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May 16, 2017 - 10:42pm

Batavia City School District:

Budget - $49,870,585 (increase of $5,504,146 or 12.41%: $0.00 increase in tax levy)
Yes - 374 (81.84%)
No  - 83 (18.16%)

Establish $7.5 Million 10 Year Capital Reserve 2017 -
Yes -  370 (80.96%)
No -    87 (19.04%)

Board of Education positions (2):
Two terms from July 1, 2017 to June 30, 2020 
Barbara Bowman, 293
Tanni Bromley, 279

 

Oakfield-Alabama Central School District
Proposition #1-Budget
Yes:  297
No: 53

Proposition #2-Buses
Yes: 290
No: 60

Proposition #3-Athletic Equipment
Yes:  258
No: 92

Proposition #4-Capital Reserve Fund
Yes:  288
No: 59

Board Members (Three Vacancies)
Chris Haacke, 208
Bonnie Woodward, 171
Jennifer Kirkum, 170
Tim Edgerton, 162
Andrew Merkel, 142
Bruce Pritchett      141

 

Elba Central School District

Proposition #1 Budget - $9,273,839
Yes: 136
No: 26

Proposition #2 – Authorization to establish the 2017 General Capital Reserve Fund 
Yes: 132
No: 29

Proposition #3 – Authorization to appropriate and expend from Transportation Vehicle and Equipment Capital Reserve to purchase one (1) 65 passenger school bus
Yes: 134
No: 28

Two Board of Education seats with two candidates running:
Travis Torrey, 149
Michael Augello, 134

 

Byron-Bergen Central School District

Proposition 1, Budget
Yes: 327
No: 153

Proposition 2:  Bus purchase
Yes: 340
No: 150

May 15, 2017 - 10:23am
posted by Howard B. Owens in crime, batavia, bergen, Stafford, Alabama, byron.

Two 16-year-olds, one a resident of Jerico Road, Bergen, and the other a resident of Shady Lane, Batavia, are charged with criminal mischief, 3rd. The youths are accused of using a sledgehammer to damage a concrete picnic table and bench seats in Hickory Park, Bergen, causing more than $250 damage.

Brian Wayne Giambrone, 27, of Byron Holly Road, Byron, is charged with unlawful possession of marijuana. Giambrone was stopped at 11:42 p.m., Friday, on Route 237, Stafford, by Deputy Howard Wilson.

Ahmed Dhalfallah Alshami, 37, of Ludington Street, Buffalo, is charged with aggravated unlicensed operation, 2nd. Alshami was arrested on a warrant for alleged failure to appear on his case in Pembroke Town Court. He was jailed on $3,000 bail or $5,000 bond.

Tony Gene Marsh, 47, East Boston Road, Mamaroneck, is charged with unlawful possession of marijuana. Deputy Jeremy McClellan was dispatched Lewiston Road, Alabama, to check on a report of a suspicious vehicle in the lane way of a farm field. Marsh was allegedly found in possession of marijuana and smoking paraphernalia.

Stephanie Ann Bonin, 22, of Denio Street, Batavia, is charged with petit larceny. Bonin was arrested on a warrant for alleged violation of probation and jailed on $5,000 bail.

May 14, 2017 - 8:17pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in accident, bergen, byron, news.

A 57-year-old man was pronounced dead at he scene this afternoon after the 2002 Ford F-150 he was driving struck a power pole in the area of 7032 Route 262, Bergen. 

Charles R. Grower, of Scottsville, was eastbound when his pickup truck left the south side of the road and struck the pole.

Power is still out in the area as a result of the crash. The traffic light at Route 237 and Route 33 is without power and law enforcement is on scene directing traffic. 

The initial dispatch was for Byron and South Byron fire departments, but a Bergen chief responded after it was determined that the accident was in Bergen's district. 

Mercy EMS was also dispatched, but soon after the initial dispatch, responding units were told to proceed non-emergency. 

Live power lines kept responders away from the vehicle until National Grid could arrive on scene. 

The accident is under investigation. The cause has not been determined and a medical emergency has not been ruled out pending autopsy. 

May 12, 2017 - 2:54pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in ARC, batavia, pembroke, bergen, schools, education, news.

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Four area high school students were honored by the Arc of Genesee Orleans on Thursday night at the agency's annual meeting with scholarships from the Mary Anne Graney Memorial Scholarship Fund. The scholarship is awarded to students interested in working with people with disabilities.

The scholarships were awarded to Natalie Bigelow, Batavia HS, who plans to attend Daemen College and study Physical Therapy; Alyssa Weaver, Pembroke HS, who plans to enter a Physician's Assistant Program; Hannah Bowen, Notre Dame HS, who plans to attend Clarkson University, and she will pursue a career in Psychology; Marlaina Fee, Byron-Bergen HS, who plans to study Elementary Education at Geneva College, with a focus on Special Ed and Sign Language.

Representing the schoalrship fund was Molly George.

May 11, 2017 - 3:41pm

Press release:

The Byron-Bergen Central School District announces its participation in the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP). Free meals will be provided to all children between the ages of 3 and 18 Monday through Friday, from July 10 through Aug. 11.

Byron Bergen Elementary School will be serving free breakfast from 8:15 to 9:15 a.m. and free lunch will be served from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.. The school is located at 6917 W. Bergen Road, Bergen.

Lunch only (not breakfast) will be served from 11:30 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. at the Byron Town Park on McElver Road, Byron.

Call 585-494-1220, ext. 4234, if you have questions.

May 11, 2017 - 9:31am
posted by Howard B. Owens in byron-bergen, bergen, Bergen Fire, news.

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Byron-Bergen High School hosted its annual DWI accident simulation for seniors in advance of their prom. The drill, staged with first responders  from the Bergen Fire Department, Mercy EMS, Mercy Flight, Sheriff's Office, the Coroner's Office, and H.E. Turner Funeral Home. The simulation comes with a strong message about the dangers of drinking and driving, including serious injuries, a fatality, and a DWI arrest.

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May 8, 2017 - 6:41pm
posted by Billie Owens in bergen, business, start-up genes.

Start-Up Genesee will hold a “Think & Drink” event focused on starting a business in the Village of Bergen from 4 to 6 p.m. on Thursday, June 22.

Learn about doing business on Main Street; look at successful downtown business operations; tour existing spaces for sale and lease; take a recreational trail tour and make a stop at the Bergen farmers’ market.

It starts at 4 p.m. at the Village of Bergen Office, 11 N. Lake Ave. in Bergen. Meet the Mayor, Anna Marie Barclay, who has made downtown business development and recreation a priority.

At 4:30 p.m., the tour begins. Stop at local businesses, including Pivot Acupuncture and Physical Therapy, Greg’ry’s Bakery, Ralph & Rosie’s, Craft Supplies Unlimited, Luke’s Hair Salon, and the Bergen School of the Arts.

Vacant buildings will be open to visit and see plans for renovations. This will be a good opportunity for businesses looking for space and developers looking for  investiment property to explore options in Bergen.

Then at 5:30 p.m, meet at Hickory Park and check out the interactive exercise trails and disk golf within the village and visit the new downtown farmers’ market.

RSVP by calling Rachael Tabelski at (585) 343-4866 or email her at [email protected]

May 4, 2017 - 12:11pm
posted by Billie Owens in accident, bergen, news.

A motor-vehicle accident with unknown injuries is reported at 6712 Jerico Road, Bergen. A telephone pole is damaged, possibly down, and wires are hanging, maybe on the vehicle(s). Bergen fire is responding along with two ambulances.

UPDATE 12:15 p.m.: Two vehicles are involved. Byron Repair is called for towing service.

May 3, 2017 - 4:34pm
posted by Billie Owens in byron, bergen, education, news.

Press release:

The Byron-Bergen Central School District is one of 136 school districts and Board of Cooperative Educational Services (BOCES) in New York State to receive the Utica National lnsurance Group's School Safety Excellence Award for 2017.

District Superintendent Mickey Edwards and Jr./Sr. High School Principal Patrick McGee accepted the top Titanium-level award and a $500 prize, to be used to further safety efforts, on April 21.

“This is an affirmation of all the safety and security initiatives our district has been taking,” Edwards said. “Our school resource officer recently completed a district-wide safety audit, and he has made remarkable personal connections with our students and staff.

"Our culture includes the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program and regular character building events and activities at all grade levels. We have implemented a number of measures, including the New York State Sheriff’s Association (NYSSA) Rapid Responder® Program, an all-hazards site-based crisis management system, and a large security camera system that oversees buildings and grounds.

"Current security also includes a comprehensive visitor management system in all schools that is used for visitor background checks and ID badges. Providing a safe and secure learning environment for our students, teachers, staff, and visitors is our first priority. We are honored to receive this recognition.”

The School Safety Excellence Award Program has three levels — Titanium, Platinum and Gold — and annual awards are given based on quantifiable measurements of excellence in categories that include bullying prevention programs, playground safety, and other areas. Utica National has kept children and school staff safe for more than 40 years, and currently insures more than 300 school districts in Upstate New York alone.

"Safety and health concerns continue to be a priority in our school districts," said Brian Saville, resident senior vice president in Utica National's Educational Institutions Unit. "Districts that go above and beyond to provide a safe, healthy and focused culture for learning are to be applauded, and we're pleased to count Byron-Bergen Central School District among them."

May 3, 2017 - 4:27pm

Byron-Bergen’s 2017 National Honor Society.

Submitted photos and press release:

The Byron-Bergen chapter of the National Honor Society (NHS) welcomed 16 new student members to their distinguished company on April 26. The ceremony also honored the two latest inductees to the Byron-Bergen Alumni Hall of Fame.

The event began with music from the school’s vocal group, the Singing Silhouettes; welcome and congratulations from Superintendent Mickey Edwards; then short addresses from alumnus Dr. Paul Brill (Class of 1982) and Pam McCarthy, the sister of the late Barry Miller (Class of 1983).

Dr. Brill spoke of his difficult years at school, and credited his teachers, especially Arthur Rohe, along with his older sisters and brother with challenging him to do better.

“There were mentors in my life that helped me change the path I was on,” he said. Today, he is a distinguished neurologist, involved community member, and dedicated husband and father in South Carolina.

Miller was a foundational member of the Bergen community: business owner, volunteer firefighter, and Genesee County coroner, among many other roles. McCarthy spoke of her brother, who was killed in 2015 while performing his duties as the chief of the Bergen Emergency Medical Services.

“He was always looking out for the little guy,” she said. “He touched many lives and made the world a better place.”

Both Barry Miller and Dr. Brill serve as inspirational role models to the youth of Byron-Bergen, and epitomize the purpose of the Alumni Hall of Fame.

National Honor Society President Brittany Rada introduced the second half of the evening, and welcomed guest speaker Coach Rich Krzewinski.

“Always put forth your maximum effort,” he said, “and never give up.”

New NHS members received traditional honor cords and certificates.

National Honor Society membership not only recognizes students for their accomplishments, but also challenges them to develop further through active involvement in school activities and community service. The organization has chapters in all 50 states, Canada, and beyond.

The traditional candle-lighting ceremony, which acknowledges the high standards students in NHS must exhibit in knowledge, character, leadership, service, and scholarship, was performed by students Olivia Audsley and Chase Felton. New members took the NHS pledge and were presented with their honor cords and certificates.

Current Members of the Byron-Bergen National Honor Society: Olivia Audsley, Rose Bower, Cameron Brumsted, Catherine Brumsted, Lauren Burke, Benjamin Chaback, Quinn Chapell, Brionna DeMichel, Chase Felton, Margaret Graney, Justin Hannan, Hayley Hoehn, Brian Ireland, Daniel Jensen, Peyton Mackey, Kelsey Maurer, Celia Mercovich, Makenzie Muoio, , Grace Pulcini, Brittany Rada, Leah Thompson, Dana VanValkenburg, Adam Walter and Michael Zwerka.

2017 Inductees to the Byron-Bergen National Honor Society: Larissa Ashton, Sarah Bleiler, Lydia Campbell, Jean Denson, Adam Drake, Jared Fregoe, Morgan Fuller, Emma Goodman, Annaliese Hersom, William Johnson, Brendon Kendall, Hunter Leach, Erin Parnapy, Sabastian Pawlukewicz, Joshua Phelps and Brianna Shade.

Below: The school’s Singing Silhouettes sang “Build Me Up, Buttercup” to start the evening with music.

April 30, 2017 - 4:44pm
posted by Billie Owens in crime, news, bergen, Alabama, alexander.

Stephen Edward Edmonds, 53, of Dodgeson Road, Alexander, is charged with DWI, aggravated DWI -- driving with a BAC of .08 percent or higher, and failure to keep right. Edmonds was arrested at 1:34 a.m. on April 15 on Wilkinson Road, Batavia, for allegedly going over the center line of the roadway. He was allegedly intoxicated at the time. The defendant was released with appearance tickets for Batavia Town Court on May 4. The case was handled by Genesee County Sheriff's Deputy Christopher Parker.

Kayla A. Ladue, 21, of Barry Road, Rochester, is charged with unlawful possession of marijuana and speeding in a 55-mph zone. Ladue  was arrested at 7:54 p.m. on April 27 on Clinton Street Road, Bergen. Following a traffic stop for allegedly speeding, it is alleged that Ladue had marijuana in her possession. She was issued an appearance ticket for Bergen Town Court on May 3. The case was handled by Genesee County Sheriff's Deputy Mathew Clor, assisted by Deputy Ryan DeLong.

Adam Stephen Terhaar, 23, of Torrey Pine Drive, Rochester, is charged with unlawful possession of marijuana. Terhaar was arrested at 9:09 p.m. on April 28 on Judge Road in Alabama following a traffic stop. The stop was made after a complaint of traffic offenses that had occurred. He was allegedly found to be in possession of a quantity of marijuana, a glass smoking pipe and a grinder. He was released on an appearance ticket for Alabama Town Court on May 30. The case was handled by Genesee County Sheriff's Deputy Howard Wilson, assisted by Deputy Michael Lute.

April 27, 2017 - 4:26pm

Press release:

Last month, the National Technical Honor Society (NTHS) Chapters inducted 58 career and technical education students from Batavia Career and Technical Education Center. Evening candlelight ceremonies took place at Elba High School.

These students met a rigorous criteria set forth by this national organization. The minimum grade-point average for acceptance is a 3.0. Students are also selected based upon credit hours completed, attendance, volunteer service, and membership in other student organizations.

The inductees are noted below.

Agri-Business Academy

Elizabeth Jurs -- Elba CS

Emily Mikel -- Pavilion CS

Melissa Keller -- Pembroke CS

Animal Science

Breanne Duzen -- Pembroke CS

Jazmin Mateos Rendon -- Oakfield-Alabama CS

Peyton Mackey -- Byron-Bergen CS

Shelby Brandes -- Le Roy CS    

Auto Technology

Jacob Borkholder -- Oakfield-Alabama CS

Tyler Weaver -- Pavilion CS    

Building Trades    

Brandon Lewis -- Byron-Bergen CS

Brandon Perry -- Attica CS

Cameron Brumsted -- Byron-Bergen CS

Chandler Bow -- Byron-Bergen CS

Dillon Montgomery -- Byron-Bergen CS

Ethan Conrad -- Notre Dame CS

Gaven Cassidy -- Le Roy CS

Jacob Morgante -- Byron-Bergen CS

Joseph Aguglia -- Attica CS

Kylar Chambry -- Byron-Bergen CS

Computer Information Systems

Daniel Jensen -- Byron-Bergen CS

Cosmetology

Alaila Velez -- Pembroke

Anna Field -- Attica

Rachel Tebor -- Pembroke CS

Tapanga Wheaton -- Batavia CS

Zara Lohman -- Attica CS

Criminal Justice

Brandon Cutter -- Attica CS    

Electronics

Jacob Keiper -- Attica CS

Kyle Evans -- Le Roy CS

Nicholas Zenzen -- Caledonia-Mumford CS

Steven Lyness Jr. -- Le Roy CS       

Graphic Arts

Haley Wasikowski -- Alexander CS

Isaiah Ciociola -- Batavia CS

Jenica Hickey -- Byron-Bergen CS

Jenna Scott -- Caledonia-Mumford CS

Jeremiah Keaton -- Pavilion CS

Jorgette Mezydlo -- Attica CS

Makayla Carpenter -- Caledonia-Mumford CS

Sarah Howden -- Pavilion CS

Sean Vasko -- Oakfield-Alabama CS    

Health Careers Academy

Alyssa Weaver -- Pembroke CS

Amy Chasse -- Pavilion CS

Garrett Downs -- Elba CS

Hailey Stevens -- Elba CS

Mackenzie Good -- Pavilion CS

MiKayla Tillotson -- Pavilion CS

Molly Neidrauer -- Oakfield-Alabama CS

Paige Hameister -- Batavia CS

Rebecca Reamer -- Pavilion CS

Health Dimensions

Casey Shaw -- Pembroke CS

Victoria Welka -- Byron-Bergen CS

IT Academy

Sophia Matla -- Le Roy CS

Metal Trades

Aiden Schadt -- Attica CS

Brent Schum -- Alexander CS

David Paddock -- Pavilion CS

Dillon Stein -- Caledonia-Mumford CS

Garrett Sando -- Byron-Bergen CS

Joel Jackowski -- Attica CS

Zach DiLiberto -- Caledonia-Mumford CS

About the Batavia Career and Technical Education Center

The Batavia Career and Technical Education Center is a program of the Genesee Valley Educational Partnership. The Partnership operates as a Board of Cooperative Educational Services offering shared programs and services to 22 component school districts located in Genesee, Wyoming, Livingston, and Steuben counties in New York state.

April 25, 2017 - 10:06pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in fire, bergen, news.

There is a report of smoke coming from the building at Liberty Pumps, 7000 Apple Tree Ave., Bergen.

Bergen fire and Le Roy fire dispatched.

Mercy EMS asked to start in that direction.

UPDATE 10:09 p.m.: A chief on scene reports light, hazy smoke.

UPDATE 10:13 p.m.: Le Roy going back in service. Churchville had also been requested to the scene, but Churchville can go back in service.

April 21, 2017 - 4:32pm
posted by Billie Owens in crime, batavia, Le Roy, bergen, news.

Julie Ann Stymus, 41, of Ellicott Street, Batavia, is charged with misapplication of property. She was arrested at 1:52 p.m. on April 19 on Veterans Memorial Drive. The defendant allegedly borrowed more than 400 DVDs which were supposed to be returned to the owner(s) but which Stymus allegedly pawned. She was released on an appearance ticket for May 15 in Town of Batavia Court. The case was handled by Genesee County Sheriff's Deputy James Diehl.

Todd Howard Campbell, 35, of Shrubbery Lane, Rochester, is charged with DWI and refusal to take a breath test. Campbell was arrested at 9:19 p.m. on April 11 on North Lake Street in Bergen for DWI. He allegedly struck a vehicle in Monroe County, causing injury to the driver, then fled the scene. Several witnesses followed his vehicle to the Village of Bergen where he was located by members of the Genesee County Sheriff's Office. He allegedly refused to take a breath test and was arraigned in Town of Le Roy Court where his driver's license was immediately suspended. Campbell was jailed in lieu of $1,000 bail and issued numerous traffic tickets by the Monroe County Sheriff's Office. The case was investigated by Genesee County Deputy Christopher Erion, assisted by Deputy Richard Schildwaster.

Shauna Elizabeth Driscoll, 28, of Wadsworth Avenue, Avon, is charged with: operating a motor vehicle with a BAC of .08 percent or more; DWI; harassment; driving left of pavement markings; and failure to use designated lane. Following the investigation of a traffic offense complaint on East Main Road in Le Roy at 9:58 p.m. on April 14, Driscoll was arrested and charged with the counts cited. She was released with an appearance ticket for Town of Le Roy Court on May 15. The case was handled by Genesee County Sheriff's Deputy Rachel Diehl.

On April 18, State Police Batavia Troopers arrested Alsimeon Peterson, 18, from Hampton, Ga., on a warrant that stemmed from a pursuit that took place on April 15. On April 15, troopers attempted to stop Peterson on Park Road in Batavia. Peterson allegedly refused to stop and proceeded down the New York State Thruway where he was eventually stopped in Monroe County by the Monroe County Sheriff's Office and taken into custody. On April 18, Peterson was released from the Monroe County Jail and turned over to SP Batavia Troopers. Peterson was charged with two counts of reckless endangerment, 2nd, one count of fleeing a police officer, 3rd, and multiple traffic violations. He was arraigned in the Town of Batavia Court and put in Genesee County Jail in lieu of $10,000 bail.

On April 19, State Police Batavia Troopers arrested Daniel Difrancesco, 35, of Batavia, for felony DWI following a traffic stop on Route 5 in the Town of Batavia. Difrancesco was stopped for having a broken tail light. He subsequently allegedly failed field sobriety tests and refused to take a breath test. He was processed and arraigned at the Town of Batavia Court and released to appear on a later date.

April 20, 2017 - 7:57pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in bergen, news.

Homeowners in the Village of Bergen may soon be eligible for the same kind of property tax relief on home improvements available now in the City of Batavia and Village of Le Roy.

The tax exemption program works much like the PILOTs (payment in lieu of taxes) awarded to some business expansions by Genesee County Economic Development Center. People who add a room to their house, for example, would get a break on property taxes from the increase in assessed value.

The original tax bill on the original assessment remains the same, but there is a period where the homeowner would pay no taxes on the increase in assessed value for two years, and then pay a portion of the taxes due on the assessed value each year through year nine, when they would be paying 100 percent of the taxes due on the increase in assessed value.

The plan needs the approval not just of the Village of Bergen trustees, but also the Byron-Bergen Central School District and the County Legislature.

Assistant County Treasurer Kevin Andrews presented the proposed resolution to members of the Ways and Means Committee yesterday, which recommended passage of the resolution.

To be eligible, the homeowner would need to make an improvement to the structure that increases the assessed value at least $5,000. If the assessment went up more than $80,000, any additional increase in assessed value would not be covered.

Only single-family homes and duplexes are eligible.

The homeowner must also spend at least $3,000 on the improvement.

Maintenance projects, such as roof replacement, are not covered.

Andrews noted that since 2012, when the City of Batavia enacted its exemption program, there have been four applications in the city with an increase in assessed value covered of $50,000.

The Village of Le Roy approved its program in 2015 and no homeowners there have yet applied for the exemption.

He said he's been told there is so far one homeowner in Bergen who has expressed interest in applying once the program is approved.

Only projects started after the ordinance is enacted are eligible for the exemption.

April 20, 2017 - 1:34pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in bergen, Oakfield, business, Bonduelle.

Press release:

Empire State Development (ESD) today announced frozen food processor Bonduelle USA Inc. will expand operations at its locations in Monroe and Genesee counties. The company is investing in new equipment and machinery at its facilities in Brockport, Bergen and Oakfield, which will increase production and improve efficiency at the three plants. That growth will require the addition of 22 new full-time jobs and will mean the retention of 340 jobs in the region.

Empire State Development President, CEO & Commissioner Howard Zemsky said, "Bonduelle USA Inc.'s decision to expand their operations in New York State is a testament to the economic opportunities available in Upstate New York for companies that are looking to take their business to the next level. We look forward to seeing the company continue to grow and create jobs in the Finger Lakes.”

The canned and frozen vegetable producer is well-established in the Americas, operating several production sites including four in the United States, seven in Canada and one in Brazil. These sites are used to transform frozen and canned vegetables into a variety of canned sauces, baked beans, legumes and soups. As well as producing for major retail brands, the American subsidiary also markets vegetables under its own brands, including Arctic Gardens and Graves in Canada, and Bonduelle in Canada, the United States and Brazil. The company services supermarkets and catering circuits including restaurants, institutional food service and school dining halls.

Daniel Vielfaure, president of Bonduelle Americas Long Life said, Bonduelle is encouraged and excited to continue its business growth in the United States in which our New York State plants play an integral part. We are very pleased for the support and the commitment that the State of New York has for all agricultural businesses and we look forward to their continued support.”

In order to encourage Bonduelle to expand its operations in New York State, Empire State Development has offered up to $700,000 in performance-based Excelsior tax credits, which are tied to the creation of 22 new jobs and retention of 340 existing jobs. The total project cost is $20 million and Bonduelle expects the expansion to be completed by June 2018.

Supporting agribusiness is among the top priorities of the Finger Lakes Regional Economic Development Council and the region's Finger Lakes Forward Initiative.

FLREDC Co-chairs, Monroe Community College President Anne Kress and Wegmans Food Markets CEO Danny Wegman, said “The FLREDC is strongly committed to supporting agricultural endeavors like this in an effort to grow jobs as part of the overall Finger Lakes Forward strategy. Agriculture is an important industry, a key driver of our regional economy, which is helping to bolster our efforts to ensure the regions vitality for years to come.”

State Senator Michael Ranzenhofer said, “Today's announcement by a major frozen-food processor to invest and grow in Genesee and Monroe counties is further proof that our agribusiness economy is strong. Bonduelle's expansion will create new opportunities and jobs for our residents. I commend the leadership team for their decision to help move our region forward."

Bonduelle has more than 13,500 employees worldwide. For more about Bonduelle click here.

April 19, 2017 - 11:59pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Charles Schumer, trains, agriculture, business, bergen.

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Sen. Chuck Schumer was in Bergen today to talk trains and trade.

He's concerned about volatile sweet light crude oil being shipped from North Dakota by CSX on lines that pass through many populated Upstate communities, such as Bergen, and he's ready to get tough with Canada over new barriers to imports of dairy products from WNY.

He also answered questions about a potential wall along the border with Mexico, President Donald J. Trump's tax returns, immigration and high-speed rail.

"Even with the new oil cars, if the train is going faster than 25 miles (per hour) a big explosion will occur and that kind of explosion could occur on these tracks right here in Bergen," Schumer said. "Look, there are houses all around and businesses all around."

He reminded reporters of a derailment involving fuel cars in Canada few years ago that claimed several lives.

The fuel car issue has been on Schumer's radar for a few years, but what brought him to Genesee County today to raise the issue again was the derailment of a train carrying gun powder in Batavia during the windstorm in March.

As he held an enlargement of a picture of the derailment published by The Batavian, Schumer said, "as you can see it’s frightening to look at. These are large, large cars going at a very fast speed and if they had contained flammable materials they can be dangerous."

The fuel coming through Upstate New York in recent years comes from oil wells in North Dakota that tap reserves inaccessible until new technology changed the oil business. 

That has been a very good thing, though not without a cost, Schumer said.

"It's made us much less dependent on foreign oil," Schumer said. "It’s reduced the cost of gasoline and home heating oil and other things over the years, so it’s a good thing. But they don’t refine it out there in North Dakota. It gets on our rail cars and comes right across Upstate New York and Albany. They turn south and they go to those huge refineries in New Jersey."

According to this NPR story, the number of train cars carrying oil out of North Dakota has increased 4,000 percent since 2008. It was shipped by rail because, at the time these new fields opened, there was no other infrastructure in place to deal with the new supply of oil.

The trains can be a hundred cars long, Schumer said, and that's just too dangerous. If the oil companies won't voluntarily change the way they do business, then he wants the Commerce Department and Energy Department to write new regulations requiring oil companies to burn off the mixture of methane, butane, and propane that comes out of the ground with the oil.

The natural liquid gasses, stored in a confined space, are explosive if suddenly exposed to air and a spark.

The oil companies already do what Schumer wants in Texas, he said, without government regulation.

That's one reason, Schumer said, the economic impact of his proposal would be minimal and since the gas is going to be burned off one way or another, there is no additional environmental impact by burning it off in North Dakota instead of New Jersey.

Schumer believes bringing pressure to the issue can lead to change. He said his efforts have already led to rule changes that forced rail companies to ditch older tanker cars, what he called 1-11 cars, for newer, safer tankers. 

"We pushed very hard, and it hasn’t happened as fast as I’d like, but the law now is they have to get rid of all of these unsafe cars and put safer cars in.  More than half the oil cars now are now safer."

Schumer also wanted to talk about changes in dairy import policies in Canada that he said are hurting New York dairy farmers and in particular, O-AT-KA Milk Products, which employs nearly 300 people in Batavia.

According to Schumer, Prime Minster Justin Trudeau campaigned on a promise to protect Canada's dairy industry and has since started to implement measures that are closing the market to U.S. dairy products, mostly what's known as ultra-filtered dairy product, which is used in cheese production. O-AT-KA is one of 70 producers in New York and Wisconsin that are affected by the change in trade policy.

"I'm telling Trudeau to back off because it would just lead to a lot of trouble on both sides," Schumer said.

Canada exports some $260 billion in goods to the United States, and trade with New York includes $17.7 billion in goods being shipped to New York while it imports $12.6 billion worth. Top Canadian exports to New York include aluminum ($626 million), paper ($571 million), precious metals ($444 million), motor-vehicle parts ($417 million), plastics ($354 million).

Canada has a lot to lose in a trade war with the United States sparked by a fight over dairy exports, Schumer said.

"If they persist, they’re going to suffer with their exports, not necessarily with dairy, but with something else," Schumer said. "I am just adamant about this."

He said he was surprised that Trudeau has actually been pushing the issue.

"We didn’t really think they would go through with it at the end of the day," Schumer said. "We just thought it was a campaign promise up there, that they would realize the damage it would do to the Canadian economy if we started going back and forth, back and forth, but they’re persisting, so we have to up our game."

Schumer suggested Canada's actions are a violation of the North American Free Trade Agreement.

"That shows you what a lot of good NAFTA does," Schumer said. "I’m glad I voted against it way back when."

On trade, Schumer said he agrees on a lot more with President Trump, at least the way Trump campaigned, than people might think. He's not a fan of the World Trade Organization (on the dairy issue with Canada, he said it would take the WTO six years to issue a ruling and dairy farmers don't have six years to wait); he opposed NAFTA out of concerns with trade imbalances with Mexico and losing American jobs to Mexico; and thinks more needs to be done to promote and protect American jobs.

"My position on trade, frankly, has been closer to President Trump than to President Obama or President Bush," Schumer said. "Now I just hope he follows through on all of it. That hasn’t happened yet."

Schumer does have reservations about Trump's proposed border wall with Mexico. Trump wants to put it in the 2017 budget, but Schumer said he needs to slow down and come up with a workable plan.

"Here’s what no one knows about the wall: A -- how much it would cost?" Schumer said. "Today we were told there it is an estimate of $70 billion. That’s a huge amount of money. Wouldn’t we rather have that money fixing our roads and bridges and everything here?

"Second," he added, "no one knows where it should be or what side of the river it would be on. The Secretary of the Interior, whom the president appointed, said he can’t build it on the U.S. side because it would cut off us from the river. We can’t build it on the Mexican side because they won’t have it. Maybe we have to build it in the middle of the river. There are no plans for it. So you can’t go ahead and allocate money until there are plans.

"The final thing is, eminent domain, there are tons of property owners who own land right up to the border. It would take forever to get their property and you might not even succeed in court. So instead of rushing it through, there ought to be a discussion about it."

On immigration, he said he is pushing for reforms in the H1B visa program because foreign workers should be paid less than U.S. workers.

He said he understands the concerns local farmers have about immigrant labor but didn't express much hope that anything will change soon to help them get the help they need.

He noted that last year, there was an immigration reform bill that Dean Norton, an Elba dairy farmer who was then president of the New York Farm Bureau, helped draft, that would have given farmers the relief they need, but it didn't pass and he doesn't think there will be any movement on it this year.

"We had a really tough bill and it got bipartisan support in the Senate but it never made it in the House," Schumer said.

As for Trump's tax returns, he said the president will have an easier time with tax reform if he is completely transparent about his own tax returns. He said Trump is no longer a private citizen and he should release his returns.

"He should do it because it's going to slow down tax reform," Schumer said. "Any proposal he might make for cutting something, people will say, 'is he doing that because it's good for the American people or is he doing it because it's good for his own real estate holdings?' "

The last time Schumer was in Bergen, it was to push construction of a high-speed rail line between Bergen and Churchville as a demonstration project. We've heard nothing about the proposal since then.

"We did get a big transportation budget and in that budget, there was money for high-speed rail," Schumer said. "The Republicans took out the money for high-speed rail. Now, this is an area where there is some agreement, if we could get a major infrastructure bill, there could be money for high speed rail.

"I know there is division here in Bergen about whether we should have it or not," Schumer added. "I would want to come back to the communities, but if people thought it was a good idea I would probably try to get the money."

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March 31, 2017 - 9:28am
posted by Howard B. Owens in byron-bergen, byron, bergen, schools, education, news.

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Residents of the Byron-Bergen Central School District are being asked to vote today on a $20 million capital improvement project to help improve safety and energy efficiency as well as promote educational opportunities.  

For more on the project click here.

Graphic from the Byron-Begen district.

March 27, 2017 - 7:31am
posted by Howard B. Owens in byron-bergen, schools, education, news, byron, bergen.

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Press release:

Twenty-five students from the Byron-Bergen Jr./Sr. High School were inducted as new members of the National Junior Honor Society (NJHS) on March 22. They proudly joined the 38 standing members of the school’s NJHS.

The NJHS program highlights the well-rounded students at Byron-Bergen. Inductees are selected based on their high standards of scholarship, citizenship, service, leadership and character. All members are required to demonstrate their achievements in each of these areas. The 2017 new members are:

  • Seventh Grade: Jared Barnum, Rachel Best, Madison Burke, Caleb Carlson, Sadie Cook, Makenzie Eccleston, Grace Huhn, Brooke Jarkiewicz, Meghan Kendall, Madelynn Pimm, Elli Schelemanow, Grace Shepard, Alayna Streeter, Ella VanValkenburg, Alexandra Vurraro, Claire Williams, Corden Zimmerman;
  • Eighth Grade: Zoey Chambry, Carli Kirkwood, Andrew Parnapy, Sarah Streeter, Devon Zinter;
  • Ninth Grade: Kelsey Fuller, Mikaela Hubler, Miriam Tardy.

The evening began with a welcome from faculty advisor Ken Gropp, and NJHS Vice President Nathan Zwerka led the audience in the Pledge of Allegiance. The ceremony continued with opening remarks from Superintendent Mickey Edwards and Principal Patrick McGee. Students Cambria Kinkelaar and Siomara Caballero led the traditional candle lighting with help from Nick Baubie, Alex Brumsted, Amaya Gunther, Colby Leggo and Jillian Menzie.

NJHS President Abby Vurraro addressed the crowd and spoke about the importance of failure.

“It’s what you do after you fail that really counts,” she said.

The induction ceremony featured two guest speakers who were chosen by NJHS members: Byron-Bergen teachers Diana Walther and Laurence Tallman.

“Different is good,” Tallman said. “Our diversity is ultimately what unifies us.”

As part of the induction ceremony, each new inductee received a certificate and pin, and the distinct honor to be a part of the National Junior Honor Society. More than a million students participate in NJHS: https://www.njhs.us/. Membership not only recognizes students for their accomplishments but also challenges them to develop further through active involvement in school activities and community service.

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March 16, 2017 - 7:46am
posted by Howard B. Owens in accident, news, bergen.

An accident with possible minor injuries is reported in the area of 7793 Townline Road, Bergen. 

Bergen fire and ambulance responding. 

UPDATE 7:50 a.m.: Confirmed injuries. Extrication for at least one person required. 

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