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Tuesday, February 4, 2014 at 7:08 pm

Bed, Bath & Beyond's Batavia store still recovering from fire damage

post by Howard Owens in batavia, Batavia Towne Center, business

Batavia's Bed, Bath & Beyond, damaged by fire Jan. 27, has been cleared of all its stock and today work crews were pulling from the store every last bit of fixture, shelving and even wall.

Smoke odor still permeated the entry way.

A manager said she doesn't know when the store will reopen. She said she didn't know when new stock would arrive. Asked if employees had been offered jobs at other locations, she said we would have to call the corporate office.

We called the corporate office this afternoon and have not yet gotten a response.

Monday, February 3, 2014 at 11:29 pm

Alpina releases new television commercials promoting its Greek yogurt

post by Howard Owens in batavia, Alpina Foods, business

Local Greek yogurt maker Alpina has entered the national television yogurt wars with a series of commercials meant to entertain and inspire.

While industry leaders Chobani and Dannon dish out big bucks to debut commercials during the Super Bowl (including a both praised and panned spot from Dannon for Oikos Greek yogurt featuring the former cast of Full House, and Chobani's ad with Bob Dylan and a bear), Alpina held of until today the release of its new ads.

Press release from Alpina:

The new campaign focuses on individuals facing their challenges head on, or as we like to say “climbing their mountains.” Maybe your mountain is to run a 10k or graduate from college. The point is we all have mountains to climb. So satisfy your taste for the top with Alpina Greek Yogurt, it's encouragement by the spoonful. Alpina. Climb Your Mountain.

The ads will run in select areas in the Northeast, including Western New York, and will feature digital and radio advertisements. Western NY can also look forward to seeing our ads on TV and area buses. To complement the campaign, Alpina is offering a free trial to those who share their mountain with us through a link in our digital ads.

Friday, January 31, 2014 at 2:45 pm

Petco expects to reopen Monday

post by Howard Owens in batavia, business, petco

Workers at Petco are busy cleaning up the store and restocking shelves -- some stock had to be replaced -- following the fire at Bed, Bath & Beyond last Monday.

One thing General Manager Carol Hershberger is eager for local residents to know is that all of the animals that were in the store are safe.

They were initially taken to the Genesee County Animal Shelter and, contrary to a prior report, never returned to the store, she said. The animals have all been relocated to other Petco stores.

There's a lot of work, but staff is working hard, she said, to get the store reopened Monday.

Meanwhile, investigators have yet to determine the case of the fire, which started in the bedding department of Bed, Bath & Beyond and caused to smoke to fill both stores (not as heavily, in Petco).

UPDATE 3:57 p.m.: Hershberger called back to say after a long way of work today, she doesn't believe the store will be ready to open Monday. She said she's hesitant to predict when the store will open. "As soon as possible," she said.

Thursday, January 30, 2014 at 3:42 pm

Judge overturns planning board decision on rooming house on East Main Street, Batavia

post by Howard Owens in batavia, business, Terry Platt

(File Photo)

A Buffalo judge ruled this morning that the city must issue a rooming house permit to local rental property owner Terry Platt for a 12-room rooming house at 316 E. Main St., Batavia.

The city's planning board turned town Platt's application in May following strenuous objects from neighboring property owners and other residents, so Platt filed an Article 78 action asking the court to step in and review the case.

Judge John Curran found that Platt's plan did not violate the city's master plan, as the city maintained in its argument against granting the permit.

The city didn't contest, according to Platt's attorney Michael Perley, any other aspect of Platt's application.

Curran found, Perley said, that the city's master plan allows mixed use on East Main Street, and the rooming house fits within permitted uses.

But even if the master plan didn't allow for mixed use in that area of the city, Perley said Curran indicated he would have ruled in Platt's favor because he would have found the city's plan flawed.

"My client is pleased and I'm pleased for my client," Perley said. "We thought all along it was a proper and appropriate project. Mr. Platt has always run these dwellings in the city and he has run them well. We believe it will be an asset to the city and the city will be pleased with the rooming house and how Mr. Platt operates it."

Previously:

Wednesday, January 29, 2014 at 7:47 pm

Popular Color Me Rad 5K returning to Darien Lake on June 21

Press release:

Back by popular demand, the Color Me Rad 5K, a nationally recognized human tie-dye spectacle and run/walk, is returning to Darien Lake for its second year bigger and better than before. More than 6,800 racers came out for the event last year, raising $15,000 for the Special Olympics of New York. This year, registration will be open to 10,000 participants so even more color-plastered racers can get in on the fun while supporting a great cause.

What makes Color Me Rad so unique is the excitement and entertainment generated by thousands of racers running through the scenic grounds at Darien Lake while a Color Bomb Squad takes aim their shirts, faces, and hair with a rainbow array of colors. A new element to the fun this year, racers will get hand-held color blasters so everyone can get in on the action.   

The event is June 21.

Registration for the run/walk is now open at http://www.colormerad.com/race/buffalo.  

“We strive to partner with organizations and families to create special moments that their kids will share with their kids. There’s no doubt that this is going to be a colorful memory worth sharing,” said Rod Rankin, vice president and general manager of Darien Lake. 

Participants are encouraged to continue their fun after the race with a day at Darien Lake. Accommodations packages are available for registered participants at www.godarienlake.com.

"Special Olympics New York is delighted to be the beneficiary of, and to partner with, Darien Lake and Color Me Rad 5K for this tremendously fun event in June,” said Special Olympics of New York President and CEO Neal Johnson. "Color Me Rad 5K is an energetic event for all, where the volunteers have just as much fun as the participants. Whether you register to run or volunteer for the race, you'll be helping Darien Lake and Color Me Rad 5K support more than 56,000 Special Olympics athletes across the state."

More than 5,000 pounds of FDA-approved, colored cornstarch will be used during the event. In addition to “Color Bomb Squad” volunteers spread along the 3.1-mile course, walkers and runners will also be able to toss their own bags of color into the air, creating an unforgettable display of color.

Photos from last year's Color Me Rad at Darien Lake by Howard Owens.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014 at 10:11 pm

Collins said he will vote for farm bill that ends farm subsidies, reforms food stamps

post by Howard Owens in agriculture, business, chris collins, farm bill, NY-27

It's a compromise that many thought a contemporary version of Congress could never pass, but Rep. Chris Collins said that even if he wishes some things were different, he plans to vote on a new farm bill that's ready for consideration by the full House.

The compromise bill was announced today and Collins held a telephone press conference to discuss his support of the measure.

"It's a very good bill, but there's something in it that pretty much everyone doesn't like," said Collins, who sits on the Agriculture Committee.

The 1,000-page bill ends decades of direct subsidies to farmers that paid out roughly $5 billion annually and replaces it with a crop insurance program designed to provide the same measure of financial management against disastrous weather or substantial price fluctuations. 

Several "outdated and ineffective dairy programs," according to an ag committee statement, are eliminated. Dairy producers will be able to voluntarily enter into a margin protection program that will not have government mandated supply controls.

Speaker John Boehner opposed the former programs as "Soviet-style" market manipulation.

The other major reforms in the farm bill deal with SNAP, better known as food stamps. The reforms are expected to eliminate $9 billion in fraud and abuse.

In all, supporters of the bill are claiming it will save taxpayers $23 billion.

Collins said it will particularly provide local dairy farmers a range of certainty around which they can plan production.

"Now they can plan farm activity around a new crop insurance program and they know what it's going to look like for the next five years," Collins said. "It's a big relief to have this move forward and come to a vote."

Those who wanted the regulation of catfish to be handled by the FDA instead of the USDA won't be happy with the bill, Collins said, which is an example of how the legislation won't make everybody happy.

There were some provisions that dairy farmer associations initially opposed.

But even the industry groups eventually came around and supported the bill.

A statement from Jim Mulhern, president and CEO of the National Milk Producers Federation:

"That process is now complete. Despite its limitations, we believe the revised program will help address the volatility in farmers’ milk prices, as well as feed costs, and provide appropriate signals to help address supply and demand.

"The program that we have worked to develop establishes a reasonable and responsible national risk management tool that will give farmers the opportunity to insure against catastrophic economic conditions, when milk prices drop, feed prices soar, or the combination. By limiting how much future milk production growth can be insured, the measure creates a disincentive to produce excess milk. The mechanism used is not what we would have preferred, but it will be better than just a stand-alone margin insurance program that lacks any means to disincentivize more milk production during periods of over-supply.

Also unhappy, Collins said, will be those who think food stamps should never be touched.

"Let's be clear, no one who deserves food stamps is getting cuts," Collins said.

As an example, Collins noted that under the old regime anybody who received federal heating assistance, even if it was just $1 per month, was eligible to receive food stamps, even without any income or asset test. That ends with the new program, Collins said.

"It was a backdoor way for people to get food stamps who didn't deserve them," Collins said. "It's good government in this day of deficit spending that the money is going to go to the people who truly deserve it."

Asked if Democrats might to used the changes to SNAP as a campaign issue against those "heartless Republicans," Collins said, his message to them is go ahead and try.

"One thing for sure is that distortion of truth is what politics and commercials are all about more than substance," Collins said. "I'm sure there are those who will try to claim that this is a cut in food stamps for those who deserve it and if they do make that claim, it's a lie.

"Anyone who is opposed to this bill is somebody who is very partisan in nature and not interested in saving taxpayers money," Collins added. "I'd turn that back on anyone who wanted that debate and I'd turn it back in about two seconds."

Monday, January 27, 2014 at 12:47 pm

Google can't find GCC's main campus in Batavia

post by Howard Owens in batavia, business, GCC, Google

Press release:

Anyone searching to find directions to Genesee Community College's main campus in Batavia are advised to avoid using the online Google Maps utility. Despite many attempts by the College to have Google correct the problem, Google Maps continues to direct visitors trying to reach GCC's main campus to the College's Albion Campus Center located 30 miles north of Batavia in Orleans County.

"We have contacted Google multiple times to rectify this problem and are continuously told that it takes weeks for their algorithm to correct misguided directions. In addition, Google claims its tech support cannot manually intervene to remedy the problem," said Donna Rae Sutherland, associate director of Marketing Communications.

"It's been incredibly frustrating and also rather dangerous. Buses of athletic teams, performing artists and potential students have all gone 60 miles out of their way traveling in haste back down Route 98, which is often very blustery with poor visibility during the winter months."

The problem has been an ongoing for approximately a year with short periods of time when Google Maps accurately listed the Batavia Campus, but currently the right side panel posts a map and information to the Albion Campus Center without even mentioning the main campus is in Batavia. Google's proprietary software uses unique algorithms to provide mapping information automatically. Unknowing visitors are logically following Google's posted directions without clicking through to find the right campus and its proper location.

Sutherland recommends Web searchers utilize MapQuest and the College's Maps and Directions Web page available at: http://www.genesee.edu/about/visit/maps/ This gives users door- to-door directions to any campus location and also explicit directions to the main campus in Batavia.

"Most other online utilities are able to find us perfectly, but with Google's ongoing problem we strongly advise people to steer clear of using Google Maps to find GCC."

Wednesday, January 22, 2014 at 3:16 pm

Plans approved for Kohl's next to Dick's

A subdivision of Batavia Towne Center to make way for a Kohl's Department Store was approved by the Town of Batavia Planning Board on Tuesday night.

The subdivision is necessary, according to Kate Johnson, of COR Development (top photo) because Kohl's needs its building on its own parcel for financing, tax and insurance purposes.

Kohl's will own its building, but COR will continue to own the land.

A subdivision carves a parcel of land from an existing parcel to make a new parcel with its own tax ID number.

Kohl's is planning 56,883-square-foot building roughly in the area of the former Lowe's garden center.

Johnson also revealed that Marshall's is planning a store next to Dick's Sporting Goods and said a fourth store is planned for the former Lowe's space, but said she can't mention the name of the store.

Previously, it was reported that the discount chain 5 Below was planning a store for the location.

Town officials are also considering a sidewalk for pedestrians that would connect Batavia Towne Center and Batavia Downs as well as an extension of Richmond Avenue through to Veterans Memorial Drive.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014 at 10:30 pm

High-end sushi restaurant coming to Batavia

post by Howard Owens in batavia, business, restaurants

Town planners approved a sign tonight for a new sushi restaurant that will reportedly open soon at 4140 Veterans Memorial Drive, Batavia.

The restaurant, YUME Asian Bistro, will be the third location for the owner, according to Dan Lang, the town's code enforcement officer. The other two are in New York City.

Everything about the new restaurant, Lang said, is first-class.

"The interior looks wonderful, actually," Lang said. "He did a beautiful job on the inside of it."

Lang said the owner is just about ready, and eager to open.

The location is next to Pawn King, two doors down from Jagged Edges Salon, across from Walmart.

His top chef from New York will open the restaurant and train the cooks and staff before returning to NYC.

"He wants to make sure he has somebody who takes care of the sushi the right way," Lang said.

The restaurant will also serve Thai food as well as other Asian dishes.

Lang described the new restaurant as "high end."

UPDATE: So, apparently, Batavia will have two sushi restaurants going by similar names. Josh Gaylord says that he filed for a DBA for Yume Sushi in June and then Yumi Asian Bistro filed in July. Gaylord is planning to open his restaurant at the former Delavan's location on Evans Street in the city.  He's previously held a Sushi night at Sweet Ecstasy Bakery and his sushi has gained a passionate local following.

Friday, January 17, 2014 at 7:58 pm

Bright future likely for Le Roy company that sells LED lights to cities and villages in New York

post by Howard Owens in business, Le Roy
Kristin Gomborone, front, Gabrielle Keister and Scott Keister

A small Le Roy company has put itself on the cusp of the next big thing in municipal lighting -- LED.

This week, GotToGo Electric, a six-person company on East Main Road, landed a $77,860 contract with Mayville to sell the village 350 LED street lights.

Last year, GotToGo provided the village with LED street lights as part of a pilot project and then was the lowest bidder to provide enough lights to illuminate the entire village.

Traditionally, cities and villages provide night light with either high-pressure sodium lights or metal-halide lamps, giving main streets either an eerie orange glow or a cold blue hue.

Modern LED lights provide a white light, which has its own benefits, but the main reason municipal governments are taking a closer look at LED these days is the cost savings.

LED lights can cut electric consumption by up to 65 percent and are virtually maintenance free.

A street light with LED bulbs has a 10-year warranty, but should continuing working for 15 to 20 years.

Sodium and halide lights must be replaced much more frequently.

"LED is the new way to go," said company President Scott Keister. "LED is gaining traction very quickly. I think what we'll see in the next few years is the Department of Energy change its requirements for energy consumption, and traditional lighting (sodium and metal-halide) won't be able to meet those requirements."

GotToGo Electric is a manufacturer rep for two of the companies in the U.S. that make municipal lighting and fixtures.

Established in 1990 as a company selling products for electric companies, it was forced less than a decade later to pivot into a firm that represents the manufacturers of products for municipal utilities after the electric companies in the Northeast merged.

It was an easy transition, said CEO Kristin Gomborone, because GotToGo had already established the relationships with the cities and villages in New York.

"Along with the relationships, we've been working with municipalities for about 24 years now, so we've built a rapport," Gomborone said.

The company is owned by Gomborone and her sister, Gabrielle Keister, who is VP of Finance, and GotToGo is a certified New York woman-owned business.

Both women were born and raised in Le Roy. Keister is from Alexander and attended Notre Dame High School.

Besides selling LED lights, GotToGo handles just about everything a municipality might need to provide utility service, from gas and electric meters, to cable and transformers for electricity and, of course, lighting.

Primarily, the company bids on behalf of the 25 manufacturers they represent for the sale and installation of utility products. But the company is also positioned to ensure ongoing maintenance needs, if any, are met.

Keister explained that manufacturers use product reps such as GotToGo because it's less expensive than maintaining a full-time staff in a territory.

GotToGo got into LED lighting as the demand began to grow.

Ten years ago, LED systems were expensive, provided a bluish light that consumers rejected (think of those district blue headlights that were common for awhile on some new model cars) and didn't provide as much illumination as traditional lighting.

Now the cost has come down, the light temperature has shifted to a neutral white (or a moonlight white) and systems can put out as much, if not more, light than sodium or metal-halide.

GotToGo's clients for LED lights include the City of Buffalo, Westfield, Jamestown, Springville and the company's first LED client, Auburn, which installed 450 new street lights.

And not just municipalities are in the market now for LED lights. Universities and colleges, malls, car dealers -- any place with the need to illuminate a large area -- is a potential customer for GotToGo's products.

"It's probably the most exciting thing we're doing now," Keister said. "It's up and coming. Like I said, it's been around 10 years, but it's really just starting to take a grasp."

The main thing holding back wider adoption of LED systems, Keister said, is the inability of Albany and the electric companies to come up with a plan on how the electric companies will serve municipalities.

There are about 42 cities and villages in New York, such as Mayville, that provide their own municipal electric service, so there aren't hoops to jump through to make the switch to LED.

But in all the others municipalities, the local governments contract with a big electric company to provide the lights, the electricity and the maintenance.

It's kind of a lease agreement paid for through a tariff.

"To charge people the current tariff rates for a fixture that is much more efficient and basically eliminates maintenance is not fair to the consumer," Keister said.

So, as the market changes -- new regulations requiring less energy consumption from street lights, and a new tariff scheme out of Albany -- GotToGo Electric, with its experience and connections, should be well positioned as the go-to company in WNY for municipal street lighting.

Click here for a story from an online news site in Chautauqua County about the Mayville purchase and to see a picture that shows the color temperature difference between LED and sodium lights.

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