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Howard B. Owens's blog

September 18, 2008 - 8:27pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in elba, Oakfield.

I took a drive out to Elba and Oakfield today.  In Elba, I couldn't resist stopping to take a picture of this building, which is now the wallpaper on my computer.

Anybody know the history of this place?

When Hilly found out I was driving out to Oakfield, he told me I had the stop at Santino's Pizza. "The pizza is amazing," he said.  I did, and it is.

In Oakfield, I stopped by the library and read the flyers in the window of the pharmacy.

Two events I learned about:

  • October 18 and 25: Ghost walk at Batavia cemetery on Harvester, 7:00 to 8:30 p.m.
  • The Genesee Chorale presents a recital series, Sept. 26 at 7 p.m. in the Batavia City Centre.

Reminder, if you're with a community organization and need to publicize an event or other group news, you can post the information you need to get out to Genesee County on The Batavian.  It's free. Just create an account, login and post.

September 18, 2008 - 6:18am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Holland Land Office Museum, bill kauffman.

Luther MartinBill Kauffman spoke Sept. 9 at the Holland Land Office Museum dinner and Patrick Weissend recorded it as part of HOLM's ongoing podcast series.

You can listen to it here.

Bill's new book is Forgotten Founder, Drunken Prophet: The Life of Luther Martin.

Luther was an anti-Federalists, a misnomer used to describe a group of people who opposed ratification of the Constitution because it would, they believed (and accurately predicted) that it would lead to a concentration of power in the national government at the expense of communities and states.  The opposition of the anti-Federalist did help lead to the drafting of the Bill of Rights.

In the podcast, Bill covers Luther Martin's biography and his opposition to the drafting and ratification of the Constitution.

September 14, 2008 - 9:44pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Batavia Muckdogs, sports.

In front of nearly 1,400 screaming fans, Adam Reifer struck out Justin Bass to secure the Batavia Muckdog's first league title since 1963 with a 9-3 victory over the Jamestown Jammers.

With the third strike of the third out in the top of the ninth, fans and players alike went wild as young men in red jerseys swarmed the field and piled on top of each other in front of home plate.  In the stands, fans screamed, hugged and high-fived.

Within minutes, league president Ben Hayes presented the championship trophy to manager Mark DeJohn.

The Muckdogs won game one of the three-game series in Jamestown on Friday night. Saturday's game was rained out.

The game was close up until the bottom of the eighth inning when the Muckdogs blew the game open by scoring five runs.

Jamestown had scored two runs in the top of the inning to make it 4-3.

Frederick Parejo went 4-4 and Shane Peterson picked up three hits.

The starter and winner was Hector Cardenas who went six innings and gave up only 1 run.

If it all turned out, we'll post some video from tonight later.

UPDATE:  I shot video with two cameras.  One was a little Flip so I could post something quickly.  That hasn't quite worked out. For some reason, YouTube keeps throwing an error when I try to upload it.  Google Video took it just fine, and you can view it here.  We'll see how it goes with the other video, which includes some interviews.

UPDATE II: Still having trouble with getting a video to upload to YouTube.  The quality of this on Google just isn't very good, but here's the longer video with interviews and such.

UPDATE III: Wow, I kept getting these upload errors, but all this time -- the first video did upload and process just fine.  Here's video #1 -- shot with the Flip just to get a quick video of the final out.  The second video finally did upload and is processing now.  I'll embed either when it's ready or later in the morning (late tonight now, so I might sleep in a bit).

UPDATE IV:  Ok, here it is ... the longer video with interviews (Ben Hayes, Dan Mason, Brian Paris and Bill Kauffman):

UPADATE V: Nice summary of the Muckdog's post season on Scout.com. Also, long story on MLB.com, with some nice quotes from Shane Peterson.

September 12, 2008 - 10:38pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Batavia Muckdogs, sports.

Jermaine Curtis homered in the ninth inning Friday night to give the Batavai Muckdogs a 4-3 victory of the Jamestown Jammers in Jamestown.

The come-from-behind victor gives the 'Dogs a 1-0 lead in the best-of-three New York-Penn League championship series.

Trailing 3-2 entering the ninth inning. the Muckdogs got to Jammers closer Jared Yecker (nine saves during the regular season) for three hits and two earned runs, including Curtis' blast.

Start Scott Gorgen twirled six spectacular innings of shutout ball and left the game with the lead, but relief pitcher Ramon Delgado surrendered all three of the Jammers runs.  Because Delgado was still on the mound to open the bottom of the ninth, he gets credit for the win tonight.

Poetry reading pitcher Jason Buursma picked up his second post season save by retiring the final Jamestown hitter.

The long-time Western New York rivals meet again Saturday night at Dwyer Stadium for game two of the series.  Game time is 7:05 p.m.

September 11, 2008 - 10:49am
posted by Howard B. Owens in BID, Ellicott Street.

Work has begun on the Ellicott Street improvement project -- or should I say, measurement has begun.

I stopped into the Pok-A-Dot for breakfast this morning. Staff and clientele alike told me crews have been outside the restaurant for four days measuring.

I watched the same line, the same spot get measured six times while I was there.

Since I've never worked construction, maybe this is normal (I don't know), but it seems to take the maxim "measure twice, cut once" a bit far.

September 11, 2008 - 7:41am
posted by Howard B. Owens in education, school for the blind.

The D&C reports that the New York's Education Department is considering turning Batavia's historic School for the Blind into a private institution because the state cannot adequately run the institution.

The state Board of Regents will decide next week whether to seek letters of interest from private operators who could run the Batavia school. The change would require approval from the state Legislature and governor.

No recommendations have been made yet, said Rebecca Cort, a deputy commissioner.

"We do want to reassure people that we are not looking to close this school," she said. "In fact, it's just the opposite. We are trying to look long term and say, 'How do we continue to ensure the viability of a very viable program?'"

The 140-year-old institution's enrollment was once as high as 300 but is now just over 50. The population has declined largely because school districts have adapted to federal and state laws that require special-education students be mainstreamed into regular classrooms when possible.

The LoHud.com version of the story contains this:

Assemblyman Stephen Hawley, R-Batavia, said he is also trying to publicize the school. As for privatization, "I'm not sure that that's necessarily the route that we need to take at this point."

The school has about 150 state employees and a $10.3 million annual operating budget. It is one of two state-run schools. The other is the School for the Deaf in Rome, Oneida County.

On Tuesday, the Regents will discuss a report on the school by the Education Transformation Group. ETG, which was hired by the state, recommended operating a seven-day program and expanding admissions criteria to include students who are developmentally disabled and have a sensory impairment (vision and/or hearing loss) that makes it difficult to succeed in a regular classroom.

ETG is recommending the institution be privatized and become a state-approved school. Doing so would provide greater flexibility in who could be admitted, the report said.

The school was founded in 1868 largely to help Civil War veterans learn new skills. Here's a 1995 New York Times story that goes into some detail on the school's facilities and results.

September 11, 2008 - 7:16am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Batavia Muckdogs, sports.

Batavia MuckdogsAfter eliminating Lowell Wednesday night in a hard-fought 3-2 victory, the Batavia Muckdogs will face the Jamestown Jammers Friday night in an effort to secure the team's fourth league championship in its seven-decade history.

Surprisingly, the NY-Penn League site's story on the championship series gets it wrong, saying that Batavia is going for its first-ever title. (Surely, the Jammers, as one of the leagues original teams, has won championships before -- and we know they've made the finals before, because Batavia beat Jamestown in 1945 -- but I couldn't find any history of the team from before the 1990s.)

Last night, Adam Veres, who was 1-1 with a 4.35 ERA in the regular season, may have pitched the career game of his young professional career.  He went seven innings and gave up only 1 run and two hits while striking out seven.

From the NY-P story referenced above:

"We feel great right now, this was obviously the biggest game of the season," Veres said. "We've got a lot of high-spirited guys that want to go all the way with this."


"I was really amped up to get this start," he said. "I was locating the fastball to both sides of the plate and the ball was moving real well. I just wanted to prepare for this one just like any other game, but this one obviously meant a little more."

Ramon Delgado struck out the side in the eigth to preserve Batavia's selendor 3-1 lead.

Closer Adam Reifer was shacky in the ninth, giving up a walk, a hit and a run, but held on to pick up the save, retiring Lowell's Ricardo Burgos on a called third strike while all 800 or so Batavia fans were on their feet clapping and cheering.

Friday's opening game will be at 7 p.m., and then the teams return to Batavia Saturday for a 7 p.m. game. If game three is necessary, it will be played at Dwyer on Sunday and the game time will be 7 p.m. (oops, make the 6 p.m.).

UPDATE: Here's how the Batavia franchise finished in each year it fielded a team 1939 through 1997 (actually, the Batavia Indians seasons are here (including a 1957 finals appearance), and the Batavia Pirates made the finals twice, winning in 1963; and the Batavia Trojans made the finals in 1977). The Jamestown Falcons won five titles in nine championship appearances. The Jamestown Expos won twice in four appearances. The Jamestown Tigers made the finals once.

September 11, 2008 - 6:32am
posted by Howard B. Owens in thebatavian.

Now that we have a sports writer, I just wanted to make the point that not all sports coverage will appear on the home page.  If you're interested in local sports, you should regularly visit the sports page by clicking on the "Sports" tab in the top navigation.

Brian posted some scores from last night as well as previews of upcoming prep football games.

And so long as I'm posting reminders, don't forget you can post free classifieds under "Buy, Sell & Trade," as well as free help wanted ads under "Jobs."

September 11, 2008 - 12:07am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Jon Powers.

The 26th District blog has a thoughtful post up on "Why Powers Failed" to win the primary.

A lot of it boils down to too much confidence in a mirage of grassroots support, and a poorly managed media message.

There was no real media team. For a campaign built upon “grassroots support” and on-line activism, there was nothing interesting nor innovative about their Web site. ...

I should note that the campaign’s communications person was more than happy to talk to me when it came to spreading positive messages. Almost every e-mail send inquiring about War Kids Relief or anything off message were ignored. After awhile I stopped receiving any contact at all.


I am a firm believer in the echo chambers ability to distort perception. If you spend all your time with people who think like you do, then you start believing everyone thinks like you do. No doubt the Powers team would go into halls and see a hundred people or knock on doors with a few dozen volunteers and begin to think they were a part of something.

The same thing happened in the “blogosphere”. In a district of this size it is true that a few hundred people could help sway things, but if that is all the support and name recognition you have, it won’t be enough. It was clear in reading the financial reports, Powers did not have the “local” or “grassroots” support he was claiming when it came to fund raising. That lead me to wonder if he actually had the on the ground support as well.

Even as a somewhat distant observer, I found myself, as I read through the post, finding the points persuasive.

September 10, 2008 - 11:02am
posted by Howard B. Owens in thebatavian, sports.

Brian HillabushIn Genesee County, if you follow local sports, you know the name Brian Hillabush.

Brian has been covering sports, mostly high school sports, for the Batavia Daily News for eight years.  In that time, he has developed a solid reputation and built quite a popular following.

Today, he joins the staff of The Batavian.

Brian will be the full-time sports editor for The Batavian (you may have noticed we added a sports tab to the top of the home page the other day).  He’ll cover local sports and help anybody who wants to post their own team or league information on the site.  Besides being able to blog about sports (something he wasn’t allowed to do for the Daily News), he’s also excited about shooting video for the site – so looks for more local sports video on The Batavian.

A native of Oakfield, Brian has spent his entire life in Genesee County. He attended Genesee Community College where he studied broadcasting and managed WGCC.  He even spent a couple of months working for WBTA before embarking on his print career.

In hiring Brian, we fulfill one of our earlier promises – that as we grow, we will hire local staff, people who live in and love Genesee County.

We’re also excited to bring Brian onto our team because he’s just so dang good – a good writer who really knows local sports, has a wealth of contacts and is highly regarded by the people he deals with. We’re confident that with Brian covering sports for The Batavian, we’ll have the most timely and comprehensive Genesee County sports coverage you’re going to get anywhere.

September 10, 2008 - 6:57am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Batavia Muckdogs, sports.

The St. Louis Cardinals seem to like what they see about Batavia so far as far as player development goes. The team announced yesterday that it renewed its contract with the Muckdogs for two more seasons, according to Scout.com.

“We’ve enjoyed our two years in Batavia,” stated Cardinals Vice President and General Manager John Mozeliak. “We are grateful for Naomi Silver and Dan Mason as they look to build a successful franchise in Batavia. We look forward to the next two years there.”

UPDATE (Philip): We received comments from Naomi Silver, Muckdogs Manager Mark DeJohn and the Cardinals VP of Scouting, John Luhnow on the contract extension.

Naomi Silver:

“We are very pleased to be able to extend our agreement with the Cardinals. When you are fortunate enough to affiliate with such an outstanding organization, you certainly hope to see it continue. We are gratified that they are eager to remain in Batavia. We have been very lucky to be with an organization which has provided us with extremely talented young players. There’s nothing better than playing in the post-season, and this year has been extremely exciting for all of us and the Batavia community.

“The Cardinals are a class organization, and we couldn’t ask for a better partner. They know how important their role has been here and they deserve a lot of credit for the great team they’ve fielded for us. They have been great to work with and we’re looking forward to continuing this relationship.”

Mark DeJohn:

“I’ve really enjoyed my time here the last two seasons and I enjoy working with the front office and stadium staff. I appreciate the improvements made to the ballpark and operation prior to this season and I look forward to working here with our young players for another two seasons.”

John Luhnow:

“The Cardinals are excited about staying in Batavia. We believe in small town minor league baseball; for our players and staff as well as the community."

September 10, 2008 - 12:20am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Batavia Muckdogs, sports.

As the Batavia Muckdogs entered the bottom of the sixth inning tonight, trailing 8-2, I was thinking -- "if they don't do anything this inning, I'm heading home."

My thought was prescient. The Muckdogs exploded for six runs to tie the game, and with five more runs in the seventh, the 'Dogs cemented a 13-9 victory over Lowell.

This was game number two of a three-game playoff.  Game three will be Wednesday night at 7 p.m.

Here's the complete box score.  Mollie's full report here.

If the Muckdogs can win the third and deciding game, they'll face Jamestown in the finals.  Jamestown swept Staten Island with a 4-1 victory tonight.

September 8, 2008 - 11:11pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Batavia Muckdogs.

The Batavia Muckdogs let a two-run, eigth-inning lead slip away Monday night, sending its first-of-three playoff game against Lowell into extra innings.

The Muckdogs lost in the 12th inning 4-3.

Box Score.

September 8, 2008 - 11:20am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Jack Davis.

When you're a reporter, you just love ledes that write themselves. Jerry Zremski of the Buffalo News had a real zinger fall into his lap.

Jack Davis collected 7,000 signatures to get his “Save Jobs and Farms Party” on the November ballot, but he forgot the most important one: his own.

Too funny.

If Davis can't beat Powers or Kryzan in the primary, it's unlikely his Save Farms and Jobs Party, will qualify for the November ballot.

Davis, an Akron millionaire who has vowed to spend $3 million of his money on the race, has until next Wednesday to go to court to appeal the decision.

Brehm indicated, however, that the ruling was an easy one on the part of the board.

“I don’t see how we can waive a statutory requirement,” he said.

I don't expect this flub will help him any in the polls.

September 7, 2008 - 12:35am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Batavia Muckdogs.

It all came down to the final game of the season, but with a Muckdogs 4-1 victory over State College at Dwyer Stadium tonight, Batavia can now boast that it's home to the 2008 Pinckney Division Champions.

The Muckdogs won the title with a slim half-game lead over Jamestown, which finished the season on a high note, taking it's final five games, including two crucial games agasint Batavia.  The Jammers beat Williamsport tonight 9-5.

The end-of-season surge helped Batavia's Western New York rivals secure a wild card birth over the Brooklyn Cyclones. The Cyclones came up short with a pair of loses in the season's final games after losing only one game in the previous two weeks.

The Muckdogs now travel to Lowell for the first game of the playoffs.

Most likely, we'll see a post from Mollie soon with an update on the final game and more information on the playoff schedule.

September 5, 2008 - 12:20am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Batavia Muckdogs, bill kauffman.

The Muckdogs lost. Big time. The final score of tonight's big match with Jamestown was a blowout: 13-4.

The Jammers (44-29) now sit a mere half game back of Batavia (44-28) in the Pinckney Division.

Meanwhile, Brooklyn won again, to maintain a half-game lead in the wild card race.

All-in-all, a bad night at Dwyer Stadium.

Or was it?

Tonight was "Bill Kauffman Night." Bill threw out the first pitch, autographed books for fans who gave the correct answers to trivia questions, and his daughter and a friend sang the National Anthem and "America the Beautiful."

I sat with Kauffman and his friends and family in the third-base bleachers. It was a good lesson in what it really means to attend a minor league baseball game in a small town.

It isn't all about the game. It's about the camaraderie, shared memories and hearty laughs.

That said, not a single significant play was missed by the group and the level of baseball knowledge was higher than I've found in big league stadiums where I've seen games.

If that experience in "Little Elba," as General Manager Dave Wellenzohn calls it, could be captured in a marketing message -- if more families and groups of friends could better appreciate how much fun an evening at the ballpark can be, win or lose, the Muckdogs would sell out every game.

As much fun as the evening was, the highlight might have been meeting local legend John Hodgins.

After the fifth inning, when Wellenzohn thanked The Batavian for its sponsorship of the team in 2008, and pointed out that I was sitting with the "Little Elba" group, Mr. Hodgins came over and introduced himself.

I cringed at first. I thought he was going to complain about our "fly swat" post, poking fun at a cartoon he drew for the Daily News. Nope, he said. That didn't bother him at all. He's just curious about what we're doing and wanted to meet me. That, my friends, is quite a complement.

I've seen Hodgins art work. I'm impressed. I hope to own some of it some day. I'll feel honored for a long, long time that he wanted to meet me.

I also got to meet in person for the first time Russ Stresing. We chatted for ten minutes or so as the game drew to a close. That, too, was cool.

So, you see, a night at the ballpark is more than just about the game. It's also about the people.

You should go.

Yes, the division crown isn't wrapped up yet, but there is hope: The Muckdogs, sitting in the cat bird seat, have two home games against State College (18-54) who seem hardly to even be going through the motions anymore, while Jamestown must play third-place Williamsport (38-34).

After the game, however, Wellenzohn and the Red Wing's Dan Mason insisted that State College needs to be taken seriously. There's no guarantees.  With that said, you really need to get out to Dwyer Friday and Saturday and support the team.

September 4, 2008 - 3:03pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in bill kauffman.

Local author (Dispatches from the Muckdog Gazette and Ain't My America, etc.) spoke this week at Ron Paul's Rally for the Republic in Minneapolis.

A two-part video has been posted to YouTube.

The normally mild-mannered scholarly writer really gets into it.

In part 2 Kauffman makes the case that localism, the idea that people should look first to their families and their neighbors for their sense of place, for a sense of peace, is asserting itself all over again.

September 4, 2008 - 2:41pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Jack Davis, Alice Kryzan.

Public radio station WBFO has posted interviews with Jack Davis and Alice Kryzan.  Check the site tomorrow for Jon Powers (hat tip 26th District Congressional Blog).

September 4, 2008 - 12:27pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Michele Iannello, Joe Mesi, Dan Ward.

OK, maybe you knew this already, but it's news to me.

Michele Iannello, and Erie County legislator and Democratic candidate for the 61st State Senate District is married to Erie County Board of Elections Commissioner Dennis Ward.

If that isn't weird enough, Dennis is the brother of one of the other candidates in the race, Dan Ward.

According to this Tonawanda News story.

The third candidate, boxer Joe Mesi’s, is not, as far as I know, but correct me if I'm wrong, related to any of the three.

Oh, and the real point of the Tonawanda News story is how Mesi and Iannello and hurling charges back and forth.

As Erie County Legislator Michele Iannello renewed her request for an evaluation of Joe Mesi’s campaign finances, Mesi’s camp struck back with a charge of their own.

Their concern over the integrity of Tuesday’s elections stems from Iannello’s husband, Erie County Board of Elections Commissioner Dennis Ward, also the brother of third candidate Dan Ward not responding to Mesi’s request that Commissioner Ward recuse himself from oversight of Tuesday’s elections.

On a somewhat related note: We've asked all three candidates to respond to a short questionnaire, and none have yet responded.

September 4, 2008 - 7:35am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Batavia Muckdogs.

The Muckdogs dropped a crucial Pinckney Division game Wednesday night in Jamestown, as the second-place Jammers closed within a game of division-leading Batavia.

After the 7-2 lose, the Muckdogs (44-27) have a chance to claim the division title at home tonight against Jamestown (43-29).  The two teams square off at 7:05 p.m. at Dwyer Stadium.

A game and a half separate the Western New York rivals.

A lot is on the line for both teams as Brooklyn (44-29) gained a half-game lead in the wild card race. The red hot Cyclones are 9-1 over their last nine games, and beat Hudson Valley last night 9-6.

The Jamestown newspaper reports this morning that because of rain outs that won't be made up, Batavia has a slight mathematical advantage in the division race.

It was a must win for the Jammers, but still might be too little too late. With the victory, Jamestown now trails Batavia by 1 games in the Pinckney Division. The teams play tonight in Batavia and if the Muckdogs win, they claim the title.

If Jamestown wins, it is still alive, but Batavia has a big edge. The Muckdogs had a game each with Mahoning Valley and Oneonta rained out and the NY-P League has announced that those games will not be made up. The Muckdogs have three games left while the Jammers have four, so if the teams end up tied, the Muckdogs would still win the title on percentage points.

In last night's game, Frederick Parejo had three hits, while Jermaine Curtis and Shane Peterson each collected two.

The Muckdogs made five errors and turned two double plays.

Josh Hester (2-2) took the loss, going 2 1/3 innings and giving up four earned runs on nine hits.

The Jammers struck early, as the first four batter reached base, including a three-run homer from catcher Miguel Fermin

It should go without saying, but you need to be at the game tonight.




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