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Bergen company celebrates another 'moment of validation' with groundbreaking

By Joanne Beck
craft cannery bergen ground breaking 2024
Craft Cannery CEO Paul Guglielmo talks to community members gathered for a groundbreaking Wednesday at the Bergen facility.
Photo by Howard Owens

Just about a year ago, Tom Riggio, partner with Paul Guglielmo of the booming Craft Cannery business venture in Bergen, spoke about the site's future expansion on Appletree Avenue and plans to hire more employees along with the physical growth.

Food and manufacturing officials brought the shovels out Wednesday for the ceremonial groundbreaking and celebration of the $1.5 million, 6,300 square-foot warehouse that will allow for a second kitchen and bottling line facility and, in turn, take on more clients, churn out more products and create more jobs.

Despite the continuous growth, there’s one element that has remained throughout the manufacturing process that may take a little more time but has most definitely been worth it for a winning product in the end, Guglielmo says.

“We make it exactly how you would make it at home. We put oil in, we let the oil get hot, and we put onion, garlic bell pepper in there and we sauté, then we add our tomatoes after that, our spices after that, and then we bottle it,” he said to The Batavian. “So, really, there's no difference between what I actually do at home versus what we're actually doing in the plant. And I think that's the secret when you get into big industrial packing. There are some secrets to how they're able to move so fast. That takes away some of that homemade aspect. So it really has to do with just making it exactly the way you make it home, just at a bigger scale.”

He spoke to a small gathering as part of the celebratory event, sharing how it all began with two special memories.

“The life-changing moment that really occurred first was when my wife told me it wasn't a stupid idea to start bottling sauce back in like 2013. The second life-changing moment was when a category merchant from Wegmans named Dan Mezzoprete showed up … and he's the guy who actually said we're gonna give this a shot, kid. So thank you,” he said to the small crowd gathered at the property. “So I think that today is really nice and validating. Grow New York was a validation for us. Today's another validation for us that we did what you set out to do when you start a business: find a problem that needs to be fixed. And I really feel as though we have found a problem that needs to be fixed.”

The company specializes in producing pasta sauces, barbecue sauces, salad dressings, oils, marinades and such on a large scale for local and regional food brands, retailers and restaurants that may not have the money, facilities, time and labor to do it themselves. As Guglielmo said, "Problem fixed."

“This world of contract manufacturing has a lot of big players who do a phenomenal job, but it doesn't have a lot of small players. There are some commissaries and commercial kitchens, and then there are big industrial co-packers, and people are doing really good jobs in those areas. But there's this thing that Cornell University described to me years ago, as almost like a death valley of contract manufacturing, and my partner Tom and I feel we really identified a niche, a problem,” he said. “And that is, our three main types of customers needed us: one was the startup entrepreneur with $1, and a dream, they want to bring their product to market, like Jerri Lynn from Blue Ridge BBQ. There's the restaurant food service, somebody who says, look, it doesn't make sense for us to come in and make dozens and dozens of gallons of barbecue sauce every day. What if you batch it for us? That will help our business efficiencies grow. And then of course, there's the regional players, like Wegmans, who we’re so proud to see here today as well, who say, Look, you know, we've got some skews that require a little more culinary expertise that we'd really like to see brought to market.”

Working at a small co-pack facility such as Craft Cannery allows staff to “really take your time on those kinds of recipes” before bringing them to market, he said, giving a thoughtful and modest nod to the company team that does “all the actual work.”

Riggio credited his partner’s dedication as the reason everyone was there to celebrate. They acquired the business nearly four years ago, and at the time, it was doing “minimal business,” Riggio said. 

“We do more in two weeks now than the business used to do in a year. The employees were three at that point. We’ve now got 15 full-time employees. When this expansion is complete, we’ll be adding another six to eight employees. We’ve actually had to turn business away over the last four years; some major players have come to us, and we just couldn’t support the business,” he said. “There are a bunch of products that are in those storage containers outside to make room for you to stand where you're standing. This is a great opportunity for us to continue to grow our business and support additional small clients, midsize clients and larger clients. We are looking forward to adding in the 6,300 square feet, looking forward to adding a second kitchen, second production line, second bottling line, and a second shift to support all of those, and we are really happy that you guys are out here.”

In the middle of COVID, about April 2020, an unflinching Guglielmo approached Wegmans Italian Foods Category Manager Steve Chichelli with his idea to open his own facility and forge a collaboration with the grocery giant. Chichelli had already known of Guglielmo as a radio personality with his stories about his grandfather’s homemade pasta sauce, and all of that had been "a great interaction.”

“So I'm thinking a guy, a local guy, ready to give jobs to a local community. And that's what Wegmans is about, too; we share a lot of the same values that he does, building up local businesses and creating jobs. So it was at that point we were like, hmm, how do we get him more? He's got his branded product, so I'm like, let's talk about private labels. Where could he fit in being a small co-packer, but let's partner him with our chef team,” Chichelli said. “So we started our endeavor with our first private label product with him, which is our Wegmans brand spicy tomato oil, one of my favorite items we have ever developed at Wegmans in the Italian categories. And that item has just grown to be great. When that launched, I mean, it was cross merchandised everywhere in the store, all departments got behind it: bakery department, prepared foods, we displayed it, and it's turned into a great item for us.”

He also said that they are developing a lemon butter and a marsala sauce to be launched this fall. 

“I give Paulie all the credit here. I'm just the guy who forms a strategy. He's the guy who works hand in hand with our chef team,” Chichelli said. “The tenacity, the passion that comes out in him—the chef team absolutely adores him.”

Major portions of the company’s growth have also been possible with infusions of funding — including $500,000 from winning second place at 2022 Grow-NY, a global food and agriculture innovation competition. 

“What began as a dream, nurtured by innovation and fueled by determination and unlikely a little bit of Paulie’s abundant energy, led to Craft Cannery’s Grow-NY winner's badge in 2022, and ultimately, a pivotal moment when their team now stands ready to embark on a new chapter of growth and success,” Program Manager Sarah Meyer said. “Beyond bricks and mortar, today we celebrate the profound impact Craft Cannery has had on its community, the Grow-NY Region and New York State as a whole. Since receiving their $500,000 prize, Craft Cannery has created and cultivated opportunities for growth and advancement as a contract manufacturer. They have established a space for innovation and created numerous job opportunities, fueling economic growth and fostering talent within their local community.”

Business neighbor Charlie Cook, founder of Liberty Pumps, further confirmed what a stellar job Gugliemo did on his Grow-NY pitch, which is viewable on the company website. Cook can see a lot of parallels between Liberty Pumps and Craft Cannery, he said.

“That we started from pretty basic beginnings and identified a niche that we could succeed at and excel at it,” Cook said. “And to have him right here in Bergen, being a Bergen business, especially a manufacturer in Genesee County, is fantastic. And it’s just been fun to watch him grow, and really, we wish him the best going forward.”

The company also received approval from Genesee County Economic Development Center for payment in lieu of taxes (PILOT), sales, and mortgage tax exemptions valued at $72,496 to support the expansion. The proposed incentives for the additional 4,000 sq. ft. are estimated to return $3.06 million in projected wages and municipal revenues. The project would generate a $62 economic impact for every $1 of requested incentives.

“With their flexible and hands-on approach, we’ve seen Craft Cannery become a go-to provider for contract manufacturing,” said Chris Suozzi, Vice President of Business and Workforce Development at GCEDC. “The GCEDC was thrilled to support the expansion of Craft Cannery in our Appletree Acres business park. This project is yet another example of the continued growth of the food and beverage sector in Genesee County.”

craft cannery bergen ground breaking 2024
Participants in ceremonial groundbreaking pose for photos outside the Craft Cannery shop in Bergen.
Photo by Howard Owens.
craft cannery bergen ground breaking 2024
Photo by Howard Owens.
craft cannery bergen ground breaking 2024
Tom Riggio, Craft Cannery co-owner.
Photo by Howard Owens.
craft cannery bergen ground breaking 2024
Charlie Cook, chairman, Liberty Pumps
Photo by Howard Owens.
craft cannery bergen ground breaking 2024
Photo by Howard Owens.
craft cannery bergen ground breaking 2024
Photo by Howard Owens.
craft cannery bergen ground breaking 2024
Photo by Howard Owens.

The 2024 Women of Inspiration luncheon to honor 4 locals

By Press Release

Press Release:

The YWCA of Genesee County will honor four incredible local women at the 2024 Women of Inspiration Awards Luncheon on Sunday, April 28 from 12:30 - 3 p.m. at Batavia Downs. Come hear from Keynote Speaker Deanna Dewberry and celebrate our four outstanding, inspiring women!

judy.jpg
Submitted photo of
Judy Fuller.

Judy Fuller 

Judy is a dedicated volunteer, passionate about the YWCA and supporting this important cause. She volunteers many hours, coordinating and managing My Sisters Closet for the YWCA - a quality boutique that supports the YWCA Domestic Violence Program and provides clothing to the women in the program. She has taken this on as her own and is always trying to come up with new ideas to help the program grow and reach more people in the community. 

Judy is a first-rate mom who has two very successful daughters. She worked hard for everything that she had and passed those values onto her daughters; both who have now also made a huge impact on our community. Judy has helped many women and does it because it’s the right thing to do, not ever thinking she is deserving of recognition. 

“Judy is a hidden gem that sparkles even without the spotlight. Let’s put her in the spotlight to shine”, says nominator Susie Ott.

sue_gagne.jpg
Submitted photo of
Sue Gagne.

Sue Gagne

Sue has been a proactive human service advocate, volunteer and employee for decades. She has an extensive background in mental health, criminal justice and substance use disorders. 

Early in her career, Sue worked at ARC, and as an Assistant for the Genesee County Mental Health Association (GCMHA). She later became the Director of the GCMHA. Sue volunteered on the board of directors for NAMI NYS, The GOW Opioid Task Force and the Suicide Prevention Task Force for GOW. She was instrumental in the founding of the GCASA Recovery Station and worked as Coordinator of the Recovery Station through COVID.

Sue is currently the Assistant Director of Adult Services at Wyoming County Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Coordinator for Genesee County. While working, she completed her degree in Nursing at GCC and received the Leadership Award. She is now furthering her education at SUNY Brockport.

Sue is a gifted and dedicated support for the many individuals who come to her for help. She is an excellent role model for all women. Sue’s many talents and gifts include being exceptionally strong in faith, her loyalty to others, especially those in need, her wonderful sense of humor and her ability to immediately make others feel at ease and comfortable. 

“Sue is an important attribute to the community and its well-being. She is a remarkable visionary and her spirit reflects that”, says nominator Cheryl Netter.

susie.jpg
Submitted photo of 
Susie Ott.

Susie Ott

Susie joined Lawley Insurance on December 1, 2008 with no insurance experience. She grew into her job quickly, starting as an account associate, then as Commercial and Personal Insurance Team Leader in 2017, and as Branch Manager for the Batavia office in 2022. In 2013 Susie earned the Certified Insurance Counselor Designation (CIC).

Susie is very active in her community, supporting many agencies and projects. She is currently the President of Batavia Rotary, Chair for the United Way Day of Caring, Treasurer for Batavia Job Development, Board Member for United Memorial Medical Center, and Committee Member for the Wings Over Batavia Air Show. 

She has received several awards for her volunteer work and community support, including, 2011 Leadership Genesee Outstanding Alumnus Award, 2007 and 2022 Rotary Club Paul Harris Award, 2015 Geneseean of the Year and 2017 United Way Barber Conable Award.

Over the past 15+ years Susie has grown into a position that is historically dominated by men. She has earned the respect and confidence of her clients, 21 associates (18 women and 3 men) and her community. 

“Susie makes the community a better place to live in and raise a family” says nominator Bill Fritts. 

sandy.jpg
Submitted photo of
Sandy Wojtaszczyk.

Sandy Wojtaszczyk

Sandy began her career at Genesee County Department of Social Services in 1998. In 2009, she became a Department Supervisor and was charged with training new workers in her unit regarding child abuse and the safety of children in Genesee County. 

During her career, Sandy collaborated with many agencies, including the YWCA, CASA, Juvenile Justice, Genesee County Family Courts, Genesee County Schools, and law enforcement to ensure the safety of the children she served. They were her number one priority and because of that, she was often at work before anyone else and long after everyone left. 

Sandy witnessed very serious cases of abuse but always maintained her professionalism, compassion, and empathy for those she assisted. 

In 2013 Sandy received an award for her Outstanding Achievements in Law Enforcement. In 2021 she received the Leadership Genesee Outstanding Alumnus Award. When Sandy isn’t working she is spending time with her grandchildren or volunteering. She enjoys volunteering at Salvation Army, Elba Fire Department, and assisting with the United Way Day of Caring. She also helps deliver food to families in need through the City Church.

“Sandy has been an icon to women in this field, showing that with dedication and compassion – and a little bit of humor – you can positively impact thousands of people”, says nominator Mary Jacobs.

“So many incredible women were nominated this year it was hard for the committee to narrow it down to just four. However, the four women who were chosen are simply rock stars! They have done so much for our community and the people in it. Combined, these four women have impacted over 20 non-profit agencies just in Genesee County alone; this does not include the countless community events, committees, and civic organizations they have supported. Judy, Sue, Susie, and Sandy truly embody the mission of the YWCA and the spirit of our community”, says Executive Director Jamie Rada. 

Tickets for the Women of Inspiration Luncheon are $40 each. To purchase tickets visit www.ywcagenesee.org or mail a check to the YWCA of Genesee County, 301 North Street, Batavia Attn: Women of Inspiration.

GO Health urges public to know how to prevent lead poisoning

By Press Release

Press Release:

Did you know lead poisoning is 100% preventable? 

“Lead is a metal that is toxic to our bodies and can cause serious health issues for children who have been exposed,” stated Gabrielle Lanich, Lead Program Coordinator of Genesee and Orleans County Health Departments (GO Health). “Young children under 6 years old are most at risk for lead poisoning because their bodies are rapidly developing.” 

The health effects of lead poisoning are permanent and can affect a child into adulthood. Childhood lead poisoning can harm the brain and nervous system leading to learning difficulties, lower IQ, difficulty paying attention, organ damage, and at very high levels, lead poisoning can be fatal. 

Lead poisoning can also be dangerous for pregnant women because lead can be passed to the baby during pregnancy.

Here are some easy ways to prevent lead poisoning: 

  • Take everyday steps to stay healthy. Eating a well-balanced diet, especially foods high in calcium, iron, and vitamin C can help reduce the body’s absorption of lead. Washing your hands and children’s hands with soap and water several times a day can help limit lead exposure. You should also wash children’s toys, bottles, and pacifiers regularly to avoid exposure to lead dust, and regularly clean your home with a damp cloth, sponge, or mop to minimize possible lead dust. 
  • Check your home for lead. If you live in a home built before 1978 you may consider having your home checked for lead. Our Genesee, Livingston, Orleans, and Wyoming (GLOW) Counties Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program (CLPPP) may be able to help you with this. You may qualify for a home lead inspection if your home is in the GLOW area, was built before 1978, and a child under 6 lives there or spends more than 6 hours a week there.
  • Renovate lead safe. Homes built before 1978 are more likely to have lead-based paint that can be disturbed when renovating. If you are renovating, repairing, or painting a home built before 1978, use a Lead-Safe Certified contractor. If you are planning on doing your own work, use lead-safe work practices to protect both you and your family. For tips on how to be lead-safe when renovating visit https://www.epa.gov/lead/lead-safe-renovations-diyers. Also, our GLOW Lead Hazard Control and Healthy Homes Program may be able to renovate for you. Contact the Genesee County Health Department to see if you qualify.
  • Get your child tested. The only way to find out if there is lead in a child’s blood is to take them for a blood lead test. There are no obvious signs or symptoms of lead poisoning, that’s why it’s important to get them tested. Children should be tested at ages 1 and 2. Talk with your pediatrician to determine if your child should be tested further. GLOW CLPPP is able to offer transportation to lead testing at no cost for parents or guardians and children under 6 years old. Contact the Genesee County Health Department to determine if you are eligible for this service.

For more information or to learn more about our programs contact the Genesee County Health Department at 585-344-2580 ext. 5555 or Health.GOlead@co.genesee.ny.us. You can also visit GOHealthNY.org.

Sponsored Post: Bontrager's building materials auction going on now!! Place your bids today

By Lisa Ace
Bontrager Auctions

Uncover amazing deals on everything you need for your Spring projects! Explore the Building Supply Auction hosted by Bontrager Real Estate & Auction Service, at bontragerauction.com. Get in on the bidding action for hundreds of new items such as lumber, kitchen cabinets, laminate and vinyl flooring, tile, insulation, doors (entrance, traditional, sliding, barn-style, bi-fold), farmhouse & stainless steel sinks, decking, fencing, area rugs, appliances, underlayment, and a variety of DIY necessities. Over 700 lots to choose from. Don't miss out on these fantastic offers!

Online Bidding: April 3rd (9 am) - April 10th (6 pm- soft close) at bontragerauction.com.

Live Previews at Bontrager's Auction Center, 8975 Wortendyke Rd, Batavia, NY:
- Sat. April 6th, from 9 - 10 am
- Tue. April 9th, from 12 - 1 pm

Pick-Up Dates: 
- Thu. April 11th, from 12 - 4 pm
- Fri. April 12th, from 8 am - 3 pm

Seniors on wait list for an aide get potential lift, remodeled shower as way to stay home

By Joanne Beck
File Photo of Genesee County Office For the Aging Director Diana Fox. 
Photo by Joanne Beck

Although healthcare aides aren’t always available to tend to people in their homes, Diana Fox says there are sometimes other ways to address their needs.

And Genesee County’s Office for the Aging has found that way through bathroom remodeling. A $125,000 grant and a trusty contractor have made it possible for fragile seniors to be more independent, she said during this week’s Human Services meeting.

“We have worked with this company. for several years, I really liked them; we're really pleased with the work that they did. And we're very happy to be able to come back with them. The the cost in terms of the average cost for a shower is a little bit higher than it had been, and the average is about $15,796. With the $125,000, that would allow us to do about eight of them a year,” Fox said Monday during the county meeting. “And it's funded through unmet needs, which is there's no cost involved in that. And unmet needs pay for things that when there aren't enough aides, we can leave people on the waitlist for an aide. And when we are able to do things like modify the bathroom so that they could get themselves clean, and they can stay in their home instead of having to leave to have that done.”

People often find out about the program when someone calls seeking help for a parent, and OFA will conduct a home visit assessment to determine what the senior may need as part of daily living or is lacking, she said.

“That's pretty much how they find out about it. It's first come, first serve. We really haven't had any problems. But there's always the potential that they tell their friends to hey, I want to get that shower. We talked a little bit about the case management program and things like that. So I'm sure from time to time it's mentioned. There is a qualifying income. We can also, if they don't meet that, there may be a cost share involved in it. And it's not eligible for people who, if they're on Medicaid, then that would be a whole separate something,” she said. “So last year we did nine; it was a big year. This year, we've already done two showers in February and two in March from last year's funding, and in 2022, we have done five, and in 2021, we did two. So it's definitely something that's increasing.”

They passed the resolution, which will go on to the full Legislature for a final vote on April 10. It grants the OFA to work with Caring Environments J&H, Inc. of Clarence to provide tub/shower modifications using the OFA’s targeted home and community-based funding. 

This funding of $125,000 allows for certain services that maintain or promote the independence of older adults who meet eligibility criteria. These services include but are not limited to, the removal of physical barriers (such as changing out tubs for walk-in showers, providing raised toilets, grab bars, etc.) and wraparound services such as purchasing/renting, maintaining, and repairing appliances.

According to the resolution, due to the lack of personal aide services for those eligible for such services, tub/shower modification has been identified as a need in Genesee County and is in greater demand with the increasing number of older adults in our county needing in-home and community support services in order to remain in the home of their choice; and WHEREAS, the Committee on Human Services and Ways and Means does recommend approval at this time, and WHEREAS, this initial contract is effective April 14, 2024 –April 13, 2025, with renewal options for two additional one year periods. Now, therefore, be it RESOLVED, that the Chair of the Genesee County Legislature is hereby authorized and directed to execute the necessary documents to award the contract to Caring Environments J&H, Inc. 4365 Ransom Rd. Clarence, NY, 14031, to serve as an installer at a cost not to exceed $125,000 for the period of April 14, 2024-April 13, 2025.

Unmet Needs grant funds offset the costs of this program, for which there is no county match. The costs are in the approved 2024 county budget in the Homecare and Maintenance/Equipment lines.

A second amount of $22,500 to the same company was also approved to be passed on to the Legislature for a stair and wheelchair/vertical lift program. 

“So basically, it’s the same thing, same company, same funding stream through the unmet needs grant only. This is for stair lifts and wheelchair lifts. And the average cost of those is about a little over $5,000. So, with $22,500 put into this line, we do an average of four. We have two pending for the year 2024. Last year, we only did two, we didn't do any in 2022, and we did one in 2021, so it's not nearly as popular,” she said. “I don't know, just a differing level of what somebody needs. This has more to do with, I’m thinking, that they've been able to actually get into their home. So, again, it’s the same process, a case worker will go out, make an assessment, see what they need.”

Legislators didn’t have too many questions, but an important observation.

“So it’s keeping people in their homes for longer,” Legislator Brooks Hawley said. 

From 'wake-up call' to connecting students with future career paths, BEA keeps busy

By Joanne Beck
Karyn Winters
Genesee County BEA Director Karyn Winters outside of the Old Court House in Batavia. 
Photo by Joanne Beck

Just when you might think that COVID has walked around the corner and is out of sight, its presence and aftermath still lingers in surprising ways that people such as Karyn Winters have been dealing with ever since.

When asked about the biggest change for Business Education Alliance since she began as director in 2017, Winters said that, "obviously," it was right after COVID hit. 

“And then we got a wake-up call as to the baby boomer population that was predominantly the ones working in all of our occupations. They're reaching that age where they want to retire; they set up their retirement and moved it forward because of obvious reasons. And then just the mad dash to fill all these occupations — and no industry is immune to workforce shortages,” she said after Monday’s Human Services meeting. “So it's been finding ways to just make students, especially at middle school age when they're still impressionable, and still have an open mind, just have an idea of the opportunities out there, and just helping them figure out what they like to do and what they really don't want to do. I think that's another huge part of what our programs provide.”

The BEA’s mission is “to foster a partnership between business and education and to assist students in preparing for the world of work.” Ever since it began about three decades ago, the nonprofit has been adding to its long list of programs to do just that—from introducing kids to real-life jobs and professionals who can talk about the ins and outs of those careers to preparing them for the sweat-inducing job interview. 

During this week’s meeting, Winters presented her annual report on the BEA and ongoing efforts, as well as future programs, goals, and changes. 

Two new part-time staff have been hired to help meet the increased demand for career exploration and soft skills programs; she said—those skills include time management, communication, problem-solving, and professional behavior.

“Thanks to the addition of staff, the BEA has been able to implement more project-based curriculum and career exploration through The Chocolate Project,” she said to legislators about a collaboration between the Genesee Valley BOCES library system, Oliver’s Candies and Orcon Industries that teaches elementary students to design and create chocolate molds and product packaging for the candies. 

As for those baby boomer career fields, there was a recent GLOW With Your Hands program for the healthcare field at Genesee Community College and an upcoming Summer Career Exploration event — Camp BOCES — that will allow kids to “dabble in BOCES programs” such as auto technology, skilled trades, computer sciences, engineering and technology and medicine fields. 

The culinary arts program, which has a new instructor, did not sign up for the summer event and is “on hiatus” this year, she said.

All of these programs, including Camp Hard Hat scheduled for the fall, introduce students to a variety of career options and provide opportunities for hands-on lessons with people versed in those fields to answer questions. 

Local companies, including Batavia Downs, Liberty Pumps, AES Distributed Energy Inc., United Memorial Medical Center, Upstate Niagara Corporation, US Gypsum, and Oxbo International, pay a yearly fee of $2,500 to $5,000 to participate as a Premier Workforce member, which is considered an investment to eventually help grow their pool of future job applicants. This program was established as a way to offset expenses and a declining membership from smaller businesses.

Although no industry is immune to job shortages, Winters has seen a trend in what students seem to be going for these days: social media jobs. 

“I think students are very interested in media, social media. And I think students, especially high school kids, I'm seeing social media clubs and classes being implemented. And they have a lot of insight. There are certain platforms that I should be using to promote my camps because that's speaking to the demographic that I'm trying to recruit, which is students to come to my camp. I don't have the faintest idea what to do with Tic Toc, I really don't. But I think hiring the right student to, you know, communicate the importance of these camps, and hopefully get the kids interested to attend my camps, I would use their insight to help support that,” she said. “I think students have a lot of empathy. I think that they definitely see and understand the needs of people, regardless of what background that they have. I think what we definitely need to work on with all students, and this is for 20-something-year-olds too, is workplace expectations, getting those soft skills and realizing what is required.” 

Registration just opened on March 26 for the summer camp, and it’s open to any student in grades six through nine. Camp Hard Hat is also open to students up to grade 10. These have grown in popularity and are a first come, first served type program, and offer full camp scholarships for low-income families. 

“We do try to split up who is rewarded those camp scholarships so that many different families have the opportunity to send their students there. We are fundraising, getting sponsorships from local businesses if they could give in-kind if they could sponsor a student who's low income so they can attend these camps. So camp is really our focus for right now,” she said. “And then not too long after camp gets completed, we have of course, GLOW With Your Hands manufacturing, which is a massive undertaking, and that'll be happening at the end of September at the fairgrounds here.”

County Manager Matt Landers reviewed and recommended BEA’s request for annual funding of $3,107, given that it’s an adjunct of the Genesee County Chamber of Commerce and “provides services and programs that promote the formation of partnerships among businesses and schools for the continuous improvement of education and employment readiness within Genesee County,” according to the resolution. 

The Human Services Committee gave preliminary approval. The request will go to the Legislature for final approval on April 10.

Open mic night to honor National Poetry Month at Richmond Library

By Press Release

Press Release: 

Join Richmond Memorial Library to celebrate National Poetry Month with an Open Mic poetry event on Thursday, April 18 at 6:30 p.m. Read a poem or simply come to listen and enjoy!

Read your own work or a poem of your choice with due credit to poet. No epic poems. Signups to read will begin at 6:15 p.m. on the night of the event and the time limit will depend on attendance. 

Reading is guaranteed to the first 15 who sign up the night of the event. The event will feature refreshments and door prizes! This program is intended for adults and mature teens.

Please visit batavialibrary.org/calendar to register! (This is just to indicate interest in attending; it does not guarantee reading the night of the event). This event is sponsored by the Friends of Richmond Memorial Library.

For questions, contact Samantha Basile, Community and Adult Services Librarian at sbasile@nioga.org

Great Batavia Train Show and RR Modelers Meet April 14

By Press Release
gsme_trainshowphoto24.jpg
Submitted photo.

Press Release:

The Genesee Society of Model Engineers will host the 104th “Great Batavia Train Sale” along with the “Batavia Railroad Prototype Modelers Meet” on Sunday, April 14, 9:30 a.m. – 3:30 p.m., at the Richard C. Call Arena, Genesee Community College, 1 College Road, Batavia. Admission is $6 for adults, $3 for under 18 years old, and free for children under 13 years old.

The popular train show typically attracts 1,200 to 1,500 model railroad enthusiasts and railfans from across Western and Central NY, Northwestern Pennsylvania, and Southern Ontario. There are over 100 vendors occupying 250 tables offering merchandise ranging from antique railroad artifacts to the most modern digitally controlled model trains. This bi-annual show has steadily grown to become one of the premiere events of its kind in Western New York.

The train club hosts two shows each year, a Spring show, and a Fall show. A free Open House is held, typically, on the first Saturday of December at the Club’s facilities in Oakfield where club members maintain operating layouts in O Gauge (Lionel), HO & N scale.

The Genesee Society of Model Engineers is located at 50 Main Street (Rte. 63), Oakfield (above the M&T Bank), and is open Tuesdays from 7 - 9 p.m. Business meetings are held the last Tuesday of each month. Visit www.gsme.org. Like us on Facebook. Visitors are welcome (Stair access only).

Genesee Chamber president visits Batavia Lions Club

By Press Release
brian-cousins.jpg
Submitted photo of program Speaker Brian Cousins, president of Genesee County Chamber of Commerce, and Ronald Metz, Batavia Lions president.

Press Release:

Brian Cousins, president of the Genesee County Chamber of Commerce, introduced the Chamber stating their goal is to further the interests of the local business community in Genesee County, in turn creating a better community for all of us to live. 

The Chamber is a private, not-for-profit, membership-driven organization that brings together representatives throughout the county to promote a vibrant local economy. Brian stated many are in the planning loop for the anticipated Solar Eclipse Festival on Friday to Sunday, April 5-7, at the Genesee County Village & Museum.

The Chamber’s purpose is to promote and support local 500 business members and organizations, involving many others rather than the chamber running activities itself. There are 30 to 40 events scheduled in Genesee County around the eclipse. 

The Chamber has produced eclipse posters and a children’s book, which was favorably reviewed in Forbes, and has distributed over 20,000 pairs of glasses to safely observe it. He also noted that the Home Show is coming on April 12-14 and that Windy Brew will be hosting a business after-hours in Batavia on April 25.

The Batavia Lions Club meets at 6:30 p.m. on the second and fourth Monday of each month and everyone is welcome to visit the American Legion, 8960 Alexander Road, Batavia.

GO Health’s goal is to protect, connect, thrive during National Public Health week

By Press Release

Press Release:

The goal of National Public Health Week (April 1-7) is to recognize the contributions of public health and its workforce as well as highlight issues that can improve the health and well-being of our communities. This year’s public health theme is Protecting, Connecting, and Thriving: We Are All Public Health.

The Genesee and Orleans County Health Departments (GO Health) take steps daily to protect our communities, connect with our partners, and help the citizens of our communities thrive. 

We support and implement programs and interventions that address emerging health issues and topics including but not limited to chronic diseases, suicides, substance use disorders, overdose deaths, communicable diseases, maternal and child health, a safe environment, and social determinants of health. 

We build strong and effective working relationships with community and healthcare partners and strive to make our communities as healthy as they can be. 

“We are proud to serve the residents of Genesee and Orleans Counties,” stated Paul Pettit, Public Health Director for GO Health. “To mark National Public Health Week, we would like to thank our dedicated team at GO Health and our partners for their contributions to enhancing the well-being and quality of life of our residents.”

As individuals, families, communities, and public health workers, we are all interconnected and when we come together, we can achieve the goals of a healthy and thriving community. 

GO Health invites residents of Genesee and Orleans Counties to celebrate National Public Health Week by participating in activities that promote personal well-being and foster a healthier, safer community. 

Some suggestions include:

  • Try to eat more fruits and vegetables. Drink more water. 
  • Be active. Find a new activity that you enjoy doing.
  • Commit to getting enough sleep. Adults should get at least 7 hours a night of sleep.
  • Quit smoking and vaping. Call the New York State (NYS) Quitline at 1-866-697-8487 for more information.
  • Avoid alcohol and drugs.
  • Make sure you are up-to-date on routine screenings for colorectal (colon) cancer, breast cancer, and cervical cancer.
  • Make sure you and your children stay up-to-date on routine immunizations.
  • Stay away from wildlife, including injured animals and pets that are not yours, to reduce your risk of rabies. Love your own, leave the rest alone.
  • Keep your pets up-to-date on their rabies vaccination.
  • Get your children tested for lead at ages 1 and 2. The only way to find out if your children have been exposed to lead is through a blood test.
  • Ensure your children visit their pediatrician regularly for well-child visits to track their growth and development.
  • Create a family emergency plan and build an emergency supply kit.
  • Learn how to administer Naloxone (Narcan), a nasal spray that can be used to reverse an opioid overdose. Narcan is available for free from the Genesee-Orleans-Wyoming Opioid Task Force by texting “Kit” to 1-877-535-2461.
  • To support your mental health, connect with others. Make time for the important relationships in your life. If you need help, reach out to the Care & Crisis Line at 585-283-5200.
  • Focus on self-care. Practice mindfulness, meditate, or try yoga to help relieve stress.

For more information on GO Health programs and services, visit GOHealthNY.org or call your health department at:

  • Genesee County: 585-344-2580 ext. 5555
  • Orleans County: 585-589-3278

Follow GO Health on Facebook, Instagram, and X at GOHealthNY.

New owner to take over, transform site of former Artemis spa in downtown Batavia

By Joanne Beck
Kate Willson
Batavia resident and business owner Kate Willson in her new place at 206 E. Main St., Batavia.
Submitted Photo

Kate Willson, owner of Meraki Beauty, has good news for those people disappointed by the closing of the downtown Batavia Artemis Spa and perhaps even better news for customers holding unredeemable gift cards for the now-defunct business that abruptly closed two weeks ago.

Willson has signed a lease for the property at 206 E. Main St. and plans to renovate the interior to correspond with a new look, feel and name of “a new spa and boutique,” she said.

“This was a way for us to kind of expand our services. So we're looking to remodel the Artemis space and give it a fresh face. We're doing a full remodel to the inside of it and rebranding it under a new name, which we aren't releasing yet,” Willson said to The Batavian Monday. “We’re hoping to open in mid-June, it could be as soon as two months. We’re taking it day by day. 

“We’re kind of giving it a facelift all throughout. So we will be enhancing the treatment rooms and really making them more state-of-the-art. I personally have a passion for the industry and have been to all the spas around, so I feel like I have some great new ideas that we're going to incorporate into the space.”

She said that hair services would remain at Meraki Beauty, which is at 108 W. Main St. That will allow for all other spa services and a front-end boutique at the new site.

“We’re actually going to transform the front of the space into a boutique, so something to kind of correlate with Charles Men’s Shop, but more for the women of the community,” she said. “So we’ll have clothing, small gifting items and we’ll also be featuring small local vendors.”

She plans to also offer an apothecary with Meraki’s own Sorella skincare line, candles, and similar items.

“We're definitely excited to be able to bring in the boutique end of it and more clothing,” she said. “I feel like a lot of our husbands and boyfriends support Charles Men’s Shop, and so we're excited to be able to bring something more local for easy shopping in our community and to kind of showcase those local vendors to show the talent of the community and give them a place to showcase that.”

She said the plan is to rotate three or four of those local vendors in and out so that the offerings will change from time to time. 

Willson has owned and operated Meraki Beauty just a half mile down on West Main Street for five years and has been in the beauty business for the last 13 years. After working in other salons, she decided to branch out to create “a more welcoming space” in a hair salon that treated customers with respect and provided a pampering haven, and Meraki Beauty was born. 

According to her website, meraki means “to put love, creativity and soul into everything you do.”

In the past five years, the business has gone from just Willson to a dozen employees, she said, serving as testimony to its resilience and success. 

Willson and Social Media Manager Brianna Dioguardi agreed that the salon and spa staff's current and future teams will work hard to create “amazing services and a friendly environment” for customers and have already established a solid presence in the hair business. 

They are excited to be jumping into the spa arena, they said.

A few Artemis stylists joined Willson before the spa closed, she said, and now she is excited to bring them back into what she believes is coming full circle with a full spa experience of massage, waxing, manicures, pedicures, and facials.

She is waiting for the legal process of setting up a new business to finish before officially announcing the new shop's name, which will provide “a retail and beautiful sanctuary spa” and boutique experience while hair services will remain at Meraki Beauty. 

“We are doing a full hiring process looking to keep on some of our existing staff and opening doors to new talent. There is a full array for us to expand our services. We’re excited for that for the fact that it is going to provide a lot of new jobs, because we are going to have a full reception team. So there will always be someone in the front of the house to be there for the retail end of things,” she said. “And I do think that is going to be something that helps us take the Artemis to the next level of the spa industry and really provide the best services we can.”

She expects to hire about 15 to 20 people to transform the place into “a spa versus a salon,” she said. A large part of her excitement is taking over the business due to the former site’s “long-lived legacy of 20 years of success in our area.”

“We are very open to finding the right talent and people willing to care for people and provide the right services. Everyone will have to be licensed,” she said of the search for talented massage therapists, estheticians and nail techs. “And we are looking to add to our reception team. And I know for me, I have such a great team around me, so I’m really excited for us to kind of take it and propel it forward and just give it that love that it’s always needed.” 

Services will be by appointment only from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., Monday through Saturday. Speaking of services, those with unexpired gift cards from Artemis may use them for 50 percent of the value at Willson’s spa with proof of purchase or the physical gift card. 

“We want to do that as good faith, knowing that people have supported this business for so long,” Willson said. “Obviously, for me taking over the business, I haven't received any of that money, so it's definitely just something we want to do just to really pay tribute to the Artemis and what it's been and treat the consumers in our area who have really supported this and hopefully will continue to.”

For updates on the spa’s progress and/or to connect with Willson to apply for a position, go to merakibeauty.salon.

Photos: Flamingos make annual April 1 arrival in Lynne Belluscio's yard

By Howard B. Owens
pink flamincos

Le Roy's Lynne Belluscio said these pink flamingos arrived in her yard this morning. She sent along this note:

The flamboyance arrived early this morning in LeRoy.  They were able to navigate through the trees and landed in Lynne Belluscio’s front yard. Their annual arrival on April 1 is always a pink letter day.  Lynne noticed that they were wearing solar eclipse glasses for next Monday.  Lynne is preparing some shrimp for them and has shown them the two chimneys on her house, which are possible nesting sites, although they will probably fly to Oatka Creek.  

Le Roy flamingos are identified by their habit of standing on one leg because the Oatka Creek is so cold. Lynne also shared with The Batavian that she understands that Placido Flamingo will join Genny the cow and the other barnyard animals featured in the book "Genny Sees the Eclipse" to ensure everyone wears protective glasses during the eclipse next week.   

Which reminds us of this poem by Kay Ryan (April, after all, besides being the cruelest month, is also National Poetry Month: Flamingo Watching
 

Sponsored Post: Calling all investors! Call Reliant Real Estate today to see this great investment opportunity

By Lisa Ace
Reliant Real Estate

Location location location-this property has very favorable commercial zoning with high visibility, great traffic counts and within 10 miles of three NYS Thruway exits plus every other main route-5,20,33,63,77,and 98!! Property shares boundary lines with the GCEDC Ag Park and a National Grid substation. There are two freestanding buildings on property which can be used or easily removed. There has been a clean Phase 1 recently completed as of July 2019. This property is priced below neighboring commercial lots-a lot of opportunity for the price!

Accident reported on Route 63 at Starr Road, Pavilion

By Howard B. Owens

Two ambulances are requested to Ellicott Street Road and Starr Road, Pavilion, for an accident involving a semi-truck and a passenger vehicle.

One person reportedly unable to get out of a vehicle.

Mercy Flight was on standby but is canceled.

Pavilion Fire and Mercy EMS dispatched.

Stafford Fire quested to shutdown traffic at Route 20 and Route 63 and Le Roy Fire requested to shutdown traffic at Route 19 and Route 63.

Traffic is blocked in both directions on Route 63 by the accident.

UPDATE 5:31 p.m.: One person extricated.

UPDATE 7:17 p.m.: Route 63 reopened.

UPDATE: According to Pavilion Chief Jason Everett, two people were injured. He said it appeared a semi-truck was westbound on Route 63 in the slow lane. When it came time to merge, a pickup truck was in the passing lane, and the semi-driver apparently did not see the pickup truck and moved into the passing lane. The pickup was forced into the lane of oncoming traffic and hit an SUV. The pickup then swerved, bounced off the semi-truck, and punctured a saddle tank. After the collision, the pickup continued down a 20-foot embankment. The SUV driver was extricated and was transported to Strong Memorial Hospital by Mercy EMS. The two people in the pickup truck declined treatment at the scene and were transported to UMMC by private vehicle.  The saddle tanks leaked approximately 50 liters of diesel fuel. Genesee County's Hazmat team assisted with cleanup.  Route 63 was closed for approximately three hours.

Photos: A thrill every lap -- Xtreme International Ice Racing at Dave McCarthy Memorial Ice Arena

By Steve Ognibene
Fans from all across the area came to watch Xtreme international ice racing on Friday and Saturday evening at the Dave McCarthy memorial Ice Arena.  Photo by Steve Ognibene
Fans from all across the area came to watch Xtreme international ice racing on Friday and Saturday evening at the Dave McCarthy memorial Ice Arena.  
Photo by Steve Ognibene

For fans of vehicle racing, the David M. McCarthy Memorial Ice Arena was the place to be, with motorbikes and four-wheelers among the motorized machines taking to the frozen surface for fast trips around the track.

Anthony Barlow started Extreme Ice Racing 20 years ago, met Robbie Nichols in Elmira 15 years ago, and Nichols became a friend and supporter of the sport.

Last year, Nichols brought Extreme Ice Racing to Batavia for the first time.

"We got a few different classes," Barlow said. "We got the speedway bikes that go from zero to 60 in under three seconds, and they have no brakes. And we've got the four-wheelers, which people can really relate to because most people have a four-wheeler, and you've got the flat-track bikes. You've got the kids racing cars, people love kids, and then you've got the go-karts. So when people come, you never know what you can get with ice racing."

To view or purchase photos, click here.

 Photo by Steve Ognibene
 Photo by Steve Ognibene
 Photo by Steve Ognibene
 Photo by Steve Ognibene
 Photo by Steve Ognibene
 Photo by Steve Ognibene
 Photo by Steve Ognibene
 Photo by Steve Ognibene
 Photo by Steve Ognibene
 Photo by Steve Ognibene
 Photo by Steve Ognibene
 Photo by Steve Ognibene
 Photo by Steve Ognibene
 Photo by Steve Ognibene
 Photo by Steve Ognibene
 Photo by Steve Ognibene
 Photo by Steve Ognibene
 Photo by Steve Ognibene

GCEDC board approves Craft Cannery expansion

By Press Release

Press Release:

The Genesee County Economic Development Center (GCEDC) board of directors approved a final resolution for LNK Holdings Inc./Craft Cannery’s expansion of its contract manufacturing facility in the town of Bergen at its board meeting on Thursday, March 28.

The proposed $1.465 million project enables Craft Cannery to expand operations at Apple Tree Acres by adding 4,000 sq. ft. to its existing 5,000 sq. ft. facility. The USDA-certified contract manufacturer provides dozens of customers with the capacity to ramp production of sauces, dressings, marinades, and other foods, produce small-batch foods, and pilot unique recipes for commercialization.

“The agribusiness industry continues to propel our region’s economy, having a successful and growing food and beverage cluster from Bergen to Pembroke represents the type of investments that have made Genesee County a destination for the private sector,” said GCEDC President and CEO Steve Hyde.

The expansion will create 4 new full-time jobs and retain 6 full-time positions. Craft Cannery previously won a $500,000 grant at the 2022 Grow-NY Global Food and Agribusiness Competition that supports the expansion.

The company has requested payment in lieu of taxes (PILOT), sales, and mortgage tax exemptions valued at $72,496 to support the expansion. The proposed incentives for the additional 4,000 sq. ft. are estimated to return $3.06 million in projected wages and municipal revenues. The project would generate a $62 economic impact for every $1 of requested incentives.

The GCEDC board also approved a final resolution from LeatherLeaf Solar LLC for a 5 MW community solar farm in the town of Byron. The $9 million project is projected to generate $4,000/megawatts (AC) annually + a 2% annual escalator of revenues to Genesee County and Byron-Bergen Central School District, along with a host agreement with the Town of Byron. 

Top Items on Batavia's List

Seasonal cook at Stafford Country Club. Immediate start, great work environment, competitive pay! Please send resumes to: HR@Staffordcc.com
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For Rent - Lower 1 Bedroom Apartment Private country setting, lower one bedroom apartment with all appliances and parking. Sunroom with gas fireplace and patio. Includes water and heat. $1200/Month plus electric. No pets, no smoking. References and security deposit required. Available June 1st, 2024. Call 585-344-3141.
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