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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."

schumertrainsbergenapril2017.jpg

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

bbcapprojectvote2017.jpg

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.

bbnhs20171.jpg

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. 

March 13, 2017 - 11:13am
posted by Howard B. Owens in crime, Pavilion, Le Roy, Stafford, batavia, news, bergen.

David Lane Handley Jr., 54, of Ontario Avenue, Niagara Falls, is charged with burglary, 3rd, and criminal mischief, 3rd. Handley allegedly broke into the Yellow Goose Store in Pavilion at 2 a.m. Feb. 12. The investigation was conducted by Deputy James Diehl.

Jeffrey Allan Youngs, 56, of Montclair Avenue, Batavia, is charged with DWI, driving with a BAC of .08 or greater, inadequate headlamps, driver's view obstructed, and open container. Youngs was stopped at 1:20 a.m. Sunday on Route 20 in Alexander by Deputy Eric Meyer.

Timothy K. Smith, 23, of South Street Road, Le Roy, is charged with unlawful possession of marijuana, driving without insurance, inadequate headlamp, aggravated unlicensed operation, 3rd, and unregistered vehicle. Smith was stopped at 9:56 p.m. Saturday on West Main Street, Le Roy, by Deputy Kyle Krzemien.

Chad Allen Cooper, 21, of Emily Court, Bergen, is charged with criminal possession of a controlled substance, 7th. During a "check the welfare" request, Cooper was allegedly found in possession of heroin.

Ghislaine Pena, 25, of Highland Park, Batavia, is charged with aggravated unlicensed operation, 2nd, and failure to stop. Pena was arrested on a warrant during a traffic stop at 2:07 a.m. Saturday on Clinton Street Road, Stafford, by Deputy Andrew Hale.

Shamir Kamran Aslam, 29, of Landstone Terrace, Rochester, is charged with menacing, 2nd, and two counts of criminal contempt, 1st. Aslam allegedly drove his vehicle at a high rate of speed and swerved by a person covered by a protective order when leaving the Genesee County Courts facility at 11:05 a.m., March 1.

Mark Joseph Amico Jr., 29, of Route 237, Le Roy, is charged with aggravated harassment, 2nd. Amico allegedly called another person and made several threatening statements at 6:07 a.m., March 7.

March 9, 2017 - 7:42pm
posted by Billie Owens in crime, news, Le Roy, bergen, pembroke.

David J. Mylar IV is indicted for the crime of third-degree burglary, a Class D felony. It is alleged that on Oct. 3, 2013, that Mylar knowingly entered or remained unlawfully inside a building on Main Road in the Town of Pembroke, with the intent to commit a crime.

Gregory J. Rodak is indicted for the crime of driving while intoxicated as a Class E felony. It is alleged that on Nov. 17 in the Town of Bergen that Rodak drove a 2007 Volkswagon on Townline Road while in an intoxicated condition. In count two, he is accused of DWI, per se, also a Class E felony, for allegedly having a BAC of .08 percent or more at the time.

Beverly B. Meadows is indicted for the crime of driving while intoxicated as a misdemeanor. It is alleged that on Dec. 6 in the Village of Le Roy that Meadows drove a 2003 Chevrolet on North Street while in an intoxicated condition. In count two, she is accused of DWI, per se, as a misdemeanor, for allegedly having a BAC of .08 percent or more at the time. In count three, Meadows is accused of the crime of aggravated unlicensed operation in the first degree, a Class E felony. It is alleged that at the time of the crimes alleged in counts one and two, that she knew or had reason to know that her driver's license was suspended or otherwise withdrawn by authorities.

March 8, 2017 - 11:33pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in crime, bergen, news.

A robbery just occurred at the 7-Eleven in Bergen.

The suspect is described as a white male with a bandage on his nose.

Unknown direction of travel.

No weapon was displayed.

UPDATE 11:35 p.m.: The suspect may have fled in a vehicle. Unknown description. Unknown direction of travel.  It's possibly a dark-colored Jeep.

UPDATE 11:40 p.m.: The vehicle is described as a dark-colored Jeep Wrangler, last seen heading toward I-490.

March 7, 2017 - 3:16pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in crime, batavia, news, bergen, alexander, Stafford.

Marlek Eugene Holmes, 43, of Batavia, is charged with criminal mischief, 4th. Holmes, an inmate in the Genesee County Jail being held on sexual assault charges, and who has a prior charge related to alleged misconduct in jail, is accused of damaging a food tray and bed sheet belonging to the jail.

Teresa Anne Anderson, 42, of Sandybrook Drive, Hamlin, is charged with petit larceny. Anderson is accused of finding a change purse on the floor near a slot machine at Batavia Downs and taking the money inside and ticket vouchers and discarding the purse between two slot machines.

Nicholas Gerald Schafer, 18, of Broadway, Darien, is charged with unlawful possession of marijuana, leaving the scene of a property damage accident, moving from lane unsafely and illegal parking on a highway. Schafer was allegedly involved in a property-damage accident on Route 98, Alexander, at 10:55 p.m. Friday. The accident was investigated by Deputy Eric Meyer.

Milton Quinones Guzman, 38, of McKenzie Street, Bergen, is charged with DWI, driving with a BAC of .08 or greater and moving from the lane unsafely. Guzman was stopped at 6:52 p.m. Thursday on Clinton Street, Bergen, by Deputy Michael Lute.

Ramon J. Galvez, 35, of Washington Avenue, Batavia, was arrested as a fugitive from justice. Galvez was located during a traffic stop on Washington Avenue, Batavia. He is wanted in Franklin County, Wash., on unspecified charges.

Russell R. Miles, 48, of South Main Street, Batavia, is charged with criminal contempt, 1st. Miles allegedly violated a stay away order.

Jacquelyn K. Hildebrant, 35, of State Street, is charged with dog running at large. Hildebrant following an investigation into a complaint that her dog attacked another dog at 4:30 p.m. Feb. 27 on State Street. (Previously: Dog on State Street reportedly involved in two aggressive incidents within weeks of each other)

Marcus L. Speed, 29, of Mellvile Street, Rochester, is charged with criminal use of drug paraphernalia, 2nd. Speed was charged following a traffic stop on West Main Street, Batavia, at 1:06 a.m. Sunday by Officer Peter Flanagan.

Shaun A. Surowka, 59, of South Main Street, Batavia, is charged with criminal use of drug paraphernalia. Surowka was charged following a traffic stop at 12:43 a.m. Sunday on West Main Street by Officer Peter Flanagan.

Melissa R. Piazza, 27, of Walnut Street, Batavia, is charged with identity theft, 3rd, criminal possession of stolen property, 4th and petit larceny. Piazza was arrested on a warrant for allegedly using the credit card of another person without consent.

Justin Thomas Stephenson, 32, of Hutchins Street, Batavia, was arrested on a warrant. The nature of the warrant was not released. He posted bail.

Alisha A. Soule, 20, of Route 237, Stafford, was arrested on two warrants for alleged failure to appear on a traffic ticket and alleged failure to pay a fine.

Thomas A. Culver Jr., 38, of Wood Street, Batavia, was arrested on a warrant for alleged failure to report to the Genesee County Jail per terms of his jail sentence. He was jailed on $2,000 bail or $5,000 bond.

Ryan C. Bishop, 26, of Scottsville West Henrietta Road, Scottsville, is charged with felony DWI, felony driving with a BAC of .18 or greater, and lights not meeting standards. Bishop was stopped at 2:18 a.m. Thursday on Main Street, Batavia, by Officer Matthew Wojtaszczyk.

Chad E. Alwardt, 37, of Holland Avenue, Batavia, is charged with felony DWI, lights not meeting standards, aggravated unlicensed operation, expired inspection, unlicensed driver. Alwardt was stopped on Jackson Street at 12:54 a.m. Friday by Officer Matthew Wojtaszczyk.

March 4, 2017 - 3:18pm
posted by Billie Owens in liberty pumps, Chamber Awards, bergen, news, business.

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Quality products, enterprise and innovation, peerless customer service and a commitment to international growth are the hallmarks of Bergen-based Liberty Pumps. Combine these with an exceptionally skilled and dedicated workforce of about 200 employees (counting temps and part-timers), including a 19-member executive team, and you have a winner.

The Genesee County Chamber of Commerce named Liberty Pumps its 2016 Business of the Year.

The privately held, family-owned company makes sump, effluent and sewage pumps for the professional trade. Last year, sales were well over $95 million.

Firmly at the helm is CEO and President Charles Cook, who everybody calls "Charlie." His uncle, Fred Cook, started the business in 1965. Charlie joined the company as an engineer and bought the business back in the the '70s.

Charlie holds two of the dozen or so patents on Liberty Pump products. These are proof of his and his company's ability to find creative engineering solutions to solve problems, resulting in products that are designed and manufactured with exacting specifications to do tough tasks.

For example, they developed a grinder pump that can handle disposable products like baby wipes and throw-away cleaning products like Swiffer cloths that can jam traditional sewage pumps. They are currently working to develop their biggest pump to date. Their engineers can tweek the flow meters, turn valves and pressure gauges in a tank filled with water 12 feet deep, all while tracking the progress in real time on big computer screens. It's fascinating to watch.

The engineers work behind closed doors, of course, "no cameras" allowed. 

The manufacturing, assembling, painting, and other aspects of the business are spread out in a gargantuan building. The floor of the manufacturing plant itself is more than 200,000 square feet.

In 2015, they undertook a massive, multimillion dollar expansion project, roughly doubling the size of the facility on Apple Tree Avenue. The office building is sleek and spacious, and there's an Internet cafe, fitness center and state-of-the-art teaching/presentation/meeting rooms, too.

The overall impression is that of a clean, efficient, comfortable work environment. It's quite impressive.

"Day to day you don't think about it," Charlie said about the newly renovated premises after giving a tour. "But once in a while you have to stop and pinch yourself and say 'How did I get here?' We're proud of it and we like to show it off."

More important than the space is the culture of the workplace, which Charlie says is a top priority. 

"Taking personal responsibility is important," he said. "We give people freedom to present ideas and implement them. We have an active suggestion program."

The ideas of employees can boost productivity and increase safety, and recognizing their contributions benefits the work environment and helps the company succeed, Charlie said.

So does an Employee Stock Ownership Plan, which was implemented in 2014. It provides the majority of employees with shares of stock as part of their retirement package. To be fully vested and receive shares, an employee must work for the company for five years. Every year, employees get a statement with their share information and they can sell their shares back to the company when they retire. The company averages an annual growth rate of about 13 percent and the quantity of shares each vested employeed receives increases with growth.

Although Liberty Pumps has been asked about relocating elsewhere, Charlie says he's not budging.

"We're very proud to be a local U.S. business," Charlie said. "It can be a tough environment in New York from time to time, but our people are connected here. Our executives are all homegrown. We aren't going anywhere."

But their products are going more places than ever. The sales growth potential is high, not only nationwide and in Canada, where they've sold goods since the mid-'90s, but also internationally. Since expanding its global presence in 2010, Liberty Pumps now ships to more than 30 countries.

And along the way, the company has garnered impressive awards from Greater Rochester Enterprise's International Business Council, for example, and it's landed on the Rochester Top 100 list of businesses for 16 of the last 19 years. In May, Liberty Pumps was one of only 123 companies nationwide to receive the President's "E" Award for exporting excellence at a ceremony in Washington, D.C.

But nothing beats the recognition of your peers, friends and colleagues in your own backyard, says Charlie.

The award from the Genesee County Chamber of Commerce "is far more meaningful," he said. It will be presented tonight at the Quality Inn & Suites in Batavia.chamawardlibertypumps2017-2.jpg

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March 1, 2017 - 4:52pm
posted by Billie Owens in byron, bergen, news.

Press release:

The 2017-2018 school year is fast approaching. Byron-Bergen families with children who will turn 4 or 5 years of age by Dec. 1, 2017 should register them for Universal PreKindergarten (UPK) or Kindergarten as soon as possible.

1. Universal PreK Registration

The Byron-Bergen School District plans to once again offer a half-day UPK program for the 2017-18 school year. The classes will be held at the Byron-Bergen Elementary School, located at 6971 West Bergen Road, Bergen, New York 14416.

Students eligible for the program must turn 4 years of age by Dec. 1, 2017. If you have an eligible child and are interested in having him/her attend our UPK program, please send a letter of interest by Friday, April 7, 2017 with your child’s name, parents’ names, address, phone number, and birth date to:

Elementary School Principal Brian Meister, 6971 West Bergen Road, Bergen, NY 14416

Parents who have already contacted the Elementary School by phone still need to send a letter to be eligible for UPK. Please note that if we receive more applications than our allowed capacity, we will select students using a lottery system.

What are the program goals of UPK at Byron-Bergen?

  • To meet the NYS learning standards by using a curriculum that is thematically-based and supported using literature, songs, and exploration.
  • To foster an environment that promotes happy, confident children who are willing to take risks, make independent choices, and ask questions.
  • To create an inclusive community that builds upon a student’s strengths and accommodates his/her needs.

Philosophy of UPK at Byron-Bergen

The UPK program at Byron-Bergen is focused on socialization, and learning through play and self-exploration. Children learn in a hands-on learning environment, which includes activities, learning centers, concrete materials, and manipulatives. The learning environment is also nurturing, enriching, challenging, and developmentally appropriate.

2.Kindergarten Registration

Children who will be 5 years of age, on or before Dec. 1, 2017, are eligible for entrance to kindergarten in September of 2017. New families in the school district should notify the school as soon as possible if they have a child qualified to enter kindergarten this fall. 

Please contact the Byron-Bergen Elementary School Office by calling Becky Kelly at 494-1220, ext. 1301. Parents can send the required registration information (see list below) to the Byron-Bergen Elementary School, 6971 W. Bergen Road, Bergen, NY 14416.

All children registering for kindergarten will be scheduled for a screening appointment this summer. The results of this screening will be used to plan for the 2017-2018 kindergarten program. 

The following items are necessary to complete the registration process:

  • Your child’s Birth Certificate.
  • Certificate of Immunization—New York State law requires that every child entering school must have received a minimum of five doses of diphtheria-pertussis-tetanus vaccine (DPT) and four doses of polio (IPV) vaccine, two doses of MMR (measles, mumps, rubella), three doses of Hepatitis B, and two doses of varicella (chickenpox). Those children born on or after Jan. 1, 2008, must have four doses of Pneumococcal Conjugate Vaccine (PCV). Their immunizations must be completed prior to entering school.
  • Proof of Residency—If this is the first time you have a child entering Byron-Bergen Central School District, please bring proof of residency to your screening appointment. This can be a copy of your mortgage statement, rental/lease agreement or a copy of your tax bill.
February 27, 2017 - 4:42pm
posted by Billie Owens in bergen, business, liberty pumps, steve hawley.

Submitted photo of Liberty Pumps CEO Charlie Cook, left, and Assemblyman Steve Hawley.

Press release:

Assemblyman Steve Hawley (R,C,I-Batavia) took the opportunity to tour Liberty Pumps in Bergen on Friday (Feb. 24) as part of his ongoing small business tour.

Liberty Pumps was founded in 1965 and has grown to become one of North America’s leading domestic manufacturers of sump and wastewater pumps for professional plumbers. The company has also been named 2016 Business of the Year by the Genesee County Chamber of Commerce.

Hawley, a small-business owner and operator for over four decades, said he is always looking for insight into how the Legislature can assist business owners and help them expand and create jobs.

“I always enjoy meeting with business owners from around my district,” Hawley said. “Small businesses employ nearly half of New York’s workforce and are a major generator of economic growth, not just in Western New York but around the state.

"I am impressed by the rich history of Liberty Pumps and its ability to grow and expand even through difficult and uncertain economic times in our country’s history. Liberty Pumps is one shining example of New York’s entrepreneurial spirit, and I will keep their concerns and thoughts in mind while advocating for small business policies in Albany.”

February 21, 2017 - 8:54pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in bergen, outdoors, news.

A Bergen resident is reportedly in guarded condition at Strong Memorial Hospital after a hunting accident yesterday in the Town of Sweden.

Robert Williams, 32, of Peachy Road, Bergen, was reportedly in a field on Lake Road, Sweden, when he was shot in the abdomen by a coyote hunter.

Brett Blackburn, 46, of Sweden, has been charged with assault, 2nd.

According to authorities, Blackburn and his son were hunting at about 6:30 p.m. Monday when they observed movement in the field. Blackburn used a light to illuminate the area of movement. He said he observed light and thought the reflection to be the eyes of a coyote. Blackburn reportedly fired his rifle and then heard someone yell. 

Blackburn assisted Williams while his son ran to a nearby residence to call 9-1-1.

When Monroe County deputies arrived at the location on foot, they observed Williams on the ground and Blackburn rendering aid. Town of Sweden fire arrived on scene along with EMS personnel and evacuated Williams to a waiting ambulance.

Blackburn, of Covell Road, was arraigned in Sweden Town Court and bail was set at $1,500 cash or $5,000 bond. He is no longer in custody.

Our news partner 13WHAM assisted with this story.

February 17, 2017 - 12:01pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in crime, byron, bergen, news.
      Scott Lamagna

Calling Scott Lamagna's participation in an attack on a patron of Playmates in Byron "brutal" and "senseless," County Court Judge Charles Zambito rejected the idea of a probationary sentence and sent him to state prison for three and a half years.

"I can't put you on probation or give you a community-based sentence and be confident the community will be safe," Zambito said. "I don't know what will set you off."

Lamagna and his brother Jonathon attacked a patron in the parking lot of the strip club. The attack stemmed from a barroom disagreement. After beating the victim, the owner of Playmates tried to assist the man, whom she found in the parking lot lying in a pool of his own blood, by dragging him onto the porch. Zambito noted that Scott and Jonathan then renewed their attack. Jonathan kicked the victim in the ribs and Scott kicked him in the head, both kicks caused serious injuries.

The brothers then left the scene, stopped at the 7-Eleven in Bergen, where they attacked two other people.

"Mr. Burns (defense attorney Thomas Burns) did his best to try and convince me I should give you a chance out in the community, but I'm not convinced," Zambito said.

Burns argued that his client is remorseful for his actions and realizes he needs help for alcohol and drug abuse. He said Lamagna does have a record of being able to maintain a job and would be employable if released to probation. He also said Lamagna had strong support from his family. 

Scott is older than his brother and Burns said Scott understands that as the older brother it was his responsibility to society to set the mature example.

"He knows he dropped the ball on that one," Burns said.

Jonathan Lamagna was sentenced last week and Scott's sentencing was scheduled for the same day, immediately afterward, but Assistant District Attorney Kevin Finnell presented information obtained from wiretaps on jail phone calls between Scott and family members.

Burns objected to use of the recordings in evidence for the sentencing because he didn't even know about their existence before Finnell mentioned them in court, so the sentencing was adjourned to today, giving Burns time to review the recordings.

The recordings reveal a defendant who was scared and under stress and trying to deal with his immediate concerns, as any person would, Burns said, adding they didn't indicate Lamagna was any less concerned about the condition of his victim.

There was also evidence presented that indicated that before Lamagna was arrested, he made frantic calls to people trying to find somebody to take care of his dog.

Before sentencing, Lamagna addressed the court and said he was deeply sorry for hurting innocent people.

"I wish I could take it all back but I know I can't," Lamagna said.

He said he was prepared for the consequences of the judge's decision as a result of his own actions.

If sent to prison, he said, "I will come out a better person."

Zambito wasn't convinced as he looked at the violent nature of the attacks and Lamagna's seven prior charges of resisting arrest.

"It's sad that you didn't have the same concern that you had for your dog for human beings," Zambito said.

February 11, 2017 - 8:11am
posted by Howard B. Owens in basketball, sports, byron-bergen, bergen, byron.

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Byron-Bergen's Brandon Burke scored his 1,000th point last night, becoming the first player at the school to hit that milestone in boys basketball. In a submitted photo, Burke is pictured with his family.

February 10, 2017 - 10:13am
posted by Howard B. Owens in bergen, news.

Bergen's ladder truck has been dispatched on an emergency call, asked to expedite, to the Town of Riga, where a man is stuck in a lift 40-foot in the air.

The emergency response is requested because the lift is leaking hydraulic fluid and workers are afraid it's going to come down.

UPDATE 11:30 a.m.: Our news partner 13WHAM sent a reporter to the scene and they tell us that man trapped in the lift is on the ground, safe and uninjured. He was 60 feet in the air, he said. He said there was a hydraulic fluid leak and the lift wouldn't budge. His partner on the ground called for help. He was in the air for about 45 minutes. He said he wasn't afraid of the height, but it was cold up there. He is a tree trimmer from Monroe County.

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