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Sunday, March 16, 2014 at 2:13 pm

Criminal justice major from Bergen named to newest edition of 'Who's Who'

post by Billie Owens in bergen, Milestones

Mackenzie Heale, a criminal justice major from Bergen, was one of 60 University of Pittsburgh at Bradford juniors and seniors named to the 2013-2014 edition of "Who's Who among Students in American Universities and Colleges."

Students were selected for this honor based upon a combination of the following criteria: leadership and participation in co-curricular activities; service to the college community; and academic achievement.
 

Monday, March 10, 2014 at 9:18 pm

Former Bergen resident told second trial on fraud charges will be July 7

post by Howard B. Owens in bergen, crime

Michele Ann Case, granted a second chance at a trial on fraud charges after her first conviction was overturned, is likely to get that trial starting July 7, Judge Robert C. Noonan said in County Court today.

Case will have until April 18 to accept any plea offer, if one is forthcoming, Noonan said.

It's Noonan's practice to set plea cut-off dates, after which point a defendant must either go to trial or plead guilty without any conditions.

District Attorney Lawrence Friedman has not publicly stated whether there is any potential plea offer.

Case, 47, a home health care nurse, formerly from Bergen, is accused of bilking her former employer out of $14,000 by filing fraudulent financial records about her hours and travel.

For previous coverage, click here.

Friday, March 7, 2014 at 5:55 pm

GCEDC board approves incentives for Liberty Pumps and Bank of Castile expansion projects

post by Howard B. Owens in bank of castile, batavia, bergen, business, GCEDC, liberty pumps

Press release:

The Board of Directors of the Genesee County Economic Development Center (GCEDC) approved applications for two projects at its March 6, 2014, board meeting. 

The Bank of Castile/Tompkins Trust Company is purchasing a building located at 113-119 Main St. in the City of Batavia and plans to renovate the second floor (10,000 square feet) into a call center for its expanding operations because of limited space in its current location in the City of Batavia. The company also plans to maintain the first floor and continue renting space to current lessors. 

The company was approved for a sales tax exemption of approximately $53,600 and a property tax exemption of approximately $27,800 to expand its existing facility. The planned capital investment will total an estimated $1.5 million dollars and is projected to create two new jobs.

Tompkins Trust Company built a new 18,000-square-foot headquarters in the City of Batavia in 2004, investing more than $2.9 million dollars. The company had pledged to create 63 new jobs; as of 2012, it had created 74 jobs.

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

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.

“It’s great to see companies that our agency has assisted with in past, come back to us with plans to expand their operations and create even more jobs in our region,” said Wally Hinchey, GCEDC board chairman.

Thursday, March 6, 2014 at 9:30 am

Unique financing scheme proposed to bring more electricity to Appletree Acres

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

It's going to take a good deal more electricity to power an expanded Liberty Pumps in Bergen and adding more transmission lines to Appletree Acres will cost a bit of money.

To help pay for it, Genesee County Economic Development Center is proposing a financing scheme known as a PIF -- PILOT Increment Financing.

Liberty Pumps already has an approved PILOT (Payment in Lieu of Taxes) for its expansion, and a PIF reallocates some of their PILOT payments toward infrastructure payments.

In this case, GCEDC is proposing a 50-percent PIF, meaning the taxing jurisdiction will get half of the PILOT payments and half will go toward a fund to pay for the additional power lines and poles.

The cost of the electricity project is estimated at $150,000.

The power expansion will benefit all of Appletree Acres, making it more attractive to potential businesses considering the park and Village of Bergen residents, said Mark Masse, VP of business development for GCEDC.

It will also mean ratepayers in the Village of Bergen -- which has its own power utility -- won't see a rate increase as a result of infrastructure upgrade.

Of the 10-year period of the PILOT/PIF, the county will receive nearly $80,000 in PILOT payments and $80,000 will go to the electricity project. For the county, the gain/loss of $80,000 is not currently either a budgeted expense or budgeted revenue.

For the Village of Bergen the split is $17,600, and for the Byron-Bergen School District, it's $287,850.

All three jurisdictions will need approve the PIF.

Masse will explain the project to the Byron-Bergen School Board tonight.

A PILOT is a mechanism to relieve a new or expanding business of some property tax burden on projects expected to create new jobs. The property is either owned or leased by the nonprofit GCEDC so there are no property taxes owed; the business then makes payments in lieu of those taxes during the PILOT period. The payments increase on a graduated scale over a 10-year period, usually started at 20 percent of the increase in assessed value.

A PIF, then, takes those payments and allocates at least a portion to a specific community project.

The County's Ways and Means Committee learned about the PIF plan for Appletree Acres on Wednesday, but was not yet asked to vote on the project.

Liberty Pumps is planning to add 100,000 square feet of manufacturing and office space.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014 at 10:16 am

Law and Order: Former Batavia business owner arrested in Victor

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

Jason Lang, 30, of Liberty Street, Batavia, is charged with petit larceny, reckless endangerment, unlawful fleeing a police officer and reckless driving. Lang was arrested in Ontario County for an incident reported at 1 p.m. Monday at Pearl Vision in Eastview Mall. Lang allegedly stole two pair of Ray-Ban sunglasses valued at $358. He allegedly fled from police. He later turned himself in to the Genesee County Sheriff's Office. He was arraigned in Victor Town Court and jailed on $5,000 bail, $10,000 bond. (Source: Finger Lakes Daily News / Click here for previous coverage of Jason Lang).

Aaron Michael Bove, 23, of East Buffalo Street, Churchville, is charged with grand larceny, 4th. Bove allegedly stole $1,000 in cash from a business in Bethany while there cleaning the establishment.

A 16-year-old resident of North Bergen Road, Bergen, is charged with harassment, 2nd. The youth allegedly struck another student in the head during a class at Byron-Bergen High School.

Daniel Paul Hinca, 18, of Railroad Avenue, Alexander, John M. Francis, 20, of Vernon Avenue, Batavia, and a 17-year-old resident of Vernon Avenue, Batavia, are charged with unlawful possession of marijuana. The trio were allegedly found in the rear parking lot of 80 Vernon Ave., Batavia, following a complaint about people in a vehicle who appeared to be smoking marijuana. The three defendants were allegedly found in possession of a bag of marijuana and drug paraphernalia.

Friday, February 21, 2014 at 4:48 am

More than 30 local students make the dean's list for Fall 2013 at RIT

The following local residents made the dean's list for Fall 2013 semester at Rochester Institute of Technology:

Michael Anauo, Elba, is a fourth-year student in the molecular bioscience and biotechnology program in RIT's College of Science.
Joshua Barnard, of Bergen, is a fourth-year student in the industrial design program in RIT's College of Imaging Arts and Sciences.
Hannah Belliveau, of Oakfield, is a third-year student in the biology program in RIT's College of Science.
Benjamin Bliss, of Pavilion, is a second-year student in the illustration program in RIT's College of Imaging Arts and Sciences.
Dustin Bordonaro, of Batavia, is a fifth-year student in the mechanical engineering program in RIT's Kate Gleason College of Engineering.
Kari Branton, of Le Roy, is a fourth-year student in the hospitality and service management program in RIT's College of Applied Science and Technology.
Maura Chmielowiec, of Batavia, is a fifth-year student in the mechanical engineering program in RIT's Kate Gleason College of Engineering.
Jennifer Crossen, of Basom, is a second-year student in the chemical engineering program in RIT's Kate Gleason College of Engineering.
Erin Crossen, of Basom, is a fourth-year student in the computational mathematics program in RIT's College of Science.
Sophia Del Plato, of Batavia, is a fourth-year student in the graphic design program in RIT's College of Imaging Arts and Sciences.
Anna Dorman, of Batavia, is a first-year student in the industrial engineering program in RIT's Kate Gleason College of Engineering.
Benjamin Ezard, of Byron, is a second-year student in the chemical engineering program in RIT's Kate Gleason College of Engineering.
Nicholas Flumerfeldt, of Corfu, is a fifth-year student in the mechanical engineering technology program in RIT's College of Applied Science and Technology.
Rachel Henrici, of Batavia, is a first-year student in the chemical engineering program in RIT's Kate Gleason College of Engineering.
Erica Hickey, of Byron, is a first-year student in the journalism program in RIT's College of Liberal Arts.
Ryan Hochreiter, of Le Roy, is a third-year student in the mechanical engineering program in RIT's Kate Gleason College of Engineering.
Joshua Horning, of Le Roy, is a fourth-year student in the computer science program in RIT's B. Thomas Golisano College of Computing and Information Sciences.
Rachel Kobel, of Bergen, is a first-year student in the environmental sustainability, health and safety program in RIT's College of Applied Science and Technology.
Peter Madau, of Le Roy, is a second-year student in the chemical engineering program in RIT's Kate Gleason College of Engineering.
Samantha Mitchell, of Batavia, is a first-year student in the electrical engineering program in RIT's Kate Gleason College of Engineering.
Evyn Morgan, of Pavilion, is a fourth-year student in the professional photographic illustration program in RIT's College of Imaging Arts and Sciences.
Robert Osborn, of Darien Center, is a fourth-year student in the mechanical engineering program in RIT's Kate Gleason College of Engineering.
Karl Pajak, of Corfu, is a fourth-year student in the film and animation program in RIT's College of Imaging Arts and Sciences.
Clayton Pitcher, of Batavia, is a first-year student in the information technology program in RIT's B. Thomas Golisano College of Computing and Information Sciences.
Alycia Sabatino, of Batavia, is a first-year student in the diagnostic medical sonography program in RIT's College of Health Sciences and Technology.
Brittani Scharlau, of Alexander, is a fourth-year student in the diagnostic medical sonography program in RIT's College of Health Sciences and Technology.
Michael Slack, of Bergen, is a fourth-year student in the film and animation program in RIT's College of Imaging Arts and Sciences.
Christopher Snyder, of Darien Center, is a third-year student in the bioinformatics program in RIT's College of Science.
Joanna Stacy, of Bergen, is a third-year student in the graphic design program in RIT's College of Imaging Arts and Sciences.
Kristen Stacy, of Le Roy, is a fourth-year student in the professional photographic illustration program in RIT's College of Imaging Arts and Sciences.
Eric Stella, of Le Roy, is a fourth-year student in the packaging science program in RIT's College of Applied Science and Technology.
Travis Swede, of Pavilion, is a fourth-year student in the packaging science program in RIT's College of Applied Science and Technology.
Traci Turner, of Bergen, is a second-year student in the journalism program in RIT's College of Liberal Arts.
Ryan Warner, of Batavia, is a first-year student in the physics program in RIT's College of Science.

Degree-seeking undergraduate students are eligible for dean's list if their quarterly GPA is greater than or equal to 3.400; they do not have any grades of "Incomplete", "D" or "F"; and they have registered for, and completed, at least 12 credit hours.

Rochester Institute of Technology is internationally recognized for academic leadership in business, computing, engineering, imaging science, liberal arts, sustainability, and fine and applied arts. In addition, the university offers unparalleled support services for deaf and hard-of-hearing students. RIT enrolls 18,000 full- and part-time students in more than 200 career-oriented and professional programs, and its cooperative education program is one of the oldest and largest in the nation.
 

Thursday, February 20, 2014 at 3:30 pm

Bonduelle named Agricultural Business of the Year

Its expertise in agri-business, along with its high quality standards, has made the the family-run company, Bonduelle, a household name in Europe for canned, frozen and fresh vegetables. It has 47 plants around the world and sells in 100 countries.

Headquartered in France, Bonduelle is a worldwide market leader in prepared vegetables. The recent addition to Western New York has been named the Genesee County Chamber of Commerce Agricultural Business of the Year.

“We are proud to be recognized by the community,” Byron Facility Manager Jim Newcomb said. “Our company is pleased with the local grower base, the skill of the employees and the opportunity to market in the U.S.”

Bonduelle purchased two Genesee County plants in 2012 from the former Allen food processing facilities in Bergen and Oakfield, along with a plant in Brockport. They retained all of the existing full-time staff and employ nearly 800 people in the United States, 400 of whom are full-time workers.

The Bergen plant deals with peas, green beans, sweet corn and carrots, while Oakfield processes green, lima and wax beans, along with butternut squash.

Both locations will produce more than half of the 257 million pounds of frozen, ready-to-eat, vegetables that Bonduelle’s American operations are projected to sell in 2014. The Brockport packaging facility will handle 130 million pounds of processed vegetables.

Bonduelle posts more than $2.5 billion in annual revenues and has invested $1.7 million into the three New York facilities in its first year, upgrading equipment, improving training, as well as ensuring that only the best produce is purchased from family farms within the area.

They work with a network of local growers and the Bergen and Oakfield plants harvest most of their vegetables from within a 30-mile zone. Growing crops in close proximity to freezing facilities allows them to preserve maximum freshness. Since vegetables only travel a short distance from field to plant, they’re frozen just a few hours after harvest, capturing freshness at their peak of maturity.

Bonduelle’s operations are supplied by local growers who are part of more than 130,000 acres contracted by the company, and its team of experts ensure thorough control over every step in the food processing chain, from seeding to packaging.

People are the driving force of Bonduelle. Therefore, it's important to provide them with opportunities to upgrade and hone their skills. Whether it's in farming, production, quality assurance, sales or another sector, the company credits its team members as the company's driving force.

They include longtime Bergen facility employee Newcomb, who started there in 1971 when it was CB Foods, pushing pea carts, and who has worked his way up as the company has changed hands several times. As previously noted, he's now a Bonduelle facility manager.

“I’m excited to be working here, which is hard to believe since I’ve been here since 1971. Bonduelle has invested capital dollars into the facility, bringing money into the community and we are definitely on an upswing,” Newcomb said.

The company has been in the frozen, ready-to-eat vegetables business since 1970. Products are marketed under private-brand labels for U.S. food distributors and supermarket chains, such as Wegmans store-brand frozen vegetables. Its sales team operates on the major retail trade and food services networks.

Bonduelle’s plants, equipped with modern technology, enable flexibility and greater production capacity. The company is poised to grow and increase volume. Their Northeast operations are a prime focus and that means expansion for Genesee County plants.

“We are currently at about 80-percent capacity, which is up from the 65- to 70-percent the plant ran in the past, but we plan to increase capacity even more, as well as introduce new crops,” Newcomb said.

File Photos. Photos by Howard Owens.

Thursday, February 20, 2014 at 3:04 pm

Appeals court throws out conviction of woman accused of bilking employer out of $14K

post by Howard B. Owens in bergen, crime

Some of the evidence used against a former Bergen woman in her trial for fraud a year ago shouldn't have been submitted to the jury, so the woman should get a new trial, an appeals court has ruled.

Michele Ann Case, 47, of 1037 Chili Center-Coldwater Road, Rochester, was found guilty by the jury on criminal counts for allegedly bilking her employer out of more than $14,000 in fraudulent mileage and reimbursement claims.

Case was a home care nurse.

In prosecuting the case, the District Attorney's Office used as evidence summaries of financial and accounting documents as evidence.

According to the justices of the Appellate Division, Fourth Judicial Department, Case's attorney, Public Defender Gary Horton, did not challenge the admissibility of the documents.

The documents were not admissible, the court ruled, because the defense was not given a chance to review the data used to create the summaries.

The lack of review denied Case her right to a fair trial, the court ruled.

District Attorney Lawrence Friedman said the prosecution is "back to square one" -- at the same point the case was at before Case went to trial, but unless there is a plea deal, Friedman indicated he intends to proceed with the case.

"It's not like this decision indicates in anyway that we can't prove our case," Friedman said. "It's a question as to the admissibility and accuracy of the records that were used. It's certainly something that's curable for a retrial.

"This is not anything in my mind that weakens our case," Friedman added. "It's a matter of going back and reviewing the records and eventually redoing summaries that were used for the jury."

Wednesday, February 19, 2014 at 3:30 pm

Bergen Business and Civic Organization honored by Chamber of Commerce

The Bergen Business and Civic Organization was created in 1896 as the Businessman's Club and was reorganized in 1969 to include not only women, but all civic-minded citizens. The club currently has 48 business members and 15 civic members from Bergen and the surrounding communities and they are dedicated to the betterment of not only Bergen, but Genesee County as a whole.

In 2014 they will celebrate the 45th anniversary of the reorganization of the group and the 25th anniversary of the Bergen Park Festival. This family-oriented alcohol-free, community event includes a parade, car cruise, food, craft vendors, a book sale, a bounce house, zoo animals, pony rides, games, contests, live music and culminates with fireworks. All proceeds from the event go back to the village and town parks.

The Genesee County Chamber of Commerce is honoring the Bergen Business and Civic Association with the Special Service Recognition of the Year Award.

Anne Sapienza is the current president of BBCA and she has been a member for 30 years.

“I, along with the membership, am very honored to be recognized by the Genesee County Chamber of Commerce,” Sapienza said. “Volunteers do so because there is a feeling of self-satisfaction in a job well done. The team effort necessary to have an organization continually put forth positive community programs is huge and although not essential, a pat on the back is always welcome. I believe this award has brought some awareness to our organization and hopefully it will entice area residents and businesses to join."

Sapienza became involved because it was an organization devoted to the whole community.

"We support school events, veterans, hospice care and more. We have sponsored the annual Easter Egg Hunt at Hickory Park in the Village of Bergen for over 35 years," Sapienza said.

The BBCA publishes the Bergen Directory every two years, which allows businesses to advertise locally and promote their services. They also offer tours of businesses so that citizens can learn about their operations and how they affect the community.

The group hosts a recognition dinner every year, which honors five or six individuals, businesses and organizations that have contributed to the community in a positive way.

The BBCA organized the 200th Birthday Celebration of the Town of Bergen with a dedicated garden and time capsule, along with special events at the Park Festival of 2013.

The club donates to the the Byron-Bergen Public Library, Masons' Christmas gift baskets, Genesee County Fair, Genesee County Veterans Services and Byron-Bergen Central Schools.

As is the case with volunteer organizations, although there are many members, only a core group of longtime members regularly attend meetings and assist with programs.

“Although the Town and Village of Bergen have been very supportive and assist with different projects, we always encourage new members and younger members to join as well,” Sapienza said.

Meetings are held the third Monday of the month at 13 S. Lake Ave. in Bergen at noon and everyone is welcome to attend.

Photo by Howard Owens. Clockwise: President Anne Sapienza (white sweater), Secretary Charlie Cook, Treasurer Maria Rowland, and Vice-President Michele Smith.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014 at 6:07 pm

Defendant asks for maximum sentence and Noonan gives it to him

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

In County Court today, Dustin Locicero got exactly what he asked for: the maximum sentence Judge Robert C. Noonan could possibly hand down.

That is three-and-a-half to seven years on Locicero's plea bargain in which Locicero admitted to forgery 2nd.

The 29-year-old Bergen resident was arrested in January and accused of stealing jewelry, collectable coins and personal checks from a home in South Byron and of stealing personal checks from homes in Bergen and Rochester.

Locicero allegedly cashed the checks at banks in Batavia, Elba and Le Roy. The coins and jewelry were valued at $7,000 and Locicero allegedly sold these items at different unknown locations.

He was charged with seven counts of criminal possession of a forged instrument, 2nd, grand larceny, 3rd, and criminal contempt, 2nd.

At the time of his arrest he had pending charges for identity theft.

The plea satisfied all of Locicero's charges.

District Attorney Lawrenece Friedman said he asked for the maximum sentence under the plea agreement, and public defender Jerry Ader asked for the minimum sentence, two to four years.

When Locicero was given a chance to address the court, Friedman said, the defendant told Noonan he might as well give him the maximum sentence because he will die in prison anyway.

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