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Tuesday, June 17, 2014 at 11:24 am

Local entrepreneur has growing new business on Cedar Street

The way 29-year-old Curtis Gallagher sees it, he's finally found a niche in business that isn't already occupied by a hundred other guys doing the same thing.

He's tried blacktop sealing and for two years he ran his own detailing and tinting shop. Now he's selling everything you need to start and maintain your own hydroponic garden.

A week ago he opened Nature's Best Hydro-Garden Center on Cedar Street, Batavia.

Hydroponics is an increasingly popular way for people to grow fruits, vegetables and even flowers without soil. The main medium is water, supplemented with nutrients.

"It's really pretty simple," Gallagher said. "A lot of people are intimidated. They think there's a lot to it, but it's very simple, and the growth rate for the plants and vegetables is twice as fast with hydroponics than in soil."

Gallagher sells everything a hydroponic gardner needs -- the trays and bins, grow tents, grow lights, nutrients and other items gardeners might use.

He settled on hydroponics for his new business because he found that he had a hard time getting what he needed locally to support his own hobby.

So far, he's drawing customers from throughout the GLOW region.

"There's a lot of people who have to travel out of town, so instead of spending their money in the community, they're spending it in Rochester or Buffalo," Gallagher said. "I'm trying to keep it in the community."

His parents loaned him the money to get started, though they were skeptical at first.

 "My parents asked me, are you sure, and I'm like, 'the only way to find out is to try it,' " Gallagher said.

He got out of the detailing business when his lease expired on his building and the landlord wouldn't renew it. He decided it wasn't worth it to try and open a new location.

When he started thinking of a new career, he realized he already had one growing.

"I'm really the only person around here doing this kind of work, and I think around this area, Genesee County, you have to be more creative," Gallagher said. "You have to have something that's more unique to be able to succeed verus just opening up something that everybody else is doing already. Whoever has their foot in the door first is the one who stays with their foot in the door."

Now, Gallagher is looking forward to each new workday.

"It's almost like having a pet," Gallagher said. "Like my tomato plants over there, every day when I come in it's like another tomato and another tomato. It's growing so fast I can't believe it. It's fun. I'm into hunting and fishing. It's like another hobby. Now it's turned into a career, I guess."

Friday, June 13, 2014 at 11:03 pm

P.W. Minor reportedly tells employees the business is closing

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

Executives at P.W. Minor, a locally founded, 147-year-old business, reportedly told employees today that the firm is closing July 31 and the workers will be out of their jobs.

Employees posted about the announcement on Facebook and The Batavian contacted two employees directly. One wouldn't comment, the other confirmed the announcement.

The shoe-manufacturing company was founded in 1867 by two Civil War veterans who originally called their company Minor Brothers Boots and Shoes.

The Batavian e-mailed P.W. Minor's CEO Wally Hinchey at about 6 p.m. seeking comment and has not received a response.

Friday, June 13, 2014 at 4:35 pm

Group of Le Roy residents upset with sale of old town dump to company for recycling facility

post by Howard B. Owens in business, Le Roy

A year ago, Town of Le Roy officials took a look at 118 acres of land on its books and decided the town really had no short-term nor long-term use for it, so they decided to put it up for sale.

That decision came under fire from about five local residents at the town board's Thursday meeting.

The parcel is being sold to Zoladz Construction Co. for $95,000. Zoladz plans to open a facility to recycle municipal green waste and concrete from reconstruction projects.

Neighboring landowners are concerned about the noise, the dust and the possible pollution.

"We don't dispute your right to sell it," Thomas Ryan said. "It's who you sold it to."

Supervisor Steve Barbeau spoke at length about the history of the property and the decision to sell it. He said the sale was advertised in the Le Roy PennySaver and the Genesee Valley PennySaver and he wrote about it in his column for the Le Roy PennySaver.

In the end, only two potential buyers came forward: One offering about $40,000 and Zoladz.

The lower bid came from an outdoor club that would have used the property for hunting. 

Town Attorney Reid Whiting said the town tried to convince the club to increase its bid, but the club leadership said that just wasn't possible.

The board didn't act on Zoladz's offer right away. Instead, Barbeau took the issue to the Le Roy Business Council for advice and feedback.

Members there, he said, supported accepting the higher bid from the commercial business, getting the property back on the tax roles.

The board held another public meeting about the issue and then decided to accept Zoladz's purchase offer.

It's still not a done deal, Barbeau said, and even once the property is conveyed to Zoladz, the company must still seek DEC permits and get zoning approval.

While the property is in an industrial zone, the list of permitted uses in Le Roy's industrial zone doesn't include green waste and concrete recycling. The company will need a variance for such an operation, which must be approved by the Zoning Board of Appeals and the Town Board.

The parcel is located off Neid Road, just north of Gulf Road, in an area dominated by Hanson and Dolomite quarries. It's near the Lehigh Railroad derailment site, which Barbeau noted the town got an unrequested reminder about a couple of years ago.

Tom Dintruff and other neighbors raised concerns about possible pollution at the site.

At one time, the site was a quarry, then in the 1940s, it became a town dump. In 1979, a fire shut it down.

The fire burned for 10 days with various fire departments dumping water on it to try and control it, Dintruff said.

Dintruff said one local business owner advised against even trying to put the fire out, especially with water.

"You don't know what's in there," Dintruff said the man told town officials. "He wasn't saying it's a mystery. He was saying he knew what was in there."

The land has been unused and unoccupied since.

Ryan, Charlie Miller and Keith Maxwell raised concerns about truck traffic and noise.

Ryan said when he bought his land, it was with the belief that the old town dump would never be used again because of the environmental issues.

"I wouldn't have bought my place if I'd known there would be trucks running up and down my front yard," he said.

The roadway into the dump is just 55 feet from the front of his house.

He added, "Neid Road is already starting to crumble. There are no shoulders. I don't think it's set up for industrial traffic."

There was no resolution to the issue for the local residents last night and no promises were made by the board regarding future actions.

Friday, June 13, 2014 at 12:01 am

Le Roy residents debate town board over Frost Ridge lawsuit

post by Howard B. Owens in business, Frost Ridge Campground, Le Roy

The Town of Le Roy Board had no choice but to pursue a lawsuit against one of its own local businesses, attorney Reid Whiting said Thursday night during a discussion with town residents of the Frost Ridge legal proceedings.

About 25 Frost Ridge supporters turned out to the board meeting and spoke up during a conversation that lasted at least 90 minutes.

There were no speakers supporting the board's lawsuit.

Frost Ridge is being sued by both the town and two neighboring residents over its very existence as a campground and its ability to hold outdoor music concerts.

The neighbors, David and Marny Cleere and Scott and Betsy Collins, have been pushing the town to enforce its zoning ordinance in regards to Frost Ridge, Whiting said. The two couples made it clear, Whiting said, the town would be sued if it failed to enforce its ordinances.

Such a failure, Whiting said, would embolden others to violate the zoning code and give the town little recourse for enforcement.

"If we ignored the violations, we would be found in dereliction of our duty and we would not be able to defend ourselves in other matters," Whiting said.

Later in the meeting, he said, "We did not act lightly. We did not act recklessly. We did not act without thought. We have a statutory duty to enforce the laws of Le Roy. If we do not, we are at risk. If we're at risk, you're all at risk."

The town board decided to sue Frost Ridge rather than defend its own Zoning Board of Appeals, which determined in 1978 and again 2013 that Frost Ridge was an existing, nonconforming use and permissible under the town's law.

Supervisor Steve Barbeau (second photo) said the ZBA overstepped its authority by making those determinations.

"The issue of whether something is grandfathered in or not grandfathered in is not their decision," Barbeau said. "If in the 1960s a record of music was played over the PA system so now that translates into Molly Hatchett coming in for a concert, if you believe that's the case, that's not something within the purview of the ZBA to rule on."

Both Whiting and Barbeau made the point that the town board was not criticizing the ZBA or arguing with the ZBA. The town did not sue the ZBA. Cleere/Collins sued the ZBA.

Whiting leaned heavily in more than one statement that the town's position obviously had merit because Judge Robert C. Noonan issued a temporary injunction against amplified music and alcohol sales at Frost Ridge.

"Judge Noonan takes precedent over anything the town board does," Whiting said.

When Eilleen Sherman Dries (top photo) said a code enforcement officer, who trained the town's current officer, told her Frost Ridge was a pre-existing nonconforming use, Whiting snapped, "The only thing that matters is what Noonan says."

At the hearing prior to Noonan's ruling, the ZBA was not represented. Whiting told Noonan during the hearing that the ZBA had been served notice that it was a defendant in the Cleere/Collins suit but chose not to be represented. That turned out not to be an accurate statement. Chairwoman Debbie Jackett has since said the board stands behind its determination that Frost Ridge is not violating existing town code.

The ZBA will be represented by its own attorney, paid for by the town, at further court proceedings.

Late in the meeting, Whiting said the town is just a secondary player in the legal proceedings, even though Noonan denied the Cleere/Collins side its own request for an injunction, granting just the town's request for an injunction.

If the other sides in the case were able to come to an agreement, Whiting said, he would not interfere with the agreement, but bring it back to the town board for consideration.

Coming to an agreement was the major request of just about every resident who spoke during the meeting.

"This is revenue we had and now it's going to Caledonia instead of Genesee County," said Lucie Ann Griffis (Disclosure, Griffis is a part-time sales rep for The Batavian). "This is revenue that not only the town needs, but the whole area needs. It's a shame the town board couldn't jump aboard on this and instead of saying what we can't do, saying what we can do.

"It's a shame what's being said about use, about the town not being friendly to business. I'm a lifer here. This is a travesty that we're losing this revenue based on the complaints of just a couple of people."

Carl (who refused to provide his last name) also complained about lost business.

"The town board should be out trying to promote the town and promote business and not take away a business because of some violation of code, because one or two complaints, and shut something down," Carl said. "The board should try and do some something to help them."

A couple sitting behind Carl said they were from Rochester and camp regularly at Frost Ridge, and have camped there since before the current ownership. They both said Le Roy has started to gain a bad reputation in Rochester because of situations like this.

Jennifer Keys also spoke in favor of finding some compromise that could save Frost Ridge.

"We cannot deny that Frost Ridge is a great source of revenue for our community," Keys said. "I would like to see it worked out so that the revenue stays here rather than going to Caledonia or Batavia."

Barbeau said the town has already tried to reach a compromise with Frost Ridge owners Greg and David Luetticke-Archbell, but at the 11th hour, the owners hired an attorney who withdrew their application for a special use permit for the campground.

"Once they conformed to that, then they could seek out a variance for concerts," Barbeau said. "There was no guarantee at all. It would have gone through the ZBA, then the planning board and then a public hearing and then the town board."

Keys responded, "I don't want to speak for the owners, but since they're not here, it's my understanding that county planning told them you can't do that, that their application (for a special use permit) wasn't valid because they didn't need it. They felt threatened and things blew up and here we are now. I would still hope something could be worked out."

Greg and David are out of town and not available for clarification, but The Batavian has previously spoke to sources who said Greg and David were advised by their attorney at the time that the special use permit was a trap. The issuance of a permit would negate prior rulings by the ZBA and end concerts at the Ridge.

Barbeau said he did try to find a compromise for Frost Ridge last summer and that he convinced Cleere/Collins to hold off on a suit during the 2013 concert season because shutting things down with contracts signed and deposits paid would have been economically devastating for Greg and David.

"I do bristle and I will continue to bristle when people say we didn't try as a town board to do anything to work things out," Barbeau said.

Barbeau said if Frost Ridge had continued with its application, he was confident it would have been approved by the board unanimously and then he was going to propose a town-wide zoning change that would have permitted concerts on any property three times a year -- Memorial Day, the Oatka Festival and July 4.

Frost Ridge hosts concerts at least nine times a year.

"They were gambling (when they withdrew their application) and they gambled wrong," Whiting said.

A man named Steve (who also refused to give his last name), made one last plea for resolution favorable to the town near the end of the discussion.

"This is a no-win situation," Steve said. "If you win the lawsuit, you lose all that revenue from all those people who come to Frost Ridge. "If you lose the lawsuit, you're going to owe the campground all that money, all the while costing me and the other residents a lot of money. You need to get in a room with everybody and work it out."

One audience member kept asking how the supporters could go about getting an item on the agenda at a future board meeting about the board reconsidering its position, and the answer was, there's a public comments section on every agenda.

"I want to know when we can ask you to represent the majority of the people in Le Roy instead of just two people," she said.

Thursday, June 12, 2014 at 5:52 pm

Collins says FDA's proposed new cheese rules stink

post by Howard B. Owens in business, chris collins, NY-27

Press release:

Congressman Chris Collins (NY-27) today is blasting a proposal by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) that will significantly hurt the local cheese industry. The FDA is contemplating banning cheese makers from the centuries-old practice of aging cheese on wooden boards. This process is commonplace among artisan cheese makers operating across New York’s 27th Congressional District.

“This is just the latest example of a federal government hell-bent on regulating everything it can get its hands on,” Congressman Collins said. “The process of aging cheese on wood boards is older than the federal government itself. Once again, the bureaucrats in Washington who are totally out of touch with the real world are arbitrarily introducing new rules and regulations that will hurt local economies, cost people their jobs, and stall business growth.”

Approximately 15 to 20 percent of the cheese made by Yancey's Fancy in Pembroke, NY, (Genesee County) is aged on wooden boards. The company recently announced a major expansion aimed at increasing production of the very cheeses aged through the process targeted by the FDA. The company currently employs 120 people.

“The proposal that FDA has made to ban the use of wood for curing cheese will negatively impact our plans to grow the natural side of our specialty cheese business,” said Brian Bailey, VP of Operations for Yancey's Fancy. “My understanding is that the rule was going forward without any discussion with the cheese industry, and apparently without any consideration to the impact that such a ruling would have.

"There is a far greater tonnage of cheese imported into the United States that is cured on wood than what is made in the United States, yet I haven’t heard of any ruling to address that issue either. There is plenty of science that supports wood as a safe material for curing cheese but I’ve seen no evidence to date that science has been considered...Producing safe, quality food is as much our mission and goal as it is FDA’s. Our existence depends on it.”

Congressman Collins is sending a letter to the FDA encouraging them to abandon this proposal immediately. A significant amount of cheese imported from abroad is aged on wood boards and currently not subject to FDA’s scrutiny of this particular aging process. In reacting to the proposal, American cheese makers said the FDA was not acting on sound science or law.

Thursday, June 12, 2014 at 1:45 am

County Legislature recognizes June as Dairy Month

post by Howard B. Owens in agriculture, business, county legislature, dairy queen

In honor of Dairy Month, the Genesee County Legislature presented Dairy Princess Kayla Wormuth with a proclamation recognizing the contribution dairy makes to the local economy and the nutrition of people. Legislator Shelly Stein, right, presented the resolution. Also participating were dairy ambassadors Becca Slattery and Mary Sweeney, and Georgia Luft, dairy maid.

 

Saturday, June 7, 2014 at 6:30 pm

WNY Pediatric Gastroenterology opens office in Batavia

post by Billie Owens in announcements, business

Press release:

WNY Pediatric Gastroenterology (WNYPG) announces the opening of their Batavia practice focusing on the care of infants, children and adolescents with gastrointestinal, liver and nutritional disorders.

With the escalation of autoimmune disorders in WNY children, including celiac disease and inflammatory bowel disease, the physicians and other medical staff at WNYPG want Western New Yorkers to know that they are accepting new patients without long wait times.

The medical practice is located at 166 Washington Ave. Phone is 225-4132. (Web: wnypedgi.com)

They are committed to see patients within 48 hours. Dr. Daniel Gelfond focuses a significant portion of his practice on celiac disease and is a medical advisor to the WNY Gluten Free Diet Support Group.

Gelfond completed his residency at Long Island College Hospital and Beth Israel Medical Center in New York City, and completed his fellowship at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, where he worked with world renowned, Dr. Alessio Fasano at the Center for Celiac Research.

A nationally recognized physician scientist, Dr. Gelfond conducts clinical investigations studying gastrointestinal disorders in patients with cystic fibrosis. He is board certified in Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition, and accredited by the Royal College of Physician Educators. He has contributed to numerous publications, and recently published a textbook titled Pediatric Gastroenterology.

Dr. Humaira Hashmi completed her residency in Pediatrics at Cooper University Hospital in New Jersey, and her fellowship in Pediatric Gastroenterology at Women & Children’s Hospital in Buffalo. Dr. Hashmi enjoys teaching, and has a special interest in managing children and adolescents with Inflammatory Bowel Disease. She also focuses on childhood obesity and helps families educate and manage their children’s nutrition.

Dr. Hashmi is actively involved in local and national clinical studies, is a member of the North American Society of Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology, and Nutrition, and a member of the Gastroenterology Women’s Coalition. Dr. Hashmi is board certified in Pediatrics and Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition, and accredited by the Royal College of Physician Educators, and contributes to numerous publications.

Both physicians are excited to be working together to help children and families throughout Western New York with gastrointestinal and nutritional issues. Dr. Gelfond lives with his wife and three children in East Amherst. Dr. Hashmi also lives in East Amherst with her husband, and their three children.

Friday, June 6, 2014 at 9:11 am

GCEDC board member announces retirement after 31 years of service

post by Howard B. Owens in business, GCEDC

Press release:

The Genesee County Economic Development Center (GCEDC) announced the retirement of James L. Vincent from the GCEDC’s board of directors at its board meeting on Thursday, June 5, 2014.

Vincent served on the GCEDC board of directors for 31 years, playing an instrumental role on the board since 1983. In addition to being a board member, he also served as the GCEDC’s vice chairman for several years and helped the GCEDC become one of the most progressive economic development agencies in New York State through his deep, comprehensive understanding of the need for sustained economic growth. During his tenure as a member of the board, Vincent helped foster increased economic activity in Genesee County by advocating for new employment opportunities and a high quality of life for residents and their families.

Vincent served as president of L-Brooke Farms, Inc., an 8,000+ acre processing vegetable and grain farm since 1986. He also served as chairman of the New York State Advisory Council on Agriculture and the Genesee County Water Resources Agency, among others.

Vincent is past president of Genesee Memorial Hospital, Genesee Community College Foundation, Genesee County Chamber of Commerce, and Genesee County Farm Bureau, as well as board member of Farm Fresh First, LLC, Pro Fac Cooperative, Inc., and former town supervisor. 

The GCEDC congratulates Vincent in his retirement from service to the GCEDC board and recognizes him as an exceptional leader in economic development and a dedicated citizen worthy of esteem of not only the GCEDC, but throughout Genesee County.

Friday, June 6, 2014 at 9:09 am

GCEDC board approves projects, including one involving sale of Daily News building

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Batavia Daily News, business, GCEDC, Oakfield, U.S. Gypsum

Press release:

The Board of Directors of the Genesee County Economic Development Center (GCEDC) approved a final resolution for applications for assistance from 9 Apollo Drive, Inc., and an initial resolution to set a public hearing for United States Gypsum Co. at the June 5, 2014, board meeting. 

United States Gypsum Company Co. is planning to upgrade its paper mill at 2750 Maple Ave. in Oakfield, NY.  The project will include replacing and relocating equipment, stock cleaning and enhanced manila production to improve the safety, quality and efficiency of the facility.

The upgrades will consist of three phases and are expected to commence in 2016. The projected capital investment is approximately $23 million. The investment will retain 98 manufacturing jobs and create 12 new production jobs.

9 Apollo Drive, Inc., is a business that manufactures doors and windows. The company plans to purchase the building located at 2 Apollo Drive in the City of Batavia to accommodate its growth and expansion. 9 Apollo Drive, Inc., will make a capital investment of approximately $750,000.

In 2002, the company was granted a payment in lieu of taxes (PILOT) for the building located at 9 Apollo Drive, Inc., by the GCEDC and pledged to create eight new jobs. According to PARIS reporting submitted to the GCEDC in 2013, the company has created 29 jobs at this location.

“It is very encouraging to see existing businesses in our region invest resources to improve production and operations and, just as important, retain existing jobs and create new jobs,” said Wallace Hinchey, GCEDC board chairman.

Thursday, June 5, 2014 at 8:53 pm

Photos: Le Roy residents pitch in to clean up Main Street

post by Howard B. Owens in business, Le Roy

Le Roy Main Street Revitalization hosted a village clean-up this afternoon with residents, including students, pitching in to pull weeds and pick up garbage.

Above, Carly, Contado and Jack pull weeds from a garden bed along Main Street.

Candy Bower and Jennifer Keys cleaning the brick alleyway off Main Street.

For more information about Le Roy Main Street Revitalization, visit the group's Facebook page.

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