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Monday, July 8, 2013 at 2:27 pm

Author who featured The Batavian in book on the future of journalism set for appearance at Present Tense

A few summers ago, Dan Kennedy, a journalism professor at Northeastern, visited Batavia while researching a book on the future of journalism, focusing on digital efforts to provide communities with news.

In May, his book, "The Wired City," was released by the University of Massachusetts Press.

While the majority of pages in The Wired City are devoted to the New Haven Independent, a nonprofit community Web site in Connecticut, there is a section in the book about for-profit sites, including The Batavian.

For the book, Kennedy interviewed me, of course, and Tom Turnbull  and Mark Graczyk at the Batavia Daily News, Dan Fischer at WBTA, City Manager Jason Molino, Chamber of Commerce President Lynn Freeman, and Patrick Weissand, then HLOM director, among others.

In the book, you can find out a little more about the background of The Batavian, a little insider information and what some people -- Turnbull, say -- were saying about The Batavian when we were barely a year old.

Kennedy remains fascinated by an off-hand remark I made while we were driving past the Stafford Country Club during his visit -- that if I were ever a member, he'd know I was doing well with The Batavian. He mentions it his book and in a column today updating readers on the progress of The Batavian on Nieman Journalism Lab (spoiler alert: I'm not a member, not even a social member, even though I recently found out membership is a heck of a lot less expensive than I thought back during Kennedy's visit to Batavia.)

This Saturday, Kennedy will be at Present Tense Books on Washington Avenue to talk about the book and sign copies.

Fischer will interview Kennedy and me for Friday morning's Main and Center on WBTA, so tune in. I anticipate a lively discussion about local journalism, past, present and future.

Saturday, July 6, 2013 at 11:50 pm

With break in rain, barley for Hawleys' malt house harvested

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, agriculture, business, byron

I took a break from the Ramble this afternoon to go out to Ted and Patricia Hawley's barley field in Byron to get some pictures of the harvest.

The Hawleys are opening a malt house -- the first in New York in about 100 years -- and this barley will be used to create malt that can be used by microbreweries throughout the state.

All the rain we've had in the past week have made the harvest a challenge. The grain has to reach a search moisture level -- not too moist -- to be harvested. But in waiting for it to dry out there's a chance the grain could pre-germinate on the stock, which would affect the malting process.

This grain will need to be dried a bit before being stored in a bin because it's a just a bit too moist.

Above is barley grain that has been separated by the combine from the straw. The cut straw is left on the field and will be collected later. It can be used for a feed supplement, for mulch or -- according to Hawley -- dropped in ponds to purify the water. Hawley said it is very effective at cleaning pond water and the Hawleys may eventually try selling some of it for such a use.

Kevin Scroger gave me my first ride in the cab of a combine. Scroger has been operating combines since he was 14 years old. Back then, cabs weren't air conditioned. There weren't even cabs and Scroger said the combines were smaller and harvested fewer acres per hour. Not only are today's cabs air conditioned, they can be driven over a pre-defined route by a GPS system.

Saturday, July 6, 2013 at 8:07 am

Bob Evans Restaurant announces weeklong closure for remodeling

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Bob Evans, business

Bob Evans Restaurant, 196 Oak St., Batavia, will be closed from July 7-14 for a remodel that will update the interior and exterior appearance, according to Assistant General Manager Jonathan Allen.

The restaurant will add a bakery section as part of the project.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013 at 4:25 pm

Introducing a new, full-featured real estate Web site for Genesee County

post by Howard B. Owens in business, housing, real estate

The Batavian is partnering with Rochester-based Property Source to launch a whole new way for finding and selling homes in Genesee County on a site run by Property Source under the brand ZagPad.com.

The new site will replace our housing link in our main navigation on July 15.

For the first time we will be able to offer our readers access through The Batavian to MLS listings and offer local agents great tools to feature their businesses and and their listings.

The site also features sections for rentals, home improvement and senior living.

We will also be managing the Wyoming County real estate site for ZagPad/Property Source.

We think the new site is going to offer both people looking for housing and the real estate community a set of tools and features that haven't truly been available locally before.

As Genesee County's #1 online news source, the #1 Web site of any kind locally, we are excited to bring the county one centralized, go-to place for real estate.

One of the things we liked about ZagPad is the platform gives us the opportunity to deliver to our local readers and advertisers a Genesee County-focused real estate Web site -- one that is tied into a regional network of real estate listings and media partners (such as WHAM13 and WHEC in Rochester and the Bee Newspapers in Erie County). This gives local users and advertisers the best of both worlds -- a local focus with a regional reach.

Real estate agents and brokers who need more information should call Lisa Ace at (585) 250-4118.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013 at 12:17 pm

Town of Oakfield buys local for new plow truck

post by Howard B. Owens in business, Oakfield, Viking Cives

Every five years, the Town of Oakfield replaces one of its plow trucks. This year, the town board decided to keep it local and asked Highway Superintendent Alan Dennis to explore the idea of having the new truck built by Viking Cives.

The truck company moved to a location on Judge Road in Oakfield several years ago.

"We thought that was important to support the local economy and business located right here in town," Dennis said.

The $228,000 plow truck replaces a 15-year-old plow and is state-of-the-art, Dennis said. The computer controls are LCD lit and touch control. Using a joy stick, the truck driver can operate all of the truck's functions as a one-man-operation.

Supervisor Mike Cianfrini said with Viking's solid reputation for quality and service, it was really a simple choice to go with the local company.

"From the town perspective we wanted to support a business in our community," Cianfrini said. "They've been a great neighbor, supporting a lot of activities within Oakfield and we thought the least we could do is support them."

The town took delivery of the truck today and plow truck operator Mike Schultz, pictured below, couldn't wait to get in the new machine and drive it off to the town's garage.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013 at 10:59 pm

Survey hopes to discover why people leave Genesee County to eat out

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business, downtown, restaurants

Press release:

Why do you leave Genesee County to eat? That’s exactly what the Restaurant Creativity Advocates want to find out. In response to sales leakage reports provided by W-ZHA and The Community Land Use & Economics Group, a brief survey was developed for area residents to explain their dining and travel habits. The survey is available now through July 12th online at: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/N6SCRMV.

The Restaurant Creativity Advocates is a local group formed by representatives of the Genesee County Chamber of Commerce, Genesee Community College’s The BEST Center, Batavia Development Corporation, downtown's Business Improvement District and Senior Corp of Retired Executives. This group voluntarily organized to research and improve the local dining options throughout the county.

“We gathered in response to two recent reports that suggest area residents spend more than $12.4 million annually to eat and drink at restaurants beyond our County borders,” stated Julie Pacatte, Batavia Development Corporation. “We want to understand why people leave the County to dine-out. Ultimately, we want to do what we can to try to ensure more dining dollars stay local.”

The Restaurant Creativity Advocates began discussion early February 2013. Since then, they conducted their own local restaurant assessment facilitated by Lina LaMattina, director of The BEST Center.

“We began by asking team members to finish the open-ended question, wouldn’t it be great if...,” LaMattina said. “Allowing this cross-functional team to begin to consider the possibilities open to the County helped the group to generate some big picture thinking, think creatively, and develop the foundation for some real conversation with stakeholders without giving way to the  traditional stumbling blocks typically encountered when dealing with significant challenges,” LaMattina added.

The group categorized more than 100 committee responses and found that six areas of focus could potentially improve the local restaurant scene. Upon completion of the customer survey, the group will share all results with the local restaurateurs in hopes of devising an action plan to reduce the sales leakage.

The restaurant customer survey is brief, but it does end with the same valuable question “Wouldn’t it be great if…?”

The Chamber of Commerce has mailed a separate restaurant owner survey directly to their listing of 126 existing restaurants in Genesee County. That survey will also be complete at the end of next week.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013 at 10:04 pm

Aviation school owner says NYS Taxation and Finance driving him out of business

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business, Genesee County Airport, taxes

The way Bob Miller sees it, before long, if you want to learn to fly, you will need to go to Pennsylvania or Ohio because there will be no flight schools left in New York.

"The state is holding all the cards on this," Miller told members of the Ways and Means Committee on Tuesday.

Within the past year, NYS Taxation and Finance has started auditing the owners of airplanes that are used as rentals for flight school students.

The state is demanding payment, Miller said, of taxes that were once exempt.

According to Miller, he can't legally charge students tax for their flight hours, but when private plane owners rent their planes to flight schools, the state is now demanding the owners pay sales tax on those fees.

As a result private plane owners who have been audited by the state will no longer rent their planes to flight schools.

More than two months ago, plane owners in Lancaster were audited and Miller was forced to close his school there. Now the state has gone after Batavia plane owners and he must shut down his aviation school here.

"It's not a new law," Miller said. "It's a new interpretation. The executive branch is holding all of the private airplane owners hostage to their interpretation of the code."

According to Miller, this hasn't been an issue in New York for 40 years, and certainly not during the 20 years he's been involved in aviation instruction.

"The state is so desperate for sales tax revenue they're going after everything," Miller said.

Currently, according to Miller, investors buy airplanes without sales tax if they are renting the planes to flight schools. If the planes are rented to private pilots who are not students, then the owners must pay sales tax; if the owners take the planes on a flight for their own private use, they must pay a portion of sales tax for the usage, but for 40 years, there's been no sales tax, he said, on student rentals through flight schools.

The state is requiring plane owners to pay for past unpaid sales taxes going up to five years back.

As a result, Miller said, the plane owners are just ceasing rental services to aviation schools in the state.

Miller has a lease for hangars and office space in the Genesee County Airport through 2015 and he's being asked to be let out of the lease because he's now out of business as a result of the state's actions.

Highway Superintendent Tim Hens recommended the Legislature require Miller to pay rent for 90 days, giving the county time to find a new tenant.

Hens said he isn't worried about filling the hangars -- there's a waiting list for hangar space, but he isn't sure the office space in the terminal will be filled, especially since it will be hard to find another filght school under the current circumstances.

The county will lose about $2,400 a month $2,700 per year in revenue with the flight school closed, due to a decrease in aviation fuel sales.

Monday, July 1, 2013 at 2:24 pm

Darien Lake Theme Park reopens after water main break forces two-hour closure

post by Howard B. Owens in business, Darien, darien lake theme park, tourism

Press release:

Darien Lake confirms that its amusement park and water park were closed for approximately two hours today, after the water supply was accidentally cut off.

Monroe County Water Authority had been conducting routine maintenance nearby, which adversely affected the park’s water supply at 11:30 a.m. During the outage, Darien Lake’s bathrooms, food service, and water park were affected.

Darien Lake management closed the park at noon for guest safety. The park’s maintenance crews restored service before 1 p.m., and the park was reopened by 2 p.m.

Friday, June 28, 2013 at 5:39 pm

Photo: New residents join staff at UMMC

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

UMMC welcomed a group of new residents to their team today. All six are training as doctors of osteopathic medicine. They are, from left, Tobin Carson, Adia Taylor, Cedric McKinney, Imeh Sampson Jr., J. Francis Asuquo and Mithun Daniel.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013 at 2:43 pm

Alpina Foods expands line of popular Greek yogurts

post by Billie Owens in batavia, Alpina Foods, business

Press release:

In direct response to exploding consumer demand for Greek yogurt as well as the company’s continued commitment to expansion in the U.S. market, Alpina Foods is introducing a brand new Greek yogurt, and will be changing the name of its entire portfolio of Greek products to create a more cohesive brand identity.

Alpina Foods’ Alpina Greek, an all-natural, authentically strained Greek yogurt, is made entirely from natural ingredients and uses no artificial thickeners or flavoring. Alpina Greek will be introduced later this month available in six flavors: blueberry, strawberry, vanilla bean, mango, peach, and black cherry.

In addition to introducing its new yogurt, Alpina will rename its Alpina Revive Greek yogurt as Alpina Greek with Artisan Granolas which comes packaged with certified gluten-free granola mix-ins that were created by a health and wellness chef and are prepared by Udi’s Gluten Free. 

Both products are created using an authentic straining process, and are the combination of the simplest ingredients: milk, active bacteria cultures, and fruit.

Alpina Greek with Artisan Granolas will be available in seven flavors: blueberry with almond berry granola, strawberry with almond berry granola, vanilla bean with chai spices granola, honey with chai spices granola, mango with tropical chia granola, peach with tropical chia granola, and plain with superfoods granola.

“We made the decision to change the brand architecture of Alpina yogurts to increase the presence of our products on store shelves and simplify our portfolio,” said Gustavo Badino, Alpina Foods’ general manager. “We believe this expansion will be received well in the marketplace as consumers are continually searching for unique and exciting Greek yogurt options that are delicious and healthy.”

Alpina brand yogurts are currently available in a wide variety of retailers throughout the U.S., including Wegmans Food Markets; Ahold USA brand stores: Stop & Shop, Giant Landover and Giant Carlisle; Delhaize Group stores Hannaford and Sweetbay; Tops Friendly Markets; Duane Reade; and other national and regional food retailers. For a full list of retailers, visit www.alpinaus.com.

Alpina Greek yogurts will be available in late June with Alpina Greek with Artisan Granolas following in late July. Retailers interested in carrying Alpina yogurts can contact Alpina Foods at [email protected].

About Alpina Foods

Alpina Foods is the U.S. arm of Alpina, which was established in 1945 by two Swiss entrepreneurs and visionaries who brought their families’ traditions and cultural expertise to South America. The company markets a wide range of artisan dairy products to the American Hispanic market, as well as mainstream brands Alpina Greek and Alpina Greek with Artisan Granola yogurts, Alpina Bon Yurt low-fat yogurt, and Juan Valdez Café Latte.

Alpina is proud to be a consumer-centric and environmentally friendly company that embraces the philosophy of collective prosperity, or encouraging success within the company, in its neighboring communities, and in the world.

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