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Wal-Mart delays Le Roy opening to 2012

By Howard B. Owens

This is a good news, bad news sort of thing:  The good news, Wal-Mart won't open in Le Roy until 2012. The bad news is, the mega-conglomerate still plans to open.

WBTA spoke with Le Roy Town Supervisor Tim McCulley, who learned of the delay after a conversation with Wal-Mart.

The store was originally slated to open by this Christmas.

Wal-Mart has otherwise cut back on openings during the economic downturn.

Police Beat: Rash of Wal-Mart shoplifting charges filed

By Howard B. Owens

A 17-year-old Byron gril is charged with petty larceny. The teenager is accused of putting items in her purse at Wal-Mart and then walking past all points of purchase.

Markeda Starks, 18, of 7 Mill St., #7, Batavia, is charged with petty larceny. Starts is accused of shoplifting at Wal-Mart.

Toni White, 28, of 14 S. Main St., Batavia is charged with petty larceny. White is accused of stealing from Wal-Mart.

Shaleesa Woods, 18, of 2964 Batavia-Oakfield Townline Road, Batavia, is accused of stealing from Wal-Mart. She was charged with petty larceny.

Emilea Webster, 20, of 126 Frank St., Medina, Batavia, is accused of shoplifting from Wal-Mart. Webster was charged with petty larceny.

Timothy Wood, 20, of 115 S. Main St., Batavia, is charged of petty larceny. He is accused of shoplifting from Wal-Mart.

Teri Sczepanski, 47, of 2034 Lewiston Road, Basom, is charged with unauthorized use of a motor vehicle. Sczepanski allegedly drove another person's car without permission.

Do you complain about free trade and shop at Wal-Mart, Target, etc.?

By Howard B. Owens

As a transplant to Western New York, my impression that WNY is a hotbed of anti-free-trade sentiment.

NAFTA is a dirty word in these parts.

Certainly, trade was a hot button issue in the 26th Congressional race last fall.

Yet, every time I drive past Wal-Mart or Target, or any of the other Big Boxes in Batavia, the parking lots are full.

I wonder how many people realize that Wal-Mart and its ilk are a bigger cause of good paying manufacturing jobs in the USA being shipped overseas than NAFTA?

Black and Decker, for example, started a process of closing factories in the U.S. in 2002 that lead over the next 24 months of 4,000 jobs lost. The tool maker was pressured by Home Depot and Lowes to lower prices and that could only happen by shifting manufacturing overseas. In 1990, Levi owned several factories in the U.S., which produced about 90 percent of the product sold under the brand. In an effort to meet the demands of Wal-Mart and Target for ever lower prices, Levi eventually shuttered all of it's U.S. plants and now out sources all of its manufacturing overseas. Twenty-five thousand people lost their jobs.

If you're anti-immigration, the next time you step into Wal-Mart, consider than some 40,000 jobs have been lost in Latin America since the mid-1990s as clothes making was shifted from those countries to China.

We all love low prices, but those prices come at a price (and Wal-Mart doesn't always have the lowest prices in town -- sometimes, the locally owned retailers meet or beat those prices).

I'm not sure we can reconcile being anti-free trade, and even anti-immigration, and do the majority of our shopping at big box stores.

Buying local keeps more local jobs in the local community and helps grow the local economy.  In current conditions, the big boxes can be unavoidable at times, but they should be a last resort.

Woman drives car into Wal-Mart

By Howard B. Owens

An unidentified woman was taken to UMMC after driving her vehicle into Wal-Mart late this morning, according to WBTA.

The woman was apparently the only person injured, after her car smashed into the vestibule.

WBTA posted an audio interview with an eyewitness.

Sheriff's deputies told WBTA that the woman may have become confused the gas pedal and brake pedal of her car.

WBTA has posted a picture from the scene.

Poll: Will an 'earth-friendly' Wal-Mart encourage you to shop there?

By Howard B. Owens

This morning, the Daily reports on "earth-friendly" plans for the new Wal-Mart in LeRoy.

Le Roy's store also will include what is known as "daylight harvesting," he said.

A sensor on the floor determines how much sunlight is entering the store. If it's a significant amount, the sensor automatically turns the lights down "so we don't use that energy," Serghini said.

Of course, not all environmentalist buy into a Green Wal-Mart.

This cannot be dismissed as greenwashing. It's actually far more dangerous than that. Wal-Mart's initiatives have just enough meat to have distracted much of the environmental movement, along with most journalists and many ordinary people, from the fundamental fact that, as a system of distributing goods to people, big-box retailing is as intrinsically unsustainable as clear-cut logging is as a method of harvesting trees.

Here's the key issue. Wal-Mart's carbon estimate omits a massive source of CO2 that is inherent to its operations and amounts to more than all of its other greenhouse-gas emissions combined: the CO2 produced by customers driving to its stores.

The post asserts that big box stores encourage us to drive further -- an average two miles longer each trip -- to do our shopping.

Will a Green Wal-Mart encourage you to shop there?
( surveys)

A new Wal-Mart in LeRoy could create 200 permanent jobs by next summer

By Philip Anselmo

People often debate the benefit of big box stores moving into "hometown" neighborhoods. Books have been published on the subject of Wal-Mart, in particular, running locally-owned shops out of business and replacing what may have been well-paying jobs with minimum wage, "exploitation" labor.

Whether or not you believe Wal-Mart is a malignant or beneficial force in a community, it is too much of a presence not to alter the overall figure. With a 111,000-square-foot Wal-Mart store expected to be up and running by June, LeRoy will soon learn what it's like to have the retail megalith in town.

From an article in the Democrat & Chronicle this morning:

A spokesman for Wal-Mart said the Genesee County store, which could open in spring 2010, would create 200 new jobs, plus another 100 jobs during construction.

The store will be a smaller version of a Wal-Mart Supercenter, with the same variety of products but smaller quantities.

The standalone building will feature a full retail section, groceries, an optical center, a pharmacy and a garden center, said the spokesman, Philip Serghini.

McCulley said he believes most residents support the project. "There was some dissent against it, but it was a small minority," he said.

"People are looking for options of shopping locally. People don't want to travel too far to do their shopping."

Genesee ARC awarded $10,000 grant

By Philip Anselmo

From the press release:

The Wal-Mart Foundation has awarded a grant for $10,000 to Genesee ARC, a non-profit organization that supports people with disabilities in partnership with their families and the community.

The grant funds will be used for the organization’s TEAM  - Together Empowered Advocates Meet -  Program, a Genesee ARC leadership project for people with and without disabilities, ages 16-26. The participants in TEAM learn about community service, decision-making and assessing the needs of their local community.

Genesee ARC serves Genesee County in Western New York and has programs and residential sites in Batavia, Elba, Oakfield, and East Pembroke.

“Wal-Mart has been a friend to Genesee ARC since opening their doors in our community in 1995,” said Donna Saskowski, Executive Director of Genesee ARC. “We appreciate this wonderful support of our TEAM program through the Wal-Mart Foundation.”

“Wal-Mart and Sam's Clubs of New York believe that Genesee ARC is a great organization and we are proud to help them achieve their goals," said Philip H. Serghini, Senior Manager for Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.

Thelma Montreal, grandmother of a TEAM participant and Genesee ARC Board Member, said. “My granddaughter is so proud of her volunteer work in our community and has grown into a confident young woman thanks to the services she receives at Genesee ARC.”

Genesee ARC has been in existence since 1966 serving individuals with disabilities and their families. The agency was founded by a group of dedication parents and friends wanting to provide a better education and quality of life for their loved ones. A broad range of services are available for adults and children, including service coordination, advocacy, recreation, transportation, residential, day program and employment training. For additional information, visit

The grant was made possible through the Wal-Mart Foundation’s State Giving Program. Through this program, the Wal-Mart Foundation awards grants at the state and regional levels to support unmet needs in areas of focus such as: Education, Job Skills Training, Environmental Sustainability and Health. For more information, please visit:

News roundup: Wal-Mart shrinks, public market grows — life in Western NY

By Philip Anselmo

A Wal-Mart store in the works for the village of Le Roy may be the company's first ever to be shrunken down from its original size, according to the Daily News. Of course, that doesn't mean it still won't be a "Supercenter"—retail's answer to the question: What if people could buy socks, tomato sauce, a new bike and a gardenia all at the same store? So yes, the store planned for West Main Street in Le Roy will still be a Supercenter, only getting reduced from 163,700 square feet to 138,000.

Claims made in the article that this will be a "more environmentally-friendly" Wal-Mart seem somewhat dubious. Check out this quote from Le Roy's Code Enforcement Officer Gene Sinclair:

"It's still going to be a Supercenter, just smaller," he said. "The parking lot is more environmentally friendly, with four islands and a natural filtration system of trees and shrubs."

"We're told it's a new design for their stores and the first in the United States like this."

It's wonderful that everybody has caught the going green bug—especially the marketing departments of massive corporations—but I think we have to draw the line at "environmentally-friendly parking lot." Hasn't anyone ever listened to Joni Mitchell? What did they pave to put up a parking lot? Yep, that's right: paradise.

Anyway, good for Le Roy. Now they've got a Wal-Mart to go with the new Walgreens. Speaking of the Walgreens... construction of that is on hold now owing to a "blizzard of asbestos" encountered during the demolition of the old Masonic temple and its neighbors. (Hmm. Is there any connection between this blizzard of asbestos and the blizzard of words Charlie Gibson attributed to Sarah Palin last night?)

In other news, Tom Rivers paid a visit to the Rochester Public Market where a lot of Genesee County farms head every weekend to ply their wares before the big city crowds. It's another great article from a talented writer about a fun topic. So read it.

Attica resident Roddy Harris wrote a postapocalyptic novel about a brother and sister who try to rebuild their lives after 99 percent of the world is killed by terrorists who release "vast amoiunts of chemical and biological agents into the atmosphere." The article's headline is misleading: Attican pens 9/11 book. That's just not true. While the article begins by saying that Harris "turned his thoughts and feelings about the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, into a novel," the novel is not about 9/11 at all. The book is titled: After Terrorism: A Survival Story. It's available from Publish America.

Former Chairman of the United States Chamber of Commerce's Board of Directors Paul S. Speranza told an audience at Genesee Community College yesterday that if the state wants to fix its economy, communities need to join together.

Speranza said New Yorkers need to move beyond parochialism and regional feuding. Speaking with one voice and forming coalitions among groups with divergent views is the way to get the state's economy back on track and to improve its quality of life, he said.

Paul Mrozek does an excellent job covering the speech, so be sure to check out the article if you're interested.

We encourage you to get out and pick up a copy of the Daily News at your local newsstand. Or, better yet, subscribe at

Batavia for Batavia, again

By Howard B. Owens

Tonight I am reading, as I have been for the past three nights, Bill Kauffman's Dispatches from the Muckdog Gazette.

I come to this passage, related to the rising of Wal-Mart in Batavia:

My voice is as mute as the others in that silent night, unholy night. I supposed I am of the old  school of Thoreau and Emerson in that I distrust political solutions and prefer individual revolutions of the soul. I sympathized with those townspeople who wished to keep Wal-Mart out. But instead of passing laws to compel behavior I would rather my neighbors choose to shop locally. They will only do so when Batavia becomes once more a city with its own flavor and fashions. Whether that day will come, I do not know.

For me, if The Batavian can accomplish one thing, it will be to give voice to the people who want Batavia to be Batavia again.

I'm no Pollyanna. I know we cannot put the Brylcreem back in the tube, or unwind the the movie or rebuild C.L. Carr's, but we can promote an ideal that a rural town like Batavia should be more than bathroom break on the Thruway.

We have our corporate sponsors, which means that if the heavens opened up and Wal-Mart or Kmart decided to bequeath to us some ungodly sum of money for advertising (not likely, ever), we couldn't say no, but we are here first and foremost to support the businesses that support Batavia (and the rest of Genesee County).

We only ask one thing -- that you do the same. Before your next trip to Wal-Mart or Target, find out what local shop can do you the same service and patronize that store first.

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