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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."

June 23, 2016 - 12:52am
posted by Raymond Coniglio in Le Roy, business, news.


Jessica Held, left, and Tracy Martorana are the owners of Holistic Hub, whcih offers a variety of wellness programs at 58 Main St. in Le Roy.

One chance meeting — and many shared interests — revealed a new path for two area women.

It led to the Holistic Hub, which is now open at 58 Main St. in Le Roy. 

On Wednesday, Tracy Martorana and Jessica “Jessie” Held hosted a Meet and Greet at the business, which offers a variety of services including meditation, yoga, holistic wellness and creativity workshops, and more.

Martorana is a nutrition and wellness consultant. Held is a yoga instructor with an interest in the arts.

They met this past winter during a wellness fair in Bergen. They discovered not only shared interests, but that both happen to live in Le Roy.

Held followed up with an email, suggesting they explore starting a local wellness center.

“So we got together and talked it through and realized we both really do like the same things,” Martorana said. “And we had the same vision of what we’d like to offer the community.”

“We both have different niches,” Held added. “I’m more artistic and creative, where she’s more into health and nutrition and meditation, which really goes nicely together.”

Martorana is the co-owner of Holistic Wellness, which is based in the home she shares with her husband Andrew. She is also an herbalist, meditation instructor and leads workshops on a variety of wellness topics.

Held and her husband, Mark, moved to Le Roy from Scottsville in 2014. (They’re expecting their first child in October.) A trained yoga instructor and Reiki practitioner, she also offers artistic and inspirational workshops.

Their business partnership became official in January. They settled on a location more quickly than they expected.

Held had been teaching yoga at 58 on Main, which was the home of Baristas coffee shop as well as Jim DeLooze’s photography studio and gallery.

After Baristas closed in May, DeLooze asked Martorana and Held if they’d be interested in the location. Now, Holistic Hub shares the space with 58 on Main Photography.

Holistic Hub is described as “a place to better ourselves and our community.” That mission is reflected in the circular “hub” logo designed by Held, in which stylized arrows aim both toward and away from the center.

“We explain the arrows going in, as working on ourselves,” Held explained. “But this is also a place to better the community, which is the arrows going out.”

For more information about Holistic Hub, visit; email [email protected]; or find Holistic Hub Le Roy NY on Facebook.


June 22, 2016 - 4:25pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in jobs, employment, business.

The unemployment rate for Genesee County fell to 3.8 percent in May, the lowest level for any monthly period since August, 2008.

The rate is a full percentage point lower than last May. 

The number of residents with jobs is 29,300, up from 29,100 from a year ago, while the number of participants in the labor force dropped from 30,600 a year ago to 30,400 this May.

As for the number of non-farm jobs in the county, we've gone from 23,700 to 23,800 from May last year to May this year.

The GLOW region unemployment rate dropped to 4.3 percent, from 5.3 percent a year ago. It hasn't been lower in the region since August 2007, when it was 4.2 percent.

June 22, 2016 - 2:30pm
posted by Billie Owens in business, lawley.

Press release:

Lawley, a Top 100 independent insurance broker in the United States according to Business Insurance, has earned the On Your Side® Food Certification designation from Nationwide Insurance. This first-of-its-kind training program is designed to familiarize agents with the unique risks and insurance needs of businesses involved in food processing and manufacturing.

The broker has an office in Batavia.

As a company that insures businesses engaged in all stages of the food chain from the farmer to the processor, Nationwide has recognized this is a niche that requires specialized expertise. During training, agents hear from subject matter experts on the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) and fleet vehicle safety and also get the latest information on workers compensation, product recall and other issues faced by these business segments.

“We’re excited that Lawley completed this certification program,” said Bill Fritts, Lawley’s Batavia branch Partner. “We’ve made a commitment to help protect food processing and manufacturing businesses with the highest levels of professionalism and service. This certification shows that our agency is committed to staying in front of changing needs, helping protect them now and into the future.”

The designation is intended to help food processing and manufacturing businesses recognize agents who have made a commitment to understanding the complex risks faced by their industries. Only agents who successfully complete the program are awarded the designation.

“Nationwide created the food certification program to provide additional education and resources to insurance agents who have made a commitment to protecting businesses in the food chain,” said Dirk Pollitt, VP of agribusiness sales for Nationwide. “We’re proud of the agents who complete the program and are excited about the level of service that businesses can expect from partnering with Food Certified agents.”

About Lawley

Lawley is a privately-owned, independent regional insurance firm specializing in property, casualty and personal insurance, employee benefits and risk management consulting and ranked among the 100 Largest Insurance Brokers in the U.S., according to Business Insurance magazine.

For more than 60 years, Lawley’s team of more than 350 associates have developed customized property, casualty, surety and benefits insurance programs for businesses and municipalities of all sizes along with personalized protection for individuals and their families. Lawley is consistently recognized as one of the Best Places to Work by Buffalo Business First

Headquartered in Buffalo, Lawley has branch offices across New York in Amherst, Batavia, Elmsford, Fredonia, Melville and Rochester along with Darien, Conn., and Florham Park, NJ. To find out more, visit

June 21, 2016 - 5:34pm
posted by Billie Owens in business, Hampton Inn, batavia.

Hampton Inn Batavia has received a 2016 TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence Award. Now in its sixth year, the achievement celebrates hospitality businesses that have earned great traveler reviews on the online TripAdvisor site over the past year.

To qualify, a business must maintain an overall TripAdvisor bubble rating of at least four out of five, have a minimum number of reviews and must have been listed on TripAdvisor for at least 12 months.

"We are proud to be recognized by TripAdvisor with a Certificate of Excellence Award," said General Manager, general manager of Hampton Inn Batavia. "This honor is a testament to our dedication to exceptional customer service.

"We appreciate our guests giving us excellent ratings on this site and helping us to achieve this recognition."

Located at 4360 Commerce Drive in Batavia, Hampton Inn Batavia offers amenities including On the House breakfast each morning and Hampton's On the Run(tm) Breakfast Bags, available Monday through Friday. Additionally, it provides free Wi-Fi, a 24-hour business center with complimentary
printing and a fitness center.

Each guestroom includes the brand's signature Clean and fresh Hampton bed. Designed as an extension of the guestroom, properties feature a Perfect Mix Lobby, with a variety of seating and lighting options for both leisure and business travelers.

Hampton by Hilton properties participate in Hilton HHonors, the only hotel loyalty program that allows members to earn Points & Miles on the same stay and No Blackout Dates on reward stays. HHonors members always get our lowest price with our Best Price Guarantee, along with Honors Points, digital check-in and no booking fees only when they book directly through Hilton.

To make reservations, visit and to read more about Hampton by Hilton, visit

June 21, 2016 - 12:57pm


Dancer and choreographer Shoulin Young has traveled the world, working and performing with the likes of Brittany Spears, Chris Brown, Jason Darulo and Justin Beiber. Monday, he was in Batavia, conducting classes with students at Kristen's Performing Arts Center on East Main Street.

"I love what she (Kristen) has going on here, especially for a small town like Batavia," said Young, who is originally from Rochester, but now lives in Tampa, Fla. "Any chance I get to come here and work with these kids, I love to do it. The kids always have great energy. I love every second of it."

Owner Kristen Drilling opened the studio 10 months ago and offers a wide range of classes in performing arts, including all styles of dance, theater, music and pageant training. Each summer, she tries to bring in an accomplished and well-known instructor to conduct classes for a day.

Students from the studio have won competitions in Niagara Falls and Rochester, which has drawn attention from choreographers such as Young, she said.

"They see a lot of talent through our girls," Drilling said. "They see we're from a small town, so when we have really talented girls go out and win first place over all these big cities, we get a lot of choreographers in our studio to see what our girls have."

Young said he sees the talent, but more importantly, he sees an enthusiasm for hip-hop that a lot of people might not expect from a small town.

"When you think of Batavia or smaller towns in Upstate New York, you don’t really think hip-hop, but the hip-hop talent specifically here is very, very impressive," Young said. "There are lots of kids who are very hungry for it and dance in general is something that younger kids really want and the style of hip-hop is just a music that they all love.  I’m very impressed with the dancers I see here."






June 20, 2016 - 3:03pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in agriculture, NY Farm Bureau, business.

Press release:

New York Farm Bureau seeks to intervene in the farm labor lawsuit filed against the State of New York and Governor Cuomo. The grassroots farm organization will file a motion today in State Supreme Court of Albany County to gain intervenor status in a lawsuit filed by the New York Civil Liberties Union Foundation. The NYCLUF seeks to create a constitutional right for farmworkers to collectively bargain. The ultimate goal of NYFB with today’s motion is for the court to dismiss the lawsuit.

NYFB is taking this major step to defend farmers, who feel they have been abandoned by the Governor and the New York Attorney General. Both leaders have made public statements supporting the lawsuit and refusing to defend state law, despite its importance to agriculture in New York State.

NYFB believes it has the right to intervene because the interest of its members will not be represented by the defendants – the Governor and Attorney General - and the ability of the organization’s members to continue to produce food for New York residents would be harmed in the event the plaintiffs prevail in this action.

The motion reads, “Farm Bureau is uniquely situated to represent the varied perspectives of its member farms and to zealously defend the constitutionality of the challenged farm labor exemption.”

Farm Bureau believes that the exemption of farmworkers from collective bargaining rights is constitutional, and that the exclusion of farmworkers from the State Labor Relations Act law is based on decades of rational public policy and legal precedent that will be outlined in NYFB’s motions to intervene and to dismiss.

New York Farm Bureau believes that the legal precedent is clear. This is not a question for the courts, and the NYCLUF is attempting to make an end-run around the legislature, which has not approved collective bargaining for farmworkers despite numerous opportunities.

“New York Farm Bureau has a century-long record of defending the state’s family farms, and today’s action is one of the most important in our long history. If we can’t count on our state leaders to do the right thing in this case, we are prepared to stand up for our members in court to protect their rights,” said Dean Norton, New York Farm Bureau president.

June 17, 2016 - 3:17pm
posted by Billie Owens in Empire Access, business, batavia, news, Le Roy.

Officials with Empire Access said today they expect to begin offering cable TV service in Batavia this fall.

They've applied for a franchise license and have been working closely with City Manager Jason Molino and other staff on an agreement.

"Jason's been great to deal with. We're looking forward to giving Time Warner more competition," said Empire COO Jim Baase.

Empire Video, a subdivision, has been offering high-speed Internet service (data and voice) in the city for the past year.

Following a public hearing, once the city council approves its franchise agreement, it goes to the state’s Public Service Commission for final approval.

Empire plans to offer new customers an introductory monthly rate of $65, which would rise to $121 after six months. There would be no rate increase for the term of the contract.

But existing Empire customers would be offered "bundled pricing" and be given the opportunity to get the introductory rate as well.

"We try to do the right thing by customers," Baase said.

Once cable TV service is added to the mix, Empire expects to double its local customer base, to at least 15 percent market penetration.

Customers can expect a high-quality, 100-digital signal with a higher resolution than the competition, which has a mix of analog and digital.

Plus, they will be able to provide their customers with local stations from both Rochester AND Buffalo, not one or the other as is the case currently -- depending on your provider.

Also, it will all be in high definition at no extra cost.

"It's a TV everywhere product," said Bob VanDelinder, Empire Access director of marketing. "You can watch it on your iPad, smartphone, and not just at home, but while traveling, too."

The digital video recording service records up to five different stations at a time, and while using different TV sets.

There will be no set-up or installation costs. No bulky cable to install. It's all wireless, with a modem. And they will help you program your remote control device before they leave.

"It's a pretty easy transition for customers," Baase said.

"We offer a very competitive product," VanDelinder said. "We're excited to be here."

Because Batavia is already wired for broadband, TV service will be a cinch for Empire to roll out.

"It'll happen immediately, as soon as we sign a franchise agreement with the city," Baase said.

Empire says its eager to help the city in its "Bet on Batavia" campaign to vy for $10 million in downtown revitalization funds, for example, by bringing Wi-Fi downtown.

They are rolling out broadband to business customers in the Village of Le Roy and hope to add residential soon.

June 16, 2016 - 3:43pm
posted by Billie Owens in Tompkins Bank of Castile, business, news.

Press release:

BATAVIA, NY -- Every year, millions of consumers fall victim to cybercrime. According to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center, in 2014, consumers lost more than $800 million from scams initiated through the Web. In recognition of Internet Safety Month in June, Tompkins Bank of Castile is highlighting seven tips to help consumers protect themselves from online fraud.

“The Internet has become one of the most popular tools used to commit fraud by criminals who are becoming more and more sophisticated,” said John McKenna, president and CEO.  “As a result, it’s extremely important for consumers to secure their wireless networks and filter the amount of personal information they choose to divulge online.”

Tompkins Bank of Castile recommends the following seven tips to keep you safe online:

About Tompkins Bank of Castile

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,

June 15, 2016 - 12:31pm
posted by Billie Owens in Gillibrand, education, news, business.

Press release:

Washington, DC – The U.S. Senate today passed Senator Kirsten Gillibrand’s bipartisan legislation to help universities in New York and throughout the country strengthen their engineering programs to meet the demands of the modern manufacturing industry.

The "Manufacturing Universities" legislation, which was led by Senators Gillibrand, Chris Coons (D-DE), Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), and Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), passed as part of the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). This provision authorizes the Department of Defense to support training at U.S. universities to help equip students with skills to compete in the 21st century manufacturing workforce. Universities would be selected through a competitive grant-based process and would tailor their educational curriculum to the needs of modern U.S. manufacturers.

“I am so pleased that the Senate came together to pass our bipartisan Manufacturing Universities bill as part of this year’s NDAA,” said Senator Gillibrand. “This legislation gives our universities access to new resources that can help them prepare more engineers, more product designers, more innovators, and more men and women to drive our economy forward.

"No job should go unfilled and no company’s expansion should ever be inhibited because there aren’t enough trained workers ready to work, and this legislation takes important steps to give students the skills they need to compete in the 21st century manufacturing workforce.”

The Manufacturing Universities legislation would establish a program within the Department of Defense charged with designating schools as ‘Manufacturing Universities.’ Designated schools would receive federal grant funding to meet specific goals, including focusing engineering programs on development of industry-relevant advanced manufacturing skills, building new partnerships with manufacturing firms, growing hands-on training opportunities for students, and fostering manufacturing entrepreneurship.

This bill was endorsed by the Association of American Universities, the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities, the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, the Precision Metalforming Association, the National Tooling & Machining Association, the University of Delaware, Delaware State University, Clemson University, University of South Carolina, University of Pennsylvania, Temple University, Drexel University, the University of Missouri System, the University of Illinois, the University of California, Davis, the University of California, Irvine, Boston University, the University of Rochester, the Rochester Institute of Technology, the State University of New York (SUNY) System, Kent State University, the University of Wisconsin, University of Wisconsin-Madison, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, the University of Connecticut, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Clarkson University, The Ohio State University, Dow, DuPont, and Siemens.

June 12, 2016 - 6:43pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in MöbileSchlägen, Oakfield, business, news.


Three guys in Oakfield think they've hit the nail on the head when it comes to their new business.

They've put a new twist on an old German game. They introduced the concept at a tournament yesterday held at the Caryville Inn.

The game is MöbileSchlägen, a portable version of hammerschlägen.

In schlägen, you get a cross-peen hammer and a nail and you get one whack at the nail per turn, hitting it with the wedge (or peen) end. The starting position is with the hammer on the table outside the wood block, making it harder to aim. The nail is tapped in to a depth equal to a line on the hammer, so everybody starts at an equal distance.

The first person with the head of the nail flush with the wood wins.

"Being first is pretty cool, but the last thing you want to do is be last," said Marc Johnson, one of the co-inventors of the mobile version of the game.

Last means ridicule from your buddies, at the least, and if alcohol is involved, it might mean buying a round of drinks.

Teasing and harassing is part of the fun of the game, because if you can goad a competitor into talking while he or she holds the hammer, (the rule is, "no hammer talk") that person loses a turn.

Johnson said for years, every time he hosts a party at his house, he and the guests play hammerschlägen, but hauling around the giant tree stumps needed for the game made it impractical for tailgate parties or picnics.

A few years ago, he brought two logs to a family gathering in Vermont and that's when he started to think there had to be a better way.

"Everybody loved it, but it killed my back," Johnson said. "It was a bad idea. You’re on a mountain and you’re rolling those stumps around."

When he got home, he and his friend James Betters started imagining a mobile version of the game, but lacked the engineering background to make it a reality, so Dan Mangus joined the team.

They formed a company, drew up their plans and filed for a patent, which was issued in March.

The end-grain wood plate, which can be laser etched with any possible logo, fits snuggly in a hard plastic base, which rests on sturdy, but foldable, legs.

"Basically, it fits in a bag that looks like a big banjo and you can throw it over your shoulder and carry it a lot easier than a 300-pound stump," Mangus said.

It took a few prototypes to get the right design and then a long search to find the right end-grain wood with the right density to take in a pounded nail easily, but not too easily. 

And lest would-be competitors might think they can make their own log inserts (the inserts need to be replaced after they fill up with nails), the design requires a properly cut and fitted log into the reverse-cupped holder. This design not only improves safety and durability, but with the patent, it also prevents copycat manufacturers from making replacement parts.

Some 40 or 50 people showed up for the game's public debut at the Caryville Inn yesterday to compete in the first official MöbileSchlägen tournament.  

There seemed to be no shortage of fun nor frustration during the tournament.

The next big step for the entrepreneurs is a Kickstarter campaign to fund the manufacturing of games for consumers. If that does well, they hope to ship the first games to customers by Spring.






June 10, 2016 - 7:45pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, downtown, BID, public market, farmers market, business, news.


The new public market -- a merger of the Business Improvement District's public market and the Genesee County Farmers' Market -- opened at Bank Street and Alva Place today.

A new vendor this year is Big Bossman's BBQ, run by Anthony Person, of Lockport.

Person said his family has a long tradition in the food business, and after his mother died recently, he wanted to keep the tradition going.

Fighting back tears, Pearson told WBTA's Alex Feig that he was president of his mother's company, Mrs. Ribs, but after she died, he didn't want to trade on her name, so he bought his own truck and called it Big Bossman's, a name his parents used for their first restaurant, which they ran out of their home.

The recipes have been handed down generation after generation in his family, from mother to mother to mother, going back to the family's days as slaves in the South. 

He was pleased to get invited to be a vendor in Batavia, he said.

"I’m a small businessman just trying to make an honest living just like anybody else, always looking for a way to expand my market, sell my product in new areas, and Batavia, I’ve always wanted to come this way and the Farmers' Market offered me a chance to showcase my cuisine," he said.

The market will be open for business from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays and will run through Oct. 28, weather permitting.





June 9, 2016 - 2:13pm
posted by Billie Owens in Milestones, business, brandon smart, batavia, entrepreneurs, Tibet.

Submitted photo of Batavia High School graduate Brandon Smart (center) and his team (holding certificates and trophies) at the University of Rochester, who took Third Place last week in the Tibetan Innovation Challege. Team members are, from left: Su Sean Ng, Sarah Spoto, Smart, Fahria Omar and Kat Cook.

Press release:

Brandon Smart, 2016 graduate of Batavia High School and now an undergraduate at the University of Rochester, along with his four teammates placed third in the Tibetan Innovation Challenge.

This is an intercollegiate social entrepreneurship business plan contest. Top universities from around the world compete in this challenge. The ideals submitted from this contest are meant to improve the lives of Tibetans living in refugee camps in India.

Smart and his team competed with four others finalist teams in the final round of the competition June 3 in Rochester. The winning team was from the Simon Business School at the University of Rochester.

Smart's team proposed a powder and water that used the power of barley to provide benefits to consumers while aiding Tibetan refugees at the same time.

All of the business proposal were presented to a lecture hall of people, including the four judges and Dalai Lama representatives. The judges and coordinators said this was the toughest and closest competition thus far. 
The teams that made the finals were of high caliber, all of them MBA students from top universities.
Smart was the only undergraduate student who made it to the finals, and on his first try, the rest were all graduate students, several of whom had competed in the challenge previously. He was also the youngest finalist in the competition's history.
"It was such a great experience...truly an amazing moment," Smart said. "I will be forever grateful for and inspired by these amazing women. They gave me the opportunity of a lifetime by adopting me onto their team. They saw potential in me and this led to the other graduate students and judges from the competition to see potential in me as well.
"I've been seeking and preparing for an opportunity like this for several years and I can't thank Su Sean Ng, Sarah, Fahria, and Kat enough for all that they have done for me. We hope to push the company live in the near future, selling Mya Barley Powder to local areas and expand as demand increases. We turn a profit by year 2 so the ROI is very strong."
Here is a video detailing the company (the most video on YouTube):
June 8, 2016 - 4:43pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Castilone, batavia, news, City Fire, business.


City firefighters have two new buildings that they can use for training because they are scheduled to be demolished.

Today, a crew practiced a second-floor window escape. The scenario is that a fire has expanded and blocked the stairwell, so the only way out is through a window. A few years ago, the state required fire departments to acquire the necessary equipment to make such escapes possible after a tragedy in NYC where firefighters had to jump from the upper story windows of a burning building.

The new Ladder 15 was used in the training, but only as a safety backup. Typically, the urgency of the situation and the fact Ladder 15 would be tied up on other tasks at the fire scene would mean it wouldn't be available to hoist a backup rope to safety.  

In this scenario, firefighters knocked a hole in a bedroom wall to expose a beam they could use as an anchor for a rope.

The two former houses are on West Main Street, just west of Castilone Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram. The dealership acquired the property to further expand its new car lot. Demolition is scheduled to begin June 20.

Before then, Batavia's Emergency Response Team will also use the houses for training and drills.

Castilone also just signed a contract to acquire the property at the corner of West Main and Vernon Avenue. That property was once proposed as a new location for an Arby's Restaurant, but the plan met stiff opposition from Vernon Avenue residents. Steve Castilone said he also already met with neighborhood representatives and discussed his plans with them.

"I sat down with them and I told them all, ‘whatever is going to make you people happy, I’ll do,' " he said. " 'If I do something that makes you unhappy, I’ll change it. If I put a light up and it shines in your windows, I’ll move it.’ They asked me to not put a driveway on their street and I said when I’m done I’ll close the driveway off. They were delighted. What would you rather have, a drive-thru Arby’s on the corner or stationary parked cars?”





June 8, 2016 - 7:00am
posted by Howard B. Owens in auto dealers, Castilone, batavia, business, news.

There are local car dealers upset about a dealer from Dunkirk setting up a temporary sales lot in Batavia this weekend, not because they fear the competition, but because the Dunkirk dealer is taking advantage of a loophole in state law to unfairly compete with their established businesses.

The law isn't just about protecting existing dealers, they say, it's also meant to protect consumers from fly-by-night used car salesmen who don't stick around to service what they sell.

"They move into a small market where they can clobber people over the head and then they leave," said Steve Castilone, co-owner of Castilone Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram on West Main Street, Batavia. "That’s what they do. They ram them into a car and then they leave."

Just a few years ago, tent-sale dealers would come to town with their temporary lots, blanket the community with mailers, make a few sales and leave, but the law was changed to require a fixed and physical location before the dealer could receive a license. The Dunkirk dealer, Larry Spacc, has leased office space at 4152 W. Main Street Road, in the Valu Plaza.

Castilone thinks the operation is a sham. He's complained to the Niagara Frontier Automobile Dealers Association, supplying a video taken shortly after Spacc's last sale five months ago. It shows a lot once filled with used cars, by then filled with only potholes, and shots through the windows of Spacc's strip mall office space filled with nothing but promotional posters on the wall and a lone motorcycle. There wasn't a single desk or phone line anywhere in sight.

Greg Strauss, Castilone's business partner, calls these operations, "ghost dealers." He'd like to see them shut down.

When The Batavian attempted to contact the local dealership Tuesday afternoon for comment, a man named Nick answered the phone. We identified ourselves and said we were writing a story about the dealership. There was muffled talk over the earpiece and then Nick came back on the line and said his two managers had just left to get a bite to eat and one of them would return the reporter's call when they returned. No call was returned.

Pending legislation wouldn't close up such temporary dealerships completely, but it would make it harder for them to operate. It would require temporary lots to be set up only within 20 miles of the main dealership. In Spacc's case, Dunkirk is 87 miles from Batavia.

"We do these sales," said Castilone pointing to Spacc's latest mailer, "but I’m not trying to whack you over the head. I’m not trying to sell you a bill of goods. I’m trying to sell you a car. It costs us millions of dollars to be here every year, millions in overhead, and then you have some fly-by-night come in with an $800 storefront and sells you a car and you buy because you think it’s cheaper. It’s not cheaper. It’s more money and the interest rate is going to be higher. I wouldn’t mind if they were doing this sale and they were still down at the end of the street next week."

Guy Pellegrino, Pellegrino Auto Sales of Batavia, shares the concerns of Castillone and Strauss. He's put a lot of money into his business, pays property taxes, employs a local staff and is concerned that a "fly-by-night" operation isn't there to provide support after the sale.

"Competition is a good thing and we all get along well (in town)," Pellegrino said. "We all survive together. But when somebody comes in and sets up a tent, tries to push cars, I don’t agree with that. I don’t like it and I don’t agree with it."

Pellegrino employs 12 people, all local residents, and he recently completed a $300,000 expansion of his facility. That's an investment Spacc hasn't made in our community, he said, nor is Spacc out donating to local charities, sponsoring youth sport teams or showing up at community events.

"We’re here making an investment in the community and doing the best we can for our people and they’re going to sell you an overpriced car with all the gimmicks, and you will likely have issues and where are you going to go?" Pellegrino said. "There’s nothing there.” 

The sales people at these temporary lots are rarely local residents. The temporary lots most often hire experienced used car sales reps from all over the country, people with experience in the hard sell, both Pellegrino and Castilone noted.

The flier you get in the mail may say "sale," and proclaim limited availability, but don't be fooled, the local dealers say, the temporary dealer is out to maximize profits. Putting the right deal together for the customer is the furthest thing from the sales rep's mind.

“You spend all that money and do you really want to deal with a guy who is going to be gone? Here today, gone tomorrow?" Castilone said. "But not everyone understands that when they get one of these fliers in the mail.”

If you walk onto the lot, Pellegrino said, expect the hard sell. Yeah, the local dealers, like any small business, are out to make a buck, but Pellegrino said that at the end of the day, he knows if he sells you a car, he might see you at the next community event he attends. He wants to be able to look you in the eye and be proud of the business he conducted with you.

"(The tent sale) is a circus show," Pellegrino said. "They take the slickest, sharpest sales people and they’re going to make the most money they can on you and they will never see you again and you’ll never see them again. For us, we’re here, we’re in your community, we’re at all of your community events, we sponsor you and support you. Support us and forget the circus show, because that’s all this is is a circus show. "

Castilone employs more than 35 people and Castilone and Strauss have invested more than $2.5 million in remodeling and expanding their business, with another expansion just starting that will raise the total investment to more than $3 million. They pay local taxes on all that property.

Asked about the support Castilone provides to local charity, Steve said they don't normally seek publicity for their contributions, but they support local youth sports teams, sponsor four local charity golf tournaments and recently made a $5,000 contribution to the YMCA for the Y's youth camp. That donation will probably send 20 kids to camp this summer, Strauss said.

"When we did it, my sales manager said we should call the media, get some publicity for it," Castilone said. "I told him, 'no, we know we did it, that's all we need.' We didn't do it for the publicity. We did it because we care about our community."

Yes, Spacc is a fellow auto dealer and yes, Castilone said, his quotes in the media about his practices might upset him, but he said he wasn't worried about that.

“I want him to know that he’s in my backyard and this is our area, so go to Dunkirk and sell your cars to your own community, or open up a legitimate business and stay open 365 days a year where people can call you and come back to you again, and open a shop so you can fix these people’s cars," Castilone said. "Then you know what, it’s all fair competition.” 

June 7, 2016 - 1:52pm

Press release:

Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge is offering for bid 139 acres of grassland hay in five different fields ranging in size from 36 to 81 acres. The refuge annually provides a total of 1,400 acres of grassland habitat for migratory birds and resident wildlife. Active management of these grasslands is necessary to provide the highest quality nesting and migration habitat.

The refuge haying program helps in this management process by reducing encroachment of broad leaf weeds and shrubs.

Hay will be allocated on a highest bid per field basis for each field. Sealed bids will be accepted until 12 p.m., Saturday, July 2. An official Bid Sheet, available from the refuge headquarters, is required to make a bid. Completed Bid Sheets can be mailed to, or dropped off at the refuge headquarters at 1101 Casey Road, Basom, NY 14013 and must contain all the information requested.

If you have any questions about the haying program or would like to see the fields, please call Madeline Prush at 585-948-5445, ext. 7036.

Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge is located midway between Rochester and Buffalo, and is managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

June 7, 2016 - 12:14pm

Press release:

The Batavia Business Improvement District (BID) is pleased to announce the beginning of the season for the Genesee Country Farmers’ Market located at the Downtown Batavia Public Market.

The market is located at Bank and Alva streets and will operate from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays beginning this Friday, June 10th until Oct. 28th.

The market will offer fresh fruits, vegetables, flowers, coffee, crafts and more.

Please come this Friday to join the many others who support the newly merged markets and to support the Downtown with this new venture.

For questions regarding the market, please contact Market President Bob Austen at (585) 991-8339.

June 7, 2016 - 10:32am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business, news, downtown.


adamtab_june62016.jpgJust 10 years ago, Batavia was a city barely hanging on. Nobody could imagine, said City Manager Jason Molino, that things would have turned around enough by 2016 that Batavia could be a serious contender for a $10 million prize in a competition for downtown revitalization projects.

Genesee County Economic Development Center CEO Steve Hyde said Batavia is certainly a top contender in the Finger Lakes Region because of the progress made, the joint initiatives underway, the recent wins in job creation in Genesee County. 

Gov. Andrew Cuomo loves competitions for economic development, Hyde said, and Finger Lakes came out on top a few years ago in a competition of the state's 10 economic development regions, winning a $500 million prize. Of that $500 million, 34 percent is earmarked for use in Genesee County, primarily at the high-tech Science, Technology and Advanced Manufacturing Park (STAMP) in Alabama. With Dairy Farmers of America taking over the $200 million Quaker Muller food processing plant in the ag park, and 1366 Technologies heading into STAMP, Batavia his hitting all the high points the governor's office looks for in these competitions.

"(At build out), we're talking about 30,000 to 50,000 direct and indirect jobs in the region," Hyde said. "In the Finger Lakes Region, what other community is poised to benefit off that job growth more than Batavia? It will be difficult for any other community."

Stiff competition may come from Rochester, which is battling one of the highest poverty rates in the nation, and fighting poverty is a key goal of the governor's office, but Rochester also got $100 million from that $500 million prize for its anti-poverty efforts. The $10 million could have a bigger impact in Batavia, which could be a factor in the prize consideration.

"The $10 million is a potential drop in the bucket in terms of explosive transformation for Rochester," Hyde said. "The state likes to look at the leverage model and when it looks at $10 million in Batavia and what it could do in Rochester when they have $100 million already committed, they will look at the marginal benefit. That's just my personal view."

Every city and several villages and towns in the Finger Lakes Region are competing for the same $10 million prize, and we should know by the end of June which community wins the award, which would be spent on projects over a five-year period.

Yesterday's panel discussion at the Generation Center on Center Street, with Molino, Hyde, Economic Development Coordinator Julie Pacatte and County Manager Jay Gsell, was a chance to share with the community how Batavia will respond to the application request and gather feedback on how the questions will be answered.

"You would think for a $10-million prize, they would have a 40-page stack of paperwork, but it's just a two-page application," said Councilman Adam Tabelski (inset photo), who moderated the discussion.

The application needs to address issues about downtown boundaries, mixed use, walkability, public gathering places and economic opportunity.

The city already has traction in some key initiatives, Molino said, most notably its brownfield program, known as the Batavia Opportunity Area, or BOA. An experienced brownfield developer has already committed to redeveloping the former Dellapenna building on Ellicott Street, and there is interest from developers in the city's other four target BOA areas.

"Over the past 18 months, we've seen the most interest yet in investment in Batavia," Molino said.

Just an announcement that the city won the prize, if it won, would generate even more interest, Molino said.

Pacatte said Batavia is getting developer attention because of its mixed-use potential. Downtown scores well on walkability ratings; it has parks and open space, both retail and business space and the city's initiative to bring quality housing to downtown has been tremendously successful. The BDC helped developers open up nine refurbished apartments downtown, and all were leased immediately. The apartments at the former WBTA building at Swan and East Main are also all rented, even though two of them have not yet been completed.

"We think that's a great testament to what can happen in our market," Pacatte said. 

Pacatte also revealed that in addition to a microbrewery and restaurant incubator being planned by Matt Gray and Jon Mager for the former Newberry building on Main Street, they are also planning a $1.5 million investment to convert the second and third floors of the building into apartments.

Gsell said the city's investment in infrastructure, notably the current work on Washington Avenue, is a further sign the city is moving in the right direction and creating an environment developers will find attractive. 

Other projects in Batavia's favor, Molino said, are the flood insurance rating program, which has helped reduce the cost of flood insurance for affected properties by 15 percent, and Batavia's first-in-the-state zombie property law. Batavia is showing tangible success in dealing with zombie properties, which is still unique in the state.

All of these efforts will give Batavia a good start on dealing with its own poverty rates, Hyde said, and putting people to work and reducing poverty is the main reason all of these economic develop efforts exist in the first place. 

"If we say we're a democracy and we're a free enterprise society, then we address the poverty issue," Hyde said. "The only way we get a society to function well is if we create opportunities for everybody."


The video below is part of Batavia's application for the prize.

June 4, 2016 - 8:00am


The Batavia Business and Professional Women’s Club (BBPW) 2016 Scholarship Committee awarded scholarships Thursday to five Genesee County high school, two Genesee Valley Educational Partnership (GVEP) and one Genesee Community College students. They were presented at the club's June Banquet at Batavia Country Club.

The 2016 Scholarship Award winners pictured from left above are: Jennifer Yuhnke (GVEP), Heidi Young (GCC), Emily Sherman (Notre Dame HS), Alyssa Wilson (GVEP), Noelle Bartz (Batavia HS), Luca Zambito (Notre Dame HS), Jordan D’Alba (Oakfield HS). Also pictured are Vicki Wolak (president of BBPW) and Brenda Chapell (chairwoman of BBPW Scholarship Committee. Recipient Emma Patterson (Pembroke HS) is not pictured.

The high school students each received a $750 check to support their educational and career goals. These scholarships are open to Genesee County high schools seniors (male or female). Each student maintained a grade-point average of 85 percent or higher, completed a one-page BPW application with a letter of recommendation from a school staff member, and submitted a personal essay discussing their achievements and future goals, as well as an essay from a parent. The finalists were interviewed by the BBPW Scholarship Committee in May and were notified by one of the scholarship committee members.

The Genesee Community College (GCC) adult student received a $500 scholarship award. The selection process for the GCC award is completed by the Genesee Community College Foundation.

The Genesee Valley Educational Partnership (GVEP) students each received a $250 scholarship award. These students were selected through the GVEP, Student Services Committee.


Additionally, BBPW club members voted at their May Meeting on the Service Awards to be distributed and this year. Four $300 checks were awarded. Pictured from left are: President Wolak, Luann Henry (chairwoman of BBPW Service Award Committee), Patricia Arnold (Genesee Cancer Assistance), Anne Barone (Crossroads House), Ed Spence (Operation Injured Soldiers), Jim Duval (Bethany Volunteer Fire Department). To be considered for the service award, a letter written on appropriate letterhead had to be sent to the BBPW requesting consideration.

To find out more about BBPW scholarships and service awards visit this web page:

The next fundraising event is Oct. 15 -- the Basket & Live Auction and Dinner being held at the Ascension Parish Hall on Sumner Street in Batavia. Doors open at 5 p.m. and dinner will be served at 6. Basket drawings and live auction to follow. The theme is Mexican Fiesta. Tickets are on sale now for $20 or two for $35. All proceeds from this event benefit Genesee County scholarships and the service organizations.

To purchase tickets or donate to the auction, please contact Michelle at 585-297-0779 or send an e-mail to [email protected].

June 3, 2016 - 2:50pm

A TV monitor that scrolls a continuous loop of ads for local businesses and things of interest in the county will soon be found in the Batavia DMV Office.

On Wednesday, the Ways and Means Committee approved County Clerk Michael Cianfrini's request for permission to install an AdMonitor on a wall inside the DMV, at no cost to the county, other than the electricity used to run it.

"I'm really interested in advertising the motor vehicle office, to (encourage people to) renew locally," Cianfrini said. "We found that a lot of people have no idea that if you go online and do your transactions, that the county gets nothing. They assume it's the same whether you do it in an office or out of office. So it's a good way to get the word out."

The system is prerecorded, with the information provided to AdMonitor, which supplies the equipment, services it and replaces it if need be.

The monitor will feature advertising for local businesses and the county will have five ad spots to call attention to whatever they'd like to call attention to -- from reporting welfare fraud and notifying the public of upcoming immunization clinics, to Youth Bureau activities or happenings at the fairgrounds or the county Park & Forest.

"They also intersperse trivia and other little things to keep people entertained while they wait," Cianfrini said.

Wait? What wait?

"The times I've been in your office, I didn't have to wait," said Committee Chairman Bob Bausch. "I think you move us through pretty doggone quick!"

Whatever is displayed can be switched up and changed from time to time, of course. 

"I've seen this in several restaurants. It does grab your attention. Because I like to play trivia, it's kind of cool," Committee Member Ray Cianfrini. "But you may have a captive audience, like the Department of Social Services, where you have a waiting-room situation, and it soothes the crowd."

Committee Member Rochelle Stein asked if there is any opportunity to make money with it.

No, the county clerk said, but by calling attention to specific activities or promotions, there's the potential to increase foot traffic and participation .

More AdMonitors are possible down the road, the clerk and committee members said, possibly at the DSS and the Office of the Aging on Bank Street.


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