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Bell ringers still needed for Red Kettle
By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 2 December 2016 at 9:14 pm

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Photos by Tom Rivers

ALBION – Jean and Jim Peglow were out ringing the bell for the Red Kettle drive this evening at the Tops in Albion. The Peglows are members of the West Barre United Methodist Church, which volunteered to be at the Red Kettle today and also on Saturday.

The Red Kettle drive raises about $20,000 each year for Community Action of Orleans & Genesee. The agency uses the funds to help low-income residents with emergency lodging, food, clothing, some medical expenses and to avoid having their water shut off. Each person is capped at $150 through the emergency fund, said Annette Finch, director of Community Services for Community Action.

Bell ringers are needed in Albion at Tops, Pawlak’s Save-A-Lot and Wal-Mart; in Medina at Tops; in Holley at JP’s and in the Public Square by Sam’s Diner and the Eastern Orleans Community Center; and in Lyndonville at the E-Z Shop gas station.

Community Action also has countertop kettles at other spots in Orleans County. All of the funds from the Red Kettle drive are used to help people in Orleans County. For more information about volunteering, contact Finch at (585) 589-5605.

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Melinda Bailey also volunteered as a bell ringer on Monday at Tops. She and several other residents at Heritage Estates took turns at the Red Kettle.

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Arc of Genesee Orleans wins $2,500 from Bank of Castile
By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 2 December 2016 at 5:48 pm

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Provided photo

BATAVIA – The Arc of Genesee Orleans, an organization that serves people with developmental disabilities, won a $2,500 challenge from Tompkins Bank of Castile.

Pictured, accepting the check, include, from left: John McKenna, President & CEO of Tompkins Bank of Castile; Kevin Graham, CFO of Arc; Shelly Kordish, Director of Education Services; Carolyn Dawson, Director of Administrative Services; Jill Pegelow, Director of Community Services; Patricia Kepner, Director of Quality/Compliance; and Donna Saskowski, Executive Director.

Tompkins Bank of Castile has been running a “Community Minute Challenge.” Through the social media contest, the public votes for select not-for-profits in Genesee, Orleans, Livingston, Monroe and Wyoming counties. The Arc was the top vote-getter in the latest contest with another planned for early 2017.

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Medina hospital welcomes new high-tech medicine camera
By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 2 December 2016 at 3:59 pm

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Photos by Tom Rivers

MEDINA – Orleans County Legislator Ken DeRoller, left, and Nicole Cummings, a nuclear medicine technologist, look over a new nuclear medicine camera for radiology this afternoon at Medina Memorial Hospital.

The hospital spent about $300,000 to acquire the new equipment that replaces one that was 16 years old. The new nuclear medicine camera does quicker scans, with half the radiation dosage. The scans are also more accurate, said Jennifer Maynard, the director of imaging and cardia services for the hospital.

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The hospital celebrated the new equipment with a ribbon-cutting today. Pictured from left include: Cindy Perry, director of Outreach, Education and Marketing for Community Partners; Dr. Dale Sponaugle, radiologist; Nicole Cummings, a nuclear medicine technologist; Jennifer Maynard, director of imaging and cardiac services for the hospital; and Sean Mulligan, CT and Molecular Imaging Product Sales Specialist at GE Healthcare.

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Local officials look over the new equipment. Paul Pettit, public health director in Orleans County, is at far right. He congratulated the hospital and its parent organization, Orleans Community Health, for the upgrade.

“I applaud Orleans Community health for the continued investment in bringing new technology to Orleans County residents,” Pettit said.

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Jennifer Maynard holds up a cake to celebrate the new nuclear medicine camera. The equipment can be used to check for cancer, thyroid problems, heart conditions and other health issues.

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Orleans interested in shared jail someday with Genesee
By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 2 December 2016 at 12:20 pm
File Photo by Tom Rivers: The Orleans County Jail, built in 1970, may not be a long-term answer for housing inmates.

File Photo by Tom Rivers: The Orleans County Jail, built in 1970, may not be a long-term answer for housing inmates.

ALBION – Orleans County officials want to talk about a shared jail with Genesee County.

The project would be several years away, but David Callard, Orleans County Legislature chairman, wants to get started with looking at a regional jail.

Both counties may need upgraded jail facilities in the future. The state Commission on Corrections was pressing Orleans for a new jail, but has allowed the county to keep using the existing jail after Orleans spent about $1 million in 2013 for a new roof, boiler system, and a series of energy efficiency improvements, including new caulking around about 100 windows and also on the seams of the building.

The state however isn’t allowing the county to exceed the 82-inmate capacity. The county for many years was given a waiver to accommodate a bigger jail population on the weekends.

With no waiver, the county is boarding out some inmates, and also isn’t accepting inmates from other counties if the capacity tops 82 inmates.

That issue has cost the county about $350,000 in lost revenue this year, Callard said Monday during a county budget hearing.

Genesee is interested in an expanded and updated jail. Callard said the two counties should look at a joint project.

Orleans wants to work with Genesee on a study to see how a shared jail would be run and where it could be best located. The two counties would need State Legislature approval for a shared facility. The state law currently requires each county to have its own jail.

Callard said the two counties have already been trailblazers for shared services. They run a health department with a shared director and some shared staff, as well as a joint board of directors for the Board of Public Health. Orleans and Genesee are the only counties in New York, and one of just 16 in the country, with a shared health department, Callard said.

That example and experience of the two counties working together may help Orleans and Genesee overcome barriers to a shared jail.

Callard said Orleans is reaching out to Genesee officials to first pursue a study of the new jail.

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Teddy Bears get patched up at hospital
By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 2 December 2016 at 11:50 am

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Photos by Tom Rivers

MEDINA – Otis, a toy dog owned by Garrison Foote, gets bandaged by registered nurse Mary Dunham at Medina Memorial Hospital this morning. The hospital welcomed kindergartners from Albion on Wednesday and this morning. They were all urged to bring in a stuffed animal that could be bandaged with pretend injuries.

The children and their toy animals also went in the X-Ray room.

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Mary Dunham gives a Teddy Bear some medical attention as part of today’s Teddy Bear clinic. Medina Memorial brought back the clinic last year after it had stopped for a few years. The hospital hopes the Teddy Bear Clinic helps children to feel more comfortable if they ever need to go to the hospital.

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Sasi, the official “spokesbear” for the Orleans County Health Department, tells students about the importance of washing their hands with soap and water for about 20 seconds. Sasi’s handler is Nola Goodrich-Kresse, public health educator for the Orleans County Health Department. Sasi has been the Health Department’s ambassador for about 20 years.

Brenna Podesta (next to Goodrich-Kresse) is an intern with the Health Department. She read a story, “Leo the Little Lion learns how to get ahead of lead.”

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Holley students ring in holiday concert season
By Kristina Gabalski, Correspondent Posted 2 December 2016 at 9:15 am

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Photos by Kristina Gabalski

HOLLEY – The Holley Middle School Chorus performs “The Christmas Song,” arranged by Carol Strommen, during the Winter Concert Thursday evening in the Middle School/High School auditorium.

The Middle School Chorus is directed by Kelly Marzano. She told the audience the group is always “a lot of fun” to work with. Marzano noted school music programs are about “having a good time, making music and making good memories.”

 

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Harleigh Andrews performs a solo during the Middle School Chorus’ performance of “Believe,” arranged by Roger Emerson.

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Thomas Dobri (far right) was also a featured soloist during the performance of “Believe.”

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The Holley Middle School Band performs “Holiday Bell Festival,” arranged by Eric Osterling, under the direction of Zachary Busch.

The Middle School Band also performed “Bobsled Run,” by Lloyd Conley, and “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” by Hugh Martin & Ralph Blane, arranged by John Edmonston.

The Holley Middle School/High School Winter Concert also featured performances by the Concert Choir, the Women’s Choir and Concert Band.

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Medina earns silver medal among best high schools in U.S.
By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 1 December 2016 at 5:15 pm

Albion and Kendall are at bronze level, among top high schools in country

Photo by Tom Rivers: Some members of the Class of 2016 smile during commencement last June.

Photo by Tom Rivers: Some members of the Class of 2016 smile during commencement last June.

MEDINA – An annual report on the top high schools in the country includes three out of five high schools in Orleans County.

Albion and Kendall both earned bronze recognition, while Medina is at the silver level.

There were nearly 20,000 high schools ranked in the report by the U.S. News & World Report. (Altogether, there 28,561 public high schools in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, but more than 8,000 were eliminated from consideration because they were too small to be analyzed, U.S. News said.)

U.S. News looked at graduation rates (based on the 2014 cohort), math and reading scores on state proficiency tests, and college readiness programs, such as Advanced Placement participation and passing rates from students.

U.S. News also looked at how disadvantaged students – black, Hispanic and low-income – were outperforming disadvantaged students in the state.

The 6,218 highest-scoring schools, just over 30 percent that were large enough to be ranked, earned gold, silver or bronze awards.

The gold medals went to the top 500 schools, while schools ranked 501 to 2,673 earned silvers.

Medina earned a silver based on its 2,424 ranking. (It is ranked 207th out of New York high schools.) The district’s scorecard includes a College Readiness Index of 23.0 with 39 percent of high schoolers taking AP classes. The mathematics proficiency is at 88 percent with 90 percent meeting English proficiency. (Click here for more on medina’s profile.)

Albion and Kendall were among 3,545 high schools to earn bronze rankings among the top high schools. (Bronze schools have a college readiness less than 20.17.)

Albion’s college readiness index was 11.9 with 22 percent of students taking AP classes. The math and English proficiency levels were both at 84 percent. (Click here for more on Albion’s profile.)

Kendall didn’t have a college readiness index but its math proficiency is listed at 78 percent while 94 percent meet English proficiency. (Click here for more on Kendall.)

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GCC adds course in solar manufacturing
Posted 1 December 2016 at 4:14 pm

Press Release, GCC

BATAVIA – Genesee Community College starts the spring semester on Jan. 17. One of the newest courses is Introduction to Solar Manufacturing (CHE193) taught by Dr. Brian Fraser, assistant professor of chemistry.

The new course provides overview of the solar manufacturing industry including the latest technology, production and the growing market for the newest high tech industry that promises to bring hundreds of new jobs to Western New York. Students will understand where and how the new local companies, Solar City and 1366 Technologies, fit within the solar industry and landscape. Through this course, students can explore if this may be a new career opportunity for them, and if so, the best pathway to pursue it.

“Anyone interested in solar energy and science will find this course very helpful,” Fraser said. “There will be enough information to help students appreciate careers in nanotechnology and other sciences, and understand the emerging developments in the solar industry. It is also a great general education elective with a focus on the future. The hybrid format of the course also provides some flexibility with in-class and online requirements.”

There is no prerequisite for CHE193, which meets Wednesdays from 1:25 – 2:45 p.m. at the Batavia campus starting Jan. 17 and running through May 13. Additionally, Professor Fraser will use a variety of freely accessible resources that include up-to-date information, rather than requiring purchase of a textbook.

GCC offers more than 70 degree and certificate programs, including over 15 degrees that can be completed 100 percent online. Most degree and certificate programs feature online or hybrid courses and at least 50 percent of each program can be completed online without attending class at a campus center location.

In addition, every course in GCC’s Computer Information and Networking Technology program offers at least one section that uses the 360 degree learning model enabling students to learn anytime, anywhere and on any device. The instructors in these courses deliver two-way, interactive instruction in the classroom and/or online through personal computers, laptops, tablets and other smart communication devices. All course material is recorded and stored in the cloud allowing students to review and revisit a class lecture for clarification.

“Without a doubt, GCC remains at the cutting edge of new teaching and learning opportunities,” Dr. Rafael Alicea-Maldonado (Dr. RAM), dean of Math, Science and Career Education said. “We hope anyone who is even remotely considering college education will contact us soon. There are so many great and affordable options.”

To review the class schedule which features hundreds of courses, click here.


Slack says strong Medina school district key to community’s future
By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 1 December 2016 at 11:43 am
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Photo by Tom Rivers: Dr. Aaron Slack, current high school principal in Lyndonville, speaks during a community forum on Wednesday. He is a finalist for Medina school superintendent. Dr. Clark Godshall, Orleans/Niagara BOCES superintendent, is at lower left.

MEDINA – When Aaron Slack graduated from Medina High School in 1990, like many students from a small town he was eager to leave the community.

Now he sees Medina enjoying a “renaissance” in the downtown, and its business parks are filling up with companies.

Slack said the area is poised for more growth with high-tech companies coming to the STAMP site just across the county line in the Town of Alabama.

Engineers and highly skilled workers will be looking to move near STAMP. Medina is one of many communities they will be considering, Slack said.

“STAMP could be a game-changer, but what will differentiate Medina?” Slack said during a community forum on Wednesday, where he was featured as one of three finalists for Medina school superintendent.

A strong school district with a sound education that is technologically relevant and offers extracurricular opportunities will be important to keep and attract Medina families, Slack said

He met with district stakeholders on Wednesday, including students. Some of the student leaders said there isn’t equal access for all students to technology. Slack wants to level the playing field and bridge the digital divide.

He also wants teachers to use technology to engage students. That’s what he did 20 years ago as an eighth grade English teacher in the Greece school district. He went on to be a middle school assistant principal and then principal in Greece. Then he worked for the Harrison Central School District in Westchester County as director of technology before returning to the Rochester area as an administrator for the alternative school run by the Monroe 1 BOCES.

In 2011, he came closer to home when he was hired as principal at the Lyndonville High School.

Slack said Jason Smith, the Lyndonville district superintendent, has been a great role model for a district leader. Smith is transparent with the Board of Education, and maintains a student-focus with strong connections in the community.

Slack has seen the Medina-Lyndonville shared services partnership first hand. The arrangement has benefited both districts by preserving athletic teams and the school musical, drawing from students from both schools. That shared service expanded this year with two Lyndonville students joining the Medina FFA.

Slack said he would favor more partnerships among the two districts with academic programs, including Advanced Placement courses.

Educationally, he said schools need to make it a priority to have every student reading by third grade. If students can’t reach that benchmark at that grade “they will be behind the 8-ball the rest of their academic careers.”

He was asked about the Common Core standards and high-stakes testing for grades 3 to 8. Slack said the tests are typically taken in April-May and districts don’t get the results until October. That is far too long of a delay, and doesn’t allow schools and parents to move fast enough to help struggling students.

Lyndonville has been using real-time testing so it can measure student progress and work with students who may need extra help.

The high-stakes testing, teacher evaluations, and Common Core have been “a perfect storm of stress” for the teaching profession, Slack said. He worries about an “emerging teacher shortage” due to the recent education changes. But Slack said Medina can be attractive for teachers if they have leadership opportunities, a supportive administration and “a voice in the process.”

He was asked about bullying and said Lyndonville has worked hard to embrace character education and create “a safe and caring climate.” The district has an anonymous online form to report bullying.

At Lyndonville, all students from grades Pre-K and 12 are on one campus using the same bus run. Older kids have been mentors to younger students.

He said he is most proud of the 98 percent graduation rate at Lyndonville last year. But Slack said no student should not graduate.

Slack said he would welcome the chance to be superintendent in his hometown. He currently lives in Medina and knows many of the residents and students. He said he would be visible in the schools and at after-school events.

“Being superintendent is two jobs – the people and the paper, and the people come first,” he said. “You can’t get swept up in the bureaucracy of being superintendent.”

The Medina Board of Education is considering three finalists for the job. In addition to Slack, the board and district stakeholders met with Dr. Stephen Lunden, the assistant superintendent at Maryvale, on Monday and Dr. Michael Weyrauch, principal at the Orleans-Niagara BOCES in Medina, on Tuesday.

Wendi Pencille, BOE president, said the board is working to make a decision soon.

 

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Cosmetology students send off Marine with well wishes and a haircut

Provided photo: (L to R) Brooke O’Connor (Lockport), Shianne Sullinger (Medina), Emily Haseley (Lockport), Brandon Churchfield (Lyndonville), Megan Hoefer (Newfane), Sarah Kurbs (Lockport), Hannah Yocum (Albion), Dainna Patterson (Lockport).  Kneeling: Keara Clifford (Lockport) and Xittally Rosario (Albion). 

Posted 1 December 2016 at 10:34 am

Press Release, Orleans/Niagara BOCES

MEDINA – Brandon Churchfield, a recent graduate from the Security and Law Enforcement Program at the Orleans Career and Technical Education Center, recently stopped by the BOCES center to say hello and show off his new Marine uniform.

Churchfield, who hails from Lyndonville, recently enlisted and wanted to make sure to stop in to visit with former teacher Steve Browning and some of friends.

One of his stops was Anne Carnahan’s Cosmetology class.  The students trimmed up his hair before he left and wished him well on his new adventure.

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Pride Pak’s facility awes dignitaries

Photos by Tom Rivers: Pride Pak has been praised for the appearance of its new vegetable processing site on Maple Ridge Road in Medina.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 1 December 2016 at 10:10 am

MEDINA – Fred Miller worked at Lipton in Albion as a young man. The plant closed in 1980, putting hundreds of people out of work.

Miller would go on to run a hardware store in downtown Albion. He also is an Orleans County legislator.

Robert Chapman, Pride Pak’s vice president of sales and marketing, welcomes about 300 people to the ribbon-cutting and opening celebration for the company’s new facility in Medina. Chapman credited CEO Steve Karr, lower left, with pushing the project to completion.

Robert Chapman, Pride Pak’s vice president of sales and marketing, welcomes about 300 people to the ribbon-cutting and opening celebration for the company’s new facility in Medina. Chapman credited CEO Steve Karr, lower left, with pushing the project to completion.

On Wednesday he attended a ribbon-cutting ceremony and tour of the new Pride Pak vegetable processing site in Medina, a 68,000-square-foot building. Pride Pak has plans for expansion, with two more similar-size buildings.

Seeing the building stirred memories for Miller, of the busy Lipton plant that provided jobs for hundreds of working class families.

“This is wonderful to see,” Miller said inside the spacious Pride Pak, a 280-foot-long building where employees trim, clean and pack salads for Wegmans and other Pride Pak customers. “It reminds me of the old days when I went to Liptons.”

Pride Pak was looking at the former Bernz-O-Matic site in Medina, but decided to build new on Maple Ridge Road. The new facility didn’t need a costly retrofit and the site has room for the future expansions.

Steve Karr, Pride Pak CEO, said the company didn’t go cheap with the new building. It wanted an attractive facility on an important gateway in the Medina community.

Steve Karr, company CEO, thanks the Medina community for a warm welcome for Pride Pak.

Steve Karr, company CEO, thanks the Medina community for a warm welcome for Pride Pak.

Mike Sidari, the Medina mayor, thanked Karr and Pride Pak for such a nice addition to Maple Ridge Road. Not only will the company employ up to 300 people at full build-out, but it added a beautiful site on a busy corridor, Sidari said.

“It’s an inviting building as you come into the village,” Sidari said.

The grand opening celebration on Wednesday included fancy hors d’oeuvre appetizers, and local beers and wines, as well as a band playing. A warehouse was turned into a room for fine dining.

“We’ve been to a lot of ribbon cuttings,” State Sen. Robert Ortt said, “but none like this. This is truly amazing.”

Ortt said Pride Pak’s decision to build its first U.S. facility in Medina shows that rural Orleans County welcomes business.

“You don’t have to be in Rochester to attract a world-class headquarters,” Ortt said. “They have invested here in Medina, in Orleans County, in Upstate New York, in the United States of America.”

Warehouse space in Pride Pak was transformed into a party on Wednesday.

Warehouse space in Pride Pak was transformed for a festive celebration on Wednesday.

Pride Pak has one packing line in place and is working to get more on line. The packing equipment allows the company to double the rate of trimming, cleaning and packing vegetables for the salads.

Medina, the Town of Shelby, Orleans County and Empire State Development all worked to provide incentives for Pride Pak, and to get infrastructure in place for the new building and the future expansions.

Steve Karr thanked the government officials for their work with the project, which is about a $20 million investment for phase 1.

Steve Karr, the Pride Pak CEO, is pictured in overalls in mid-October when he was working with contractors helping to measure and connect lines that day. He is pictured in the warehouse space, which was the scene for an upscale party on Wednesday.

Steve Karr, the Pride Pak CEO, is pictured in overalls in mid-October when he was working with contractors helping to measure and connect lines that day. He is pictured in the warehouse space, which was the scene for an upscale party on Wednesday.

Karr said about 50,000 man hours went into the facility’s construction. He has been working 80 hour weeks in Medina to move the project along.

He was wearing a suit on Wednesday for the grand opening. But much of his time the past year was in overalls, helping with construction projects at the site.

Karr’s work ethic is legendary at the company. Robert Chapman, Pride Pak’s vice president of sales and marketing, said Karr’s determination made the ambitious project a reality on a tight schedule.

“Steve Karr is the most hard-working and committed man I’ve ever seen,” Chapman told about 300 people during the grand opening celebration. “It is Steve’s hard work and dedication that made this project in Medina possible.”

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After Cuomo veto, Hawley said he is assured raffle law will be updated
By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 1 December 2016 at 8:56 am

ALBION – State Assemblyman Steve Hawley on Tuesday said it was “unthinkable” that Gov. Andrew Cuomo would veto legislation that would modernize raffle laws, allowing fire departments and charities to advertise fundraisers online and accept debit card and credit card payments.

“Disrespectful and heartless doesn’t begin to describe Cuomo’s actions toward our tens of thousands of tireless volunteers in charities, churches and fire departments, who donate their time to improving their community and now have their hands tied when it comes to fundraising,” Hawley said in a statement on Tuesday, a day after Cuomo’s veto.

The Assembly and Senate both gave strong support for the raffle legislation, which passed 136 to 8 in the Assembly and 59 to 3 in the Senate.

Hawley had a softer message on Wednesday, saying he spoke with Cuomo officials. The governor’s administration wants to find a solution to “the state’s outdated gaming laws,” Hawley said.

He noted the current laws are punitive to organizations like the Stafford Fire Department, which had sold tickets out of the area for a Corvette raffle.

“The governor’s office reiterated that they intend to help our local charities and fire departments and admit that the decision to veto the legislation was not an easy one,” Hawley said. “I am hopeful that we will resolve the situation sooner rather than later, and I will do everything in my power to make it so.”

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Pride Pak has been innovator in processing vegetables
By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 1 December 2016 at 8:12 am

‘Everyone is tired of the same old iceberg lettuce’ – Steven Karr, CEO of Pride Pak

Photos by Tom Rivers: Steven Karr, CEO of Pride Pak, gives a tour of the 68,000-square-foot site in Medina. This is the Canada-based company’s third processing site, and first in the United States.

Photos by Tom Rivers: Steven Karr, CEO of Pride Pak, gives a tour of the 68,000-square-foot site in Medina. This is the Canada-based company’s third processing site, and first in the United States.

MEDINA – Steven Karr, CEO of Pride Pak, says his business has always been about delivering on a promise.

The new 68,000-square-foot facility in Medina, staffed with 40 employees trimming lettuce and packaging it for salads for Wegmans, meets a commitment he made to the popular grocery chain based in Rochester.

Pride Pak is on a site that was a vacant field in January. The company and local governments pushed to have the site ready on an aggressive schedule. In addition to the 280-foot-long building, the site has a new road, water and sewer infrastructure, and other utilities.

“It’s about delivering what we talked about,” Karr, the Pride Pak CEO, told about 300 people during a ribbon-cutting and opening celebration.

For 35 years, Karr has been in the vegetable processing business. Karr has made a commitment to excellence and honoring contracts top priorities.

Medina gives the company a U.S. site. Pride Pak also has facilities in Mississaugua and Newfoundland. It is the largest vegetable processor in Canada, and 35 percent of its produce comes to the U.S.

Wegmans is a major U.S. customer. Sometimes, in big snowstorms, it can be challenging to get trucks from Canada through WNY to Wegmans. Pride Pak has taken big detours around a snowstorm, sometimes driving to Detroit or around Lake Ontario to get trucks through to serve customers in WNY. Karr said waiting out a storm out isn’t an option. The company will meet its obligations to customers.

Pride Pak currently gets its lettuce, baby spinach, cauliflower, broccoli, turnips, carrots and other vegetables from Yuma in Arizona, California and Oregon. Karr said the company wants to work with local growers in WNY.

David Corsi, vice president of produce and floral operations, praised the Karr family and Pride Pak for a commitment to excellence.

David Corsi, Wegmans vice president of produce and floral operations, praised the Karr family and Pride Pak for a commitment to excellence.

Wegmans is “ecstatic” with the new Pride Pak facility in Medina, said David Corsi, the company’s vice president of produce and floral operations. The site is closer to Wegmans distribution hub in Rochester, ensuring a fresher product, and a smaller carbon footprint, Corsi said.

He praised Karr, his three children that work for the company, and the Pride Pak company for innovations with making salad much more attractive to consumers. A generation ago, people could buy heads of iceberg lettuce at the grocery store. Karr and Pride Pak trim the lettuce, and mix in baby spinach, thinly sliced red cabbage, and other vegetables. Pride Pak has several mixes and is always experimenting.

“For 22 years they have been supplying us with a stellar product,” Corsi said during Wednesday’s opening celebration.

Karr has 35 years in the processing business. He began innovating with salads after delivering vegetables to a Holiday Inn in Toronto. Karr said the chef at the Holiday Inn had to have 1,500 to 2,000 meals ready all at once. The chef told him the salads were a challenge. The lettuce wasn’t always consistent and there could be a lot of waste and trimming because of the outer leaves.

Karr decided to make it easier for the chef. Karr trimmed and chopped the lettuce, putting it in 50-pound bags. That eliminated some steps for the chef, and gave him an accurate count of the product. Other customers, including McDonalds, took notice and wanted the lettuce.

Pride Pak expects it can have harvested lettuce from Arizona and California to Wegmans in salad mixes within 48 hours of it coming from the fields. The Medina site cuts about 24 hours the time from field to grocery store because trucks don’t have to cross the border and make the trip to Mississagua.

Karr sees a growing demand for the salads.

“People are more health conscious,” he said. “They want more varieties. Everyone is tired of the same old iceberg lettuce.”

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Collins sees many positives for WNY with new federal medical innovation legislation
Posted 30 November 2016 at 9:26 pm

Press Release, Congressman Chris Collins

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Chris Collins (R-Clarence) today is hailing the passage of the 21st Century Cures Act, landmark medical innovation legislation that will directly benefit the lives of Western New Yorkers.

The legislation includes $6.3 billion to help accelerate the discovery, development, and delivery of new cures and treatments and provides new funding for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

As a member of the Energy and Commerce Committee and the Health Subcommittee, Congressman Collins was able to play a direct role in the creation of the legislation. He weighed in on key elements of the bill including the inclusion of measures to fight the opioid crisis, which has devastated Western New York, and helped to secure additional funding for the NIH, which will help fund research at places like Roswell Park Cancer Institute.

“This bipartisan legislation incentivizes innovation to defeat disease, and most importantly gets cures to the patients who need them most,” said Congressman Collins. “The 21st Century Cures Act provides the health care industry with the ability to help the thousands of Western New Yorkers impacted by deadly diseases by creating the life-saving cures those patients need.”

Congressman Collins specifically authored the following provisions included in the legislation:

• Section 3021, which encourages the broader application of innovative clinical trial designs, including the use of Bayesian statistics and adaptive trials, to enhance and accelerate effective clinical trials. These changes to the way the FDA approves clinical trial designs will help unleash new, groundbreaking therapies by allowing researchers to efficiently change their trials to meet the individual responses of their participants.

• Section 3071 will expedite and improve the drug approval process by increasing the number of senior biomedical researchers the FDA is allowed to hire and also making the salary of those individuals more competitive with private industry. This will help ensure that our best and brightest scientists will remain with the FDA to review and approve drug applications, and get cures to patients more quickly.

• Section 9023, in collaboration with Congressman Joe Courtney, which allows child and adolescent psychiatrists to participate in the National Health Service Corps Loan Repayment Program. This will incentivize these subspecialists to begin their practices in underserved areas, like those in rural Western New York.

• Section 5006, in collaboration with Congressman Paul Tonko, which includes the House-passed Medicaid DOC Act, which requires states operating a fee-for-service or primary care case-management system of Medicaid to publish an online directory of those physicians who have billed Medicaid in the past year and whether those physicians are accepting new patients.

“I am proud to have had a role in crafting this landmark legislation,” continued Congressman Collins. “Ensuring medical innovators have the funding and ability to do their jobs is crucial to helping the millions of Americans struggling with incurable diseases. This legislation has the ability to change people’s lives, and I could not be more excited about its passage.”

The 21st Century Cures Act will:

• Provide $1 billion in grants to states to address the opioid crisis, which is critical to Western New York.

• Addresses the country’s mental health crisis and help the one out of five adult Americans suffering from mental illness and substance abuse disorders receive the care they need.

• Provide $4.8 billion to National Institutes of Health, including: $1.4 billion for President Obama’s Precision Medicine Initiative to drive research into the genetic, lifestyle and environmental variations of disease; $1.8 billion for Vice President Biden’s “Cancer Moonshot” to speed research; and $1.6 billion for the BRAIN initiative to improve our understanding of diseases like Alzheimer’s and speed diagnosis and treatment.

• Help bring drugs and devices to market more quickly and at less cost by making needed reforms to the FDA, including: expedited review for breakthrough devices, increased patient involvement in the drug approval process, a streamlined review process for combination products that are both a drug and device, and freedom from red tape for software like fitbit or calorie counting apps.

• Provide $500 million to the Food and Drug Administration.

The legislation will now move to the Senate, where it will need to pass before heading to President Obama’s desk to be signed into law. It’s expected to be brought to the Senate for a vote before the end of the year.

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Pride Pak celebrates opening of new facility in Medina

Photos by Tom Rivers: Members of the Karr family cut the ribbon this afternoon for Pride Pak’s new 68,000-square-foot vegetable processing and packaging plant in Medina. Steve Karr, fourth from left, is the company president and founder. He is pictured with his children, from left: Jennifer Pappas, quality director; Angelo Karr, vice president; Steve Karr’s wife Elsie (in back); Steve Karr; Greg Karr, vice president of procurement; and State Sen. Robert Ortt.

Posted 30 November 2016 at 8:36 pm

Press Release, Empire State Development

MEDINA – Empire State Development announced today that Pride Pak, Inc. has opened the doors on its new 68,000 square-foot facility on 13 acres in the Medina Business Park.

Pride Pak, Canada’s largest fresh fruit and vegetable processor, will ultimately invest up to $30 million on the state-of-the-art complex in Orleans County in order to be closer to its U.S. customers. The company has committed to creating 200 new jobs at the site. The Governor announced Pride Pak’s plan to build in the Finger Lakes region last November.

The new Pride Pak is pictured in the evening last month. The site currently has 40 workers and could reach 200 when the the company is at full build-out with two more buildings.

The new Pride Pak is pictured in the evening last month. The site currently has 40 workers and could reach 200 when the the company is at full build-out with two more buildings.

In 1984, CEO Steven Karr started Pride Pak Canada, Ltd. in an effort to service what he saw as Canada’s growing demand for high quality, easy to use fresh food. Expansion in to Newfoundland in 2006 established Pride Pak as the industry leader in the value-added produce industry. The company’s long-standing relationship with Wegmans Food Markets was the stimulus for Pride Pak’s move to the U.S.

Pride Pak CEO Steven Karr said, “We are very much looking forward to this next chapter with our partners at Wegmans. The cooperation we have received from the state has been tremendous and I cannot emphasize enough the value of doing business in Orleans County and the Finger Lakes where they are very welcoming to new business.”

As the industry leader in organic and conventional value-added produce processing, Pride Pak Canada currently exports 35 percent of its product to the U.S. All of Pride Pak’s produce is packed fresh, not frozen. They provide fresh-cut fruits and vegetables and specialty salad blends to food service operations and retail establishments, including Wegmans Food Markets, Inc.

Wegmans Food Markets CEO Danny Wegman said, “Wegmans is completely committed to supporting agriculture and food production partnerships like this one in an effort to grow jobs. The agriculture and food production industry is a key driver of our regional economy. The new Pride Pak facility will help create opportunities for farmers, and will create food production jobs in our region, thus helping to shape the food industry here and helping to ensure its vitality for years to come.”

Phase One of Pride Pak’s Medina operation will be dedicated to the production of organic baby salad green blends, expressly for Wegmans. Karr says Phases Two and Three will include the addition of conventional fruit and vegetable processing, with the company sourcing carrots and other root vegetables from local farm operations.

When fully operational, Pride Pak expects about 45 truckloads of produce each month. The organic vegetable by- product, about 220 tons monthly, will be delivered to local livestock farms and used as animal feed and fertilizer.

Steven Carr, company founder and CEO, addresses about 300 people who attended a ribbon-cutting ceremony and then celebration inside.

Steven Karr, company founder and CEO, addresses about 300 people who attended a ribbon-cutting ceremony and then celebration inside.

Canada’s largest fruit and vegetable processor chose to locate their U.S. headquarters in the Finger Lakes region thanks to Governor Cuomo’s emphasis on Upstate revitalization through the Finger Lakes Forward strategic plan and through other local support efforts. Empire State Development, provided up to $2 million in Excelsior tax credits in return for job commitments to move the project forward.

Empire State Development President, CEO & Commissioner Howard Zemsky said, “Pride Pak is a highly successful international company and their decision to grow its operations in New York State is a tribute to the concrete economic opportunities available here for companies looking to take their business to the next level. Under Governor Cuomo’s leadership, New York State has significantly improved the business climate, resulting in job creation in turn which fuels economic opportunities.”

The New York Power Authority also provided an allocation of low-cost hydropower to Pride Pak in return for job and capital investment commitments. The Town of Shelby also received a $750,000 award from the New York State Office of Community Renewal to assist Pride Pak.

James S. Rubin, Commissioner of New York State Homes and Community Renewal said, “HCR’s award of Community Development Block Grant funds will be used for machinery and equipment, and will create 80 jobs for working families. This is another example of Governor Cuomo’s efforts to revitalize the upstate economy and encourage innovative businesses like Pride Pak to expand operations in New York.”

State Senator Rob Ortt said, “The new Pride Pak facility is an impressive addition to Orleans County and the entire region. Pride Pak has been making a positive impact on communities, employees and consumers in Canada for over 20 years and we are happy they chose to make Medina and Orleans County their home in the U.S.”

Assemblyman Steve Hawley said, “I am passionate about local economic development and ushering in new businesses to our area, and it is exciting to see such a large company that directly supports Western New York’s agriculture industry begin operation here in my Assembly District. Pride Pak is an amazing company with a great reputation and its development aims to bring hundreds of jobs, fresh produce to support our local retail industry, and recycled material for our farmers. I am proud to have worked with New York State Economic Development and local leaders to see this project through, and I have faith that investments like these will attract other businesses to set up and expand in our state.”

Dave Callard, Chairman of the Orleans County Legislature said, “All of us here in Orleans County are so very excited about the commitment being made by Pride Pak and their beautiful newly constructed facility.  Our team continues to work very hard to develop the kind of business friendly environment needed to attract great companies like Pride Pak to our community.  This is an excellent opportunity for a wonderful long term partnership with Mr. Karr and his team.”

Mike Sidari, Mayor of the Village of Medina said, “Pride Pak has already become an extraordinary corporate citizen and valued member of our community. We take pride in the fact that the Village of Medina is always welcoming to new businesses and that Pride Pak has chosen Medina for its new corporate headquarters in the United States.”

Pride Pak is currently accepting job applications and those interested can apply directly at Pride Pak or through the Orleans Center for Workforce Development in Orleans County.

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