Michael D. Kane shares a moment with Pauline Andrews, his executive secretary, following today's Western Regional Off-Track Betting Corp. board meeting at Batavia Downs Gaming. Kane is retiring after five years as the corporation's president and chief executive officer. Photo by Mike Pettinella.
Western Regional Off-Track Betting Corp. directors this morning (Thursday, July 28) said farewell -- sort of -- to President and Chief Executive Officer Michael D. Kane at their monthly meeting at Batavia Downs Gaming.
Kane is retiring after a 17-year affiliation with Batavia Downs, including the last five as the president/CEO. The Dansville native (and former mayor of the Livingston County village) presided over his final meeting today, but will continue on for an indefinite period as advisor to the corporation's new president, Henry F. Wojtaszek, of North Tonwanda, who was promoted to the position after serving as general counsel to the board.
Directors and executive staff members had nothing but great things to say about Kane's work.
"Speaking for the board and our employees, I would like to thank Mike for his leadership and guidance that he has provided to us to take this corporation into the future," said Michael P. Nolan, WROTB chief operating officer. "Furthermore, it is important that we will be able to use his knowlege as he continues on in an advisory capacity."
The board authorized a weekly salary of $1,000 for Kane's services.
Board Chairman Richard Bianchi called Kane a "loyal and dedicated employee," who elevated Batavia Downs to its current level of success and "brought this board together better than I've ever seen it since 2003."
At the close of the meeting, the board celebrated the retirements of Kane and Barbara Hanft, executive assistant to the comptroller, with a birthday cake. Hanft will retire in September after 36 years with the corporation.
In other developments:
-- Nolan reported that the Batavia Downs Gaming Hotel is expected to open by the second week of September, adding that crews will be installing furniture in the rooms starting at the fourth floor and working their way to the first floor. The $7.5 million, 84-room hotel is being built by ADK Hospitality, a group of Buffalo investors.
-- The Downs' valet parking area has been moved from the south side of the facility to the front, and the parking lot will be reconstructed in certain areas in the coming weeks to make it safer for pedestrians entering the Park Road building, Nolan said. He also said a temporary covering over the entrance, which will mimic the completed project, will be in place within the next few months.
Valet Parking Update -- 6:30 p.m.: Downs' officials announced via Facebook that the valet parking will return to the south entrance due to concerns voiced by their patrons.
-- Nolan and five other WROTB representatives will be traveling to New York City to meet with officials of Fan Dual, a fantasy sports contest that will be offered at Batavia Downs. "We are looking to integrate our business relationship (with Fan Dual) in order to be up and running, when and if the governor (Andrew Cuomo) signs the bill."
-- WROTB's second quarter distributions to its Western New York counties totaled $867,364, about 21 percent more than earnings distributions for the same time period last year. In June, the surcharge for distrbution was $122,000 and earnings were $227,000. EZ Bet (wagering through terminals at sports bars) year-to-date handle is up $38,000 from 2015, and Batavia Bets (online wagering) was up 36 percent in June, 10 percent this mornth and 10 percent for the year.
-- The board welcomed a new director -- Elliott Winter, of Niagara County.