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June 11, 2021 - 1:51pm

The City of Batavia could be getting a third Tim Hortons.

A spokesman for the Quicklee’s convenience store chain Thursday night said the family-owned, Avon-based company is talking with Tim Hortons’ representatives about operating a drive-thru restaurant at the site of the former Bob Evans Restaurant at 204 Oak St. (Route 98).

Louis Terragnoli, director of real estate and development for Quicklee’s, was on the Zoom call of the meeting of the Genesee County Planning Board, which approved a site plan and area variances for a 2,771-square-foot convenience store with 1,000-square-foot drive-thru and a four-pump fuel station.

“We’re in negotiations with Tim Hortons right now and let’s keep our fingers crossed that it keeps going the right way,” Terragnoli said, adding that the company will be completely remodeling the interior and exterior of the building.

Quicklee’s is required to obtain variances since the service station is 165 feet from a church (less than the minimum 500 feet) and the proposed number of parking spaces is 40 (less than the minimum 68).

Terragnoli said he spoke with the Rev. Tom Tharp at Emmanuel Baptist Church, 190 Oak St., and said the pastor was in favor of the project.

As far as parking spaces, Terragnoli said the 40 spots in Quicklee’s plan are adequate.

“From a business perspective, we are overparked. Forty is fine. Sixty-eight is something we don’t have at any location,” he said. “There won’t be any congestion … we’ll have plenty of spots. We will be accessing the site from Noonan Drive. We have a report from the DOT (Department of Transportation) that says that is the best way to do it.”

He also said the company will add a landscaping buffer along the southern part of the property facing Noonan Drive.

“We want to shield the dispensers as much as we can from the church property, so we want to do the right thing for our neighbor,” he said.

Terragnoli added that they will install two handicap accessible curb cuts at the corner and put in a sidewalk “so pedestrians can safely ingress and egress from our site” and dumpsters will be relocated away from the Noonan Drive entrance area for safety purposes.

The Batavia location will be Quicklee’s 24th and could be open by early fall.

Planners recommended approval of the site plan and area variances. The referral now will go before the City Planning & Development Committee at its meeting on Tuesday and then to the City Zoning Board of Appeals.

In other action, the planning board recommended approval of:

  • A site plan for a 107,138-square-foot addition on the southwest corner of the existing plant for warehousing and manufacturing at Liberty Pumps, 7000 Apple Tree Ave., Bergen. Modifications include a stormwater prevention plan and archaeological impact study.

The project also will include a new entrance and exit from Route 19.

  • Zoning text amendments from the Oakfield Town Board for the entire Town of Oakfield to allow major solar collection systems to the Land Conservation (LC) and Agricultural-Residential (AR) Districts and to add public and private utilities to the LC District.

County Planning Director Felipe Oltramari said the town wants to amend the zoning to help advance the Cider Solar Farm project of Hecate Energy – a 500-megawatt system being developed under the New York State Office of Renewable Energy Siting.

“As a state-sited project, they don’t necessarily need to follow the local zoning process, but it does make it easier for the company because they won’t have to go in front of a judge and argue why they can override the municipal zoning,” Oltramari said. “This makes it a little more friendly to that project.”

  • A special use permit for Chad Downs, 1300 McVean Road, Darien, to place a pest control business in his home, which sits in a Low Density Residential (LDR) District.

The planning department recommends approval with the modification that the storage and disposal of herbicides, pesticides, and other hazardous materials must be conducted in accordance with applicable State and Federal regulations.

June 9, 2021 - 8:23pm

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The Genesee County Planning Department is recommending approval of a site plan review submitted by Plug Power Inc., the Latham-based company specializing in the development of hydrogen fuel cells systems for applications such as heavy-duty freight and forklifts.

The referral is one of 15 on the agenda of the county planning board’s meeting scheduled for 7 p.m. Thursday via Zoom videoconferencing.

According to information provided to the planning department, the site plan to place the green hydrogen facility at the Western New York Science & Technology Advanced Manufacturing Park includes three structures – an 8,000-square-foot operations and maintenance building, a 40,000-square-foot electrolyzer building and a 68,000-square-foot compressor building.

STAMP, located on Crosby Road in the Town of Alabama, is designated as a Technology (T-1) District.

Additional documentation indicates the Genesee County Economic Development Center, which owns STAMP, is in the final stages of closing the sale of 29.884 acres to be allocated to the Plug Power venture, which is being called Gateway Project.

The full environmental assessment form filled out by Plug Power reveals that construction will take place in two phases, with phase one to commence in March 2022 and phase 2 to be completed in June 2023.

It is projected that the company will use 280,000 gallons of water per day, with expected additional capacity from the construction of two new water lines. Company officials state that 70,500 gallons of wastewater will be generated each day. The grounds also will feature a stormwater management facility.

Approximately 16 tanker trucks will come to the facility each day on a reconstructed Crosby Road to provide a new access path. Construction is expected to take place from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Once complete, it will be a 24-hour operation.

Last Thursday, Genesee County Economic Development Center directors approved approximately $2.8 million in sales tax incentives related to the construction of the electrical substation.

The GCEDC reported that Plug Power is investing $232 million the company to build the facility, which is estimated to create 68 full-time jobs.

The company also is investing $55 million toward the construction a substation that will enable 100-percent renewable, reliable electricity at less than $0.035/kwh to future tenants in partnership with the New York Power Authority and National Grid.

Other referrals of note:

  • Special use permit, area variance and site plan review for a Quicklee’s convenience store and four-pump fuel station island at the former Bob Evans Restaurant location in a Commercial (C-2) District at 204 Oak St. (Route 98) in the City of Batavia.

The area variance is necessary because the service station is 165 feet from a church (less than the minimum 500 feet) and the proposed number of parking spaces is 40 (less than the minimum 68).

Patricia Bittar, director of land development projects at WM Schutt Associates, filed the application, stating that the proposed project will take up 2,771 square feet for the convenience store and 1,000 square feet for a drive-thru restaurant.

The planning department recommends approval. The applicant also will have to go in front of the City Planning & Development Committee and Zoning Board of Appeals.

  • Site plan review for a 107,138-square-foot addition for warehousing and manufacturing to Liberty Pumps, 7000 Apple Tree Ave., Bergen

The planning department recommends approval with modifications pertaining to stormwater prevention and archaeological impact documentation.

  • As previously reported on The Batavian, a zoning map change request from the Le Roy Town Board to rezone seven parcels from Residential (R-2) to Light Industrial (I-2) District to expand the GCEDC-owned Le Roy Food & Tech Park on Route 19 ad Randall Road in the Town of Le Roy.

This action could open the door for Great Lakes Cheese of Hiram, Ohio, to build a $500 million processing plant at the site.

The planning department recommends approval since the Comprehensive Plan adopted by the Town of Le Roy in 2017 identifies this area in its Future Land Use Plan as Agriculture and adjacent to Industrial.

  • Zoning text amendments from the Oakfield Town Board for the entire Town of Oakfield to allow major solar collection systems to the Land Conservation (LC) and Agricultural-Residential (AR) Districts and to add public and private utilities to the LC District.

The towns of Oakfield and Elba are gearing up for the proposed construction of a 500-megawatt solar farm by Hecate Energy, which today announced that is has filed an application with the New York State Office of Renewable Energy Siting.

If approved and constructed, the Cider Solar Farm would be the largest solar project ever built in New York State.

Hecate Energy’s press release indicated that the $500 million private infrastructure investment is expected to create moe than 500 construction jobs and will be capable of supplying 920,000 megawatt-hours of renewable electricity per year – enough to power more than 120,000 average New York households.

The planning department is recommending approval.

  • A special use permit for Chad Downs, 1300 McVean Road, Darien, to place a pest control business in his home, which sits in a Low Density Residential (LDR) District.

The planning department recommends approval with the modification that the storage and disposal of herbicides, pesticides and other hazardous materials must be conducted in accordance with applicable State and Federal regulations.

Architect's rendering at top: 3D view of the Plug Power facility to go at WNY STAMP. The rectangle building at the front is the compressor building and the long building behind it is the electrolyzer building. The operations and maintenance building is the smaller structure at right.

July 23, 2019 - 2:35pm
posted by Billie Owens in business, bergen, liberty pumps.

robynbrookhartlibrtypumps.jpgLiberty’s Board of Directors elected Robyn Brookhart, of Bergen, to the position at its June meeting. She replaces Charlie Cook who will remain CEO and chairman.

Brookhart has been with Liberty for 22 years.

She has served in a variety of positions including sales and marketing, customer service, and manufacturing. Most recently she has been the company’s executive vice president, as well as its chief operating officer – a position she will retain.

Brookhart has an MBA from the Rochester Institute of Technology and an undergraduate degree in Marketing from SUNY Fredonia.

She serves on the board of the GCC Foundation and is an active member of the Young Presidents Organization (YPO). She lives in Bergen with her husband, Michael, and children Camryn (14) and Zachary (11) – along with one dog, two cats and three horses.

Other members of the Liberty Pumps Executive Team are:

  • Dennis Burke, CFO
  • Randy Waldron, VP Sales and Marketing
  • Dave Williams, Director of Engineering
  • Peter Cunningham, Chief Information Officer
  • Don Cunningham, Manufacturing Manager
  • Jeff Cook, Purchasing Manager​
March 4, 2017 - 3:18pm
posted by Billie Owens in liberty pumps, Chamber Awards, bergen, news, business.

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Quality products, enterprise and innovation, peerless customer service and a commitment to international growth are the hallmarks of Bergen-based Liberty Pumps. Combine these with an exceptionally skilled and dedicated workforce of about 200 employees (counting temps and part-timers), including a 19-member executive team, and you have a winner.

The Genesee County Chamber of Commerce named Liberty Pumps its 2016 Business of the Year.

The privately held, family-owned company makes sump, effluent and sewage pumps for the professional trade. Last year, sales were well over $95 million.

Firmly at the helm is CEO and President Charles Cook, who everybody calls "Charlie." His uncle, Fred Cook, started the business in 1965. Charlie joined the company as an engineer and bought the business back in the the '70s.

Charlie holds two of the dozen or so patents on Liberty Pump products. These are proof of his and his company's ability to find creative engineering solutions to solve problems, resulting in products that are designed and manufactured with exacting specifications to do tough tasks.

For example, they developed a grinder pump that can handle disposable products like baby wipes and throw-away cleaning products like Swiffer cloths that can jam traditional sewage pumps. They are currently working to develop their biggest pump to date. Their engineers can tweek the flow meters, turn valves and pressure gauges in a tank filled with water 12 feet deep, all while tracking the progress in real time on big computer screens. It's fascinating to watch.

The engineers work behind closed doors, of course, "no cameras" allowed. 

The manufacturing, assembling, painting, and other aspects of the business are spread out in a gargantuan building. The floor of the manufacturing plant itself is more than 200,000 square feet.

In 2015, they undertook a massive, multimillion dollar expansion project, roughly doubling the size of the facility on Apple Tree Avenue. The office building is sleek and spacious, and there's an Internet cafe, fitness center and state-of-the-art teaching/presentation/meeting rooms, too.

The overall impression is that of a clean, efficient, comfortable work environment. It's quite impressive.

"Day to day you don't think about it," Charlie said about the newly renovated premises after giving a tour. "But once in a while you have to stop and pinch yourself and say 'How did I get here?' We're proud of it and we like to show it off."

More important than the space is the culture of the workplace, which Charlie says is a top priority. 

"Taking personal responsibility is important," he said. "We give people freedom to present ideas and implement them. We have an active suggestion program."

The ideas of employees can boost productivity and increase safety, and recognizing their contributions benefits the work environment and helps the company succeed, Charlie said.

So does an Employee Stock Ownership Plan, which was implemented in 2014. It provides the majority of employees with shares of stock as part of their retirement package. To be fully vested and receive shares, an employee must work for the company for five years. Every year, employees get a statement with their share information and they can sell their shares back to the company when they retire. The company averages an annual growth rate of about 13 percent and the quantity of shares each vested employeed receives increases with growth.

Although Liberty Pumps has been asked about relocating elsewhere, Charlie says he's not budging.

"We're very proud to be a local U.S. business," Charlie said. "It can be a tough environment in New York from time to time, but our people are connected here. Our executives are all homegrown. We aren't going anywhere."

But their products are going more places than ever. The sales growth potential is high, not only nationwide and in Canada, where they've sold goods since the mid-'90s, but also internationally. Since expanding its global presence in 2010, Liberty Pumps now ships to more than 30 countries.

And along the way, the company has garnered impressive awards from Greater Rochester Enterprise's International Business Council, for example, and it's landed on the Rochester Top 100 list of businesses for 16 of the last 19 years. In May, Liberty Pumps was one of only 123 companies nationwide to receive the President's "E" Award for exporting excellence at a ceremony in Washington, D.C.

But nothing beats the recognition of your peers, friends and colleagues in your own backyard, says Charlie.

The award from the Genesee County Chamber of Commerce "is far more meaningful," he said. It will be presented tonight at the Quality Inn & Suites in Batavia.chamawardlibertypumps2017-2.jpg

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February 27, 2017 - 4:42pm
posted by Billie Owens in bergen, business, liberty pumps, steve hawley.

Submitted photo of Liberty Pumps CEO Charlie Cook, left, and Assemblyman Steve Hawley.

Press release:

Assemblyman Steve Hawley (R,C,I-Batavia) took the opportunity to tour Liberty Pumps in Bergen on Friday (Feb. 24) as part of his ongoing small business tour.

Liberty Pumps was founded in 1965 and has grown to become one of North America’s leading domestic manufacturers of sump and wastewater pumps for professional plumbers. The company has also been named 2016 Business of the Year by the Genesee County Chamber of Commerce.

Hawley, a small-business owner and operator for over four decades, said he is always looking for insight into how the Legislature can assist business owners and help them expand and create jobs.

“I always enjoy meeting with business owners from around my district,” Hawley said. “Small businesses employ nearly half of New York’s workforce and are a major generator of economic growth, not just in Western New York but around the state.

"I am impressed by the rich history of Liberty Pumps and its ability to grow and expand even through difficult and uncertain economic times in our country’s history. Liberty Pumps is one shining example of New York’s entrepreneurial spirit, and I will keep their concerns and thoughts in mind while advocating for small business policies in Albany.”

December 15, 2016 - 9:55am
posted by Howard B. Owens in liberty pumps, bergen, business, news.

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It was supposed to be a just a little Christmas decoration contest with the loser buying the winner pizza, but both the order processing department and the technical customer service department at Liberty Pumps in Bergen have gone full Clark Griswold this year.

"I'm sure the money spent individually by these Liberty members is way more than free pizza," said Laurie Pfaff, who sent in the pictures.

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October 24, 2016 - 1:31pm
posted by Billie Owens in business, bergen, liberty pumps.

Press release:

Bergen-based Liberty Pumps has launched two new products:

NightEyeTM  Wireless Enabled Products

The app and cloud-based system designed by Liberty Pumps allows internet connection of a pump via the home’s wireless router and provides alarm and other performance information to your mobile device. The NightEyeTM system sends information via text, email and push notifications, to up to four different address/phone numbers - anywhere in the world. NightEyeTM connected products include the ALM-EYE series indoor pump alarm, 442 battery backup pump systems and the SumpJet® water powered backup pump. The system is easy to use and setup - all through your portable device. No need to log into a computer. Simply download the app, register the device and connect to the equipment using BlinkUpTM technology. The NightEyeTM app is a free download and is compatible with Apple® iOS and Android® devices. There are no subscription or service fees for use of the NightEyeTM system. For more information visit www.libertypumps.com/nighteye or look for Liberty products with the NightEyeTM logo.

StormCellTM Battery Backup Pump Systems

These highly-advanced 12-volt backup sump pumps feature professional-grade chargers, an energy efficient DC pump for longer run times and optional NightEyeTM wireless technology for remote monitoring of the pump system through a tablet or smart phone. The NightEyeTM app is a free download and is compatible with Apple® iOS and Android® devices. Available in 10 amp or 25 amp models. For more information visit www.libertypumps.com

September 6, 2016 - 9:25am
posted by Howard B. Owens in liberty pumps, bergen, business.

We came across this time-lapse video on YouTube of the construction of the new wing at Liberty Pumps.

July 15, 2016 - 1:46pm
posted by Billie Owens in liberty pumps, bergen, business.

Press release:

Liberty Pumps, based in Bergen, introduces NightEyeTM wireless-enabled products.

The app and cloud-based system designed by Liberty Pumps allows internet connection of a pump via the home’s wireless router and provides alarm and other performance information to your mobile device. The NightEyeTM system sends information via text, email and push notifications, to up to four different address/phone numbers -- anywhere in the world.

NightEyeTM connected products include the ALM-EYE series indoor pump alarm, 442-battery backup-pump systems and the SumpJet® water powered backup pump. The system is easy to use and setup -- all through your portable device. No need to log into a computer. Simply download the app, register the device and connect to the equipment using BlinkUpTM technology.

The NightEyeTM app is a free download and is compatible with Apple® iOS and Android® devices. There are no subscription or service fees for use of the NightEyeTM system. For more information visit www.libertypumps.com/nighteye or look for Liberty products with the NightEyeTM logo.

May 4, 2016 - 10:36am
posted by Howard B. Owens in liberty pumps, bergen, business.

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Press release:

Liberty Pumps hosted hundreds of visitors for their 2016 Open House held on April 27.  The event was planned with two separate segments, one for family and friends of employees and one for the community.

The company welcomed visitors to show the completion of the recent three-phase expansion which nearly doubled the size of the facility.  In total, the expansion added over 123,000 sq. ft. to the corporate operation in Bergen, NY.  New additions included manufacturing areas, engineering lab and test facilities, as well as a new training center.

Attendees were treated to a tour of the facility, product demonstrations and a presentation and dedication of the new facility by Charlie Cook, President and CEO.

May 3, 2016 - 12:48pm
posted by Billie Owens in liberty pumps, bergen, business.

Liberty Pumps hosted hundreds of visitors for their 2016 Open House held on April 27. The event was planned with two separate segments, one for family and friends of employees and one for the community.

The company welcomed visitors to show the completion of the recent three-phase expansion which nearly doubled the size of the facility. In total, the expansion added over 123,000 square feet to the corporate operation in Bergen. New additions included manufacturing areas, engineering lab and test facilities, as well as a new training center.

Attendees were treated to a tour of the facility, product demonstrations and a presentation and dedication of the new facility by Charlie Cook, president and CEO.

February 10, 2016 - 1:07pm
posted by Billie Owens in bergen, liberty pumps, business.

(Above is the XLE50.)

Press release:

The new X-Series by Liberty Pumps are heavy cast iron sewage and effluent pumps designed specifically for use in hazardous locations.

The XFL- and XLE-Series meet the standards required in hazardous locations. Available in ½ and ¾ hp, these pumps have been certified to Class 1, Division 1, Groups C & D and Class 1, Zone 1, Groups IIA and IIB.

Both series’ feature a dual-sized discharge, 2-vane semi-open cast iron impeller (bronze optional), epoxy powder coat finish, dual silicon carbide shaft seals with seal fail sensor and stainlefile:///Users/BillieOwens/Desktop/XLE50_70.jpgss steel fasteners.

In addition, Liberty has added the ISS- and ISD-Series intrinsically safe control panels for use with X-Series pumps.

For more information contact Liberty Pumps at 1-800-543-2550 or visit the Web site at www.libertypumps.com.

(Below is the XFL50.)

November 11, 2015 - 1:26pm
posted by Billie Owens in business, Milestones, liberty pumps, bergen.

Press release:

Rochester Business Alliance and KPMG, LLP, recently announced the 2015 Rochester Top 100 companies. These companies represent the fastest-growing privately held businesses in our region. Liberty Pumps, placing #24 on the 2015 list, has made the Top 100 list 15 of the last 18 years.

Celebrating our 50th anniversary in 2015, being named to the Top 100 for another year shows how our commitment to producing a highly innovative and quality product truly pays off.

“Liberty Pumps is a good choice for our customers because the product is innovative, it’s high quality and it’s made right here in the U.S.,” said Randall Waldron, vice president of sales and marketing.

During a brief conversation at the Top 100 luncheon with Charlie Cook, Bob Duffy, president and CEO of the Rochester Business Alliance scheduled a visit to tour the plant in Bergen. After a brief conversation and a viewing of the new corporate video, Duffy was given a personal tour with Cook.

“The most important element is how you service the customer, and there is nobody in the industry that is better at it than we are,” Cook said.

(Photo of Charlie Cook, left, and Bob Duffy, courtesy of Liberty Pumps.)

July 17, 2015 - 5:15pm
posted by Traci Turner in bergen, liberty pumps, business.

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To give back to employees for their contributions to the ongoing success of Liberty Pumps, President and CEO Charlie Cook announced today that eligible workers will get a share of the company's profits.

The Employee Stock Ownership Plan is a form of retirement plan and eligible employees will receive shares. The amount of shares an employee receives depends on how long they have been working at the company. To be fully invested, they must work for the company for five years. Every year, employees get a statement with their share information and can sell their shares back to the company when they retire. 

"We have a great bunch of hardworking employees in our company," Cook said. "They act like owners so they deserve to be a part of the ownership."

Employees are excited about the potentially lucrative contribution. They received their first statements in May along with an actual piece of pie to celebrate.

According to Cook, the plan will not change company operations and the current leadership team will remain in place. The company has been family owned for 50 years.

Historically, the company has grown 13 percent yearly and the quantity of shares each employee receives will increase with growth. 

Liberty Pumps is in the process of expanding its facility by 123,000 square feet. The addition will significantly increase the size of the warehouse as well as the product research and development area. Cook plans to continue growing the company and is glad his employees will be benefiting from it.

Photo: Charlie Cook, right, with employees John Hasnay, Jared Murray, Julie Scott, Pamela Parton and Tina Root, on the factory floor of Liberty Pumps. Photo by Howard Owens.

July 17, 2015 - 1:44pm
posted by Billie Owens in business, liberty pumps, bergen.

Press release:

Bergen – Liberty Pumps, a leading manufacturer of sump, sewage and effluent pumps and engineered pump systems, is pleased to announce it has implemented an Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP).

Liberty Pumps has been a family owned company for the past 50 years. The ESOP continues Liberty Pumps’ commitment to local ownership.

“The ESOP will not change company operations,” says President/CEO Charlie Cook, “our current Leadership Team is just outstanding and will remain in place. The ESOP will enhance an already positive culture where our members (employees) feel empowered, appreciated and respected.

"We believe the ESOP will take this to the next level. When a customer calls in, they will now be speaking to an owner.”

Employees are very excited about the plan and now have even more incentive to provide the high level of quality and customer attentiveness that Liberty Pumps has become known for.

April 2, 2015 - 12:25pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in business, liberty pumps, bergen.

Press release:

Liberty Pumps, a manufacturer of sump, sewage and wastewater pumps is undergoing a major expansion of its facilities in Bergen, New York.

The construction, which doubles the size of the current facility, will occur in three phases over the course of 2015. In total, the expansion will add over 123,000 square feet to the corporate operation in Upstate New York.

Phase one, already underway and nearing completion, is 81,600 square feet of additional manufacturing area. The added space will allow for new manufacturing cells, increased warehouse area for component inventory and expanded machining operations. A new powder coat line is also planned as part of this expansion. Phase two, scheduled for completion in May, increases the research and engineering lab, service area and features a new lunchroom facility for its members. The 14,200-square-foot lab expansion allows for the addition of new equipment required for Liberty’s recent qualification as a CSA test facility. The area also features an additional 20,000-gallon test pit designed to support Liberty’s expanding product line.

Phase three – a 23,000-square-foot sales/marketing wing and product training center -- is slated to begin construction in April with a target completion date of August. The new wing features an 80-seat multipurpose room, product display area for hands-on product training and demonstrations, as well as additional offices, a historical product display and visitors lounge.

Randall Waldron, V.P. of Sales & Marketing, said “As our products continue to advance technically, we realize product knowledge is critical -- not only to our sales team, but for those who use and install our products on a daily basis. The new product training center will allow us to better share this knowledge in a way that provides a great experience as well.”

Credit: Building rendering by Smart Design, of Batavia.

September 9, 2014 - 11:28am
posted by Howard B. Owens in business, byron, byron-bergen, liberty pumps, bergen.

There's a selfish reason Charle Cook got behind the idea of his company donating money to help the Byron-Bergen School District buy 1,100 tablet computers for all of the district's children: He wants potential future employees to have the technical skills to work for the Liberty Pumps of tomorrow.

But the donation is also a good deed that will benefit his and his son's alma mater and perhaps encourage other rural companies to be as generous with their local school districts.

"We felt it's important as kids progress through school that they become knowledgable and comfortable with technology," said Charlie Cook, CEO of Liberty. "It's going to be part of their future employment. To have that as a kind of leg up to students who might not have access is an advantage.

"Somewhat from a selfish standpoint," he added, "we're going to need a certain segment of those graduates, and we're interested in keeping as many kids as we can in the community."

Superintendent Casey Kosiorek said the gift was timely. The district had recently cut a staff position from its library and New York's formula for aid to district continues to disportionately favor affluent suburban districts over rural districts.

"This allows us to do something that most of the school districts in the more affluent areas of the state are able to do," Kosiorek said. "We're very thankful for that."

That was part of what motivated Liberty to seek out a way to assist the district, said Jeff Cook, who initiated the talks with the district that led to the donation.

"The reason Liberty Pumps thought the Learn Pads were a good idea was that we hear a lot about how wealthier, suburban districts seem to have advantages over poorer, more rural districts in terms of course offerings and opportunities for their students," Jeff Cook said. "We were looking for a way to help give our students an edge while minimizing the overhead burden of the district and therefore the taxpayer."

Charlie Cook didn't want to reveal the total monetary amount of the donation, but it's roughly 30 percent of the cost of the 1,100 tablets, which cost a few hundred dollars each. That donation made Byron-Bergen eligible for a technology grant from the state education department that covered the remaining 70 percent of the cost.

There will be no new local spending as a result of the program.

The tablets are known as LearnPads. They are Droid-based tablets with modifications to suit the needs of an educational institution.  

First, there are limits on how students can use them. There's access to YouTube, for example, but they can only watch teacher-approved videos. They can only visit approved Web pages. They can only download and install teacher-approved apps.

Teachers control the entire LearnPad environment according to the education needs of the class.

From a desktop computer program, teachers can customize how the LearnPads can be used, develop each day's lesson plan, then provide a QR code that can be posted to a wall. As students enter the class that day or that hour, the student scans the QR code to receive the lesson plan. As class progresses, teachers can monitor student activity to ensure they're staying on task.

However, Kosiorek stressed, LearnPads don't replace lectures and class discussions.

"This is a great tool for students and for teachers, but it doesn't replace quality education," Kosiorek said. "It's a tool, it's a supplement, an addition to a teacher's toolbox."

There are educational books available on the LearnPad and Kosiorek said the district hopes to someday replace all of its text books with tablets. That would save the district money as well as end the days of one-ton backpacks and multiple trips to lockers for students.

And yes, there are games available to students. Math games and vocabulary games, for example.

"Many students have access to video games and those games are very engaging," Kosiorek said. "There are goals that are set and you work toward those goals, so whatever we can do to provide relevance and engagement for students (we will do)."

Every student, starting this week, gets a LearnPad, from kindergarten through 12th grade. The younger students don't get a keyboard and will just use the touch screen, but starting in about third grade, keyboards will be introduced.

At younger grades, the LearnPads stay in school -- at least until the summer, when they can go with the summer reading program already installed -- while older children can bring the LearnPads home for homework once permissions slips and guideline acknowledgments are signed.

"We're very excited to be doing it," Charlie Cook said. "I've got four grandkids in the system right now and when I come to an event, which I do as often as I can, it's amazing to me to watch these kids work with the technology, even what they have currently. I think even in preschool years, they were up operating the touch screen, so this is a natural progression for them."

Jeff Cook said he hopes other business owners will look at this initiative and contact their own school administrators and ask "How can we help?".

Education, after all, is everybody's business.

"My hope is that what Liberty Pumps is doing will gain traction in the business community and others will join in on supporting our schools," Jeff Cook said. "If you are a business that is passionate about something you would be willing to help fund or support, I would suggest talking to the school administration about your idea and see if it is feasible. 

"In the case of Byron-Bergen, they did all the leg work and presented us with their vision based on our ideas. This could be anything from supporting sport programs and class offerings, to equipment for the district. Anything that could enhance a student's learning opportunity."

Photo: Casey Kosiorek, left, and Charlie Cook.

May 2, 2014 - 8:50am
posted by Howard B. Owens in business, GCEDC, liberty pumps, bergen.

Press release:

The Board of Directors of the Genesee County Economic Development Center (GCEDC) approved a final resolution for the Liberty Pumps project at its May 1 board meeting.

Liberty Pumps is planning a 100,000-square-foot expansion of its existing facility at Apple Tree Acres in Bergen. The renovation will include new spaces for production, warehouse, research and development, as well as an office, auditorium and training center. The capital investment for the expansion project is $9.8 million and will create 27 new jobs while retaining 124 employees.

In 2000, Liberty Pumps invested $3.7 million for the acquisition of the land and construction of a 60,000-square-foot manufacturing facility. It underwent another expansion project in 2008, which entailed the investment of an additional $4 million for the construction of a 64,000-square-foot addition to the existing facility.

“We are pleased to see Liberty Pumps continue expanding its operations in our region, adding to the growth of employment opportunities in Genesee County,” said Wally Hinchey, GCEDC board chairman.

April 28, 2014 - 5:40pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in business, GCEDC, liberty pumps, bergen.

Press release:

The Board of Directors of the Genesee County Economic Development Center (GCEDC) will consider a final resolution at its May 1 board meeting.

Liberty Pumps is planning a 100,000-square-foot expansion of its existing facility at Apple Tree Acres in Bergen, to create new spaces for production and warehouse, research and development and a new office, display, auditorium and training center. The company is investing $9.8 million for the expansion project, creating 27 new positions, and retaining 124 employees. 

Liberty Pumps has undertaken several projects in the last few years. In 2000, the company invested $3.7 million to construct and equip a 60,000-square-foot facility and in 2008 they undertook a 64,000-square-foot addition.

The GCEDC Board meeting will take place at 4 p.m. and is open to the public. Meetings are held at the Dr. Bruce A. Holm Upstate Med & Tech Park -- 99 MedTech Drive in the Town of Batavia, on the 2nd floor, across from Genesee Community College.

Not in the press release, but from another e-mail sent out by GCEDC today:

Liberty Pumps is planning a 100,000-square-foot expansion onto its existing 120,000-square-foot facility at Apple Tree Acres in Bergen. (Of that,) 81,400 square feet will be dedicated to production and warehouse, 7,600 square feet will house new research and development/ test facility space, and 11,000 square feet will hold new office, display, an auditorium and training center. ... The company has submitted an application to the GCEDC requesting assistance that includes tax savings of $377,600, a mortgage tax exemption savings of $93,750, and property tax abatement of $863,577 due to the incremental increase in assessed value.

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