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Howard B. Owens's blog

July 18, 2020 - 11:29am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Comet NEOWISE, Le Roy, news.

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Le Roy resident Katie Orlando shared her photo with us of comet NEOWISE as it passed earth in the evening sky last night.

The comet is expected to be visible at night until July 26.

For more information about viewing from NASA, click here.

If you take a good, clear picture of the comet, email the photo to [email protected]

July 18, 2020 - 11:27am
posted by Howard B. Owens in advertisement, Deal of the Day.

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 re gistered 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]
July 17, 2020 - 4:48pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in covid-19, coronavirus, news.

Press release:

  • Genesee County received two new positive cases of COVID-19, for a total of 240 positive cases.
    • The positive individuals reside in Batavia and Le Roy.
    • One of the positive individuals is in their 20s and one is in their 60s.
    • The positive individuals were not on mandatory quarantine prior to testing positive.
    • Two of the previous community positive cases have recovered and have been released from mandatory isolation.
    • Five new individuals are on precautionary quarantine due to travel from restricted states.
    • No individuals are hospitalized.
  • Orleans County received zero new positive case of COVID-19, maintaining a total of 269 positive cases.
    • Eight new individuals are on precautionary quarantine due to travel from restricted states.
    • Three of the total active positive cases are hospitalized. Please note those in the hospital may be from the community or a state-regulated facility. We do not separate them out to protect their privacy.
July 17, 2020 - 1:22pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in social justice, YWCA, batavia, video.
Video Sponsor

The YWCA in Batavia held a vigil on Wednesday at its North Street location to rally against racism. Featured speakers included Rev. Shiela Campbell McCullough and local businessman Brandon Armstrong.

July 17, 2020 - 1:20pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in 2020 Census, steve hawley.

Assemblyman Steve Hawley is featured in a new public service announcement ad for the 2020 Census. The PSA is being submitted to television stations to air.

July 17, 2020 - 1:01pm
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 re gistered 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]
July 16, 2020 - 3:37pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Ellicott Trail, video, batavia.
Video Sponsor

People have been using the Ellicott Trail -- especially since COVID-19 hit -- for months but yesterday was the official opening of the 9.7-mile bike and walking route that snakes through the city and down from Williams Park to Seven Springs Road.

The project cost $1.7 million, mostly funded by grants, with the city and town picking up 10 percent of the cost.

Thank you to Dean Brooks for the drone footage used in the video.

Click here to a PDF map of the trail.

July 16, 2020 - 12:21pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in alexander, news, accident.

An excavator has struck a gas line in the area of 11028 Attica Road, Alexander.

The two-inch line is ruptured and leaking, according to a chief on scene.

Natural Fuel requested to the scene.

A first responder has located a valve and firefighters are going to shut off the gas.

UPDATE 12:23 p.m.: A chief requests Attica PD to shut down Attica Road at Old Buffalo Road (Route 238) and another responder on the other end of Attica Road to stop traffic from that direction.

UPDATE 12:46 p.m.: National Fuel is on scene.

UPDATE 1:31 p.m.: All Alexander units are clearing the scene, back in service.

UPDATE 1:32 p.m.: Attica PD is clearing the scene, back in service.

July 16, 2020 - 10:21am
posted by Howard B. Owens in weather, news.

Strong thunderstorms with heavy rain are possible later this afternoon, according to special weather statement by the National Weather Service.

Damaging winds are possible. There is a risk of tornado activity, especially in the Southern Tier and western Finger Lakes region.

The storms are likely to contain torrential downpours that could easily exceed an inch of rainfall in a 30-minute period.

UPDATE 2:23 p.m.: From National Grid -- National Grid is closely monitoring this afternoon’s weather forecast, which calls for potential scattered severe thunderstorms, accompanied by strong winds and heavy rain throughout portions of western New York. The most severe weather is expected in the westernmost tip of the state and is predicted to stretch northward along the shores of Lake Erie and Lake Ontario.

July 16, 2020 - 10:10am
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 re gistered 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]
July 15, 2020 - 10:29pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in accident, Le Roy, video, Waste Management, Rochester and Southern.
Video Sponsor

A driver of a Waste Management truck that police believe was 13' 6" high, including its natural gas fuel tanks atop its waste bin, tried passing under a train bridge over Mill Street in Le Roy this afternoon.

The problem: the bridge is only 12' 6" high.

Two of the tanks atop the truck carrying compressed natural gas, to fuel the truck, exploded. The other two were damaged and leaked off their contents.

Nobody was injured in the blast.

A witness said the driver managed to get out of the truck and run from the explosions while a tank spun in the street "like a top."

One of the tanks landed in two pieces in the Oatka Creek, more than 150 yards away.

Mill Street reopened after the roadway was cleared of debris. The bridge was damaged, with a large crack visible in the concrete buttress. An engineer for Rochester and Southern Railroad, owners of the track and bridge, is driving from Massachusetts tonight to inspect the damage and determine whether the bride is safe for trains to cross. In the meantime, the bridge is closed to train traffic.

July 15, 2020 - 5:24pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in news, covid-19, coronavirus.

Press release:

  • Genesee County received two new positive cases of COVID-19. for a total of 238 positive cases.
    • The positive individuals reside in Alexander and Pembroke.
    • One of the positive individuals is in their 20s and one is in their 40s.
    • The positive individuals were not on mandatory quarantine prior to testing positive.
    • One of the previous community positive cases has recovered and has been released from mandatory isolation.
    • Twenty-seven new individuals are on precautionary quarantine due to travel from restricted states. This number is accurate but due to a lag in receiving the report from the state system, these individuals may have reported in previous to today.
    • No individuals are hospitalized.
  • Orleans County received zero new positive case of COVID-19, maintaining a total of 269 positive cases.
    • One new individual is on precautionary quarantine due to travel from restricted states.
    • Five of the total active positive cases are hospitalized. Please note those in the hospital may be from the community or a state-regulated facility. We do not separate them out to protect their privacy.
    • We are saddened to report that we received notification of a COVID-19 related death of one of our Orleans County residents. The individual was a resident of Orchard Rehabilitation & Nursing Center. Our sincere condolences to the family and friends of this individual during this very sad time.
July 15, 2020 - 1:56pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Ellicott Trail, news, video, live stream.
Video Sponsor
July 15, 2020 - 11:43am
posted by Howard B. Owens in food distribution, news, batavia, covid-19, coronavirus.

fooddistributejuly152020.jpg

The Salvation Army and United Way hosted a free food distribution this morning at Northgate Church.

Upcoming food distributions:

July 22 at 9 a.m. -- Oakfield-Alabama CSD -- 7001 Lewiston Road, Oakfield (585) 948-5211

July 29 at 3 p.m. -- Byron-Bergen High School -- 6917 W. Bergen Road, Bergen (585) 343-6284

AUGUST

Aug. 5 at 9 a.m. -- City Church (St. Anthony’s)— 14 Liberty St., Batavia, (585) 343-6895

Aug. 12 at 9 a.m. -- Oakfield-Alabama CSD -- 7001 Lewiston Road, Oakfield (585) 948-5211

Aug. 19 at 3 p.m. -- Byron-Bergen High School -- 6917 W. Bergen Road, Bergen (585) 343-6284

Aug. 26 at 9 a.m. -- Northgate Free Methodist Church -- 8160 Bank Street Road, Batavia (585) 343-6284

SEPTEMBER

Sept. 2 at 9 a.m. -- City Church (St. Anthony’s)— 114 Liberty St., Batavia (585) 343-6895

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July 15, 2020 - 11:37am
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 re gistered 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]
July 14, 2020 - 6:24pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in covid-19, coronavirus, news.

Press release:

  • Genesee County received two new positive cases of COVID-19, for a total of 236 positive cases.
    • The positive individuals reside in Batavia and Pembroke.
    • One of the positive individuals is in their 40s and one is in their 60s.
    • The positive individuals were on mandatory quarantine prior to testing positive.
    • Two of the previous community positive cases have recovered and have been released from mandatory isolation.
    • No new individuals are on precautionary quarantine due to travel from restricted states.
    • No individuals are hospitalized.
  • Orleans County received zero new positive case of COVID-19, maintaining a total of 269 positive cases.
    • Five new individuals are on precautionary quarantine due to travel from restricted states.
    • Six of the total active positive cases are hospitalized. Please note those in the hospital may be from the community or a state-regulated facility. We do not separate them out to protect their privacy.
July 14, 2020 - 2:42pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in district attorney, news, covid-19, coronavirus, notify.

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Even before the pandemic struck New York, the Genesee County District Attorney's office was hit hard, according to DA Lawrence Friedman, by new discovery rules that greatly increased the workload of attorneys in his office, he said.

Now, his office is faced with the daunting task of catching up on a backlog of cases at a time when courts are scheduling defendant appearances further apart.

In order to maintain social distancing in courtrooms, courts are putting a time buffer between cases, which impacts the workflow and increases the time an attorney can be tied up in court, Friedman said.

"The same thing is going on in every court in the county," Friedman said. "We can't even imagine what that is going to do as far as our time commitments. We're concerned."

When the pandemic hit, Friedman's office was in the process of hiring a seventh full-time attorney to help with the prosecution load but before a new person could be brought on board, the county initiated a hiring freeze.

The hiring freeze remains in place but yesterday, Friedman asked county legislators at the Public Service Committee meeting to lift that freeze for this one position in his office.

"We're well aware of the financial difficulties faced by the county but the same pandemic that created the financial problem has only increased our need for the position," Friedman said.

Before the hiring freeze, Friedman did hire two new paralegals, authorized in this year's budget, to help with the workload mandated by the new discovery rules (under the new rules, there is more material to review and turn over to defendants in a shorter period of time).

"This is not a position we can just fill immediately," Friedman said. "We need a month to get the word out and collect resumes, schedule interviews, and make a job offer. Generally, attorneys like to give four weeks' notice. So it could be a couple of months, at best, before we're able to hire someone."

Only Friedman and First Assistant District Attorney Kevin Finnell have more than 14 months of experience in the DA's office and Friedman will retire at the end of 2021.

The workload in the office is also increasing because state troopers will start wearing body cams, which will mean more evidence to review in some cases, and the repeal of Public Service Law 50-a, which used to keep police disciplinary records confidential, has also made the discovery process more burdensome. 

"Our obligation is to make sure that information is disclosed to the defense," Friedman said.

The public defender's office, Friedman noted, also has six attorneys handling criminal cases but the office, Friedman said, handles only "a fraction" of the cases the DA's office handles. Since defendants might hire a private attorney or received assigned counsel, the Public Defenders Office doesn't handle every single criminal case in the county, which the DA's office does.

There are also state grants available to help cover the public defenders' budget, Friedman noted.

Friedman also noted that new City Court Judge Durin Rogers is "more demanding" and takes up more time on cases, and Town of Batavia Supervisor Greg Post has also asked for more DA time in the Town of Batavia Court.

No committee member offered any comment on Friedman's request nor is there an indication on when the legislature might consider it further.

July 14, 2020 - 2:07pm

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County legislators dealt with two law enforcement-related contracts at Monday's Public Service Committee meeting that, as one member put it, are "mysteries" because of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

It is unknown whether there will be on-campus learning at county schools this fall, but the Sheriff's Office is expected to provide School Resources Officers to six campuses if students return to classrooms, so that contract needs to be in place.

Right now, it doesn't look like Live Nation will host any concerts at the Darien Lake Performing Arts Center but in case they do, the contract for the Sheriff's Office needs to be in place.

The committee recommended both contracts be approved.

For SROs, three school districts -- Alexander, Byron-Bergen, and Pavilion -- employ deputies year-round and reimburse the county for that expense. Those SROs remain employed by their respective districts.

Pembroke, Oakfield-Alabama, and BOCES use SROs for only 10 months during the year, so the Sheriff's Office gets reimbursed for those deputies' salaries for only those 10 months.

The year-around school districts have continued to use their SROs even during the lockdown, even during the summer, but it's uncertain what will happen with the partial-year SROs if students don't return to campus in the fall.

Currently, the Sheriff's Office has three open road patrol positions. Rather than hire and train new officers, the three deputies who are SROs in Pembroke, O-A, and BOCES are fulfilling those duties, so the cost to the county of not getting those salaries covered by the school districts is a wash.

As for Darien Lake, there's no expense to the county if there are no concerts and Live Nation pays for any deputies put on duty at concerts.

However, discussion of the concert season had legislators asking about the impact that closure of Darien Lake -- the theme park, concert venue, and hotel -- would have on county revenue. The county derives significant revenue from sales tax at the theme park as well as gas tax for people who travel into Genesee County for the park and subsequently buy gas here. The bed tax from the hotel is about a third of the bed tax revenue for the county, said County Manager Jay Gsell.

Chairwoman Rochelle Stein told the committee that based on her communication with industry and state officials, Darien Lake is part of an amusement park lobbying group trying to get the governor's office to authorize theme parks to reopen.

She said Darien Lake has drafted a thick binder of guidelines the park would follow if it reopened.

"They've put their safety plan in front of the governor's office," Stein said. "There is a whole lobbying arm of the amusement park industry that as a group is trying to convince the governor to let them reopen. So far, that has fallen on deaf ears."

Photo: The socially distanced Public Service Committee meeting.

July 14, 2020 - 1:00pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in moonjava, Public Coffee Hub, news, batavia, business.

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When Rob Credi got back in the coffee business -- he had previously co-owned and ran Main Street Coffee for years -- he didn't expect to be back in the come-in-and-sit-down coffee business anytime soon.

He was satisfied with his truck for Pub Coffee Hub, setting up at locations around Batavia and Western New York selling lattes, espressos, and sandwiches. 

Then Renee Smart, owner for nine years of Moonjava Cafe let him know she was ready for a change in her life and was looking to sell her business in the Harvester Center.

Credi looked at the assets, the location, the lease agreement, and decided it was too good of an opportunity to pass up.

"I said, 'I would be foolish to say no to it,' " Credi said.

He will rechristen Moonjava as Pub Coffee Hub, change the color scheme inside but otherwise keep the same atmosphere -- including local art -- and hopes to open by Aug. 1.

He's surprised, he said, at how smoothly things have gone.

"At this moment, I’m apprehensive," Credit said. "It’s been too easy so far. It’s been super uncomplicated. I’m cautiously optimistic because it’s a great opportunity. Something will go wrong at some point, but I’m kind of crossing my fingers thinking maybe it will be this easy.”

Easy includes keeping on Smart's assistant Anthony Siedlecki. Siedlecki will run the Harvester Avenue location full time allowing Credi to operate the food truck full time. 

Credi said he always felt bad when he took the truck to Buffalo because loyal customers in his home base of Batavia couldn't get their Pub Coffee fix.

"That was an added benefit to know that if the truck isn’t in Batavia, people can come in and still get the same things," Credi said.

While Pub Coffee Hub's shop will serve a menu to match what's on the truck, one thing being retained from the Moonjava menu by popular demand is the soups, Credi said.

Smart said he's decided to re-enter her previous career as a cytotechnologist -- a laboratory professionals who study cells and cellular anomalies -- and was thinking about the change even before the pandemic hit.

After shutting the cafe as part of the state's coronavirus response, now seemed like a good time to make the transition. She also said the changes necessary to comply with social distancing measures dampened her excitement for the business. 

"I felt that it was time to let Moonjava go and hopefully find somebody with their own dream and ideas to open a place that would provide for the community in a new way," Smart said. "Enter Rob. It all flowed together for both of us.

"I really would like to say," she added, "that it was one of the most rewarding experiences of my life to be able to serve that community for nine years and although it was a difficult decision to close the business, it was very reassuring to be selling it to another creative and community-conscientious person. I am excited for Rob and can’t wait to experience his take on the local coffee hub!"

July 14, 2020 - 8:25am
posted by Howard B. Owens in accident, news, Le Roy.

An off-duty deputy in route to work has called in an accident on Route 5 just outside the Village of Le Roy that he said he witnessed.

He's requested an ambulance to the scene and said there is airbag deployment.

The Le Roy fire chief was also immediately on scene. The chief reports one person is trapped in a vehicle, alert and conscious.

UPDATE 8:27 a.m.: Le Roy fire is responding. Le Roy Ambulance is on scene.

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