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Tuesday, September 9, 2014 at 11:28 am

Gift from Liberty Pumps puts new technology in the hands of every Byron-Bergen student

post by Howard B. Owens in bergen, business, byron, byron-bergen, liberty pumps

There's a selfish reason Charle Cook got behind the idea of his company donating money to help the Byron-Bergen School District buy 1,100 tablet computers for all of the district's children: He wants potential future employees to have the technical skills to work for the Liberty Pumps of tomorrow.

But the donation is also a good deed that will benefit his and his son's alma mater and perhaps encourage other rural companies to be as generous with their local school districts.

"We felt it's important as kids progress through school that they become knowledgable and comfortable with technology," said Charlie Cook, CEO of Liberty. "It's going to be part of their future employment. To have that as a kind of leg up to students who might not have access is an advantage.

"Somewhat from a selfish standpoint," he added, "we're going to need a certain segment of those graduates, and we're interested in keeping as many kids as we can in the community."

Superintendent Casey Kosiorek said the gift was timely. The district had recently cut a staff position from its library and New York's formula for aid to district continues to disportionately favor affluent suburban districts over rural districts.

"This allows us to do something that most of the school districts in the more affluent areas of the state are able to do," Kosiorek said. "We're very thankful for that."

That was part of what motivated Liberty to seek out a way to assist the district, said Jeff Cook, who initiated the talks with the district that led to the donation.

"The reason Liberty Pumps thought the Learn Pads were a good idea was that we hear a lot about how wealthier, suburban districts seem to have advantages over poorer, more rural districts in terms of course offerings and opportunities for their students," Jeff Cook said. "We were looking for a way to help give our students an edge while minimizing the overhead burden of the district and therefore the taxpayer."

Charlie Cook didn't want to reveal the total monetary amount of the donation, but it's roughly 30 percent of the cost of the 1,100 tablets, which cost a few hundred dollars each. That donation made Byron-Bergen eligible for a technology grant from the state education department that covered the remaining 70 percent of the cost.

There will be no new local spending as a result of the program.

The tablets are known as LearnPads. They are Droid-based tablets with modifications to suit the needs of an educational institution.  

First, there are limits on how students can use them. There's access to YouTube, for example, but they can only watch teacher-approved videos. They can only visit approved Web pages. They can only download and install teacher-approved apps.

Teachers control the entire LearnPad environment according to the education needs of the class.

From a desktop computer program, teachers can customize how the LearnPads can be used, develop each day's lesson plan, then provide a QR code that can be posted to a wall. As students enter the class that day or that hour, the student scans the QR code to receive the lesson plan. As class progresses, teachers can monitor student activity to ensure they're staying on task.

However, Kosiorek stressed, LearnPads don't replace lectures and class discussions.

"This is a great tool for students and for teachers, but it doesn't replace quality education," Kosiorek said. "It's a tool, it's a supplement, an addition to a teacher's toolbox."

There are educational books available on the LearnPad and Kosiorek said the district hopes to someday replace all of its text books with tablets. That would save the district money as well as end the days of one-ton backpacks and multiple trips to lockers for students.

And yes, there are games available to students. Math games and vocabulary games, for example.

"Many students have access to video games and those games are very engaging," Kosiorek said. "There are goals that are set and you work toward those goals, so whatever we can do to provide relevance and engagement for students (we will do)."

Every student, starting this week, gets a LearnPad, from kindergarten through 12th grade. The younger students don't get a keyboard and will just use the touch screen, but starting in about third grade, keyboards will be introduced.

At younger grades, the LearnPads stay in school -- at least until the summer, when they can go with the summer reading program already installed -- while older children can bring the LearnPads home for homework once permissions slips and guideline acknowledgments are signed.

"We're very excited to be doing it," Charlie Cook said. "I've got four grandkids in the system right now and when I come to an event, which I do as often as I can, it's amazing to me to watch these kids work with the technology, even what they have currently. I think even in preschool years, they were up operating the touch screen, so this is a natural progression for them."

Jeff Cook said he hopes other business owners will look at this initiative and contact their own school administrators and ask "How can we help?".

Education, after all, is everybody's business.

"My hope is that what Liberty Pumps is doing will gain traction in the business community and others will join in on supporting our schools," Jeff Cook said. "If you are a business that is passionate about something you would be willing to help fund or support, I would suggest talking to the school administration about your idea and see if it is feasible. 

"In the case of Byron-Bergen, they did all the leg work and presented us with their vision based on our ideas. This could be anything from supporting sport programs and class offerings, to equipment for the district. Anything that could enhance a student's learning opportunity."

Photo: Casey Kosiorek, left, and Charlie Cook.

Thursday, September 4, 2014 at 3:08 pm

Local school districts benefit from 'Pencils 4 Schools' program

Over the past two weeks, 80,000 pencils have been delivered to school districts, including Batavia City Schools, Oakfield-Alabama Central, Byron-Bergen Central, Pavilion Central, Alexander Central, and Attica Central as part of the attorney William Mattar Pencils 4 Schools campaign.

It was established in response to ever-tightening school district budgets. Understanding the difficulty school districts and families face in trying to provide supplies for students, Mattar is pleased to donate these pencils to help get the school year off to a great start for the young leaders of tomorrow. This year, the firm received a record number of requests from schools.

School districts can still register for Pencils 4 Schools by calling 444-4444 or by e-mailing [email protected].

Representing clients across New York State with offices in the Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse, Binghamton, and Albany regions, William Mattar, P.C., focuses on auto injury cases for those seriously injured in motor vehicle and truck accidents. For more information about the firm’s community involvement, visit www.WilliamMattar.com

Saturday, August 30, 2014 at 10:03 pm

Tire fire reported in Bergen

post by Howard B. Owens in bergen, fire

There is tire fire, reported as a "large tire fire," at 7508 Swamp Road, Bergen.

Byron Fire dispatched.

UPDATE Sunday: The resident at 7508 Swamp Road e-mailed to say the tire fire was not at this address.  

Saturday, August 30, 2014 at 12:37 pm

Grand Jury indictments: Man accused of second-degree assault for allegedly injuring victim with scalding water

post by Billie Owens in batavia, bergen, byron, crime

These are the latest indictments issued by the Genesee County Grand Jury.

James T. Saddler III is indicted on a charge of second-degree assault, a Class D violent felony. It is alleged that on Nov. 21 in the City of Batavia, with intent to cause physical injury to another person, he caused such injury by means of a dangerous instrument -- scalding water.

Ronnie R. Simpson is indicted on a charge of aggravated driving while ability impaired by drugs, a Class E felony. It is alleged that on March 29 in the Town of Byron Simpson drove a 2001 Chevrolet on Route 262 while his ability to do so was impaired by drugs and while a child age 15 or less was a passenger.

Kassandra R. Funk is indicted on a change of drving while intoxicated, a Class E felony. It is alleged that on May 6 in the Town of Bergen Funk drove a 2006 Pontiac on North Bergen Road while in an intoxicated condition. In count two, she is accused of aggravated drving while intoxicated, per se, as a Class E felony, for allegedly having a BAC of .18 or more at the time.

Friday, August 22, 2014 at 3:47 pm

Former nurse from Bergen given probation following second conviction on grand larceny

post by Howard B. Owens in bergen, crime

None of it is her fault, former Bergen resident Michele Ann Case told Judge Robert C. Noonan in County Court today during a sentencing on her second grand larceny conviction.

In fact, managers at HomeCare & Hospice, the former employer Case was convicted of stealing from while working as a nurse, concocted the whole scheme against her in order to steal insurance money, she said.

"How could hospice make such a colossal mistake (claiming she broke reimbursement rules)?" Case read from a three-and-a-half page written statement. "Simple, it was no mistake. These rules were new, and used retroactively to make my legitimate paid time into unpaid time in an attempt by hospice to claim I stole from them and in effect steal themselves. They then fraudulently submitted their so called losses to insurance and filed a false report to the police."

Noonan didn't buy any of it.

"I do have a feeling that you see everything through your own little prism of view and that's how you look at it," Noonan said. "You took a nursing job that didn't pan out because other nurses are paid more elsewhere. The detective didn't look at this or look at that ... at some point, you should sit back and look at this the way 24 separate jurors have now looked at it and concluded that you didn't just make mistakes. You stole money."

According to evidence presented at both trials, Case stole more than $14,000 by filing doctored time cards and incorrect mileage logs.

Case's first conviction, in 2012, was overturned on appeal, with the higher court finding that summary sheets tallying the amount of money Case stole was not properly supported by documentation.

In July, Case was convicted a second time by a new jury of grand larceny in the third degree.

District Attorney Lawrence Friedman argued today that rather than re-imposing the five-year probation sentence Case got the first time around, she should be sent to prison.

"She still views herself as a victim in this case and absolutely continues to deny any responsibility," said Friedman in a statement prior to Case getting up to speak. "Your honor, it is our position that she is not an appropriate candidate for probation and that she should receive a sentence of incarceration."

And by incarceration, Friedman meant state prison, stating that local jail time would mean no period of parole after serving her time, making it harder for the county to collect restitution from her. Also, only a state prison term would expose her to programs that might benefit her rehabilitation.

To a degree, Noonan said he agreed with Friedman's position, however, he never discussed a state prison option. He spent more time weighing the differences between a sentence of probation and time in the county jail.

A harsher sentence than the first one, Noonan said, could be perceived as retribution for appealing her prior conviction and winning a new trial; however, Case's violation of probation, failure to make any restitution payments after her first conviction, suggests she's not a good candidate for probation.

Also, having sat through two trials and hearing the evidence twice, Noonan said the mere fact that Case continues to deny any wrongdoing could be a foundation for a harsher sentence.

Noonan, however, doesn't consider Case a threat to return to a life of crime.

He imposed five years probation, and with credit for time served, she is not likely to serve any more jail time if she complies with the terms of probation.

Case now lives in Erie County. Her oldest child is a freshman at a local university and her youngest is a freshman in high school. Her attorney said she has returned to factory work (what she did prior to becoming a nurse) at minimum wage (she said she earned $60,000 annually as a nurse).

Noonan noted that early on in this case, she was offered a disposition that would have allowed her to keep her nursing license, but she rejected it.

Friday, August 8, 2014 at 1:06 pm

Collins announces funding for volunteer fire departments, including Bergen

post by Howard B. Owens in bergen, chris collins, NY-27

Press release:

Congressman Chris Collins (NY-27) today announced $118,137 in federal funding for three local fire companies. The local fire companies are the Depew Fire Department, the Bergen Fire Department, and the Upper Mountain Fire Company. The grants were allocated through the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program (AFG), which is designed to help first responders improve their capability to respond to fires and emergencies of all types.

“Providing the necessary funding for our first responders is an excellent use of federal resources,” Congressman Chris Collins said. “Our local heroes need the proper resources to do their jobs and protect our communities. Many small fire companies are unable to purchase necessary equipment upgrades due to financial limitations. This funding will provide new breathing apparatus, nozzles and hoses, equipment to prepare for chemical fires and hydraulic rescue tools creating more efficient and effective first responders. I am proud I was able to help secure this money.”

Specifically, the funding will be used to purchase a new Self Contained Breathing Apparatus (SCBA) filling station for Bergen Fire Department. Depew Fire Company will use the funds to replace aging hoses and nozzles, some of which have not been upgraded since the 1960s, and purchase foam educators to better prepare for chemical fires. Upper Mountain Fire Company will purchase hydraulic rescue tools.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014 at 2:38 pm

Seneca zoo and Bergen Swamp preservationists to hold public social at Gillam Grant

post by Billie Owens in announcements, bergen, swamp

Press release:

Residents in Genesee County and surrounding areas know the Bergen Swamp is a special place. But how many have actually seen some of the swamp’s most famous denizens? Now’s your chance!

At 7 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 22, the Seneca Park Zoo and Bergen Swamp Preservation Society will hold an Endangered Species "Meet and Greet" at the Gillam Grant Community Center. Refreshments will also be served.

Meet some of these fascinating animals in person with Zoo herpetologists. Learn about the natural history of the Eastern Massasauga rattlesnake, among other reptile species found in the swamp, as well as what to do if you encounter one!

Bergen Swamp Preservation Society trustees will also be on hand to answer any questions about the swamp’s special flora, fauna and geology.

The Gillam Grant Community Center is located at 6966 W. Bergen Road in Bergen.

Sunday, August 3, 2014 at 5:17 pm

Memorial to Derek Sheldon erected in Trestle Park in Byron

post by Howard B. Owens in bergen, byron, trestle park

Friends and family of Derek Sheldon gathered this afternoon in Trestle Park in Byron to remember the young man who died a year ago tomorrow in an accident at West Bergen Road and Selden Road, Le Roy.

Friends created a memorial to Sheldon near the pond in the park. It consists of the memorial post that was originally erected at the accident site, a tree and a log bench inscribed with Sheldon's name, birthdate and date of his death, and a quote from Derek, "People come and go I guess that's life no matter how hard times get put your head up and take the punches because someone's always looking down on you."

The bench was designed and built by Jake Maurer and Josh Lathan. Devon Jessop, JBR Grafx, sandblasted the words onto the back of the bench. Dan Sheldon provided the marker on the original tribute pole.

After people visited for about an hour at the site, Derek's mother, Karen Lashbrook, said a word about how it's hard to believe Derek's already been gone a year.

Ashley M. Stillwell, who was riding on the back of Derek's motorcycle and was seriously injured in the crash a year ago, was at the gathering today and is in much better health.

Previously:

Saturday, July 26, 2014 at 6:44 am

Byron Heritage Festival

post by James Renfrew in bergen, byron

CORRECTED VERSION:

Where is the center of the Universe?  On Saturday, July 26, it will be Byron, New York.  So look it up on MapQuest, orient your GPS and set your Bat-radar for Byron.  Your life will improve, the community’s spirit will be lifted, flags will wave, and the world will be better!  Just look at these great activities and special events taking place throughout the day:

 

8:00 – 9:00 AM            Fishing Derby at Trestle Park (sponsored by Byron Kiwanis & Sackett Merrill White American Legion Post), for ages twelve and under.  Sign-in begins at 7:30 AM.  No entry fee.  Prizes will be awarded.

 

8:30 AM                       5K Run at Fireman’s Park (sponsored by the Byron Rescue Squad).  Registration begins at 7:00 AM, the race begins at 8:30 AM, and results are posted at 9:30 AM. 

 

9:00 AM – 5:00 PM      Craft and Food Vendors (in Fireman’s Park).  Contact the Town Clerk (548-7123 x 10) to reserve a space.  Non-profits may reserve for free, and a modest fee for others.   During this time the Byron Fire Department will be offering activities and games for children to enjoy.

 

9:00 AM - ??                Town-wide garage sales.  Contact the Town Clerk at 548-7123 x 10 to have your location added to the publicity list.  Lawn space is available for free at the Presbyterian Church in the center of town (please call 548-2800 to reserve space).

 

10:00 AM – 3:00 PM     Raffles (tickets sold at the Gazebo in Fireman’s Park).  Winners announced 3:00 PM.

 

10:00 AM - ??              Bounce House at Fireman’s Park (sponsored by Fullerino’s)

 

11:00 AM                      Red, White and Blue Parade.  Fire companies, vintage vehicles, and community organizations are invited to participate.  Please register with the Town Clerk (548-7123 x 10).  The parade will form on Caswell Road.  A panel of judges will review the parade.  Prizes will be awarded to fire companies and to community groups. 

 

11:00 AM – 3:00 PM     Cruise In.  Vintage vehicles are invited to participate in the parade, and then park in Fireman’s Park for judging by the public.  Trophies and door prizes will be awarded.  No pre-registration required, no entry fee.

 

3:00 PM                       Garden Contest.  Please register with Jeanne Freeman (548-7197).  Entrants must be from the Town of Byron.  Photos of your garden will be taken and then the public votes for their favorites at Fireman’s Park.  Prizes will be awarded.  Winners announced at 3:00 PM.

 

4:00 PM                       Horseshoe Tournament in Fireman’s Park (sponsored by Sue Fuller).  You may sign up at any time before 4:00 PM.  Prizes will be awarded to winning teams. 

 

4:00 PM                       Chicken BBQ (sponsored by Byron Kiwanis) at the Byron Fire Hall.  Continues until sold out!

 

12:00 PM – 11:00 PM     Live Music in the Fireman’s Park Pavilion

12:00 - 2:30 PM   “Side By Side”.  

3:30 PM – 6:30 PM   “M.A.C.”

7:30 PM – 11:00 PM    “Savage Cabbage”

 

9:30 PM                       Fireworks (best location for viewing is Fireman’s Park)

 

For up-to-the-minute information about the Byron Heritage Festival, please visit Town of Byron Heritage Festival on Facebook. 

Event Date and Time

July 26, 2014 - 7:00am - 11:55pm

 

Thursday, July 24, 2014 at 8:25 am

Rt 262 CSX Crossing to be closed Friday morning

post by Timothy Hens in bergen, Closures, Highway Construction

CSX Railroad has notified the Genesee County Highway Department of a short-term emergency closure of the CSX rail-grade crossing at Route 262 in the Town of Bergen. The closure is required to replace a broken rail within the crossing. The closure is scheduled for Friday morning (7/25) and should last about 5 hours. A detour will be posted on site.

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