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Saturday, December 20, 2014 at 3:07 pm

Photos: Masons in Bergen ready with gift baskets for community members

post by Howard B. Owens in bergen, Hesperus Masonic Lodge

Members of the Hesperus Masonic Lodge in Bergen gathered at the Bergen Fire Hall this morning to engage in one of their holiday traditions -- putting together Christmas baskets of food and gifts for needy members of the community.

Pictured: Harris Busmire, Joyce Sands, Richard Sands, Charles Coye and Bob Aradine.

Friday, December 19, 2014 at 2:35 pm

Byron-Bergen students, faculty and staff come through for the community for the holidays

post by Howard B. Owens in bergen, byron, byron-bergen

Press release:

The Byron-Bergen Central School District community has been doing an amazing job of providing assistance to some of our community families during the holidays for many years. 

The B-B community members, administrators, faculty, staff, and students donated toys and games, clothing items, rolls of wrapping paper, and more than 1,000 nonperishable food items. 

The B-B winter sports teams donated more than 500 nonperishable food items and assisted with packing fruit bags! Also, close to $2,400 was donated by the community, administrators, faculty, and staff so we could purchase gifts for families in need from our school district. 

All the food items will be picked up by the local Hesperus Lodge No. 837 Free & Accepted Masons for sorting and packing into 90-plus food baskets for local families (as they have done for many, many years), with several community, Board of Education, and school district members pitching in to help. 

Sponsors of this holiday goodwill were organized by Hesperus Lodge No. 837 Free & Accepted Masons and coordinated by Dick Sands; and include the faculty, staff, and students of Byron-Bergen CSD; the Byron-Bergen community members, and area businesses. 

Food baskets and gifts will be delivered on Saturday, Dec. 20, by the Masons, community, and school volunteers. All involved truly believe in the magic of the holiday season!

Monday, December 8, 2014 at 6:11 pm

Accident reported on Route 33 in Bergen

post by Howard B. Owens in accident, bergen

A accident is reported in the area of 7402 Clinton Street Road, near Lyman Road, Bergen.

Unknown injuries.

Traffic is blocked.

Bergen fire dispatched.

UPDATE 6:12 p.m.: The first chief on scene reports minor injuries.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014 at 6:54 pm

Criminal charge dismissed against Bergen man who pointed shotgun at suspected intruder

post by Howard B. Owens in bergen, crime

In the interest of justice, John Robinson, the 51-year-old Bergen resident arrested on a menacing charge after pointing a shotgun at a possible intruder into his home, is a free man.

Town of Bergen Justice Donald R. Kunego issued his ruling today on a motion by defense attorney Brian DeCarolis that the charge against his client be dismissed.

In a four-page ruling that Kunego read from the bench, the judge did just that, saying that a man has a right to defend his castle.

"People expect to be able to protect 'their castle' from attack," Kunego said. "Mr. Robinson's castle was under attack by Mr. Crooks. People confronted with the same circumstances presented to Mr. Robinson on the day in question would unquestionably engage in similar behavior with the expectation that they were properly and lawfully defending themselves."

According to Kunego, Brockport resident Michael Crooks went to Robinson's home Jan. 13, 2013, to confront Robinson, whom he had never met in person before, over some sort of relationship between Robinson and Mrs. Crooks that Mr. Crooks didn't like.

In Kunego's recital of the facts of the case, Crooks banged on Robinson's door, yelled and threatened him and kicked at the door hard enough to damage it. When Robinson didn't open the door, he went to another portion of the house presumably to gain entry.

"Due to Mr. Crooks' relentless and persistent actions, aggressive demeanor and verbal threats, Mr. Robinson felted threatened in his own home," Kunego said. "He feared that Mr. Crooks was not going to leave until at the very least he had entered his home and physically confronted him and at worse he would physically harm him."

Kunego said he believed Robinson's response was entirely lawful and justified.

After the ruling, Robinson said he was relieved, but he also expected to prevail.

"I wasn't really that nervous because I thought I did everything right," Robinson said. "I called 9-1-1. I put the dogs away. I avoided contact with him and all I did was stay in the house and tried not to have the conflict. When I talked to the state troopers, when they were there, they said I did the right thing."

The day of the confrontation, Crooks heard later that a trooper wanted to talk with him. He went to the Batavia barracks, where he was arrested by Trooper Eric Daigler. He was charged with criminal mischief, 4th, for damaging the door of Robinson's home on Lake Road in Bergen.

The door was pretty heavily damaged, Robinson said today, as well as the screen, from Crooks kicking and hitting it.

Crooks, who had no prior criminal record, eventually received an ACD (adjudication in contemplation of dismissal). As soon as his six months of good behavior was up, he started lobbying for the arrest of Robinson. First he went to the State Police, but local troopers wouldn't even consider it, so he went to the Sheriff's Office.

There he found a sympathetic ear with a sergeant who turned the case over to Deputy Matthew Butler.

"When Officer Butler showed up 15 months later and told me I was under arrest, I couldn't believe it," Robinson said. "I was like, you've got to be kidding me, right? He told me right then and there that he didn't want to arrest me, but he had to. I don't know what he meant by that. I don't know if he was forced by his upper commanders, but that's what he told me. He said, 'John, I don't want to do it, but I've got to.' "

Robinson's arrest didn't sit well with the troopers familiar with the case, which was part of Daigler's testimony in a hearing on the motion to dismiss Oct. 1.

"I was dumbfounded," Daigler said. "First and foremost, it's common practice not to take on other agency's cases. We refer to it as 'cop shopping.' It happens. Usually, we are pretty good at stopping people who are just trying to get the right answer. They are looking for the answer they want. That's usually the Sheriff's Office policy."

The State Police response to Robinson's arrest is one element of the case that helped Kunego arrive at his decision to dismiss the charge.

"It cannot be overlooked that after a full and complete investigation of this incident by the New York State Police and after consultation with the Genesee County District Attorney's Office, a decision was made that there was insufficient evidence to even charge Mr. Robinson," Kunego said, referring to the initial investigation and consideration of charging Robinson in 2013.

"Significantly, the New York State Police still believe that Mr. Robinson should not have been charged and are not supportive of his prosecution."

Factors in Kunego's decisions, which are part of the findings in an "interest of justice" dismissal, are:

  • Menacing, 2nd, a Class A misdemeanor. The maximum sentence is one year in jail. Given Robinson's lack of criminal record, his steady employment and longtime residence in the same home, he would not have received any jail time even if convicted. The dismissal might have been harder for Robinson to obtain if any of those facts weren't true.
  • There was no real harm to anyone from Robinson wielding a shotgun inside his own home. More significantly, Kunego said, only Robinson contacted police in relation to the incident. Crooks didn't contact police until after he inquired with a family member and learned that Daigler was looking for him.
  • If the case did go to trial, Kunego said, it would be unlikely, given the facts of the case, that Robinson would be convicted by a jury, especially in New York, where a person who is protecting life and home is legally protected in taking action to advance that protection.
  • While nobody in the Sheriff's Office can be accused of misconduct in the case, Kunego said, the fact that his arrest came 15 months after the arrest cannot be ignored.
  • Sending Robinson to jail would not advance the cause of justice, Kunego said, nor would it make the community safer given the unique circumstances of the case and the lack of any prior arrests or criminal complaints against Robinson.
  • Dismissal, Kunego ruled, would advance public confidence in the criminal justice system, while further prosecution of Robinson would erode public confidence, since any reasonable person, according to Kunego, would do exactly what Robinson did Jan. 13, 2013, in the same circumstances.

"I'm glad he went this way, but I can't believe it took this long," Robinson said.

Monday, November 17, 2014 at 2:37 pm

CSX train leaking diesel fuel on mainline in Bergen

post by Howard B. Owens in bergen

A CSX train is reportedly leaking diesel fuel while stopped on the mainline between West Bergen Road and Dublin Road in Bergen.

Bergen fire dispatched.

UPDATE 3:30 p.m.: (on scene) West Bergen is blocked by stalled train. Unknown how much fuel has spilled. ESU team responding. 

UPDATE 4 p.m.: The housing on a brake broke and sent shards of metal into the fuel tank, causing two puncture points. An estimated 1,000 gallons of fuel leaked out, about 500 at the spot where the engine stopped. CSX a is bringing in a crane to lift the engine so the wheel can be replaced. CSX crews are cleaning up the spill, which is confined to the gravel track bedding, under the supervision of DEC. Bergen fire has cleared the scene. The crossing at West Bergen Road will be closed for several hours. 

Shredded wood at rail crossing on West Bergen, caused by the damaged brake cover.

Monday, November 10, 2014 at 5:24 pm

Law and Order: Bergen resident accused of making moonshine

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, bergen, corfu, crime, pembroke

Shane Irwin Crosby, 38, of North Bergen Road, Bergen, is charged with manufacturing an illicit alcoholic beverage, a Class E felony. Crosby was found to have an illegal moonshine still during a visit by probation officers at 8:40 a.m., Oct. 26. Deputy John Weis was dispatched to investigate. Crosby is accused of operating a still without being a properly licensed distiller. He was issued an appearance ticket.

Dale S. Berglund, 39, of West Allis, Wisc., is charged with felony DWI. Berglund was stopped at 8:45 p.m. Sunday in the Village of Corfu for allegedly driving 51 in a 35 mph zone.

Willie Marshall, 61, of Batavia, is charged with forcible touching. Marshall was arrested following an investigation by the State Police Bureau of Criminal Investigation into a complaint that he inappropriately touched a 13-year-old girl while staying with her mother at a local motel.

Brett Nelson Magoffin, 39, Genesee Street, Pembroke, is charged with DWI, driving with a BAC of .18 or greater and failure to keep right. Magoffin was stopped at 5:27 p.m. Sunday on Read Road, Pembroke, by Deputy Patrick Reeves.

Macayla T. Brown, 18, Ja'Nelle A. Smith, 18, and a 17-year-old, all of 8170 Batavia Stafford Townline Road, are charged with petit larceny. The trio are accused of stealing $366 in merchandise from Walmart.

Kaylee Louise Middaugh, 19, of Little John Road, Belfast, is charged with petit larceny. Middaugh is accused of pushing a cart full of merchandise out of Walmart without paying for the items.

Eric Vernon Biscaro, 57, of Ellicott Street Road, Batavia, is charged with assault ,3rd. Biscaro is accused of hurting another person during a domestic incident.

Thursday, November 6, 2014 at 7:30 am

Gillam-Grant Community Center named 'Partner-in-Preservation' by Bergen Swamp Preservation Society

post by Billie Owens in bergen, byron, Milestones

Press release:

The Bergen Swamp Preservation Society (BSPS) awarded two "Partner-in-Preservation" Awards at the Society's annual meeting held Oct. 26, 2014 in Caledonia. The "Partner-in-Preservation" award is given to an individual or organization for partnering with the Bergen Swamp Preservation Society to preserve and protect the native flora and fauna of New York State.

The corporate award was received by Peggy Swapceinski, executive director of the Gillam-Grant Community Center (GGCC), Bergen. The GGCC was recognized for its support of our Bergen Swamp property in Byron and Bergen. The GGCC hosted the meeting place to begin and end the Bergen Swamp Spring Pilgrimage tour of orchids. For more than 20 years the GGCC served as custodian of BSPS document archives. Recently, the GGCC hosted a community "meet and greet" produced by the Seneca Park Zoo and the BSPS. A live Eastern Massasauga rattlesnake and a live spotted turtle was displayed to a crowd of more than 100 local community members. These two indigenous reptile species are listed as endangered by New York State and can still be found in the Bergen Swamp. The Gillam-Grant Community Center was nominated for this award by Society Trustee John Adamski, of Brighton.

The individual award was received by Joseph Whitcomb, a long serving trustee. Whitcomb resides in Newark and was awarded for his long service on behalf of the Zurich Bog property in Arcadia and to the Society. He served the BSPS for more than 40 years as a Society trustee, president, Zurich Bog Property chairperson and as a personal inspiration to the current trustees. Whitcomb laid the first black locust boardwalk trail into Zurich Bog. This trail enables visitor access to the orchids and carnivorous plants found in this National Natural Landmark. Whitcomb oversaw the acquisition of four additional parcels of land to the BSPS Zurich Bog property. The most recent was an 18-acre parcel that he personally purchased and gifted to the BSPS for preservation and protection of the native wetland plants. Whitcomb was nominated for this award by Society trustee Lee Drake Sr., of Bloomfield.

The Bergen Swamp Preservation Society is the first and oldest private ecological preservation land trust in the United States. The Society was chartered in 1936 by the New York State Department of Education as a "Living Museum." Since its charter, the Society has been operated by volunteers. The Society has a membership of 400 persons and corporations. The Society owns and manages five separate properties in Upstate New York. Two of the Society's properties are recognized by Federal Department of Interior as National Natural Landmarks: the Bergen Swamp (Bergen and Byron, NY) and the Zurich Bog (Arcadia, NY). The Society is renowned for the 38 species of native orchids, three species of native carnivorous plants and many other rare wetland plants that are protected on the Society's properties.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014 at 5:21 pm

Law and Order: Warrant suspect located in cemetery

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, bergen, crime

Ted E. Kingsley, 42, of Prune Street, Batavia, was arrested on a bench warrant. Police were responded to a tip that Ted Kingsley, wanted on a City Court warrant, was residing at 11 Prune St., Batavia. Patrols went to the residence but were unsuccessful in locating Kingsley. Patrols checked the surrounding area, including the cemeteries on Harvester Avenue. During the check, a subject identified as Kingsley was seen running through Batavia Cemetery. Officers gave chase and Kingsley eventually stopped at the request of a police officer and he was taken into custody without incident. Kingsley was jailed on $100,000 cash bail. (Photo: Monday's arrest in the Batavia Cemetery submitted by Jim Woodhams III.)

Maleak H. Green, 21, of South Main Street, Batavia, is charged with criminal contempt, 1st, harassment, 2nd, criminal obstruction of breathing and unlawful imprisonment. No details released on the alleged incident, reported at 1:20 a.m. Green was jailed on $10,000 bail.

Christina L. Fox, 26, of Bank Street, Batavia, is charged with petit larceny. Fox is accused of stealing the property of somebody she knows.

Samantha L. Hicks-O'Connell, 27, of Ellsworth Avenue, Batavia, is charged with endangering the welfare of a child, aggravated unlicensed operation, 2nd, unlicensed operation and back seat passenger under age 16 without a safety belt. Hicks-O'Connell was stopped at 5:34 p.m Oct. 8 on Liberty Street, by Officer Jason Ivison after a complaint was received of a female driving a pickup truck with a 10-year-old child riding in the back. NOTE: After reviewing the press release following a complaint by Hicks-O'Connell (see comments), we should note the release does not specifically state a traffic stop was involved in the chargers.

Neal Anthony Sendlak, 25, of Harlem Road, Amherst, is charged with possession of a hypodermic instrument, operation of an unregistered motor vehicle and no seat belt. Sendiak was stopped at 3:50 p.m. Tuesday on Lewiston Road, Batavia, by Deputy Joseph Corona for alleged traffic violations.

Curtis Lamont Williams, 34, of Ellicott Street, Batavia, was arrested for an alleged Family Court Act violation -- failure to pay child support. Williams was arraigned in Family Court and released because his child support is almost up to date. He was ordered to return to court Nov. 10.

Ronald Warran Sloat, 73, of Godfreys Pond Road, Bergen, is charged with trespass. Sloat is accused of failure to leave another person's property after being told several times to leave.

Bruce Devan Reid, 52, of Saint Paul Street, Rochester, is charged with possession of burglar tools and attempted petit larceny. Reid is accused of possession of tools that would have helped him steal items from parked cars. He was jailed on $4,000 bail.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014 at 4:57 pm

Closure of crossing on 262 postponed

post by Howard B. Owens in bergen, csx, railroad

CSX has postponed its planned closure of the crossing on Route 262 in Bergen.

The closure had been scheduled to start tomorrow.

No new closure date has been announced.

Monday, October 27, 2014 at 9:58 pm

Rail crossing closure planned for Route 262 in Bergen

post by Howard B. Owens in bergen

County Highway Superintendent Tim Hens says he was notified late Monday afternoon by CSX that there will be a rail grade crossing closure on Townline Road (Route 262) in Bergen from Thursday morning through Saturday afternoon.

The detour is Jerico Road to Route 33 to Route 19.

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