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July 16, 2016 - 10:46pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Creekside Inn, Le Roy, news, business.

creeksidejuly162016n.jpg

Over the winter, restoration work on the Creekside Inn resumed. The building was covered in protective plastic on the east side for much of the winter and when the plastic came off and the scaffolding came down, it revealed three levels of patios and decks and restored masonry.

Owner Bill Farmer expects work to be completed to have a restaurant and bar open by December.

Today he hosted a small gathering of invited guests to see the progress of the work.

Farmer gave me permission to take pictures of the decks, patio and interior. Sadly and unfortunately, as I was rushing out the door this evening to get to the fairgrounds for the tractor pulls, I hastily reformated the SD card in my camera, forgetting I had not yet transferred the pictures to my hard disk. Disk recovery didn't work and they're all lost.

All I can tell you is, Bill is doing a first-class job. This place, when it's done, will be stunning. The views will be beautiful. A couple of times this morning when he gave me a private tour, I was amazed by the work he's done on the place.

Farmer doesn't want to talk publicly about his plans at this point, but the revived Creekside Inn should be a great addition to Le Roy and Genesee County.

July 16, 2016 - 3:17pm
posted by Billie Owens in batavia, business, Announcements, WNYIL, news.

Press release:

Western New York Independent Living, Inc., (WNYIL), which has an office in Batavia, will be holding its third Biannual Summit on Aging and Independence: “Shaping Health and Wellness for the Future” on Sept. 29-30 at the Buffalo Convention Center, and they need knowledgeable people to share their expertise.

WNYIL is recruiting individuals who work with seniors, OR who are part of an organization, business or service providing support to individuals who are over 55 years old, OR are doing research specifically focused on the senior population, to participate as presenters, as plenary speakers, or in panels or interactive workshops. There is no charge to make a presentation, which is limited to 75-minutes long, and those accepted will be given breakfast or lunch.

The purpose of the Summit is to identify and reveal critical efforts, ideas, research and issues related to aging, independence, wellness and change, but it also affords participants a great opportunity to represent and exchange knowledge regarding concepts, programs, services, trends, etc., which can impact individuals who are in the 55+ group.

To be considered, would-be presenters should prepare a proposal that fits one of these categories: Practical and scholarly work on issues important to aging populations; Lecture-style presentations; Hands-on workshops or simulations; Presentations on or by community groups that interact with aging populations; Presentations by students on aging-related course assignments or volunteer work; Panel Discussions; and Interactive Workshops.

While proposals can involve any appropriate topic, some potential areas are: Health Care Provision; Managed Long-Term Care; Assistive Technology Advances; Gerontology; Care-giving; Research; Independent Living; Public Policy or Systems Advocacy; Healthy Lifestyles; Cultural Diversity; New Trends; or Outcomes. The Summit is divided into five tracks to appeal to the perspectives of different attendees: Service providers or advocates; healthcare professionals; consumers; caregivers; or researchers/educators.

The intended audience should be identified in the proposals, which will be scored by the Steering Committee based on how well they address the content area, plus clarity, objectives, method of presentation, likely interest to participants, and overall program balance.

For more information, and to request Proposal Guidelines and application forms, please call Heather at (716) 836-0822, ext. 146, or Katie at ext.166, and we will be happy to assist you! Applications are due by Aug. 15 to WNY Independent Living, Inc. – Summit on Aging, 3108 Main St., Buffalo, NY 14214, or to [email protected]. Those accepted will be notified by Sept. 1.

The Western New York Independent Living, Inc., family of agencies offer an expanding array of services to aid individuals with disabilities to take control of their own lives.

July 16, 2016 - 3:10pm
posted by Billie Owens in business, Batavia Downs.

Submitted photo and press release:

Representatives from Batavia Downs are pleased to announce they have received four Romero trophies during the closing ceremonies of the Casino Marketing and Technology Conference in Las Vegas.

This was the second year in a row that Batavia Downs received awards, having won two trophies and two honorable mention plaques last year.\

The Romero Awards honor excellence in gaming marketing and are named for gaming marketing pioneer John Romero. Awards are given in two size categories (above or below 1000 gaming positions) and six different marketing categories. The winners are selected by an independent panel of expert judges.

Lindsay Matikosh, Batavia Downs’ Promotions Manager, was on hand to receive the trophies as they were awarded. The Diamond Trophy was received for Batavia's Suitestakes promotion. Gold trophies were won for the Mystery Voucher and December Gift Calendar. A Silver Trophy was won for last year’s Backyard Bash Promotion.

"Everyone at our facility shares in these awards," Matikosh said. "We like to say we have some of the best promotions among local gaming facilities, and to have an independent panel of experts tell us that they're actually some of the best in the world of gaming is great.”

“Player’s Club staff and other front line employees were essential in helping remind our players about partaking in these promotions, and their popularity lead to increased attendance and revenues which contributed to winning these awards,“ said Ryan Hasenauer, Director of Marketing at Batavia Downs Gaming.  “It was a total team effort and we are excited to add these trophies to our display case near Player's Club for all to see.”

Owned and operated by 15 Western New York counties and the cities of Rochester and Buffalo, Western Regional OTB is a public benefit corporation with headquarters in Batavia. WROTB owns and operates 25 branches, as well as Batavia Downs Gaming, a standard bred racetrack and gaming facility.

July 16, 2016 - 2:41pm
posted by Billie Owens in batavia, business, Tompkins Bank of Castile.

Tompkins Bank of Castile has promoted Amanda West to assistant vice president, commercial services officer.

West has been with Tompkins for over 15 years. She assists commercial customers with remote deposit and other cash management solutions that help conduct business in the most efficient way possible.

“Amanda is a great asset to Tompkins Bank of Castile, and this promotion is well earned,” said Bob Bennett, vice president, commercial sales manager. “We look forward to using her knowledge and talent to help our continuous growth in the cash management division of Tompkins.”

West is a Wyoming County 4-H leader and is enrolled in this year’s Leadership Genesee class. She has a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from SUNY Brockport.

She and her husband, Sam, have three children, Riley, Owen and Abigail.

July 16, 2016 - 2:38pm
posted by Billie Owens in business, Milestones, alexander, Tompkins Bank of Castile.

LE ROY, NY – Darlene Raines has been promoted to officer at Tompkins Bank of Castile.

She has been in the banking industry for over 31 years and with Tompkins over nine years. She currently serves as the assistant branch manager in the Le Roy office.

“Darlene is an experienced banker with extensive financial skills,” said Diane Torcello, senior vice president, community banking manager. “Tompkins and the Le Roy community benefit from her expertise.”

Raines is a member of Resurrection Parish, Catholic Daughters, the YWCA and a graduate of Leadership Genesee. She has her notary certification as well as Nationwide Mortgage Licensing System (NLMS).

She resides in Alexander with her husband, Kevin. They have three children and seven grandchildren.

Tompkins Bank of Castile is a community bank with 16 offices in the five-county western New York region. Services include complete lines of consumer deposit accounts and loans, business accounts and loans, and leasing.

In addition, insurance is offered through an affiliate company, Tompkins Insurance Agencies, wealth management, trust and investment services are provided through Tompkins Financial Advisors.

Further information about the bank is available on its website, www.bankofcastile.com.

July 15, 2016 - 3:14pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in mucklands, business, agriculture, elba, news.

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Representatives from onion companies from all over the world were in Genesee County today to see the world famous Elba Mucklands.

The tour is part of a convention of onion industry leaders hosted by the National Onion Association in Niagara County this week. The attendees had breakfast in Batavia and then toured the mucklands.

The visit included a presentation by Christy Hoepting, a researcher with the Cornell Cooperative Extension, who is studying the impact of weeds on onion growth and how best to control them in the field.

There was also a presentation on experimental onion varieties being grown in the muck.

There were people in the tour group from not only the United States, but also Australia, New Zealand, Tasmania, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Canada and Mexico.

"This is a beautiful and productive place," said Kim Reddin, director of public and industry relations for NOA. "Absolutely, it's unique and one of the main growing areas in the eastern part of the United States."

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July 15, 2016 - 1:46pm
posted by Billie Owens in liberty pumps, bergen, business.

Press release:

Liberty Pumps, based in Bergen, introduces NightEyeTM wireless-enabled products.

The app and cloud-based system designed by Liberty Pumps allows internet connection of a pump via the home’s wireless router and provides alarm and other performance information to your mobile device. The NightEyeTM system sends information via text, email and push notifications, to up to four different address/phone numbers -- anywhere in the world.

NightEyeTM connected products include the ALM-EYE series indoor pump alarm, 442-battery backup-pump systems and the SumpJet® water powered backup pump. The system is easy to use and setup -- all through your portable device. No need to log into a computer. Simply download the app, register the device and connect to the equipment using BlinkUpTM technology.

The NightEyeTM app is a free download and is compatible with Apple® iOS and Android® devices. There are no subscription or service fees for use of the NightEyeTM system. For more information visit www.libertypumps.com/nighteye or look for Liberty products with the NightEyeTM logo.

July 15, 2016 - 9:10am
posted by Howard B. Owens in GCEDC, batavia, business.

Press release:

The Board of Directors of the Genesee County Economic Development Center (GCEDC) authorized a public hearing for Freightliner & Western Star of Batavia, LLC, at the agency’s July 14 board meeting. The hearing is required as the company is seeking incentives over $100,000.

Freightliner & Western Star of Batavia, LLC, plans to expand beyond its West Seneca location and build a second site on State Street Road in the Town of Batavia. The project will involve construction of a 30,000-square-foot warehouse and service center that will create 30 new full-time jobs. The new location will be built along the New York State thruway near the Genesee Valley Educational Partnership campus.

The company is seeking approval for $437,652 in sales, mortgage and property tax exemptions. The planned capital investment will total approximately $4.35 million.

“This is a significant investment being made in our community that will create new jobs and help continue the economic growth of our region,” said Paul Battaglia, chairman, GCEDC Board of Directors.

July 14, 2016 - 12:20pm

Pictured at the ribbon-cutting ceremony are, back from left: Mark Niederpruem, Warehouse manager; Dan Wolf, chairman of Upstate Niagara Cooperative, Inc.; Dave Nutting, VIP Structures; Front from left: Paul Battaglia, chairman of Genesee County Economic Development Center; Bill Schreiber, CEO; Michael Patterson, CFO; Larry Webster, CEO Upstate Niagara Cooperative, Inc.; and John Gould, chairman of O-AT-KA.

Submitted photos and press release:

O-AT-KA Milk Products is pleased to announce that it held a ribbon-cutting ceremony for its newly expanded warehousing storage and material handling facility in Batavia on July 11.

In attendance were O-AT-KA’s and Upstate Niagara Cooperative’s Board of Directors; key vendors and contractors for the project; banking representatives; local business leaders and invited guests.

“Project Rubicon affords O-AT-KA the opportunity to address three key focus points of our business; namely, employee safety, product quality and operational efficiencies," said Michael Patterson, O-AT-KA’s chief financial officer. "The viability of the project was supported via our strong relationships with the community, the municipalities and our key vendors and stakeholders."

O-AT-KA’s commitment to innovation is demonstrated within the expansion which added over 235,000 square feet to its Batavia plant. A second phase of the project has been initiated to capture efficiencies and optimize material handling equipment and processes. The new facility and equipment phase of the project allows the company to meet increasing customer demand, improve global competitiveness and allow for future growth of production capabilities. The project will significantly improve upon O-AT-KA’s already high standards of safety and quality.

“The implementation of Rubicon will advance our ability to serve customers, significantly improve our competitive position and is testimony to the vision and commitment of our farmer owners,” said Chief Executive Officer Bill Schreiber.

Founded in 1959, O-AT-KA is a manufacturer and co-packer of dairy-based products and ready-to-drink shelf stable beverages and is one of Genesee County’s largest employers. It is located at the corner of Cedar and Ellicott streets.

July 13, 2016 - 11:52am
posted by Billie Owens in batavia, news, health, business.

Press release:

The city of Batavia is proud to announce national recognition as one of the Healthiest Companies in America by Interactive Health, a national leader known for its personalized wellness solutions. The City is one of 154 "companies" across the country being recognized for helping employees make significant and sometimes life-saving changes to improve their health. This is the first year Batavia has won the award.

With the help of strategic and flexible wellness initiatives, the Healthiest Companies in America recipients have accomplished tremendous success, achieving participation rates in excess of 70 percent and a low-risk health score for their total population, based on rigorous and clinically sound health evaluations.

The City of Batavia reached full participation with all its collective bargaining units in 2014 and currently realizes a 97 percent participation rate among all eligible employees and spouses.

“Our Wellness Initiative has been part of the City’s strategic plan since 2013,” said City Manager Jason Molino. “We’ve seen outstanding results in a very short amount of time, and this translates to healthier City employees and dependent spouses and fewer dollars spent on healthcare costs.”

Participating City employees and their spouses are measured against an Interactive Health Index (IHI) designed to help members understand where they stand for future risk of coronary heart disease and diabetes. The index is composed of five modifiable risk factors: smoking, glucose, blood pressure, triglycerides and LDL cholesterol – all potential causes of serious health problems.

“Our wellness program is all about cost avoidance,” said Dawn Fairbanks, Human Resources specialist. "The unhealthiest of medical plan members cost an annual average of $21,766 per person, while the healthiest plan members cost only $310 per person.

"Our goal is to help each member identify their base line and introduce them to resources to help them improve on those numbers – essentially moving them from unhealthy towards healthy.”

The numbers speak for themselves. Last year, 86 City employees and spouses were asked to improve scores related to the IHI, and one year later, 51 of those have improved scores, while 25 have remained the same and only 10 have regressed.

Interactive Health’s workplace wellness programs transform companies and their employees by helping people understand how they can improve their health. Beginning with a thorough health evaluation to identify risk, individuals learn more about their health status through: rapid outreach by health coaches, connection to personal physicians and other resources, and a personalized course of action.

In addition, members who engage with the Interactive Health member website during their program have a 12-percent higher rate of achievement of personal health goals than those who do not take advantage of the online tools.

July 12, 2016 - 2:09pm

Press release:

Genesee/Orleans Council on Alcoholism & Substance Abuse (GCASA) has teamed with Meaningful Trainings to offer the first, single-source professional education and skills development course of study for Recovery Coaches and Certified Recovery Peer Advocates (CRPA) in New York State.

Registrations for fall are now being accepted.

GCASA is a leader in community resource building for addiction education, prevention, treatment and recovery services throughout Western New York. The GCASA Recovery Learning Campus offers more than 95 NY Certification Board (NYCB), NY Certification Association (NYCA) and OASAS-approved education hours for the following credentialing requirements:

Certified Addiction Recovery Coach (CARC) – initial & renewal

Certified Recovery Peer Advocate (CRPA) – initial & renewal

CASAC -- renewal

CPP/CPS -- initial & renewal

“As the landscape shifts nationally, GCASA is committed to being a leader and Advocate throughout Western New York and the Eastern United States, for the elevation and utilization of recovery, recovery coaching and Recovery Oriented System of Care (ROSC), says John Bennett, executive director.

“This initiative addresses the need for an easily-accessible, consistent, self-paced, durable resource for organizations and individuals dedicated to the preservation of proven peer principles and practices, who seek to support pathways of recovery and wellness for those they serve.

“We have also finalized dates for the launch of our Recovery Leadership Collaborative, a unique opportunity for organizational leaders to develop much-needed infrastructure (supervisory, HR, etc.) and capacity (skills/tactics) to support peer Recovery Coaches/CRPAs, employees and volunteers. We’ve invited a variety of recovery thought leaders from around the country to come to Batavia share their experiences and practical advice in terms of ROSC development.

"At the same time, we’ll host Meaningful Trainings’ Effective Supervision for Recovery Coaches/CRPAs workshop, a three-day experiential learning opportunity. Our state leaders, rightly so, dedicate much time and energy to facilitating economic growth, yet as the number one health challenge facing each and every community across New York State, substance use and addiction work in direct opposition to these economic development efforts.

"Communities will only realize the opportunities of economic development if they are healthy. Therefore, it is GCASA’s goal to offer resources to any community seeking to nurture a recovery mindset and/or to create a fully functional Recovery Oriented System of Care.”

Beginning Aug. 4-5, and continuing throughout the year, the GCASA Recovery Learning Campus will offer the nationally recognized Connecticut Community for Addiction Recovery (CCAR) suite of workshops – Recovery Coach Academy, Spirituality, Ethical Considerations –  along with Meaningful Trainings Recovery Professional Series – MAT/MSR, Self-Care, Recovery Capital, Effective Communications & A(a)dvocacy – for Recovery Coaches & CRPAs.

Information on course listings, dates, times and fees can be found here.

Information on The Recovery Leadership Collaborative: Practical Perspectives - A National Discussion Supporting Recovery Coach/Peer Supervision can be found here.

July 12, 2016 - 8:54am
posted by Howard B. Owens in GCEDC, batavia, business, news.

Press release:

The Board of Directors of the Genesee County Economic Development Center (GCEDC) will consider projects for Freightliner & Western Star of Batavia, LLC, and CH4 Biogas (Genesee Biogas) at its July 14 board meeting.

Freightliner & Western Star of Batavia, LLC, is submitting an application in order to expand its operations, building a second location on State Street Road in the Town of Batavia. The project will include construction of a 30,000-square-foot warehouse and service center. The company will make a capital investment of approximately $4.35 million resulting in 30 full-time employees.

Ch4 Biogas (Genesee Biogas) plans to design, build and operate a biogas plant to support the Genesee Valley Agri-Business Park in Batavia, which will convert organic waste produced by agricultural and food processors into renewable energy. The project will include installation of top-of-the-line equipment and technology to help the Finger Lakes Region reach its sustainability goals. The company’s capital investment will total approximately $19.25 million and create six jobs.

The GCEDC Board meeting will take place at 3:30 p.m. and is open to the public. Meetings are held at the Innovation Zone Conference Room at MedTech Centre -- 99 MedTech Drive, Batavia, on the first floor, across from Genesee Community College.

July 6, 2016 - 9:51pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, downtown, business.

The City of Batavia lost out to the City of Geneva in the regional competition for $10 million in grant money to assist with downtown redevelopment.

Here's what the governor's office said about Geneva:

Over the last decade, Geneva has emerged as a major employment center, boasting over 200 firms and nearly 1,500 jobs in the central business district alone. Geneva’s historic walkable downtown is poised to become a vibrant retail, dining, cultural and entertainment destination for the burgeoning workforce and for students at the three local colleges. Under the DRI, the City will focus on the rehabilitation of key buildings; diversification of housing and retail options; access to healthy food; and building entrepreneurship in the downtown area.

July 6, 2016 - 2:55pm
posted by Billie Owens in business, news, batavia, Le Roy.

Press release from the Genesee County Chamber of Commerce:

Two prominent automobile clubs will be visiting the Batavia-area beginning Sunday, July 10th.

The 1965-66 Full-Size Chevrolet Club will use Batavia as a base of operations for five days. The Early Ford V-8 Club of America will embark on a five-day driving tour that will begin and end in Batavia. In total, more than 200 people will be coming to the area.

The 2016 International Meet for the 1965-66 Full-Size Chevrolet Club will take place at the Quality Inn in Batavia on from Sunday, July 10 to Friday, July 15. The group is celebrating the 50th anniversary of the 1966 Impala.

While here, the group will tour Oliver’s Candies in the City of Batavia (afternoon of July 11) and Kutter's Cheese Factory in Corfu (morning of July 15) and the JELL-O Museum in Le Roy (morning of July 11). The club will also have a show day at Ken Barrett Chevrolet on West Main Street, Batavia, on the morning of July 13.

The Chevrolet club will also be cruising to Letchworth State Park in Wyoming County, touring the Chevy plant in Tonawanda, visiting the Carousel Museum, getting an exclusive tour of the Pierce Arrow Museum, and visiting the Erie Basin & Waterfront Naval Park.

The club was founded in 1983 and has more than 100 members. Members have been successfully working with manufacturers to make hard-to-find parts available again and assist in restoration of the vehicles.

From July 10 to July 15, the Western New York Regional Group #3 of the Early Ford V-8 Club of America will celebrate its 50th anniversary on a five-day National Driving Tour around the Finger Lakes.

On Sunday, July 10, the group will be hosting an opening party at the Quality Inn in Batavia. The following morning they will depart for a tour of Olean, Corning, Binghamton and Liverpool. The group will return to Batavia on Friday, July 15, for a farewell dinner.

The Western Regional Group of the Early Ford V-8 Club of America is centered in Rochester. It features all Ford products produced from 1932-1953 and are the second-oldest active regional group in the world. They have 85 active members.

July 2, 2016 - 1:28pm
posted by Zachary Lee in news, Batavia Muckdogs, dwyer stadium, business, agriculture.

The Batavia Muckdogs at Dwyer Stadium is one of five Minor League Baseball teams statewide offering New York food and beverages this season, Gov. Cuomo's office announced this week. This is the second year that the Muckdogs have partnered with the Taste NY branding and sales initiative began by Cuomo in 2013.

Taste NY is overseen by New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets, and was launched to create opportunities for our food producers to showcase their goods at large public events like the Great New York State Fair and other places crowds gather, like Minor League Baseball games.

The expanding program has also opened stores at Thruway rest stops along the state’s highways and in transportation hubs, enabling travelers to buy New York State’s homegrown and homemade products. Approximately 1,100 local companies have participated in these opportunities, thereby expanding New York's food and beverage markets, according to a press release from the governor's office.

For the 2016 season, four craft beer companies in the Empire State have products for sale at Dwyer:

  • Brooklyn Brewery
  • Ellicottville Brewery
  • Genesee Brewing Company
  • Rohrbach Brewing Company

Plus, there are hot dogs and sausages from Zweigle's, breads and rolls from Di Paolo Baking Company, both of Rochester, and Akron-based Perry's Ice Cream.

"The Muckdogs are proud to be a part of the Taste NY program," said Muckdogs' General Manager Travis Sick. "We believe strongly in supporting as many local vendors as possible and look forward to featuring all of their great and, more importantly, delicious products at Dwyer Stadium this season."

The other participating teams and stadiums are:

  • Tri-City ValleyCats at Joe Bruno Stadium
  • Auburn Doubledays at Falcon Park
  • Staten Island Yankees at Richmond County Bank Ballpark
  • Rochester Red Wings at Frontier Field

Together, these stadiums see approximately 820,000 seasonal visitors and those fans will be treated to the same great ballpark staples, such has hot dogs, hamburgers, and ice-cold beer -- now sourced from some of New York State’s best agricultural producers. Taste NY has helped vendors triple their gross annual sales from 2014 to 2015, and with this increased promotion, they are on track to doubling those sales in 2016, according to the governor's office.

“New York grown and made food and beverages are second to none and building upon the great success of the Taste NY program, we are partnering with local baseball stadiums to expose even more New Yorkers to these great Empire State products,” said Governor Cuomo in a press release.

“When New Yorkers buy New York products from New York businesses, the home team wins every time.” 

For more information about Taste NY, click here.

June 28, 2016 - 1:46pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in 1366 Technologies, business, STAMP, news.

A Boston-based company that has picked Genesee County for the location of its silicon wafer plant announced a major strategic move today that officials say will provide a tremendous positive impact on cash flow.

Wacker Chemie, a supplier of highly purified silicon, is making a $15 million equity investment in 1366 Technologies through the supply of the silicon that will be used by 1366 to manufacture its advanced silicon wafers.

The silicon wafers will be manufactured in a plant at the Science, Technology & Advanced Maufacturing Park (STAMP) in the Town of Alabama through a process that officials with 1366 say will greatly reduce the cost of solar power.

The partnership will also include a technical collaboration between the two companies. Wacker Chemie will provide expertise in silicon as well as facility design, engineering and construction.

“We see the potential for the Direct Wafer technology to provide an excellent contribution to accelerate global solar adoption," said Ewald Schindlbeck, president, Wacker Polysilicon. "1366 has developed a commercially valid answer to a longtime manufacturing challenge. We’re eager to add our high-quality products and bring our expertise to the effort.” 

Frank van Mierlo, CEO of 1366, said the partnership is a good sign for the future adoption of his company's groundbreaking solar wafer solution.

“Commercial traction is gained when technical success and financial support are established within the industry," van Mierlo said. "This partnership with the world’s most technically advanced silicon provider clearly demonstrates market acceptance for the Direct Wafer technology. Wacker’s silicon is the best in the industry and has been a crucial competitive edge for Wacker’s customers. It will do the same for 1366."

The manufacturing solution developed by 1366 offers a significant advantage over traditional ingot-based production technologies, according to company officials. The process makes wafers in a single step, pulling them directly from molten silicon instead of today’s multistep, energy- and capital-intensive approach, resulting in significant wafer production cost savings.

June 28, 2016 - 12:59pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, restaurants, business, downtown, Carter's, news.

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Yes, dreams can come true, and so far, they have for Brenden Mullen, who eight years after going to work in his father's restaurant, formerly Larry's Steakhouse, is now the owner of Carter's in the same location.

But the dream doesn't stop there. Carter is the name of his 9-year-old son, and if dreams really do come true, it will be Carter someday welcoming you at the front door or serving you a drink.

"If I can, I'll get Carter's successful and then 10, 15 years down the road, I'm on my way down South and I'll leave this place for him to take over if he wants," Mullen said.

It's been seven months since Larry's closed so Mullen could revamp the restaurant and put his own mark on it. There was a lot of planning and work into getting the doors open again, he said, which happened today.

The theme of the new restaurant is nautical with a nod toward the Northeast seafaring tradition.

Naturally, the menu is filled with seafood appetizers and entrees.

"I spent the past seven months coming up with different menu ideas," Mullen said. "When I started narrowing it down, the result was predominately seafood, and then when I got to thinking about it, it seemed like a good idea, our niche, so to speak."

Mullen enjoys the restaurant business, he said, because he loves food and he loves people.

"When I was 21 years old, looking for something to do, I thought, there's no better way to make a living than working in a restaurant," Mullen said. "I love food and I love going out to dinner, and you can't be in this business if you're not a people person. To be able to hang out and mingle with my friends and customers, it really doesn't get much better, in my opinion."

June 28, 2016 - 11:46am
posted by Howard B. Owens in BID, downtown, batavia, news, business.

Officials are being coy with details, but the city and the Business Improvement District are apparently close to a negotiated agreement that will end a bit of a dispute over some operational issues. 

The turning point apparently came at a meeting Friday involving City Manager Jason Molino, City Attorney George Van Nest and an attorney for the BID who, up to this point, hadn't been involved in the situation.

Laurence Rubin, of Kavinoky & Cook, LLP, in Buffalo, was at Monday's City Council meeting, where Molino informed council members that progress had been made and an agreement should be forthcoming.

A public hearing on a proposed change to local law that would have affected the BID's district plan as well as required the BID board to abide by the State's Open Meeting Law and Freedom of Information Law was held, but there were no speakers.

Both Molino and Rubin sidestepped questions about the sunshine law requirements.

"We have an agreement in principle on the substantive issues," Rubin said. "I don’t want to get into the details and give you a long law school lecture, which I’m sure you don’t want to get into now, but in terms of the principles of transparency and timelines, I think there’s agreement."

Molino said, "I think both the City and the BID board are interested in the issues of transparency and that the public having access to board decisions and board meetings as well as how decisions are being made."

Rubin said he is an expert in the area of special districts and business improvement districts and General Municipal Law (GML).  

Asked if he was aware of any districts that were required to abide specifically by the sunshine laws, he said he didn't know of any, but that such districts and boards are generally open and transparent.

"I think government and the public and taxpayers do want to see transparency and I think there is a common theme about that," Rubin said. "Again, I don’t want to get into a law school lecture. The Freedom of Information Law or the Open Meetings Law, per se, is not really the issue. The issue is should there be transparency and there is absolute agreement on both sides that there should be."

At no point, has there been any specific allegation that the BID or the BID board has been anything less than transparent, but Molino raised the idea few weeks ago that to ensure transparency, the city should require the BID to abide by the sunshine laws.

In a memo to BID members last week -- property and business owners within the downtown district -- Executive Director Laurie Oltramari said the BID board objected to the sunshine law requirement not because the BID isn't transparent, but as a matter of legal precedent and principle. 

"The BID board is opposed to the City of Batavia adopting a local law imposing such as it conflicts with state law and our meetings are already open to the BID membership," Oltramari said. "For the City to implement such is creating new law for the City of Batavia, setting new precedent within NY State and discriminating against a not-for-profit corporation."

The dust-up between the city and the BID began a few weeks ago when Molino required the BID board to cut its budget to better comply with General Municipal Law, which Molino said the BID's budget had skirted for the past few years.

The BID's assessment, which is the basis for the BID's budget, is set by the city and while Molino said he has raised the issue with the BID in previous years, this year he said the city would correct the assessment to comply with GML.

Rubin repeatedly said that in his role as legal counsel for the BID on this issue, he didn't want to look back and concentrate on past history.

"We had a very positive discussion with the city administrator and the city attorney," Rubin said. "We talked about substantive issues. We set aside the history and whatever conversations may have been and we just talked about the statute and the proposed revisions to the local law. It was very constructive. I can’t really speak to what happened in the past, but going forward seems to be very constructive and very productive."

June 25, 2016 - 6:52pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Page Auctions, Days Inn, batavia, business.

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People traveled from as far away as California to be in Batavia today for a button auction at the Days Inn on Noonan Drive.

It's that way twice a year, said Margeret McBride, when Page Auctions hosts the event in Batavia. 

"People come from all over," she said.

It is as much about the buttons, which can sell, typically, from $10 to more than $1,000, McBride said, as it is about being social and seeing friends you've made through button collection conventions and auctions.

Page Auctions is based in Batavia, and McBride's husband, Phil, is the auctioneer and their daughter, Whitney McBride Carlson, helps run the business. Page Auctions was founded locally in 1895.

People who collect buttons love buttons, even if the collections can sometimes grow larger than they ever imagined.

"A lot people have said to me they collect buttons because they’re small," McBride said. "I’ve heard that over and over again. People who are collectors, who like to collect things and actually possess them, only have so much room and a lot of people say, ‘I started collecting buttons because I thought they were small,' and then they find out that roomfuls happen. They collect roomfuls of buttons. They put them on cards and hang them on the wall. They display them and sometimes they wear them in jewelry or sew them on, but for the most part, they’re coveted for their artwork."

Besides the aethetics of buttons, they also have a strong historical interest, especially for those who collect military buttons.

The most expensive button McBride remembers is a Civil War uniform button that sold for more than $17,000.

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June 23, 2016 - 2:39pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in BID, batavia, news, downtown, business.

Members of the Batavia Improvement District were informed yesterday in a memo from Executive Director Laurie Oltramari, that the BID Board of Directors has voted to oppose a plan to change the rules for how the BID operates.

City Manager Jason Molino has proposed to City Council that the city adopt a district plan for the BID, which in the past has been drafted by the BID board and then approved by the council, and require that BID comply with the state's Freedom of Information Law and Open Meetings Law.

Oltramari said the BID has already turned in a budget for 2016 that is compliant with the state's General Municipal Law.  

The whole issue of the BID's budget is what precipitated the city's recent actions, but Oltramari told BID members that it was the responsibility of the city manager to ensure property owners in the Downtown tax district were charged the appropriate tax rate, not the BID's.

"The City wants to implement compliance of the debt limits within the General Municipal Law, something that has been known to the City Manager for several years," Oltramari said in her memo to members. "In addition, the City levied the 2016 assessment knowing that there was a compliance issue, collected the BID assessment, and is retained the funds without any authority to withhold funds that are due and owing to the BID."

BID members are people who either own property in the Downtown district or operate businesses in the district.

Oltramari invited BID members to visit her office at 200 E. Main St., Batavia, on Monday between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. to discuss these issues, or to make an appointment with her for a conversation.

The City Council will hold a public hearing on the city's proposed changes at 7 p.m., Monday.

The proposal would also require the BID to comply with the state's open government law, but Oltramari said director's meetings are already transparent and open for its members.

"The BID board is opposed to the City of Batavia adopting a local law imposing such as it conflicts with state law and our meetings are already open to the BID membership," Oltramari said. "For the City to implement such is creating new law for the City of Batavia, setting new precedent within NY State and discriminating against a not-for-profit corporation."

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