Online News. Community Views.

>> Download <<
The Batavian Mobile
Droid | iPhone

Recent comments

Community Sponsors

news

March 28, 2017 - 6:18pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in crime, batavia, news.

If necessary, District Attorney Lawrence Friedman will seek new grand jury indictments against a former Batavia resident who had his Genesee County convictions on sexual molestation charges thrown out by an appeals court.

In July 2014, after a jury trial, Sean A. Vickers, 47, was convicted of two counts of sodomy in the first degree, two counts of criminal sexual act first degree and sexual abuse first degree.

The appellate division of the Fourth Judicial Department threw out the first four convictions but left the fifth stand and ruled that the seven-year sentence imposed on that count was unduly harsh.

The court ruled that because Vickers was originally indicted on counts of course of sexual conduct against a child and sexual predatory assault, those were the charges he should have been tried on, even though he consented to the amended indictment.

The court ruled a defendant cannot waive his right to be tried on the original indictment, citing prior case law.

The defendant has a "fundamental and nonwaivable right to be tried only on the crimes charged," the court said, citing the prior case, People v. Graves.  

"An indictment may not be amended in any respect which changes the theory or theories of the prosecution as reflected in the evidence before the grand jury which filed it," the court said.

Then County Court Judge Robert Noonan sentenced Victors more than 100 years in state prison, a sentence that was later reduced by statute to 50 years.

The sentence was to be served concurrently with the 20 years Vickers received in Niagara County, so even though these four convictions were thrown out, Vickers remains in state prison.

At his sentencing, Friedman said he couldn't recall a child molestation case that was more disturbing. 

"This case is the worst one I've ever had," Friedman said. "I've been in the criminal justice system for 40 years both as a prosecutor and a judge and I've never had anybody who has been prolific a predator as you have been Mr. Vickers."

Today, Friedman said he will seek permission to appeal this ruling, but if he can't, or the people don't prevail on appeal, he isn't done prosecuting Vickers.

"Ultimately, if needed, we will go before a grand jury with our four victims," Friedman said.

March 28, 2017 - 4:17pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in GCEDC, news, business.

Press release:

The Genesee County Economic Development Center (GCEDC)  will take action on three projects at the Board’s meeting on Thursday, March 30.

Coach Tony's, a specialty sauce food processor, is seeking to build a new 5,000-square-foot building on three acres within Apple Tree Acres. The company has been operating out of a leased facility in the Town of Bergen. Coach Tony’s is requesting that the GCEDC Board accept an application for sales tax, mortgage tax and property tax abatements. 

The board also will consider approving a final resolution for tax exemptions in the City and Town of Batavia for O-AT-KA.  In 2016, O-AT-KA made a capital investment of approximately $20.9 million for a 200,000-square-foot warehouse expansion. The capital cost increased $850,000 and as a result the sales tax increased $68,000. 

Finally, the Board will consider a final resolution for approval of a GAIN Loan Fund for Jr. Maple, which owns and operates a maple syrup production farm in Batavia. The farm started with 800 taps, and has grown to 4,800 taps in just three years. The company is seeking a GAIN! Loan fund of $30,000 to purchase a more energy-efficient boiling system to enhance its operations.

The GCEDC Board meeting is open to the public and will take place in the Innovation Zone board room on 99 Medtech Drive starting at 4 p.m. on Thursday, March 30th.

March 28, 2017 - 2:56pm
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, town of batavia.

The Batavia Town Board has called a special meeting for 6:30 p.m. Wednesday (March 29) to vote on a resolution to schedule a public hearing on the final draft of the municipality's Comprehensive Plan update.

If approved, as expected, the resolution sets the public hearing for 7 p.m. at the Town Hall on West Main Street Road. The board's monthly meeting also is scheduled for that date.

Updating the Comprehensive Plan is a major priority for the Town, which last revised the document about seven years ago. The plan governs decisions on zoning, capital improvements and budgeting, addressing key issues such as land use, natural resources, agriculture and farmland, parks and recreation, housing, economic development, transportation and government services.

Town Supervisor Gregory Post previously stated that the plan update puts the Town in prime position for growth.

The Town has held several public information sessions to explain changes to the Comprehensive Plan as well as details about the Smart Genesee/Green Genesee initiative -- a grant-funded scientific approach that connects the natural environment and business growth.

March 28, 2017 - 2:55pm

brassbataviadowns2017.jpg

This Saturday, music lovers who love brass can get an earful at Batavia Downs as five brass bands will perform in the Paddock Room.

The bands are Mighty St. Joe's Alumni Drum & Bugle Corps, Niagara Memorial Militaires Alumni Drum Corps, St. Joe's of Batavia Brass Ensemble, Parkside Brass, and Darkside of Parkside.

Food and beverages available during the performances.

Tickets are $15, which includes lunch and $10 in free play at Batavia Downs.

The show starts at 1 p.m.

Photo, Frank Panepento with his horn, on the right, Frank Cecere, T.J. Noce, assistant group sales manager for Batavia Downs, Mary Bucceri, group sales manager, and Harold McJury.

March 28, 2017 - 2:51pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Batavia Kiwanis Club, news.

kiwanisspagdinnerpre2017.jpg

The Kiwanis Club of Batavia hosts its annual spaghetti and meatball dinner from noon to 3 p.m., Sunday, at the YWCA, 301 North St., Batavia.

Tickets are $6 per person.

Photo: Kiwanis members Matt Landers, Jocelyn Sikorski, Peter Guppenberger and Anne Bezon.

March 28, 2017 - 2:22pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Batavia Kiwanis Club, Easter, batavia, St. Joe's, news.

kiwaniseasterpreview2017.jpg

The Great Easter Egg Hunt, sponsored by the Kiwanis Club of Batavia, starts exactly at 9 a.m., April 15.

Yesterday, students at St. Joe's stuffed about 4,000 eggs with treats for the Easter Bunny to hide that morning. The Easter Bunny then paid a visit to the school.

kiwaniseasterpreview2017-2.jpg

kiwaniseasterpreview2017-3.jpg

kiwaniseasterpreview2017-4.jpg

March 28, 2017 - 11:59am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, news, picnic in the park, GO ART!.

With only one dissenting vote, the Batavia City Council last night agreed to take up the issue at its next meeting of providing $4,000 to GO ART! to help fund the July 4 Picnic in the Park.

The GO ART! Board almost didn't approve hosting the annual event in Centennial Park because of financial concerns. 

There was a time when the city provided GO ART! with $5,000 in annual funding. That assistance has been cut back to $2,500. This year, the county cut its funding to the arts council by 10 percent. Local donations continue to be hard to generate.

"We have a small number of businesses that support everything in our community and we tap them a lot," GO ART! Director Jennifer Gray told the council last night during a short presentation about the need for the assistance.

GO ART! was all set to drop the event when Michelle Crier came forward and offered to chair the event committee in an effort to keep it going at least one more year.

Gray said Picnic in the Park has never been a moneymaker, but it's at least broken even some years.

It costs $12,000 to host.

Council members had some questions about where the money was going to come from, with Al McGinnis raising a question about funds being transferred from the former Vibrant Batavia account. He said he thought that account was rolled back into the general fund. 

City Manager Jason Molino said that money remained earmarked, with approval of the council, for neighborhood projects and Picnic in the Park fit that criteria.

Gray, Crier and council members all mentioned how the community has lost some significant events in recent years, such as Summer in the City, the St. Joe's Lawn Fete, the Elba Onion Festival, and the Stafford Carnival.

Councilman John Canale noted that without Summer in the City and the Lawn Fete to support, the city was saving some money on those events.

"If we can look at some savings where events have been canceled, we can also apply some of those dollars towards the arts council," Canale said.

The council will vote on a resolution to approve the funding at its next business meeting, April 10. Councilwoman Rose Mary Christian voted no on the motion to consider the resolution at the business meeting.

Canale said he was a supporter of the arts -- he's a musician himself -- but in looking out for his constituents, he had to ask why the arts council was running into difficulty funding Picnic in the Park this year.

Gray said it's always been a struggle. The event was saved last year by a donation from the Red Osier restaurant in Stafford. 

Councilwoman Patti Pacino said another way of looking at it is that Gray is bringing more fiscal discipline to the arts council.

"A lot of the difference is we now have Jennifer Gray running this and she’s a businesswoman and she’s saying, ‘wait a minute, we can’t go in the drain every single year over Picnic in the Park,' " Pacino said.

Crier said she stepped up and volunteered to chair the picnic committee because she thinks it's an important community event, especially in light of other traditional events coming to an end.

"My husband and I moved here in 2000 from Buffalo," she said. "We raised our child in this community and I can’t image raising them anywhere else. Being in Batavia with the activities and the sense of community, you don't find that anywhere, especially on the west side of Buffalo. It’s a safe and beautiful community and it’s because of these events, because that’s where we see our neighbors, see our community."

Also at Monday's meeting:

  • Council considered an application from a group planning a rally at 8:15 a.m., April 8, on East Main Street, on the north side of the street near Clinton Street. The rally will protest Congressman Chris Collins. Councilman Bob Bialkowski raised concerns about whether the group would be trespassing on private property -- the Aldi's parking lot -- and City Manager Jason Molino said that was between the property owner and the rally organizers. He also said that technically, the organizers didn't need to apply for a permit. So long as the sidewalk or traffic isn't blocked, it's a permissible activity.  
  • Three people spoke against a proposed 80-unit apartment complex proposed for East Main Street that DePaul Community Services would like to build. The apartments would target veterans and their families as residents. A zoning change would be required and the property would become nonprofit owned. Councilman Al McGinnis shared the speakers' concerns about the project and objected to his conception that DePaul was looking to profit off of veterans, and that as a veteran he believed veterans wanted to live in houses and be part of the community. Apartments, he said, change the nature of the community. "This is a city of families," McGinnis told WBTA after the meeting. "Families are close-knit. Families live in houses. They become neighborhoods. I honestly think that too many apartments make for too many transients."
  • The City Council agreed to vote on a resolution at its business meeting to declare four submachine guns in the Police Department as surplus so they can be traded for rifles that Police Chief Shawn Heubusch said better meet the department's strategic needs.
  • The council also agreed to vote on a resolution at its next meeting to authorize spending $5,000 on a property appraisal on the former Wiard Plow Factory site on Swan Street. A city-appointed committee had recommended the site last fall as the best location for a new police headquarters, but property owner Tom Mancuso initially said he had other plans for the property. Just before the end of the year, he agreed to discuss a sale of the property to the city. The first step is getting an appraisal to determine fair market value, Molino said. If the owner was willing to sell at that price, the city would then need to complete an environmental review and title search before entering into a cost-analysis phase. With those details completed, the council then could consider whether to move foward with the project and complete the land purchase.
March 28, 2017 - 9:51am
posted by Howard B. Owens in accident, news, batavia.

gcasaaccidentmarch282017.jpg

An accident with injuries is reported in the area of 430 E. Main St., Batavia.

A person is reportedly in and out of consciousness.

Fluids have spilled.

City fire and Mercy EMS responding.

UPDATE 10:20 a.m.: Four vehicles involved. An eastbound SUV drifted out of its lane of travel toward the south sidewalk, sideswiped a parked car, clipping its left rearview mirror, then plowed into the back of a parked SUV, pushing that vehicle into a parked sedan ahead of it. The driver may have suffered a medical issue. He was transported to UMMC.

gcasaaccidentmarch282017-2.jpg

gcasaaccidentmarch282017-3.jpg

gcasaaccidentmarch282017-4.jpg

gcasaaccidentmarch282017-5.jpg

March 28, 2017 - 8:00am
posted by Howard B. Owens in economy, jobs, trade policy, news.

tradewithmexico2017.png

NAFTA

This is part five of an eight-part series on trade and how changes in policy might affect the local economy.

While farmers worry about the impact of changes to the current world trade regime and the place of the United States in that scheme, even local ag leaders have their complaints about the North American Free Trade Agreement.

During his campaign for president, Donald J. Trump criticized NAFTA repeatedly and zeroed in on trade with Mexico as his chief complaint with the pact. Local farmers, though, are more concerned about NAFTA's impact on trade with Canada.  

For local manufacturers, NAFTA isn't a big worry, though they, too, see some need for reforms.

Trump said renegotiating NAFTA would be a top priority once he took office, calling trade with Mexico one-sided, pointing to the surging trade deficit and his belief that NAFTA has caused job loss in the United States.  

The truth is more complex.

Since the agreement was ratified in 1994 (negotiations began under President George H.W.  Bush, and President Bill Clinton signed it after it was ratified by the Senate), the United States has swung from a $1.7 billion U.S. surplus in 1993 to a $63 billion deficit; however, in that same time, U.S. exports to Mexico have grown from $41 billion to $231 billion. Some five million U.S. jobs depend on exports to Mexico.

By some estimates, more than 800,000 manufacturing jobs in the United States have been lost to Mexico since the passage of NAFTA, mostly in Rust Belt states. It appears jobs created by NAFTA have popped up in more Southern states, where there was a more ready supply of non-union labor.

The pattern of manufacturers fleeing higher cost Northern states for Southern states began decades before NAFTA was ratified. Think of GTE-Sylvania eliminating more than 700 jobs in Batavia in 1976 and shifting production to North Carolina.  

Compare Sylvania leaving, or Massey-Harris Harvester Company, or, more recently, PepsiCo with the Quaker Muller plant -- all companies with no roots in Genesee County -- to p.w. minor, Liberty Pumps, Chapin, and Graham -- all locally grown companies that are still in business, some after more than 100 years.

The leaders of those companies hold a variety of views on NAFTA.

For Bergen-based Liberty Pumps, Canada is one of the prime export markets for the company, said CEO Charlie Cook and he isn't anticipating any trade policy changes that will disrupt the business.

"Not a lot is going to happen with NAFTA as far as our relationship with Canada," Cook said. "It might change our relationship with Mexico, but that is not a big market for us. There is a lot of potential for us in Mexico, but it's not currently a big market."

Pete Zeliff, CEO of p.w. minor, doesn't anticipate much impact from potential changes to NAFTA and favors trade barriers that protect U.S. manufacturers.

"Even if we run into problems with renegotiating these trade deals and we can't export as much, if we can't import as much then we don't need to export as much," Zeliff said. "It creates a bigger market for USA-made products."

Neither Mexico nor Canada figures big in Graham's imports or exports. Graham designs and manufactures vacuum and heat transfer equipment for energy markets.

"We sell across the globe," Jeff Glajch said. "We sent a lot to the Middle East, a lot to Asia, South America. We don't tend to do a lot of business in Europe. We don't have a particular country that is more than 10 percent of our sales."

Jim Campbell, CEO of Chapin, said that any change with NAFTA will have some impact on his business, but it's unclear now what that impact will be. He said he belongs to a group that represents CEOs of U.S. manufacturing companies and NAFTA isn't universally loved by that group.

"The general consensus is that NAFTA didn't work as well as everyone thought it would," Campbell said. 

He said he tends to favor the kind of bilateral agreements Trump has said he intends to seek.

"If we have an agreement with just Canada, we can try to work out things so they are favorable to both sides," Campbell said. "The issues with Mexico are quite different than the issues we might have with Canada."

That said, he wants to see what the Trump Administration does before deciding if it's good or bad. Any change will affect Chapin and his main competitors equally, he said, so he anticipates a level playing field in that regard.

"Depending on how they do it, it could work out really great or it could be a disaster," Campbell said. "All I know is NAFTA is the devil we know and we all work around it."

CHART: Exports have increased on both sides of the border with Mexico since NAFTA was signed.

Previously:

March 27, 2017 - 7:26pm
posted by Billie Owens in batavia, news.

Batavia police are responding to the Holland Land Office Museum on Main Street for a reported burglary alarm sounding in the gift shop. It is located at 131 W. Main St.

UPDATED March 28: Ryan Duffy, director at the Holland Land Office Museum, says "this was a false alarm and that everything at the museum is safe and that nothing is wrong."

March 27, 2017 - 12:27pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in crime, Oakfield, batavia, news.

Christopher M. Oliveras, 25, of Lockport Road, Oakfield, is charged with DWI, driving with a BAC of .08 or greater, driving while ability impaired by drugs, unlawful possession of marijuana, failure to obey traffic control devices, and tinted windows. Oliveras was arrested in the City of Tonawanda by Tonawanda PD, at 1:30 a.m., Sunday. Earlier, he was stopped for allegedly driving the wrong way down a one-way street. At that time he was told to park the vehicle. Later in the evening, officers stopped the vehicle again and Oliveras was found to be the driver. Oliveras reportedly told officers, "I did park for a little while." He also reportedly said, "I was drinking Budweisers and smoking marijuana." A container of marijuana was allegedly found in the center console. He allegedly blew a BAC of .10. Bail was set at $250.

Rebecca Ann Edwards, 23, of Kibbe Avenue, Batavia, is charged with grand larceny, 3rd. Edwards is accused of stealing property with a value in excess of $3,000 from the 48 Deli Express in Batavia.

March 27, 2017 - 12:01pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in elba, schools, education, news.

elbabray2017.jpg

Students from Elba's kindergarten class took a field trip today to the Strong National Museum of Play in Rochester. The trip was paid for by the Salvaterra family in remembrance of their son, Brayden Salvaterra, as an expression of gratitude and thanks to the Elba School District, the Elba community and surrounding community, for the support and contributions made to the family in Brayden's honor.

Brayden passed away unexpectedly Jan. 23. Many donations were made to Brayden's memorial and this is the first event paid for by the memorial.

Photos and info submitted by Kristi Bennetti.

elbabray20173.jpg

elbabray20174.jpg

March 27, 2017 - 11:47am
posted by Howard B. Owens in fire, news, Tonawanda Indian Reservation, Basom, Alabama.

A generator has reportedly caused a shed fire at 7814 Sand Hill Road, on the Tonawanda Indian Reservation.

That's near on Higher Ground Smoke Shop.

Alabama fire along with one engine each from Pembroke and Indian Falls dispatched.

UPDATE 11:49 a.m.: Pembroke and Indian Falls can stand by in quarters.

March 27, 2017 - 11:29am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Pavilion, planning, news.

Pavilion is hosting a community workshop to discuss its upcoming comprehensive plan this Wednesday from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Town Hall.

The Comprehensive Plan Steering Committee will lead a community discussion and present a look at the community's future during the workshop.

Light refreshments will be served.

March 27, 2017 - 8:48am
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, William F. Brown Jr. Memorial Scholarship.

BATAVIA – The deadline for Genesee County graduating seniors wishing to apply for the William F. Brown Jr. Memorial Scholarship, sponsored by The Jerome Foundation, is May 1.

The $1,000 scholarship will be awarded to a deserving high school senior residing in and graduating from a school in Genesee County whose intention is to pursue at least a four-year degree in the fields of Journalism, Communications or Public Relations (in print, radio, television or digital media).

William F. Brown Jr. was a noted Batavia author, broadcaster and journalist, and a charter member of The Jerome Foundation, a not-for-profit organization that distributes funds to benefit United Memorial Medical Center and other health-related purposes. He passed away on Nov. 29, 2014.

Brown also was president of the board of directors of the former St. Jerome Hospital and a trustee emeritus of The Jerome Foundation.

A committee of directors from the foundation will judge the scholarship applicants based upon academic merit, creative accomplishment, community service and leadership.

Applications are available at guidance offices at the nine Genesee County high schools or by contacting Martha Spinnegan, administrative assistant for The Jerome Foundation, at [email protected].

The completed application must be mailed to The Jerome Foundation, P.O. Box 249, Batavia, NY, 14020, and postmarked by May 1 to be considered.

Emily Chavez, of Le Roy High School, and Connor Logsdon, of Notre Dame High School, were selected in 2015 and 2016, respectively.

March 27, 2017 - 8:00am
posted by Howard B. Owens in jobs, trade policy, economics, news.

The Farm Economy

This is part four of an eight-part series on trade and how changes in policy might affect the local economy.

cornprices20072016.jpg

It's hard to say just how much of what is produced in Genesee County is exported overseas. There are several companies that manufacture products here and ship what they build to China, Europe, the Middle East, Mexico and, of course, Canada, including Liberty Pumps, Chapin and Graham.

There is no database, though, that tracks exports at a rural, county level.

What we can say with some certainty, however -- our county's biggest export is what is grown here on our farms.

Everything the Trump Administration is talking about related to trade has the potential to have a big impact on local farmers. 

According to Dean Norton, an Elba dairy farmer and former president of the New York Farm Bureau, Trump's tack toward protectionism has already had an impact. When Trump canceled U.S. participation in the Trans-Pacific Partnership, New York farmers lost about $100 million in potential new revenue, Norton said.

"People don't understand that about 25 percent of what is produced locally is exported farm product," Norton said. "Exports and imports generally have a positive effect on the bottom line when it comes to trade."

Collins said he understands that agriculture is important to his district and he promises to represent those interests in Washington.

"There are a lot of ag issues and for many people when we talk about trade they think about cars and widgets and not about ag," Collins said. "I can promise you, I will be a voice at the table. I can't promise outcomes, but I can make sure the issues are on the table."

While Walmart and Target shoppers might find some electronics, clothing, and housewares more expensive during a trade war, supermarkets may not be able to stock some of our favorite foods. Besides the crops that can't be grown domestically, such as bananas and cocoa beans (at least in quantities sufficient to meet demand), many other crops are available out of season because they are grown in other countries, such as blueberries, lemons, watermelons and strawberries. 

"Consumers demand strawberries 12 months out of the year," noted Maureen Torrey, co-owner of Torrey Farms, but the only way we get strawberries in winter, she noted, is to import them from South America, primarily Chile.  

We import tomatoes and avocados from Mexico and Canada. California grows avocados but not enough to meet the current demand for guacamole.  

"The demand has gone through the roof," Torrey said.

Our tomatoes used to come from Florida, Torrey said, but after NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement), much of that production shifted to our southern and northern neighbors.  

Asked if the United States could again produce tomatoes, Torrey said, "That goes hand-in-hand with the fact we don't have the labor anymore to grow these hand crops. There's a lot of factors that interact with these whole trade agreements."

Mexico is second only to Canada as foreign suppliers of food to U.S. consumers, much of it products that can be easily grown in America.

When the president talks about NAFTA (a deal he promised to renegotiate as soon as he took office, but has yet to act on) he's usually drawing his ire on Mexico, Trump and administration officials have indicated Canada need not worry about drastic changes to the trade deal, but local farmers have long-standing complaints about trade with Canada.

While you might think NAFTA would make it easier for WNY farmers to ship grain, dairy, and meat to our northern neighbors, the opposite is true, they say, yet the U.S. market is completely open to Canadian farmers. The Canadian government, they charge, even subsidizes shipments of agriculture products to Florida.

Norton said dairy farmers have been battling Canadian restrictions since 1996.  

Various Canadian agriculture programs provide price supports, import quotas and production caps on domestic dairies. Since most of these programs are provincial, rather than controlled by the Canadian federal government, the restrictions are beyond the reach of the World Trade Organization. U.S. dairy farmers are unable to file a complaint with the WTO.

"The dairy industry there doesn't want to compete with imports even though their dairy industry is dying," Norton said.

Trade is important to farmers because from $120 billion to $140 billion worth of the nation's agricultural output is shipped overseas, which is why farmers get very nervous about the idea of new trade barriers

Last year, all of CY Farms soybeans were sold overseas, said its CEO Craig Yunker, noting that trade is fundamentally important to agriculture because of the whole concept of comparative advantage. What one country grows well, another may not, so they're both better off trading with each other than trying to produce something that neither can do as well as a trading partner.

"A banana republic down there can't grow corn and we don't grow bananas," Yunker said.

Yunker agrees with Norton -- that it hurt U.S. farmers to pull out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

Trade deals do more than open markets, he said, they set rules, allowing companies to compete on a level playing field. The rules deal with government subsidies, health and labor regulations and environmental concerns.

"All of these things were setting rules for a trading block and we helped set the rules," Yunker said. "We were able to do that because those other countries wanted access to our markets. Now China will put a trading block together and now China will set the rules."

China was not part of TPP, but keeping the Chinese market open to U.S. ag products is very important to farmers. As the Chinese economy grows, so does Chinese food consumption. Higher standards of living means people eat more meat, so the Chinese not only need more grain to feed themselves, they need it to feed their farm animals.

"They buy such a large amount of grain, just the thought of them shutting down would send a panic through world markets," Norton said. "Their billion and a half people are increasing lifestyle consumption so it's important that we're going to want to be at the table to provide some of those products for them. If we're not, some other countries are going to be and they will have no qualms about replacing the United States. Trade is a very dog-eat-dog world."

Russia and China have been improving trade relations over the past couple of years and recent Russia has become the world's largest wheat exporter.

That's significant, with or without new trade barriers, because grains are commodities and commodity pricing is impervious to protectionism. The only thing protectionism can do on commodity markets is make things more expensive.

For many products people buy and sell, a number of factors can determine the price. Quality, service, unique features, brand loyalty and other factors affect what people are willing to pay. But some products, known as commodities, don't have those differentiating features going for them. It all comes down to supply and demand. The greater the supply, the lower the demand, and then the lower the price. When supply drops and demand goes up, prices go up.  Commodity traders actually make their living placing financial bets on the trends in prices for commodities, which includes corn, wheat and soybeans.

Farmers don't set the price on commodity products they sell. The market does. That means trade barriers, or a rise in the value of the dollar, can make it much harder for domestic farmers to sell their crops overseas.  

As an example of the impact global markets can have on grain prices, Norton pointed to the recent history of corn. A couple of summers ago, the Midwest suffered a huge drought, hurting corn farms in those states. In WNY, we had plenty of rain and bumper corn crops. Local farmers took advantage of the weather patterns and planted more corn, but we still don't produce enough here to shift the world market. Corn prices hit record highs and local farmers reap bigger profits.

Last year, worldwide corn supplies rebounded and New York was hit with drought conditions, meaning less corn was grown here. As a whole, the New York ag industry suffered a $1 billion loss in 2016, according to the New York Farm Bureau.

"We are affected by what happens in Argentina, Brazil, China, all those things affect us one way or the other," Norton said.

CHART: Corn prices, 2007-2016

Previously:

March 27, 2017 - 7:31am
posted by Howard B. Owens in byron-bergen, schools, education, news, byron, bergen.

bbnhs20171.jpg

Press release:

Twenty-five students from the Byron-Bergen Jr./Sr. High School were inducted as new members of the National Junior Honor Society (NJHS) on March 22. They proudly joined the 38 standing members of the school’s NJHS.

The NJHS program highlights the well-rounded students at Byron-Bergen. Inductees are selected based on their high standards of scholarship, citizenship, service, leadership and character. All members are required to demonstrate their achievements in each of these areas. The 2017 new members are:

  • Seventh Grade: Jared Barnum, Rachel Best, Madison Burke, Caleb Carlson, Sadie Cook, Makenzie Eccleston, Grace Huhn, Brooke Jarkiewicz, Meghan Kendall, Madelynn Pimm, Elli Schelemanow, Grace Shepard, Alayna Streeter, Ella VanValkenburg, Alexandra Vurraro, Claire Williams, Corden Zimmerman;
  • Eighth Grade: Zoey Chambry, Carli Kirkwood, Andrew Parnapy, Sarah Streeter, Devon Zinter;
  • Ninth Grade: Kelsey Fuller, Mikaela Hubler, Miriam Tardy.

The evening began with a welcome from faculty advisor Ken Gropp, and NJHS Vice President Nathan Zwerka led the audience in the Pledge of Allegiance. The ceremony continued with opening remarks from Superintendent Mickey Edwards and Principal Patrick McGee. Students Cambria Kinkelaar and Siomara Caballero led the traditional candle lighting with help from Nick Baubie, Alex Brumsted, Amaya Gunther, Colby Leggo and Jillian Menzie.

NJHS President Abby Vurraro addressed the crowd and spoke about the importance of failure.

“It’s what you do after you fail that really counts,” she said.

The induction ceremony featured two guest speakers who were chosen by NJHS members: Byron-Bergen teachers Diana Walther and Laurence Tallman.

“Different is good,” Tallman said. “Our diversity is ultimately what unifies us.”

As part of the induction ceremony, each new inductee received a certificate and pin, and the distinct honor to be a part of the National Junior Honor Society. More than a million students participate in NJHS: https://www.njhs.us/. Membership not only recognizes students for their accomplishments but also challenges them to develop further through active involvement in school activities and community service.

bbnhs20172.jpg

March 26, 2017 - 4:06pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Pavilion Fire, fires services, Pavilion, news.

pavilionfirefigheroffyear2017.jpg

Tyler Schiske, on the right with Chief Dewey Murrock, was named Pavilion's Firefighter of the Year, during the department's annual dinner at its Fire Hall on Saturday night.

The Pavilion Volunteer Fire Department's officers for 2017 are: Dewey Murrock, chief; John Weis, 1st assistant chief; Donald Roblee, 2nd assistant chief; Tyler Schiske, Paul Dougherty, Wayne Taylor, captains; Mike Wright and Chad Freeman, lieutenants; Doug Wright, fire police captain; Bill Kegler and Dick Park, safety officers; and Dougherty, Schiske and Taylor are training officers.

The social officers are: Nick Wright, president;Paul Dougherty, vice president; Bill Carrigan, treasurer; Kathy Wright, recording secretary; and Kelly Kraft, financial secretary.

March 26, 2017 - 8:00am
posted by Howard B. Owens in jobs, economy, trade policy, news.

China and robots

This is part three of an eight-part series on trade and how changes in policy might affect the local economy.

usmanufacturing2017.jpg

Times change, Congressman Chris Collins argues. He doesn't dispute that for the later half of the 20th century, a regime of trade agreements and more open trade worked well for the United States, but we no longer live in the same post-war world that forged those instruments of trade.

We face competition from China that presents a unique challenge to U.S. economic dominance, and automation is eating jobs the way tornadoes tear through trailer parks.

"We went from an agricultural economy to an industrial, production economy and now through automation, we have fewer jobs," Collins said.

We don't know the future, he said, but "where are these people going to work if we don't make stuff? We need to have opportunities that others don't have."

The American Dream (a term first coined by historian James Truslow Adams in 1931) is an ethos founded on the idea that we are a country that makes stuff.

We are builders. We are factories. We are smokestacks and train tracks and men with lunch buckets and lug wrenches. 

The perception that Trump campaigned on is that the American Dream ain't what it used to be. Economists disagree over whether that's true. While over the past 30 years a greater share of income earned has gone to the nation's richest 1 percent, there's evidence that suggests it's still possible for the poor and middle class to move up the economic ladder.

The balance between income inequality and economic mobility is a matter of debate. For those who perceive a problem, the question is who or what to blame.

Trump found ready targets in China and trade deficits.

"We can't continue to allow China to rape our country, and that's what they're doing," Trump said during his campaign. "It’s the greatest theft in the history of the world."

While campaign, Trump said the trade deficit with China was either $400 billion and $500 billion. For 2016, it was actually $347 billion.

Economists debate how much impact China has had on U.S. manufacturing jobs since the country of 1.4 billion people joined the World Trade Organization in 2001. On one hand, while the United States has lost five million manufacturing jobs since then, actual factory output has increased at the same time; however, the Economic Policy Institute reports that the rise of China as a global economic power has displaced 2.7 million workers, including 2.1 million in manufacturing. 

China may pose a different kind of challenge for the U.S. economy than we've faced before, but it isn't clear the Trump Administration has come up with a strategy beyond slapping tariffs on every Chinese import.

The big worry among economists is that Trump's rhetoric, let alone actual tariffs, will spark a trade war. The man Trump hired to oversee the National Trade Council, Peter Navarro, is regarded as being ideologically opposed to China.

Even though the local economy has few direct ties to China, how the country's trade policy goes with China will have an impact locally.

To the degree that trade with China matters in Genesee County, it matters more to consumers and farmers than manufacturers. For consumers, trade with China means money saved on gadgets and consumer products. For farmers, China is a big part of world consumption of food, especially grain, so even if local corn and soybeans are never shipped directly to China, the price farmers can get for these commodities is based on worldwide prices and the strength or weakness of the dollar. 

The manufacturers we interviewed said, for the most part, they don't trade much with China nor do products from China directly compete with their own products.

For Batavia-based Chapin Manufacturing Inc., the biggest worry is how China handles protection of intellectual property, according to CEO Jim Campbell.

"Individual companies in China ignore our U.S. patents so we have to defend them most vigorously," Campbell said. "We go head-to-head with China in the Pacific Rim area, mostly in Australia and New Zealand. China has a significant advantage in freight costs to these areas over us in Batavia."

Trade with China is minimal for Graham Corp., said Jeff Glajch, vice president and CFO for Graham Manufacturing in Batavia. There are some parts Graham imports from China, but it's not a significant piece of the business, he said.

If there were new trade barriers with China, it wouldn't have a major direct impact on Graham, he said.

"In the big basket of all the changes, I don’t think it would cause us significant harm," Glajch said.

Any new difficulty in trade with China might have a bigger impact on Liberty Pumps, but CEO Charlie Cook didn't express much concern, though he said it's still too soon to say what might be coming that will change foreign trade for his company. China has been an area of company growth, he said, with sales growth of about 12 percent, which is a bit higher than companywide growth.

When it comes to trade and China, one of the more interesting stories in local manufacturing is p.w. minor, a company with a 150-year local history that late in its history moved much of its production to China before nearly going out of business two years ago. Then Pete Zeliff and a partner bought the company's assets and Zeliff went to work repatriating that factory work to Batavia.

But the twist here is that one reason p.w. minor could start making all of its own shoes again is automation.  

And what Zeliff did isn't unique these days in American manufacturing. It's called "reshoring."

Three years ago, fewer than 100 companies were known to have reshored manufacturing, but it's been a growing trend. One of the more interesting recent examples was highlighted by CBS Evening News a couple of months ago -- a bicycle company that is owned by a Chinese billionaire.

Zeliff sees a future U.S. manufacturing sector that is large enough to accommodate a robust workforce, even if there are fewer jobs per square foot. Trade barriers will help make that happen, he said.

"We’ll still have jobs, more high-tech jobs to run and program and maintain these robots and things," Zeliff said. "We’ll have less low-tech jobs and more high-tech jobs."

That's a view of the future shared by Collins. If there are going to be fewer manufacturing jobs, all the more reason to make sure those jobs stay in the United States.

"Times do change," Collins said. "It's a different world we live in now."

GRAPHIC: The chart shows the decline in U.S. manufacturing jobs since the 1940s while production output has continued to increase. Economists say this trend is the result of machines replacing more and more manual labor. It is a trend that accelerated in the 21st century as computers came to play a greater role in manufacturing.

Previously:

March 26, 2017 - 2:54am
posted by Billie Owens in fire, Le Roy, news.

It's turning into a busy Sunday for Le Roy Fire Department. "An unknown-type fire" at Copart USA was reported around 2 a.m. by a resident of The Greens of Le Roy.

It turned out to be a car fire at the auto salvage business located at 4 West Ave. in the Village of Le Roy. A rep for Copart was contacted.

A little while later, a fire alarm sounded at Tops Market on Main Street, Le Roy, and they responded there as well. No sign of smoke or fire, however.

Mercy medics were called a few minutes ago to stand by at the West Avenue incident and Mercy medic #1 just arrived.

Mutual aid is being provided by another fire company, too. (Believe we heard Mumford.)

UPDATE 4:22 a.m.: Access to the Copart facility was delayed because a rep was not immediately available to unlock the gates, so a single car fire turned into a blaze involving 22 vehicles. The Tops Market alarm was triggered because firefighters tapped into the fire hydrant by the store, not because of anything involving the store itself. Mercy medic #1 was put back in service shortly after Le Roy Ambulance Service returned from taking a patient to UMMC and responded to the scene. 

UPDATE 5:26 a.m. (By Howard): Responding were Le Roy, Stafford, Caledonia and Mumford. Firefighters couldn't gain access to the facility without the assistance of a rep because it is surrounded by an electrified fence that can only be opened from inside the facility. The lot is filled with vehicles that have been in accidents and will be auctioned off either for parts or restoration. The fire was in the back of the facility reachable only by gaining access through the gate. The cause is under investigation.

UPDATE: Here's a satellite image of the facility. The fire was back toward the Wright Beverage warehouse, the third or fourth row up from the bottom.

copartleroysatmap2017.jpg

Pages

Subscribe to

Calendar

S M T W T F S
 
 
 
1
 
2
 
3
 
4
 
5
 
6
 
7
 
8
 
9
 
10
 
11
 
12
 
13
 
14
 
15
 
16
 
17
 
18
 
19
 
20
 
21
 
22
 
23
 
24
 
25
 
26
 
27
 
28
 
29
 
30
 
31
 
 

Upcoming

Copyright © 2008-2016 The Batavian. Some Rights Reserved. Privacy Policy | Terms of Service
Original content available for non-commercial use under a Creative Commons license.
Contact: Howard Owens, publisher (howard (at) the batavian dot com); (585) 250-4118

blue button