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Month: September 2013

Schumer, Collins no-shows for CRFS announcement

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 30 September 2013 at 12:00 am

Shutdown talks keep them in Washington, D.C.

ALBION – A big announcement about jobs usually draws a crowd of politicians.

Two members of Congress were expected for the news conference today about Claims Recovery Financial Services adding 150 workers in Albion, while the company moved to the former JPMorgan Chase site.

Sen. Charles Schumer’s staff on Friday sent a notice to the media that the senator would be in Albion today at 1 p.m. But this morning, with the threat of a federal government shutdown, the senator’s staff apologized in another e-mail, saying the senator would have to stay in D.C.

Rep. Chris Collins, R-Clarence, also was expected, but he, too, stayed in D.C.

President Obama urged Congress to act before a midnight deadline to avoid the first government shutdown in nearly two decades.

Although they didn’t make the Albion news conference, Schumer and Collins were both quoted in a press release about the company’s expansion.

“This effort has been months in the making and the results speak for themselves: jobs, jobs, jobs,” Schumer said. “Fifty-five former Chase workers are putting their skills to work for CRFS and there are even more jobs to come. Thanks to Jodi Gaines and her commitment to the local workforce, CRFS will expand in New York State. The future is bright for CRFS and Orleans County.”

Collins is quoted with the following statement: “The relocation and expansion of Claims Recovery Financial Services, LLC, is a solid shot in the arm for the economy of Albion and all of Orleans County. Now, the largest private employer in Orleans County is putting more people to work and giving life to the former JPMorgan Chase complex. Jodi Gaines has built a thriving national business and regional employer. I applaud her vision and look forward to continuing to work with her for the betterment of this community.”

Five Star gets a facelift in Albion

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 30 September 2013 at 12:00 am

Photos by Tom Rivers

ALBION – Workers from N. Choops Painting in Lancaster are giving the three-story Five Star Bank site in Albion a fresh coat of paint. The new color is darker than before. Painters also are painting the medallions up high a blue that matches the company logo.

“I love the color,” said Wendy Hinkley, the Albion branch manager. “It stands out more and it looks classy.”

The front on the building facing 102 North Main St. has two rows of medallions that will be painted blue. N. Choops may be able to finish the project later this week.

“It’s going to look sharp,” Hinkley said.

The project is partially funded with a NY Main Street grant, which provided matching funding for several other downtown projects.

SnapDragon is ready for debut

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 30 September 2013 at 12:00 am

Other new apple, RubyFrost, has another 3 weeks to mature

Photos by Tom Rivers – These SnapDragon apples from Kirby Farms have red color, good size and a juicy crispness.

ALBION – They represent high hopes for New York apple growers and they will soon be put to the taste test. SnapDragon and RubyFrost, two new varieties developed by Cornell researchers, are ready to make their public debuts.

The two new apples will be released at about 40 farm markets throughout the state.

“There’s a lot of people asking, ‘Where can we get it?’” said Roger Lamont of Albion, chairman of the New York Apple Growers LLC. That group formed in a partnership with Cornell to sign up growers and manage the supply.

The apples won’t be readily available in grocery stores until 2015 when recent plantings have a full crop. But they will be at many local farm markets in the next two years.

“Farm markets are good because of the direct contact with growers,” Lamont said.

There is a bigger supply of RubyFrost apples this year, and some will be held in storage until January, when Lamont said they will be released in a limited supply through grocery stores.

“We want to get the consumers’ reaction,” Lamont said.

Lamont drove a truck load of SnapDragons across the state on Friday so farm markets in eastern New York would have the apples. He wants to start developing an eager customer base for the apples.

The new varieties represent a major change in how new apples are managed and marketed. Cornell and other apple breeding programs used to develop new varieties which were then typically slowly released and often in a haphazard manner.

If a variety became popular, growers would plant trees en masse, leading to an oversupply and falling prices.

Tim Kirby checks on his SnapDragon apples in an orchard along Route 31 in Albion. Kirby is selling the apples at Kirby’s Farm Market in Brockport.

Lamont said the new system ensures there is a big supply, but not too many where prices will fall below profitable levels. New York Apple Growers LLC is also directing funding to Cornell’s apple breeding program, to fund research for more new varieties in the future.

The program is open to all New York apple growers, but not to growers outside NY. Some other apple-growing “clubs” have formed in recent years and not all growers had an opportunity to grow and sell new varieties. That put some growers at a disadvantage.

Tim Kirby of Albion said he is grateful the new varieties are open to all of the growers in New York, and that the apples will be managed so there isn’t an oversupply.

“People want something new and different,” he said. “This is real positive for the industry.”

Kirby planted SnapDragon and RubyFrost apples in 2011. SnapDragon has proven “grower-friendly,” requiring less work than another popular variety, the Honeycrisp.

The SnapDragons all seem to ripen at about the same time, meaning they can get picked at once, rather than multiple times.

RubyFrost is a late-season variety. It’s a red apple that tastes sweet and tart.

The Kirby farm picked SnapDragons last week and was one of the first in the state to sell them at a farm market. Kirby’s Farm Market is located on Route 104 in Brockport.

Kirby said they should prove popular with customers because of the apples’ red color, the crispiness and the size. They are a little smaller than Honeycrisp, which some consumers perceive as too big.

Kirby was in an orchard off Route 31 near Riches Corners Road on Friday. He had already picked many of the SnapDragons and had them in crates.

“They color well,” he said about their red skins. “Look at them. They’re beautiful.”

SnapDragon gets its juicy crispness from its Honeycrisp parent, and it has a spicy-sweet flavor.

RubyFrost takes longer to ripen on the tree. That apple will be picked in about three weeks.  It’s a cross between Braeburn with Autumn Crisp.

Kendall spikers top Lyndonville

By Mike Wertman, Sports Writer Posted 30 September 2013 at 12:00 am

Photo by Cheryl Wertman – NET ACTION: Lyndonville’s Morgan Hungerford (8) and Kendall’s Kali Haskins go up for the ball during the Lady Eagles win over the host Lady Tigers this evening.

LYNDONVILLE – Improving to 5-4, division leading Kendall downed Lyndonville 25-18, 20-25, 25-19, 25-21 this evening in a Genesee Region League Divison 2 volleyball match.

Kendall jumped out to an early lead taking the first set 25-18 as Tyler Banker served up points 15-21.

Lyndonville quickly knotted the match by taking the second set 25-20 as Katie Marek scored points 6-9 and Abigail Feldman 11-15.

However, Kendall countered with a 25-19 win in the third set to regain the lead for good. Leading by a narrow 11-10 margin, the Lady Eagles pulled away as Olivia Welch served up points 18-21, including two aces, and Banker added aces for points 23 and 24.

The Lady Eagles then closed out the victory by taking the fourth set 25-21 as Welch served up aces for point 20 and 21 and Banker scored points 34-24.

Photo by Cheryl Wertman – DEFENSE: Shauna Ricker sets the ball for Kendall.

Earlier in the set, Maria Albanese put together a huge run of 12 straight service points (4-15) to vault Kendall out to a 15-3 lead.

Lyndonville though rallied back into a 17-17 tie as Cierra Riley served up points 9-17. A spiking kill by Morgan Hungerford pulled Lyndonvile even again at 18-18 but the Lady Tigers could not regain the lead.

Kendall scored seven of the next 10 points to take the set and the match.

The loss drops Lyndonville to 2-7. In one other Division 2 match, Wheatland-Chili defeated Holley 25-7, 25-21, 25-20.

Big jobs announcement expected today in Albion

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 30 September 2013 at 12:00 am

ALBION – A major announcement is expected today that a company will add jobs in Albion and Orleans County.

Local, state and federal officials are gathering for a 1 p.m. meeting at the Orleans County Legislative Chambers to share the news.

Orleans Hub will be there. Check for updates.

CRFS will move into Chase site

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 30 September 2013 at 12:00 am

Photo by Tom Rivers – JPMorgan Chase closed its Albion call center earlier this month after the company worked five years out of this East Avenue site, which was previously home to Washington Mutual. Claims Recovery Financial Services will be the new tenant in the building, which is being acquired by Roger Hungerford of Medina.

ALBION – A company that has grown so fast it couldn’t fit its entire workforce in one building in Orleans County has found a local home for its 500-plus workers.

Claims Recovery Financial Services will move into the former JPMorgan Chase call center on East Avenue. That site once housed 1,000 workers at Washington Mutual’s peak in Albion.

CRFS outgrew space next door to Chase and added 230 workers to the Olde Pickle Factory in Medina. The company has 320 employees in Albion.

At 1 p.m. today the company is announcing the move to the Chase site. Roger Hungerford, owner of the Pickle Factory, is buying the Chase site and CRFS will be his tenant.

The news is viewed as a major positive for Albion, which will benefit from all the workers visiting local businesses. The Chase building also is highly visible on Route 31. The sprawling parking lot full of vehicles will be good for the community’s morale.

Jodi Gaines started the business from her kitchen table 11 years ago. It has grown into the county’s largest private employer.

CRFS works with banks and investors to recoup money when a home is foreclosed. Gaines and her employees are committed to knowing the industry regulations in all 50 states and meeting all deadlines for clients.

CRFS also has a site in San Antonio with 80 employees. will have more on today’s announcement following the press conference in the Orleans County Legislative Chambers.

CRFS will add 150 employees in move to Chase site

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 30 September 2013 at 12:00 am

Photo by Tom Rivers – Jodi Gaines, CEO and co-owner of Claims Recovery Financial Services, announces the company will consolidate its Orleans County locations in the former Chase call center in Albion, and add 150 employees. She is pictured inside the Orleans County Legislative Chambers.

ALBION – Claims Recovery Financial Services will not only move into the former JPMorgan Chase site in Albion, the new tenant plans to add 150 jobs there.

CRFS will move employees from sites in Albion and Medina into the Chase site. The move may begin in December and it’s possible the company’s transition to the building could be done by March.

The company, led by Albion resident and CEO Jodi Gaines, has been on a rapid upward trajectory and Gaines said it’s possible it will need more than 150 additional hires.

The 60,000-square-foot Chase site is being purchased by Roger Hungerford of Medina, who currently is leasing Gaines and CRFS space in the Olde Pickle Factory. The Chase site has been emptied in recent months of 413 employees.

“One of the many benefits of the Chase complex is that it’s a state-of-the-art, turnkey facility, which will allow CRFS to ramp-up quickly and fast-track our much-needed expansion,” Gaines said.

CRFS has hired 55 former Chase managers and employees, workers who have fit in well with CRFS because of their background in the banking industry, Gaines said.

The space at the Chase site allows CRFS to begin actively recruiting to fill an additional 150 positions.

Gaines and CRFS were praised by local elected officials, including Albion Mayor Dean Theodorakos. The Chase closing has been difficult for the community, but the mayor said CRFS has the potential to more than offset those Chase losses.

“What Jodi has been able to do is just marvelous,” Theodorakos said.

The community also expects to benefit with Hungerford owning the building. He has shown he will keep up his properties, including the Olde Pickle Factory, which previously was used by Fisher-Price.

“We’re getting local ownership with the building and someone who will invest in the property,” Theodorakos. will have more soon on today’s announcement.

CRFS called ‘home-grown’ success story

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 30 September 2013 at 12:00 am

Photos by Tom Rivers – Jodi Gaines faces the gauntlet of cameras after a press conference today, when she announced the company would be actively recruiting to fill 150 more positions in Albion.

ALBION – When Washington Mutual took over the former Dime Bank in 2002, the Seattle-based company phased out the claims department.

Jodi Gaines worked in that department. Gaines started as a claims clerk in 1989 for the former Anchor Savings Bank in Albion. She stayed in that department as ownership of the facility changed to Dime Bank and the North American Mortgage Company and then to Washington Mutual.

She was offered a different job to stay with WaMu, but Gaines opted to start her own company in claims, helping banks and investors to recover money with foreclosed properties.

She started the new venture from her kitchen table in Albion. That was December 2002. She had two employees.

In May 2003, Gaines moved the claims work to the former Lipton’s office in Albion, a building that had been taken over by the Orleans Economic Development Agency. The Orleans EDA offered Gaines and her staff space, office furniture and equipment, while the company got started.

Gaines recalled those roots and help from the EDA today when she announced Claims Recovery Financial Services would add 150 more workers and move its operations to the former JPMorgan Chase site in Albion, where the site is projected to have about 750 CRFS employees in March.

“This organization prides itself on results and quality each and every day,” Gaines said during today’s press conference about the expansion in Albion. “The work ethic of the CRFS managers and employees is why we are now poised for such tremendous growth.”

Jodi Gaines is pictured with Orleans Economic Development Agency officials Gabrielle Barone, left, and Jim Whipple.

The news from CRFS comes to a community in need of employment opportunities. The August unemployment report showed Orleans County, with an 8.4 percent unemployment rate, had one of the highest rates in upstate New York.

“From humble beginnings in Orleans County, using a collection of not-so-gently used office furniture, cramped office space and an untriedbusiness model, Jodi Gaines and an outstanding, small group of predominately women, redefined the American dream,” said David Callard, the Orleans County Legislature chairman.

Vinny Esposito, Finger Lakes regional director for Empire State Development, praised Gaines for her vision in building the company, and for her commitment to Orleans County.

“It is really a great American success story,” Esposito said. “It’s a home-grown company that has grown into a highly successful company.”

Only 10 years ago, Gaines had fewer than 10 workers. She quickly outgrew the Lipton’s office space and moved her staff to the former Navarra’s Family Restaurant in Albion.

The company continued its rapid growth and made a name for itself in the claims industry by working with banks and the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development, recovering past-due interest, unpaid principal, unpaid taxes and unpaid insurance on houses.

CRFS moved up to East Avenue next to the Chase site about five years ago with 75 employees. The site had more than 300 workers about a year ago and Gaines needed to find more space.

Roger Hungerford, owner of the Olde Pickle Factory in Medina, renovated one of the Pickle Factory buildings, allowing CRFS to bring 230 employees to Medina while Gaines kept more than 300 in Albion.

‘We started in Orleans County. We’re staying in Orleans County and the best is yet to come.’
– CRFS leader Jodi Gaines

But the company kept growing, as more clients sought out CRFS for claims. When Chase announced in June it was leaving, eliminating 413 Albion jobs by September, the vacant facility presented an opportunity for CRFS to have its Orleans County workforce in one location with plenty of room to grow. Gaines said there is space for 1,200 employees in the 60,000-square-foot building.

Hungerford is in the process of acquiring the building from Chase. Hungerford, the former owner of the Sigma International company in Medina, has proven himself as a developer with the Olde Pickle Factory. He also has shown his dedication to the community.

“Everyone should be happy that Roger Hungerford has the building,” said Jim Whipple, the Orleans EDA chief executive officer. “It’s no longer in the hands of the banks.”

The banking industry has been particularly volatile the past 25 years, with the former Chase site often changing hands.

“Every five years we were dealing with somebody new,” Whipple said.

With each new owner, high-powered members of Congress intervened to keep the site in Albion. First it was former Congressman John LaFalce, a member of the House Banking Committee. He was critical in getting Dime Bank to come and expand in Albion.

After LaFalce retired, U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer provided the arm-twisting to get Washington Mutual and then Chase to stay in Albion.

Now, with local people owning the building and running the business, the site won’t be vulnerable to a sudden shutdown or relocation.

Gaines said she sees the company continuing its rapid growth, to the point the Chase site may be too small. That’s why she intends to keep the neighboring site, where CRFS currently has more than 300 workers, as an option for the future.

“CRFS is primed to do more for Orleans County than ever before,” Gaines said. “We started in Orleans County. We’re staying in Orleans County and the best is yet to come.”

Collins joins House vote to delay ‘Obamacare’

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 30 September 2013 at 12:00 am

Tonight, the Republican-led House of Representatives voted, 228-201, to demand a one-year delay in the Affordable Care Act’s requirement that individuals buy health insurance.

The House legislation also denies federal subsidies to members of Congress, Capitol Hill staff, executive branch appointees, White House staff, the president and the vice president. They would be forced to purchase their health insurance on the Affordable Care Act’s new insurance exchanges.

Congressman Chris Collins voted for the legislation. He issued this statement following the vote:

“For the third time in nearly as many days, I was proud to once again vote for a measure that fully funds the government, and protects the residents of New York’s 27th district from the train wreck that is Obamacare,” Collins said.

“Tonight, I voted to send a strong message to Washington politicians that neither Congress nor its staff deserves special treatment or exemptions from Obamacare. Now, it is time for the Senate to do the right thing, fully fund the government, treat the American people the same as big business, and eliminate any special treatment for Congress and career politicians.”

In a message on Twitter, Sen. Charles Schumer, D-NY, said the House vote “sure makes it seem they want a gov’t shut down.”

Albion booters tie in OT

By Mike Wertman, Sports Writer Posted 30 September 2013 at 12:00 am

Photo by Cheryl Wertman – CLOSE CONTEST: Albion’s Dakoda Henhawk (15) drives the ball upfield against Wilson defender Reilly O’Lay (17) during this evening’s double overtime tie between the host Purple Eagles and the Lakemen.

Neither team could find the net in 100 minutes of action as Albion and visiting Wilson battled to a 0-0 double overtime tie this afternoon in a Niagara-Orleans League boys soccer game.

Chase Hall, who earned the shut out in goal for Albion, came up with a big save in the final half minute of the second overtime period to preserve the tie.

Albion is now 1-4-1 and Wilson 0-6-1 in N-O action.

Akron 5, CSAT 1
Chris Mayrose scored two goals to lead the way as front-running Akron (8-0) defeated host CSAT 2-6) 5-1.

Newfane 5, Roy-Hart 1
Chad Gilson netted two goals and Patrick Eadie, Skyler Mauer and Mike Lekanka one each as Newfane (6-1-) downed Roy-Hart (3-4-1) 5-1 to stay in the title hunt.

David Brooks scored Roy-Hart’s goal off an assist from Alex Stoddard.

Girls Soccer

Holley 2, Wheatland-Chili 1
A goal early in the second half by Riley Sanger, off an assist from Emily Pearson, snapped a 1-1 tie and earned Holley a 2-1 victory over visiting Wheatland-Chili this evening in a Genesee Region League game.

Sarah Wharram scored for Holley in the first half on a rebound off an initial shot by Sanger.

The win improves Holley’s G-R record to 4-2-3.

In another G-R contest, host Byron-Bergen blanked visting Lyndonville 7-0 to improve to 7-0-2.


Medina, Roy-Hart split
Gage Masters shot 43 and Mike Cardone 48 for Medina as the Mustangs split 1-1 with Roy-Hart this afternoon in a N-O match at Shelridge.

Faye Conley shot 48 for Roy-Hart.

Medina finishes the regular season at 5–7-2 while Roy-Hart is now 2-9-2.

Barker 221, Akron 239
Front-running Barker completed a near perfect 13-0-1 regular season with a 221-239 victory over Akron (8-2-4) as Alonzo St. Louis shot 41, Mitch Luckman 42 and Brad Wilson 43.

Noah Diebel led Akron with a 43.

Albion 242, Wilson 245
John Krieger earned medalist honors with a 42 and Connor Barleben shot 43 to lead Albion (5-8) past Wilson (9-4-1) 242-245.