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January 23, 2020 - 4:29pm

Press release:

The Genesee County Chamber of Commerce is celebrates its 48th Annual Awards Ceremony on Saturday, March 7, at the Quality Inn & Suites, Park Road, Batavia.

This is the County’s premier event that honors businesses and individuals for their achievements in business, community service and volunteerism. Tickets are $50 per person or a table of 10 for $450.

The evening begins at 5:30 with hors d'oeuvres, entrée tables and cash bar (no formal sit-down dinner is to be served). The Award Program starts at 7 p.m. at which time dessert and coffee will be served.

Call Kelly J. Bermingham, at 343-7440, ext. 1026, to make your reservations.

This year’s honorees are:  

Business of the Year: Tompkins Bank of Castile       

Agricultural Business of the Year: Call Lands/My-T Acres   

Special Service Recognition of the Year: Purple Pony Therapeutic Horsemanship                             

Geneseean of the Year: Jeff Allen

January 20, 2020 - 2:01pm

Press release:

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced last week that 61 New York State businesses, community colleges and community-based organizations will receive funding for workforce development totaling $3.4 million as part of the state's historic $175 million Workforce Development Initiative.

Professional training is expected to provide 2,464 New Yorkers with in-demand skills. Grant funds are provided by the Department of Labor, New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) and The State University of New York. Since launching in May, nearly $6.5 million has been awarded through the Workforce Development Initiative.

"These awards will help ensure that thousands of workers across the state are not only prepared for the jobs of today, but are ready to take on the jobs of tomorrow," Governor Cuomo said. "New York's workforce must adapt to the rapidly changing, modern economy and the Workforce Development Initiative will give our workers the edge they need to stay competitive."

"Investing in workforce development is essential to provide New Yorkers with the skills they need for the jobs of the future," said Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul. "In order to keep up with the needs of the labor market, New York must lead the way to train workers in advanced manufacturing, health care, and energy to close the skills gap and create a pipeline of talent for employers.

"This funding awarded as part of the Workforce Development Initiative targets resources to ensure job training is available in our communities for good paying jobs now and in the future that will continue to move our economy forward."

New York's Regional Economic Development Councils play a key role in recommending applications for funding, based on regional economic needs and opportunities. Businesses and organizations from eight REDC regions receiving Workforce Development awards include:

  • Finger Lakes: Berry Global, Bonduelle Americas, Clifton Springs Hospital and Clinic, Creative Food Ingredients, Cutco Corporation, Harbec, Lifetime Assistance, Markin Tubing, McAlpin Industries, Newark-Wayne Community Hospital, O-AT-KA Milk Products Cooperative, Optimax, Orolia, Ortho Clinical Diagnostics, Park Ridge Nursing Home, Pfisterer Lapp, Prestolite Electric, Rochester General Hospital, Rochester General Long Term Care, Spectracom, University of Rochester Medical Center, Unity Hospital.

The professional training projects are supported by SUNY community colleges across the state, including: Adirondack, Broome, Corning, Dutchess, Fashion Institute of Technology, Genesee, Jamestown, Monroe, Nassau, North Country, Tompkins Cortland, and Westchester. Projects funded through NYS Department of Labor include sites in the Finger Lakes, Long Island and New York City. Projects funded through NYSERDA are all located in New York City.

SUNY Chancellor Kristina M. Johnson said, "SUNY's community colleges continue to be the hubs for job training and individualized education as we prepare our students to meet the needs of New York's employers. I applaud the Governor for continuing his deep commitment to our state's workforce to ensure that any employer looking for skilled workers can look no further than right here in New York."

January 17, 2020 - 12:07pm

Press release:

The Pavilion Central School District is proud to announce that we are now able to offer students a Career and Technical Endorsement in both Agriculture and Business.

This new endorsement will encourage students to enhance their skill sets in agriculture or business.

These new programs allow students to study in a focused career pathway, partake focused internships, and attain college credits at associated colleges.

Upon completion of the Business Career Program, the students can receive college credits at GCC in Introduction to Business, Introduction to Computers, and Microcomputer Applications.

The students are also able to achieve credits in Programming and Problem Solving, and Computer Programming after passing the Advanced Placement Computer Science Placement Exam.

The students enrolled in the Agriculture program will be able to receive credit in Agriculture Business at Morrisville State University, and Animal or Plant Science at Alfred State University.

January 15, 2020 - 6:11pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in spectrum, Empire Access, business.

Officials at Empire Access are warning their customers that Spectrum sales reps may be using deceptive tactics to try and convince them to switch broadband and cable services.

Today, Marketing Director Bob R. VanDelinder released a video taken by a customer's front-porch video recorder that shows a man who looks like a Spectrum rep and represents himself as a Spectrum rep telling the customer that Spectrum is acquiring Empire Access.

"We thought this may be of interest since Empire Access did NOT sell to Spectrum, and has no plans of selling," VanDelinder said. "Our company is locally owned and operated, and deeply rooted in the communities we serve."

The rep tells the customer, "We just bought Empire, you know, so sooner or later you're going to be with us."

"So you're going to raise up your rates?" the customer asks in response. 

"No, we're just going to get everybody switched over, so whenever you're ready. The official switch-over is March, so sooner later you'll be on board with us or you'll be on satellite. Right now we're offering you a deal to get on board with us."

VanDelinder said his company has received two complaints, both involving the same rep at a location in the Southern Tier.

The Batavian attempted to reach a spokesperson for Spectrum this afternoon and we received no response.

UPDATE 9:43 p.m.: We apparently contacted the wrong Spectrum. We just received the following statement from a Spectrum spokesperson: "The content of the video is not accurate and we’re investigating these apparent comments by the sales representative."

Support Local News because Local News supports your community!

January 15, 2020 - 2:06pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Attica, business, Pavilion, Hands of Time Massage.

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After the west wall of the Opera House in Attica was heavily damaged in a windstorm last week, Pavilion resident Jolene Coots found her business, Hands of Time Massage, displaced.

It didn't take long for the community to find out and the outpouring of support has been overwhelming, said her husband, Jesse Coots.

"Because of the damage, the county has deemed the building unsafe so she was instantly out of business," Jesse said. "Feeling crushed, we went to Attica yesterday (Monday) to remove what we could then we went for lunch at local diner and people were amazing to Jolene. They gave her hugs and words of encouragement and offered any help we needed.

"We took a walk down Main Street looking for a place to rent. Nothing was advertised for rent and feeling desperate we just walked into a couple of local businesses and asked if they knew if anything. Everyone, and I mean everyone, offered space to Jolene. They offered to share a room and offered to make room for her!

"We were really shocked. We thought she would be out of business for a few months but the community has literally rallied behind her."

Talking about it makes Jolene tear up.

"It's amazing," Jolene said during a phone interview. She started to sob and confessed she thought she had told the story often enough already that she wouldn't cry during the interview.

"Everybody knew," Jolene said. "It's a small town. Word spreads quickly. The expressions of concern when we went out, messages on Facebook, Jesse's friends had spots available, even in neighboring towns, they'd say they have spots available and though know it's not close for a majority of my clients, but they have space. It's been great."

That's the advantage of small-town life, both Jesse and Jolene noted, and why they wanted to share their story.

Jolene has been a massage therapist for 20 years and had her own business in Attica for more than 19 years. The Coots are known, of course, for the Hardcore Happening, which they host at their home in Pavilion every August.

While Jolene is hopeful the Opera House can be repaired -- she believes her landlord expects to repair it -- she now has space for her practice. 

On Monday, while she and Jesse stepped into the Tompkins Insurance office and asked if the staff new of open space downtown. Manager Mike Hardy came out and right away offered a space upstairs. Jolene said it was the most move-in ready space they had seen and Hardy allowed her to move her business into the room immediately.  

"The words of encouragement have meant the most," Jesse said. "I don’t think she ever realized how loved she is or how powerful and supportive a small town can be.

"We’ve had offers from people all over once word got out -- friends who own building in Batavia, Le Roy, Pavilion and Attica have reached out. Other massage therapists have offered space. It really made us feel good to live in such a caring community and feel loved by so many."

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January 14, 2020 - 2:10pm

Press release:

The Genesee County Chamber of Commerce is celebrating its 48th annual Awards Ceremony, which will be held on Saturday, March 7, at the Quality Inn & Suites, Park Road, Batavia.

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

This year’s honorees are:

  • Business of the Year: Tompkins Bank of Castile       
  • Agricultural Organization of the Year: Call Lands/My T Acres   
  • Special Service Recognition of the Year: Purple Pony Therapeutic Horsemanship                             
  • Geneseean of the Year: Jeff Allen

Tickets are $50 per person or a table of 10 for $450.   

The evening begins at 5:30 with hors d’oeuvres, entrée tables and cash bar (no formal sit-down dinner is to be served). The Award Program starts at 7 o'clock at which time dessert and coffee will be served.  

Call Kelly J. Bermingham, at 343-7440, ext. 1026, to make your reservations.

January 12, 2020 - 2:20pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in The Coffee Press, batavia, business.

coffeepressoneyear.jpg

Shirley Puleo and Lynn Bezon chat with owner Derek Geib during the first-anniversary celebration yesterday of The Coffee Press on Jackson Street.

January 10, 2020 - 4:03pm
posted by Billie Owens in business, agriculture, steve hawley, farm labor laws.

Press release:

Assemblyman Steve Hawley (R,C,I- Batavia) announced today that he has introduced legislation, A.8916, that would mandate including two additional members on the Farm Laborers Wage Board, increasing membership from three to five individuals. The two additional members would be the Commissioner of Agriculture & Markets and a member of the business community.

“New York City politicians passed sweeping and overarching new farm labor regulations last year which have the potential to devastate small, family-owned farms in our state,” Hawley said. “It is imperative that the new wage board has input and influence from those who are on the frontlines of the agriculture industry instead of politically appointed Big Labor bosses.

“I proudly debated on the Assembly Floor and voted against the farm labor changes because Downstate lawmakers have no business telling our producers how to operate. Agriculture is a unique industry that is thriving in many parts of our state and to pass blanket labor laws from behind a desk in Albany is grossly irresponsible and myopic.

"As the Past President of the Genesee County Farm Bureau and former owner of our family farm in Batavia, I will continue to advocate for our area’s farmers and see that this bill I’m introducing to expand the wage board becomes law this year.”

January 7, 2020 - 1:29pm
posted by Billie Owens in GCEDC, business, Ellicott Station, savarino companies.

Press release:

The Genesee County Economic Development Center (GCEDC) Board of Directors will consider accepting an application for assistance for the proposed $22.5 million Ellicott Station project in the City of Batavia at the GCEDC’s Jan. 9 meeting.

The Ellicott Station project is a mixed-use brownfield redevelopment project including adaptive reuse and new construction of a blighted property in a key gateway entrance site to Downtown Batavia. Considerable brownfield remediation, site improvements, and construction are proposed by project developer Savarino Companies.

“With Genesee County, the City of Batavia, and the Batavia City School District, we are working collectively to revitalize the city,” said Steve Hyde, president and CEO of the GCEDC. “The cleanup and redevelopment of the Ellicott Station site is a critical component of achieving our collective vision for Batavia’s Pathway to Prosperity.”

If the application is accepted, a public hearing on the proposed incentives will be scheduled in the City of Batavia.

The Ellicott Station project has been updated from a previous application that was approved by the GCEDC board in November 2018. The project proposes a five-story apartment building with 55 new modern workforce housing units, along with a brewery, restaurant/beer garden, and the preparation of an additional development site on the 3.31-acre campus.

The proposed project supports the Genesee County’s EDGE economic development strategy of creating housing for entry-level workers at Genesee County’s growing businesses.

Ellicott Station is requesting approximately $3.6 million in economic incentives, with a $2,105,792 property tax exemption, a $790,512 sales tax exemption, and a $180,792 mortgage tax exemption.

The proposed incentives are aligned with a request for financial support from the New York State Office of Homes and Community Renewal (HCR).

“We believe that the proposed project can be economically viable as the market-rate housing component checks a number of boxes that support the state’s interest in funding these types of developments,” Hyde said.

“The fact that there are a growing number of employment opportunities in the surrounding area to attract workforce talent to our region is certainly another factor we hope the state will consider in its decision.”

January 3, 2020 - 1:21pm
posted by Billie Owens in business, GCC, BEA, rural healthcare.

Press release:

More than 275 students in grades eight through 12 from Genesee and Wyoming counties will be participating in the Healthcare Career Day at the Genesee Community College campus in Batavia on Tuesday, Jan. 7th from 9:30 a.m. to 1:15 p.m.

The event will provide local students the opportunity to learn about high-growth and high-demand health careers and meet with medical professionals from more than 20 different fields, including laboratory technologists, physicians, first responders, nurses, speech and occupational therapists, radiologists, and more.

Students will also participate in the Healthcare College and Career Fair in the William W. Stuart Forum from 12:15 to 1:15 p.m., where they will meet with representatives from more than 25 colleges and healthcare organizations.

The Healthcare Career Day is a special collaboration between Genesee Community College, Genesee County Business Education Alliance (BEA), Genesee Valley Educational Partnership, Fidelis Care, Tobacco-Free GOW, Rochester Regional Health United Memorial Medical Center, Wyoming County Community Health System, and the Wyoming County Business Education Council (BEC).

Healthcare Career Day hopes to address the future workforce shortage in healthcare, particularly in rural communities like Genesee and Wyoming counties where residents already have considerable difficulty accessing healthcare locally. Remote geographic locations, small size, limited workforce, and physician shortages pose a unique set of challenge for rural hospitals and health centers.

The mission of this special collaboration is to promote employment opportunities with tomorrow’s workforce, as jobs in healthcare occupations are projected to grow 18 percent from 2016 to 2026, much faster than the average for all occupations. The Healthcare Career Day will help secure the health and wellness of Genesee and Wyoming counties for generations to come.

For more information, contact Karyn Winters at [email protected] or 585-343-7440.

January 3, 2020 - 9:02am
posted by Billie Owens in business, agriculture, steve hawley, NY Farm Bureau.

Press release: 

Assemblyman Steve Hawley announced today that he has once again been named to the Farm Bureau "Circle of Friends" for his legislative support of agricultural and farming initiatives in 2019.

“I am honored to once again be named to the Circle of Friends and I thank the Farm Bureau for the great relationship and dialogue we have exercised over the years to do what’s best for our area’s producers,” Hawley said.

Hawley is the former owner and operator of Hawley Farms in Batavia, a longtime member of the Assembly Agriculture Committee and a leading opponent of the Farm Labor Bill, which allows unionization, mandatory time off and other labor restrictions for farm workers.

“The new farm labor regulations, which took effect yesterday, are an absolute deathblow to family farms across our state," Hawley said. "By choking our farmer’s labor supply and mandating drastic wage increases, we are threatening our farms’ livelihood and their ability to operate and succeed when they need laborers the most.

"I was proud to stand with farmers across the state in debating and voting against this bill when it came to the Assembly floor. New York City politicians who have probably never set foot on a farm should never be allowed to dictate how we operate.”

January 1, 2020 - 6:19pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in agriculture, business, farm labor bill.

Press release:

A temporary restraining order (TRO) was issued by Federal Court Judge Lawrence J. Vilardo on Dec. 31 in U.S. District Court in Western New York. The TRO prohibits New York State from enforcing certain actions and imposing penalties upon farmers stemming from a new law scheduled to go into effect today.

It is important to note, the TRO does not impact the law or impact the wages of the vast majority of hourly employees working on New York farms and the payment of overtime, nor was it intended to.

The court action followed a lawsuit filed on Monday, Dec. 30 that would temporarily halt the implementation of the Farm Laborers Fair Labor Practices Act on Jan. 1. The suit was filed by the Northeast Dairy Producers Association (NEDPA) and the New York State Vegetable Growers Association (NYSVGA) on behalf of the organizations' member farmers across the state, seeking clarity and to ensure they are in compliance with the law’s requirements.

The TRO specifically restrains the state government from enforcing the Act where such actions would impact the status, compensation, and hours of supervisors, family members, shareholders, and administrative and professional employees. The TRO will be in effect for several weeks. If a mutually agreeable settlement is not reached, a preliminary injunction hearing will be held on Jan. 24.

Brian Reeves, president of the New York State Vegetable Growers Association, and owner of Reeves Farms in Baldwinsville (Onondaga County), said, “The ruling in favor of the TRO is an important first step for ensuring the Farm Laborers Fair Labor Practice Act is implemented fairly for all who work on farms in New York.

"We want to protect the rights of all who work on our farms and are so important to our success. We look forward to working with the Governor and the Legislature to correct the statute to better address the rights of all who work on our farms.”

Jon Greenwood, chair of the Northeast Dairy Producers Association and co-owner of Greenwood Dairy Farm in Canton (St. Lawrence County), said, “The narrow scope of the TRO ruling will allow us to continue to work with the state to improve language and definitions in the Act.

"Providing clarity to New York’s farms will help us protect our management teams while assuring family members and others employed on our farms are treated fairly. We look forward to working with the state and court to ensure that the interests of farmers, their families, and employees are represented in the new state law.”

December 30, 2019 - 12:57pm
posted by Billie Owens in Farm Labor Act, business, agriculture, dairy, vegetable growers.

Press release:*

A coalition of New York State dairy and vegetable farms has filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Western New York seeking a court order that would temporarily halt the implementation of the Farmworkers Fair Labor Practices Act on Jan.1. New York’s farmers and employees are seeking clarity to ensure they are in compliance with its requirements.

The group, which includes the Northeast Dairy Producers Association (NEDPA), the New York State Vegetable Growers Association (NYSVGA), and individual farmers across the state have been working with state officials for months, leading up to and following the legislature’s approval in June of a measure that was then signed into law by Governor Andrew Cuomo in July.

*(Update) In Genesee County, the coalition includes Torrey Farms, a dairy farm in Elba that's been in operation since 1803, and MTy Acres, which is represented on the Board of Directors of NYS veg growers.

Prior to filing the lawsuit today, representatives of NEDPA and the NYSVGA worked into the evening on Friday in an effort to seek a resolution that would bring clarity to the matter. In addition, they maintained open lines of communications and were willing to continue the dialogue throughout the weekend.

In fact, prior to being voted upon and signed, a statewide advocacy effort was conducted by concerned agricultural interests that repeatedly identified flaws within the legislation that needed to be addressed to avoid unintended consequences of the state action.

More specifically, the lawsuit outlines the challenges facing New York’s agriculture community, and identifies several key issues that require modification.

  • As currently written, the Act’s definition of “farm laborer” includes supervisors, farm owners and family members of farm owners. This places farms in a contradictory or “Catch 22” position. If supervisors, owners and family members are classified as farm laborers, they have the right to engage in collective bargaining with other employees. However, if supervisors, owners and family members are also agents of the farm business, they must not engage in conduct that would discourage union concerted activity, assist in the formation of a union, or otherwise violate the rights of farm laborers.
  • The Act also conflicts with Section 14(a) of the National Labor Relations Act (“NLRA”). The Act includes supervisors as part of the group of farm labors who may engage in concerted activities, but the NLRA expressly prohibits states from adopting such legislation, and so the law is preempted by federal law. 
  • Because the Act includes supervisors, owners, and family members for purposes of its hour restrictions and overtime pay requirements, farms must reclassify the way they engage these individuals, and this compounds the conflict as farmers endeavor to implement the law.
  • As a result, if a farm decides to classify its supervisors, owners and family members as farm laborers, it will result in a violation of the Act’s collective bargaining provisions. On the other hand, if a farm takes the position that supervisors, owners and family members are not farm laborers, the farm may be subjecting itself to criminal and civil penalties by violating their rights as farm laborers and by violating the hour restrictions and overtime pay requirements.

John Dickinson, Northeast Dairy Producers Association, and co-owner of Ideal Dairy in Hudson Falls (Washington County), said, “We greatly appreciate the efforts of our employees; they are invaluable to our success and we want to do what’s right for them. We have had productive interactions with state representatives and provided feedback on the lack of clarity this law provides, however we are asking for a pause to allow necessary changes to be made.

"The lack of guidance the dairy community is receiving is causing unnecessary stress on farms, agribusinesses, and families across the state. We have every intention of abiding with this law, but our farms and employees are struggling with implementation due to unclear and conflicting definitions as it is currently written.”

Brian Reeves, president of the New York State Vegetable Growers Association, and owner of Reeves Farms in Baldwinsville (Onondaga County), said,“We have been working for months in a constructive manner to bring clarity and fairness to a law that had significant problems due to ambiguity and unfairness to employees and farm families across New York.

"Today, we are simply seeking a temporary pause to the implementation of this law, to avoid harm to our farms and our employees, while the Governor and Legislature correct the ambiguities.”

December 26, 2019 - 3:53pm
posted by Billie Owens in batavia, business, yoga, Blue Pearl.

Submitted photo and press release:

The New Year at Blue Pearl Yoga Open House will be held from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 4.

Come and explore the many opportunities for wellness and check out our beautiful yoga space located in the former Masonic Temple on Main Street in Downtown Batavia.

Try out different styles of yoga and meet our teachers, as we will be offering free 20-minute Discovery classes throughout the day in our two yoga rooms. Or you're welcome to just hang out in the Art Gallery or Reception Room, and enjoy some light refreshments and good company.

All welcome, no charge. Blue Pearl Yoga Studio is located on the third floor of 200 E. Main St. — stair access only.

(In case of cancellation due to inclement weather, the Open House will occur from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday, Jan. 5)

December 26, 2019 - 12:53pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Cornell Cooperative Extension, business, agriculture.

Press release:

The Genesee County Cornell Cooperative Extension Board of Directors has selected Joaquina Kankam as their executive director, a position that includes leadership of the 100-year-old organization that provides quality programs in youth development, agriculture, nutrition, leadership, and community and economic development.

Kankam currently works as a statewide Extension Program Specialist in 4-H and Youth Development with Prairie View A & M University in Texas. She also cochairs a committee for the National Urban Extension Conference Planning Committee and leads numerous statewide youth development and professional development training.

Prior to her current role, she served as an instructor for two different colleges, and as an educator/administrator for the Houston Independent School District.

Kankam holds a B.A. in psychology from Tuskegee University, an M.Ed. in Education from the University of St. Thomas, and a Ph.D. in Educational Leadership from Prairie View A & M University.

“I am so excited to work with such a kind group of people. I hope I can extend the same welcome to everyone as the lovely people of Genesee County have already given to me,” Kankam said.

She will begin her role on Jan. 6th. For more information on Genesee County Cornell Cooperative Extension, please visit genesee.cce.cornell.edu.

December 17, 2019 - 1:01pm

Press release:

U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer today announced, following his major effort, the successful inclusion of $2 million in the soon-to-pass bipartisan omnibus spending package for Fiscal Year 2020 for the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to continue research, market surveillance, and appropriate regulatory activities for products containing the increasingly popular cannabidiol (CBD).

Even though CBD products have gained popularity since the 2018 Farm Bill legalized the farming, manufacturing, and selling of industrial hemp, Schumer explained that the FDA has yet to set regulations or safety requirements for CBD derived from hemp.

According to Schumer, the lack of federal guidance and clarity is sowing chaos for both consumers and in the rapidly emerging Upstate New York industrial hemp industry, which saw sales of CBD products surpass $200 million nationally in 2018.

Therefore, in the upcoming, bipartisan appropriations package, Schumer fought for a provision setting aside $2 million for regulatory activities, research, and policy evaluation of CBD products.

The legislation also includes a requirement that the FDA issue a report to Congress within 60 days on its progress determining a regulatory framework for CBD products. Additionally, the provision requires the FDA to study a sample of CBD products currently on the market, to better understand which products are mislabeled or otherwise misrepresented.

“CBD is brimming with potential to be a billion-dollar industry across New York State, bringing along countless jobs and truly meaningful economic development with it. But before that can happen, we need to be 100-percent sure we understand the ABCs of CBD—its impact on human health, and how best to regulate it at the federal level,” Senator Schumer said.

“That’s why during the negotiations for the bipartisan spending package, which is set to pass in the next few days, I fought tooth and nail to secure a provision setting aside $2 million for the FDA to, at long last, begin developing a regulatory framework for CBD—and demanding the agency update Congress on its progress.

Once these necessary rules and restrictions are set, the industry will seed and grow from one corner of the state to the other, many good-paying jobs will be created in the industrial hemp space, farmers will be able to safely cash in on this cash crop, and consumers will be protected.”

CBD is one of the two main chemical compounds that can be found in the cannabis plant. However, CBD is not psychoactive, meaning that it cannot get a person high—unlike tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the other chemical compound found in many types of cannabis plants, primarily marijuana.

CBD products have become exceptionally popular in the marketplace, with estimated sales of CBD-containing products, such as oils, gummies, balms, lotions, and capsules, surpassing $200 million in 2018.

According to the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets, there are currently just under 500 people, businesses, and organizations spread across New York State licensed to grow and process industrial hemp.

According to news reports, roughly three-quarters of those licenses were approved for the purposes of cultivating and extracting CBD. Currently, there are 18,000 acres of land licensed for industrial hemp growing in New York State, with 14,000 designated for CBD cultivation and extraction.

Furthermore, of New York’s 62 counties, 56 are home to industrial hemp farms and related growing operations. Schumer explained that these figures show just how much potential CBD products have to boost the economy across New York State, should clear guidance on CBD be issued by the FDA.

Industrial hemp is a type of cannabis plant that is grown largely for industrial uses, but it can also be utilized for food, oil, and cosmetic products. Hemp contains a very small amount of THC, typically between 0.2 and 0.3 percent on a dry weight basis, and while from the same species of plant as marijuana, the two plants have varied widely in use.

However, due to the existence of THC in hemp, Schumer explained, both plants were considered “controlled substances” under federal law, meaning the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) was the primary regulator for hemp production.

Schumer argued that this narrow view has undermined the crop’s agricultural and economic potential. With the Hemp Farming Act of 2018 passed by Congress and signed into law last year, this unnecessary roadblock has been lifted, and industrial hemp’s significant potential to become a cash crop in Upstate New York will be unleashed.

December 13, 2019 - 5:03pm

Submitted photo and press release:

With the YMCA fundraising underway, Tompkins Bank of Castile and Tompkins Insurance generously donated $150,000 to the Healthy Living Campus Capital Campaign in a check ceremony Thursday (Dec. 12).

Their gift is in celebration of their 150th Anniversary serving the community. The YMCA wishes continued success for Tompkins Bank of Castile and Tompkins Insurance as both of our organizations work together to provide opportunities for the Genesee County area.

The Healthy Living Campus will be transformational for Downtown Batavia and benefit community residents as the new facility will have:

• Accessibility for the handicap;

• State of the art indoor playground;

• Splash pad;

• Teaching kitchen;

• Indoor track;

• Preschool wing;

• Pickup and drop-off for kids;

• Larger gym;

• New programs with the United Memorial Medical Hospital including working with physicians, dietitians, nutritionists, survivor programing to name a few.

 

Tompkins, one of the largest employers in the City of Batavia, pledged the money this spring.

“This project will be transformational for downtown Batavia and benefit thousands of community residents for many years to come,” said John McKenna, president and CEO of Tompkins Bank of Castile, in March.

“We’re excited to play a pivotal role in a project that is going to bring such positive change to the community,” David Boyce, president and CEO of Tompkins Insurance, added at that time.

The donation will support a $22.5 million land redevelopment project that includes the current YMCA and United Memorial Medical Center (UMMC) Cary Hall on Main Street in Batavia. The initiative will have a substantial impact on Main Street, which is home to the headquarters of Tompkins Bank of Castile and Tompkins Insurance Agencies.

This community initiative is expected to boost the regional economy by about $60 million over the course of its first decade, including jobs at the new campus and during construction, according to the Genesee County Economic Development Center.

Top photo, from left: John McKenna, president and CEO of Tompkins Bank of Castile; Rob Walker, GLOW YMCA chief executive officer; and David Boyce, president and CEO of Tompkins Insurance.

December 10, 2019 - 1:52pm
posted by Billie Owens in PathStone Corp., agriculture, business, farm labor housing.

Press release:

PathStone Corporation is currently accepting applications for their 2019-20 On-farm Housing Grant.

This program is a matching grant of up to $2,000 to repair and upgrade existing farm labor housing. Examples of eligible repairs include, but are not limited to: bathrooms, plumbing, laundry facilities, recreation rooms, upgrading kitchens, heating, floors, walls, windows, ceilings, doors and other major structural components.*

Special consideration will be given to projects that positively impact the quality of life for farmworkers during off work hours. Farm owners must agree to provide $1 for every $1 provided by PathStone Corporation. This grant has been very successful in Wayne and Orleans counties, but this year’s focus will be on farms in Genesee, Livingston, Wyoming and Ontario counties.

If interested, or if you have questions, please contact Susan Lerch at 585-546-3700, ext. 3020, for an application. The application deadline is currently March 1 and the work will need to be completed by May 15.

Please help us spread the word as we want to assist as many farms as possible!

*NOTE: Farms may still be eligible to receive grant funds even if repair work has already started.

December 5, 2019 - 1:45pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Center Street Smokehouse, business, batavia.

centerstreet20th2019.jpg

Restaurants come and go. It's a tough business. But some endure and among those is Center Street Smokehouse, which has been a staple of the downtown dining scene in Batavia for 20 years.

In 2000, Paul, his brother Scott and friend Tommy Freeman bought at auction an old newspaper building that had been vacant for years and was in a sad, dilapidated state and renovated it, turning it into a Southern-hospitality, retro-themed eatery.

"It's been an interesting trip," Paul said. "We've got a loyal fan base and we've been improving things year after year after year so people keep coming back."

As downtown's business base has slowly grown over the past two decades, Center Street has been in the thick of it.

"It's nice to be right in the middle of the city," Paul said. "People can move around downtown and get more of a city experience."

The restaurant opened 20 years ago on Dec. 7 and to celebrate, on Sunday (Dec. 8), draft beers are $1, beef ribs, $6, half chicken, $4, and a hamburger is just $1.

"These prices are not a misprint," Paul notes in a flier he made for the event, and the prices only last on Sunday while supplies last. The hours are from 4 to 8 p.m.

The celebration will last all of 2020, Paul said, with monthly specials throughout the year.

December 3, 2019 - 4:17pm
posted by Billie Owens in Charles Schumer, agriculture, business, industrial hemp.

Press release:

U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer announced today that following his major push, the Federal Reserve, Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) and Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC), in tandem with the Conference of State Bank Supervisors, have confirmed the legality of banks and other financial institutions extending services and products to industrial hemp-oriented businesses and farms.

Schumer explained that without access to traditional financial services, local farmers and the industrial hemp industry across Upstate New York had been unfairly restricted on capital investment, preventing further economic growth and the creation of good-paying jobs, and choking off valuable income for farmers.

Lack of Awareness By Lending Institutions

Schumer said the lack of awareness by lending institutions about the legality of industrial hemp had created an unwarranted murkiness around the legality of financing hemp-oriented businesses — and that new guidance was urgently needed.

With that now cleared up, the industrial hemp industry can continue to seed and grow across Upstate New York.

“This is a strong step in the right direction to boost the growth of the industrial hemp industry, and I am glad federal regulators, including the Fed, heeded my call to provide clarity to banks that industrial hemp is fully legal and their member banks are free to lend to farmers and producers," Schumer said.

"Now that the feds have issued to lenders updated guidance clarifying hemp’s legality as a crop, the industry will really start to take root and grow. I fought so hard to strip the burdensome and outdated federal regulations from industrial hemp because of all the good it can do for our farmers, our economy and our consumers. Today’s updated financial guidance related to industrial hemp means that we’re one big step closer to the complete emergence of a job-creating, economy-boosting industry across New York State.”

No More 'Suspicious Activity Reports' for Industrial Hemp-oriented Businesses

Specifically, the Fed, FDIC, FinCEN and OCC announced that under the Bank Secrecy Act, banks will no longer have to file Suspicious Activity Reports for industrial hemp-oriented businesses seeking to attain loans or other services. Schumer explained that this will significantly increase the likelihood that these businesses receive financial services, and help the industry continue growing and creating good-paying jobs for New Yorkers.

Schumer explained that since the 2018 Farm Bill removed the federal regulatory shackles from industrial hemp production, manufacturing, and selling, New York’s industrial hemp industry has started to grow significantly, with new farms and businesses emerging and existing ones expanding operations. This has brought considerably more good-paying jobs and revenue to Upstate New York, making industrial hemp a critical new part of the state’s agricultural future.

That being said, as industrial hemp farmers and businesses are exploring the full benefits of the 2018 Farm Bill, they have experienced serious difficulty accessing financial products with regulatory uncertainty at financial institutions. While some companies have agreed to offer financial services to the growing hemp industry, many have not due to confusion over the crop’s legal status.

The Schumer-backed Hemp Farming Act of 2018 was introduced by Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Sens. Rand Paul (R-KY), Jeff Merkley (D-OR) and Ron Wyden (D-OR). It passed and was signed into law as part of the 2018 Farm Bill.

This legislation:

  • Removes industrial hemp from Schedule 1 of the Controlled Substances Act;
  • Empowers states to be the principal regulators of hemp;
  • Allows hemp researchers to apply for competitive grants from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA); 
  • And makes hemp farmers eligible to apply for crop insurance.

Industrial hemp is a type of cannabis plant that is grown largely for industrial uses, but it can also be used for food, oil, and cosmetic products.

The Roadblock of a Spec of THC Lifted

Hemp contains a very small amount, typically between 0.2 and 0.3 percent of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), and while from the same species of plant as marijuana, it has varied widely in use. However, due to the existence of THC in hemp, Schumer explained, both plants were considered “controlled substances” under federal law, meaning the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) was the primary regulator for hemp production.

Schumer argued that this narrow view has undermined the crop’s agricultural and economic potential.

With the Hemp Farming Act of 2018 passed by Congress and signed into law last year, this unnecessary roadblock has been lifted, and industrial hemp’s significant potential to become a cash crop in Upstate New York will be unleashed.

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