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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.

Saturday, February 8, 2014 at 5:55 pm

House fire reported on South Lake Avenue, Village of Bergen

post by Billie Owens in bergen, fire, Le Roy

A house fire is reported at 74 S. Lake Ave. in the Village of Bergen. Bergen fire is responding along with mutual aid from Le Roy.

UPDATE 4:56 p.m.: A responder on scene reports the occupant says the basement is full of smoke. Investigating.

UPDATE 4:58 p.m.: Smoke is confirmed in the basement, but no flames showing.

UPDATE 5:01 p.m.: Fire Police will shut down the Four Corners in Bergen "as soon as the train goes by." All Le Roy equipment is cancelled, as well as a fill in unit from Churchville.

UPDATE 5:03 p.m.: Sounds like the problem is the furnace.

UPDATE 5: 25 p.m.: The Bergen command puts the assignment back in service.

Thursday, January 30, 2014 at 3:20 pm

Law and Order: Bergen man accused of forging checks, stealing jewelry

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

Dustin Michael Locicero, 29, of Gibson Street, Bergen, is charged with seven counts of criminal possession of a forged instrument, 2nd, grand larceny, 3rd, and criminal contempt, 2nd. Locicero is 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. Locicero has a pending second-degree forgery charge in the City of Batavia. In 2011, Locicero was charged with identity theft (we don't have information on the disposition of that case). Locicero was taken into custody Tuesday. He was reportedly found hiding in a mobile home in the Town of Batavia and was arrested on a City of Batavia bench warrant. Locicero was arraigned in city court and jailed without bail. The investigation was conducted by Deputy Brian Thompson, Deputy John Duyssen and Investigator Timothy Weis.

Theodore R. Johnson Jr., 46, of Maple Street, Batavia, is charged with DWI, driving with a BAC of .08 or greater, speed not reasonable or prudent and leaving the scene of a property damage accident. Johnson's vehicle allegedly struck a building at 102 Evans St., Batavia, 4:48 p.m., Sunday. Johnson's vehicle was located stuck in a snow bank with a portion still in the roadway.

Dylan C. McKenzie, 19, of Batavia Stafford Townline Road, Batavia, is charged with unlawful possession of marijuana, failure to use headlights and operation by an unlicensed driver. McKenzie was stopped at 2:01 a.m. Wednesday on East Main Street, Batavia, by Officer Thad Mart.

Clenton J. Reese, 50, of Ellsworth Avenue, Batavia, is charged with criminal contempt, 2nd, and harassment, 2nd, Reese was allegedly involved in a disturbance and upon investigation was allegedly found in the presence of a protected person.

Catherine A. Lewis, 50, of Cone Street, Batavia, is charged with harassment ,2nd. Lewis is accused of pushing and threatening another person.

Robert K. Geandreau, 41, of Elm Street, Batavia, is charged with DWI, driving with a BAC of .08 or greater, open container and inadequate tail lamp. Geandreau was stopped at 11:42 p.m. Friday on East Main Street, Batavia, by Officer Stephen Cronmiller.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014 at 10:42 pm

Tara is missing in the Byron-Bergen area

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

Kelly Crocker's dog Tara is missing. Tara was last seen about 4:30 p.m.  Kelly and Tara live on Batavia Byron Road.

Tara may have ran across the Thruway and was heading east.

Tara did not have her collar on when she went missing.

"We tried getting her to come with us but she wouldn't stop running, and it's very very cold out," Kelly said.

Kelly can be reached at (585) 300-8801.

UPDATE Thursday 6:44 p.m.: The dog was found and is safe and warm at home.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014 at 7:33 pm

Car reportedly hits pole in Bergen, causing power outage

post by Howard B. Owens in accident, bergen

A car vs. pole accident is reported in the area of 6520 N. Lake Road, Bergen.

Unknown injuries.

Power is out in the area.

Bergen fire and Mercy EMS responding.

UPDATE 6:34 p.m.: Responders advised to use caution upon approach. Possible pole and wires down.

UPDATE 6:35 p.m.: Chief on scene. One vehicle off the road.

UPDATE 6:37 p.m.: The car missed the pole, but hit the guy wire. Power is out in the area. No injuries. The chief says the assignment can be held to just him. No need for fire or EMS.

UPDATE 6:39 p.m.: The pole is the responsibility of Bergen Electric.

UPDATE 6:45 p.m.: Bergen chief back in service. Scene turned over to law enforcement.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014 at 4:22 pm

Head-on collision with injuries at Route 262 and South Lake Avenue, Bergen

post by Billie Owens in accidents, bergen

A two-car, head-on collision with injuries is reported at Route 262 and South Lake Avenue, Bergen. Bergen fire is responding along with medics.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014 at 3:30 pm

Photos: Blowing snow in Bergen

post by Howard B. Owens in bergen, weather

The snow was really blowing out in Bergen and Byron this afternoon.

Top photo is from Route 262 looking south down Batavia Byron Road. Bottom photo is a little further east on Route 262.

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