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Friday, July 25, 2014 at 4:23 pm

Watson Guitars in Le Roy offering handmade quality for local musicians

post by Howard B. Owens in business, Le Roy, Watson Guitars

Guitarists tend to have dream guitars -- a Gibson Les Paul, a Fender Stratocaster, a Guild Starfire, a Martin D-28 ... all expensive guitars.

And these days, often machine made.

What if there was a guitar available locally that was handmade and affordable?

That's the market Dave Watson is going after with Watson Guitars.

Watson has been making custom guitars for more than 20 years and started selling his handcrafted creations in 2009.

This week, he finally was able to open a storefront where he can sell guitars he's finished or take orders for custom guitars (soon, he'll have a new Web site that will allow customers to order custom guitars).

"A lot of your handmade guitars are three, four, five thousand dollar instruments, which, you know, I've made a few that are up in that price range, but for the most part, I try to keep my basic models affordable," Watson said. "My basic models start at $399. If you can find a better guitar for $399, buy it."

Once a professional musician, Watson found that it was hard to find bass guitars really suitable to his size. Bass players tend to be tall and lanky. Watson's under six feet tall, so he wasn't entirely comfortable with an off-the-shelf model.

He decided to build his own bass.

He found he really liked working with wood.

"It's in my blood, just as much as playing," Watson said.

After suffering some hearing loss, Watson had to step off the stage and away from bands, but he couldn't stop making guitars.

He figures he's made and sold hundreds of guitars.

Each one handmade, unique.

"I always put it this way: It's the imperfections that make a guitar perfect," Watson said.

He thinks something has been lost for the discriminating guitar player with the market flooded by cookie-cutter guitars, sliced and sanded to identical specifications by computer-controlled machines.

"There isn't a personal touch," Watson said. "As far as I'm concerned, there isn't a guitar made today that will ever be as valuable as a '59 Les Paul, because someone made that guitar with their own two hands."

The typical Watson guitar has his signature look -- both the headstock and bottom of the guitar are cut out with a kind of W shape.

Watson's target market is the local musician -- the player with an ear tuned enough to recognize a quality sound, fingers sensitive enough to pick up the response of quality material and an eye for beauty, but who can't afford to lay down thousands on a guitar.

"There's a big difference between the sound of a machine-made and a handmade guitar," Watson said.

Watson's shop is at 57 Mill St., Le Roy, and he had to get a zoning code variance to open the front up as a retail shop, but with that done and the space spiffed up, he's ready to meet with players who either want to select something hanging from his walls or sit down and design the guitar of their dreams.

"As long as it's not a copy of something, we try to build their design the way they've always wanted it," Watson said.

Customization can include airbrush designs by a local artist and fiber-lighted top dots on the fretboard.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014 at 2:49 pm

Pasquale's already a big hit with Batavians

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business, Pasquale's, restaurants

The New York Times writer Eliane Sciolino says, "the perfect bistro is a place where the dishes are traditional, the ingredients seasonal, the service attentive, the price acceptable and my relationship with the chef close enough that I can visit the kitchen when the meal is over."

Welcome to Pasquale's.

Mama Fasano promised us an intimate eatery filled with the treasures of family and the recipes of generations served in a warm and friendly atmosphere.

She's kept her promise.

The restaurant, at 341 Ellicott St., opened two months ago -- lunchtime only -- and is packed every afternoon.

It's the perfect kind of small lunch place for Batavia -- Italian classics such as ravioli, chicken cacciatore, tripe soup, pasta fazool, prepared and served by a longtime, local family, seated among your friends and neighbors (if you know anybody in Batavia at all, you'll run into people you know at Pasquale's).

The menu features a regular rotation of daily specials, plus a select few daily standards (for example, pasta and meatballs, of course, or beans and greens). Everything is fresh and homemade and as delicious as it looks. For your sweet tooth, try the cheesecake, which is thin and scrumptious, and comes with a dollop of real whipped cream on the side.

Batavia is blessed with a bounty of excellent, locally owned restaurants. Pasquale's is another great addition.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014 at 10:47 am

UMMC and Rochester General announce finalized alliance agreement

post by Howard B. Owens in business, UMMC

Press release:

Definitive agreements have been finalized by Rochester Regional Health System (RRHS) for previously announced alliances with two hospitals in the greater Rochester and Finger Lakes region. United Memorial Medical Center (UMMC) in Batavia, Genesee County, and Clifton Springs Hospital & Clinic (CSHC) in Ontario County are both expected to join RRHS by the end of 2014.

The formal binding agreement with each hospital, which lays out the terms and conditions for the hospitals becoming a part of Rochester Regional Health System, was developed by the leadership of Rochester General Health System (RGHS) prior to joining with Unity Health System to form RRHS and the leadership of each hospital. The agreements were unanimously approved by the boards of RGHS, CHSC and UMMC late last month, and then assigned and accepted by the newly formed Rochester Regional Health System at its inaugural board meeting in July.

RRHS was officially formed on July 1 as a union of Rochester General and Unity health systems, with a mission to provide a 14-county region with seamless, highly coordinated care. By joining Rochester Regional Health System, the two hospitals will ensure that the patients in their communities will have the same high quality care they are accustomed to as well as improved access to an integrated network of nationally recognized specialty services when required. 

“As health care reform continues to cause the most sweeping changes to the hospital industry in more than a century, rural hospitals in particular are struggling throughout the U.S.,” said Mark Clement, co-CEO of Rochester Regional Health System, “Through these alliances, the forward-thinking leaders of United Memorial and Clifton Springs will enable the residents of Genesee and Ontario counties to continue to have access to and receive world-class care, right at home in their communities.”

Warren Hern, former CEO of Unity Health System and now co-CEO of the new system agreed, noting that this growing regional footprint was among the many factors that caused the Unity Board to decide nearly 18 months ago to join forces with Rochester General.

For a number of years Rochester General Health System had maintained clinical collaborations in key service lines with United Memorial and CSHC as well as other area hospitals, to help those providers better meet their communities’ needs.

“This is the logical progression of a longstanding relationship between United Memorial and Rochester General, which has enhanced our hospital services and benefited our community,” said Mark Schoell, CEO of United Memorial Medical Center. “With this permanent, comprehensive alliance, United Memorial will become the western hub of an emerging leader in integrated health services.”

“We’re excited to finalize our plans to officially join Rochester Regional Health System,” said Lewis Zulick, MD, acting CEO of Clifton Springs Hospital & Clinic. “In order for us to sustain the highest standards of community health, our patients must have access to the complete continuum of high-quality care. Working closely with Newark-Wayne Community Hospital, we look forward to serving the Finger Lakes region as the leading provider of comprehensive care.”

“We’re very pleased to be moving forward with formal plans to join forces with these respected organizations,” said Robert Dobies, board chair of Rochester Regional Health System, “and extend our footprint of extraordinary quality, patient satisfaction and value to the west and east.”

Monday, July 21, 2014 at 6:18 pm

Photo: Construction begins in Eastown Plaza on new McDonald's

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business, Eastown Plaza, McDonald's

Work has finally begun on the new McDonald's location in Eastown Plaza, Batavia.

First order of business, removing the paving on the parking lot of the site pad.

Thursday, July 17, 2014 at 4:55 pm

Batavia financial advisor wins coveted award from Edward Jones

post by Billie Owens in business, edward jones

Michael R. Marsh, financial advisor at the Batavia office of Edward Jones, recently won the firm's coveted Zeke McIntyre Pioneer Award. It recognizes new financial advisors who achieve high levels of success early in their careers with the financial services firm.

Marsh was one of only 405 of the firm's more than 13,000 financial advisors to receive the award.

Jim Weddle, the firm's managing partner, said the award is a strong indicator of a financial advisor's future success.

"We recruit and hire our financial advisors from among the best, so we expect them to do well," Weddle said. "But to achieve such success early in his career with Edward Jones is outstanding, and I commend Michael for his performance and dedication."

The award is named after Edward Jones legend Zeke McIntyre, who opened the firm's first branch office in 1957 in Mexico, Mo.

Edward Jones, a Fortune 500 company, 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 13,000-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 solutions that emphasize a well-balanced portfolio, diversified portfolio.

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.

Headquartered in St. Louis, Edward Jones ranked No. 4 overall in FORTUNE magazine's 2014 100 Best Companies to Work For ranking. Visit our Web site at www.edwardjones.com and our recruiting Web site at www.careers.edwardjones.com. Follow us on Twitter @EdwardJones. Member SIPC. FORTUNE and Time Inc. are not affiliated with and do not endorse Edward Jones products or services.

Sunday, July 13, 2014 at 9:35 pm

GCEDC approves USG project in Oakfield

post by Howard B. Owens in 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 application for assistance from United States Gypsum Co. (USG) at the July 10, 2014, board meeting. 

United States Gypsum Company Co. (USG) 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 is expected to commence in 2016. The projected capital investment is approximately $23 million and the investment will retain 98 manufacturing jobs and create 12 new production jobs.

In other matters, Graham Corporation’s 2013 project with the GCEDC involved expansion of its operations on Harvester Avenue, Howard Street and Florence Streets, in the city of Batavia. There has been a longer than anticipated construction time on these projects and Graham Corporation is requesting a PILOT amendment in order to delay the commencement of the PILOT by one year. This amendment will not result in any additional incentives for the project.   

“The significant investments in businesses right here in our region is strongly reflective of the ongoing economic growth we continue to witness in all industry sectors,” said Wallace Hinchey, GCEDC Board chairman.

Friday, July 11, 2014 at 4:47 pm

No decision yet on future of live music at Frost Ridge

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

Judge Rorbert C. Noonan wants more information before he decides whether to dismiss one or both of the lawsuits against Frost Ridge Campground in Le Roy.

In a written decision this afternoon, Noonan held off making a decision on the motion to dismiss the suits as well as on the motion to lift the temporary injunction against amplified music at Frost Ridge.

He's ordered a hearing as soon as possible on the assertion by attorney David Roach that the statute of limitations has expired for challenging the Zoning Board of Appeal's determination in the Fall of 2013.

"While Frost Ridge and the ZBA submitted that such minutes were filed with the Town Clerk 'within a matter of days' after the October 22, 2013 meeting," Noonan wrote, "the Town Clerk submits that she 'cannot pinpoint the date (the clerk of the ZBA) delivered the minutes of the Sept. 25, 2013 meeting to her," and that they are customarily filed only 'sporadically.' Therefore, on the existing record, Frost Ridge and the ZBA have failed to carry their burden of proof on the issue."

The ZBA clerk is currently involved with medical issues, Roach told Noonan during today's hearing, and is therefore unavailable to provide an affidavit on when she filed the minutes.

She is expected to be available in a week, he said.

Frost Ridge is fighting twin lawsuits: One filed by the Cleere and Collins families, who own adjoining property, and one filed by the Town of Le Roy asserting Frost Ridge not only is barred by the zoning ordinance from hosting amplified music concerts, but has grown beyond what was grandfathered in when the current zoning ordinance was adopted.

Under NYS law, any party challenging the ZBA's determination would have 30 days from the time the decision is filed to legally seek to overturn the decision. If it can be proved by the defendants that minutes were filed with the Town Clerk in the Fall of 2013, that would be much more than 30 days and could therefore provide grounds for the lawsuit by Cleere/Collins to be dismissed.

What happens with the Town of Le Roy's lawsuit against Frost Ridge is a little more complicated.

"Nor will the Town's action be dismissed for failure to join the ZBA as a defendant," Noonan wrote. "Although the ZBA may wish to intervene in this case, it is not a necessary party to the Town's action to enforce its zoning laws; and, it is questionable whether the Town is collaterally estopped by the ZBA's determination."

Noonan's ruling seems to back the assertion by the defense that the ZBA made a valid determination that land use at Frost Ridge in 2013 was a legal, preexisting, nonconforming use.

"Thus," he writes, "contrary to the Town's contention, the minutes of the meeting permitting the noncomforming use are sufficient for a proper determination."

No date for a follow-up hearing has been released yet.

Friday, July 11, 2014 at 2:03 pm

County planning board votes against proposed 55-and-older complex on West Main Road, Batavia

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business, land use, planning

Concerns about adequate parking and emergency vehicle access led the Genesee County Planning Board on Thursday night to recommend against approval for a senior housing apartment complex off Route 5 in the Town of Batavia.

The board's vote is not binding, but it does require the Town of Batavia Planning Board to vote with a +1 margin to approve the project.

The site for the project is 3833 W. Main Street Road, Batavia. It is 33.4 acres and would contain 110 apartment units that would be marketed to middle-income residents age 55 and older.

There's currently no senior housing in the area designed for middle-income residents, said Ben Gustafson, a civil engineer with Hunt Engineers/Architects/Surveyors, and representing the developer, Calamar.

The project calls for 1.5 parking spaces per unit, which is a variance from the town's 2-per unit ordinance. 

Gustafson explained that two per unit is excessive by modern planning standards, the county's own planning goals and what Calamar's studies of its own 15 similar complexes shows is necessary.

In some Calamar locations, the local ordinance requires only one parking space, but even there, because of Calamar's own experience, they put in 1.5.

"What we're proposing is in keeping with sustainable development throughout this country by not providing more parking than is required," Gustafson said. "Our studies show we need far less than two spaces per unit."

Multiple board members expressed concern about 1.5 parking spaces, even so.

"The 1.5 parking per unit is unrealistic," said Mel Wentland, board chairman. "For 55 and older, both members of the family usually have cars. You're under-populating parking spaces. There should be two per unit. There are also people coming to visit, nurses aides, various kinds of help. I don't think the parking (the plan) provides is adequate to meet all the needs of such a community."

Gustafson said it's common for residents in these communities to not even have cars, but if the parking proved inadequate, there's plenty of space on the property that could later be converted to parking if needed.

Another issue is the single driveway for the complex off Route 5.

The main concern of the board is access for emergency vehicles -- what if traffic is tying up the driveway, or there's an accident in front of it?

According to Gustafson, there are fewer than 30 cars an hour that will pass through the driveway, far less than similar-sized units serving younger families. The traffic impact will be minimal and the wide driveway will provide ample room for emergency vehicles.

Board Member Lucine Kauffman said no one on the board is arguing against the need for the project, but that these issues should be addressed before it's approved for development.

Friday, July 11, 2014 at 11:32 am

Attorney for Frost Ridge asks Noonan to reverse his preliminary injunction against amplified music

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

The owners of Frost Ridge are expecting to find out this afternoon whether their 2014 concert series will be held at the campground this year, or whether they must continue to hunt for alternative venues.

This morning, attorney David Roach asked Judge Robert C. Noonan to vacate his preliminary injunction of May 24 that barred amplified music and alcohol service while a pair of lawsuits are pending against Frost Ridge.

Roach based his motion on the fact that the Le Roy's Zoning Board of Appeals wasn't represented at May's hearing and now that the ZBA is represented in the case, new information has been presented to Noonan that shows the ZBA determined that Frost Ridge was being operated in 2013 within the bounds of its status of a nonconforming, preexisting use.

At the May hearing, Town of Le Roy attorney Reid Whiting said the ZBA declined to be represented in the suit (ZBA members didn't even know about the suit at the time) and he presented what's known as a "verified answer" by Supervisor Steve Barbeau that stated the ZBA determination was invalid.

Today, Roach filed an amended verified answer (the answer is in response to the lawsuit by the Cleere and Collins families) from the ZBA itself that states that live music and food service are grandfathered in at the campground.

On the basis of that change, Roach argued that Noonan's injunction was granted without the proper factual information and should therefore be vacated.

"It is no longer clear -- as the court preliminary held -- that my clients have committed a zoning violation," Roach said. "With the ZBA's amended verified answer, the weight of the evidence has shifted such that it is now clear my clients are in compliance with the zoning code as a prior, nonconforming use."

Mindy Zoghlin, attorney for the Cleeres and Collins, argued that the ZBA's minutes don't help Frost Ridge.

"The ZBA minutes say they were asked to review the need for a special-use permit," Zoghlin said. "Dave outlined the history of the campground, and just the campground, as established prior to the zoning law being passed. After his presentation, the ZBA board discussed the issue of the campground, and just the campground and whether it is grandfathered in. It's not clear from the minutes what they're talking about."

Zoghlin said her clients have no issue with the existence of the campground or music at the campground. They are against it being used as a live music venue.

"We're not challenging the decision that the campground is a preexisting use," Zoghlin said. "That's a mischaracterization of the argument and a misunderstanding of what the court ruled the first time around. What we're saying is they can't legally expand the campground unless they go to the ZBA and apply for and receive a special-use permit for expansion."

Whiting made only a brief statement to Noonan and said the defendant's reliance on the ZBA determinations are puzzling to him because he thinks the ZBA rulings produce very unfavorable results for Frost Ridge.

"In 1998, the ZBA ruled clearly there can be no expansion of any structure and can be no change in use whatsoever. On both measures, the campground has aggressively and significantly sought to expand both uses and structures on the campground."

Roach countered later that the ZBA's positions clear that in 2013 they knew what was going on at Frost Ridge and that based on testimony and personal knowledge of board members, the use in 2013 (which included concerts and food service) was grandfathered in.

Noonan could decide, Roach suggested, to kick the issue back to the ZBA to hold a hearing and define exactly what it meant by campground and what it considers to be a prior, nonconforming use.

Both lawsuits -- the one filed by Cleere and Collins and the one filed by the town -- against Frost Ridge should be dismissed, Roach said, because the statute of limitation (in this case, 30 days) long ago expired for challenging the ZBA decision.

Zoghlin told Noonan that the defendants have failed to provide proof of when the determination was filed with the Town Clerk, and without that proof, there is no evidence that the statute of limitations has expired.  

She also said the record is incomplete because for the 2013 determination, there was no application filed by Frost Ridge for a decision.

"There's no forms filled out," she said. "There's nothing in writing."

Roach said Frost Ridge owners Greg and David Luetticke-Archbell relied on the ZBA's 2013 determination to go ahead and book concerts for the summer of 2014. They could potentially be out of tens of thousands of dollars if the preliminary injunction isn't lifted.

Noonan said he will issue a written decision at 3 p.m. today.

Thursday, July 10, 2014 at 5:07 pm

Photo: New utility pole on Center Street, Batavia

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business, Center Street

Workers with National Grid installed a new utility pole on Center Street. The road was closed for a portion of the morning during the installation. The pole will help accommodate power upgrades for the new call center for the Tompkins Insurance Company going in at that location.

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