Fire damages historic Blue Stores building in Livingston

LIVINGSTON—The State Police Bureau of Criminal Investigation is among the agencies looking into the cause of a fire that gutted the Historic Blue Stores Restaurant, 2215 U.S. Route 9 at the intersection County Route 31, Saturday, March 15.

Livingston firefighters and Northern Dutchess Paramedics were called to the scene of a fire in the three-story, 200+ year-old structure at 1:48 a.m.

The New York State Office of Fire Prevention and Control, the County Cause and Origin Team and the Columbia County Fire Coordinators Office were all called in along with 14 additional fire departments to provide mutual aid at the scene. State Police investigators were asked to assist due to the large structure size, significant damage and monetary loss.

No one was in the building at the time of the fire and no injuries were reported in connection with the blaze, according to fire officials. Investigators will be looking at the back corner of the building, an area that housed the kitchen.

Over the past decade, the restaurant had undergone extensive renovations. Darrin Buffa operated the restaurant for the past four years.

The investigation and police presence was expected to continue into Monday, March 17, according to State Police.

Route 9 remained closed in the area until 10:41 a.m. the day of the fire.

The Livingston fire chief reported heavy flames at the rear of the building when he arrived.

Mutual aid to the scene was requested from Clermont, Greenport, Germantown, Taghkanic, Ghent, Red Hook, Claverack, West Ghent, Hudson, Tivoli, Churchtown, Niverville, Leeds and Ancram.

Standby duties were handled by Churchtown, Hudson Leeds, Germantown, Pine Plains, Stottville, Mellenville and Catskill.

Also on the scene were the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office and National Grid.

Livingston firefighters were back in service at 7:05 p.m. March 15.


Level 3 Sex Offender Michael Jones, 36, was charged with failure to report change of address, second conviction, under the New York State Corrections Law, a class D felony, according to a press release from Columbia County Sheriff David P. Bartlett.

Mr. Jones was previously convicted in 2010 and again in 2011 for failing to report his address to law enforcement. These prior convictions elevate the charge from a class E felony to a class D felony.

Mr. Jones was released from state prison November 1, 2013, and reported to the Sex Offender Registry that he planned to reside in Columbia County, said the release.

After his release, Mr. Jones allegedly failed to notify law enforcement about where he was living. Sheriff’s Deputy Wendy Guntert opened an investigation back in late November 2013 to determine his whereabouts.

On February 20, Deputy Guntert obtained an arrest warrant for Mr. Jones when her investigation revealed that he might be staying in Sheffield, MA.

On March 10, deputies contacted Sheffield Police to tell them about Mr. Jones’ suspected location.

Sheffield Police took Mr. Jones into custody a short time later without incident. He was arraigned in Berkshire County Court in Massachusetts, where he waived extradition to New York State.

On March 11, the Berkshire House of Corrections in Pittsfield, MA, turned Mr. Jones over to the custody of Sheriff’s Deputy Joshua Oakes. Mr. Jones was arraigned in Hudson Court and sent to Columbia County Jail on $1,000 cash bail or $1,500 bond. He was scheduled to return to court at a later date.

The Columbia County Sheriff’s Office was assisted by the Office of the Columbia County District Attorney, the New York State Sex Offender Registry, and the Massachusetts Sex Offender Registry Board.


Jay S. Kravitz, 57, of Hudson was charged on an arrest warrant with third degree assault, a class A misdemeanor by Deputy Bernard Roberts, February 26 at 3:55 p.m.

Mr. Kravitz is accused of assaulting a man in the Walmart parking lot, Fairview Avenue. He was arraigned in Greenport Court and released on his own recognizance to return to court March 31.


The following face drug- and/or alcohol-related charges:

*Tonya B. Woznieski, 41, of Stottville was charged with seventh degree criminal possession of a controlled substance, a class A misdemeanor, by Sheriff’s Office Investigators Patrick Logue and Anthony Brahm February 26 at 11:54 a.m. Ms. Woznieski allegedly possessed a quantity of crack cocaine. She was issued an appearance ticket returnable in Greenport Court at a later date.

*Danielle M. Heffernan, 34, of Bennington, VT, was charged with driving while ability impaired by drugs, prior conviction, and first degree aggravated unlicensed operation, both class E felonies, and seventh degree criminal possession of a controlled substance, a class A misdemeanor, operating a vehicle without an interlock device and speeding, by State Police from Livingston, February 28 at 9:04 a.m. Troopers stopped the car Ms. Heffernan was operating after they saw it traveling in excess of 70 mph in a posted 55 mph zone on the Taconic State Parkway in Milan. During an interview, Ms. Heffernan allegedly exhibited traits that indicated that she was operating the vehicle while impaired. A drug recognition expert was used to confirm her condition. She was arraigned in Milan Court and sent to the Dutchess County Jail in lieu of $5,000 cash bail.

To contact Diane Valden email .

Court cases:

The following court cases were recently dealt with in Columbia County Court. Information about the cases was provided by the office of Columbia County District Attorney Paul Czajka.

*A jury found Jesse Geno guilty of third degree robbery, January 29. State Police arrested Mr. Geno after he left East Chatham Wine and Spirits, a store he had just robbed. Assistant District Attorney Robert Gibson prosecuted the defendant before Columbia County Judge Richard M. Koweek. Sentencing for Mr. Geno is set for April 2. He faces a sentence of up to seven years for the robbery conviction. State Police apprehended the defendant after conducting an investigation which included the use of a canine, Cahill, handled by Trooper Eric Buchinsky, who tracked the defendant from the crime scene to his home.

*Willy Timperio was convicted by guilty plea, as indicted, of arson, February 24. DA Czajka commended State Police Investigator Eric Barnes, who was off-duty from his law enforcement job, March 10, 2013, but was on call as a volunteer Chatham firefighter that day when he responded to a fire at 18 Jones Avenue in the village, a residence then occupied by at least two people. Firefighters quickly extinguished the fire and a cause and origin investigation ensued. Preliminary State Police findings revealed that the fire was likely the result of an intentional act. Also, a neighbor told troopers that at 7:40 a.m., he saw a man with a black backpack walking down the street. After leaving the firehouse, Investigator Barnes saw a man with similarities to the one the neighbor described, walking on State Route 203 and stopped to speak with him. During the conversation on the side of the road, the man, Willy Timperio, confessed to the arson. State Police took him into custody and drove him to the Livingston Barracks, where they videotaped his confession. Judge Koweek has scheduled Mr. Timperio’s sentencing for April 30. He faces up to 25 years for the arson conviction.

*Mark J. Klawson, 29, of Red Hook was convicted after pleading guilty to two counts of second degree robbery before Judge Koweek, March 3. Mr. Klawson is charged with robbing two Xtra Mart convenience stores last year: one in Blue Stores, June 27 and the other in Germantown, July 17. He was arrested by State Police August 6. A silver/black semi-automatic pistol, the weapon used in the robberies, was recovered during the investigation. Mr. Klawson will be sentenced April 30. He is represented by attorney Ann Weaver.

*Joseph Morrison was sentenced to one and two-thirds to five years with the New York State Department of Corrections and ordered to pay $49,485.19 in restitution and surcharges by Judge Jonathan D. Nichols, March 4. He was convicted of third degree grand larceny. Hudson Police Department and the state Comptroller’s Office found that Mr. Morrison, the past president of a Hudson fire companies used credit cards to bilk the company out of nearly $50,000 over a period of several years. Attorney Barry Sack represented Mr. Morrison. –Diane Valden


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