resisting arrest.

There was no information in the police report about how the incident started.

Car drives into mobile home

By Philip Anselmo

Genesee County sheriff's deputies got a call late Sunday night that a fight had broken out at the Dreamland Trailer Park on Route 5 in Batavia. Once they got to the scene, they were told that following the fight, Jared E. Flaming, 21, of Corfu, had allegedly thrown someone to the ground, then drove his vehicle into a home in the park.

There was no mention in the release of how much damage was done to the home, if any.

Flaming was charged with second-degree harassment and fourth-degree criminal mischief. He was sent to Genesee County Jail in lieu of $750 bail.

Foster kittens from Genesee County Animal Shelter

By Philip Anselmo

Yet another great video from the prolific production team at Genesee County Animal Shelter. A reminder for folks that adoption is not the only option: you can always be foster parents to a kitten while a permanent home is found.

(I love the soundtrack on this one: Sing, Sing, Sing.)

How many untaxed cigarettes are too many untaxed cigarettes?

By Philip Anselmo

Following the arrest of a Bergen man over the weekend for possessing several cartons of untaxed cigarettes purchased at an American Indian reservation, WBTA sent out their crack team of investigators to find out just where the legal line is drawn for buying smokes from a reservation.

It turns out, the law is not very tolerant on this issue. Genesee County Sheriff Gary Maha told Dan Fischer that if you've got any more than two cartons of untaxed cigarettes, "you put yourself at risk." I especially enjoy the phrasing, though I can't say if it's all Dan Fischer or Gary Maha. Of course, you put yourself at risk if you've got a lot of smokes. But I would have assumed the risk was to your lung health, not the risk to get booked with misdemeanor tax evasion!

Sheriff's deputies reported that the "bust" over the weekend was made when a fellow was already pulled over for a traffic stop and was found in possession of 2,200 cigarettes. If my math is correct, I believe that's 11 cartons.

Maha did stress, however, that deputies are not actively out looking to nail people for buyig cigarettes from a reservation. But if you get pulled over for something else and you happen to have 11 cartons in your passenger seat, you may just be held responsible.

No clear cut plans for youth football

By Philip Anselmo

There comes a time in every city government reporter's life when he heads home from a lengthy municipal meeting and says to himself (perhaps not entirely in jest): There has to be another way. In other words, representative government is not the prettiest form of rule that we've dreamed up as a thinking, social species — and the more you spectate, the less pretty it gets.

You would be hard pressed to get nine people to agree on which type of latté to order at Main Street Coffee — or even three of them to agree on the milk to mix: skim, whole, soy, part, almond, powdered, none. Fat chance then getting those same nine to come to a tidy conclusion about a complex city issue. In fact, you can almost count on that issue becoming more and more complex before it eventually was hashed out and resolved.

But that's just how it goes. Unless you want a dictatorship... and even then you've still got bureaucrats.

Take the relocation of the youth football program out of Dwyer Stadium — its home for 32 years — into a city park: a non-issue that was vaulted to priority status when Red Wings management came to the city a few weeks back and sort of said that they would not pay for the costly repairs to the turf each year that would be required as a result of football cleats gouging the grass. Toute suite, City Manager Jason Molino put together a cost comparison between relocating the program to Austin Park or Kibbe Park. He recommended moving to Austin at a cost of about $19,000, rather than Kibbe, which would cost more like $61,000. See our earlier post for the full details.

Well, quite quickly it was quite clear that the issue was not so simple.

About every member of Council seemed to have a different take. Some argued for moving to Kibbe Park. Others argued for Austin Park. Some wondered if the real issue was the cost of the move. Others wanted to know if the program could wait one year or if they had to relocate right now. Some thought the Red Wings management said they wanted youth football gone without delay. Others swore that the management was an enthusiastic supporter.

Councilman Bill Cox recommended lifting and hauling the bleachers from Dwyer to Austin for football season, taking a torch to the scoreboard posts and hauling that over, too — and doing it all for about $1,000, not $16,000, he said.

Council President Charlie Mallow was utterly and unabashedly opposed to any solution that did not involve the immediate expulsion of youth football from Dwyer Stadium and spending the least amount of money possible relocating it somewhere else. Although he urged that he was a supporter of youth football, he just couldn't see spending so much time and money on something that lasted eight weeks and was over. Quote: "What are we really talking about here? What are we prima donnas?"

One question that was never really answered, mostly because several Council members had several diametrically opposed answers to it, was whether one more season of youth football would damage the field so much that it would cost $15,000 to fix for the next Muckdogs season; or was $15,000 more accurate for a repair of many years of field damage and not just one eight-week season.

In the end though, Ben Bonarigo put it quite simply. (Bonarigo is a member of the youth football program's board of directors.) City Council, he said, gave the youth football program its word that they could stay at Dwyer Stadium for one more year, then relocate. Fine. If that was understood, the program wanted to move to Kibbe Park. It just made more sense for them. And if the Council had a problem spending so much money — no problem, youth football would do the fundraising to make sure that the move to Kibbe would be no more costly for the city than the move to Austin.

That was actually prior to Council's discussion that raged on for a good hour and got a few hackles raised, along with a few voices.

Council President Charlie Mallow said that the decision to allow youth football to stay another year was made as part of an informal conference meeting, and it was done as a straw poll. Therefore, it was not official. Council members Rose Mary Christian and Frank Ferrando didn't care much for that, and they said so. Then a couple of them yelled so. But that went nowhere.

In fact, not much of anything went anywhere.

As Mallow himself said: "Where are we going? We're going around in a circle."

Or City Attorney George Van Nest: "The discussion has ranged far and wide." (It should be noted that Van Nest's statement had a bit of an ironic twang to it, since he followed the declaration by offering his own take on what the real issue was, taking everything farther and wider.)

Mallow repeatedly urged Council to just wrap things up before the whole thing erupted in one big overblown argument.

So... Where do we stand? Where does youth football stand? Nowhere. Everywhere.

At the end of the rigamarole, a motion by Frank Ferrando was pushed through that would put a vote on the next business meeting agenda to declare that youth football can remain at Dwyer Stadium for one more year — and one more year only  — before they have to relocate. In other words, Council will vote to maintain a situation that already exists. You could see that Van Nest got a kick out of that. Me too.

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