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June 11, 2018 - 2:52am
posted by Billie Owens in fire, news, Le Roy.

A house fire is reported at 4 Washington Ave. in the Village of Le Roy. The location is between Hilltop and Jefferson. Le Roy Fire Department is responding along with mutual aid from Bergen, Stafford, Pavilion, Caledonia, and the town and city of Batavia.

Command at the scene says they are going to ventilate the front of the structure and start using hand tools to take apart the porch.

UPDATE 2:53 a.m.: Command calls for lighting in the back of the structure.

UPDATE 2:58 a.m.: National Grid has been notified; no ETA.

UPDATE 3:25 a.m.: National Grid's response is canceled. City fire is returning to service.

UPDATE 3:27 a.m.: Bergen and Pavilion are returning to service. The fire is out.

June 10, 2018 - 7:06pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Flag Day, va center, batavia, news, veterans.

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Veterans residing at the Batavia VA Medical Center were honored today as part of a Flag Day ceremony that included the reading of three essays about the flag by students of Batavia Middle School.

The winning essay was written by Harrison Southall (second photo):

What the American Flag means to me? Well, it stands for hope in my eyes. In America's history, when battles were fought there would be a flag bearer who would hold our flag with his life. If he got shot, he still held it. If he got killed, someone else would just drop their gun and pick up the flag because they knew they were fighting for our country. The flag shows that America never gives up and shows brave soldiers that hope is never lost even in the worst times, and that is what makes the flag special.

Organizing the event was spearheaded by Frank Panepento and ended with a medley of patriotic songs from a brass band.

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Assistant Principal Maureen Notario with a binder full of all the essays submitted by students of Batavia Middle School. The book was presented to World War II veteran Leo Pelton, who is 99 years old (below).

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June 10, 2018 - 4:50pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in accident, news, byron.

A tractor-trailer rollover accident with no injuries is reported at Bergen Road and South Holley Road, Byron.

Fluids are leaking.

Byron and South Byron dispatched.

UPDATE 4:55 p.m.: Mercy EMS requested to the scene for evaluation of back pain.

UPDATE 5:08 (By Billie): The driver was initially believed to be uninjured, but subsequently complained of back pain and Mercy medics are called to evaluate him. Command at the scene says the rig dumped half a load of liquid manure because of the accident. No other vehicles were involved. Sawdust is being trucked in from a nearby farm; sand from the highway department may be required, but that has not been deemed necessary at this point.

June 10, 2018 - 11:31am
posted by Howard B. Owens in pets, animals, news, Pavilion.

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A pair of golden retrievers are missing the Morrow Road area, off Route 246, in Pavilion.

A reward is offered for their safe return. No questions asked.

One of the dogs critically requires medication. One of the dogs is a therapy dog.

E-mail Barbara Beach: [email protected].

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June 9, 2018 - 9:53pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Catty Shack, batavia, news, pets, animals.

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Jen Goss, found of Catty Shack, a cat and kitten rescue, and Kasey Thompson, with kittens that will soon be available for adoption during a garage sale at the corner of Batavia Elba Townline Road and Route 98 (Daws Corners) this afternoon.

The garage sale continues on Sunday as is a fundraiser for Catty Shack.

Catty Shack will have at least 15 kittens available for adoption in a few weeks. They will be vetted and spayed and neutered. 

June 9, 2018 - 9:47pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in bergen, veterans, news.

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A new granite monument honoring the men and women from Bergen who served their country in the U.S. military was dedicated in a ceremony today following the Bergen Park Fest parade.

Bob Bausch, chairman of the County Legislature and its Bergen representative, was among the speakers and he recalled walking through the park recently and looking at the names on the memorial.

"I looked at the list of the wars," Bausch said, "and I knew somebody from every one of those conflicts, even from World War I — I knew some of the old guys when I was a kid, so it means a lot to me, these efforts being made."

American Legion Commander Thomas Williamson reminded the crowd gathered for the ceremony to remember the veterans who served as they enjoyed the fireworks planned for later in the night; and American Legion Adjutant Gary Hilbert said the memorial honors those who served in times of war and times of peace and those who never returned.

"Today we make our Founding Fathers and those who came before us proud," Hilbert said. "Our liberties and values stand safe because of brave men and women who have been ready to face the fire. We thank God for each and every one of them."

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June 9, 2018 - 9:04pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in bergen, news.

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To purchase prints, click here.

June 9, 2018 - 5:55pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Alabama, news, accident.

An accident with possible minor injuries is reported at Lewiston Road and Salt Works Road, Alabama.

Alabama fire and Mercy EMS dispatched.

June 9, 2018 - 5:26pm
posted by Billie Owens in scanner, byron, news.

Law enforcement is responding to a residence on Byron Holley Road after an allegedly highly intoxicated female called dispatch to report there's "a Komodo dragon in her hallway."

These carnivorous lizards are not something to mess with, according to wikipedia. They've been known to grow 10 feet in length and weigh up to 150 pounds. They will attack humans.

Click here to learn more about the Komodo dragon.

June 9, 2018 - 5:13pm
posted by Billie Owens in batavia, news, accident.

A female crossing West Main Street by the CVS store was struck by a vehicle and has an injured leg. City fire and Mercy medics are responding to 259 W. Main St. at the corner of South Lyon Street.

June 9, 2018 - 4:34pm

Ann and Dave Scherff, of Le Roy, are planning a rare getaway, a respite from caregiving for their disabled adult son who lives with them, and someone else is picking up the tab.

It's actually a nonprofit organization in Manlius, east of Syracuse, that is footing the bill for a two-day stay at a bed-and-breakfast inn. The motto of David's Refuge is "Caring for the Caregiver."

It is a mission with an outreach that is growing in Western New York.

Several Genesee County families like the Scherffs have benefitted from this charity, which provides respite, resources and support to parents and guardians of children with special needs or life-threatening conditions.

The goal is to help them be refreshed, restored and renewed in their caregiving roles.

It's easy to burn out.

"Knowing that someone else cares, that we're not alone, being supported -- has given me hope," Ann says.

The couple has a total of five adult children, three of whom have disabilities, but only one remains at home. Still, they have oversight responsiblity for their two other disabled sons, in addition to Ann's disabled sister-in-law.

When they go away, they arrange for professional nursing staff to care for their live-in son.

They have gone on four two-day hotel stays so far. Families aided by David's Refuge are eligible to go on one per year. Afterward, they are also given a $50 gift certificate to enjoy at a local restaurant.

"Doing something to put yourself first," as Ann says, is uncommon for people like the Scherffs.

Families such as theirs not infrequently incur extraordinary expenses while caring for their loved ones; not everything is covered by insurance or government assistance. So splurging on a weekend away is a luxury too rich to contemplate in a lot of cases, even though the results are beneficial to mind, body and spirit.

The widely recognized conundrum provides impetus for the outreach that David's Refuge does.

"We are currently serving 250 families, 120 of whom are from the Western New York area, including Rochester, Buffalo and surrounding communities," said Christine Corbett, director of philanthropy for David's Refuge.

To help their cause, the organization is hosting a fundraiser in Darien Center on Friday, June 15, at the new and beautiful boutique hotel River Spring Lodge. It is operated by David (AKA "Chef Dave") and Carolyn Hamer.

Called "Fireworks for Friends," the 7 to 10 p.m. event will feature a private fireworks display, live music, two beer or wine tickets, free parking and a silent auction. Culinary delights will be served up by Chef Dave, including hors d' oeuvres to pass as well as stationary appetizers.

The cuisine, which Chef Dave defines as "refined American," is highly praised. Guests gush that it is "incredible, exquisite, amazing and remarkable."

Cost per ticket is $50 for "Friends for Fireworks." River Spring Lodge is located at 1961A Church Road, Darien Center.

The Scherffs plan to attend.

To purchase tickets, visit here, or contact Christine Corbett at (315) 382-4204 or email her at [email protected]

To find out more about David's Refuge, click here.

Visit the River Spring Lodge online here.

June 8, 2018 - 10:09pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in muckdogs, batavia, sports, baseball.

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Andy Helwig, who will be the voice of the Batavia Muckdogs on WBTA this season, holds up the new road and home jerseys for the 2018 Batavia Muckdogs.

The season is just around the corner, with players reporting in about a week. The first home game is June 18 at 7:05 p.m.

June 8, 2018 - 10:04pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in farmers market, public market, downtown, BID, news, batavia.

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It was a bright, beautiful day for the first day of the Batavia's Downtown Public Market at Bank and Alva.

In addition to many returning favorites for the Genesee County Farmer's Market, there were two new vendors at the market today, Market Manager Mike Bakos told WBTA. 

Pickle Annie's offers a variety of pickles as well as flavored cider vinegar, which Bakos said is supposed to be good for joint health.

Also new this year is Bad Ash BBQ (The Batavian's publisher and editor can recommend the pulled pork sandwich with baked beans and coleslaw).

"This is a really good spot for the market because we can attract vendors all season long and expand," Bakos said. "We can make the market bigger as needed and that’s really nice."

The market sells $5 Farmers Market Money gift certificates and if you buy $45 worth you get another $5 free.  

The market also accepts SNAP benefits and thanks to a grant, through July, customers who use their SNAP benefits card at the market will receive a $2 coupon for each $5 purchased from a food vendor.

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June 8, 2018 - 9:34pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in ptsd clinicm, va center, batavia, news.

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Arnie Aldinger and Ronald Gonzalez place a wreath on the brick walkway outside the PTSD Clinic at the VA Medical Center in Batavia.

The walkway contains bricks with the names of veterans who have passed on. Below, Chuck Ross reads the names of some of those veterans, including for two veterans whose names have been added to the walkway: Christopher M. Berry, Army, and Jerome D. Chatmon Sr., Army.

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Edwin Gadson, peer support specialist, sings the National Anthem (beautifully).

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Frank Panepento, above, and Tom Cecere, played Echo Taps.

June 8, 2018 - 9:17pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in New York State School for the Blind, batavia, news.

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 One hundred and fifty years of history, tradition, successes, and memories were shared today at the New York State School for the Blind in a ceremony marking the institution's sesquicentennial.

Today's speakers included Thomas Ruller, NYS archivist, on stage in the photo above, with a picture of the original School for the Blind, dedicated in 1868 (the current building was constructed in the 1940s). 

It was the 23rd such school in the nation, putting New York at the forefront of building schools for blind students, Ruller said.

"One thing I found interesting is there is a sort of lore that the school for the blind in Batavia was established largely to support and provide assistance for veterans of the Civil War," Ruller said. "In looking at the first hundred students who entered the school, there weren’t very many individuals who were veterans of the Civil War."

The first official student, he said, was Samuel Stillwell, born in 1850, and blinded by a stick in when he was 10. He was at the school for only 11 months before his family moved to Missouri, where he died the next year of tuberculous.

One of the early students, the 13th, in fact, who went on to great success, was a native of Genesee County. Ambrose Shockwell was valedictorian of the Class of 1873. He then rejoined his family, who by that point had moved to Michigan, where he became instrumental in advancing the cause of blind people. He gained a national reputation as an educator and a leader in the blind community.

Ruller shared a quote about him from 1914: "He was gentle in spirit, caution in pronouncing judgment upon any subject, a great student, an untiring worker for those who are blind. It is safe to say that no other man in this section of the country among workers for the blind demands greater respect than Ambrose M. Shockwell."

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Vincent Tagliarino, Class of 1954, on piano, leading the alumni in the Alumni Alma Mater.

In his talk, Ruller noted how important music has always been to the school. For much of its history, the school's choir was sought regionally for its performances and the school had a jazz band in the 1950s and 1960s.

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State Sen. Michael Ranzenhofer and Assemblyman Steve Hawley read a joint Senate-Assembly proclamation honoring the school.

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Jack Herring presented the original diploma of Agnes Hamilton, his aunt, whom everybody knew, he said, as "Aunt Agnes," as a gift to the school, returning it, he said, to where it belongs.

Hamilton graduated in 1915. She lived until she was one day shy of her 100th birthday and Herring said she was an incredible woman.

He said he learned three things from her: That "handicapped" is only a state of mind. That seeing isn't something only done with your eyes. And, that a sense of humor is an essential part of being happy.

"There is no doubt in my mind that she could see more than most sighted people and she couldn’t even distinguish daytime from nighttime," he said.

Whenever there was a family gathering or any gathering of people, Herring said, Aunt Agnes was the life of the party.

He recalled that when people learned Hamilton had a job they would ask as politely as possible what she did for a living.

"I'm a proofreader," was her deadpan response.

Pause.

“The expressions I witnessed on their faces was memorable, to say the least, but little did they know, she was actually telling them the truth," Herring said.

Hamilton worked for Reader's Digest for 40 years proofreading their Braille edition. She kept an apartment by herself in New York City five days a week and returned to her Upstate home by herself on a train each weekend.

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Edwin Cooney, president of the Alumni Association, shared in some detail what it was like to be a student at the NYSSB in the 1960s, recalling both the sadness at being separated from family on the first day of school and the excitement of being back with your friends, meeting new people, and doing new things. He reminisced about teachers and travels and all the things that made life living and studying at the school worthwhile.

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Jacob Bross is one of the school's current students. He said wasn't doing very well at his previous school. He didn't apply himself to his studies and was often late to class before dropping out.

Transferring to NYSSB changed his life, he said.

"I lacked self-confidence that I was on the same level as my peers," Bross said. "The school gave me the confidence to step outside my comfort zone."

In addition to limited vision, Bross said he was diagnosed with high functioning autism.

"The school has given me many opportunities to socialize and form friendships," he said.

He said he enjoys going to movies, local baseball games, shopping, field trips, and participating in dorm dinners, dances and proms.

"I exercise a lot of independence in completing my work," Bross said. "My teacher believes in me. She advocates for me and tells me she has faith I can pass my Regents exam. This alone helped me build my confidence. I now believe in myself."

Once he graduates, he said, he wants to pursue a career in psychology.

(A picture and information about a student who spoke was removed at the request of the school.)

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The school choir sang the Alma Mater of the current class.

Photos below, from a room off the foyer of historic artifacts.

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June 8, 2018 - 8:35pm

In a couple of weeks, Beverly L. Mancuso will visit her brother in Ohio and attend a couple of her nieces' recitals. Once the State of New York releases the retirement funds she long paid into the system, the former executive director of Cornell Cooperative Extension of Genesee County will consider more elaborate travel plans.

"Bev" spent Thursday saying goodbyes at the extension's headquarters on East Main Street in Batavia, winding down the final hours of 16 and a half years of employment there, the longest of her career.

She is dressed in khaki and coral colors, with "bling," as she calls it, to match. Tanned, with an easy laugh and quick mind, her mien is forthright, she is plain spoken, and admittedly unkeen on "micromanaging" adult professionals.

She left on her birthday at the top of her game, with a solid track record of achievement, and an unclouded sky above her.

There are several reasons for that.

Having steeped herself in the machinations of county government for five years prior to Cornell helped, as did a deep dive into the finances of the extension for the two years she served as business manager and associate director prior to landing the executive directorship.

Before that, her expertise in systems administration helped her develop the skills that could bring greater simplicity and clarity to the administrative side of the cooperative extension. For example, she helped craft a shared business network and that took more than six years to build.

"We already had strong programs, so I focused on the administrative side," Mancuso said. "How could we work smarter and do things differently? I tried to make it easy for people to do their actual jobs, so they're not doing busy work."

And always she kept mindful of taxpayers' money, and how she could be more responsible with it.

The days of 25 employees at Cornell extension in Batavia are history, she said, noting that today there are 10 permanent employees.

One idea she has, this daughter of the nation's creator of the first business incubator, AKA the Batavia Industrial Center, is to have a "one-stop-shop for nonprofits, for human service agencies."

"So we can all maximize the limited funding...we've got to be smarter about how we're doing stuff," she said. "It's not going back to how it was, how it used to be."

Another reason for Mancuso's strength of tenure can be traced to a program she is really proud of perpetuating after others launched it: Leadership Genesee.

Developed at the Cornell Cooperative Extension in Batavia, and also unique to it, Leadership Genesee took 10 years to get off the ground.

"It became a force in the community -- all the nooks and crannies -- and what makes it tick," she said. "Every day focuses on a different component of the community. We don't tell them what to think, we just show them how everything works and they make up their own mind."

To date, it has trained more than 500 graduates, including Mancuso, who graduated in its debut Class of 2001.

She says it taught her, among other things, the wisdom to "let go" and allow others to help when a seemingly insurmountable problem arose.

There were 35 people in the latest class and applications for the next one are being reviewed.

The merits of the yearlong program are not lost on area employers.

"A lot of different local employers, they get it, they see the value in it," Mancuso said. "It doesn't really focus on developing traditional leadership skills -- like decision making -- it's about people who really love where they live and gives them an opportunity to see a lot of the things that are going on."

Whether the day's focus is agriculture and farm tours, or economic development and government, or travel and tourism, or nonprofit resources, the range is so broad and the knowledge so finely tuned that the cumulative impact of Genesee-County-as-classroom on the learner is profound, as graduates readily attest.

After completing Leadership Genesee, graduates can apply their skills and knowledge to any area that speaks to them and hopefully be able to make a difference in the community for the better; that's the goal.

"It's the best way for people to learn," Mancuso said. "And really, the issue is, we have bigger needs than we can (adequately) address. Like the opioid crisis."

Her leadership in the leadership program is one reason she was honored as a New York State Woman of Distinction by Sen. Michael Ranzenhofer last month.

Overall, Mancuso says she has learned a great deal by listening to experts in agriculture, which is far and away the main economic engine in this county.

"These guys are so smart," Mancuso said. "(Farming) is so hard. If anybody undersells what they do, it's agriculture. But I've been learning, learning, learning. The people who do this here have such an amazing skill set and they are so brilliant."

She leaves the cooperative extension that helps them, secure in the knowledge that Robin Travis is temporarily in charge.

The interim executive director brings 40 years of experience with the extension and numerous associations in the Finger Lakes region.

The reason why she has come out of retirement for the third time after formally retiring seven years ago to serve in an interim executive capacity is that she has personally seen the positive difference CE makes in people's live -- 4'Hers, homemakers, farmers, business professionals. She also works as a coach to new executive directors, mentoring them.

She has turned down some gigs, but says even though Genesee County is her longest commute -- 92 miles -- it was an easy "yes."

"I look at the strength of the board, their financial position and I look at their programming and how they're doing," Travis said. "And this one is going to be a delight because things are running so smoothly."

Travis planned to meet Thursday afternoon with a senior staff member to do a brief interview to find out what that employee thinks, likes, dreams and would like to see changed or implemented. These one-on-one sessions will continue next week with the rest of the staff.

Travis's part-time job through Sept. 30 is to keep things running as smoothly as Mancuso left them. The executive director position is being advertised and closes July 1. Qualified candidates will be screened through phone interviews and those making the final cut will travel to Batavia for interviews.

A committee, co-chaired by the Board of Directors President Colleen Flynn and the State Specialist and Cornell Representative Renee Smith, oversees the search process.

"I feel strongly that being able to understand our mission and then applying it to everyday life" is key in filling to position, Travis said. "It's a very grassroots organization, so we really try to address the issues that are particular to whatever county we're talking about.

"(The committee) is looking for somebody who knows the mission, who has vision and can see possibilities, and that is not stuck in the past or in what's current, but can really see the future."

Despite the enormous impact of technology on all of the work done at the cooperative extension, it is the relationships with people that are still at the core of everything, Travis said.

"The way you help people change behavior is to form a relationship with them," Travis said.

Those relationships help strengthen the organization's credibility, too, and its accountability.

"The buck stops here," Travis said. "We have the research base; we have the worldwide connection to that research."

Travis is also impressed that Genesee County has a whopping three staff specialists in residence in Batavia, an indication of the power of agriculture in Genesee County: "Expertise at your fingertips."

And Travis's expertise is greatly appreciated by Mancuso.

"She has such a strong background; she knows programs; she knows the system," Mancuso said. "The local piece is different but she already knows and respects that. I think her personality and demeanor are going to play really well here."

Speaking of playing...There were a couple of bottles of beer in a bag on the floor of Mancuso's nearly bare office, parting gifts from colleagues. Maybe she'll sip a cold one while watching "Cold Mountain," which she jotted down as a note to self, following a reporter's suggestion because Mancuso, who is not married, is fond of its star, Jude Law.

He could serve her a cocktail on vacation, say, at Camogli beach in Liguria in Northwestern Italy. She says she would not mind at all.

June 8, 2018 - 7:19pm
posted by Virginia Kropf in bergen, news.

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Two employees of Bergen’s Department of Public Works with a combined 64 years of service, were honored at a retirement party Wednesday at the Viking Valhalla Restaurant & Party House.

Bruce Partridge has retired as wastewater treatment plant chief operator after 36 years, while Joe Chimino, Bergen Electric foreman, has 28 years with the village.

Mayor Anna Marie Barclay presented proclamations while praising the men for their dedication.

“Your years of service cannot be appreciated enough,” Barclay said. “We are a small community and everything which is done makes a huge impact. We are going to miss them, but they will both leave a part of themselves behind.”

Partridge came to work for the village when his father was a trustee. He was working on a farm and the village was looking for someone to do electric work.

“I started doing that and moved to the wastewater treatment plant after that,” Partridge said.

He plans on enjoying a lot more golf now that he is retired.

Chimino attended BOCES to become an electrician.

“The day I graduated, I saw the mayor, who was James McConnell, and he asked me how I’d like a job with the village,” Chimino said. “I’ve thanked him many times since for hiring me.”

Co-workers called Chimino an asset to the community. He has co-chaired the village’s 5K run and likes to run himself.

Bergen is one of 54 villages in the state who are members of the Municipal Electric Utilities Association, and Chimino was a member of their board. In March, he was honored in Syracuse as their “Person of the Year.” He hopes retirement will give him more time to enjoy landscaping and caring for his big yard, and he may take up fishing. He is also active with Bergen’s Masonic Lodge.

Ken Steinmetz, DPW supervisor from 2011 to 2015, said he was happy for both Partridge and Chimino.

“Joe welcomed me and showed me the ropes, and Bruce taught me a lot about the plant and its workings,” Steinmetz said.

Gary Zawodzinski, the current DPW supervisor, also had the highest regards for both men, who have left very big shoes to fill.

“Joe and Bruce have been an asset to our village in many ways,” Barclay said. “They have served with character and loyalty.”

Top Photo: Bruce Partridge, left, and Joe Chimino, employees of the Bergen Department of Public Works, were honored at a retirement party Wednesday at the Viking Valhalla Restaurant & Party House, Bergen.

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From left, Trustee Vickie Almquist, deputy mayor Kevin Donovan, trustee Bob Fedele and Mayor Anna Marie Barclay with Joe Chimino.

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Cortney Gale, left, administrator for the Village of Bergen, looks at a framed photo presented to Joe Chimino at his retirement party Wednesday at the Viking Valhalla Restaurant & Party House.

June 8, 2018 - 6:30pm
posted by Lisa Ace in Sponsored Post, advertisement, Manpower, jobs.


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