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September 14, 2016 - 5:20pm
posted by Billie Owens in congressman chris collins, agriculture, business.

Press release:

Congressman Chris Collins today released the following statement after receiving the “Friend of Farm Bureau” award from the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF).

“The American Farm Bureau Federation recognizes that the agriculture industry has always been one of the primary economic drivers throughout our country, especially here in Western New York,” Congressman Collins said.

“I was proud to promote AFBF’s mission in Congress by supporting legislation that will strengthen the lives of rural Americans and help build robust agriculture communities for our nation’s farmers. I am honored to be a ‘Friend of Farm Bureau.' ”

In a letter addressed to Congressman Collins, dated Sept. 7, it states: “The American Farm Bureau Federation gives the ‘Friend of Farm Bureau’ award to members of Congress who have supported Farm Bureau issues, as demonstrated by their voting records, and who were nominated by their respective state Farm Bureau and approved by the AFBF Board of Directors,” wrote Dale Moore, Executive Director of Public Policy for the American Farm Bureau Federation. “Thank you for your support of America’s farmers and ranchers and food security for America’s consumers.”

Established in 1919, the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) is an independent, non-governmental, voluntary organization that is governed by, and represents, the farmers and ranch families of America. The Farm Bureau is local, county, state, national and international in its scope and influence and is non-partisan, non-sectarian and non-secret in character. The AFBF works tirelessly to improve access to education, economic opportunities, and social advancement for agriculture producers at all levels.

For more information about the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF), please visit: http://www.fb.org/.

September 14, 2016 - 3:01pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in p.w. minor, business.

A couple of weeks ago, we reported on the donation by p.w. minor of 27 pallets of shoes to the flood victims in Louisiana. The program that accepted the donation of the shoes, Sole2Souls, produced this video about the distribution. 

September 14, 2016 - 12:31pm
posted by Billie Owens in Le Roy, business.

Press release:

Full-service advertising, marketing and public relations agency Dixon Schwabl is pleased to announce Randy Zajonczkoski, of Le Roy, has been hired as director of IT.

Zajonczkoski is now responsible for managing and monitoring the company’s network and computers, helping associates with day-to-day computer issues and making recommendations on upgrades and changes. He brings more than 15 years of experience to the Dixon Schwabl team, most recently serving director of IT for Soteria-IT.

Zajonczkoski earned his associate degree in computer systems from Pittsburgh Technical Institute in 1998. He then continued his education, earning his bachelor’s degree in accounting and business management from D’Youville College in 2011. Zajonczkoski resides in Le Roy with his wife, Christine. 

About Dixon Schwabl 

Dixon Schwabl, a full-service marketing communications firm established in 1987, provides marketing, advertising, public relations, social and digital media, research, interactive and media placement services to more than 200 clients nationally. The firm generated more than $333 million in capitalized billings in 2014.

September 12, 2016 - 4:08pm
posted by Billie Owens in news, genesee county chamber of commerce, business.

Press release:

The Genesee County Chamber’s Annual Awards Committee has announced that the 2016 Awards Ceremony will be held on Saturday, March 4, 2017 at The Quality Inn & Suites, Park Road, Batavia (formerly The Clarion Hotel).

This is the County’s premier event that honors businesses and individuals for their achievements in business, community service and volunteerism.

Please note that a brief write-up will qualify your nominee for consideration. Nominations are now being accepted for Business of the Year, Entrepreneurial Business of the Year, Agricultural Business of the Year, Innovative Enterprise of the Year, Special Service Recognition & Geneseeans of the Year.

Business nominees must be a Chamber Member (If unsure of your nominee's membership, call the Chamber to verify).   

Nomination forms are available at the Chamber of Commerce office, 210 E. Main St., Batavia, and can also be downloaded from the Chamber website at www.geneseeny.com

Nominations MUST BE RECEIVED BY Dec. 30 to be eligible for consideration.

If you would like more information, feel free to call Kelly J. Bermingham, director of Membership & Special Events, at the Chamber office, 343-7440, ext. 26.

September 10, 2016 - 1:31pm
posted by Billie Owens in hawley, business.

Press release:

Assemblyman Steve Hawley (R,C,I-Batavia) received high praise this week from two organizations dedicated to encouraging small businesses in our state.

The New York small-business advocacy organization Unshackle Upstate and the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) both released their rankings of legislators’ performances in Albany and how those performances have affected New York business owners. Hawley received approval from both organizations, scoring an 88/100 from Unshackle Upstate and a 100% from the NFIB.

“It is an honor to be recognized by the NFIB and Unshackle Upstate in such high regard. I always keep the interests of my local business owners first and foremost when representing my district in Albany,” Hawley said.

“As a small-business owner for over four decades, I know the challenges faced by our state’s business community and use my knowledge and resources to fight for solutions that will spur economic growth and create jobs. I hope to continue to earn the praise bestowed upon me this week and to continue doing the business community proud.”

September 9, 2016 - 12:20pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Town of Batavia Fire, batavia, news, business.

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Press release:

In preparation for the construction of our new fire station, the Town of Batavia Fire Department, Inc., will be accepting written offers for the house and property located at 5007 Clinton Street Road, Batavia.

The house is two-story, 1584 square feet and is located on a 60’ x 128’ parcel. The house is currently configured as a 2-family home.

The Fire Department purchased the house as it was included as part of the land acquisition for our new fire station. After a formal needs review examination, it has been determined that the house it is not necessary for our current or future needs.

There will be an Open House on Wednesday, Sept. 14, from 2 until 6 p.m. for anyone interested in viewing the house and property.

Written offers will be accepted until Monday, Sept. 19 by U.S. Mail at Town of Batavia Fire Department, Inc., P.O. Box 417, Batavia, NY 14021-0417.

The Town of Batavia Fire Department, Inc., reserves the right to reject any and/or all offers that it deems in its best interest.

By order of the Board of Directors

September 7, 2016 - 3:43pm
posted by Billie Owens in GCC, Humphrey Symposium, business.

Press release:

Acclaimed global futurist, speaker and best-selling author Jack Uldrich paints vivid pictures of what the world may look like in just a few short years. Often asked, "What will the future look like?" Uldrich's response is, "Predictably unpredictable."

The key, according to Uldrich, is embracing paradox: learning to unlearn, thinking about the unthinkable, recognizing failure as a key component of success, and understanding that an awareness of one's ignorance is a key component of true wisdom. On Thursday, Sept. 22, at the 2016 Wolcott J. Humphrey III Symposium at Genesee Community College, Uldrich will serve as the keynote speaker for the event and deliver a presentation to help guests better prepare for the unpredictable.

Uldrich's keynote address begins at 4 p.m. in the Stuart Steiner Theatre of GCC's Batavia Campus will be followed by a panel discussion featuring local representatives from agriculture, education, healthcare and leadership. Confirmed panelists to date include: John Noble, president of Linwood Management Group, LLC (agribusiness); James M. Sunser, Ph.D, president of GCC, (education); Daniel Ireland, president and CEO of UMMC (healthcare); Nathan Rudgers, senior vice president for Farm Credit East (business / entrepreneurial development), and Peggy Marone, Leadership Genesee director, Cornell Cooperative Extension of Genesee County (community leadership).

Seating is limited. Admission for the event is $25 and advanced reservations are strongly encouraged. 

Speaking at more than 100 engagements each year, Uldrich argues that creativity and action are more powerful and versatile than knowledge. His speeches are packed with energy, anecdotes, and thoughtful business and personal advice that educate, entertain, and inspire audiences. He brings to light the advantages of being creative and using the powers of individual imagination.

A best-selling and award-winning author of 11 books, including one of his latest, "Foresight 2020: A Futurist Explores the Trends Transforming Tomorrow," Uldrich provides an in-depth exploration of how the "Internet of things," big data, social media, robotics, biotechnology, nanotechnology, artificial intelligence, renewable energy and "collaborative consumption" will change everyday life for all of us in the very near future. Through upbeat, practical and actionable insights, his presentation sheds light on future trends, emerging technologies, innovation, change management and transformational leadership.

As an advisor to Fortune 1000 companies, Uldrich has presented to hundreds of businesses and organizations on five continents, including General Electric, General Mills, the Young Presidents Organization (YPO), Pfizer, Invitrogen, St. Jude Medical, AG Schering and more.

Uldrich is a frequent guest on major news outlets, including CNN, CNBC and NPR. He is an ongoing contributor to emerging technologies and future trends for publications such as the Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Wired, and Business Week and regularly makes television appearances on the Science Channel's "FutureScape" and the Discovery Channel show "Inside Out." He is also founder and "Chief Unlearning Officer" of The School of Unlearning – an international consultancy designed to assist organizations succeed tomorrow by unlearning today.

Uldrich is a formal naval intelligence officer and Defense Department official. He previously served as the director of the Minnesota Office of Strategic and Long-Range Planning.

Call the Genesee Community College Foundation at 345-6809;

Visit the website: http://www.genesee.edu/cms/home/events/humphrey/

Email Patty Hume at [email protected].

As part of the College's 50th Anniversary celebration, the first 50 students and the first 50 GCC alumni who reserve their advance seats will be admitted free! Students of any age are otherwise $10.

About the Wolcott J. Humphrey III Symposium

Wolcott J. (Jay) Humphrey III was a man of vision. At the time of his death, he was a member of Genesee Community College's Board of Directors and was regarded as one of the region's foremost civic leaders and a strong proponent of leadership development.

The Humphrey Symposium brings speakers with a national or regional reputation to GCC to discuss various facets of leadership in honor of a man that inspired others to develop new initiatives and reach for extraordinary levels of success. Past speakers have included Syracuse University Basketball Coach Jim Boeheim, Paycheck CEO Thomas Golisano, Dr. Donna M. Fernandes, president of the Buffalo Zoological Society, Jerry Greenfield of Ben & Jerry's Homemade, Inc., and many other national and regional leaders.

September 7, 2016 - 1:15pm
posted by Billie Owens in agriculture, business, news, steve hawley, disaster relief.

Press release:

Due to harsh drought conditions experienced by many of New York’s farmers, Assemblyman Steve Hawley (R,C,I-Batavia) today announced that Genesee, Monroe and Orleans counties have been designated natural disaster areas and are eligible for assistance through the United States Department of Agriculture Farm Service Agency.

State officials will be conducting on-site assessments of the damage to local farms and working with Cornell University experts to devise recovery solutions.

“Farmers are the backbone of New York’s already excellent, diversified and growing agriculture sector,” Hawley said. “As the former owner and operator of our family farm for many years, I can personally attest to the determination of our famers to battle ever-changing weather and devastating floods and drought in Western New York.

"It is important to protect the livelihood of our producers and assist them when unforeseen circumstances threaten their prosperity. I am pleased the federal government is offering our famers this much needed assistance.”

Further information and a list of services available can be found here.

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.

wbtaletterssept62016.jpg

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.

sweetpeaspdsept2016.jpg

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.

foxprowlmovesept12016.jpg

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.

pwminoraugu292017-4.jpg

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.

minor_keithurban.jpg

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.

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