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Wednesday, October 1, 2014 at 12:30 pm

Town planners give initial nod of approval to apartment complex on West Main Street

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business

Two members of the Town of Batavia Planning Board said they were initially opposed to plans for an apartment complex in an area zoned commercial on West Main Street Road, but after study and consideration, decided to vote in favor of the project.

Those votes were essential last night to early-stage approvals for Big Tree Glen, a planned 136-unit complex from Rochester-based Conifer Developers.

The board approved the environmental review process, a zoning variance and a preliminary site plan.

The zoning variance is contingent on agreements in the final site plan that will prohibit Section 8 and HUD-subsidized rents in the complex, as well as continued on-site management.

Conifer is applying for a state grant aimed at encouraging "workforce housing," and that subsidy combined with putting the complex in a commercial zone were stumbling blocks for board members Paul Marchese and Lou Pagnello.

After Pagnello did some research, however, spoke with an attorney friend and thought about it some more, he decided he should support the project.

He said factors included the solid reputation of Conifer and the quality they're promising for the new complex. 

He said he also realized that as a businessman, if he were expanding or building a new business, he would apply for whatever government aid might be available. Any business owner would, he said.

"The more I think about it, the more I think this benefits the community as time goes on," Pagnello said. "I was totally against it, but after doing a little research on my own, that's how I feel about it now. We want development in Batavia and we want to work with developers who are top-notch, not like some of the others we've dealt with before."

The complex, he said, will actually help spur commercial development on West Main, which is a key development goal for the town.

Marchese said he was with Pagnello.

"I was really against it, too," he said.

Because the county planning board recommended disapproval of the project, the town board needed at least five affirmative votes to approve the zoning variance. The vote was 5-1.

Paul McCullough voted no on the zoning variance request. He didn't state a reason for his no vote.

The board will need to approve a final site plan at a later date that will include the covenants and restrictions it's looking for to ensure the complex remains a quality housing project.

The state grant Conifer is applying for requires that the apartment complex meets the residential needs of people earning 50 to 60 percent of the area's median income.

That's about $65,000 for a a family of four in Genesee County. For the Town of Batavia, the complex will actually be meeting the needs of a family of four earning about $54,000 a year in gross income.

"This is truly workforce housing for the Town of Batavia," said John F. Caruso, representing Conifer.

Previously:

Wednesday, October 1, 2014 at 11:56 am

Employee now the owner of Bob Adams Automotive in Le Roy

post by Howard B. Owens in business, Le Roy

Jamie Merica prides himself on being a good mechanic, and Bob Adams Automotive in Le Roy has a decades-long reputation for good service, so when Bob Adams decided to sell his business and retire, Merica said taking over the business seemed like the right opportunity.

After five years as an employee of Adams, Merica now owns the shop.

"As a lifelong resident of Le Roy, I know a lot of people," Merica said. "That will help. We offer honest repairs at a fair price and we try to take care of everybody we can."

Photo by Amanda Earl.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014 at 4:05 pm

The Batavian now a member of the New York Press Association

post by Howard B. Owens in business, thebatavian

The New York Press Association has served as a membership organization for community newspapers in the State of New York for 161 years.

Today, The Batavian became the second member in the group's history that publishes news exclusively online.

The first was RiverheadLocal on Long Island.

We're proud to become members of NYPA, which has a distinguished history of serving the needs of news publishers in New York.

Here's a statement from NYPA about our membership:

The New York Press Association is delighted to welcome Howard Owens and The Batavian as our newest online-only member. 

The Batavian is a highly respected news organization which provides relevant local content to its readers,” said executive director Michelle Rea.“Readers should be able to access quality news content wherever and whenever they choose. Content and relevancy are the key, and The Batavian excels at both.  

"NYPA has a proudly supported New York’s community news organizations for more than 160 years, and as news organizations evolve, so do NYPA’s programs and services. NYPA continues to introduce best practices and new business models for print and digital platforms. We’re thrilled to have The Batavian join the conversation.”

Sunday, September 28, 2014 at 11:29 pm

Photos: A visit to Roanoke Apple Farm, Bethany

post by Howard B. Owens in Bethany, business, Roanoke Apple Farm

Heading back to Batavia this afternoon, I stopped in at Roanoke Apple Farm, in Bethany, for the first time.

Above, Alex Kiefer, an employee, picks apples.

Scott Darron and his daughter Natalya load up a bushel of apples. Darron said he was planning on making pies.

Monday, September 22, 2014 at 9:58 am

The p.w. minor story told in new display opening at HLOM

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business, history, hlom, p.w. minor

Jane Read and Anne Marie Starowitz were at Holland Land Office Museum on Saturday morning setting up a new exhibition about the history of local shoemaker p.w. minor. 

The grand opening of the display is Oct. 2.

Employees and retirees of p.w. minor are invited to a preview at 3 p.m. The public is invited to a ribbon cutting at 6:30 p.m.

Many of the items in the display were provided on loan from The new p.w. minor.

 

Friday, September 19, 2014 at 3:07 pm

Hiram and Lucine are the Talk of the Town on WBTA

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business, elba, wbta

The way Hiram Kasten and Lucine Kauffman see it, Genesee County is a great place to live.

It's beautiful, there's a lot going on, and you'll meet some of the nicest and most interesting people if you just get out on the town a bit.

It's these qualities that they want to highlight in their new weekly, one-hour radio show on WBTA, which debuts Oct. 1.

"Talk of the Town" will feature talk about what's going on and some of the region's interesting people.

It's a cultural show -- arts and entertainment -- but it's more than that.

"There's a national trend toward localism," Kauffman said. "It's not just shopping local. It's living local. We want to capture that idea."

Kasten and Kauffman like interesting people, but they are, of course, interesting people themselves.

Kasten has been a professional entertainer for decades with a long resume in New York and Hollywood that included recurring roles on "Seinfeld" (Hiram and Jerry came up through the New York comedy club circuit together) and "Everybody Loves Raymond."

Diana Kisiel Kasten, Hiram’s wife, is from Batavia and operates Pinnacle Manufacturing on Harvester Avenue. She convinced Hiram to move here a year ago. The couple has a grown daughter who attends Cornell University.

Kauffman is the former town supervisor for Elba and has been active in local theater for years. She grew up in Southern California and graduated from USC. She moved to Genesee County with her Batavia-born-and-bred husband, Bill, 25 years ago. Their daughter attends Notre Dame University. Bill Kauffman is the author of nine books and the screenplay "Copperhead," which had its theatrical release last year.

"We're going to talk about the cultural aspects of Genesee County and the region," Lucine said. "It's more than just arts and entertainment. There are farm co-ops and local artisans and people who enrich life in Genesee County. It's all about quality of life and the quality of life here is very good."

Hiram said he often knows the comedians passing through Rochester and Buffalo, so that will be an opportunity to hear from nationally recognized talent, but they'll also feature the volunteers who make community theater so vital to Batavia.

"There's a lot to celebrate in Genesee County," Lucine said.

"Celebrate. That's a good word," Hiram added. "There is a lot to celebrate here."

The show will air Wednesdays from 9 to 10 a.m. on WBTA-1490.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014 at 7:49 pm

True high-speed Internet finally coming to Batavia

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business

A family-owned communication company that has provided phone service in Genesee County for more than 100 years is bringing true high-speed Internet to Batavia.

Empire Access, an affiliate of Empire Telephone, with a location in East Pembroke, is installing fiber optics throughout the city.

The network will be able to deliver business and residential service with download speeds of 100 megabits and upload speeds of 20 megabits.

Verizon DSL only offers a 10mb down and 1mb up service in Batavia and Time-Warner's top-end service locally is 30mb down.

Senior VP Jim Baase said the prices will be better, much better, too. That 100mb/20mb service will cost only $50 a month.

This is the sixth market Empire is introducing high speed Internet in, Baase said.

"We've had great success competing against companies like Time Warner and Verizon," Baase said.

Business customers can order high-speed Internet now from Empire, said local manager Tom Hare, and delivery is about 30 days out currently.

The first neighborhood to get residential service will be in the northeast quadrant of the city, Hare said, starting in about three our four months. The rest of the city should be covered within six months.

Empire is also offering phone service over the fiber network, as well as cable TV and security systems.

All of the regulatory hurdles at the state and federal levels have been cleared, Baase said, and Empire is just starting negotiations with the city for a cable franchise agreement.

As previously reported, the city is also in the midst of negotiating a new agreement with Comcast.

Empire Telephone is a third-generation, family-owned business based in Prattsburgh. For most of its history, it's been a rural telephone network in such places as East Pembroke, Pembroke and Indian Falls where it has some 700 telephone customers (that area is also scheduled to receive a fiber network service from Empire).

Baase said Empire decided to bring a fiber because it's an open market (Verizon has shown no interest in introducing FiOS here) and it will have a large enough customer base to support the network.

"It's a very attractive market for us," Baase said. "It's densely populated and we don't like to over build where there's FiOS. We don't like to go where there's already a company like ours."

On its marketing material, Empire Access bills itself as "The Local Company," and Empire will have an office in Batavia (while maintaining a switching station in East Pembroke, where the office was located). Baase said Empire will employ people locally and hire more and more people as its local network grows.

Another Empire advantage, Baase said, is when you call customer service your call is immediately routed to a real person, rather than a long telephone tree of button pushing.

Empire has plans to expand into other parts of the county, primarily along Route 5, once the Batavia network is built.

Interested business customers (not residential yet) can contact Tom Hare at (585) 813-9861 or [email protected]. (e-mail address corrected)

Top photo: High speed fiber-optic cable ready for installation in Batavia.

Tom Hare in Empire Telephone's current switching room in East Pembroke.

Empire Telephone's longtime facility in East Pembroke.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014 at 6:08 pm

Batavia Radiation Oncology Associates to join Wilmot Cancer Institute

post by Billie Owens in batavia, business

Press release:

UR Medicine's James P. Wilmot Cancer Institute will soon introduce a full menu of cancer diagnosis and treatment services in Genesee County, anchored at 262 Bank St. in Batavia.

UR Medicine has agreed to purchase Batavia Radiation Oncology Associates, the longtime practice of cancer specialists Kevin J. Mudd, M.D., and Jan Dombrowski, M.D.

Once the deal is complete, Mudd will continue to see patients as a member of the University of Rochester Medical Center faculty. Staff within the practice will also become University of Rochester employees.

The purchase, which includes the practice and the building, requires approval by the New York State Department of Health to make the practice part of Wilmot’s parent hospital, Strong Memorial Hospital.

"Dr. Mudd is a skilled and experienced clinician who will make a wonderful addition to our regional team of physicians,” said Jonathan Friedberg, M.D., director of the Wilmot Cancer Institute, a component of Strong Memorial Hospital. “His practice will form the hub for an expanded set of cancer services available right in Batavia.”

To further integrate care, Wilmot will renovate the building and introduce new medical oncology services, including chemotherapy and infusion services and will upgrade IT systems so that medical records and other information can be shared across Wilmot’s expanding network.

“This is part of our vision of bringing progressive cancer treatment directly into smaller communities throughout the region,” Friedberg said.

Mudd said "I have worked closely with the Wilmot Cancer Institute since coming to the region in 1996 and I look forward to continuing my practice as an integrated member of the University faculty."

The Wilmot Cancer Institute is the Finger Lakes Region’s leader for cancer care and research. As part of UR Medicine, Wilmot provides specialty cancer services at the University of Rochester Medical Center and at a network of satellite locations. Wilmot Cancer Institute is a component of Strong Memorial Hospital. The Institute also includes a team of scientists who investigate many aspects of cancer, with an emphasis on how best to provide precision cancer care.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014 at 2:24 pm

New Food Processing degree at GCC attracts international students

post by Billie Owens in business, food processing, GCC

Press release:

After 20 hours of travel, their first time so far away from home, two students from the southeast Asian island nation of Timor-Leste have arrived at Genesee Community College. Arsenio Ferreira, 21, and Jorguino (pronounced Jor-gino) Savio, 19, will spend the next two years at GCC earning an associate degree in Food Processing Technology (FPT).

GCC offers its first course in the brand-new degree program, Introduction to Food Processing Technology (FPT 101), beginning with the 12-week class session, which starts on Monday, Sept. 22. A few seats are still available in the class.

Savio and Ferreira earned full scholarships to study in the United States through the Timor-Leste Hillary Clinton Scholarship Program administered by the Institute of International Education (IIE). The IIE suggested GCC to the two young men.

"The program officer from IIE felt that GCC was a good fit for the Timorese students based upon their program of interest, student population, international student population, student services offered and GCC's commitment to diversity," said Carrie Sputore, International Admissions specialist at GCC.

Both Ferreira and Savio come from the capital city of Dìli in Timor-Leste. The city of approximately 190,000 people is the largest in the country, which neighbors Indonesia, and has an overall population of 1.2 million. The tropical climate is much different than western New York. Neither student has ever seen snow. "Everything is new for us," Savio said, including the way Americans cook and the foods we eat.

In Timor-Leste, wood stoves are used to prepare food, 90 percent of which is imported from Indonesia. Crops grown in Timor-Leste include corn, rice and cassava (a woody shrub whose starchy tuberous root resembles a potato; tapioca is extracted from it). The scholarship program aims to train youth to take skills back to Timor-Leste, contributing to the country's economic and social development as well as its democracy.

After two decades, hundreds of thousands of deaths, and near total infrastructure destruction, the country's independence from Indonesia was formally recognized in 2002, but it has faced great challenges rebuilding.

Timor-Leste has benefitted from oil procurement in offshore waters. Arsenio's father works for oil producer ConocoPhillips. He's excited for his son to study abroad as he earned a master's degree on scholarship in Norway. Arsenio is the second of five boys in his family. He also has two sisters. His mother is deceased.

Jorguino has a 21-year old sister studying engineering in Indonesia and a 12-year old brother. Both of his parents are primary school teachers.

"When I got the scholarship, my mother was very proud," he said. "It's very hard to get this scholarship. But when I left my mother was crying."

He already misses his family, but appreciates the educational opportunity he's earned.

Both Arsenio and Jorguino will live in College Village, adjacent to GCC, with American roommates.

"They are very friendly," Arsenio said.

Both he and Jorguino have studied English since high school. They also speak Tetum (official language of East Timor), Portuguese and Indonesian.

The Timor-Leste Hillary Clinton Scholarship program is funded through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). Scholarships were awarded to academically talented and qualified Timorese students with the goal of strengthening the base of skilled, high performing professionals in Timor-Leste to contribute to the country's economic and social development.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014 at 2:20 pm

Cross Fit trainer opens new gym in Harvester Center

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business, health

The first thing Jason Harasimowszi thought when he saw Cross Fit on TV a few years ago was, "that's too hard."

He thought, "there's no way I could do that."

But he gave it a try and found, yes, it is hard, but, he said, "I wanted to keep doing it and get good at it."

Three years ago, he took a Cross Fit course in Chicago and became a certified trainer.

"It's nice seeing people succeed," Harasimowszi said to explain why he likes training others in Cross Fit.

Recently, Harasimowszi opened his own Cross Fit gym, Cross Fit Silver Fox, inside the Harvester Center.

Cross Fit is designed to be a complete, functional work out, often using heavy weights and complex, compound exercises that work more than one muscle at a time.

"(Cross Fit) is going to help you outside in life," Harasimowszi. "If you pick up boxes off the ground, it's like you're doing a deadlift. If you put a box on a top shelf, obviously, you're pressing something overhead. Everything is transferable to your outside life."

Silver Fox is equipped with about $20,000 worth of racks, weights, barbells, kettle bells, medicine balls, rowing machines, parallel bars, tires, boxes and other training equipment.

Classes are: Monday through Friday at 5, 6 and 7 a.m., and 4, 5 and 6 p.m.; Saturdays at 7, 8 and 9 a.m.; and Sundays at 11 a.m.

To locate Silver Fox, go into the Harvester Center through the main entrance and then down the hallway straight back from the door. The gym is on the left.

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