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Howard B. Owens's blog

October 10, 2019 - 10:51am
posted by Howard B. Owens in sports, volleyball, Pavilion.

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In volleyball, Pavilion beat Warsaw in three sets on Wednesday. Set scores: 25-21, 25-18, 25-22.

Shannon Campbell had 20 assists. Addy Milligan had eight kills and four aces. Karlee Zinkievich had five kills and six digs. Lauren Kingsley had six kills and four aces. Paige Landers had five kills.

Photos and information by Ryan Paddock.

Top photo: Kodi Beehler serving in Set One.

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Shannon Campbell with a backset in Set 2.

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Lauren Kingsley up for the kill.

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Paige Landers with defensive control of the net.

October 9, 2019 - 10:20pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in sales tax, jail, news, batavia.
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Many months of effort by Genesee County to replace its aging, legally out-of-compliance jail came to a standstill Wednesday night when the County Legislature, by consent, agreed to hold off on new jail plans until Gov. Andrew Cuomo signs sales tax agreement legislation that is necessary for the county to fund the jail.

The jail could cost as much as $65 million, which is money the county must borrow (through bonds) and the county won't be able to get those bonds without the 40-year sales tax agreement that will generate the revenue to pay back the loans.

The county and the city hammered out the agreement over the course of months of negotiations about how to divide the local portion of sales tax collected in the county and both elected bodies approved the agreement. The necessary legislation then went to the Assembly and Senate and was approved.

The bill now sits on the Senate president's desk awaiting a request by Gov. Cuomo to see it.  

He hasn't requested it and nobody knows why. It might be that there are 500 other bills on the Senate president's desk awaiting Cuomo's request, but nobody is sure if that's really the issue. Attempts by local officials to get an answer from any source, including the governor's office, have gone unanswered.

Meanwhile, the city and county don't have a sales tax agreement in place for 2020 and if they're going to have an agreement, absent the governor signing the 40-year-agreement bill, they must act fast.

The two municipalities could agree to extend the current agreement by a year or even extend it for 10 years. Either option could be approved on the State Comptroller's signature, without new legislation, but either option would also delay building a new jail by either length of time.

Once the governor requests the bill, he has 10 days to sign it or veto it, or he could do nothing, which is called a pocket veto. He could also let it sit on the Senate president's desk until Dec. 31, which is also a pocket veto.

If the bill isn't approved before Dec. 31, the whole process of approving a sales tax agreement would need to start from the beginning next year.

Neither the county, of course, nor the city, can wait until Dec. 31 to see if the governor will sign the bill. They need to approve a new sales tax agreement, if this one isn't approved, within weeks so there is time to get it approved by the comptroller's office and have it in place for 2020.

If there's no sales tax agreement, the county and city will not be able to fund normal government operations typically covered by sales tax revenue.

Chairman Robert Bausch is drafting a letter to the corrections commissioners informing them of the bind the county is in and asking if they can intervene with the governor's office.

County Manager Jay Gsell said the commission has been patient with the county over its current substandard jail on the premise that the county has been working toward building a new facility. 

Sheriff William Sheron said that a letter from the county might help extend that patience and at least put the commissioners on notice of the issue the county is facing.

Wednesday's meeting was initially called for the entire legislature to discuss jail plans and decide what would be included in the jail -- such as how many beds and pods construction contractors would be asked to bid on.

Some of that discussion took place, with an apparent agreement being reached on a four-pod jail with 184 beds. That would give jail staff the most flexibility in maintaining order and keeping different types of jail inmates, based on mental health issues and other factors, in appropriate housing.

After that discussion, Bausch brought up the sales tax issue and said he didn't see how the county could authorize the architect to start designing the facility because once the design is done, without a sales tax agreement, the county wouldn't be able to put the project out to bid because it couldn't get the project bonded.

"That would be pretty embarrassing for the county," he said.

October 9, 2019 - 3:50pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in van detta stadium, batavia, City Schools, news.

A policy proposal submitted by Michael Bromley, Batavia City Schools athletic director, received some push back from Board of Education President Patrick Burk at Tuesday's school board meeting after Bromley said community organizations would be able to use the new Van Detta Stadium for free.

It's not that Burk opposes free use of school facilities, he said, but he claimed that to allow free use of Van Detta while groups must pay a fee at certain times to use other school facilities isn't fair.

Burk noted that the school district changed its policy some time ago based on state education law to charge a fee for use of facilities at times when school custodians are not on the premises.

Custodians are at school facilities from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. Monday through Friday during the school year and until 3 p.m. on weekdays during the summer and on holiday breaks.

"People may think I don't want community groups using Van Detta Stadium but that's not the case," Burk said. "I think there is a double standard if they're allowed to use it for free if others are being charged a fee."

Burk runs a nonprofit dance studio that uses school facilities and must pay a fee. He said the Genesee Symphony Orchester and the Rotary Club, among others, were "forced out" of the school district buildings when the district started charging fees.

Roxanne Choate, chairwoman of the GSO board, confirmed in an email today that the GSO stopped using the high school auditorium because the fee for its use was $500 per concert. The rural districts, in contrast, she said, charge $150. The orchestra does not pay for use of the bandroom for rehearsals since those take place on weeknights during the school year.

Burk reiterated this morning that he isn't seeking a way for the district to collect fees for use of Van Detta. He would rather see no fees charged to any community organization based in Batavia that would like to use school facilities during non-school hours.

"To me, it's a matter of removing the stadium usage fees, then the building usage should fee should also be removed," Burk said.

The Batavian has sought clarity on any such state law from the State Department of Education and has not yet received a response.

The plan presented by Bromley, which was based on conversations with Chris Dailey when he was superintendent and Interim Superintendent Scott Bischoping contemplates three tiers of usage for the stadium.

Local groups, such as the Batavia Bulldawgs, could use it for free -- as they have been so far this year. Section V and the state athletic association would pay a fee sufficient to cover all staff costs for regional and statewide championships and other events. High schools from outside the county would also be able to request use of the facility for special events.

If community groups wanted to use the concession stand and benefit financially from concession sales, they would have to provide the staff and their own food and drink, in their own ice chests, for sale. For regional and state events, the school district would run the concessions with the proceeds going to school fundraisers.

The proposal is pending while district officials research what they can legally do regarding outside use of school facilities.

There should not be any effect, while the decision is pending, on planned events, including an anticipate Section V playoff game for Notre Dame on Oct. 26, nor a state championship tournament for eight-man football.

October 9, 2019 - 1:47pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in crime, news, batavia.
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   Thomas Moynihan

A State Street resident is being charged with burglary and robbery following a reported strong-armed theft of $344.50 from the Days Inn in Batavia.

The robbery occurred at 11:30 p.m., Sunday. A man entered the business, went into an area designated for employees only, confronted an employee, demanded money, and then fought with the employee before fleeing.

The employee was not hurt in the incident.

Through an investigation, police identified a possible suspect but initial attempts to locate him were not successful.

On Monday, the suspect, Thomas P. Moynihan, 44, was spotted near Batavia High School. The schools on State Street were placed on "lockout." That means students remain inside and entry into the building is extremely limited and only permitted through a security checkpoint.

He is charged with burglary, 3rd, robbery, 3rd, petit larceny, and harassment, 2nd.

He was arraigned in Batavia City Court on Tuesday morning. His bail status was not released.

October 9, 2019 - 11:36am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Batavia HS, video, education, schools, batavia.
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Occasionally, a Batavia High School student completes their graduation requirements out of cycle with the rest of their class and receives their diploma at a Board of Education meeting. That was the case Tuesday night for Hezekia N. Burch.

October 9, 2019 - 11:01am
posted by Howard B. Owens in child lead poisoning, health department, news, batavia.

County health officials are still waiting on details from the federal government on a $1.3 million grant awarded to Genesee County and Orleans County for lead-hazard abatement and reduction in older homes.

At a meeting of the Human Services Committee last week, Paul Pettit, director of the health departments in both counties, said the first he learned that the counties had received the grant was by reading about it in The Batavian.

Since then, he's received a phone call confirming the grant but formal guidelines have not yet been delivered to his office.

"This is a significant amount of funding to come into Genesee County and to Orleans County and it would really help us to help those who don't have the means and the funds potentially to fix the problem," Pettit said in an interview last week.

Pettit's office applied for the grant over the summer.

The grant will enable the health departments to identify housing stock with potential lead hazards and make available grant money to the property owners to remediate the hazard.

"This funding is very important because what it does is, it allows, number one, a potential partnership with the homeowners or rental landlords to be able to fix a problem before a child gets poisoned and have funding available to remediate those homes prior to the poisoning occurring," Pettit said. "So when you look at it from a primary prevention standpoint, that's what we want to do. We want to try to prevent a child from getting poisoned in the first place."

The grants will be available to both homeowners and landlords of residences built prior to 1978 in three of the four census tracks in the City of Batavia and one census track in Albion.

Until the guidelines are in place, Pettit said it's not possible to provide details on how properties will be identified, inspected and what the criteria will be for providing assistance to property owners.

"We're gonna have to stand this program up fairly quickly when we get the formal announcement of the funding," Pettit said.

Health department staff has recently been through training for lead risk-assessment certification, Pettit told the Human Services Committee.

He also told the committee there is legislation pending in Albany that would require landlords with housing built prior to 1978 to receive annual lead-safe certification for their units, unless they made the property lead free, which would mean doing likes like removing trim, replacing windows, installing siding on the outside of the building.

"We do not want to see any child poisoned from lead exposure," Pettit said. "It can lead to developmental delays and other health impacts that could affect them over their entire lives. It's very important to identify and find these hazards early and then protect the children so they're not getting lead poisoning."

October 9, 2019 - 9:44am
posted by Howard B. Owens in news, infrastructure, batavia.

Press release:

The City of Batavia Water Deptartment is on location of a water main break at the Intersection of Ellicott Street and Clifton Avenue.

Clifton Avenue will be closed to through traffic. Water may be interrupted on Clifton Avenue, and James, William and Ellicott streets between Otis Street and Clifton Avenue, and Harvester Avenue from Ellicott Place to Ellicott Street.

Please do not attempt to do laundry as water may be discolored due to work being done.

October 8, 2019 - 2:55pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Batavia HS, soccer, video.
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The Blue Devils soccer team has historically faired poorly on artificial turf but Monday, they got a chance to start a new tradition -- one that is now necessary -- by winning their first home game in the new Van Detta Stadium.

Batavia beat Dansville 3-2 behind three goals by Garrick Havens. Two were on penalty kicks and the third was assisted by Andres Mateos.

Batavia took 16 shots on net and Dansville, 14.

Unique to the current roster are three pairs of brothers, all starters.

Watch the video to find out more and click this link to subscribe to our YouTube channel.

October 8, 2019 - 2:29pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in animals, nature, photos, news, batavia.

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I spotted this caterpillar inching over the asphalt of our driveway so I grabbed my macro lens to try and make a picture of him (or her).

October 7, 2019 - 5:22pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Batavia HS, batavia, sports, hall of fame.

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Batavia High School held its annual Athletic Hall of Fame Dinner on Saturday night at Batavia Downs.

Inducted were:

  • Elizabeth Varland, 2002, Soccer, Indoor Track & Field, Outdoor Track & Field
  • Ryan Gugel, 2005, Football, Wrestling, Ice Hockey, Baseball
  • Stephanie Conway, 2003, Cross-country, Indoor Track & Field, Outdoor Track & Field
  • Amanda Page, 2006, Soccer, Basketball, Softball
  • Sumiyya Hunter Roff, 2004, Cross Country, Indoor Track & Field, Outdoor Track & Field
  • Jennifer Gurrant, 2005, Gymnastics, Cheerleading, Indoor Track & Field, Outdoor Track & Field
  • Phillip Santiago, 2003, Basketball

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October 7, 2019 - 4:55pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Oakfield, news.

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In one way or another Alan Dennis has been serving his community in Oakfield for most of his adult life.

He's been a Little League coach, a member of the water committee and zoning board of appeals, elected at one time to the Town Board, then, after 22 years working at Graham Manufacturing, he went to work for the Highway Department (resigning his Town Board seat at the time).

Sixteen years ago, he became the town's highway superintendent, but all those years of service came to an end Thursday when Dennis retired.

He was given a big party in Town Hall, where he received several presents, including the handmade bench he's sitting on in the photo above.

"I’ve always been active in the community. I think it’s good place to live," Dennis said.

A few years ago he and his wife, Debbie, bought a recreational vehicle and they plan to travel a bit but retirement will be a whole new world, he said.

"I’ve worked every day of my life," Dennis said. "I’ve never had a day where I was off, so it’s going to be a schedule adjustment."

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Debbie Dennis, Alan's wife of 45 years, signs a life-size cutout photo of Alan.

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Assemblyman Steve Hawley presented Dennis with an Assembly resolution commemorating his years of service to the community.

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October 7, 2019 - 2:25pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in City Fire, news, cancer.

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For Breast Cancer Awareness Month, the uniform T-shirt of Batavia City Fire Department is adorned with pink ribbons on the front and back so that firefighters can show their support of those who have fought or are fighting the disease.

"We want people to understand that we appreciate the fact that firefighters are often given the term heroes, however people fighting breast cancer are really the true heroes," said Chief Stefano Napolitano. "We want to support those people that have lost the battle and those that are currently fighting and those who are going to be fighting in the future."

Napolitano's own mother was successfully treated for breast cancer (though she has since passed due to other health reasons) so this is a cause that is especially important to him, he said.

"I know several other ladies that are fighting or have fought and are survivors so this is just a small way that city fire can let them know that we're here supporting them," the chief said. "We enjoy the support of the community and it's an honor and it's humbling to be able to provide that support and return to those that are fighting their own fires."

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October 7, 2019 - 11:28am
posted by Howard B. Owens in pembroke, sports, volleyball.

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The Pembroke Dragons placed second in the Warsaw Volley Tournament over the weekend.

The Dragons beat Alexander in the semifinals but fell to Warsaw in the finals in three games. Dekari Moss and Olivia Metz were named to the tournament all-star team.

October 7, 2019 - 11:12am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Frank Smierciak, NY-27, news.

Press release:

Frank C. Smierciak II, a 28-year-old conservative Republican, announced today that he is running for U.S. Congress in New York’s 27th District to bring desperately needed conservative leadership to Washington.

“Our nation is in crisis. For decades we have allowed career politicians, lawyers, and self-interested millionaires to run this country into the ground. We can not afford this destructive cycle any longer. It is time for our voices to be heard. It is time for a private citizen to take the fight to Washington.”

“Our national debt is skyrocketing, Social Security is collapsing, and veterans, the true heroes of our great Republic, die waiting in line for care or languish in homelessness while we spend billions on illegal immigrants. Our elected officials, both Democrat and Republican, have directly facilitated all of these things. They must be held accountable. We need to act now before it is too late.”

“Our politicians claim they understand and identify with what we go through as private citizens but let’s be frank, politicians are isolated from what the average citizen deals with. The Washington Elite are doing nothing to save Social Security because their retirement is taken care of; they do not have the same worries as the rest of us.

"They claim to be on your side, but when push comes to shove, they resort to the same tired tactics of padding their wallets and playing the blame game, stoking the Democrat vs. Republican rivalry. The truth is, the Washington Elite are a unified team that looks out for itself, and the rest of us are on the other team, left standing in the cold, footing the bill for their incompetence.”

“Our nation cannot afford to have another political insider that is elected based solely on the size of their campaign fund and who they know; we need an average citizen, one that faces the same issues as everyone else, and one who will have to deal with the consequences of the actions of the Washington Elite.

"I am proud to be running to represent not only the current residents of the 27th District but to represent all future residents; all of our children and grandchildren will feel the brunt of the inept blundering that has existed in Washington for decades.”

“As a private citizen that makes around the median income for the district, I know what it is like to worry about paying your bills, I know what it’s like to worry about not being able to save enough for the future, and I know what it’s like to fear the age of retirement knowing that years of paying into Social Security will be money wasted.

"We are all to blame for allowing this cycle to continue; I ask that all of you stand with me to bring the reign of the corrupt Washington Elite to a swift end and take one more step toward draining the swamp. Make no mistake, only we private citizens can drain the swamp. Establishment politicians pay lip service to the sentiment of 'drain the swamp' but the reality is, they are the swamp.”

“I believe so strongly that our Republic needs to get back to its roots that I am putting my entire life savings and retirement on the line. I feel it is my patriotic duty to sacrifice my future so that our great nation will continue to have one."

“Unlike career politicians who will promise everything under the sun to get elected, I will only make one promise to those who would support me: I will fight every single day for our shared interests, for the future of this country, for our children, and for our grandchildren, so that the American Dream can be viable for generations to come, and so that our nation will continue to be one founded on liberty, sacrifice and prosperity.”

October 7, 2019 - 11:06am
posted by Howard B. Owens in gas prices, news.

Press release:

Today’s national average price for a gallon of gasoline is $2.65, no change since last week. One year ago, the price was $2.91. The New York State average is $2.72 – down 2 cents from last week. A year ago, the NYS average was $3.01. AAA Western and Central New York (AAA WCNY) reports the following averages:

  • Batavia -- $2.69 (down 2 cents since last week)
  • Buffalo -- $2.68 (down 2 cents since last week)
  • Ithaca -- $2.67 (down 1 cent since last week)
  • Rochester -- $2.71 (down 2 cents since last week)
  • Rome -- $2.71 (down 2 cents since last week)
  • Syracuse -- $2.61 (down2 cents since last week)
  • Watertown -- $2.68 (down 2 cents since last week)

In its latest weekly report, the Energy Information Administration’s (EIA) data revealed that gas demand is starting to decline – as is typically the case during the fall. Demand for gasoline is slowing and matches the rate seen at this time one year ago. Alongside the drop in demand, gasoline stocks are relatively stable.

The drop in demand, amid stable stock levels, has helped the majority of motorists across the country see pump prices stabilize or decline after spiking a few weeks ago when Saudi Arabia reported that two of its oil facilities were attacked. If demand continues to drop, while stocks decline or hold steady, pump prices will likely continue to stabilize.

October 7, 2019 - 10:52am
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.

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October 6, 2019 - 10:03pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in video, downtown, BID, batavia, wine walk.
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October 6, 2019 - 9:10pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in accident, news, batavia.
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A car vs. pole accident is reported at 14 W. Main St., Batavia.

That's in front of the Genesee County Jail.

City fire and Mercy EMS responding.

The driver is reportedly unconscious.

UPDATE(S) By Billie (9:18 p.m.): The accident is actually on the south side of Main Street, between the Peace Garden and the sewage lift station.

UPDATE 9:25 p.m.: The driver is conscious and alert and was able to walk to the stretcher.

UPDATE 9:59 p.m.: The driver is being transported to UMMC for evaluation. The accident toppled over a light standard and a DPW worker responded to deal with the situation.

October 6, 2019 - 5:49pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in David Bellavia, sports, batavia, baseball.

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Press release:

Army Staff Sgt. Bellavia of Western New York has been invited to throw out the first pitch at tonight's Washington Nationals baseball game against the the L.A. Dodgers (Oct. 6). The game in D.C. begins at 7:45 p.m. and will be aired on TBS. The two teams are tied at 1-1. 

Shortly after receiving the Medal of Honor at the White House on June 25, Bellavia threw out the first pitch at the Mets/Yankees game on the Fourth of July. 

Coming up
This Saturday, Oct. 12, Bellavia will be honored by the Niagara Falls community with a key to the city and present the talk "Duty 1st with David Bellavia: Serving Country and Community" at the Rapids Theatre. Tickets to the 3 p.m. event are $22 and will benefit a new nonprofit created by Bellavia called Deuce Deuce Relief Fund.

This inaugural fundraiser and Deuce Deuce benefits soldiers from Bellavia's prior Task Force in Iraq (Task Force 2-2), who may be experiencing hardship or require other assistance. 

Tickets are available online through EventBrite, with a link at DavidBellavia.com.

Photo: Submitted by Duty 1st courtesy the New York Mets. The photo is from the Mets v. Yankees game earlier this year.

UPDATE: Video below courtesy Duty 1st.

October 6, 2019 - 3:56pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in John Kennedy School, schools, education, video, batavia.
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