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Friday, May 2, 2014 at 5:16 pm

Man indicted on four felony counts after allegedly putting Deputy Brian Thompson at 'grave risk of death'

post by Billie Owens in bergen, Grand Jury, Le Roy, pembroke

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

Scott A. Kopper is indicted on first-degree assault, a Class B violent felony. It is alleged that on Jan. 8 in the Town of Pembroke, with intent to cause serious injury to another person, he caused injury to such person or to a third person, in this case Sheriff's Deputy Brian Thompson, by means of a dangerous instrument -- a vehicle. In count two, Kopper is accused of the crime of reckless endangerment, 1st, a Class D felony. It is alleged that on the same day, "under circumstances evincing a depraved indifference to human life," he recklessly engaged in conduct which created a grave risk of death to another person by closing the window of his vehicle thereby trapping Deputy Thompson's arm, and started to drive away, dragging Deputy Thompson with him. In count three, Kopper is accused of second-degree assault, also a Class D felony, for acting with intent to prevent a police officer from performing a lawful duty, causing physical injury to such person, Deputy Thompson. In count four, Kopper is accused of second-degree assault, another Class D felony, for allegedly intending to cause physical injury to another person, and causing injury to such person, Deputy Thompson, by means of a dangerous vehicle -- a vehicle.

Antonio A. Ayala and Ashley L. Alvord are indicted on drug-related charges stemming from contact with law enforcement on Nov. 19 in the Town of Bergen. Ayala is indicated for the crime of criminal possession of a controlled substance, 3rd, a Class B felony, for allegedly knowingly and unlawfully possessing a narcotic drug, cocaine, with intent to sell it. In count two, Alvord is indicated for the crime of criminal possession of a controlled substance, 4th, a Class C felony, for allegedly knowingly and unlawfully possessing one or more preparations, compounds, mixtures or substances with an aggregate weight of one-eighth ounce or more. In count three, both Ayala and Alvord, are accused of endangering the welfare of a child, a Class A misdemeanor, for allegedly knowingly acting in a manner likely to be injurious to the physical, mental or moral welfare of child less than 17 years old, in this case a 4-year-old child.

Alissa A. Fodge is indicted for third-degree grand larceny, a Class D felony, for allegedly stealing property valued in excess of $3,000 from a convenience store in the Town of Bergen between Aug. 19 and Oct. 16. The value of the property is about $7,040.

Aaron M. Zastrocky is indicated for driving while intoxicated, a Class E felony, for allegedly driving a 1998 Jeep on South Lake Road in the Town of Le Roy on Dec. 20 while intoxicated. In count two, he is accused of aggrevated driving while intoxicated, also a Class E felony, for having a BAC of .18 or more at the time.

Friday, May 2, 2014 at 8:50 am

GCEDC board approves Liberty Pumps expansion project

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

Press release:

The Board of Directors of the Genesee County Economic Development Center (GCEDC) approved a final resolution for the Liberty Pumps project at its May 1 board meeting.

Liberty Pumps is planning a 100,000-square-foot expansion of its existing facility at Apple Tree Acres in Bergen. The renovation will include new spaces for production, warehouse, research and development, as well as an office, auditorium and training center. The capital investment for the expansion project is $9.8 million and will create 27 new jobs while retaining 124 employees.

In 2000, Liberty Pumps invested $3.7 million for the acquisition of the land and construction of a 60,000-square-foot manufacturing facility. It underwent another expansion project in 2008, which entailed the investment of an additional $4 million for the construction of a 64,000-square-foot addition to the existing facility.

“We are pleased to see Liberty Pumps continue expanding its operations in our region, adding to the growth of employment opportunities in Genesee County,” said Wally Hinchey, GCEDC board chairman.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014 at 5:17 pm

Dibble: Probable cause for arrest in Bergen shotgun case, now it's up to the courts

post by Howard B. Owens in bergen, crime

There was probable cause to arrest John Laverne Robinson, Chief Deputy Gordon Dibble said about the case involving Robinson, a man from Brockport, and a shotgun pointed through a window on Jan. 13, 2013.

So Robinson was arrested and it's now up to the courts to determine the eventual outcome of the case.

It's been 15 months since the incident, and Robinson's arrest two weeks ago raised some interest locally about how a man some believed was just exercising his right to defend himself in his own house could be charged with a crime.

"There's no black and white on these things and there's a lot of gray area on how far you can go and whether your actions are justified," Dibble said. "The deputy looked at the circumstances and looked at the law and consulted with the District Attorney and felt there was probable cause to make an arrest and then let the courts handle it."

Police officers don't determine the guilt or innocence of a defendant, Dibble said. They make an arrest based on probable cause and then let the courts decide.

"There's always two or three sides to every story," Dibble said. "In this case, there's Mr. Crooks' account and then there is Mr. Robinson's account. In the business we're in, absent any other witnesses, it gets down to what one person says against the other and then let the courts sort it out."

Often, Dibble said, cases aren't as clear-cut as people imagine.

"In this system, some cases by their nature, are not always black and white and in the gray areas is where law enforcement and the courts often find themselves in the middle of controversy," Dibble said.

The incident last year was initially handled by the State Police, who arrested 46-year-old Michael S. Crooks, of Salmon Road, Brockport, on a charge of criminal mischief, 4th.

Last week, The Batavian reported that there was no confirmation of an arrest of Crooks because Trooper Victor Morales said there was "no record" of that arrest. Morales was not with Troop A -- he's now Troop A's spokesman -- at the time of the incident 15 months ago and because a judge ordered the criminal case against Crooks sealed, Morales could only respond that there was no record of his arrest.

After learning of the sealed case file, The Batavian confirmed the arrest and charge against Crooks by obtaining a copy of orders of protection he signed Jan. 13 and on Jan. 16, 2013. Crooks was barred for one year from contacting Robinson.

Eventually, Crooks obtained an adjudication in contemplation of a dismissal ruling from the Bergen Town Court, which is why his case is sealed.

The events leading up to the alleged gun-pointing incident began when Crooks became aware -- according to his sworn statement in the Robinson case -- that Robinson and Crooks' wife were communicating with each other. His statement doesn't say whether it was by phone calls or by text or how Robinson and Mrs. Crooks know each other.

Crooks said he told his wife to stop communicating with Robinson, but one afternoon while Mrs. Crooks was out shopping with their children, Michael Crooks went online and checked phone records and found evidence of further communication with Robinson, he wrote in his statement.

According to the statement, Crooks went over Robinson's home on North Lake Road and wanted to speak with him and ask him to stop communicating with his wife. He claimed he intended no harm to Robinson.

Robinson did not answer the door, but Crooks believed Robinson was in fact home.

Crooks said he yelled for Robinson to come out and called him a coward for not coming to the door, according to his own account of events.

Deputy Matthew Butler, in his charging document, says that Robinson told him he called 9-1-1. He said he had a shotgun. He said a dispatcher told him to yell out that he had a shotgun.

Still unsatisfied that Robinson hadn't answered the door, Crooks walked around the house and looked into a window. That's when he saw Robinson pointing a shotgun at him, he said.

He claims Robinson screamed, "get out of here or I'm going to you're (sic) your f---ing head off."

"When I saw that shotgun pointed at my face," he wrote, "I was scared to death that John was going to shoot me."

Robinson is charged with menacing in the second degree, a Class A misdemeanor.

During the course of the incident on North Lake Road, Robinson's front door was damaged, according to a family member, which is the apparent reason for the criminal mischief charge against Crooks.

Asked about the right in New York for residents to protect their home and themselves, Dibble said that's true, but the law has gray areas and that's where this case falls.

"The law also says you can walk up to anybody's door and knock on the door," Dibble said. "That's part of general business law."

Dibble said a deputy investigated the case because Crooks filed a complaint. It's not known why Crooks went to the Sheriff's Office rather than the NYSP with his complaint or why troopers didn't charge Robinson back in January 2013 after the initial investigation into the case.

District Attorney Lawrence Friedman said his office has yet to determine how it will proceed with the case.

"The best I can say is the Sheriff's Department did an investigation and made an arrest and that's what they do," Friedman said. "We haven't determined what the disposition might be. We didn't do the investigation. We don't do investigations. They came to the conclusion that the charge was appropriate and (Assistant DA) Kevin Finnell will look at the case. We have full discretion on what we feel is an appropriate disposition, whether not to prosecute it or to take it to trial or anything in between."

Robinson's next court appearance is 3 p.m., May 21, for arraignment on the charge.

Click here for an article about New York's "Castle Doctrine."

Monday, April 28, 2014 at 5:40 pm

GCEDC board set to vote on assistance for Liberty Pumps expansion

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

Press release:

The Board of Directors of the Genesee County Economic Development Center (GCEDC) will consider a final resolution at its May 1 board meeting.

Liberty Pumps is planning a 100,000-square-foot expansion of its existing facility at Apple Tree Acres in Bergen, to create new spaces for production and warehouse, research and development and a new office, display, auditorium and training center. The company is investing $9.8 million for the expansion project, creating 27 new positions, and retaining 124 employees. 

Liberty Pumps has undertaken several projects in the last few years. In 2000, the company invested $3.7 million to construct and equip a 60,000-square-foot facility and in 2008 they undertook a 64,000-square-foot addition.

The GCEDC Board meeting will take place at 4 p.m. and is open to the public. Meetings are held at the Dr. Bruce A. Holm Upstate Med & Tech Park -- 99 MedTech Drive in the Town of Batavia, on the 2nd floor, across from Genesee Community College.

Not in the press release, but from another e-mail sent out by GCEDC today:

Liberty Pumps is planning a 100,000-square-foot expansion onto its existing 120,000-square-foot facility at Apple Tree Acres in Bergen. (Of that,) 81,400 square feet will be dedicated to production and warehouse, 7,600 square feet will house new research and development/ test facility space, and 11,000 square feet will hold new office, display, an auditorium and training center. ... The company has submitted an application to the GCEDC requesting assistance that includes tax savings of $377,600, a mortgage tax exemption savings of $93,750, and property tax abatement of $863,577 due to the incremental increase in assessed value.

Friday, April 25, 2014 at 2:07 pm

Alleged victim of shotgun menacing claims Bergen resident was communicating with his wife

post by Howard B. Owens in bergen, crime

The man who went to the residence of John Lavarne Robinson the afternoon of Jan. 13, 2013 and allegedly found himself face-to-barrel with a shotgun said in a statement to police that he only had a simple question for Robinson: Why was the Bergen resident communicating with his wife?

The Brockport resident said he had previously confronted his wife about the communication with Robinson and said he believed she had gone out on a couple of dates with Robinson. After checking phone records online, the man said he found there were new, recent communications between Robinson and his wife.

"I wanted to talk with John about his involvement with (my wife) and tell him to stop talking with her," the man wrote in his statement.

The statement, and Robinson's statements, along with the charging document were acquired by The Batavian from the Sheriff's Office through a FOIL request.

Members of Robinson's family and his supporters have left comments on The Batavian, through e-mails and on social media defending his actions.

Their version of events has consistently said that the alleged victim was banging on Robinson's door, threatening Robinson and that Robinson called 9-1-1 and was told by dispatchers to use his shotgun to protect himself.

Family members have also said the alleged victim was arrested by State Police the day of these alleged events, but Trooper Victor Morales, spokesman for Troop A, said there is no record of such an arrest.

Deputy Matthew Butler, who investigated the case and arrested Robinson, included several statements he attributes to Robinson in part of the charging document. He said Robinson told him, "I called 9-1-1." "He was kicking the shit out of my door." "I loaded my shotgun." "I yelled that I had a gun." "9-1-1 told me to do that." "He was calling me a coward and that he was going to kill me." "I thought he was coming in."

The Brockport resident said, "At no time did I want to cause harm to John. I just wanted to discuss his relationship with my wife. When I saw that shotgun pointed at my face, I was scared to death that John was going to shoot me."

In his statement, the man said he had reason to believe Robinson was in his house and kept knocking on the door. He said when he went looking for another doorway, he walked past a window and saw movement so he took a closer look into the window.

He says he did call Robinson "a coward" for not coming out.

He said he saw Robinson on the phone and Robinson screamed at him, "get out of here or I'm going to (blow) your (sic) f---ing head off." He wrote, "John was saying this and pointing the gun at my head and he was only a few feet away from me."

Monday, April 21, 2014 at 6:41 pm

Bergen resident builds new store and gas station at routes 33 and 19

post by Howard B. Owens in bergen, business

Bergen has a new gas station and convenience store, along with a Dunkin' Donuts location, on Clinton Street Road, near the intersection of Route 33 and Route 19.

Owner Kamaljat Sembhi, who started operating a small, old gas station on the property in 1996, said he thought the location was ideal for an expanded store and gas station. He worked with Dunkin' Donuts to lease space inside the store and offer drive-up donuts and coffee.

"I thought it was a pretty good spot," Sembhi said. "The best corner in the area."

The new store is 3,000 square feet and there are three pumps outside along with two diesel pumps and a kerosene filling station.

The Bergen resident said business has been "pretty good" since opening a month ago.

"We've been busy. I'm happy with that."

Monday, April 21, 2014 at 12:37 pm

Grass fire off South Lake Avenue in Bergen

post by Billie Owens in bergen, fire

A grass fire is reported at 56 S. Lake Ave. in Bergen. The caller indicated it may be a controlled burn that got out of control. Bergen Fire Department is responding. The location is between Mackenzie Street and Parkview Drive. A responder on scene reports smoke coming from behind a residence.

UPDATE 1:03 p.m.: The fire is out. Bergen is back in service.

Friday, April 18, 2014 at 3:17 pm

Law and Order: Bergen resident accused of pointing shotgun at person who was looking through his window

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

John Laverne Robinson, 51, of North Lake Road, Bergen, is charged with menacing, 2nd. Robinson is accused of pointing a shotgun at another person while the person was looking through Robinson's window.

Aaron M. Hatt, 22, of Alexander, is charged with harassment, 2nd, and unlawful possession of marijuana. Troopers responded to a complaint of a domestic dispute in the Town of Pembroke. In route, troopers came upon a young man walking down the center of Gabby Road. He reportedly said he had just argued with a female at the address of the initial complaint. Hatt was taken back to the house and upon investigation, troopers learned Hatt had allegedly been involved with a physical confrontation with the victim. He allegedly possessed marijuana at the time of his arrest.

Connor W. Kelly, 19, of Rushville, is charged with unlawful possession of marijuana. A trooper stopped Kelly's vehicle on Clinton Street Road, Stafford, for allegedly lacking its plate lamp. the trooper noted evidence of alleged recent marijuana use.

Bernard Lee Evans, 43, of Cato Street, Pavilion, was arrested on bench warrants for alleged criminal contempt, 1st, and harassment, 2nd. Evans was held without bail.

Kelly Marie Faro, 37, of Church Road, of Hamlin, was arrested as a fugitive from justice. Faro was arrested on an unrelated matter by Deputy John Baiocco. During his investigation, he discovered an active warrant out of Cuyahoga County for alleged drug possession. Faro is being held without bail pending extradition.

Thursday, April 10, 2014 at 6:11 pm

Byron-Bergen rallys support for bill to make Greek yogurt the state's official snack

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

Photos by Howard Owens / Story by Sloan Martin, WBTA.

New York has several State symbols: the sugar maple is the state tree and the state gem is a garnet. What it doesn’t have, though, is a state snack and the fourth-graders at Byron-Bergen Elementary School are doing something about it.

In a fun school assembly Thursday, the students marked their accomplishment of getting a bill to Albany.

With pop hits like ABBA’s “Dancing Queen” and Lorde’s “Royals” reimagined to proclaim the benefits of yogurt, along with funny skits, the auditorium was filled with B-B fourth-graders who’re amped up and extremely knowledgeable about yogurt.

“It’s very healthy for you and it has lots of good vitamins and calcium,” Sadie said.

“We’ve learned that we’ve been producing the most yogurt in New York State, especially in this area,” Grace said.

Learning about its impact on their bodies, the economy and the government, it’s been an interactive and engaging learning experience.

Superintendent Casey Kosiorek says he’s proud of the kids and their teachers for taking what they learn and putting it into action.

“It really lines up with everything Genesee County’s about with dairy farming and additions to our yogurt companies as well,” he said. “It really aligns well. It’ll be memorable for the students, especially after it becomes a law.”

“Absolutely, this is interdisciplinary,” Kosiorek said. “They’ve had to work on their writing, they’ve had to utilize their math, they’ve had to learn about social studies, they’ve had to learn about government. As you can see, they were singing and writing songs, producing films – all the skills that we look for as our young people move up to the junior-senior high school and then college and careers."

State Senator Michael Ranzenhofer says it’s government in action.

“They’re living it by writing us letters, by doing these skits today,” Ranzenhofer said. “We’re going to make this become a law.”

The bill to make yogurt the official state snack has been introduced in the Senate and once it passes both houses, it will find itself on the governor’s desk -- all because of the Byron-Bergen fourth-graders.

Mike Davis, Upstate Niagara Cooperative, Kevin Williams, Muller Quaker Dairy, and Roger Parkhurst, Alpina Foods.

 

Tuesday, April 8, 2014 at 11:19 am

Byron-Bergen students selected for National Junior Honor Society

Press release:

On March 19, a distinguished group of 23 students from Byron-Bergen Jr. High School was welcomed into the National Junior Honor Society (NJHS) by its President, Lauren Burke. Ms. Burke addressed the audience with a challenge: Continue to excel in the five qualities that members of National Junior Honor Society must represent – Scholarship, Citizenship, Service, Leadership, and Character. “While the recognition [of being a member of National Junior Honor Society] is great, the true reward is the satisfaction in knowing that you are working to be the best person you can be.”

The induction ceremony featured two guest speakers – English Teacher Diana Walther and Music Teacher Laurence Tallman. 

Mrs. Walther focused on the skills needed to be a successful citizen. She shared stories of witnessing the newest members of NJHS exhibiting those skills. “I see perseverance. Each of you has shown me, at one time or another this year that you finish what you start,” she said. “Your character is transparent through your choices. You do what’s necessary to be successful, and are beginning to realize that there is a distinct difference between the ‘easy path’ and the ‘successful path’ in life. Walking down the more challenging path has led you here.”

Mr. Tallman referenced the recent Byron-Bergen musical production “All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten,” which is based on the writings of acclaimed author and philosopher, Robert Fulghum. He reminded the audience that some areas of wisdom, often learned at a young age, play a vital role throughout a lifetime. “We must be reminded of them from time to time, because these are the things that remind us to live not just for the self, but for the better of the whole. They remind us to practice civility, good character, kindness, and love. And, like anything, they must be practiced daily in order to become a regular part of your life.”

The National Junior Honor Society Vice President, Margaret Graney, concluded the ceremony by reading descriptions of the five defining qualities of NJHS members and lighting a candle to signify the importance of each quality in our lives. 

Congratulations to National Junior Honor Society 2014 Inductees.

7th Grade
Sarah Bleiler
Kolbi Brew
Lydia Campbell
Adam Drake
Mariah Fee
Jared Fregoe
Leah Gale
Emma Goodman
Annaliese Hersom
William Johnson
Oliver Kelley
Rayelle Merrell
MacKenzie Rosse
Brianna Shade
Emma Smith
Wade Thompson

8th Grade
Cameron Brumsted
Benjamin Chaback
Brionna DeMichel
Justin Hannan
Brendon Kendall
Adam Swapceinski
Esther Wilkins

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