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December 24, 2015 - 1:34pm
posted by Billie Owens in batavia, Chapin Manufacturing, business.

(Submitted photo and story from Chapin Manufacturing, Inc.)

We do not often these days hear about lifelong employment and people who spend their entire career at one company. But, that very thing has happened here in Batavia at Chapin Manufacturing. Batavia native Ron Odessa joined Chapin in September 1965 and just celebrated his 50th anniversary with the company.

Mr. Odessa’s anniversary celebration was capped off by a presentation of a solid gold “Chapin Chip” presented to him at the annual shareholders’ luncheon by Andris Chapin, chairman of the Board of Directors. He accepted the gift graciously, saying with a sly grin, “Things are going well here, I’m thinking about making a career of it.”

Upon close inspection, a visitor might notice the name Ronald Odessa on many of the patents hanging in the hallway at Chapin. These innovations were made possible by Ron’s imagination, creativity and pragmatism developed during a lifetime spent in Manufacturing, Engineering and Quality.   

In his spare time, Mr. Odessa, an eighth degree Black Belt, teaches martial arts at Borell’s Karate Academy in Batavia, and was once considered somewhat of a rock star having played in a well-known Batavia-based band in the 1950s.                  

Chapin International, Inc., is a manufacturer of compressed air sprayers and broadcast spreaders. Homeowners and commercial customers know the familiar red Chapin logo means quality, innovative engineering and quality.

December 24, 2015 - 1:23pm
posted by Billie Owens in business, Announcements.

Bergen-based Liberty Pumps, which is celebrating a half century in business this year, sent us this photo to share with you of their entire crew. They wish everyone "Happy Holidays!"

December 22, 2015 - 4:52pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in employment, jobs, business.

Genesee County's November unemployment percentage hit its lowest rate in nearly a decade, according to data released today by the Department of Labor.

The November rate was 4.6, which is better than the 5.1 rate a year ago, and better than the 8.5 rate at the height of the recession in 2009.

The rate in 2006 was 4.1 and it was 4.7 in 2007.

The October 2015 rate was 4.2. The November rate is traditionally higher than the October rate.

There are 200 more Genesee County residents employed in 2015 than a year ago, with 28,200 reportedly having jobs.

The GLOW region unemployment rate is 4.8 percent, compared to 5.6 percent a year ago.

There are 22,700 non-farm jobs in the county, compared to 22,900 a year ago and 23,200 in October.

December 21, 2015 - 8:43pm
posted by Raymond Coniglio in Le Roy, Orcon Industries, business.

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Employees of Orcon Industires paused to wish America's veterans a Merry Christmas during the company's annual holiday party Friday at Batavia Downs.

Workers at the Le Roy company recently decided to donate their year-end bonus to the Liberty Fund, a North Carolina-based organization that provides all-terrain wheelchairs to wounded veterans. Orcon management matched the donation, allowing for the purchase of two wheelchairs.

News of the donation reached Fox News commentator Bill O'Reilly — a major supporter of the Independence Fund — who thanked the Orcon team for their donation during an "O'Reilly Factor" broadcast last week.

(Submitted photo.)

December 21, 2015 - 2:28pm
posted by Billie Owens in business, BID, charles men's shop.

Press release:

The Batavia Business Improvement District (BID) would like to announce the winner of the Downtown Batavia Holiday Window Decorating Contest. It is Charles Men’s Shop, located at 200 E. Main St.

As the winner of the contest, Charles Men’s Shop will receive $200 as the prize for the best window. Second and third place were Adam Miller Toy and Bicycle, and Art Ah La Carte, respectively.

The annual contest is a chance for downtown businesses to not only put their best foot forward in decorating their windows, it is also an opportunity for them to encourage people to come downtown and walk around, hence “More Feet Downtown.”

Ten judges, who are senior ladies, were driven by bus, which was provided through the Genesee County Office for the Aging. Anita Dziekan, of Batavia, coordinated the group and provided them with Santa hats and made the experience a very merry morning. The judges walked around the downtown and viewed 16 windows.

Even before the official judging today, Dec. 21, the judges also looked at the windows at night to see the displays lit up. The judges were impressed not only by the display, but also admitted that their window looks wonderful and inviting even at night.

The judges ranked the windows based on certain criteria, such as creativity, attracted a person to want to go inside, or if the content was related to their business, among other criteria. For example, the judges liked that Councilperson Rosemary Christian took the time to decorate one of the Carr’s vacant windows.

“Given the great weather, they were able to walk around a lot more and discuss the windows and what they saw downtown. It was very insightful to hear their comments,” said Laurie Oltramari, BID executive director.

“Walkability is my primary focus for the downtown. If people do not want to walk around, they will not stay or even come. It is a simple answer to a complex set of challenges.”

You can post on the Downtown Batavia Business Improvement District Facebook page or contact Laurie Oltramari at (585) 344-0900 or e-mail [email protected] to share pictures or to ask questions about the contest. Please contact David Howe at Charles Men’s Shop at (585) 343-2086 to coordinate a time to take a picture of their windows!

December 18, 2015 - 5:50pm
posted by Raymond Coniglio in Le Roy, Le Roy New York LLC, business.

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The investment group Le Roy New York, LLC, is hoping its plans to renovate 24 Main St. will move forward next year.

A group of Le Roy investors is hoping their efforts to renovate 24 Main St. kicks into high gear in the new year.

The Le Roy Board of Education in January will consider offering tax breaks for projects like the one proposed for 24 Main St. Plans call for its conversion to a mix of commercial and residential uses.

The school district is the last of four taxing entities being asked to offer the tax incentive.

Meanwhile, a revitalization group that has been pushing for the creation of a downtown historic district, hopes to win state approval by March. When that happens, properties within the district would be eligible for preservation tax incentives.

The investment group, Le Roy New York, LLC, was created in 2013 in an unsuccessful effort to save the former Wiss Hotel from the wrecking ball. The group turned its attention to 24 Main St. — the former Java’s coffee shop — last year, and announced plans to convert the property to ground-floor retail with three apartments on the top two floors.

The LLC is hoping to raise $250,000, and so far has $180,500 toward that goal, said Bob Fussell, a village attorney and LLC member. He said tax incentives are essential for attracting new investors.

“We’re not going to start the project until we find out whether the schools approve (the exemption) and until we find out whether we get into the historic district,” Fussell said.

“Once those things are done, it’s going to make sense to invest,” he added. “But until then we’re not giving the investors the full advantage.”

The Residential-Commercial Urban Exemption Program (Section 485-a of the state Real Property Tax Law) allows municipalities, counties and school districts to offer a declining, 12-year partial property tax exemption for non-residential property converted to a mix of residential and commercial uses.

Projects must cost at least $10,000 to be eligible. Properties are 100-percent exempt from taxes on assessed value attributed to the conversion project for the first eight years. The exemption then gradually falls to 20 percent in the final year.

Counties and school districts are allowed to approve the exemption program once the municipalities have done so.

The Le Roy Village Board approved the program on July 22. The Town Board followed suit on Aug. 27, although councilmen included a provision limiting its application to buildings within the planned historic district.

The Genesee County Legislature adopted the program after a public hearing on Nov. 23. The Le Roy Board of Education has scheduled its own public hearing for 7 p.m. Jan. 12.

Fussell said the program encourages local investment, without cutting local tax revenue.

“It’s not like we’re not going to be paying taxes on the property,” Fussell said. “We’re just going to be paying the same taxes we are now.”

Although an investor could claim the tax exemption for conversion of any property in Le Roy, its focus is effectively on the village’s commercial district.

“The whole object is to revitalize Main Street,” he added. “The idea is to take buildings that are degrading and falling apart, and make them vibrant and successful.”

A minimum investment in the project is $1,500. For more information, visit www.24mainleroy.org.

Tax incentives offered via inclusion in a registered historic district, may take longer to materialize.

The Preservation League of New York State awarded a $4,000 grant to Le Roy in October 2014. The grant was to hire Preservation Studios of Buffalo to complete a State and National Register of Historic Places nomination for a historic district in Downtown Le Roy.

The grant was secured by the Main Street Revitalization Committee, under the auspices of the Le Roy Business Council.

Jennifer Keys, who chairs the committee, said state approval has taken longer than expected.

“Apparently there was a combination of things,” Keys said. “The project was a little bit bigger than (Preservation Studios) thought it would be. At the same time, they had pretty massive growth as an agency and they were understaffed.”

The state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation rejected the first draft of the nomination submitted this past summer. Preservation Studios was able to dedicate staff to the project, and a second nomination was submitted in late October, Keys said.

The hope is that Le Roy’s application will come up for review sometime in March, Keys said.

“It’s definitely taking a lot longer than we thought it would, but it is moving forward,” Keys said.

December 18, 2015 - 11:17am
posted by Raymond Coniglio in Le Roy, Frost Ridge Campground, business.

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The Le Roy Zoning Board of Appeals conducted a public hearing Thursday on Frost Ridge Campground. Pictured, is Board Member Thomas Spadaro and Chairperson Debbi Jackett. (Photos by Howard Owens.)

After months of legal wrangling, the argument over concerts at Frost Ridge Campground on Thursday returned to where it began.

With the Le Roy Zoning Board of Appeals, whose members listened to about 90 minutes of testimony and public comment on whether the concerts are an allowable, non-conforming use under town zoning law.

The board adjourned without voting. Debbi Jackett, chairperson, said the ZBA has 62 days in which to issue a decision.

About 60 people attended the hearing, which was held in Town Court. The hearing was conducted a day before a deadline set by a Supreme Court judge earlier this month.

The ZBA in 2013 ruled concerts allowable. Neighbors as well as the Town of Le Roy subsequently filed lawsuits aiming to reverse that decision.

On Thursday, the ZBA heard formal testimony from David Roach, attorney for Frost Ridge owners David and Greg Luetticke-Archbell; and from Mindy Zoghlin, an attorney representing families who are opposed to the concerts.

Roach maintained that the “campground and attendant recreational activities, including amplified music/concerts and limited food service” are all prior, non-conforming uses.

Citing case law, he said larger outdoor concerts may represent a change in degree, but do not alter the “essential character” of the facility and are still considered an allowable prior use.

Zoning law draws no distinction between concerts by small bands with lower amplification, and performances on a large stage using a professional sound system.

“What’s the difference? They both emit sound — that’s what we’re dealing with,” Roach said. “The primary difference is that one is louder than the other.

“What I suggest to you is that’s not a land-use issue, that is a noise ordinance (issue),” he added. “Anyone who has an issue with the decibel levels can seek relief through the noise ordinance, not through the land-use argument.”

Zoghlin urged the ZBA to reject the Frost Ridge application. Outdoor concerts of the type Frost Ridge has been hosting, are beyond what could be reasonably considered prior use.

“Even if music was played in the campground for skiers and campers in the past, Frost Ridge has illegally expanded that use,” she said.

“There’s a big difference between using an amplifier to play radio music, and hosting large commercial concerts on a specially constructed sound stage using professional audio equipment,” she said.

“Concerts with national acts, a professional stage and a sound system that attracts hundreds of people at a time were never held at this campground until 2010,” Zoghlin said. “Therefore they cannot be a prior non-conforming use as a matter of law.”

Reid Whiting, attorney for the Town of Le Roy, was offered the opportunity to give formal testimony but declined.

Thirteen residents also spoke, several of them in support of Frost Ridge.

Barbara Buchanan has lived on North Road near the campground since 1974.

“Frost Ridge has a history of providing music from different venues,” she said, including amplified music on the ski slopes.

“None of the music, over 40 years, has ever bothered us,” she said. “We consider the campground to be a very good neighbor — we don’t have a single complaint against them.”

Not so for Nancy Palmer, who has lived on Wilcox Road since 1997. She said summer concerts at Frost Ridge are too noisy.

“I find it very disturbing,” she said. “I can hear it through my house … I can hear the bass pounding through my walls and through my windows.”

Palmer said the concerts are loud enough to spook her horse.

“For those of us who are close, it is very loud and it is very disturbing,” she said.

Others speakers cited the positive impact Frost Ridge has on the community, such as fundraisers for the Le Roy Fire Department.

David Pullyblank, of Parmalee Road, said Frost Ridge campers support local businesses — including the farm market he owns on Lake Street Road (Route 19).

“Campers are people that want to come to our community and spend money,” he said. “I think it’s essential to have their business in our area.”

The Luetticke-Archbells have owned the Conlon Road campground since 2008, and have been hosting concerts in an outdoor amphitheatre since 2012. In 2013, the ZBA found the concerts permissible under zoning law.

Neighbors of the campsite and the Town of Le Roy both filed lawsuits challenging the ZBA’s ruling. Supreme Court Judge Robert Noonan invalidated the decision in April on technical grounds, and ordered the ZBA to conduct a new public hearing.

In November, the Town Board set a Dec. 10 public hearing on a local law to establish a new, town-only zoning board. Earlier this month Interim Supreme Court Judge Mark Grisanti ordered the town to cancel its hearing, and ordered the existing ZBA to conduct a hearing on Frost Ridge by Dec. 18.

Jackett set a number of ground rules at the beginning of Thursday’s hearing. Attorneys submitted written statements and evidence, but were given limited time to address the board directly. Residents who signed in, were allowed one minute to speak.

ZBA member Robert Scott, who ran unsuccessfully for town supervisor against incumbent Stephen Barbeau in November, recused himself from any involvement in the Frost Ridge application.

Jackett did not indicate when she expects the ZBA to issue a ruling. Comments on the matter will be accepted in writing by the Town Clerk until Dec. 27, she said.

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December 18, 2015 - 10:05am
posted by Howard B. Owens in 1366 Technologies, GCEDC, STAMP, Alabama, business.

Press release:

The Board of Directors of the Genesee County Economic Development Center (GCEDC) authorized a public hearing for 1366 Technologies, Inc., and approved a final resolution for an amendment to an original application for assistance from Manning Squires Hennig Co., Inc., at the agency’s Dec. 17 board meeting.

1366 Technologies, Inc., plans to build its first commercial Direct Wafer™ production plant at the Science and Technology Advanced Manufacturing Park (STAMP) in the Town of Alabama.

The project includes the construction of a new 130,000-square-foot manufacturing facility that will grow to eventually create 1,000 full-time jobs and approximately another 5,000 construction and indirect and induced jobs. The total economic impact is preliminarily estimated to be in the range of $1.5 billion over the next 10 years.

1366 Technologies, Inc., is seeking approval for approximately $34.7 million in sales, mortgage and property tax exemptions. The planned capital investment will total approximately $700 million.

“As the largest economic development project in the history of Genesee County, 1366 Technologies will undoubtedly be a game changer in establishing our region as a major high-tech manufacturing hub,” said GCEDC Chairman Paul Battaglia. “This project also will create hundreds of manufacturing jobs and indirect supply chain jobs not to mention hundreds of jobs throughout the construction process.”

The GCEDC board also approved amended incentives for Manning Squires Hennig Co., Inc., a well-known general contractor in Finger Lakes and Western New York regions. The company will expand its corporate offices and maintenance facilities in the Town of Batavia by up to 5,000 square feet, as well as renovate its existing shop and office space.

The project was approved for sales tax, mortgage tax and property tax exemptions totaling $215,529 in incentives. The project’s capital investment is approximately $2.2 million.

“We are pleased to see continued investments being made to improve the facilities of existing companies like Manning Squires Hennig in the Town of Batavia,” said Steve Hyde, president and CEO, GCEDC. “We remain committed to help existing businesses in the County expand their operations in our ongoing efforts to enhance the business climate throughout the region.”

In other agency business, the board approved a 2-percent salary increase for all GCEDC staff for 2016, as well as an increase for the GCEDC office manager.

December 17, 2015 - 10:29pm
posted by Raymond Coniglio in Le Roy, Frost Ridge Campground, business.

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David Roach, attorney for Frost Ridge Campground, offers testimony to the Le Roy Zoning Board of Appeals during a public hearing Thursday on the issue of live concerts at the campground. (Photo by Howard Owens.)

Le Roy’s joint Zoning Board of Appeals reached no decision Thursday night on the question of live concerts at Frost Ridge Campground.

The ZBA adjourned after a 90-minute public hearing on the matter. About 60 people attended the hearing, which was held in Town Court.

Debbi Jackett, the board chairperson, said the ZBA has 62 days in which to issue a decision on whether concerts are an allowable, non-conforming use under town zoning law.

Comments will be accepted in writing by the Town Clerk until Dec. 27, Jackett said.

The ZBA heard formal testimony from David Roach, attorney for Frost Ridge; and from Mindy Zoghlin, the attorney representing families who are opposed to the concerts. Gene Sinclair, who served as the town zoning/code enforcement officer until 2012, also testified.

Reid Whiting, attorney for the Town of Le Roy, did not comment during the hearing.

Thirteen residents also spoke, several of them in support of Frost Ridge. At least two residents, however, said the concerts are disruptive.

Thursday’s hearing was conducted a day before the deadline set by a Supreme Court judge earlier this month.

A complete story will be posted Friday morning.

December 17, 2015 - 7:13pm
posted by Raymond Coniglio in Le Roy, Orcon Industries, business.

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Employees at Orcon Industries in Le Roy have decided to donate their first year-end bonus in several years, to an organization that provides all-terrain wheelchairs for wounded veterans. Company management matched the gift, allowing for the purchase of two wheelchairs.

America’s wounded veterans sacrificed to protect our freedom.

This holiday season, employees and management at a Le Roy manufacturer made a sacrifice of their own — to help some of those same veterans better enjoy their freedom.

Workers at Orcon Industries have agreed to donate a portion of their year-end bonus pool, to the Independence Fund. The North Carolina-based nonprofit provides all-terrain wheelchairs and other services to disabled veterans.

The donation amounts to $15,000 — the cost of just one of the rugged “track chairs.”

In light of the employee decision, the management at Orcon — which makes industrial packaging at its facility on Lake Street Road — matched the gift.

“We thought we’d give our employees the opportunity to participate in something that’s pretty meaningful,” said Bruce Olson, the company president and CEO. “Something that they probably wouldn’t have been able to participate in, without us at least being the conduit.”

The key word, is “conduit.” Olson said he is a proud patriot and cares deeply for veterans' issues. But he gave all the credit to the employees.

The Independence Fund was established in 2007 to provide resources and therapies to veterans with service-connected disabilities.

Many veterans had enjoyed hunting, fishing and other outdoor activities before they were wounded. The Independence Fund’s Mobility Program allows them to get back outdoors using a variety of devices, including all-terrain wheelchairs and adaptive bicycles.

“The great thing with the Fund, is that 100 percent of the proceeds go to the soldiers,” said Michael Olson, Bruce’s son and Orcon’s general manager. “There is no administrative cost.”

Proceeds are not spent on publicity, either. In consequence, the Independence Fund is not very well-known.

It does however have a high-profile champion: political commentator Bill O’Reilly. He has not only featured the organization on his Fox News program, “The O’Reilly Factor,” but has helped it provide 1,400 wheelchairs to veterans.

That is how the Olsons first heard of the Independence Fund.

“Michael and I were talking, and we started looking at the year we had last year, which was probably the best year in the history of the company,” Bruce Olson said.

“In the past, we’ve always shared our success with our employees,” he continued. “So we were looking at what we had for a bonus pool this year to give back to the folks and it was, for us, pretty significant.”

They talked it over with partner Rick Flanagan, vice president for package design and engineering. Together, they decided to ask Orcon’s 60 employees if they would contribute to the Independence Fund. 

It was a big question. This was the first bonus pool the company has been able to offer in years.

At a company meeting this past Friday, employees watched an “O’Reilly Factor” segment on the Independence Fund. Then they were asked if they would donate.

“The room just exploded in applause,” Bruce Olson said. “The response was overwhelming — tears, hugs, thank-yous.”

There weren’t many dry eyes, he said.

Certainly not his own. 

“I’m a really emotional jerk,” he said. “So I lose it — I mean, I literally can’t finish the rest of the story. Michael finally got the message that he had to bail me out.”

The rest of the story was this: The company would match the gift.

“And they went nuts again,” he said.

Olson contacted the Independence Fund on Saturday to let them know Orcon would be making a donation. The Independence Fund, in turn, shared the news with O’Reilly.

And so during his broadcast on Wednesday, O’Reilly took a moment to thank Orcon.

Bruce Olson appreciates the attention. But he hopes any publicity generated by his company’s gift will help spread word about the Independence Fund and the work it does.

The story could have a sequel. Michael Olson said employees are already talking about ways to raise funds to make another contribution next year.

For more information about the Independence Fund, visit www.independencefund.org

To view “The O’Reilly Factor” segment on the Independence Fund, visit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=onZmuZSl82w

December 15, 2015 - 11:45am
posted by Howard B. Owens in wind farms, Alabama, zoning, business.

UPDATE 8:05 p.m.: This story has been corrected to include the right address of the property to be leased from landowner Sam Scarborough, and to reflect the proper per-foot incentive price for the proposed met tower.

A Houston-based energy company would like to figure out if there's enough wind blowing through Alabama to justify building windmills around farmland, so the company is proposing erecting a temporary, 311-foot meteorological tower.

While the town has zoning code that covers wind towers and communications towers, there's no code covering meteorological, or "met," towers.

The ambiguity has delayed a decision by the town board on whether to grant a variance, through what is known as an Incentive Zoning Application, for the tower.  

An incentive application involves the company paying an annual fee for the ability to vary from the zoning law.

In this case, EDP Renewables North America, operating as Alabama Ledge Wind Farm, LLC, already agreed to pay a $5-per-foot incentive to construct a tower that exceeds the allowable height.

Over five years, that payment comes to about $18,000.

Town officials think the tower, which will be on land leased from a local farmer, Sam Scarborough, on Gorton Road, should be at least 1,000 feet from Gorton Road.

The current proposed location is 668 feet from Gorton Road.

Using a calculation pulled from the communication tower provisions of the law for setback (the distance from the road), the town is proposing an additional incentive fee of $20 per foot.

That would drive up the five-year cost of incentives to nearly $50,000.

Jim Muscato, attorney for EDP, thinks that fee is unreasonable and excessive.

"The purpose of incentives on a project is to look at what incentives are necessary to allow the project to go forward and come up with a reasonable accommodation for the impacts associated with the project," Muscato said. "What we're talking about here is a met tower where the associated impacts are fairly modest."

While Muscato believes the 1,000-foot setback, as opposed to a setback that doubles the height of the tower, or 622 feet, is excessive, he said his company is willing to go along with that setback definition if the incentive fee is reasonable. He would like the board to propose a reasonable incentive fee.

Town Board Member Kevin Fisher suggested that $20 might be reasonable, but he doesn't have an enough information to know at this point. He doesn't know what the market price might be, and he doesn't know how much of an impact the tower might have on town residents. He hasn't heard from constituents enough to know.

"I don’t think it’s fair to us to say, 'You guys should accept it because you don't have met tower regulations or zoning laws,' " Fisher said. "We didn’t have any reason for any of this stuff until you walked in the door."

Ronald Gilbert, planning board chairman, was in the audience and he reminded the board that some years ago, EDP, operating then as Horizon Energy, proposed a wind farm in Alabama, which is how the current zoning code came to be written, and it was Horizon officials who said then no zoning code covering met towers was necessary because a met tower wouldn't be part of the wind farm.

Town Attorney Mark Boylan said the conversation made him a little uncomfortable because the town is looking at establishing a requirement for incentives based on two sections of zoning code that do not deal directly with met towers. That introduces an element of an arbitrary decision.

When he hears the other attorney, he said, using words such as arbitrary and reasonable and unreasonable and he's offering a compromise, then, Boylan, said he's concerned about the potential for litigation if the applicant finds the board's decision unacceptable.

Muscato said he doesn't mean to imply his client is contemplating litigation, but then added, "I think what a court is going to assess is that a $50,000 payment over five years of a permit is either not calculable or reasonable or whether it is considered arbitrary. Even if we can't get past the thousand feet or two times the height, we're willing to talk about a more reasonable calculation that would be reasonable for what an incentive payment for a setback would be."

The town board tabled the zoning incentive application so more research can be done and they can put more thought into the request. It will be taken up again at the January meeting.

Only two residents turned out for the public hearing portion of the meeting, David Bencic and Randy Chalmers.

Bencic delivered a page-and-a-half statement that raised questions and concerns about any future wind farm in the area. Many of his questions were answered in the course of his presentation.

Chalmers' statement was much shorter.

"I'm really kind of against them (wind turbines), if you want to know my opinion," Chalmers said. "That's all I've got to say."

December 14, 2015 - 2:16pm
posted by Raymond Coniglio in Le Roy, University of Rochester Medical Center, business.

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Drs. Andrea Kudel, left, and Kelly Rose Nichols are on staff and accepting new patients at Le Roy Medical Associates. The primary care practice opens today at its new location at 127 W. Main St., Le Roy.

When it was time to recruit doctors for its primary care practice in Le Roy, the University of Rochester Medical Center didn’t have to look far.

Kelly Rose Nichols, D.O., grew up in Le Roy as a member of the Stein farming family. She went to medical school in Philadelphia, but never felt comfortable in a big city.

“I grew up on a farm,” Nichols said. “I couldn’t figure out how to lock and unlock the house!

“It was about six weeks before the novelty of being able to walk everyplace wore off. I said, ‘This isn’t for me, I need to go home.’ ”

Now, she and Andrea Kudel, D.O., have joined longtime practitioner Vladimir Gaspar, M.D., in a relocated and much-expanded Le Roy Medical Associates.

The practice was formerly located on Lake Street Road. It reopens today in its new location in Le Roy Village Plaza at 127 W. Main St.

Hometown medical practice is familiar territory for Nichols, who picked her profession early in life.

“When I was 3, I had the Fisher-Price doctor kit,” she said. “I literally had no other career plan.”

When she was in high school, Nichols thought she should get some hands-on experience. As it happens, she worked for Dr. Lorne Campbell, whose Genesee Family Practice at 8745 Lake Street Road eventually became Le Roy Medical Associates.

“I would come in after school, file charts, and invite myself to exciting stuff that Dr. Campbell was doing,” Nichols said.

Nichols went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in Biology at the University of Rochester, and then her doctor of Osteopathic Medicine degree from the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine.

Kudel, meanwhile, was following a similar career path.

She grew up in Williamsville, and had decided on a medical career by second grade. (“I commit to things, and that’s it,” she said.) She earned a bachelor’s degree in Biomedical Sciences from the nearby University at Buffalo, then a doctor of Osteopathic Medicine degree from the New York College of Osteopathic Medicine in Nassau County, Long Island.

Their paths crossed during their residencies in family medicine at Sisters of Charity Hospital in Buffalo, where Kudel was chief resident.

They also formed a friendship. So earlier this year when URMC was recruiting a doctor to practice Le Roy — well, Nichols happened to know a great candidate in Buffalo.

Le Roy is a small town, but it’s minutes away from URMC and everything else Rochester offers. Kudel calls family practice here, “the best of both worlds.”

“I like getting to know people better,” said Kudel, 30, who lives with her husband in the Town of Sweden. “You know where they’re coming from; you get to understand them in a more comprehensive way.”

Nichols, 30, lives in the Village of Le Roy with her husband, Ben Nichols, and their two daughters.

“This is truly family practice,” Nichols said. “And you feel like you’re more a part of the community.”

The Le Roy primary care practice was formerly part of Lakeside Health System of Brockport. It was one of the properties sold after Lakeside closed in 2013, and renamed URMC’s Strong West.

Its growth reflects URMC’s commitment to to the region, said Dr. Wally Johnson, who directs UR Medicine Primary Care.

“These are appealing places to work, and it’s where the need is,” he said.

Johnson said Batavia has a “thriving” hospital in United Memorial Medical Center, which just this summer completed an affiliation with Rochester General Health System.

“But we know there are people in the area who want to have University of Rochester doctors as their primary care practitioners,” Johnson said. “So we think it makes very good business sense to expand our presence in the area.”

Down the road, UR may recruit another physician assistant or nurse practitioner as required in Le Roy, Johnson said.

Both Nichols and Kudel are happy with the new location, which is on one floor — and thus more handicap-accessible — and at least three times bigger than the Lake Street Road site. A new medical laboratory is on site, too.

Nichols said Dr. Gaspar has always focused on customer service. But additional exam rooms will accommodate more patients, and cut down on wait times.

“This is going to be a nice change,” Nichols said.

Le Roy Medical Associates is planning an open house for 5 to 7 p.m. Jan. 20. Meanwhile, both Nichols and Kudel are accepting new patients. For information call (585) 768-2620.

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December 11, 2015 - 4:39pm
posted by Raymond Coniglio in Frostridge Campground, Le Roy, business.

The joint Le Roy Zoning Board of Appeals will meet on Dec. 17 to conduct a public hearing on live music concerts at Frostridge Campground.

The hearing would take place a day before the deadline set last week by Interim Supreme Court Judge Mark Grisanti.

According to the public notice, Frostridge seeks an interpretation of two sections of town Zoning Code — sections 165-13 and 165-39(B) — “as they pertain to the property, particularly whether camping and attendant recreational activities, including live and recorded amplified music/concerts and limited food service are a prior non-conforming use.”

Section 165-13 establishes the legality of the prior, nonconforming use of buildings and lots. Section 165-39(B) relates to campsites: “All existing campsites of record shall be exempt from (Zoning Code), except that they shall comply with this section whenever they are sold or any addition, expansion or alteration of the use or operation is proposed.”

David and Greg Luetticke-Archbell purchased Frostridge Campground in 2008 and began having outdoor concerts in 2012. The town ZBA determined in 2013 that the concerts were a prior, nonconforming use, and thus legal under town zoning law.

Neighbors of the campsite and the Town of Le Roy both filed lawsuits alleging violations of zoning law.

This past April, Supreme Court Justice Robert C. Noonan invalidated the ZBA’s 2013 decision because the board failed to issue a proper public notice. He ordered the ZBA to schedule a new public hearing.

That hearing never took place. In November, the Town Board voted to withdraw from the intermunicipal agreement with the Village of Le Roy that established a joint ZBA and set a Dec. 10 public hearing on a law to establish a new, town-only zoning board.

The matter returned to Supreme Court where, last week, Grisanti ordered the town to cancel its Dec. 10 public hearing. He also ordered the existing ZBA to conduct a hearing on Frostridge by Dec. 18.

The ZBA hearing is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Dec. 17 at Le Roy Town Hall, 48 Main St.

December 11, 2015 - 4:10pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business, STAMP, Alabama, Le Roy.

Five projects in Genesee County are receiving more than $2.1 million in state aid, the Finger Lakes Regional Economic Development Council announced.

The aid is part of $500 million awarded to the council by the Governor's Office.

From the announcement:

Buildout of major sites in Genesee County, including: $1,500,000 to the Town of Alabama to help build water infrastructure to serve the STAMP site; $920,000 total for the Genesee Valley Agri-Business Park in Batavia and the Le Roy Food and Technology Park; $750,000 for the soon-to-be built Genesee Biogas facility at the Batavia Agri-Business Park; and $500,000 to revitalize the Newberry Building in Downtown Batavia.

From the announcement:

The Finger Lakes Regional Economic Development Council (FLREDC) was named an Upstate Revitalization Initiative (URI) Best Plan Awardee for its new strategic plan, entitled “United for Success: Finger Lakes Forward.” This means the region will receive $500 million over five years, in addition to economic development funds announced through Round V of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo’s Regional Economic Development Council competition. In total, more than $2 billion in economic development resources was awarded statewide through the Upstate Revitalization Initiative and REDC competition.

“We are proud that Governor Cuomo and New York State have singled out the Finger Lakes Regional Economic Development Council as a ‘best plan awardee’ and that we will receive half a billion dollars to move the region forward,” stated Joel Seligman and Danny Wegman, co-chairs of the Finger Lakes Regional Economic Development Council. “This is recognition that Governor Cuomo believes in the Finger Lakes and is giving our region the attention it deserves. With this infusion of funding in our pockets, we are united for success and ready to move our communities forward.”

The Finger Lakes Region’s URI plan consists of three industry clusters, or pillars, that will act as the core drivers of job and output growth: optics, photonics and imaging; agriculture and food production; and next generation manufacturing and technology. 

December 10, 2015 - 5:59pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Muller Quaker Dairy, GCEDC, batavia, business.

It's a tough time of the year for people to lose jobs, said Steve Hyde, CEO of the Genesee Economic Development Center, but there is a silver lining on the dark clouds hanging over the Quaker Muller Dairy Plant.

A large dairy processing organization is close to closing a deal to purchase 320,000-square-foot plant, which cost PepsiCo and Muller Group an estimated $200 million to build. 

"We expect it won't take long and they will employ lots of folks," Hyde said. "Probably more than Muller Quaker and it will be good for Western New York dairy farmers."

While details of the plant closing are not available, some sources indicate it won't close immediately, even so, right before Christmas is a hard time to hear you might be out of a job soon, Hyde acknowledged.

"It is a sad day, especially this time of year, and we're all very sad about it, but there is a silver lining," Hyde said.

The GCEDC is already working with the Job Bureau to find suitable replacement jobs for Muller Quaker employees, along with job search assistance and transition training, Hyde said. There may be a job fair to assist workers. Hyde noted there are a lot of local job openings right now.

While Pepsi and Muller made a substantial investment in the plant, they did so with the backing of the state and the local IDA. The state promised Pepsi/Muller some $14 million in tax credits, but those tax credits were contingent on meeting specific job creation goals.

Quaker Muller never went beyond its Phase I goals, which was a bit less than 200 jobs, Hyde said, so the company received "only a fraction" of the anticipated tax credits though Hyde did not have the exact amount of tax credits awarded immediately available.

The project was also eligible for $11 million in tax abatements related to the improvement of the former farm field, mostly in the form of a Payment in Lieu of Taxes on the increase in assessed value. Such tax abatements are not a direct subsidy but are only realized if the project is built and the property tax assessment goes up. The next owner, assuming there is one, will inherit the PILOT.

There were also federal grants that have gone into the creation of Genesee Valley Agri-Business Park that did not directly benefit Quaker Muller, but provided infrastructure, such as sewer and roads, to make the plant construction possible.

Hyde said it's impossible to say, at this point, when this dairy processing organization might complete its acquisition of the plant, but he is optimistic the deal will go through. 

UPDATE 6:15 p.m.: Empire State Development has issued the following statement: “Empire State Development will be working with the new plant owner, DFA (Dairy Farmers of America), to restart operations soon.”

UPDATE 6:20 p.m.: Assemblyman Steve Hawley said he was briefed on the plant closing last night and only recently learned of DFA's purchase plans. He's hoping DFA will rehire the displaced Muller workers. "I'm not sure what the future holds, but we're moving forward and I hope this shutdown is short term." 

UPDATE: Statement from DFA: "DFA has agreed to acquire the Muller-Quaker Dairy Plant in Batavia, NY. The acquisition is a strategic one for DFA as it is in an important milkshed for us. This facility creates multiple potential milk handling and dairy manufacturing opportunities. We are currently exploring these."

Previously: Developing: Muller Quaker plant reportedly closing

December 10, 2015 - 3:53pm

Muller Quaker Dairy apparently announced the closing of its Batavia yogurt plant today.  We have not been able to confirm that announcement with the spokeswomen for Muller Quaker.

GCEDC issued this statement a few minutes ago.

“While we are extremely disappointed about today’s announcement by Mueller Quaker Dairy, we are optimistic that the state-of-the-art manufacturing facility will continue to play a key role in the agricultural sector in our region, including remaining a major employer.

“The Genesee Agri-Business Park where the facility is located is a community asset and it continues our strategy of building and marketing sites targeting industry clusters. 

“Regardless of this announcement, we will continue to enhance the infrastructure at the Ag-Park in our efforts to bring new jobs and investment to Genesee County in the agricultural sector.

“Our immediate focus in the meantime is to do everything we can to assist the impacted employees.”

December 9, 2015 - 2:14pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Settler's Restaurant, batavia, business.

settlersmacandcheesedec92015.jpg

What started out as a daily special has become a daily staple at Settler's Restaurant -- Mac and Cheese.

"We'd see it around other places and thought we would give it a try," said John Spyropoulos. "People love mac and cheese these days. It's kind of a fad. We tried it and people loved it."

The eight-item special mac and cheese menu will be incorporated into the restaurant's regular menu next month, Spyropoulos said. 

"We're already known for our homemade soups and our Greek salads, so if this becomes one more thing we're known for, that's good," Spyropoulos said.

The choices on the menu are:

  • Homemade Mac and Cheese
  • Buffalo Chicken Mac and Cheese
  • Philly Steak Mac and Cheese
  • Tomato and Bacon Mac and Cheese
  • All-American Mac and Cheese
  • Broccoli Mac and Cheese
  • Hot Dog Mac and Cheese
  • Stinger Mac and Cheese

Settler's regulars might detect a theme to the menu -- the options match many of the recipes on the restaurant's sandwich menu.

John's wife, Miranda, created the cheese sauce (milk, cheddar and American cheese, white pepper and garlic powder), but what really tops off the huge bowl of elbow noodles is the Ritz-cracker crumb topping.

"Now we have to make cheese sauce all the time," Miranda said. "We’re going through gallons and gallons of milk and butter."

December 8, 2015 - 12:51pm

Press release:

Cornell Cooperative Extension of Genesee County is pleased to announce that MeatSuite.com, an online directory of livestock farms selling in bulk, has arrived in our county!

MeatSuite.com connects consumers interested in buying local meat with local farms selling meat in bulk, thus promoting farm viability and food affordability.

Cornell Cooperative Extension's research has found that selling meat directly to consumers by the whole, half, or quarter animal is more profitable for the farmer and more affordable for consumers. When purchased in bulk, local meat prices are competitive with meat sold in grocery stores.

Farms interested in joining can visit www.MeatSuite.com or contact their local Cornell Cooperative Extension office for more information.

Creating a MeatSuite farm profile is one way to reach new potential customers and expand your farm’s online presence. MeatSuite offers you an opportunity to explain to consumers why your farm is unique. While we cannot guarantee that MeatSuite will generate sales for you, we encourage you to take a few minutes to join. It’s easy, fast, and free. The more farms that join, the more consumers will see MeatSuite as a great shopping resource.

On Thursday, Dec. 17, at 7 p.m. there will be a Meat Suite Producer Informational Meeting held at the CCE Ontario County office -- contact: Marie Anselm, 585-394-3977, ext. 402. Nancy Glazier, NWNY Team Small Farms/Livestock Specialist, will provide an overview of MeatSuite, how to develop your farm’s pro-file, and meat cutout.

This meeting will be also broadcast live at two locations; Wyoming County CCE -- contact Sarah Carlson 585-786-2251, ext. 112; and Niagara County CCE -- contact Amanda Henning 716-433-8839, ext. 231 for more information.

MeatSuite.com went live in 2012 and originally served nine counties. The current expansion, made possible through a grant from the New York Farm Viability Institute, reaches 16 new counties, including Genesee County.

For more information contact Jan Beglinger at 585-343-3040 ext. 132 or at [email protected]

December 4, 2015 - 12:43pm
posted by Billie Owens in business, agriculture, Cornell Cooperative Extension.

Press release:

To help support our local agriculture industry and to provide producers with expert information, Genesee County Cornell Cooperative Extension offers its annual “Agriculture Enrollment.”

Farms enrolled in 2016 will receive direct access to the NWNY Dairy, Livestock and Field Crops Team and Cornell Vegetable Program specialists who work hard in our region to address the concerns of our producers.

The Cornell Vegetable Program (CVP) specialists work together with Cornell University faculty and extension educators statewide to address the issues that impact the industry. The CVP provides educational programs and information to growers, processors and agri-business professionals, arming them with the knowledge to profitably produce and market safe and healthful vegetable crops. This in turn contributes to the viability of farms and the economic well-being of New York State. Specifically, the CVP focuses on food safety, variety evaluation, market development, pest management and cultural practices.

The NWNY Dairy, Livestock and Field Crops Team specialists work together with Cornell University faculty and extension educators statewide to provide service to farms large and small, whether dairy, livestock, hay, corn, wheat or soybean focused. The team is part of the Cornell College of Agriculture & Life Sciences Pro-Dairy program outreach. Specialists cover the areas of dairy production, field crop production, farm business management, small farm management and livestock production. For dairy farms, a bilingual dairy specialist provides producers with employee training and human resource facilitation in Spanish.

Both teams serve Genesee County by providing educational programs with classroom and hands-on training, farmer discussion groups, newsletters with timely production information, telephone/email consultations, direct mailings of special events, as well as farm visits and research opportunities. Enrollees are eligible for reduced registration fees for educational meetings.

Cost of enrollment is $65 per team. Cornell Pest Management Guidelines (hardcopy and online) are available for an additional cost. To receive an enrollment form please contact Jan Berlinger at 585-343-3040, ext. 132, or at [email protected].

December 4, 2015 - 12:35pm
posted by Billie Owens in business, HEALTHeLINK.

Press release:

HEALTHeLINK today announced ACM Medical Laboratory, Inc., has joined Western New York’s clinical information exchange as a data source. Recent laboratory results from ACM’s patient service centers in Albion, Batavia, Cuba and Olean can now be securely accessed via HEALTHeLINK by more than 3,400 participating physicians. 

“By being able to view the most current clinical information, such as recent lab results, on the patients they are treating, physicians are able to provide more informed care,” said Dan Porreca, executive director, HEALTHeLINK. “In addition to being able to provide timely and effective treatment, physicians can also avoid duplicating lab tests which may have already been performed on their patients.”

Nearly 100 percent of laboratory results generated in Western New York hospitals and independent laboratory centers are currently available to participating physicians through HEALTHeLINK.

”We are pleased that our providers in the Western New York market can now access our results through HEALTHeLINK,” said Tom DePalma, national sales director, ACM Medical Laboratory. “The technical team at HEALTHeLINK provided excellent support in the development and validation process, essential for us to meet the needs of the healthcare community we serve.”           

ACM, an affiliate of Rochester Regional Health System, is a full-service clinical and pathology laboratory providing high-quality diagnostic testing services for physicians, hospitals, employers, and other health care providers and the patients they serve. For more information, visit acmlab.com.

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