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Wednesday, January 23, 2013 at 10:51 am

Submitted Photo: Great Kutz gives out 1,000th free haircut

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business, Great Kutz

Nathan Puls is 3 years old, and local haircutting salon Great Kutz is celebrating its third year in business. As a matter of coincidence, Nathan helped Great Kutz achieve another milestone this week by becoming the 1,000th customer to receive a free haircut. At Great Kutz, every seventh haircut is free. Nathan is pictured with his father, John. Maren Slane cut Nathan's hair.

Photo and information submitted by Great Kutz.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013 at 4:26 pm

December job figures for Genesee County a mixed bag

post by Howard B. Owens in business, economy, employment, jobs

December job numbers are out and Genesee County once again saw an increase in the number of jobs in the county year-over-year, but also an uptick in the unemployment rate.

There were 29,000 jobs in Genesee County for December, according to Labor Department figures released today, which is 400 more than December 2011, but 300 fewer than were counted in November 2012.

The unemployment rate year-over-year went from 8 percent to 8.2 percent, and jumped from November 2012 when it was 7.4 percent.

Orleans County continues to lead the GLOW region in unemployment, with a 10.9 percent jobless figure, compared to 8.0 for Livingston and 9.5 for Wyoming counties.

The U.S. unemployment rate for December was 7.6 percent, up from 7.4 percent in November 2012, but lower than the 8.3 percent of December 2011.

New York's unemployment rate grew two-tenths of a percent, year-over-year, from 8 percent to 8.2 percent and it's up from November 2011 when it was 7.9 percent.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013 at 10:44 am

UMMC increasing ties with Rochester General, but no plans for formal partnership or merger

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business, Health Care, UMMC

UMMC has long partnered with Rochester General Hospital on patient care, and the two hospitals are exploring ways to work together more closely, according to hospital spokeswoman Colleen Flynn.

But, she said, contrary to a rumor reportedly circulating among staff, there are no merger discussions taking place.

There aren't even immediate plans to form a formal partnership, known as a ACO (accountable care organization) under the Affordable Healthcare Act.

RGH has long helped UMMC recruit doctors and provide patients with specialized care, and the two hospitals are looking into ways to share those services even more, but that's as far as the talks are going, Flynn said.

An ACO, according to Wikipedia, is a coordinated group of heath care providers who commit to standards of quality care in order to reduce the total cost of health care and reimbursements.

UMMC is always looking for ways to improve patient care and provide more specialized care, Flynn said.

"We're an independent community hospital and we're going to be an independent community hospital," Flynn said. "We look for larger organizations to partner with because we're small."

Monday, January 21, 2013 at 7:00 pm

Edward Jones hosts ribbon cutting on re-dedicated office

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business

The Edward Jones office on Jackson Street in Batavia is now run by Michael Marsh, financial advisor. In order of the rededication of the office, the Chamber of Commerce joined in Saturday for a ribbon cutting.

Submitted photo.

 

Tuesday, January 15, 2013 at 4:06 pm

Ribbon Cutting at Batavia branch of Edward Jones

post by Howard B. Owens in business, events

Michael Marsh, local financial advisor for the financial services firm Edward Jones, invites the community to attend  a ribbon cutting at the branch office located at 7 Jackson Street in Batavia on January 16th at 9:30am as part of celebrating the New Year. In addition to the ribbon cutting, a "meet and greet" open house will be taking place on January 21st from 10am to 3pm and January 22nd 3pm to 7pm.

Event Date and Time

January 16, 2013 - 9:30am - 9:40am
Tuesday, January 15, 2013 at 10:44 am

Edward Jones open house for new financial officer, Michael Marsh

post by Howard B. Owens in business, events

Michael Marsh, a local financial advisor for the financial services firm Edward Jones, invites the community to attend an open house from 10am to 3pm on January 21st and 3pm to 7pm on January 22nd at 7 Jackson Street, Batavia.

"We are happy to be part of the Genesee Valley community and would like to express our appreciation for the confidence and support we receive year-round," Mike Marsh said.

Edward Jones provides financial services for individual investors in the United States and, through its affiliate, in Canada. Every aspect of the firm's business, from the types of investment options offered to the location of branch offices, is designed to cater to individual investors in the communities in which they live and work. The firm's 10,000-plus financial advisors work directly with nearly 7 million clients to understand their personal goals -- from college savings to retirement -- and create long-term investment strategies that emphasize a well-balanced portfolio and a buy-and-hold strategy. Edward Jones embraces the importance of building long-term, face-to-face relationships with clients, helping them to understand and make sense of the investment options available today.

Event Date and Time

January 21, 2013 - 10:00am - 3:00pm
Tuesday, January 15, 2013 at 1:44 am

Batavia Downs announces contest to name new Thurman Thomas sports bar

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Batavia Downs, business

Press release:

The staff of Batavia Downs Casino and Thurman Thomas are now accepting entries to name the Hall of Famer’s new restaurant on site at Batavia Downs Casino.

The facility’s $28 Million dollar expansion begins within a month and includes construction of a new Thurman Thomas sports bar. Customers may tweet a suggestion for the Sports Bar’s name on Twitter by tweeting from their account and including the name of the Sports Bar with the tag @BataviaDowns. The contest will end at Noon on Friday, Jan. 18.

Staff from Batavia Downs Casino and Thurman Thomas will review the entries and declare a winner before the end of January.

The person that submits the winning name will win dinner for two inside the new sports bar with Thurman Thomas and Batavia Downs Staff when the new facility opens sometime in the fall. The winner shall also receive a Batavia Downs Casino Prize Pack valued at more than $250.

If more than one person suggests the winning name, then one person shall be randomly chosen from those who suggested that name. Winner will be notified via twitter that they have won. Full rules can be found on Batavia Downs Casino’s Web site at www.bataviadownscasino.com.

“Thurman’s new sports bar will offer great food, a stage for live entertainment on weekends, and many large flat screen TVs where our patrons can enjoy all their favorite sporting events,” said Ryan Hasenauer, director of marketing for Batavia Downs Casino. “It will also feature various pieces of football and Thurman Thomas memorabilia.”

Saturday, January 12, 2013 at 9:58 am

Old Eagle Hotel smokin' under new ownership

post by Howard B. Owens in business, Eagle Hotel, Le Roy, Smokin' Eagle BBQ and Brew

The Eagle Hotel in Le Roy may have 200 years of history behind it, but that doesn't mean it doesn't have a next chapter in life.

The landmark building has fallen into the hands of four young men who have a vision for it that should make it a go-too place for people looking for a good time and good food for many years to come.

John Marcello, Marc Marcello and Jason Beaumont have partnered to transform the Eagle into the Smokin' Eagle BBQ and Brew. They've hired Le Roy resident Shane Burger as their general manager.

"I think the concept, this building, the entertainment, the BBQ, it all kind of goes together," John Marcello said.

Jason Beaumont grew up in Le Roy and first tried to buy the building 10 years ago. It didn't work out, but when the previous owners decided to sell in 2012, Beaumont took another stab at it.

"I grew up there, and this building has so much character that you don’t get in a lot of places," Beaumont said.

Since Beaumont had no experience in the food business -- his background is in the mortgage industry and has been investing in residential properties and doing property management for the past few years -- he started asking his friends John and Marc about how to run the restaurant side of his new building.

The Marcello brothers own 58 Main Street in Brockport, which is a BBQ and brew sports bar and have owned the business for 13 years.

One day, John told him, you know, we're thinking of expanding.

It didn't take long for the old friends to strike a deal on a new concept for the Eagle. The brothers would bring their experience with BBQ and beer and Beaumont would be in charge of the building.

Then they needed to recruit a general manager.

Through mutual friends, John found Shane, who has been a food and hospitality manager for the Holiday Inn and Batavia Downs.

According to John, Burger was a little skeptical at first, and John understood.

"It’s his reputation on the line," John said. "He doesn't want to walk into a place that is just a bar and grill that’s been here for 200 years wasn't going to change. He wants something different and he brings a lot to the table.”

Once Burger understood the concept, he was sold.

" It was one of those things where I thought, ‘why didn’t think of that?' " Burger said. "It fit. It’s a different niche here in Le Roy and I think it’s being well received so far."

Since the Eagle once had a reputation for being a little on the rough side, the owners have hired big security guys for Friday and Saturday nights, installed security cameras and made it clear certain behavior won't be tolerated.

"It's about setting expectations and putting the right atmosphere right out there right out of the gate," Marc said. "The one guy who causes trouble might spend 50 or 80 bucks in a night, but he costs so much more money in the long run."

They intend for the Smokin' Eagle to be a family-friendly atmosphere. To help enhance that, they're going to open up the foyer so people coming in just for dinner can walk straight into the dining room instead of passing through the bar.

The bar itself is the same grand old hardwood counter it's always been (probably from the days when it was a pharmacy), but instead of just eight beers on tap, there are now 20.

Burger has also started booking in more live music as well as comedy acts.

"Le Roy has been starving for something like this," Burger said.

Burger has a lot of plans for the building, from removing the drop ceiling in the bar to restoring the ballroom upstairs.

"I think everybody can look forward to more changes at a slow and steady pace where everybody can feel comfortable," John said.

And then there's the issue of the third floor. It probably can't be returned any time soon to apartments or hotel rooms, but the ambiance is right for a haunted house come October.

A friend of Beaumont's has run a haunted house for years and they've always wanted to do one together, so now Beaumont has the space.

There may already even be a ghost in residence to give guests a little extra fright.

The ghost is known as "Charlie" and according to Beaumont the previous owner and previous employees have told stories about him.

Is Charlie for real? John laughed and said, "I’ve had some experiences when we first got here. I’m not going to go way into it, but some really creepy stuff, yeah."

As for the food, the menu features smoked pork, either pulled or ribs, and there's pulled-pork potato boats and egg rolls for a little different approach to BBQ. The two-page menu has a variety of other items and side dishes.

John and Marc Marcello started in the food business in high school, working as bus boys at the Village Diner in Brockport. When they moved to Irvine, Calif., they opened a restaurant with their father.

Then about 13 years ago, they wanted to return to WNY and heard their former employer was ready to sell, so they bought the restaurant and changed the name to 58 Main Street. 

Five or six years ago, a very popular BBQ joint in Brockport was shut down and the brothers hired a few key employees. They taught them the BBQ business and BBQ became a staple of 58 Main.

John, Marc and Jason have, over the years, traveled to various BBQ competitions, entering their own dishes. At the competitions, they found other chefs were quite willing to share their own experience and techniques, so they've been able to improve and refine their own smoking skills.

"It’s a learning experience every day," Marc said. "Every day we learn something new or we tweek something and do it a little differently."

Based on what Billie and I have sampled so far, the brothers and their cook staff -- Chris Miller and Brian Canale -- have learned their lessons well.

Photo: From left, Shane Burger, Marc Marcello, John Marcello, Jason Beaumont.

Thursday, January 10, 2013 at 10:09 am

Trustees pass on offer for business group to buy Wiss, start process to have it torn down

post by Howard B. Owens in business, Le Roy, Wiss Hotel

All the experts agree, as Bob Fussell pointed out Wednesday night, the Wiss is structurally sound, but that doesn't mean it's not on shaky ground.

Wednesday, the Village of Le Roy trustees took two key steps that all but guarantee the irreplaceable building's destruction. The board failed to vote on a motion to make a counteroffer for a group of local residents to buy the property and then passed a motion to seek requests for proposal to have the old hotel demolished.

"You're being given an opportunity to have this $250,000 -- maybe half a million -- headache taken off your shoulders and you're asking us to pay $10,000 to boot," Fussell said. "We're probably willing to pay you that $10,000 just because we care about the community.

"We're willing to do something for you that's a huge value and every expert who's looked at it said it's remediable, even Clark Patterson has said you can remediate that."

The reference to Clark Patterson goes back to a three-page letter trustees discussed to kick off the meeting. Trustee Robert Taylor, according to Mayor Greg Rogers, was concerned about the condition of the Wiss and asked engineers from Clark Patterson Lee Design Professionals in Rochester to inspect the building.

Their three-page report, as discussed by trustees, said the building is currently a danger to the public. Youths have trespassed on the property and there are several potential safety issues that need to be addressed immediately.

But as Trustee Jennifer Keys pointed out, the engineers didn't say the building needed to be demolished, and on a merely visual inspection, they found no structural defects.

A more thorough inspection might be required to find any serious problems.

Trustees Taylor, Jim Bonaquisti and Mike Tucci all seized on the report to call for the building's immediate destruction.

"Obviously, this report kind of opened my eyes to a lot of different things," Bonaquisti said.

He noted that his family once owned the building so he knows the roof has been leaking for 30 years and that there have been no tenants on the third floor, because of the leaks, for those three decades.

He said the report noted that youths have apparently been playing beer pong in the vacant building.

"A great concern of mine is that somebody is going to get hurt," Bonaquisti said. "Now there's talk of somebody signing a release from liability and going in and putting a tarp on the roof. Even though we might not be legally liable, it sure would not make me feel very good if somebody went in there and got hurt."

Taylor said one of the things he learned from the report that makes him more comfortable with tearing the Wiss down is that the neighboring building and the Wiss don't share a common wall, so destruction of the Wiss won't harm the other building.

"And the very last paragraph of the report says that some major structural problems may have eluded detection because of limited access to some areas of the building," Taylor said.

Tucci said the report, in his mind, cements the idea that the Wiss needs to be demolished.

"It needs to come down and it needs to come down now," he said. "The report talks about the danger it poses to life and proprty and the surrounding area. If we continue to let it sit there and collect snow that melts and freezes and does it all over again, it's putting the assets of the village at risk."

Fussell, an attorney with experience in liability law, was taken aback by the sudden concern over liability for the village by Bonaquisti, Taylor and Tucci.

If there was such a concern for the danger of the building, Fussell asked, how come the insurance company for the village hasn't been demanding a cover on the roof or a scaffolding around the building or otherwise pushed the village to ensure the safety of the building?

"We've put in a lot of money and a lot of effort to do something for this community and all of the sudden these bogeymen concerns about liability," Fussell said. "You know I know a lot about liability.

"I'm a trial lawyer. I've been doing it for 40 years. I know a great deal about it. I know that this baloney that you've got about liability is nothing more than that. I'll be very blunt in telling you that."

Former Mayor Jim DeLooze -- who owns a building on Main Street that he said he's invested $250,000 in -- said he's very concerned about the fire danger presented by the Wiss. The first fire wall on Main Street isn't until 60 Main St. The fire department said six years ago, it won't fight an interior fire in the Wiss, but will only fight it from the outside, according to DeLooze.

"The number one responsibility of you five people is the safety of the people of this community," DeLooze said at the start of his statement, and concluding, "I have a very big concern that if that thing ever did catch fire, my building is possibily going to be in danger also. So I'm asking you as a former mayor, please do the right thing and have the thing taken down as quickly as possible."

DeLooze also questioned the historical value of the Wiss, and fellow Main Street property owner Jack Hempfling questioned its esthetic value.

"Most of the younger generation I talk to would feel like Walgreens and the Bank of Castile are the best looking things on Main Street," Hempfling said. "They're certainly not historical, but they (replaced the) eyesores that were taken down. Regardless of what anybody is talking about doing with the Wiss, it's still going to be one of the remaining eyesores in Le Roy.

"They say they're caring for the community. Some of us would think caring for the community isn't keeping it looking like it was in the 1930s. Some of us would say caring for the community is bringing it down and widening the intersection."

Lisa Compton said that since talk of saving the Wiss made the news, it's drawn interest from members of the Genesee County Landmark Society and the NYS Landmark Society, that even a trustee in Bethany has expressed an interest in investing in the project.

While the Wiss itself isn't historical, the structure could play an important role -- and losing it could diminish the chances -- of declaring the village a historic district.

"It's a significant part of the district," Compton said.

Mayor Rogers said he was only looking at the Wiss as a business proposition, which is why he put considerable time into drafting a counterproposal for the LLC to purchase the building.

"While their vision for the Wiss Hotel is nowhere shape or form what mine is, but from what I'll call a business standpoint, we always hear from people who tell you what they can't do, but very seldom do you hear from people who tell you what they can do," Rogers said. "We have people here who are the latter, who are willing to take a chance, who have invested their own money already and, quite frankly, if successful, would save the village $200,000.

"I don't believe they are looking to renovate the building to have the building be the eyesore it is now," Rogers added. "If somebody were to look into the future and think that's their vision, just to have the doors open over there, I would like to think in no way shape or form that's the ideal they have coming."

Rogers' counteroffer included a specific timetable for the LLC to meet, such as being legally formed, securing financing, taking possession of the building, shoring up safety issues and beginning renovations, as well as paying the village $10,000 once a certificate of occupancy was issued.

One of Tucci's objections to the project was that he didn't think the LLC could successfully rent the apartments. Fussell said there would be more market research done before the final floor plan was completed and if the market couldn't sustain five more expensive apartments, then seven could be put into the space at a lower monthly rent. Rogers pointed out that what the LLC did with the building once it owned it wasn't really a matter of village business.

When he called for a motion to approve the counteroffer, Jennifer Keys made the motion, but there was no second, so it died for lack of support.

Talk of possible ground contaminates that could drive up the demolition costs, perhaps to $500,000, almost had Bonaquisti convinced to back the sale to the LLC, but others pointed out that there is no evidence of ground contaminates under the Wiss.

With the counteroffer killed, Tucci made a motion to have the building demolished. This was amended to see requests for proposal to find out exactly how much it would cost the village to tear down the Wiss.

This motion passed 3-2, backed by Tucci, Taylor and Bonaquisti.

Photo: Bob Fussell.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013 at 12:13 pm

Genesee County approved as Foreign-Trade Zone

post by Howard B. Owens in business, GCEDC

Press release:

The Genesee County Economic Development Center (GCEDC) announced today that Genesee County has been approved as a Foreign-Trade Zone (FTZ), the first FTZ in the Finger Lakes Region since a similar zone was created in Monroe County in 1987. An FTZ is a site within the United States designated by the U.S. Department of Commerce where foreign and domestic merchandise is considered to be in international commerce.

“This is a historic day for economic development in Genesee County and a critical component of our broader efforts to sustain job creation and investment in our region,” said Steve Hyde, president and CEO of GCEDC. “The approval of this application for FTZ status will help spur economic growth and foreign investment by incentivizing businesses with customs duty savings and other tax advantages, as well as increased flexibility in the handling of domestic and imported merchandise.”

The application designates two Genesee County industrial parks – Apple Tree Acres and the Genesee Valley Agri-Business Park – as magnet sites, which allows businesses looking to develop at these sites a fast-tracked application process. Other magnet sites can be added later.

Because an FTZ is considered to be “outside” the customs territory of the United States, foreign or domestic merchandise may enter without a formal customs entry, or the payment of customs duties or government excise taxes. When a final product is exported from an FTZ, no U.S. Customs duty or excise tax is levied. If the final product is imported from the FTZ into the United States, customs duty and excise taxes are due only at the time of formal entry into the United States. The duty paid is the lower of that applicable to the product itself or its component parts.

Genesee County’s application, submitted by the Genesee Gateway Local Development Corporation (GGLDC), establishes an FTZ under the program’s Alternative Site Framework (ASF). This framework provides Genesee County’s FTZ greater flexibility as a broad geographic area, as opposed to traditional FTZs, which were building/site-specific.

There are a total of only 14 FTZs currently approved in New York State, four of which are located in or near New York City.

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