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Saturday, December 20, 2014 at 3:22 pm

Photos: Volunteer firefighters hang wreaths in Byron

post by Howard B. Owens in byron

The wreaths that help make Byron a little more festive this time of year where hung with care today by members of the Byron and South Byron fire departments. This is the first year the volunteers took on the task rather than the highway department, a firefighter said.

Top two photos submitted by Charles Durkee, bottom one from Jacob Yasses.

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!

Friday, December 19, 2014 at 9:29 am

One person rescued, another succumbs to fire in home on Caswell Road, Byron

post by Howard B. Owens in byron, fire

A Byron resident died after an early morning fire swept through his home on Caswell Road.

A woman who also lived at the house survived and was transported by ambulance to UMMC after she was rescued by volunteer firefighters.

Their names have not yet been released by authorities.

The cause of the fire, reported at 2:06 a.m., has not been determined.

Chief Charles Durkee, Byron Fire Department, said when his assistant chief arrived on scene, he reported smoke showing.

Two fire trucks arrived quickly and while one crew worked to establish water lines, another crew went to the roof to try and cut a hole for ventilation.

"The roof was so icy, they couldn't even get off the ladder," Durkee said. "That plan was quickly abandoned."

As crews fought the blaze, firefighters entered the house and were able to locate the female resident and carry her to safety, but they could not locate the male resident.

He reportedly succombed to smoke inhalation and his body was found later in the kitchen area.

This fire was difficult to fight because the closest hydrants are a couple of miles away, and it was made harder when a power line fell.

"We started sending trucks around in a loop but then this wire behind me dropped," Durkee said. "It went right across the road. We had to abandon the aerial. We had to abandon all hand lines that were underneath it. We had to re-rig some hand lines so we could start fighting the fire and bringing the tankers in from one direction." 

It took about 45 minutes to get the fire knocked down and an hour to get it under control, Durkee said.

Responding to the fire were Byron, South Byron, Elba, Barre, Bergen, Brockport, Stafford, Town of Batavia and City of Batavia, as well as medics from Mercy EMS and Le Roy Ambulance.

There are investigators on scene from the state's Fire Prevention Services and the county's Emergency Management Office.  

The Sheriff's Office is assisting in the investigation.

UPDATE: The deceased is identified as Warren Leaton, 90.

UPDATE: Norine R. Leaton, 84, was rescued by volunteer firefighters when she was found in a breezeway, according to a Sheriff's Office release. The body of the deceased was inside the residence. The man's body has been taken to the Monroe County Medical Examiner's Office, the report says. The remains have not been positively identified, according to the release. The Batavian's news partner 13WHAM spoke with family members, and they said Warren Leaton passed in the fire.

Friday, December 19, 2014 at 2:24 am

Structure fire reported on Caswell Road, Byron

post by Billie Owens in byron, fire

A structure fire is reported at 6920 Caswell Road. Byron and South Byron fire departments are responding. Smoke is showing, according to Byron personnel on scene. Town of Batavia fire is requested to assist.

UPDATE 2:30 a.m.: Fire police will be needed at Cochram and Caswell for traffic control.

UPDATE 2:32 a.m.: An engine from Clarendon, in Orleans County, is requested to fill in at Byron's hall. Elba fire is on scene.

UPDATE 2:42 a.m.: Stafford fire is called to the scene.

UPDATE 2:49 a.m.: One Le Roy medic is on scene and two others are also responding.

UPDATE 2:52 a.m.: An ambulance from Byron is called.

UPDATE 3:08 a.m.: The third platoon is called to city fire headquarters. Clarendon is unable to secure a crew for mutual aid so Brockport is called for Byron's standby.

UPDATE 3:44 a.m.: National Grid in on scene.

UPDATE 4:35 a.m. (by Howard, back from the scene): A female resident was rescued and transported to UMMC and is said to be alive. The male resident has not been located.  The house is a total loss. A chief on scene said water supply was a problem during the course of fighting the fire. A fire investigator is on scene.

UPDATE 7:30 a.m.: This is confirmed as a fatal house fire. The name of the victim has not been released. We'll have a story with video and more pictures posted later this morning.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014 at 8:41 am

Person struck by vehicle in driveway on Tower Hill Road

post by Howard B. Owens in accident, byron

A man has been struck by a vehicle in the driveway of a location on Tower Hill Road, Byron.

The man suffered a head laceration but is conscious. 

Byron and South Byron fire responding.

UPDATE 8:45 a.m.: Mercy Flight requested on ground standby.

UPDATE 8:49 a.m.: Mercy Flight #4 requested to the scene.

Friday, November 28, 2014 at 11:51 am

Law and Order: One-car accident leads to DWI arrest

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

Dustin Ray Cleveland, 29, of Townline Road, Byron, is charged with DWI, driving with a BAC of .18 or greater, speed not reasonable and prudent, failure to keep right and operating an unregistered vehicle. Cleveland arrested following a one-vehicle accident at 1:25 a.m., on West Bergen Road, Le Roy, by deputy Joseph Corona.

Lisa Ann Galloway, 33, of Redman Road, Nunda, is charged with attempted criminal mischief, 4th, and resisting arrest. Galloway allegedly threw the mobile phone of another person to the ground, breaking it into several pieces, in an incident reported at 6:25 p.m. Wednesday on Veterans Memorial Drive, Batavia. When officers attempted to arrest Galloway, she allegedly pushed the officer backwards and refused to be taken into custody.

Kenneth Walker Cook Jr., 53, of Oak Street, Batavia, was arrested on a warrant for failure to pay fine levied for code violations (rotting garage roof and siding). 

Kevin O. Simmons, 54, of Central Avenue, Batavia, was arrested on a warrant for alleged failure to comply with a drug court order, which was the result of a DWI. Simmons was jailed on $100,000 bail.

Latoya Y. Stanley, 26, of Holland Avenue, Batavia, is charged with aggravated unlicensed operation, unlicensed operation and failure to use headlights.

Justin L. Pyatt, 26, no permanent address, is charged with criminal contempt, 2nd, petit larceny and violation of probation. Pyatt is accused of leaving the state in violation of probation over the summer. He was jailed on $2,500 bail. At the time of his arrest he was allegedly at a residence that he is barred from by court order.

A 17-year-old resident of Liberty Street, Batavia, is charged with criminal contempt, 2nd. The youth allegedly violated an order of protection by being at a specific residence during a domestic incident. Batavia PD did not release the the suspect's name.

Klarissa Carol Price, 36, no permanent address, is charged with unauthorized use of a motor vehicle, 3rd. Price allegedly failed to return a rented vehicle by the agreed upon date and time.

Ray A. Watson, 25, of Hart Street, Batavia, was arrested on a warrant for alleged aggravated unlicensed operation. Watson turned himself in. He was released on $250 bail.

Bryan S. Harris, 32, of Montclair Avenue, Batavia, is charged with endangering the welfare of a child. Harris is accused of a disciplinary action that caused bruising.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014 at 6:38 am

Law and Order: Alleged driving while license revoked lands Wyoming couple in trouble

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, alexander, Bethany, byron, crime, Darien, Oakfield, pembroke

Christian J. Finkney, 26, of South Academy Street, Wyoming, is charged with 18 counts of criminal contempt, 2nd, aggravated unlicensed operation and unlicensed operation. Ashly N. Boatwright, 27, of South Academy Street, Wyoming, is charged with 18 counts of facilitating aggravated unlicensed operation, 3rd, and one count of circumventing an interlock device. Finkney allegedly drove a vehicle 18 times in Genesee County while his license was revoked for an alcohol-related offense. Darien Town Court reportedly directed Finkney not to drive until his privileges were reinstated by the DMV. Finkney was arraigned in Batavia, Darien, Alexander, Pembroke and Bethany and jailed on $10,000 bail. Boatwright is accused of allowing Finkney to drive a vehicle registered to her on 18 occasions. She is also accused of blowing into an interlock device to circumvent the device.

Nathan Robert Arnold, 22, of Terry Street, Byron, is charged with criminal contempt, 1st. Arnold was allegedly involved in a fight with a person protected from him by court order. He was jailed on $5,000 bail.

Jamie Michelle Lauck, 27, of Spencer Court, Batavia, is charged with DWI, driving with a BAC of .18 and parking in the highway. The Sheriff's Office received a report at 12:51 a.m. Sunday on Colby Road, Darien. Lauck was allegedly located in a vehicle stopped in the roadway by Sgt. Thomas Sanfratello.

Louis James Stoller Jr., 22, of Erie Street, Le Roy, is charged with burglary, 2nd, and petit larceny. Stoller is accused of entering a residence on South Street Road, Le Roy, with the intent of taking the dog from the residence. He was jailed on $5,000 cash bail or $10,000 bond.

Damian Christopher Woodruff, 32, of Walmore Road, Niagara Falls, is charged with criminal possession of a weapon, 4th. Woodruff was stopped by Deputy Patrick Reeves on federal game lands on Sour Springs Road, Alabama. He was allegedly hunting without a permit. He allegedly was found in possession of a shotgun, in violation of the law barring convicted felons of possessing firearms. 

Nathaniel Michael Dickes, 21, of Broadway Street, Oakfield, is charged with harassment, 2nd. Dickes was allegedly involved in a fight at 9:57 pm., Saturday, at a location on Webber Avenue, Oakfield, in which Dickes allegedly pushed and grabbed another person and threw an object at that person.

Donald Ivan Manes, 58, of Lewiston Road, Basom, is charged with DWI, refusal to take breath test, misuse of dealer plate, speeding (74 in a 55 mph zone) and failure to keep right. Manes was stopped at 2:06 a.m. Sunday on Kelsey Road, Batavia, by Deputy Joseph Corona.

Kristen Irene Merriam, 33, of Summit Street, Batavia, is charged with unlawful possession of marijuana. Merriam was charged following a traffic stop at 12:30 a.m. Saturday on Clinton Street Road, Stafford, by Deputy Joseph Corona.

Bryan D. Bates, 35, of Mill Street, Batavia, is charged with conspiracy, falsely reporting an incident to law enforcement and offering a false instrument, 1st. Bates allegedly reported an incident that did not occur and providing a false written statement. Bates is being held on a parole violation.

Tyler J. Warfle, 19, of Chapel Street, Elba, is charged with five counts of identify theft, 3rd. Warfle is accused of using the debit card of another person without permission.

Mark T. Zdrojewski, 61, of Meyer Road, Pendleton, is charged with issuing a bad check. Zdrojewski was arrested on a warrant. 

A 17-year-old resident of Liberty Street in Batavia was arrested on a warrant for alleged failure to appear. He was taken into custody during an investigation of an unrelated complaint.

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.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014 at 5:04 pm

Thieves steal hundreds of bronze markers from the graves of veterans in Byron-Bergen area

post by Howard B. Owens in bergen, byron, crime, veterans

The way Jim Neider sees it, stealing markers from the graves of men and women who served their country through military service is "as low as you can go."

Neider was reacting to news that more than 400 bronze markers -- perhaps many more -- have been stolen from the graves in at least a half-dozen cemeteries in the Byron-Bergen area.

The case is being investigated by both the State Police and the Sheriff's Office.

The markers are placed by families and veterans service organizations and, in many cases, were pushed into the turf beside the headstone of a veteran decades ago.

The markers are designed as flag holders and include a bronze medallion designating a veterans group, such as the American Legion or Veterans of Foreign Wars. The medallion typically weighs about a pound and the current replacement value is $32 each.

"They're very expensive," said Nieder, a local veterans leader. "I do discourage people now from getting them because they do have a tendency to walk."

Nieder said since the 1990s, veterans and families have been more likely to buy aluminum markers, which have no scrap metal value to speak of, or less commonly, plastic.

Whoever is involved in the theft of the markers is facing a charge of grand larceny, said Trooper Victor Morales, public information officer for Troop A.

Nieder pointed out that there is a law now on the books that covers both the sale and purchase of markers used on the graves of veterans. Section 450-A of the state's general business law says "it shall be unlawful for any person, firm, association or corporation to engage in the buying or selling of metal cemetery markers and flag holders bearing the insignia of any veterans' organization placed upon the graves of veterans."

Each violation of the law is punishable by a $500 fine or 15 days in jail or both.

Morales said the State Police are investigating the left of markers in four cemeteries in the Byron-Bergen area. More than 400 markers were stolen from these cemeteries. The Sheriff's Office is investigating thefts from other cemeteries, but Morales didn't know how many other cemeteries or how many additional markers were stolen from those locations.

We've been unable to contact the investigator with the Sheriff's Office handling the case.

The disappearance of the flag holders was discovered over the weekend. It's unknown when they might have been taken.

When asked for his reaction to the thefts, Neider said his first thought wouldn't be publishable. He said this isn't like stealing something from somebody's front lawn. The thieves are going into graveyards and stealing from those who unselfishly served and are dead and buried and unable to defend themselves. 

"It's the ultimate slap in the face to these veterans and their families," Neider said. "They earned these markers by their service. It's akin to the problem in Batavia earlier this summer of people going in and desecrating headstones. It's almost beyond that because these markers are earned by these veterans, and it's a cemetary for crying out loud. ... It's pretty low. As low as you can go."

Anyone with knowledge of the whereabouts of these items, or, who may have information on the larcenies is asked to contact the State Police in Batavia at (585) 344-6200 or the Genesee County Sheriff's Office (585) 343-5000.

UPDATE 7:40 p.m.: We just spoke with Tom Williams, with the American Legion in Bergen. He said local Legion leaders are trying to figure out what to do. It would cost $16,000 to replace all of the markers. 

"That's a lot of money," Williams said. "You know how hard that is to come by."

He doesn't have a count on how many total markers were stolen. There's still an inventory taking place of all the graveyards in the Byron-Bergen region.

Among the more than 400 known to be stolen was the one that marked his father's grave, said Williams, who served in the Seabees from 1963 to 1966.

He doesn't think much of the perpetrators who lifted the markers of America's heroes.

"Those are people who made sure we were kept free," Williams said. "They did their job. They left their homes, their families. I did that, the same as my dad. It's just the idea that whoever did this is a real son of a bitch. It just bothers me. Why would they come here? Why would they do that? There are people who are nuts. They don't understand. They have no clue."

Photo: For the purpose of illustration, a picture of a marker in a local cemetery. If you see these, made of bronze, and they're not in a cemetery, contact local law enforcement.

Monday, October 20, 2014 at 11:47 am

Lost beagle found in Byron

post by Howard B. Owens in animals, byron, pets

Bobbie Jo M. Klycek found this beagle wandering in her backyard this morning. She lives on Lymon Road, Byron. She left a message with the animal shelter, but took the dog to work with her this morning (she works in Batavia). If this is your beagle, call her at (585) 507-5656.

UPDATE: It appears the owner has been located.

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