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September 6, 2016 - 2:02pm
posted by Billie Owens in business, news, batavia, key bank, first niagara bank.

A dated Sept. 2 letter was received today by many of Batavia's KeyBank customers informing them that the branch located at 219 E. Main St. in Downtown Batavia is closing at 3 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 2.

The nearest branch for those customers will be located at 69 Main St. in Batavia. That location is currently a First Niagara branch that is scheduled to become a KeyBank branch on Oct. 11. Services for customers affected by the closure of 219 E. Main St. will be available at the 69 Main St. branch on Monday, Dec. 5.

The letter -- written by Kevin J. Sloan, executive vice president, Branch Network, KeyCorp -- says:

"As we bring First Niagara and KeyBank together, subject to regulatory approval, we've evaluated the branch networks of both banks to see how we can serve you most efficiently. As a result of the evaluation, your KeyBank branch (219 E. Main St., Batavia) is closing."

Those with questions are asked to stop by the Batavia branch of KeyBank before Dec. 2 or to call KeyBank customer service at 1-800-KEY2YOU (1-800-539-8336).

September 6, 2016 - 1:19pm
posted by Billie Owens in business, genesee county chamber of commerce.

Press release:

“Human Resources Tips for Small Business” will be the subject of a small business workshop to be hosted the Genesee County Chamber of Commerce on Sept. 14.

This is the one of a series of business workshops held in conjunction with the United States Small Business Administration and the Genesee County Chamber of Commerce. The workshops are open to all Chamber and non-Chamber businesses and their employees and will offer expert advice from experienced business professionals designed to help small businesses succeed and grow.

“This workshop will focus on the new overtime rules and what they mean for employers and employees,” said Tom Turnbull, local Chamber president. “What is the scope and purpose of the changes?  What does exempt and non-exempt mean? What steps can you as a business owner take to be in compliance and manage your business better?”

All of these questions and more will be answered during this presentation with an additional question-and-answer session.

The workshops will be held at the Chamber of Commerce office, 210 E. Main St., Batavia. The sessions will run from 7:30 a.m. to 9 a.m. Businesses may attend any one or all of the workshops. Cost for non-Chamber members is $10 for each attendee. Chamber members may attend all sessions free of charge but must make reservations to insure space for their employees.

To reserve a seat in any workshop or for more information, contact Kelly Bermingham at 585-343-7440 or by email at [email protected].

September 6, 2016 - 9:25am
posted by Howard B. Owens in liberty pumps, bergen, business.

We came across this time-lapse video on YouTube of the construction of the new wing at Liberty Pumps.

September 6, 2016 - 8:56am
posted by Howard B. Owens in wbta, business, batavia, news.

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Rummaging around in the radio station's transmitter site on Creek Road a couple of years ago, WBTA's owner Dan Fischer found the old stainless steel call letters that once adorned the second-floor exterior of 90 Main Street, the radio station's first home 75 years ago.

When the radio station moved to Cedar Place some years later, so did the letters, but whenever the station's studios moved again, the letters were shuffled off to storage at the transmitter building and forgotten until Fischer uncovered them.

As part of a remodeling project at the station's current location at Main and Center, Fischer had the letters polished up and Jeff Gillard designed and built a mounting system that off-set the letters two inches from the wall and back lit them with LED lights.

The long hallway like area at the front of the office has always been a hard area to decorate, Fischer said. It was just a long blank wall and a few small pictures really did not do the space justice. The call letters are a perfect fit.

"They’re obviously a showpiece, a conversation piece, they bring back the history of the station, they’re 75 years old, and when you think of that, and most those years, they were outside, I think they held up pretty well," Fischer said.

September 3, 2016 - 3:02pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Sweet Pea's Cupcakery, batavia, business, news, Batavia PD.

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The day in the life of a police officer isn't always just about seeing bad people do bad things, they also see good people doing good things. And the folks at Sweet Pea's Cupcakery Cafe on Jackson Street wanted to provide a way for Batavia PD officers to reward the people they come across who do the little things to help make the community better. They made up "Random Act of Cupcake" cards for police officers to hand out to people they come across doing good things.

The cards read, "You've been caught doing good! Enjoy a free cupcake or cookie."

Pictured Lyndsey, from Sweet Pea's, and Officer Mitchell Cowen, who helped coordinate the effort with Batavia PD.

September 3, 2016 - 1:50pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in BID, batavia, business, news.

Laurie Oltramari, executive director of the Batavia Improvement District, turned in her letter of resignation this week.

BID president Victor Gautieri confirmed the resignation and said the board would meet in the coming week to decide what to do next. 

Oltramari led the organization for a year. 

Gautieri declined further comment.

September 1, 2016 - 5:50pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Foxprowl, downtown, batavia, business.

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It's a lot of work moving thousands of collectible toys along with 40,000 comic books, but that's what Bill Hume, along with his wife, Joy, staff member Wayne Stahler along with helpers and friends have been doing for the past few days.

Hume opened Foxprowl at its new location at Main and Jackson, downtown Batavia today, even though not everything is unboxed or on the shelves yet.

We've covered Foxprowl from its opening on Ellicott Street over the years and watched the business grow. The store expanded, added inventory and Hume hosted a convention in Batavia last year (it will return this year; details to be announced).

Several other small businesses have come and gone in Batavia in that time, but Hume has persisted and succeeded. He said lasting and growing has had a lot to do with his passion for the business, his passion for collectibles and his willingness and enjoyment to work the long hours necessary.

September 1, 2016 - 10:17am

The latest legal challenges to live, amplified music at Frost Ridge Campground in Le Roy have been dismissed by Judge Emilio Colaiacovo, meaning owners David and Greg Lueticke-Archbell will be able to continue their concert series, Jam at the Ridge.

Colaiacovo ruled that the Zoning Board of Appeals acted with appropriate consideration and diligence when deciding live, amplified music was a prior non-conforming use and that there was no substantive violation of the state's open meetings law when it reached that decision in February.

Attorneys for David and Amy Cleere and Scott and Betsy Collins challenged the ZBA's decision on both of those counts.

The decision seemingly concludes two years of legal fights initiated by the Cleeres and Collins and initially backed by the Town of Le Roy.

The plaintiffs maintained all along that Frost Ridge violated the town's zoning laws, because it is in an agricultural-residential district, by hosting music concerts at the campground.

The owners and their supporters countered that both live music and amplified music had been part of the operations of the campground since the 1960s, which means those uses were grandfathered in, or prior, non-conforming uses, before the R-A district was created.

The ZBA met at least twice prior to the lawsuits being filed and sided with David and Greg Lueticke-Archbell, but Judge Robert C. Noonan, who retired earlier this year, ruled that the ZBA meetings where these decisions were made were not properly noticed (a violation of the state's open meetings law), so he ordered the ZBA to hold a new public hearing.

The town board then tried to disband the ZBA -- which at the time was a joint board of the town and the village -- but Noonan barred dissolution of the ZBA until after it conducted a new hearing and issued a decision. 

The ZBA met in December and collected documents and testimony at the time, but never publicly deliberated the issue and issued its decision without a public vote in February. 

Colaiacovo ruled that even if these actions were a technical violation of the open meeting law, the record is clear that the ZBA members had ample information about the issue without the need for public deliberation and there was no evidence presented that the matter was discussed in a closed meeting by the board. 

"The Court finds that the alleged failure to vote on its decision in public is a de minimis technical violation that, in light of the exhaustive record and consistency of the ZBA's determination that there exists a prior, non-conforming use, injunctive relief is not warranted," Colaiacovo wrote in his decision.

Colaiacovo said it was not the court's place, based on case law, to decide whether the ZBA reached the correct decision, only that the decision was reasonable and not arbitrary and capricious.

The mere fact that the plaintiffs disagree with the decision is not evidence that it is arbitrary and capricious, he said.

Courts must be careful, according to case law, not to overturn local decisions that are based on substantial evidence and are rational, he said.

The record shows the ZBA had a substantial amount of testimony and evidence to consider that seemed to back the conclusion of a prior, non-conforming use, he said. 

"The ZBA held that these activities occurred to varying degrees prior to the adoption of the Town Zoning Code," Colaiacovo wrote. "The ZBA referenced Mr. (Eugene) Sinclair's testimony, which established that the defendants' actions were 'consistent with the essential character of the property as a prior, non-conforming use.' Accordingly, the ZBA, after exhausting its reasons for its determination, found that the use of the property as a campground, which permitted live and recorded music, limited food service, and allowed the use of recreational vehicles, was a prior, non-conforming use as permitted by the Town of Le Roy Zoning Code.

"Based on the foregoing," he continued, "the Court finds that the determination of the ZBA is based on substantial evidence that was made part of an extensive record. As such, because the ZBA had a rational basis to reach its decision, this Court will not disturb it."

He added, "Nothing in the record demonstrates that the ZBA reached its determination haphazardly."

August 30, 2016 - 3:17pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Jason Lang, business, Grab-a-Cab, batavia.

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jasonlangaug2016.jpgJason Lang is trying to fashion for himself something that is rare in life: a do-over. And if he does, maybe he can set an example for others who fell for drugs as hard as he did.

Lang had a good life, as he sees it. He was running a successful cab company, making good money, and then he wanted to expand his entrepreneurial horizons.

He thought there might be a place in Batavia for a head shop with a tattoo and piercing parlor attached. He called it The Laughing Budda.  

Good name. Bad business.

"I opened the smoke shop and that was like the worse mistake of my life," Lang said. " I opened that because at the time, I was bored. The cab company at its peak and I wanted to find something new. As an entrepreneur, I was always thinking of different ideas so I thought of a tattoo, piercing and smoke shop and then the troubles that came with that business took me out of reality.

"It’s just a big regret," he added, "...If I could go back in time, I would have put more into the cab company instead of choosing another business."

Lang said he didn't start using drugs, specifically bath salts, until after law enforcement raided his shop and seized much of his inventory.

The seizure cost him more than $200,000, he said, and brought him to the brink of financial ruin.

He became depressed, he said.

Authorities had seized much of the synthetic drugs stored in his shop, but they didn't get all of it. The inventory he had left over, he started using.

This was the spring of 2012, when news was starting to spread across the country of people doing bizarre things while reportedly high on a form of synthetic drugs known as bath salts. 

By the summer, the strange behavior had spread to Batavia, with people climbing on roofs, getting into odd confrontations, causing trouble in the emergency room at UMMC, and Lang himself calling police with reports of gunshots at a local hotel (it didn't happen, and he was arrested for making a false report) and weaving tales of elaborate conspiracy theories.

"I just lost my mind," Lang said. "I was acting completely crazy. I had no concept of reality. I thought all these strange, crazy things were going on. I kept having run-ins with law enforcement and I got placed under mental arrest. It was just insane."

Lang knows he contributed to the rise of bath salt usage in Genesee County, and he now regrets it and apologizes to the community for it. But about the time his shop was closed, the 420 Emporium opened at 400 Ellicott St. The insanity continued until federal, state and local authorities raided that shop and another of the chain's locations in Brockport and Fulton as part of a nationwide operation to rein in bath salt distribution.

At first, the Laughing Buddha was much like any other head shop that had existed for decades. It sold paraphernalia, such as glass pipes, that technically had legitimate uses other than the consumption of illicit drugs, and the shop also offered tattoos and piercings, but in the process of building his business, Lang attended conventions in Atlantic City and Las Vegas. Distributors there were pushing products such as K2, Spice (synthetic marijuana) and Amp, among other products generally known as "bath salts" that were said to mimic harder drugs, such as cocaine.

"They were really pushing it on the smoke shops saying, ‘it’s legal. It’s nothing to worry about,'" Lang said. "They said there were these huge profits involved."

So, Lang stocked up. The packets were available under glass at his front counter. The law at the time was a bit more ambiguous. The federal law dealing with what are called analogues was considered hard to enforce and Lang's shop wasn't raided until after state health officials determined the drugs violated health and safety standards.

At the time, Lang said then and admits now, he didn't think the drugs were a big deal and back then he defended his business practices.

"At the time I was like, ‘I don’t care. It’s their choice,’ " Lang said. "If somebody wants to do any drug, that’s their choice. That’s the outlook I had on it. Now, that I’ve been on the other side of the fence and addicted to drugs, I would never open a business like that again or sell drugs, or be involved with anything like that, because now I know firsthand what it does to people. I was naive to that before."

Lang's fall was probably as complete as they come.  

According to Lang, by 2012, seven years after starting Batavia Cab, he was doing pretty well, pulling in $5,000 to $6,000 a week and by his own admission, feeling pretty cocky. He thought he had it good.

Before the year was out, he would have spent his first night in jail, had his name spread through the media from Rochester to Buffalo and be on the verge of losing his cab operation -- he did eventually sell it in 2013, and it is still in operation, with its third owner.

Criminal prosecution led to a chance at rehab, and through rehab, Lang met heroin.

"It was a big relief when I first started doing heroin because it took away all the paranoia and it got me away from the bath salts," said Lang, explaining the opiate's initial allure.

Of course, with heroin, once addicted -- and it's highly addictive -- the high you chase is elusive yet it's hard to function without the drug in your system. You need the drug just to feel normal (according to medical literature).

It didn't take long for heroin to wipe out what little money Lang had left and then he turned to shoplifiting. He was arrested in multiple jurisdictions, including as far away as Hamburg and Victor.  

"I was even homeless at one point, which was a huge turnaround for me because just years prior I was vacationing all over with my family and staying in nice hotels, and then I’m homeless in Rochester and I’m a heroin addict," Lang said.

He was eventually arrested on felonies in Orleans and Ontario counties, which led to a prison term.

Prison included three months of 23-hours-a-day locked by himself in a cell. That gave him a lot of time to think, he said.

"I wasn’t using drugs and in those moments of clarity I could think about everything," Lang said. "That's all you could do is sit and think all day. I realized I really screwed up. I decided to just get through the prison time. I choose not to use drugs in prison, and there are tons of drugs in prison, and I stayed clean the whole time I was in there. Because of that, they sent me to shock camp where I became a squad leader for my platoon. I really excelled through all of that and I just decided I wanted to get back to the old me."

Once home, his son, Lathan, started pushing him to get back into the cab business. Lang said Lathan is already bitten by the entrepreneurial bug and helped him plan his return.

Lathan even came up with the name for the new cab company, Grab-A-Cab.

Lang had already determined he wanted to stay away from a name with a regional identification. He felt calling his previous cab company, Batavia Cab, limited its growth potential. It made it hard to expand into other counties.

"I liked that name," Lang said of Grab-A-Cab. "It seemed kind of modern and trendy and I thought it would be a good name that would go with expanding the business and developing an app."

Lang admits to having big plans. The new cab company should launch soon. He's got one cab painted and decaled and ready to go and he's hired six drivers and plans to add a second cab to his fleet as soon as he can. And, yes, he hopes to build an app for cabbies. He said it will borrow ideas from Uber, which can't legally operate in Upstate, but for licensed and properly insured hacks.

"I miss the cab business," Lang said. "I love driving. I love meeting people, talking with people, knowing people, knowing other business owners. I miss it."

He thinks Batavia is still a wide open market and he's heard from friends and family and former customers who say the cab business in Batavia hasn't been the same since he got out of it. He said he's already lined up several transportation contracts, so he'll get off to a good start.

But he knows to keep it going, he's got to stay clean, and that means not associating with the people he did back when he was hooked on narcotics.

"I don’t talk to anybody who is involved in selling drugs or using drugs," Lang said. "I stay away from all of that now. I’ve got a lot of clean time now and I just want to do good. I know I have the potential to do good and I have good ideas. I learned a big lesson from everything."

If he does good, he thinks both his example, the money he earns and the business he's able to build, will enable him to be in a position to help other addicts.

He's gone from a guy who thought drugs were just a recreational activity that only losers couldn't handle to somebody who now understands drugs can grab ahold of anybody and change their lives in horrible ways.  

"I met people who have been using drugs since their teenage years and they don’t have any faith that there is any better life out there," Lang said. "They just keep relapsing and they just think there is nothing better. I want to prove to people that you can pull it together.

"I know people just look at addicts like scum of the earth," Lang added. "They're really not. There are a lot of really great people I’ve met in rehabs. A lot of people I met in prison, even though they may keep relapsing, going back to it, they don’t want that life. They don't want to be shoplifting and they don’t want to be committing whatever crimes they’re doing. They just have a really bad addiction that keeps leading them back to that."

He'd like to start a program for people who need a hand up, out of addiction.

"I'd like to help people who don't have entrepreneurial skills because nobody is going to give them a fair shot," Lang said. "There’s not a hot of help out there for people like that. Maybe I can help them with some other business venture, or help guys that need employment and need guidance and help them out because there's nobody who cares about them."

August 30, 2016 - 2:50pm

Submitted photo.

Press release:

Linda Doll, pictured left, a staff member with Catholic Charities Home Visitation Program in Genesee County, is retiring after six years of dedication to older adults and volunteers. Doll will be missed, especially for the energy, organization and compassion she brought to the program, the people and the volunteers.

The Home Visitation Program, made possible through a grant from the Muriel H. Marshall Fund for the Aging, provides weekly visits to homebound older adults in Genesee County who are 60 years of age or older with a limited ability to get out of their homes. Goals of the visits are to bring a sense of social connectivity and friendship to both the program member and volunteers.

Program volunteers make a weekly visit to the home of an older adult, stay connected with the client's loved ones and help participate in hobbies and crafts. Volunteers often find a rich sense of fulfillment with the knowledge they are reaching out to someone in friendship.

Doll, who is retiring and moving closer to family members, said, “This is the only job I’ve had that I absolutely love! I love hearing the stories our clients have about their lives. It’s such a great feeling to see the happiness in the face of our clients when we match them up with a visitor who really cares about them. There are so many lonely seniors in our county and this program is so worthwhile.”

Indicative of her caring approach was a recent incident that played out the day before Linda was to go on vacation: A volunteer called to say that the senior she visits wasn’t answering her phone. Staff was concerned about the extreme heat of the recent days so Doll quickly said, “I’ll go check on her.” She was about to call 9-1-1 when the door opened. The elderly member was OK but her phone was out of order and, after calling the phone company, it appeared her phone wasn’t working. Because the senior had no one else locally to rely on, Linda went out, purchased a new phone and waited to be sure it was working before returning to complete her own work. 

Doll also praised the volunteers, “We have such wonderful volunteers who give their time and friendship.”

She expressed appreciation for the community partners with whom she has worked. 

“I’ve also enjoyed, and been so grateful for, the opportunity to work with staff at the Office of the Aging, VA Home Based Primary Care Unit, Lifespan, Sage, Handyman and RSVP programs.”  

Home Visitation services are provided free to older adults, along with linkage and referrals to agencies that offer other services. The program has a flexible visitation schedule and all volunteers are screened, trained and supervised. The program also is available in Orleans County.

For more information, to express interest in receiving visits or to learn more about becoming a volunteer in Genesee or Orleans counties, please call (585) 343-0614.

Services for all ages, including individual and family counseling and emergency assistance, are provided in Genesee County at 25 Liberty St., Suite 7, in Batavia. 

As the most comprehensive human service provider in Western New York, Catholic Charities served nearly 132,000 people in need in 2015. For 93 years, Catholic Charities has been making a difference for people of every faith and ethnicity in Western New York. Catholic Charities empowers individuals, children and families to achieve meaningful, healthy and productive lives. Catholic Charities is an excellent steward of the contributions that it receives, attaining the highest rating (four stars) from Charity Navigator and the 2015 Torch Award for Philanthropic Excellence from the Better Business Bureau Foundation of Upstate New York. The agency also receives highest rating from the Council on Accreditation for quality service.

August 29, 2016 - 8:14pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in p.w. minor, business, batavia, news.

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About 3,900 pairs of shoes are rolling down a highway tonight in the back of a semi-trailer bound for Louisiana.

The shoes are being donated to flood victims in the Baton Rouge area by p.w. minor.

CEO Pete Zeliff said he decided to make the donation just as a way to give back.

"Nothing more than that," he said.

"We partnered with a program called Soles for Souls through the National Shoe Retailers Association," Zeliff said. "They paid to send the truck and pay the freight and we specified that they go to Louisiana."

Most of the shoes on the 27 pallets loaded onto the truck this afternoon were manufactured in China and were being sold as closeouts, but Zeliff said he decided it would be better to donate them to flood victims.

Over the past several months, p.w. minor has moved production out of China with the goal of making all of the company's shoes in Batavia.

"We'll be making 500 pair a day by the end of this year and 1,000 pair a day by next August," Zeliff said.

Much of the ramp-up in production is made possible by a bevy of new machines that automate much of the shoe production process.

Zeliff said with a robot and another automated machine in place, the plant is already 20-percent automated. Nine more machines arrived within the past week and are being put into service.

The jobs of one of the machines in production can perform is to rough up the leather on the shoe so the glue binds better when the sole is attached.

"We went from five minutes to rough a pair of shoes to last week to Denise did a six-pair rack in 40 seconds," Zeliff said.

It's been his goal to move all of the company's shoe production back to Batavia since he and a partner rescued the business just before it was shut down, but the process has taken longer than expected.

"It will take three years from the time we invested in the assets of this company," Zeliff said. "It’s not as quick as I would have liked it to have been, but it’s still a pretty good accomplishment, I feel."

Below, photo provided by Pete Zeliff of his granddaughter, Nicole, with a country star Keith Urban and his band new pair of p.w. minor shoes. Zeliff took his family to see Urban at his show in Camden, N.J.

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August 27, 2016 - 3:36pm
posted by Billie Owens in business.

lisafickel2016.jpgAAA Western and Central New York (AAA WCNY) is proud to announce that Lisa Fickel, a native of Batavia, has been promoted to travel manager of the Greece Travel and Insurance Center located on West Ridge Road in Greece. She will manage the current agent salesforce with a focus on customer service, business development and community involvement.

Fickel’s career with AAA began in 1990. She has held several managerial positions within the Club.

She graduated from Genesee Community College with an associate degree in Travel & Tourism/Business Management. She has been employed in the travel industry since 1982. Ficke'’s favorite part of her job is helping employees grow professionally and personally; and making customers' dreams come true.

Fickel is very active in the Batavia and Rochester communities and plays an integral role with many area organizations.

AAA WCNY’s Greece location can be found at 3160 W. Ridge Road. Call 585-227-9600 to make an appointment with a travel consultant or stop in to plan a trip! Visit AAA.com/Travel for more information.

As Upstate New York’s largest member services organization, AAA provides nearly 860,000 members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive related services. Since its founding in 1900, AAA has been a leading advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. Visit AAA at www.AAA.com or download our mobile app at www.AAA.com/mobile.

August 25, 2016 - 10:46am
posted by Howard B. Owens in chris collins, NY-27, agriculture, business, batavia.

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Rep. Chris Collins hosted members of his Agriculture Advisory Committee -- local farmers and people involved in the local ag industry -- at Genesee Community College yesterday for a briefing on issues at the federal level affecting agriculture.

Collins noted that while he's not on the Ag Committee in Congress, he is on a committee with key oversight of a number of issues that affect agriculture.

"I am on Energy and Commerce, a more powerful committee, with oversight over the EPA and FDA," Collins said. "It’s certainly a good place to be."

Collins also addressed the issue of immigration, an important issue to farmers who, in recent years, have struggled to fill their farm labor force.

The NY-27th's representative is one of the few members of Congress to endorse Donald Trump for president and until this past week, Trump was calling for the deportation of 11 million immigrants who may have entered the country illegally. In the past week, Trump modified his position and is no longer promising to deport migrant workers living in the United States peacefully. 

Collins said the shift reflects Trump growing into the job of presidential candidate and one who is open to discussion.

"We will secure the borders and make sure the workforce that many of you have do have legal work papers and can figure out visas and other things that might ensure you’re not short of help," Collins said. "I think that’s a positive."

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Mark Zittel, from Erie County, who brought samples of some of the produce he grows.

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Collins staff member Jeff Freeland.

August 25, 2016 - 9:56am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Clean Cut Barbershop, batavia, business.

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Joey Williams and Marcell Taylor, friends from Albion, started talking about opening a business together six years ago, when Williams was still in high school.

A few weeks ago, it all finally came together when they opened Clean Cut Barbershop at 466 Ellicott St., Batavia.

"The most ironic part is he's actually the one who got me into barbering," Williams said. "I used to do it as a hobby and he told me, 'dude, I think you can get pretty serious about this. Let's go check out a school.'

"Once you start cutting a couple of people in the neighborhood, the kids started talking and the word gets around," Williams added. "I didn’t really take it serious at first and then I graduated high school and that’s when he was like, let’s get a move on things."

Williams started barbering school and Taylor, who had completed his training in cosmetology at Continental School of Beauty in Batavia, honed his craft working in the basement of his mother's house.

After a couple of years, Taylor was ready to open a shop, but Williams wasn't quite there yet, so Taylor went ahead and opened up on his own in Albion. The process was on-the-job training for starting and running a business, so after Williams apprenticed in Brockport for a couple of years, he told Williams it was time to get going on their plans. 

It was up to Williams to find the location.

"I told him as long as you can do some quality cuts and get some good barbers in here, I can take care of the paperwork and everything," said Taylor, who describes himself as as "an entrepreneur by day and by night," and he's also a partner in Taylor and Taylor Consulting, an accounting firm.

They picked Batavia because it's a big enough city that is centrally located and they think there is open space for a barbershop that offers modern haircuts.

They also want to grow a business that has an impact on the local community. Their shop is more than a barbershop. They have a pool table and are planning to bring in TVs with video games where they can host Madden tournaments and perhaps erect a basketball hoop in the parking lot.

"It’s all just a way to bring kids together and kind of get away from all the negativity that is out there," Williams said. "We want to offer different activities that help kids stay out of trouble. We both come from a background where it was a struggle to find programs for youth and we see a need out there."

Taylor said they hope they can be a positive influence that shows kids they can accomplish things in life.

"We want to help the youth out there know that there is a future out there beyond what maybe they know right now," Taylor said.

August 25, 2016 - 9:01am
posted by Howard B. Owens in jobs, unemployment, economy, business.

Genesee County's unemployment rate last month was at its lowest level for July since 2006, hitting 4.0, lower by sixth-tenths of a percent from July of last year.

In 2006, the rate was 4.0 and the last time it was lower was in 2001, at 3.7 percent. The highest rate over the past decade was 7.5 percent in 2012.

Nationally, the unemployment rate is 5.1 percent and for New York State it is 5.0.

In June for Genesee County, the unemployment rate was 3.7 percent. June's rate locally is usually the same or lower than July.

The county's labor participation total -- the number of people working or actively looking for work is 30,800. A year ago it was 31,400. The highest level this century was 34,800 in 2008.

The unemployment rate for the GLOW region is 4.5 percent, down from 5.2 percent a year ago.

In the Rochester area, the unemployment rate is 4.7 percent. It's 4.9 percent in the Buffalo area.

August 23, 2016 - 1:56pm
posted by Billie Owens in business, sports, news, harness racing, Batavia Downs.

By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs

If you have ever attended live harness racing and realized you may be interested in becoming an active participant in America’s oldest organized sport, Batavia Downs is offering a new owner seminar at 3 p.m. on Saturday (Sept. 10) in the Robert J. Kane Boardroom, located in the lower grandstand. It is being held in conjunction with the United States Trotting Association and the Harness Horse Breeders of New York State.

The program will include a two-and-a-half hour classroom presentation by representatives of the United States Trotting Association (USTA) and the Harness Horse Breeders of New York (HHBNYS) and will include guest trainers, drivers, owners and management from Batavia Downs Racetrack. Topics will include risk and reward, what it costs, choosing your horse, trainer and driver, and time will be allowed for questions and answers throughout the evening.

The package includes:

  • All needed classroom materials;
  • A hands-on tour of the paddock as horses prepare for the night's action;
  • Reserved seating in the clubhouse;
  • Dinner at the prime rib, crab leg and shrimp buffet;
  • A trip to the winner’s circle for a win picture after a race;
  • Membership to the Harness Horse Breeders of New York State;
  • $20 worth of free-play on the gaming floor;
  • and a free one-year subscription to the industry’s award-winning publication, "Hoof Beats Magazine."

The cost is only $30 for a single and $50 for a couple. Reservations should be made in advance but payment will be made at the door. There are several ways to register. There are links on both USTA and Batavia Downs Facebook pages or go to shop.ustrotting.com and click Prospective Owners Events. You can also e-mail [email protected] or call 877-800-8782, ext. 5555 or 585-343-375, ext. 6322.

This is your opportunity to own your own sports franchise and go from the grandstand to the winner’s circle with your winning horse. Purses have never been higher at many tracks in North America and there has never been a better time to get involved in all the fun and excitement of harness racing ownership than right now.

August 22, 2016 - 4:17pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in michael ranzenhofer, STAMP, business, GCEDC.

Press release:


Empire State Development has approved $46 million in state funding for the WNY STAMP Project. Senator Michael H. Ranzenhofer has issued the following statement:

“I laud the Genesee County Economic Development Center and Empire State Development for their most recent actions to bring the WNY STAMP Project to fruition. The unanimous approval of $46 million in state funding paves the way for construction to begin in the fall.

"In 2015, I spearheaded the effort to secure $33 million for the project, and I am pleased that it will soon reach its final destination, the largest economic development project ever in Genesee County. The project is a game changer for our region. Now, we are one step closer to creating at least 600 new, full-time jobs for residents of Genesee County.”

August 22, 2016 - 12:47pm
posted by Billie Owens in business, GCC, BEST Center.

Photo provided by GCC of Jennifer Wakefield, left, and Justine Briggs.

Press release:

The GCC Business and Employee Skills Training (BEST) Center recently welcomed two new staff members to its team with the addition of Justine Briggs and Jennifer Wakefield in the roles of business training specialist and program coordinator, respectively. Briggs and Wakefield both began their new roles with the College on July 25.

"The BEST Center is extremely pleased to welcome both Jennifer and Justine," said Reid Smalley, executive director of workforce development and The BEST Center. "Both individuals bring outstanding professional credentials to our team, including new program development and training design experiences, and creative and innovative ideas to further expand our presence in the GLOW area."

Briggs, a Batavia native, graduated with both a bachelor's and master's degree in English from St. Bonaventure University. Her work experience includes multiple roles at Paychex in Rochester since 2012, including human resources online advisor and online services trainer. Among her many duties, Briggs was charged with researching and gathering information to implement new training processes across multiple products and designing and scheduling training sessions and webinars to new, existing and perspective clients. These skills will readily transfer to her new role with the BEST Center.

In her spare time, Briggs enjoys outdoor activities such as biking, swimming, hiking and running, and she also enjoys spending time with her family, which is about to grow. Happily married to her husband, Brennan, for two years, the couple is expecting their first child at the end of September. Briggs currently resides in Batavia.

Wakefield moved to Western New York in 2001 when her husband, veterinarian Tom Wakefield, became a partner at the Perry Veterinary Clinic. Originally from Ohio, she graduated from Ohio State University with a bachelor's degree in International Studies and a minor in Spanish. Prior to joining The BEST Center, Wakefield taught Spanish at Holy Family Catholic School in Le Roy and at Genesee Wyoming Catholic School in Attica. Most recently, she worked at the Geneseo Migrant Center through Genesee Valley Educational Partnership in Leicester as a family educator and as a Spanish speaking outreach worker.

Wakefield has three children, twin boys, Tanner and Quentin, who are both sophomores at The University at Buffalo, and a daughter, Meryl, who is a junior at Warsaw High School. Her personal interests include watching Ohio State football games, watching her daughter's soccer games, running, cross-country skiing, cooking and increasing the stamps on her passport. She currently resides in Warsaw.

The BEST Center at GCC is the recognized regional leader in developing the skilled workforce that powers local economic growth. The Center serves individual employees as well as businesses large and small with seminars, workshops and trainings designed to improve the performance of people and processes. For more information, visit www.bestcenter.og

August 19, 2016 - 1:50pm
posted by Billie Owens in agriculture, business.

During the last week of September, a Bovine Reproduction & Artificial Insemination Training Course in collaboration of Genex Cooperative, Inc., will be offered IN SPANISH at HY-Hope Farms in Stafford.

(The English version of this two-day class will be offered in Shortsville on Sept. 26-27 at Willow Bend Farm.)

The Stafford course on Sept. 29-30 is an excellent opportunity for Spanish-speaking farmers and employees who are interested in learning the important points of artificial insemination. It runs both days from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. HY-Hope Farms is located at 5908 Horseshoe Lake Road.

Jonna Egli and Abraham Cohen of Genex will be teaching the class. While the course will offer as much hands-on practice as possible, it's important to note that it is a beginner's course meant to teach the basics of artificial insemination. Participants should expect to practice inseminating cows on a regular basis in order to become proficient.

Cost is $175 for those enrolled in NWNY Team, others pay $225. Cost includes classroom material and lunch both days

Register today at https://reg.cce.cornell.edu/BovineReproduction-2_256 or by calling Zachary Amey at 585-786-2251. Contact Libby Eiholzer (607-793-4847) with any questions.

August 18, 2016 - 5:30pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Joshua Dent, business, batavia, news.

joshdentaug182016.jpg

Joshua Dent, after a decade with Merrill Lynch, has joined the ranks of small business owners in Genesee County, becoming an independent investment advisor with an office in the First Choice Travel building at 3080 W. Main Street Road, Batavia.

"A big reason for the move is it changes my role from working for somebody else like I have for 13 years now (he was with Edward Jones before Merrill Lynch) and I'm a small business owner just like a lot of my clients," Dent said.

As his own boss, Dent said he can offer more services to his clients, set his own fee structure and take on clients with smaller investments that larger agencies tend to avoid. He thinks that model, with all the small business people in Batavia, is a much better fit for the local community.

Dent has developed strong community ties since joining Merrill Lynch's branch in Batavia. He worked with his colleagues there organizing the GLOW Corporate Cup and serves on the board of the YMCA.

Eventually, he'll develop a new brand name for his firm, but he'll affiliate with Raymond James, to access that financial services firm's technology and resources; day-to-day operations and decisions will be entirely his own.

"I like having the ability to determine the clients I work with and the pricing of their assets under management," Dent said. "It offers a lot more flexibility. When you're the one who owns the business, you get to make those decisions and price things more appropriately. Sometimes with clients at other firms, you have to have high minimum fees or high minimum account values. Those things kind of go away when I'm calling the shots."

Dent's new office number is (585) 418-4163.

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Contact: Howard Owens, publisher (howard (at) the batavian dot com); (585) 250-4118

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