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February 6, 2009 - 9:41am
posted by Tasia Boland in batavia, business, downtown, BID.

Don Burkel, Executive Director of the Batavia Business Improvement District (BID), said there is hope and incentive for future business owners and shoppers downtown. Burkel said some of the incentives currently in the works could include: a coupon book and a shop-and-dine night—during which downtown shoppers can get discounts at local eateries and find sales at local merchants. Businesses may also look to benefit from cooperative advertising with the media.

The BID continues to plan events coming up in March and April and has already confirmed the bands, the Formula and Ghost Riders to perform at Jackson Square this summer.

February 6, 2009 - 9:36am
posted by Philip Anselmo in crime, police, sheriff.

Nekia "Nick" Newton, 32, formerly of 7 Central Ave., Batavia, was charged with two felony counts of third-degree criminal sale of a controlled substance and two felony counts of third-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance Thursday, Genesee County sheriff's deputies said. Newton had allegedly become aware of a pending drug charges against him in December. At that time, he moved out of his residence in Batavia at 7 Central Ave. and closed his business on West Main Street, the Batavia Detail Center.

Members of the county's local drug task force then tracked Newton to Rochester, where he was located and apprehended at a motel by investigators from the Rochester police department. Newten was sent to Genesee County Jail yesterday pending an arraignment in court today.

Donald Cordoba, 26, of Darien, was charged with unlawful possession of marijuana Thursday, deputies said. Cordoba was found to be in possession of the drug at 282 Route 20, Room No. 6, Darien.

Elizabeth Weiner, 18, of Rochester, was charged with unlawful possession of marijuana Saturday, deputies said. Weiner was found to be in possession of the drug following an interview on Silker Road in Pembroke.

February 5, 2009 - 4:48pm
posted by Philip Anselmo in crime, police, Le Roy, emergency.

A man who was found dead in his home earlier today following a police standoff in the village of LeRoy was being investigated for "unlawful videotaping of underage persons," village police said this hour.

The man's identity is still being witheld pending notification of his next of kin. He lived at 128 Lake Street in LeRoy, where the apparent suicide took place earlier today. Please see our earlier post for the rest of the details.

Updated (6:06 p.m.): Village police have identified the man who died of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound today as 38-year-old Cary M. Felgenhauer of 128 Lake St., LeRoy.

February 5, 2009 - 1:59pm
posted by Philip Anselmo in crime, police, Le Roy, emergency.

A 38- or 39-year-old man who has not yet been identified was found dead inside his home of a gunshot wound following a police standoff outside the Lake Street residence, according to LeRoy Chief of Police Christopher Hayward. Police will not yet comment if the wound was self-inflicted, though Hawyard said that it does not seem to be otherwise.

Hayward explained that village officers went to the home at 128 Lake Street at 10:30 a.m. to execute a search warrant. When the officers approached, they heard a gunshot and immediately backed off to "establish a perimeter." Assistance was requested from the state police, county sheriff personnel and the city of Batavia's Emergency Response Team. A robot was also brought to the scene to enter the residence and establish contact with the individual believed to be inside.

Police attempted to enter the residence with the robot, but it was unable to negotiate the "layout" of the home. Entry was made by the SWAT team into the home some time before 1 o'clock and officers found the individual inside dead from a gunshot wound.

Residents in the homes adjacent to the property were all evacuated, but they have since been allowed to return to their homes, said Hayward.

"What brought us here, the investigation itself, was less than 24 hours old," said Hayward, adding that the individual in question was "not known" to himself prior to this incident, indicating no prior criminal history. "It would not be appropriate to comment at this point."

Hayward also declined to comment on the nature of the search warrant.

"I don't want to leave it open to speculation as to why we were there."

We are expecting more information on the incident later today. We will report it as it becomes available.

Chief Hayward:

February 5, 2009 - 12:50pm
posted by Philip Anselmo in crime, police, sheriff, emergency.

LeRoy village police are expected to hold a press conference at 1 o'clock today at the Village Hall on the "police incident" that has been ongoing since this morning. At last report, police were prepared to enter a home on Lake Street where an individual is believed to be holed up inside with a weapon. A robot was going to be used to enter the premises, but reports on the scanner indicated the robot was not functioning.

We will have more on this as it becomes available. Video of the press conference will be available later this afternoon.

Lake Street (Route 19) between Main Street and West Bergen Road is still closed at this hour.

February 5, 2009 - 12:36pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, accident, route 33.

The driver of a small passenger car was unhurt after the tire of an oncoming semi-truck flew off the wheel and was hurled into her front windshield.

I happened upon the accident driving into Batavia this morning.

The incident was on Route 33 north of Ivison Road.

The driver the car was suffered a minor cut, according to an official on scene, but she declined an interview request. She appeared pretty shaken up.

We'll have a short video from the scene soon.

February 5, 2009 - 11:42am
posted by Philip Anselmo in crime, police, sheriff, emergency.

We're trying to get information on a "police incident" in the village of LeRoy that's got county-wide attention at this hour. The "incident" has closed down Lake Street (Route 19) in the village between Main Street (Route 5) and West Bergen Road. LeRoy police are handling the situation, we've been told. However, we were unable to get any more details. A LeRoy dispatcher informed us that she was too busy to talk about what was happening. We will keep on this throughout the afternoon.

View Larger Map

Update (11:48 a.m.): Dan Fischer reports on the WBTA Web site that the incident is near the 100 block of Lake Street (Route 19), and that homes adjacent to the property inquestion have been evacuated.

UPDATE (12:07 p.m. by Howard): Dan Fischer just said there were reports of shots fired this morning, but whether shots were fired are unconfirmed.  Philip is headed to the media staging area and will report from the scene.

UPDATE (12:32 p.m. by Howard): Dan Fischer reports that one person with a weapon is believed holed up in a home on Lake Road.

February 5, 2009 - 7:44am
posted by Philip Anselmo in politics, Albany, Buffalo News, corruption.

Buffalo News columnist Rod Watson doesn't hold back in his indictment of our state legislature in today's edition of the paper. He goes for the jugular in this piece, comparing the cast of characters in Albany to the fabled mafia crew of television's Sopranos.

Consider what passes for governance here:

Legalized bribery and extortion, which is what the campaign system amounts to. Buying loyalty with high-priced, do-nothing committee assignments. Running a front-operation that meets in the legislative chamber while all of the decisions are made in the back room.


But even when the needed reforms — campaign finance limits, independent redistricting, etc. — are apparent, how do you change a system when the ones who write the laws are the ones who benefit most from it?

Of course, the answer, as always, is us. It's all about us paying attention and demanding change. Watson calls for a C-SPAN of the state legislature. If they're being watched all the time, maybe they will start to behave. Or that's the idea.

What do you think? Are we capable of paying attention en masse, because that's what it would take, it seems? A few gadflies here and there will only get swatted down. Or are we too complacent, too ready to buy into the aggressive campaigning of specialty groups who spur an uproar every time their funding is threatened? Or too complacent, too willing to chew on the fodder of smallish political victories passed off as significant achievements—think of Chris Lee recently championing how he saved local libraries from the big bad government? Or should we even be blaming ourselves?

While you brood over that, I would recommend checking out Watson's article.

February 4, 2009 - 4:26pm
posted by JIM NIGRO in outdoors.

At the conclusion of Monday’s post, Walter Maxwell and his fishing companions watched in disbelief as a monster tiger shark swam off with their homemade gaff. The shark came away the victor after an hour-long battle at the Cherry Grove, South Carolina pier. Down but not deterred, the trio spent the rest of that day and the entire evening fishing from the pier.

 At daybreak on Sunday, June 14th, 1964 the anglers caught several skates – small rays – and rigged them on large hooks. Using a row boat, one of Maxwell’s companions took the skates a considerable distance from the pier and dropped them over the side. The only action early on came from smaller sharks which persisted in picking up the baits and running for a short distance before dropping them. Eventually a group of larger sharks moved into the area, one of which inhaled a skate, ran with it a short distance before cutting through the line. Not long afterward, while watching one of his friends fight a rather large shark, another fish took Maxwell’s bait. The fish was about thirty yards from the end of the pier when it jumped clear of the water. The noise made by the gargantuan fish as it landed back on the surface startled the anglers as well as the spectators that had gathered. As this was taking place, the aforementioned school of large sharks began inhaling the other baits. This resulted in more chaos – and broken lines.              

During all the fuss and ado, Walter Maxwell’s line was sizzling once again, and he jammed the butt of his fishing rod into the belly plate of his shoulder harness. Tightening the drag, he was instantly pulled against the pier railing and knocked off his feet. Struggling to stand, Maxwell had all he could do to control his fishing rod as it bucked and lurched. Moments later onlookers gasped as the shark once again breached the surface, this time 500 feet from the pier.

The shark then began a line-sizzling run to the northeast, in the process nearly stripping all 1400 yards of 130 lb. test line from Maxwell’s reel. At this point his friends began pouring water onto the scorching reel.  The giant shark was nearly ¾ of a mile from the pier before Maxwell was able to finally halt its run. The reprieve was momentary, however, as the shark began another powerful run, this time heading southeast. To everyone’s relief, with but a few yards of line left on the spool, rather than swim out to sea, the fish began swimming parallel to the beach.

 As the fight neared the five hour mark, Maxwell brought the leviathan alongside the pier. By this time it was after 6 p.m. It wasn’t until the next morning when the shark was weighed on government certified scales. With overnight temperatures in the 80’s, it was estimated the shark lost 10% of its body weight due to dehydration. Nonetheless, it still pushed the scales to the 1780 lbs. mark.

Eleven years after Maxwell brought his big “tiger” alongside the pier, big sharks hit the silver screen.  In the years immediately after Steven Spielberg’s epic “Jaws”, shark mania was at an all time high. Even today shark fishing became the rage on many fronts, with weekend shark tournaments being held up and down both coasts. From Martha’s Vineyard to Miami, from Port Hueneme to San Diego, teams of shark hunters head offshore in search of monster fish.

Despite the influx of shark fishermen and their state-of-the-art equipment, Walter Maxwell’s tiger shark remains the all-tackle world record for the species. His record catch came long before the shark gained such widespread notoriety. And he wasn’t fishing for a record. Nor was he looking to pad his wallet - he and his buddies went down to the Cherry Grove Pier just to fish on their day off. 

NOTE: This was the second in a three-part series on sharks. Friday’s post will feature a seldom told account, a catalyst behind the shark’s notoriety


February 4, 2009 - 4:01pm
posted by Philip Anselmo in snow, winter, snowman, T-shirts etc.

We spied this snowman built up out front of T-shirts Etc. on Main Street Batavia earlier today and thought to take a photo.

Let's call this a challenge to all Main Street merchants. Bring out your snowmen!

February 4, 2009 - 1:35pm
posted by Brian Hillabush in sports, swimming, michael phelps, olympics.

 By now, everybody has seen the photo of Olympic star Michael Phelps smoking marijuana out of a bong.

Phelps is 22 years old and won a record eight gold medals in the 2008 Olympics, propelling him to iconic status. He picked up many many endorsement deals and fans in the process.

But he attended a party at the University of South Carolina with a female student he was seeing when the now-famous photo was snapped. 

Some people think Phelps needs to be role model because he is a professional athlete and should not doing anything like this in public, while many people don't think it is a big deal because he is college age and doing what many kids that age do.

What is your opinion?

February 4, 2009 - 12:00pm
posted by Philip Anselmo in government, polls.

The New York Times reports this morning that there are plans to institute a $500,000 salary cap for executives whose companies will receive large amounts in the proposed bailout. From that article:

The new rules would be far tougher than any restrictions imposed during the Bush administration, and they could force executives to accept deep reductions in their current pay. They come amid rising public fury about huge pay packages for executives at financial companies being propped up by federal tax dollars.

Executives at companies that have already received money from the Treasury Department would not have to make any changes. But analysts and administration officials are bracing for a huge wave of new losses, largely because of the deepening recession, and many companies that have already received federal money may well be coming back.

What are your thoughts?

February 4, 2009 - 11:07am
posted by Philip Anselmo in politics, perry, republicans, Chris Lee, Wyoming County.

From the office of Rep. Chris Lee:

In a speech today on the House floor, Congressman Chris Lee (NY-26) read a message from a small business owner in Wyoming County to demonstrate the need for action on a swift, effective, and fiscally responsible recovery plan that creates jobs in Western New York:

February 4, 2009 - 10:19am
posted by Tasia Boland in batavia, schools, education, outdoors, SUNY Brockport.

Hi everyone! My name is Tasia and I currently live in Batavia. I am an undergraduate  student at SUNY Brockport majoring in journalism. For the next four months I am going to be doing an internship with The Batavian and am very excited to get to know the community better.

 I enjoy spending time with my husband and my puppy, Jake. I love being outdoors and can not wait for summer time. I hope to have a novel published someday and I am always jotting things down in a notebook.

I am excited to cover the area's school districts and be an active positive voice in our community.

February 4, 2009 - 8:17am
posted by Philip Anselmo in Announcements, GCC, music, live music, Genesee Symphony Orchestra.

From the Genesee Symphony Orchestra:

On Sunday, February 22 the Genesee Symphony Orchestra will present their third concert of the season. Featured in this concert will be the participants of the String Workshop playing Grieg's Holberg Suite with the members of the GSO. Our guest artist is violinist, Wilfredo Deglans, Associate Concertmaster of the Rochester Philharmonic. The program includes: Mendelssohn, Symphony No. 5 (Reformation); Chausson, Poeme, op 25—violin and orchestra—Grieg, Holberg Suite, op 40; Ravel, Tzigane, rapsodie de concert, for violin and orchestra. The concert will be performed at GCC-Stuart Steiner Theatre at 4:00 PM. Tickets may be purchased in Batavia at GoArt!, Roxy's Music Store, Enchanted Florist and at GCC Box office. In LeRoy tickets may be purchased from the Bank of Castile and in Oakfield at Water Street Printing.

February 4, 2009 - 8:08am
posted by Philip Anselmo in crime, police, sheriff.

Kevin C. Johnson, 24, of 112 Jackson St., Batavia, was charged with two felony counts of second-degree rape, three felony counts of second-degree criminal sexual act and three counts of endangering the welfare of a child, a misdemeanor charge, city police said. Johnson was arrested Tuesday and sent to Genesee County Jail in lieu of $10,000 bail. He is accused of maintaining a sexual relationship with a 14-year-old girl from September, 2008 through to February of this year. Johnson would allegedly have the girl stay over at his house where they engaged in sexual relations.

Juan Roman, 32, of 28 Porter Ave., Batavia, was charged with first-degree unlawful imprisonment, third-degree assault and petit larceny, city police said. Roman was arrested Tuesday and sent to Genesee County Jail in lieu of $10,000 bail. No details were given on the crimes which are alleged to have occurred in September, last year.

William Hirsch, 21, of Pavilion, was charged with second-degree criminal contempt Sunday, Genesee County sheriff's deputies said. Hirsch is accused of violating an order of protection.

February 3, 2009 - 4:34pm
posted by Lori Ann Santini in batavia, restaurant, Staff, Dennys.

     I will keep this short and to the point. My hats off to the staff at Denny's Restaurant  in Batavia today.  I could not believe how well they survived the overwhelming crowd that formed early this morning and continued through the day.

     One of the ads for the Super Bowl announced that between 6am and 2pm you could receive a free Grand Slam Breakfast meal at Dennys.  After searching the internet to confirm this, I decided that I would give it a try. I loaded up my two toddlers and headed out.

     When we arrived at Dennys I thought for sure that I had made a mistake. The lot was full. Total strangers were helping to direct traffic. The waiting area was full to beyond capacity. The crowd was calm and patient. The staff took names and the number of people in the party. We waited about an hour. I didn't think that was too bad for the crowd. The staff was better then some fine quality restaurants I have eaten in.

     Thank you to my waitress Lori, The busboy that would play peekaboo with my son,  the lovely Mom/Son (Sue) group that ate with us, and everyone in the kitchen. I applaud the job very well done.

     By the way, we did not know Sue and her son when we entered Denny's. I offered to have a couple join us in order to make room for another group at another table. It was a great experience. It was a delight for my kids to have someone elses attention for awhile too. Thank you.

February 3, 2009 - 2:54pm
posted by Philip Anselmo in weather, snow, winter.

Driving along Main Street this afternoon, it dawned on me that I couldn't see some of the shopping plazas I normally pass by on my drive between Clinton Street Road and Center Street. Well, they were still there, only they were blocked by the mounds of snow like walls stacked high at the front of the parking lots. Down near Masse Place, in fact, you can't see any of the shops from the street. This is all you're going to see:

So this got me wondering: Where's the tallest snow mound in Batavia? This one looks like it could fit the bill, but I haven't been everywhere.

February 3, 2009 - 12:19pm
posted by Philip Anselmo in politics, education, books, libraries.

Last year, in response to the several successive lead scares resulting from contaminated Chinese products, Congress pushed through the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act, a 63-page document that, among other things, would lay the ground rules for ensuring that the parents of America never have to fear lead poisoning from children's toys.

Writing for Forbes, Richard Epstein notes that the passage of the bill gained bipartisan support, because what politician would ever want to be on record as voting against "safety" and "lead posioning." In fact, it passed the Senate 89 to three and the House by 424 to one—Ron Paul was the sole vote of dissent in the latter. Epstein writes:

Instead of targeting the known sources of lead contamination, this ill-conceived statute extended coverage to the max by solemnly requiring third-party testing and certification, using only the best in scientific techniques, for all children's products. Just to be on the safe side, these were defined generously to include all products that are "primarily" intended for children 12 years or age and under. Congress gave the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) six months to prepare the needed regulations.

Unfortunately, this exercise in statutory aggrandizement shows that it is far easier for Congress to set public goals than for agencies to implement them. "Primarily" is a necessary weasel word. Remove it, and all products need testing because some infant might just suck on a wet paint brush. But determining which products are primarily directed to children requires a detailed examination of market structure that no small business is able to undertake.

So, when it came to implementing the rules, people suddenly realized that organizations such as Goodwill would have to either prove that all of its second-hand children's products—toys and clothing—were free of lead, or get rid of them. We realized that libraries would have to pay to test all their books or dump their children's collections. Obviously, second-hand clothing stores and community libraries could never afford such advanced testing. So then, they would have to destroy everything!

Yeah, right.

Did anyone honestly believe that libraries would have been forced to destroy all their copies of Curious George because of a failure to comply with overzealous safety regulations pushed through by politicians too scared to say no? No one could have seriously expected this to come to pass. And of course, it didn't. So we found many of the same scaredy-cat politicians who passed this act now lining up at the microphones to decry its enforcement. Of course, they were joined by a host of newcomers who saw a chance to snatch up some healthy PR and prove themselves true representatives of the people.

Enter, Rep. Chris Lee. From his office, released yesterday:

The Consumer Product Safety Commission issued a one-year stay of enforcement for testing and certification requirements under the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act after a weeks-long effort on the part of Congressman Lee to protect local libraries. On January 9, Congressman Lee brought the issue up on behalf of local libraries in a phone conversation with the Commission’s acting chairman, Nancy A. Nord. When the Commission did not clarify whether local libraries would receive a reprieve, Congressman Lee joined with the American Library Association early last week to help persuade the Commission to protect library collections.

“I am pleased to see that the Commission has recognized the need to re-evaluate regulations that would potentially force libraries to destroy their children’s book collections,” Congressman Lee said. “Though this is good news, our libraries may still be susceptible to these burdensome regulations in one year’s time. Now the Congress and the Commission must go back to the drawing board and work together to protect children’s book collections in Western New York and around the country.”

“Libraries now have a little room to breathe, but this announcement is not an end to this problem,” Emily Sheketoff, executive director of the American Library Association. “Since we know children’s books are safe, libraries are still asking to be exempt from regulation under this law. We appreciate Congressman Lee’s continued efforts on behalf of our libraries.”

Lee deserves some credit, here, for sure. We should be glad. He did the right thing. He spoke out against the enforcement of this silly act. But he's leaning a little too hard on the savior button here, and isn't that what got us in this mess to begin with. Let's instead take this chance to step back and keep ourselves—read: keep our politicians—from getting too fired up on their sense of self-worth and wind up overreacting again. This isn't about you, Chris Lee, or any of your colleagues. If we're to be completely honest, this isn't about the libraries either. As Walter Olson writes for Forbes, the act was passed "in a frenzy of self-congratulation following last year's overblown panic over Chinese toys with lead paint." Let's not bury it in the same spirit. Let's take our time this time. Olson continues:

The failure here runs deeper. This was not some enactment slipped through in the dead of night: It was one of the most highly publicized pieces of legislation to pass Congress last year.

And yet now it appears precious few lawmakers took the time to check what was in the bill, while precious few in the press (which ran countless let's-pass-a-law articles) cared to raise even the most basic questions about what the law was going to require.

Yes, something's being exposed as systematically defective here. But it's not the contents of our kids' toy chests. It's the way we make public policy.

I couldn't agree more. So shouldn't this be a chance to learn a lesson? When we get "back to the drawing board," as Lee urges, let's make sure everyone is watching the paper instead of ignorantly trumpeting their triumph at the nearest microphone as they had done in round one. Let's not fool ourselves into conflating the two situations here. We need to rectify a big fat policy blunder. Curious George and friends will be fine. We've got some new faces in their now, like you, Chris Lee, so please: do the right thing.

February 3, 2009 - 9:29am
posted by Philip Anselmo in Spring, weather, winter, polls, Groundhog Day.

Punxsutawney Phil climbed out of his burrow on Gobbler's Knob yesterday to find his shadow and thus predict for us another six weeks of winter. From the Washington Post:

According to legend, if a hibernating animal wakes up and casts a shadow on Feb. 2, winter will last six more weeks. If there is no shadow, spring will supposedly come early.

Early American farmers relied on groundhogs, though there is no scientific evidence that the animal has any weather-predicting skills.

What do you think?


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