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Howard B. Owens's blog

December 24, 2020 - 10:28pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Le Roy, news, accident, thruway.

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A passenger was seriously injured in a one-vehicle rollover accident in the eastbound lane of the Thruway in the area of mile marker 380.5 this afternoon.

The patient was transported by Mercy EMS to Strong Memorial Hospital in Rochester.

Le Roy fire and Le Roy ambulance responded to the scene. 

Le Roy Chief Tom Wood said the driver of the vehicle was not injured. 

Traffic was shut down during the incident. 

State Police are handling the investigation.

Photos and information from Alecia Kaus/Video News Service.

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December 23, 2020 - 9:48pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Tonawanda Creek, South Main Street, batavia, news.

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Amanda Coggiola submitted these photos of a bald eagle at the Tonawanda Creek off South Main Street Road, Batavia.

She said, "My kids and I saw this eagle at our house this morning. They asked if I could send the pictures to you because we know sometimes you post the pics on your website. Merry Christmas: Amanda, Ben, Lilly, and Jake Coggiola"

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December 23, 2020 - 9:35pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Michael Tomaszewski, crime, news, batavia, notify.
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     Michael Tomaszewski

Funeral home owner Michael S. Tomaszewski, arrested in July after an investigation that uncovered multiple incidences of potential fraud, was arraigned in Genesee County Court today on more than 200 counts of grand larceny, falsifying business records, offering a false instrument in filing, scheme to defraud, and failure to deposit.

As he did when first arrested and arraigned in Town of Batavia Court, Tomaszewski entered a not guilty plea.

Tomaszewski waived his right to have a grand jury review the evidence against him and potentially issue indictments against him. He was arraigned on what's known as Superior Court Information (SCI) that lays out all the charges in the same form as a grand jury indictment.

It is 101 pages long.

Tomaszewski is accused of taking money people used to prepay for funerals and instead of depositing the money in appreciate bank accounts then using the money for other purposes.

The SCI indicates the majority of customers lost from more than $2,000 up to $15,500 each.

The charges include: 67 counts of third-degree grand larceny; 28 counts of fourth-degree grand larceny; four counts of falsifying business records; 93 counts of failure to deposit; seven counts of petit larceny; and counts of offering a false instrument for filing in the first degree; and scheme to defraud.

During the virtual arraignment today, the attorneys discussed the possibility of reaching a plea deal within the next six weeks.

Tomaszewski remains released from custody on his own recognizance. His next scheduled court appearance, which will also be virtual, is 1:30 p.m., Feb. 2.

Alecia Kaus/Video News Service contributed to this report.

Previously:

December 23, 2020 - 8:55pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in crime, news, batavia, notify.

A 52-year-old Batavia man already previously convicted on child pornography charges has been indicted once again in Federal Court.

Matthew Barber is charged with receipt and possession of child pornography, which carries a minimum mandatory penalty of 15 years in federal prison.

According to the U.S. Attorney's Office of Western New York was previously convicted in 2007 and was sentenced in 2007 to 74 months in federal prison. He was given five years of supervised release but he failed a sex offender treatment program.

Barber reportedly had a job in Batavia. He was dismissed after allegedly placing a USB flash drive into a work computer. He May, he was charged locally with unauthorized use of a computer.

As a condition of his parole, Barber was required to notify NYS Parole if he was terminated from employment. That day, U.S. Probation and NYS Parole searched his residence and seized a cellular phone and a flash drive.

According to the U.S. Attorney's office, investigators found 1,100 images and 40 videos of child pornography on the drive. Several hundred other images and 200 videos were allegedly found on the phone.

Barber was arraigned today in Federal Court. 

The indictment is the result of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, under the direction of Special Agent-in-Charge Stephen Belongia; the Cheektowaga Police Department, under the direction of Chief Michael Sliwinski; and the Batavia Police Department, under the direction of Chief Shawn Heubusch.

December 23, 2020 - 11:03am
posted by Howard B. Owens in unemployment, jobs, news, economy.

Genesee County's unemployment rate was 4.6 percent in November, still a percentage point higher than a year ago, but a bit better than it was with October's 5.0 percent rate.

There are 27,000 county residents with jobs. There were 28,400 a year ago in November and 26,800 in October of this year.

There are 1,300 people actively seeking employment compared to 1,100 a year ago and 1,300 last month.

December 23, 2020 - 10:51am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Deal of the Day, advertisement.

Reminders of how the Deal of the Day program works:

  • To make purchases, you must be registered. Deal of the Day uses a registration system that is not connected to the registration for commenting on The Batavian (the main user login in the upper left of the homepage).
  • Once registered, you must sign in using the "sign in" link in this box.
  • You click on the orange button, which appears if the item is not sold out, and it takes you to a PayPal button. This allows you to pay either with your PayPal account or with a credit card/debit card. The login for PayPal is completely separate from our accounts.
  • The first person to successfully complete the PayPal transaction wins the gift certificate.
  • You are eligible to buy the same item only once in a four-month period. We use the registration system to track this for you so you don't have to.
  • Only one gift certificate from the same business PER HOUSEHOLD is allowed in each four-month period. We do not have a way to automatically track duplicate purchases within a household; however, if we notice such a purchase, we reserve the right to cancel the purchase and refund the purchase money. Each individual buyer must use his or her own PayPal account for purchases. It's important that participating businesses not be asked to redeem multiple gift certificates from the same person/family at the same time.
  • Gift certificates should be used within 30 days of receipt.
  • Problems, questions, concerns about the Deal of the Day? Email Billie Owens:   [email protected]
December 22, 2020 - 7:48pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in chris collins, NY-27, Donald Trump, news, notify.

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President Donald Trump, in the final month of his one term, issued 15 pardons today, including a pardon for former NY-27 congressional representative Chris Collins, who entered a guilty plea more than a year ago to federal crimes stemming from insider trading activity. 

Collins also admitted to lying to the FBI about using information that wasn't available to the public about Innate Immunotherapy to tip his son and other associates that led them to dump stock in the company before news of a failed trial reached other investors.

Even while under federal indictment for the crimes, Collins ran for reelection and won.

Collins was the first member of Congress to endorse Donald Trump for president in 2016 and served on the transition team after Trump beat Hillary Clinton.  

The second member of Congress to endorse Trump was Duncan Hunter Jr., of El Cajon, Calif. Hunter was also convicted of federal crimes related to his misuse of campaign donations for his personal benefit. Today, Trump also pardoned Hunter.

Photo: File photo: Collins, with his wife standing beside him, at a press conference in August 2018 when he denied the insider trading charges that had been filed against him that day in New York City.

December 22, 2020 - 11:29am
posted by Howard B. Owens in South Main Street, batavia, news, Bald eagles, outdoors, wildlife.

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John Spyropoulos spotted a pair of bald eagles feasting on a deer carcass this morning along the Tonawanda Creek along South Main Street in Batavia. He submitted this photo where you can see one of the eagles at the top of a tree.

December 22, 2020 - 10:44am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Deal of the Day, advertisement.

Reminders of how the Deal of the Day program works:

  • To make purchases, you must be registered. Deal of the Day uses a registration system that is not connected to the registration for commenting on The Batavian (the main user login in the upper left of the homepage).
  • Once registered, you must sign in using the "sign in" link in this box.
  • You click on the orange button, which appears if the item is not sold out, and it takes you to a PayPal button. This allows you to pay either with your PayPal account or with a credit card/debit card. The login for PayPal is completely separate from our accounts.
  • The first person to successfully complete the PayPal transaction wins the gift certificate.
  • You are eligible to buy the same item only once in a four-month period. We use the registration system to track this for you so you don't have to.
  • Only one gift certificate from the same business PER HOUSEHOLD is allowed in each four-month period. We do not have a way to automatically track duplicate purchases within a household; however, if we notice such a purchase, we reserve the right to cancel the purchase and refund the purchase money. Each individual buyer must use his or her own PayPal account for purchases. It's important that participating businesses not be asked to redeem multiple gift certificates from the same person/family at the same time.
  • Gift certificates should be used within 30 days of receipt.
  • Problems, questions, concerns about the Deal of the Day? Email Billie Owens:   [email protected]
December 21, 2020 - 8:37am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Deal of the Day, advertisement.

Reminders of how the Deal of the Day program works:

  • To make purchases, you must be registered. Deal of the Day uses a registration system that is not connected to the registration for commenting on The Batavian (the main user login in the upper left of the homepage).
  • Once registered, you must sign in using the "sign in" link in this box.
  • You click on the orange button, which appears if the item is not sold out, and it takes you to a PayPal button. This allows you to pay either with your PayPal account or with a credit card/debit card. The login for PayPal is completely separate from our accounts.
  • The first person to successfully complete the PayPal transaction wins the gift certificate.
  • You are eligible to buy the same item only once in a four-month period. We use the registration system to track this for you so you don't have to.
  • Only one gift certificate from the same business PER HOUSEHOLD is allowed in each four-month period. We do not have a way to automatically track duplicate purchases within a household; however, if we notice such a purchase, we reserve the right to cancel the purchase and refund the purchase money. Each individual buyer must use his or her own PayPal account for purchases. It's important that participating businesses not be asked to redeem multiple gift certificates from the same person/family at the same time.
  • Gift certificates should be used within 30 days of receipt.
  • Problems, questions, concerns about the Deal of the Day? Email Billie Owens:   [email protected]
December 19, 2020 - 8:31pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in accident, news, batavia.

A motor-vehicle accident is reported at Lewiston Road and West Main Street, Batavia.

Town of Batavia fire and State Police are on scene.

Mercy EMS dispatched.

At least two vehicles involved and traffic is blocked.

December 19, 2020 - 11:31am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Tonawanda Creek, batavia, news.

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Chris Crocker submitted this photo taken on South Main Street in Batavia of geese lounging on the Tonawanda Creek.

December 19, 2020 - 11:29am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Deal of the Day, advertisement.

Reminders of how the Deal of the Day program works:

  • To make purchases, you must be registered. Deal of the Day uses a registration system that is not connected to the registration for commenting on The Batavian (the main user login in the upper left of the homepage).
  • Once registered, you must sign in using the "sign in" link in this box.
  • You click on the orange button, which appears if the item is not sold out, and it takes you to a PayPal button. This allows you to pay either with your PayPal account or with a credit card/debit card. The login for PayPal is completely separate from our accounts.
  • The first person to successfully complete the PayPal transaction wins the gift certificate.
  • You are eligible to buy the same item only once in a four-month period. We use the registration system to track this for you so you don't have to.
  • Only one gift certificate from the same business PER HOUSEHOLD is allowed in each four-month period. We do not have a way to automatically track duplicate purchases within a household; however, if we notice such a purchase, we reserve the right to cancel the purchase and refund the purchase money. Each individual buyer must use his or her own PayPal account for purchases. It's important that participating businesses not be asked to redeem multiple gift certificates from the same person/family at the same time.
  • Gift certificates should be used within 30 days of receipt.
  • Problems, questions, concerns about the Deal of the Day? Email Billie Owens:   [email protected]
December 18, 2020 - 3:56pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in covid-19, coronavirus, news, notify.

In a Zoom press conference with reporters from throughout the region this morning, Genesee County officials pleaded with residents to try and help bring down the local COVID-19 positivity rate so the state doesn't put us in an Orange Zone, which would mean business closures.

"Our numbers are still," said County Manager Matt Landers. "They're rising to an unacceptable level, and it is very concerning to myself, to Legislative Chair (Shelly) Stein and Paul (Pettit, public health director), because we know what an Orange and a Red (Zone) does to a community. We know that it will negatively impact our businesses, and that's the last thing we want to see."

The seven-day rolling positivity rate for Genesee County is 9.2 percent. The 14-day rate is 8.3. That puts the county dangerously close to another lockdown order.

Landers noted that local residents, when going to bars, restaurants and local retail establishments they are doing a good job of following CDC guidelines: keeping their distance and wearing masks as directed. However, most of the local positivity rate is being driven by social gatherings on private property.

The contact tracing health workers do when a new positive case is identified is revealing a strong trend, Pettit said. People are going to private gatherings and getting infected. The secondary trend more prevalent recently is people coming home and infecting another member of the household.

"There's a lot of effort, a lot of communication going out, but ultimately, we need people to know, it comes down to choices and what people choose to do," Pettit said. "And, you know, we're asking folks to choose to try to minimize, and really from our perspective, do not get involved or not go to any nonessential gatherings that you don't have to."

Stein also asked people to be more cautious in the choices they make.

"Unfortunately, we have to step up our vigilance even more, cautious as the temptation is for gatherings, as it becomes stronger during Christmas and New Year's right around the corner," Stein said. "We cannot relax our social distancing to have our normal gatherings. At the same time, I don't want to be sending mixed messages, but Christmas and the holidays are important for our local businesses who are already suffering. Please, please take the proper precautions as you go about your shopping, practice, safety protocols, shop online locally if possible, be mindful of every action that you take."

There is light at the end of the tunnel, Petit noted. One COVID-19 vaccine has arrived and another is nearing approval for distribution. Even so, it will take months to get enough people vaccinated to make a difference. In the meantime, the message remains the same: follow the guidelines.

As local media reports the rising number of COVID-19 cases, there are still people on social media who try to downplay the critical nature of the current surge of identified coronavirus cases.

We asked Pettit about some of these common myths and misconceptions. 

What about the flu? How come we never hear about the flu?

"The flu is obviously a concern, right? I mean, we have flu season every year," Pettit said. "Flu is different than COVID. They're not the same thing. There's a lot of comments and conversation around there that it's just the flu or they're not reporting flu numbers. We've had a very comprehensive flu tracking system for a long time. Flu is starting to pick up. People can go on the state's Department of Health website and actually look and see a number of confirmed flu cases all across the state.

"We do have flu cases locally. It's not widespread yet, so obviously every year we get a declaration from the commissioner of health at some point when flu is pervasive and widespread through New York State, and that's the official start of flu season."

Pettit also noted that just like there are some people with COVID-19 who don't get tested, it's common for people with the flu not to get tested so you can't really compare COVID cases, which is more frequently confirmed during this pandemic, than flu cases.

What about the false positives?

"I can tell you that all of our positives we report in Genessee and Orleans county are positive for the case that there's a confirmed lab test that shows they're positive," Pettit said. "When you look at the tests that are being done for confirmation purposes. Again, the PCR test is a lab-based molecular test, the sensitivity, and the specificity. So that confirmed positive. ... We're pretty comfortable and confident that our positive cases are positive cases. 

"There is a chance of more false negatives with some of these rapid tests particularly. They're not quite as good, but most of them are around 93 to 95 percent accurate on the negative side."

Aren't other diseases are getting reported as COVID-19 positive case?

"We're not mixing up diseases," Pettit said. "We're not reporting flu as COVID. They're completely different viruses. There are different tests that detect the virus. So there really is no mix-up. I mean, we're specifically testing for specific diseases."

There are only 220 active cases in a population of 57,000. Aren't we overreacting?

"The big deal is, and again, I'm gonna go back to what I talked about earlier, the hospitalization rates in our most vulnerable folks to go with a high positivity rate. The big deal is we don't want to see anybody die if we don't have to -- if we can prevent it. ... If you look at positivity in cases, the viral load in our community, the better chance we can have of not impacting one of these folks that may be higher at risk.

"The more positives we have in our community, the more activity, the number of active cases that just tells us it's a snapshot of look under the hood, that we have a lot of transmission going on and that transmission's based on behavior. Sometimes we can't pick and choose who gets exposed to that. Ultimately, the goal is to try to get that lower. We want to see less active cases. We want to see a lower positivity rate."

There are COVID-19 patients from Rochester at UMMC. Isn't that contributing to our higher numbers?

Pettit said it's true that there are Monroe County residents being treated at UMMC. There are also Genesee County patients being treated in Monroe County. The 24 people currently listed as hospitalized are Genesee County residents, regardless of where they are currently located and no Monroe County residents are included in that number.

What about Batavia Downs? Why is it open? 

"When it comes to businesses, again, we're following the state's guidelines on who can be open and when they can be open and what capacity they can be open at," Pettit said. "Obviously, when you get into different zones or reductions of different sizes and gatherings, essential nonessential services. Ultimately, when it comes to any of these types of areas, the most important things people look at are their risk, their potential exposure, and how COVID may play out for them personally. But any of the businesses that are open currently are operating at whatever the governor in the state has deemed appropriate and safe for them to operate. 

"Ultimately there's risk wherever we're going out, which is why it's important to continue to remember, to mask in the distance and stay home if you're sick. So ultimately, we're not dictating locally what businesses are open or closed. It's all done through the state guidelines. And that's been that way since last spring."

And we asked Pettit address the oft-repeated phrase: "Don't live in fear."

"I don't think we should live in fear," Pettit said. "I've never been a proponent of living in fear, but I do believe we need to have respect. It's about respecting the virus. It's about respecting what the virus can do to not only us, but our loved ones and those in our community. And it's about respecting each other. And ultimately, as we've said many times, we are in this together, whether we like it or not. We are in this as a community and we need to respect each other's feelings and positions on things and ultimately do our best to come together during this time to get us through the finish line."

December 18, 2020 - 2:20pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in UMMC, covid-19, coronavirus, news, batavia.

Yesterday, the first members of UMMC's staff received the COVID-19 vaccine.

The video was shot by Rochester Regional Health staff and edited by Howard Owens.

December 18, 2020 - 12:59pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Le Roy, le roy hs, sports, swimming.

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Le Roy's varsity girls swimming team hosted Notre Dame for their season and home opener on Thursday, winning 102-74.

Highlights:

  • Natalee Shepard, 100 Freestyle 101.65
  • Peyton Koukides, 100 Breaststroke 1:20.62
  • Shepard & Koukides were on the 200 M & 400 Freestyle winning relays

Information and photos by Tim McArdle

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December 18, 2020 - 12:50pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Deal of the Day, advertisement.

Reminders of how the Deal of the Day program works:

  • To make purchases, you must be registered. Deal of the Day uses a registration system that is not connected to the registration for commenting on The Batavian (the main user login in the upper left of the homepage).
  • Once registered, you must sign in using the "sign in" link in this box.
  • You click on the orange button, which appears if the item is not sold out, and it takes you to a PayPal button. This allows you to pay either with your PayPal account or with a credit card/debit card. The login for PayPal is completely separate from our accounts.
  • The first person to successfully complete the PayPal transaction wins the gift certificate.
  • You are eligible to buy the same item only once in a four-month period. We use the registration system to track this for you so you don't have to.
  • Only one gift certificate from the same business PER HOUSEHOLD is allowed in each four-month period. We do not have a way to automatically track duplicate purchases within a household; however, if we notice such a purchase, we reserve the right to cancel the purchase and refund the purchase money. Each individual buyer must use his or her own PayPal account for purchases. It's important that participating businesses not be asked to redeem multiple gift certificates from the same person/family at the same time.
  • Gift certificates should be used within 30 days of receipt.
  • Problems, questions, concerns about the Deal of the Day? Email Billie Owens:   [email protected]
December 17, 2020 - 9:42pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in covid-19, coronavirus, news, notify.

Press release:

  • Genesee County received 48 new positive cases of COVID-19.
    • The new positive cases reside in Alabama, Alexander, Batavia, Bergen, Bethany, Byron, Darien, Elba, Le Roy, Oakfield and Pavilion.
    • The individuals are in their 0-19s, 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s and 90s.
    • Twenty-seven of the previous positive individuals have recovered and have been removed from the isolation list.
    • Twenty-four of the positive individuals are hospitalized.
    • Two of the new positive cases are residents at Le Roy Village Green Residential Healthcare Facility.
  • Orleans County received 38 new positive cases of COVID-19.
    • The new positive cases reside in Albion, Barre, Carlton, Clarendon, Murray, Ridgeway, Shelby and Yates.
    • The individuals are in their 0-19s, 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s and 80s.
    • Eight of the individuals were on mandatory quarantine prior to testing positive.
    • Twelve of the previous positive individuals have recovered and have been removed from the isolation list.
    • Two of the current positive individuals are hospitalized.
    • One of the new positives counted on 12/16/20 was determined not to be an Orleans County resident and has been deleted from our total numbers
    • We are saddened to report the COVID-related death of one of a community resident. The individual was over 65 years old. We will not be releasing any further information to protect the privacy of the individual and their family. Our deepest condolences go out to the family and friends of this individual during this very difficult time.

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December 17, 2020 - 12:39pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Bob's Christmas Car Day, Bob Zeagler, batavia, news.

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Sunday is the inaugural "Bob's Christmas Car Day" created in honor of Bob Zeagler, who used to decorate his Jeep Wrangler in different themes for each holiday throughout the year with a special effort for Christmas. 

The event is being organized on Facebook by a group of local residents.

Zeagler died in November 2016.

Residents are encouraged to decorate their car in a "Bob-inspired" way and drive around Batavia starting at 4 p.m. For those who want to be part of a group of cars, there will be a starting point at Ficarella's Pizzeria on Liberty Street in Batavia. It appears some of the details, such as routes, are still being worked out. Check the Facebook group for more information and updates.

Photo by Steve Ognibene.

December 17, 2020 - 12:06pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Deal of the Day, advertisement.

Reminders of how the Deal of the Day program works:

  • To make purchases, you must be registered. Deal of the Day uses a registration system that is not connected to the registration for commenting on The Batavian (the main user login in the upper left of the homepage).
  • Once registered, you must sign in using the "sign in" link in this box.
  • You click on the orange button, which appears if the item is not sold out, and it takes you to a PayPal button. This allows you to pay either with your PayPal account or with a credit card/debit card. The login for PayPal is completely separate from our accounts.
  • The first person to successfully complete the PayPal transaction wins the gift certificate.
  • You are eligible to buy the same item only once in a four-month period. We use the registration system to track this for you so you don't have to.
  • Only one gift certificate from the same business PER HOUSEHOLD is allowed in each four-month period. We do not have a way to automatically track duplicate purchases within a household; however, if we notice such a purchase, we reserve the right to cancel the purchase and refund the purchase money. Each individual buyer must use his or her own PayPal account for purchases. It's important that participating businesses not be asked to redeem multiple gift certificates from the same person/family at the same time.
  • Gift certificates should be used within 30 days of receipt.
  • Problems, questions, concerns about the Deal of the Day? Email Billie Owens:   [email protected]

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