BUSINESS August / September 2017
Tourism Industry Special Inside
New Oswego Health CEO Talks About His Plans From Pittsburgh to Oswego: CEO Michael Harlovic wants to make Oswego Health a destination facility, to improve patient experience and quality, and to create a culture of ownership
Become a Morn We’re Here For You! In This Stage of Your We’re Here ForLife…. You!
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OSWEGO COUNTY BUSINESS
Y O SW EG O C O U N T
August / September
AUGUST/SEPTEMBER 2017 Issue 151 Tourism Industry Special Inside
New Oswego Health CEO Talks About His Plans
ic o: CEO Michael Harlov From Pittsburgh to Osweg facility, o Health a destination wants to make Osweg nce and quality, and to to improve patient experieof ownership create a culture
New CEO wants to make Oswego Health a destination facility, to improve patient experience and quality, create culture of ownership 54
• Is CNY ready for the baby boomers’ health needs? • Corporate wellness. What’s in it for businesses? • Insurers continue to jack up premiums • Farnham to open opioid treatment program • Brewerton doctor transitions to new care model • Nurse practitioner takes over Brewerton medical practice • Adult day club now in Fulton • New center of wound healing opens in Oswego 58
PROFILE JOHN HALLERON Senior small business adviser in Oswego is passionate about helping those who want to start a business or grow an existing one. Find out what keeps him going after more than 15 years on the job...................................12
SPECIAL FEATURES On the Job We asked business owners when was last time they took a vacation. See what they say............................................................ 9 How I Got Started Linda Syrell Tyrrell talks about starting her gift shop in Oswego more than 40 years ago......................................... 10 Where in the World is Sandra Scott? Western Nebraska is worth visiting, not a flyover region ........................................................ 16 New Business Resource Center Facility gathers several business organizations, including the chamber of commerce............. 18 Landlords with a Mission Husband-wife team overcomes barriers, challenges to excel in rental business...................................................... 42 Pop Up Syracuse program matches entrepreneurs and owners of vacant buildings for short-term rentals.................................................. 45 $10 Million That’s the amount NYS will release to Oswego for a number of projects that may change the face of downtown................ 50
SUCCESS STORY Charter boat captain Troy Creasy, of High Adventure Sportfishing, has been traversing the waterways of Oswego County now for more than 30 years. He talks about his business, fishing and what’s the key to his success................................ 84
Tourism • Tourists: Where do they come from? • Virtual Oswego: The city with no snow • Hotel sector grows • Janet Clerkin: Force behind tourism promotion • Casinos in Upstate. Too many? • Unfavorable exchange rate keeps Canandian visitors at home 71 4
............................... 22, 34
Newsmakers, Business Updates
Dining Out Barados on the Water, Brewerton......................................... 32
........ 48 My Turn President Trump and the media . ..................... 52 Last Page Kathy Ouellette on Fall Jamboree . .................. 90 Economic Trends OOC honors local groups, businesspeople
OSWEGO COUNTY BUSINESS
Explore the Best of Upstate New York Events Calendar & Blogs w Sport Fishing & Charters w Skiing & Snowmobiling w Great Amenities w Fine Dining w And Much More w
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OSWEGO COUNTY BUSINESS
Allanson-Glanville-Tappan Funeral Home...................44 ALPS Professional Services.24 Amdursky, Pelky, Fennell & Wallen..............11 Amerigas................................23 Berkshire Hathaway /CNY Realty.................................28 Bond, Schoeneck & King, Attorneys at Law.....9 Borio’s Restaurant.................31 Brewerton Pharmacy............59 Bugs Bee Gone.......................27 Builder’s First........................27 Burke’s Home Center...........23 C & S Companies..................36 Canale Insurance & Accounting..................23, 25 Canale’s Italian Cuisine........31 Century 21..............................24 Chase Enterprises..................47 Community Bank..................46 Compass Credit Union.........60 Crouse Hospital.....................91 Dave & Busters......................31 Disciplined Management Capital................................29 Dusting Divas........................14 Eis House................................31 Farnham..................................59
Fastrac.....................................76 Financial Partners of Upstate..........................14 Fitzgibbons Agency................8 Foster Funeral Home............65 Fulton Savings Bank.............29 Glider Oil................................75 Halsey Machinery.................25 Harbor Towne Gifts..............14 Haun Welding Supply, Inc...24 Hematology-Oncology Associates of CNY............65 Hillside Commons................53 History Collaborative...........14 Integrated Community Planning............................59 J P Jewelers.............................14 Joe Bush’s Collision..............25 Johnston Gas..........................27 Lakeshore Hardwoods.........23 Land & Trust Realty..............25 Local 73, Plumbers & Steamfitters.......................53 Manufacturers Alliance..........7 Mill House Market................31 Mimi’s Drive Inn...................31 Mitchell Speedway Print......53
Mr. Sub....................................30 NBT Bank.................................6 Nelson Law Firm...................46 North Bay Campground......14 Northern Ace Home Center.....................11 Ontario Orchards....................3 Operation Oswego Co..........91 Oswego County Federal Credit Union.....................41 Oswego County Mutual Insurance...........................27 Oswego Co. Stop DWI..........26 Oswego Food & History Tours..................................14 Oswego Health .....................92 Oswego Industries................47 Oswego Valley Insurance (OVIA)...............................41 Over the Top Roofing...........23 Pathfinder Bank.....................79 PC Masters Tech Repair.......21 Peter Realty Simeon DeWitt..................59 Phoenix Press.........................27 Pulaski Farmers’ Market......14 Riccelli Northern...................60
RiverHouse Restaurant........31 Riverside Artisans.................14 RPM...........................................5 Rudy’s.....................................31 Scriba Electric.........................27 Servpro of Oswego Co..........23 Springside at Seneca Hill ....70 St. Joseph’s Imaging Associates..........................67 St. Luke Apartments.............59 Sun Harvest Realty...............44 SUNY Oswego, Office of Business and Community Development....................28 Sweet Inspirations.................30 Sweet-Woods Memorial.......44 Tailwater Lodge.....................47 The Gardens at Morningstar .......................2 The Landings at Meadowood......................21 Turning Stone Casino ............8 UpstateVacationNY.com........5 Valley Locksmith...................25 Vernon Downs Casino & Hotel...................................21 Volney Multiplex...................24 White’s Lumber & Building Supply..............24 WRVO.....................................88
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OSWEGO COUNTY BUSINESS
AUGUST/SEPTEMBER 2017 7/25/2017 2:44:44 PM
OSWEGO COUNTY BUSINESS
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Turning Stone Resort Casino features a newly remodeled gaming floor with 2,000 slots and 85 tables, non-smoking areas and the brand new smoker friendly Casino Blu. Experience our restaurants which have consistently received the AAA Four Diamond Award for over a decade. Forbes has recognized our hotels with their Travel Guide Four Star Awards for the past two years. And of course our golf, spas and nightlife have all earned their share of accolades.
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Oswego County Business is published by Local News, Inc., which also publishes CNY Summer Guide, Business Guide, CNY Winter Guide, College Life, In Good Health– The Healthcare Newspaper (four editions), CNY Healthcare Guide and 55PLUS, a Magazine for Active Adults (two editions) Published bimonthly (6 issues a year) at 185 E. Seneca Street PO Box 276 Oswego, NY 13126. Subscription: $21.50 a year; $35 for two years © 2017 by Oswego County Business. All rights reserved. Third class postage paid at Syracuse, NY. Permit Number: 244
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ON THE JOB
‘When was the last time you took a vacation?’
“On Independence Day week, I took my children camping up in the Adirondacks. We had no electronics with us. It was a beautiful trip. That was a little more challenging because when you’re up in the mountains, there’s limited access to the business. I try to do that every year. You have to work to live, not live to work.” Shane Stepien, owner Step One Creative, Oswego “The first vacation I took in eight years was in December. It was three days, which is unheard of. I went to South Carolina to see family.” Maryanne Dowling, owner The Help by Maryanne, Ltd., Camillus “About a year ago, I was gone 14 days. I went to Texas, New Orleans, Mississippi and Florida. I drove. I lived in Texas 22 years. I went to college in Ft. Worth and I wanted to go back to go to a football game. There’s no place like New Orleans, so I had to go there. I took my 92-year-old mother with me, and she and I visited friends in Mississippi. Then I visited a high school friend in Jacksonville, Fla. I love to travel.” John Zanewych, owner Big John Sales, Inc., Oswego “We went away Christmas of last year. I was able to get away two weeks. We don’t get to do that every
year. We’re a seasonal business, so winter months are easier for us to get away.” Jody Wiggins, owner Kellogg Memorials, Mexico “Because we are a tour and events company and also have a marketing company, our vacations are based around work. I try to plan something for our family to do. We go to an aquarium, for example. A true vacation without work? It’s been about three years. I’m so embarrassed to say that. We try to make our work vacations fun and find something fun for the kids to do. A true vacation like camping was like when we went to Lake Placid for a week three years ago. We didn’t have any electronics. Summers are our busy season. It’s very difficult to find time when the kids are out of school to get away.” Heathe Jones, owner Cre8 Studios, Oswego “We go to professional conferences and trainings and we mix vacations with work trips. We went to New Orleans last spring for about a week.” Jackie Parker, owner Upstate Drug Testing, Syracuse “I did a sort of vacation in May. I make it so I’m able to couple vacations with work or learning a few times a year. Typically, it ranges from three
to four days to a week. In November, I’ll have a training for a week and then have a week off, though I am doing business things sometimes that second week. With my business, I can be in San Francisco and have people experience my work. Then, once I’m back in Oswego, I can work with the same people over the internet. The last place I went was Chicago for a week. I’ve been there twice this year.” Julie A. Fischer, Healing Arts, Oswego “It’s been a long time since we went on an actual vacation. We combined our business trip with a vacation, so that was about a year ago. For three days, we were in Colorado. We went to Niagara Falls for about three days last year.” Bernadet Pryor, co-owner Master Pryor’s Tae Kwon Do, Oswego “ In the restaurant industry, [we have an opportunity] at the end of January and in March to get some vacation time in. A vacation for us is not being open for business. Whether we go anywhere is still a vacation for us, away from the day-to-day. We’re a six-day-a-week operation. We’ll close a handful of Sundays in July and August and we’re always closed on Mondays. Providing all the required cleaning and maintenance is done and completed, we may get a half a day to enjoy the summer in Central New York. In our industry, we wait for the door of opportunity to vacation to open.” Christopher Cesta, owner The Inn Between Restaurant, Camillus
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OSWEGO COUNTY BUSINESS
How I Got
Linda Syrell Tyrrell Owner of Harbor Towne Gifts & Souvenirs for more than 40 years, Tyrrell discusses how she got started and how she has remained in business amid dramatic changes in retail
Q: You have owned Harbor Towne Gifts & Souvenirs in Oswego for more than 40 years. What motivated you to get into running your own gift shop? A: I graduated from Rochester Institute of Technology with a business degree and then went to the University of Rochester for graduate studies in student personnel and counseling. I then came to work at SUNY Oswego. I loved that 25-year career in education, but one of the things you realize in a large organization is that you don’t have much of an individual impact. In other words, what you do or don’t do probably doesn’t make a lot of difference. It just made sense to me to try to do something I could have an impact on that was personal, and I would know whether I’ve done well or done poorly. So we started the shop here at Oswego in rented space, which is where we are located now [43 W. Bridge St., Oswego]. We later bought the space with a $5,000 investment of our own personal resources, something that you couldn’t do these days, but this was in September of 1975. We started with card tables and bookcases, and whatever we could scrounge to display merchandise. We had very little money, but we both worked full-time. I was at the college and Robby [the late Robert Syrell] was at Armstrong [World Industries in Fulton.] We continued to do that for a lot of years and put every cent we took in back into the business. That’s how we built it. It was risk taking but we really felt that it was something we enjoyed building together. Q: What was the next step in your business journey? A: We then went out to the east side and expanded at the Oswego Plaza with a 2,400-square-foot store. We worked with Pathfinder Bank to add some additional resources because of the larger location. We were at the Oswego Plaza location for 10 years, and then moved over to George Street. We bought that building, which was a 6,000 square-foot store, In addition to owning her own business, Tyrrell is a former dean of continuing education, summer sessions and public service at SUNY Oswego, a position she retired from in 1994. Tyrrell was named to the SUNY Oswego Faculty Hall of Fame in August 201
OSWEGO COUNTY BUSINESS
which was wonderful, but wonderful in that era of collectibles. We had some major lines that people came from great distances to purchase. That was the ‘90s, which was the epitome of people wanting collectibles and wanted to add those things to their homes. That changed as we got into the 2000s, and people began to spend their money on technology and not on beautiful objects. We were at George Street for eight years, and then downsized. I had remarried at that point after eight years of widowhood and wanted to spend more time with my husband Frank and do some other things. Frank is a musician, so he keeps very busy with that work. I don’t work seven days a week anymore like I did for so many years. Q: Why the choice of gifts and collectibles as a business venture? A: At the time, I think we felt that was an area that we could contribute to and could learn from. As far as collectibles, that was a real learning curve. The customer has always led us in the direction of inventory change. With collectibles, you must have the background, history and knowledge of the designer because the customer was often as well informed if not better informed that you were. They would test you. They were coming in to buy a Precious Moments collectible, but they knew the history of that piece and wanted to test to see how much we actually knew. The same was true of Christmas Villages collectibles. We used to have very ornate displays of the villages, and people would come in with suggestions and ideas and show us pictures of what they had done. You really had to be on your toes, so to speak. Q: What significant changes have occurred in the gifts and souvenirs industry since you started more than 40 years ago? A: People are purchasing more online and there are a variety of retail channels, including of course Amazon. It is a major factor in terms of local business because people are not as quick to shop locally. However, I think this community has made a real effort to focus on shopping local and educating people about the benefits, both in terms of the taxes that are paid to support the community and in terms of the turnover of dollars several times if they are spent locally. I believe people are more aware of that, but I still think the convenience AUGUST/SEPTEMBER 2017
factor sometimes gets in the way. Q: What were some of the foremost challenges involved in launching your new business? What did it take to overcome them? A: When I first launched the business, people shopped locally and shopped where they lived, so you really got to know your customers and they got to know you. You have to work at that and always have to work at that. Staffing was a challenge, but again, I had such a wonderful family support system that made staffing and concerns for staffing much easier as opposed to not having that kind of support. The greatest surprise for me when I was getting started was the cost of insurance. I had planned on other things based on my business background, but the cost of insurance is always a major factor. It’s one that often people starting a business don’t factor in as completely as they should. Q: Besides working full-time at the college and running your own business, you have been highly active in the community. What has been your driving force to volunteer? A: In my final role at the college as dean of continuing education, summer sessions and public service, I worked with local businesses. I always participated in the chamber and served as its president, and also was president of the board at Oswego Hospital. I always felt that I needed to give back, but it also keeps you in contact with the community in a way you can’t if you isolate yourself. Service is important to me and always has been, whether it’s my own business or helping somebody else or serving in a community-based organization. Service is the key. Q: What strengths do you bring to the table that have resulted in business success? A: I think my concern for people is obviously No. 1, but I’m a curious person. I am an avid reader and I like people. Sometimes you go into a business that has a lot of people contact and you get the feeling they don’t really enjoy people very much. That just never has been the case here — at least I don’t think so. People like that are better off in a lab.
continued on page 84 OSWEGO COUNTY BUSINESS
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PROFILE By Lou Sorendo
JOHN HALLERON Senior small business adviser is passionate about helping people get business started, grow
hen clients come to see John Halleron, he tells them his office is Las Vegas. Halleron is the senior small business adviser at the Small Business Development Center, which is part of the new Business Resource Center, 121 E. First St., Oswego. “What goes on in the office, stays in the office,” he said. “At the end of the process, we ask clients to sign off on leveraged dollars, jobs created and jobs saved, and sign a release so we can do things like nominate them for awards and talk about them. “Once I get that release, it’s a real kick to get in the car with my wife, drive around and say, ‘That one is mine, that one is mine, and that one is mine. That is the feel-good portion of my job,” he said. The U.S. Small Business Administration recently selected Anthony Nappa, owner of Saving Face Barber Shop based in Camillus, as the Syracuse district winner of the 2017 Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award. Halleron nominated Nappa for the award based on his company’s growth in sales, employees, and community contributions. “It makes the job that much more fun,” Halleron said in regards to nominating the winner. Halleron’s primary responsibility is working with prospective small business owners to prepare business plans and projections to ready them for financing and determine if they want to proceed. He also works with existing companies to prepare for expansion. Other tasks include facilitating the Oswego County Microenterprise Training Class. Halleron, who started at SUNY Oswego in July of 2002, attributed his
Lifelines Birth date: May 28, 1952 Birthplace: Manhattan Current residence: Baldwinsville Education: Bachelor of Arts degree in business and communications, SUNY Plattsburgh; associate degree in banking from American Institute of Banking Career highlights: Being part of a nationally recognized Small Business Development Center by the U.S. Small Business Administration; obtained advanced certification as a small business adviser; participation in the New York State Small Business Development Center’s disaster team that reacted to Hurricane Sandy in 2012 Affiliations: Volunteer, Baldwinsville Fire Department; usher, St. Mary’s Church in Baldwinsville; member, Greater Oswego-Fulton Chamber of Commerce ambassador team Personal: Wife Margaret (Peg); son Chris, daughter Kate; daughter-in-law Ann; and two grandsons, Jack and Paddy Hobbies: Golf; home projects OSWEGO COUNTY BUSINESS
longevity in Oswego to the support the community shows for local business. “It makes a big difference, and obviously, being in that field, I can see and feel it,” he said. “I enjoy my affiliation with the college and working with student interns. It’s just a combination of things that really has kept me coming back. Every day is different and there is no routine,” he noted. Halleron, who along with his wife Margaret resides in Baldwinsville, has a passion for working with people. “Not to toot my own horn, but I bring 20-some odd years of banking experience to the table in various different capacities,” he said. He has also undergone years of training, and when working in Ithaca, coordinated a program similar to the micro-enterprise training program. “I will talk to anybody about anything. I will greet the custodian the same as the CEO,” he said. Halleron earned an associate’s degree in banking from the American Institute of Banking, a background that has proven to be beneficial. “It has helped me to develop a very good and productive relationship with lenders in the area,” he said. “I have worked with many in my banking career and continue to in my present capacity.” Halleron said banking has also provided him with firsthand knowledge of how loans are structured and many examples of what can go wrong in business. “These same examples are presented in my classes so the same errors are not made or at least managed,” he said. Halleron also earned a bachelor’s degree in business and communications from SUNY Plattsburgh. AUGUST/SEPTEMBER 2017
“Earning a business degree gave me the tools I needed, including accounting, which is the backbone of what I do when preparing projections,” he said. His communications background provided the confidence to express himself in front of a class or group in a way that reaches everyone in the audience.
Gaining confidence Born in Manhattan, Halleron grew up in northern New Jersey. His family moved from New Jersey to Plattsburgh, and then when Halleron’s parents relocated to Saudi Arabia, he and his wife landed in Baldwinsville. “My dad always wanted to work overseas, and he had an opportunity to become chief pathologist and lab director in a U.S. hospital in Saudi Arabia. He went over for two years and stayed for six,” he said. Halleron said he was extremely shy as a youngster. “Then I got into doing college radio for a while, and my friends would ask me to speak and do readings at their weddings,” he said. “That confidence started to build up.” While working for Key Bank, he began to speak competitively as part of a program by the American Institute of Banking. He was the defending champion in the Syracuse region for two years in a row and also placed second on the statewide level in successive years. “I’m a ham, let’s put it that way,” he said. “If you can conquer public speaking, you have got command. You are driving the bus,” he added. Between his sophomore and junior years in high school, he spent six weeks in Puerto Rico as part of a summer school program. “It was the first time on my own, and I had to either make it or break it. I chose to make it,” he said. His shyness began to dissipate once he was forced to make friends with people he did not know. “I’m in a strange town with 50 kids I’ve never heard of or seen before. For six weeks, you had to start making things happen,” he said. Halleron went to school originally to become a doctor. “Obviously, that didn’t work out,” he said. He grew up in the Vietnam War era, and opted to go to school and receive a draft deferral. After the war ended, he got married AUGUST/SEPTEMBER 2017
and worked at various jobs. “I finished my education on the 10-year plan,” he said. Halleron was hired by Key Bank in Syracuse and worked there from 1981 to 1988. He then worked for Merchants Bank and then for a credit union in Ithaca from 1998 to 2002. “I was tired of lending and assumed a training role and really enjoyed it. I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to apply for a business adviser position with the Small Business Development Center at SUNY Oswego, and the rest is history,” he said. The college’s Nancy Bellow, Nick Della Penna and the late Larry Perras along with SBDC regional director Eric Constance interviewed Halleron. Two weeks later while on his way to Ithaca, Halleron received the call that he was in. Perras, his mentor, was one of the reasons why Halleron stayed at the college. “He was a tremendous guy and taught me well. He was also just as crazy as I am to be honest. We both had the same sense of humor,” he said. “I learned a tremendous amount from him and he had a very analytical mind,” Halleron said. “He could see through a problem. We had a symbiotic relationship, both professionally and personally.” A day following Perras’ funeral in 2014, Halleron had prostate surgery. “It was caught at a very early stage,” said Halleron, noting that his father, a pathologist, and brother-in-law, a urologist in North Carolina, helped provide strong clinical support.
In the training trenches Halleron said working with students at the college has helped him stay young. In addition, the Hallerons enjoy walking through Baldwinsville with their rescue dog. “I do stuff around the house, just hang out and be likeable,” he said. Halleron also plays golf, although he doesn’t play as much as he should. “I keep score by how many balls I lose and find,” he said. The Hallerons have a son, Chris, and a daughter, Kate. Chris resides in Hoboken and publishes his own magazine, and Kate recently finished her paralegal certification and works as an administrative assistant at a multi-facility daycare center. OSWEGO COUNTY BUSINESS
The couple has been married for 43 years. “It’s an anomaly. Not many people stay married,” he said. “You’ve got to be a team,” he noted. “She has helped me through some pretty bad times and I’ve worked with her through some pretty bad times. You have to sit down, talk about it and figure out how to make it work.” Halleron has been a member of the Baldwinsville Fire Department for 25 years. “I’m still active but not an interior firefighter anymore, but I am still certified for self-contained breathing apparatus,” he said. “I can still climb ladders, but I’m not in as good a shape as I used to be or should be.” Halleron said being part of a firefighting unit is “like being in a family. Everyone has each other’s backs,” he said. “Other than my neighborhood, they are my other family,” he added.
Check the app An app on Halleron’s phone tells him exactly how many years and days he has left until retirement. At the time of this interview, it was five years and eight days. “My dad said don’t retire, never retire,” Halleron said. “When he got back from Saudi Arabia, he retired in Spring Lake, N.J. He was bored to death.” He found two hospitals on either side of Spring Lake that needed a part-time pathologist, and that is what he did. When they moved to Connecticut, the cost to transfer his license was prohibitive, and that’s when he retired, Halleron said. In retirement, Halleron intends to stay visible in the working world, but only to a certain extent. “We will be doing some traveling,” he said. “We’re not moving. We just got the house the way we want it, so we’re not leaving. Normally, when the kids move out, you downsize. We added 400 square feet.” The couple loves it in Baldwinsville. “We can walk to any restaurant in Baldwinsville except for Tassone’s,” he said. For Halleron, job stressors include keeping up with his case load. “I’ve got a lot of open cases. I’ve got some very large projects and am trying to keep all those balls in the air, which is not easy at times. That’s really where the stress is,” he said. 13
Publisher’s note By Wagner Dotto
ill they come if you build it? If you’re the owner of the new Home2 Suites by Hilton you certainly hope so. After all, the owner, Visions Hotels, LLC, based in Corning, has just invested about $10 million to build an 89-room hotel in Oswego. The hotel opened earlier this summer (story on page 74). What does a new hotel mean for the hospitality industry in Oswego? It means more options for visitors, better prices, better services and better facilities. It’s a boost for the tourism industry. New hotels like Home2 Suites and the Holiday Inn Express, which opened last summer, bring a new breath of fresh air into the industry. Older hotels are forced to improve their facilities, offer better deals, hire more friendly staff. Hotels that neglect to keep up with the competition may gradually lose customers. The good news for all in hospitality is that tourism is a strong industry and it is growing.
According to the most recent report from Empire State Development, prepared by Tourism Economics, visitor spending generated $8,146,817 in state taxes in 2016, a 7.5 percent increase over 2015. Local tax revenues from visitor spending generated $8,820,860 in 2016, an 8.6 percent increase. Traveler spending in 2016 in Oswego County generated $146,013,000, a 6.8 percent increase. Those are robust figures and point to a more positive outlook. The opening of new hotels happens to coincide with an exciting time for the city of Oswego. Mayor Billy Barlow recently unveiled several major projects taking place in downtown thanks to funding through the $10 million Downtown Revitalization Initiative, which is allocated through the Central New York Regional Economic Development Council. Once implemented, those plans will have the potential to change the face of downtown Oswego, making it more friendly to pedestrians and bikers
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and with a wider array of entertainment options. A story detailing all the mayor’s plans for downtown Oswego is on page 50. Other recent good news for Oswego include the county’s ability to retain Exelon’s James A. FitzPatrick nuclear power plant in Scriba and the continued growth of Novelis in Scriba. It’s certainly a great time for the area, a time for optimism that things are moving in the right direction. We hope this issue of OCBM will reflect this.
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OSWEGO COUNTY BUSINESS
Friday Evenings in Pulaski
Live music, wine tasting, plants & flowers, arts & crafts and much more...
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Stroll and shop at Pulaski Farmer’s Market. Fridays from 4 to 8 at South Park, Historic Downtown Pulaski
This 3 Hour Walking Tour Shows off Oswego’s Historic buildings and Landmarks.
Safe Haven Museum H. Lee White Maritime Museum Fort Ontario Historic Site Oswego Railroad Museum Richardson-Bates House Museum John D. Murray Firefighters Museum Heritage Foundation of Oswego Oswego Public Library Children’s Museum of Oswego
Takes you into several shops, A micro-brewery & Restaurants for samples & tastings. Enjoy a walk along historic Franklin Square District. Viewing the Oswego River and The Oswego Lighthouse.
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Open May to Mid-October
Give your word-of-mouth advertising a boost. Ads start at $71 a month. Call 315-342-8020 AUGUST/SEPTEMBER 2017
OSWEGO COUNTY BUSINESS
Where in the World is Sandra Scott? By Sandra Scott
Place is worth visiting. Not a ‘flyover” region
n 1865 when Horace Greeley wrote in his New-York Tribune, “Go west, young man, and grow with the country,” people were already moving west — by the thousands. Greeley was encouraging Americans to take advantage of the Homestead Act whereby, in exchange for a small filing fee, settlers were given 160 acres of public land. It was part of what some thought was America’s Manifest Destiny, the belief that the U.S. should reach from ocean to ocean. Before 1.6 million homesteaders moved west there were more than
400,000 who followed the 2,170 mile route from Missouri to Oregon or California braving everything from disease to accidents to rushing river crossings and many other hardships. Most walked and, keep in mind, that they had to get to Missouri first; many did so via the Erie Canal. For people who live in New York state, Nebraska is a ”flyover” or “drivethrough” state. What a shame. They are missing some of the most fascinating, geographically unique and historic parts of the United States. Such is the case with Western Nebraska, where
the hardy, adventurous pioneers on the Oregon Trail left the “Big Sky Country” with flat rolling hills and headed to the most arduous part of their journey — the mountains. Between 1843 and 1869 when the transcontinental railroad was completed, more than 400,000 people made the trip in covered wagons pulled by mules or oxen to farm in Oregon or search for gold in California or to start a new life in Utah. The trip took four to six months traveling 15 miles a day. It was one of the largest mass migrations of people in the world. As their wagons rolled west they
Carhenge is a replica of England’s Stonehenge located near the city of Alliance, in Nebraska. Instead of being built with large standing stones, as is the case with the original Stonehenge, Carhenge is formed from vintage American automobiles, all covered with gray spray paint.
OSWEGO COUNTY BUSINESS
could see the 325-foot Chimney Rock for a couple of days before finally arriving there. Then it was on to Scotts Bluff and Mitchell Pass. Most kept journals or later wrote about their journey. Catherine Sagerâ€™s tale of how her 14-year old brother managed to get his family, which after the death of his parents on the trail, consisted of seven children, the youngest only five months old, to Oregon is beyond incredible. The visitor center at Scotts Bluff has replicas of covered wagons with costumed interpreters to answer questions and offer visitors hardtack, the staple food for pioneers. The park provides a shuttle bus to the top of the bluff for an incredible view. The legendary Pony Express followed the same route. Learn more at Scotts Bluff National Monument, Legacy of the Plains Museum, and Chimney Rock National Historic Site. Nearby is a unique B&B, Barn Anew, with authentic Arapaho artifacts, Remington statues, restored sheep-shearer wagons and a restaurant filled with Coca Cola memorabilia. As more and more people moved into the area, soldiers were sent to provide security. Fort Robinson State Park in Crawford was an active military post from 1874 to 1948. It was also where Crazy Horse was killed, a POW camp was located, and where war dogs were trained. Many of the buildings survived and now serve a variety of functions, including rooms, cabins and camping areas. Visitors can learn more at the museum, take a carriage or horse ride, kayak, go tubing, fish, swim, golf, see a local production of popular a Broadway show, and more. A one-stop destination. A good plan is to fly into Denver, rent a car, and make a driving loop that includes Scotts Bluff, Fort Robinson, Ogallala (the cowboy capital) to Sidney (home of Cabellas), and back to Denver. There are unique places to stay like High Prairie Homestead with an old West ambiance and interesting things to see like Carhenge, built to resemble Stonehenge, and a shootout in Ogallala.
The 325-foot Chimney Rock can be seen from a doing distance because of its height.
Fort Robinson State Park in Crawford was an active military post from 1874 to 1948. It was also where Crazy Horse was killed, a POW camp was located, and where war dogs were trained. The visitor center at Scotts Bluff has replicas of covered wagons with costumed interpreters to answer questions and offer visitors hardtack, the staple food for pioneers.
Sandra Scott, a retired history teacher and the co-author of two local history books, has been traveling worldwide with her husband, John, since the 1980s. The Scotts live in the village of Mexico. AUGUST/SEPTEMBER 2017
OSWEGO COUNTY BUSINESS
New Business Resource Center in Oswego: Oswego Mayor William J. Barlow Jr., SUNY Oswego President Deborah F. Stanley and Pathfinder Bank President Thomas W. Schneider. Photo courtesy of SUNY Oswego/James Russell.
New Business Resource Center Opens in Downtown Oswego Center offers broad range of services to entrepreneurs, startups and established businesses
new Business Resource Center, the result of a unique public-private partnership knit together by and with higher education, now offers a broad range of services to entrepreneurs, startups and established businesses at the hub of downtown Oswego’s east side. Community partner Pathfinder Bank built office space at 121 E. First St. for the facility, which recently opened as a productive outcome of forward-thinking collaboration among college, business and economic development professionals. The building houses the Small Business Development Center, the Workforce Development Board of Oswego County, and the offices of the director and several other key staff of SUNY Oswego’s Office of Business and Community Relations
(OBCR). The Greater Oswego-Fulton Chamber of Commerce will join SUNY Oswego in this space as a complement to the collaboration. Pathfinder also built space for community-relations units within OBCR — including Leadership Oswego County and the Oswego County branch of the Retired and Senior Volunteer Program. They now make their home at 34 E. Bridge St., in the Pathfinder Bank Building. An additional collaborator in this space includes the Oswego Bookmobile’s administrative staff. “SUNY Oswego has a long history of commitment to the Oswego community and this move downtown is intentional in deepening that commitment,” said SUNY Oswego President Deborah F. Stanley. “The OBCR team’s mission is to OSWEGO COUNTY BUSINESS
serve as the conduit between the campus and the community — it makes sense that its offices are located at the most visible intersection in Oswego along with student interns, the chamber and the bookmobile.” Pam Caraccioli, deputy to the college president for business partnerships and economic development, said none of the partners gives up its own identity. “It’s a true partnership,” Caraccioli said. “Yet we are all separate organizations. This is an opportunity for new interfaces, new synergies and it’s an important piece in the revitalization of the city’s east side. These spaces are simply an extension of our campus and we invite campus departments to also use this space “
‘Makes it all tick’ The impetus for the moves and partnerships came from the need for the space formerly occupied by OBCR in Rich Hall, the home of the SUNY Oswego School of Business. After a study of all the options, President Stanley made the call to move the office downtown, Caraccioli said. The decision to move OBCR downtown already had a strong foundation in SUNY Oswego’s strategic plan. Titled “Tomorrow,” the plan dedicates the college to engaging and partnering with local, national and international communities to make an impact through research, community service and economic development “for collective prosperity, equity, resilience and success.” The college put out a request for proposals in early 2016, and of those that came in, one — that of Pathfinder Bank — fit the criteria for what became the Business Resource Center and the nearby Office of Business and Community Relations. Tom Schneider, the bank’s president and CEO, said public-private partnerships such as this are critical to aligning resources to build momentum for economic development and a vibrant community. “The commitment the college leadership is making to downtown and to connecting its students to the Oswego
Oswego-Fulton Chamber of Commerce joins other business organizations at the new Business Resource Center on the eastside of downtown Oswego. community is significant and appreciated,” Schneider said. “It’s a move we wanted to be part of. All of this, working together, is what makes it all tick.” Oswego Mayor William J. Barlow Jr. pointed out that the move of the Greater Oswego-Fulton Chamber of Commerce to the new BRC opened the way for a related shift: The city Office of Community & Economic Development will move into the chamber’s current space at neighboring 44 E. Bridge St. “It is incredibly valuable to the city of Oswego and especially the east side of downtown Oswego for SUNY Oswego to have a presence,” Barlow said. “It will be extremely beneficial to city of Oswego residents to have so many resources under one roof and truly shows we are a united community with many different facets of our community working together to move Oswego forward. I am proud to include the city of Oswego
Economic Development office in this partnership as we all work to revive the Oswego business community and serve our residents.” Regional clout comes to bear for the Business Resource Center, as well. For example, the Greater Oswego-Fulton Chamber of Commerce partners with CenterState CEO, the independent economic development strategist, business leadership organization and chamber of commerce based in Syracuse. “Whenever we have achieved success, we have done so by thinking strategically and acting collaboratively. The new Business Resource Center advances these concepts for the benefit of the entire community,” said Rob Simpson, president of CenterState CEO. “Through this new partnership and shared space, we can provide more effective and efficient service delivery to the businesses of Oswego that will only enable greater opportunities for our region.” Katie Toomey, the local chamber’s executive director, said the notion of efficiency resonated with her in joining the Business Resource Center partnership. “You often hear the phrase ‘one-stop shop.’ The BRC is a perfect example of economic development professionals coming together to provide resources not previously available in one place in the past,” Toomey said. “Through this new collaboration, these partners can now better serve the county and its cities in
An expansive multimedia conference room at the new SUNY Oswego Business Resource Center helps bring together leaders of business, labor, finance, nonprofits and higher education. Here, Dave Lloyd (left foreground) of Novelis presides over a meeting of the Workforce Development Board of Oswego County, which is integral to the new BRC, helping businesses create a diverse, high-quality workforce through assessing skills shortages and aligning training programs to meet their needs. Photo courtesy of SUNY Oswego/James Russell. AUGUST/SEPTEMBER 2017
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a more meaningful way.” Eric Constance, who directs the Watertown regional office of the Small Business Development Center and provides for SUNY Oswego’s affiliate office of the SBDC within the Business Resource Center, called the BRC “a winwin for all parties.” “I think it’s a great location,” Constance said. “It’s going to be exactly what the business community needs to have available.”
Complementary roles The Small Business Development Center, long affiliated with the college’s Office of Business and Community Relations, is part of a nationwide network administered by the U.S. Small Business Administration. A major public-private partnership between government and higher education, the SBDC provides one-on-one services to small businesses and entrepreneurs, helping businesses plan and resolve organizational, financial, marketing, technical and other business-related issues. “This move brings us closer to entrepreneurs and startups, and we also help existing businesses,” Constance said. The Greater Oswego-Fulton Chamber of Commerce provides its members opportunities to make businesses in the greater Oswego-Fulton communities more competitive through access to economic development support, advocacy, business resources, employee development. Through its relationship with CenterState CEO, the chamber accesses connections to nearly 2,000 members across the region. “We want to be seen as the dot connector, a liaison, networking with and among member businesses,” Toomey said. “We are currently reworking our entire small business offerings, making them more tangible.” The Workforce Development Board Inc. of Oswego County is a linchpin for identifying the workforce needs of businesses. It writes and obtains training grants for the private and public sectors, aligns training programs to meet the needs of the business community, and provides workforce needs assessments to area businesses. As executive director of the college’s Office and Business Community Relations, Chena Tucker also directs the Workforce Development Board. It’s not only up to the partners to decide how the new center evolves and takes shape, it’s up to those who need its services. 20
The community relations staff of SUNY Oswego’s Office of Business and Community Relations displays the welcoming lobby of its new offices in the Pathfinder Bank Building, close to the city’s Department of Economic and Community Development and only steps away from the college’s new Business Resource Center. From left are OBCR Associate Director Chad Whelsky; Tracie Wallace, secretary for RSVP; Assistant Project Manager Nichole Pritchard, who convenes Leadership Oswego County; Project Coordinator Erin Dorsey; RSVP Program Director Meave Gillen; and SUNY Oswego student Tanishae Edwards, interning with RSVP on behalf of AmeriCorps. (SUNY Oswego/James Russell)
With adjacent offices and a shared drive to boost local businesses and create privatepublic synergies, Katie Toomey (left), executive director of the Greater OswegoFulton Chamber of Commerce, and Chena Tucker, director of the SUNY Oswego Office of Business and Community Relations, confer in Toomey’s office in the new Business Resource Center. (SUNY Oswego/James Russell) “I feel that as a brand-new business center, I’m also looking to the community to tell us what it wants these new offices to be,” she said. Tucker pointed with pride to features of both the BRC offices and the partnership’s new community relations space, thanks to designers from Rowlee Construction of Fulton. The business center has a conference room that will seat up to 40 people comfortably, and the building retains an original stone wall along its southern wall. At 34 E. Bridge St., the conference room’s feature wall in the conference room that, together with incorporating a vault evoking adjacent OSWEGO COUNTY BUSINESS
Pathfinder Bank, lends distinctiveness. The Business Resource Center will celebrate its launch with an upcoming gala open house with representation from all of its partners and from business, government and community organizations. For more information, visit oswego.edu/obcr or contact the Business Resource Center at 315-312-3493. The main community relations number for the college and its partner programs remains 315-312-3492.
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Insurance Executive to Chair IIABNY The Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of New York (IIABNY) recently elected Richard E. MacDonald as its chairman of the board for the 2017-18 term. MacDonald was sworn in during a ceremony following IIABNY’s annual business meeting, held at the Marriott Syracuse Downtown. Members also elected and installed new offiMacDonald cers and regional members of the association’s board of directors. MacDonald is vice president / director of sales for Haylor, Freyer & Coon in Syracuse, where he is responsible for the strategic planning and tactical execution of the agency’s sales operation. Previously, he served as a regional and business sales manager for Liberty Mutual Group and in various management positions for Kemper Insurance Companies. He earned the chartered property casualty underwriter (CPCU), associate in risk management (ARM) and associate in management (AIM) professional designations. A member of the IIABNY board of directors since 2014, MacDonald most recently served as vice chairman and secretary/treasurer and has chaired the association’s finance committee and workers’ compensation fraud task force. His association work includes service as a board member for IAAC, IIABNY’s service corporation, and he is on the New York State Insurance Fund Advisory Group. MacDonald is also treasurer of the Independent Insurance Agents Association of Central New York A resident of Liverpool, MacDonald has coached youth basketball, participated in fundraising events for the Mental Health Association of Onondaga 22
County and chaired a local youth soccer association fundraising picnic. He is a board member of the North Area Family YMCA, graduate of Clarkson University and received a master’s degree in business administration from LeMoyne College.
Foundation Gives $14M in Grants in ‘16 The Central New York Community Foundation awarded a record-breaking $14 million in grants between April 1, 2016 and March 31, 2017, according to the nonprofit. This year’s grant award amount increased 28 percent over the same period one year ago, most of which was focused on the work of local char-
ities. Over the course of its history, the organization has invested nearly $170 million in the community. The awarded grants were distributed to address a number of local matters which included creating learning opportunities for adults and youth, advancing access to health care, strengthening the local safety net for vulnerable people, encouraging economic development, protecting local landscapes, ensuring animal welfare, and enhancing the region’s arts, culture and historic preservation efforts. AccessCNY in Syracuse is one organization that has benefited recently from Community Foundation funding. A $35,000 grant will support renovations to the expanding David Clark Learning Center. The center helps individuals with acquired brain injuries to relearn lost skills through art, music, writing and other creative activities. This year the Community Foundation is celebrating its 90-year anniversary in addition to also reaching an all-time record asset level of $226 million, an 18 percent increase over the previous year. The past year’s growth is due to strong investment returns and an increase in donations. More than $23 million in new contributions came in over the year. Of the total grants awarded from the Community Foundation last year, $7.4 million were distributed from donor-advised funds, which allow donors to suggest grant recipients and take part in the giving process. Grants can be made to any qualifying charity around the globe, but the majority is given to
ESA Sponsors Fulton ‘Project Bloom’ Eastern Shore Associates Insurance (ESA) is sponsoring the 2017 Project Bloom, a joint program of the Greater Oswego-Fulton Chamber of Commerce and the city of Fulton to beautify the city’s entrances and business areas with fresh flowers during the spring and summer months. ESA sponsors the city of Fulton welcome sign on Route 3 in front of NBT Bank. Planting petunias at the welcome sign recently are ESA employees (from left) Amanda Palmatier, Kimberly Allen, operations manager; Michelle Malone, and Jessica Phillips. OSWEGO COUNTY BUSINESS
agencies in Central New York. The rest of the awarded dollars were distributed through the Community Foundation’s broadly responsive community grantmaking program, which awards approximately $1.6 million in grants annually, as well as scholarship and designated funds. In addition, the Community Foundation provided $1 million in support to initiatives addressing a variety of needs in the community such as increasing literacy across the life span, reducing poverty and addressing lead paint exposure in the City of Syracuse. “We pride ourselves in being a locally focused foundation that is nimble and responsive in the face of changing community needs,” said Community Foundation president & CEO, Peter Dunn. While celebrating current growth, Community Foundation officials are also anticipating the tide may turn in the coming years when the wealth of today’s elders is handed down to their adult children, who are likely to make donations to agencies in their own regions of the country. Nearly $22 billion in wealth is expected to change hands from one generation to the next in Central New York over the next few years, according to a Community Foundation commissioned study, potentially taking that money out of the community and away from local charities. Through an ongoing campaign called 5forCNY, the Community Foundation is calling on residents to consider leaving a portion of their estates to its local endowment to ensure the continued support of local charities. “Over the course of our history, people have put their faith in our ability to facilitate their charitable intentions,” said Dunn. “If everyone set aside even a small portion of their estate for charity, we could increase our support for local organizations and causes that will greatly improve the lives of our families, friends and future generations.”
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Universitywhere he is pursuing a double major in rhetoric/communication and business. In addition to his studies, he plays on the varsity lacrosse team; is a member of the university’s student Dunsmoor government; member of the philanthropy committee of his fraternity; and made Dean’s List the spring 2016 semester. “I appreciate the opportunity to utilize the skills I have learned at school in a professional setting,” said Dunsmoor. “I am excited to gain experience that will help me excel both academically and in my career.” Established in 1996, Step One Creative, a division of Step One Communications, LLC, is a marketing communications firm located at the Stevedore Lofts, 317 W. First St. in Oswego. Their firm offers full-service advertising design, brand development, public relations, copywriting, media planning/ placement, and web development to organizations and businesses throughout Central and Upstate New York.
SUNY Prof Takes on Leadership Position SUNY Oswego history faculty member Gwen Kay, director of the college’s honors program the past four years, recently was sworn in as president of the SUNY University Faculty Senate and, in that role, as a member of the SUNY board of trustees. Kay is the first woman to serve as president of the University Faculty Senate since Karen Markoe of SUNY Maritime in 1987-91, and the first president from SUNY Oswego. She will serve a two-year Kay term, with an option to run for a second term. Formerly vice president and secretary of the organization for three years, AUGUST/SEPTEMBER 2017
Kay now will serve as the top SUNYwide representative for some 30,000 faculty members across more than 30 four-year SUNY campuses. University Faculty Senate deals with many issues affecting broad swaths of the SUNY professoriate, from overseeing applied learning such as internships and co-ops to general education requirements, and from diversifying the faculty to evaluating curriculum and resources to facilitate cross-SUNY transfers. “I represent all faculty, so I want to, within system administration, be the voice for faculty,” Kay said. Though she is a non-voting trustee to that board, Kay will participate in policy discussions, speak to faculty issues and concerns, and participate in searches for positions such as a new provost for SUNY. She also chose membership on four board of trustees committees that have a strong impact on faculty SUNYwide: finance and administration, academic affairs, academic medical centers/ hospitals, and research and economic development. Emphasizing communication between her administration and faculty senators, as well as between senators and their campuses, Kay said she would remind people across SUNY of the important role of faculty in governance of the State University system. As part of her agenda, Kay plans to visit all of the campuses of SUNY-operated four-year schools, including the four university centers, two medical universities, three doctorate-granting colleges, 13 university (comprehensive) colleges, five statutory colleges, and seven technology colleges. There is a separate governance group for faculty of SUNY’s 30 community colleges, the Faculty Council of Community Colleges.
Caraccioli Honored as Woman of Distinction Pam Caraccioli, deputy to the SUNY Oswego president for external partnerships and economic development, this recently earned two honors: a regional award for accomplished and community-minded women and a statewide board membership. State Sen. Patty Ritchie, R-Heuvelton, named Caraccioli a 2017 Woman of Distinction, an honor that the senator bestows “recognizing outstanding leaders who are achieving success in their careers, devoting time to volunteer AUGUST/SEPTEMBER 2017
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causes in their communities and more.” In a separate distinction for Caraccioli, the New York State Economic Development Council (NYSEDC) elected her a director-at-large. NYSEDC has Caraccioli represented local and regional economic development professionals, as well as colleges, universities and private sector enterprises, for more than 40 years. Women of Distinction honorees such as Caraccioli, said Ritchie, “have one very important thing in common — and that’s that they have made a difference in the lives of so many people in our region.” The accolade and the NYSEDC board membership now adds to Caraccioli’s long and deep record of engagement at the local, regional and state level. She has served, over the last 20 years, as an Oswego Health trustee and board chairwoman; a Fulton Savings Bank trustee; and as a board member of Northern Oswego County Health Services, the Port of Oswego Authority, Harbor Festivals, Greater Oswego-Fulton Chamber of Commerce and more. Caraccioli, a native of Scriba, has a master’s degree in public administration from Syracuse University’s Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs, and a bachelor’s degree in law and society from University of California Santa Barbara.
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Debbie Carson (middle) has recently received the Traveler’s “Western & Central NY Key Agency Partner of the Month” award. On her left is OVIA President Chuck Harrington; on the right is Traveler’s sales executive Christina Warner.
Oswego Valley Insurance Director Receives Award Debbie Carson, director of business development for Oswego Valley Insurance Agencies (OVIA) with locations in Oswego, Fulton, Mexico, Brewerton and Clayton, has recently received Traveler’s “Western & Central NY Key Agency Partner of the Month” award. “I nominated Debbie for this award because of her strong commitment to her clients as well as to Travelers,” said sales executive Christina Warner. “She stays on top of the monthly results and is persistent in her goal to grow the personal lines business.” Vice President of OVIA Jim Poindexter said, “Debbie Carson has been an important asset over the years to OVIA Insurance Agencies. Debbie does an outstanding job managing the company’s personal lines production and experience results as well as managing the personal lines staff
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and their care for handling accounts. Debbie maintains that balance needed in order for our agency to keep the excellent reputation that we have with our carriers and customers. She shows the utmost care for the well-being of our agency and has been instrumental in assisting our efforts to grow the agency. We are proud of her for winning this award and helping to build our recognition in the marketplace as well as pushing herself to improve as a professional. This is a well-deserved award on her part.” Carson received a beautiful plaque honoring her partnership atlunch at the Red Sun Fire Roasting Company. Additionally, she is now eligible for the 2017 Western & Central NY Key Agency Partner of the Year award. Carson is also a member of Travelers WNY & CNY Agency Advisory Council for 2017.
Magazine ranks SUNY Oswego No. 4 for aspiring broadcast journalists
ands-on opportunities and academic strengths contributed to SUNY Oswego being ranked fourth recently in College Magazine’s “Top 10 Colleges for Broadcast Journalism.” Oswego’s facilities include “three fully equipped state-of-the-art digital TV studios plus audio/radio production labs and recording studios,” the magazine said. “Students work hands-on in class and student-run groups,” including WTOP-10 TV, WNYO radio and The Oswegonian, the article noted. “In many ways, this ranking is even more meaningful because it comes from the students in these programs -- that means they feel well-prepared, supported and appreciated on our campus,” said Julie Pretzat, SCMA dean. “ Between our amazing faculty, excellent student organizations that provide real-world experience and incredibly responsive alumni, Oswego students are provided a ‘top-10’ education,” Pretzat noted. Alumni of the college’s communication studies program include Al Roker of NBC’s “Today” show, ESPN anchors Linda Cohn and Steve Levy, and countless professionals working in front of and behind cameras in cities across the United States. The communication studies offerings partner with other SUNY Oswego programs as well. The college has prepared many meteorology majors for national and local TV news positions, while the article notes graphic design courses “allow students to explore multimedia design through photography, graphics and animations” that could aid students heading into broadcast journalism. A list of the top programs can be found at www.collegemagazine.com/ top-10-colleges-broadcast-journalism. Dependable Propane Gas Service Since 1937
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Oswego Renaissance Association Awards $200,000 to Oswego Neighborhoods
he Oswego Renaissance Association held its fourth annual awards reception in June and awarded 15 Oswego neighborhoods, representing more than 150 homes, the “Renaissance Block Challenge Grant” totaling more than $160,000. Additionally the ORA awarded 16 Neighborhood Pride Grants to 16 different resident groups, totaling more than $30,000. Another 20 homes that are being re-painted in historic colors were awarded “Paint Oswego Grants” totaling $20,000. This year was a record breaking year with close to 300 home owners who applied for the “Block Challenge Grant,” according to the group. More than half of those who applied for the grant, received it. The ORA’s grant money is all com-
pletely private dollars and is provided by The Richard S. Shineman Foundation, PathFinder Bank, Exelon Generation, Breakwall Asset Management, LLC and the Oswego Lion’s Club with in-kind support from SUNY Oswego, city of Oswego and StepOne Creative. The ORA is a completely volunteer organization. Mayor Billy Barlow was in attendance and addressed the crowd of approximately 300 attendees crediting the ORA as the spark that started Oswego’s renaissance. Executive director and ORA co-founder Paul Stewart emphasized that the ORA’s success is a reality because neighbors get involved to make their neighborhoods better. He explained that the grant money is used as a “carrot” to facilitate neighbors to work together as a
group to revitalize their neighborhoods. The most successful blocks continue year over year. Steven Phillips, ORA co-founder, highlighted the work of the core resident leaders who recruit, organize and lead their neighborhoods. This group of leaders includes;Karen Doten, Casey Towne, Catharine Early, Tanya Miller, Cindy and Tim Pauldine, Lisa Glidden, Kelly Mosher, Lorrie Molinari, Janet Anderson, John Fitzgibbons, and Mark Tesoriero. Resident leaders and founding members Karen Doten, Casey Towne and Catharine Early have been involved since the very beginning and were instrumental in helping establish the ORA. In just three years the ORA has been able to leverage more than $1.5 million in private investments in four targeted neighborhoods throughout the city of Oswego. By Oct. 30 that total should exceed $2 million, the group said. For additional information about the ORA visit their website; www. OswegoNYonline.com or visit their Facebook page.
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6 Business Ideas That Don’t Require Employees
any entrepreneurs are embracing the “lean startup” model, in which operations are kept simple and overhead remains low. Few businesses are run leaner than those without any employees. A good “solopreneur” reaps all the benefits of the business, but also has to do all of the legwork. For some, this is the ideal arrangement. Here are seven ideas for a business owner who wants to go it alone:
If you have a particular skill, be it writing, graphic design, coding or anything in between, building up an independent network and offering your services as a freelancer is a great way to translate side hustle into full-time business. Easily started on the side of a 9-to-5, these types of arrangements can quickly blossom into full, one-person operations once a solid network and reliable body of work develop. In a few short months, a freelancer can often build up several regular clients; the aspiring solopreneur will find in this an opportunity to launch a business.
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Are you educated in nutrition but are still looking to get your career to go in the right direction? Turn your healthy lifestyle choices and education into lucrative business decisions by becoming a virtual health coach. You’ll be aided in your efforts by the myriad new health-related apps and devices being developed to help clients keep track of fitness goals and weight loss.
a greater awareness of diseases associated with obesity, America is looking to get fit. Freelance personal trainers make their own schedules and work for a diverse range of clients. If you’re a fitness guru with a head for business, this might just be the right idea for you. Learn more about how to become a personal trainer.
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Whether it’s a bouquet of flowers in celebration of a wedding anniversary or an ice cream cake delivery for a child’s birthday, there’s a need for businesses that carry out long-distance requests on behalf of those whose loved ones live far away. With the right website and a PayPal account, you could start building your reputation as a “special delivery” courier today.
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Anyone with aging loved ones knows how hard it can be to care for them without extra help. Elderly people living in their own homes need help with lots of routine chores like cooking, cleaning, grocery shopping and yard work. Why not start a business that offers senior citizens and their families the help they need to maintain their households without breaking their budgets? With word-of-mouth endorsements and social media targeted at the overworked baby-boomer set, you could get this business off the ground in no time.
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OSWEGO COUNTY BUSINESS
DiningOut By Jacob Pucci
A pint of Empire Brewing Company Slo Mo’ IPA overlooking the water.
Barado’s on the Water W
Come for the good food, enjoy the view
hen it comes to waterfront dining in Central New York, Barado’s on the Water is set apart — literally. Restaurants and bars line both sides of the Oneida River, offering views of expansive Oneida Lake. Barado’s, on the other hand, is located at Bradbury’s Boatel marina on a calm inlet of the lake at the end of a bumpy, gravel road that made that restaurant seem further away from the main drag than it was. Several powerboats were docked just off the back patio where we sat for dinner. The snap of Fourth of July firecrackers rang out nearby, despite the afternoon sun still beating down strongly. One of the boats was named “Fancy This.” A sign of good things to come. 32
A few people gathered around the Tiki-themed bar inside, but at a place like Barado’s the best seat in the house isn’t in the house at all — it’s on the patio. With more and more restaurants posting its menus on website or social media, diners can frequently plan out OSWEGO COUNTY BUSINESS
everything they’ll order before even leaving home. Not so at Barado’s, where the list of daily specials is easily half the size of the regular daily menu. Many of the specials are seafood, which bodes well for quick turnaround and freshness of the fish. AUGUST/SEPTEMBER 2017
The crab cakes ($12 for two), made with Maryland crab and topped with a remoulade sauce that packed just a bit of heat, are a menu mainstay. A communication snafu led to us receiving our crab cakes with our entrees, rather than as an appetizer, but they tasted just as good as a side dish. The cakes were fried to a deep golden brown and at a high enough temperature to keep the oil from seeping in and causing a greasy, crabby mess. Seeing the words “market price” on a menu always gives me pause. Am I at the point in my life when I can order a dish without even asking for the price, as if I’m living the life of Riley? But I threw caution to the wind and ordered the pair of lobster rolls, which ultimately rang in at a surprisingly affordable $16 — a normal price for one large lobster roll. At Barado’s, the lobster rolls are Maine style — the lobster tossed with mayonnaise, celery and spices and served cold — rather than Connecticut style, in which the lobster is served hot and tossed simply with melted butter. Too much mayo can easily bog down the salad and overpower the lobster, but Barado’s exercised a careful hand, adding just enough to coat the meat while still allowing the meat to own the spotlight. The lobster salad and crisp leaf lettuce were served in a buttered and toasted New England hot dog bun, as all proper lobster rolls are. The fish tacos ($13.50) are another menu fixture, though the type of fish used changes daily. Today it was mahi-mahi, a mild whitefish that’s just a bit firmer than cod. Each chunk of fish was well seasoned, helping it stand up to the lively cilantro and lime slaw and pico de gallo. A generous squeeze of spicy mayonnaise completed the dish. The desserts at Barado’s are all homemade and while we were nearly full, our waitress convinced us to find a little wiggle room for a slice of “chocolate indulgence.” The dessert is a cross between a rich, fudgy brownie that’s still just the slightest bit under-baked in the center and a pie. We split the slice ($6.50) between two plates, which was the right
Barado’s on the Water
Address: 57 Bradbury Road, Central Square. Hours: Tuesday to Saturday: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday: 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Phone: 315-668-5428 Website: www.facebook.com/ Barados.on.the.Water/ AUGUST/SEPTEMBER 2017
Crab cakes: Leafy greens and vinegary slaw balanced the crispy fried crab cakes.
Fish tacos: Grilled mahi-mahi topped with a bright cilantro and lime slaw, fresh pico de gallo and spicy mayonnaise.
Lobster roll: Served two to an order, the lobster rolls here are both delicious and at $16 for the pair, a great value.
Desserts: A slice of Barado’s homemade “chocolate indulgence” pie, split between two plates.
move, as half a slice was plenty to satisfy. Barado’s on the Water is far more casual than its now-former sister restaurant, Barado’s Café, located in a small brick house over the river on the Onondaga County side of Brewerton. But at a place that could get by with offering easy, if uninspired fried food and cold beer in a scenic outdoor setting
and manage just fine, I’m glad Barado’s takes it to the next level. The owners recently announced that Barado’s on the Water, typically only open during the summer, will be open until January. Will the winter menu borrow the fine dining flair guests have come to love at Barado’s Café? I’m eager to find out.
OSWEGO COUNTY BUSINESS
Greg Mills, center, is the new owner of Murdock’s Bicycles & Sports. His team includes Keith Miller, left, and Rick Rodgers.
Cycling to the Top Greg Mills, former executive director at Oswego-Fulton chamber, brings years of business, community experience to sole proprietorship
as Greg Mills finally found what he is looking for? Mills is the new owner of Murdock’s Bicycles & Sports, 177 W. First St., downtown Oswego. He has held a myriad of top positions on the local business scene. He has worked for financial institutions such as Columbia Bank, Oswego City Savings Bank, Pathfinder Bank and most recently as the business development officer at Empower Federal Credit Union. He also served as executive director of the Greater Oswego-Fulton Chamber of Commerce. In addition, he worked as executive director of the Oswego and Fulton YMCAs, and was also assistant director at 34
the City of Oswego Community Development Office. What hasn’t he done? Mills is embarking on sole proprietorship for the first time in his career. Former owner Ben Turner recently sold the business to Mills, an avid cyclist himself. He has been a customer of Murdock’s since Turner’s father, Ernie, took over operations of the store in 1991. “I am a bike rider, I love cycling and I am eager to work with people and be an asset to our community,” he said. Ben Turner just recently transitioned out of the business and is in the midst of making a career change. On the island of Dominica in the Caribbean Sea, Turner will be owner-operator of Three Rivers OSWEGO COUNTY BUSINESS
EcoLodge in the village of Rosalie. Murdock, incidentally, was the name of Ernie Turner’s dog, who also graces the business logo. The business will retain not only the name, but also the dog’s image on its logo. Mills has been familiar with the shop since Ernie Turner opened it. “I bought my first road bike, and have been involved with the store as a customer, helping to build the cycling community up,” said Mills, noting the area now features a riding club — Ride Oswego County — as well as a racing team. Mills said he enjoyed being a part of the initial movement and seeing the biking community prosper. AUGUST/SEPTEMBER 2017
“Now I am in a position where I can help grow and build it and provide quality products for people that they can be proud of,” he said. Mills said biking is a “great resource,” whether it’s for recreation or racing.”
Passing the torch Turner contacted Mills last winter in search of help in trying to realize the next step of his career. He had met challenges in trying to meet that objective, and wanted to draw on Mills’ extensive business background for guidance, ideas and references. “I just had one of those moments where I felt maybe this was a sign that I should maybe change my direction and go from being an adviser and helper in the business community to becoming more part of the business community,” Mills said. “Here I am now with that opportunity, and it’s been great,” he said. “I came into this thinking I somewhat knew the business side of it, and as a cyclist, it was going to be pretty easy to upload,” he said. “But the true challenges are really knowing what this entire business is made up of. It’s one thing to say it’s a bike shop, but it’s so much more.” Mills said the key is determining what the shop needs in order to quickly and efficiently turn bikes around for people. “That’s a big learning curve bike for me. I’ve been a bike owner and have worked on one bike — mine. Now I’m working on all these bikes,” said Mills while referring to a wave of bikes that recently came in for repair. Mills, 57, is originally from Lyons. “First of all, I don’t want to break what’s already working,” Mills said. “But I want to build on it because I think there is potential to even have a stronger influence on the community and area.” The goal, Mills said, is to create recreational outreach, whether it is through bike clinics or shop rides. He said the intent is to connect with all levels of riders and provide encouragement. “Some people look at a group ride and say, ‘Hey, those guys are all going to ride fast’, or ‘I know some of those people and can’t keep up with them’,” Mills said. “We need to reach out to that level
Greg Mills, on the right talking to customers, is the new owner of Murdock’s Bicycles & Sports in Oswego. of rider and ask, ‘How can we help you understand and appreciate your bike?’ and encourage them to ride,” he said. Mills said he does not see the shop as a single entity in terms of reaching out and advocating a healthier lifestyle. “I see us as part of the collaboration to create a stronger identity within our community to help behaviors that maybe were lacking in some cases,” he said. Mills said he wants Murdock’s to be one of those components to accommodate what people are looking for, whether it be biking, kayaking or hiking. “I think there are a lot of people coming together to create a strong community from a recreational perspective,” he noted.
Armed with knowledge Mills said now he needs to “practice what I preached.” “From my start here in 1989 with Columbia Bank and then with Oswego City Savings and Pathfinder banks, and through the Community Development Office and other community organizations that I have been involved with, not only as an employee but also as a board member and volunteer, I think I have a pretty good understanding of our area and now I’m in a position to be one of those people,” Mills said. “I used to look in their windows, and now I’m looking out the window as a business owner.” OSWEGO COUNTY BUSINESS
Mills opted not to disclose the cost associated with launching the business, but did say he received financial support. “I’ve been fortunate because of the relationships I’ve built over almost 30 years of being in the community,” he said. “People have faith in me, faith in my judgment and my ability to absorb risk,” he said. “I am very blessed to have the benefits of the Community Development Office here in Oswego, as well as Pathfinder Bank.” Mills said he provided lenders a detailed business plan that showed not only what has transpired at the business, but also what the new owner’s vision is. “That’s encouraging from a financing standpoint, but also encouraging because they are hearing, reading and understanding the story I am telling,” he said. Mills, an Oswego resident, said he wants to ramp up the inventory on electronic shifting and pedal-assist bikes as well as fat bikes, which due to their ability to traverse in snow, have made biking a year-round activity.
Bike-friendly plans Mills said the Complete Streets Streetscape Make-over — part of the city of Oswego’s Downtown Revitalization Initiative — bodes well for the biking community. Mills, who earned a Bachelor of 35
Science degree in marketing at SUNY Geneseo, was part of the initial grant proposal and wrote a letter of recommendation as a member of the Ride Oswego County bicycling club while advocating the measure. “As we looked at our downtown and major thoroughfare in the city, we determined that it is not bike-friendly,” he said. “How do we find ways for people that are not only living here but visiting here to find a way to navigate the community on bike and feel safe? “We are going to be a strong advocate and representative and try to be as big of a component as we can to that solution.” Mills said the city suffers from a “north-south” challenge, meaning people who park south of Bridge Street are probably not going to frequent points north. He said efforts to lengthen traffic signals and standardize signal sequences have helped in the sense of making people more comfortable, whether they be walking or biking. Mills is the father of two children, Emily and Jared. “I enjoy watching my children grow
up and become great young people,” he said.
Enjoying the Ride Joining Mills at his new business is Keith Miller and Rick Rodgers, a duo that features both top skills and experience when it comes to the biking world. “I’m the sole owner. This is on my back, but I am partners with these two,” Mills said. “We need to have differences and similarities, and we have to blend together at the end of the day to do the best we can.” Mills said it is a “blessing” to have the talent that Miller and Rodgers exhibit. “The passion, experience and dedication both of them have to the shop and cycling as a whole has been an incredible blessing,” Mills said. Miller, 29, began at Murdock’s in early June. He’s been a bike mechanic since he was 14 years old. He previously worked at Placid Planet Bicycles in Lake Placid. There, the focus was on high-end bikes for tri-athletes and mountain biking. He sees Murdock’s is more of a
OSWEGO COUNTY BUSINESS
“casual bike” shop, but is glad to share his expertise regarding high-end equipment. “I know a lot of the inner workings of the bikes, and I am really good at diagnosing problems by just feeling the bike and running through it,” he said. Joining Mills and Miller is Rodgers, 42, who is originally from Fulton. The Oswego resident began at Murdock’s last February. “I’ve been an athlete all my life,” said Rodgers, who lived in Rome for about 10 years. “That’s where I got really involved in the biking community.” “I was an avid cyclist in the local bike club and raced for a local shop,” he said. He also started a nonprofit mountain bike club in Rome. “As far back as I can remember, I was either on a bicycle or motorcycle, as long as it had two wheels,” he said. Rodgers has an associate degree in web development and computer information systems and a bachelor’s degree in public justice from SUNY Oswego.
By Lou Sorendo
Renee Alford at Mill House Market in Pulaski.
New Pulaski Eatery, Revives Local History
New Mill House Market combines history with modern-day healthy meals
hen you take a bite out of a sandwich at the new Mill House Market in Pulaski, you are also getting a taste of history. The Mill House Market, located at 3790 state Route 13, Pulaski, opened last November. Renee Alford, her daughter Rebekah Alford and Jeff Edick own the new restaurant. The Alfords also own Rainbow Shores in Pulaski, a popular fine restaurant and hotel in Pulaski. This is their eighth season operating Rainbow Shores. Rebekah, who serves as chef at each location, named each of her 36 sandwiches at the Mill House Market after notable people who first settled in the northern Oswego County and Pulaski areas. For instance, the Mathewson sandwich consists of roast beef, Gorgonzola,
caramelized onion, tomato jam and lettuce. The Mathewson family was one of the oldest and most respected throughout the history of Pulaski. “It’s funny because some people will come in and say, ‘Oh, I know that person. I am a descendant of that family!’” Renee said. “It’s a reflection on the characters who built this town. It’s a tribute to them; they were the ones who made it great,” Edick noted. Only one sandwich can truly be associated with a particular historical figure. L.J. Farmer was known as the “Strawberry Man of Pulaski” in its early years. He created many hybrids of strawberry seeds and sold them around the world. Fittingly, the “Farmer” sandwich features grilled American cheese with strawberry jam. The business serves as a restaurant,
OSWEGO COUNTY BUSINESS
bakery, deli, lodging site and gift shop. “We don’t do a lot of evening dining yet, but we’ll probably plan on it when Rainbow Shores closes,” Renee said. Rainbow Shores is open May through October. Comparatively, Rainbow Shores features a higher-end fine dining menu. The Mill House Market — open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. — is also open weekends for evening dining on Fridays and Saturdays. The business specializes in breakfast and lunch, and meals can be prepared for takeout. “We don’t have a full menu; it’s more of a bistro menu right now,” Renee said. The business also features woodfire brick oven pizza. “We make all the breads from scratch and all the pastries are homemade,” she noted. Rebekah produces four homemade breads a day — three staples and “always something a little more exciting,” Renee said. Renee manages front of the house operations, and also does the bookkeeping and payroll. Edick and his father Robert own and operate Edick’s Logging & Lumber in Pulaski. Jeff Edick did all the remodeling at the new business. The Mill House Market uses Boar’s Head meats and cheeses, which are available for purchase by the pound. The business also offers salads, meats and prepared meals in its deli case, and provides catering for special occasions. Rebekah has created a diverse menu that features sandwiches, salads, bowls and bread. “She is a very talented chef as far as putting combinations together and creating the right taste,” Renee said. The location was the former site of tackle shop in the past, and recently served as a restaurant but only during the salmon fishing season. Pulaski is home to world-class salmon fishing. There are about 20 workers at the Mill House Market and 35 at Rainbow Shores. “It is in a very nice location and was available. This is a premiere location for this area,” said Renee, noting the market is close to Interstate 81. “There’s really a lot of traffic that goes through this corner,” she said.
Long time coming Renee Alford noted it took almost 37
Renee Alford, from left, Jeff Edick and Alford’s daughter Rebekah own the Mill House Market in Pulaski. two years from the time of the first consultation with the previous owner to getting the business off the ground. She said one of the more challenging aspects of launching the business was “just the timing of getting things from different peoples’ desks onto the next desk.” She said patience is required to maneuver through “all those bottlenecks where things really sit for a period of time.” A lodge behind the restaurant features four bedroom suites, while there are hotel rooms in the main building as well. Total occupancy is 40 guests. Alford said the upcoming salmon fishing and snowmobile seasons will increase demand for the rooms. She said her team is eager for the first full fishing season for the business, which peaks in September and October. “We’ll definitely make some changes and plan on doing some special, exciting things for fishermen,” Alforde said. Alford has had plenty of experience — her mother had a diner in a small town and her aunt and uncle built a fine dining restaurant and golf course in Adams. She is also a dairy farmer. “I have a sign on my refrigerator that reads, ‘You can’t call it a work day unless you work all 24 hours’,” she said. Renee Alford and her husband Tim own and operate The North Ridge Dairy Farm in Lacona, located about eight miles away from their businesses, as well as the Locust Hill Farm in Jefferson County. She enjoys managing and bookkeeping, and also likes to be physically active. The Mill House Market features 38
fresh ingredients and emphasizes fruits, vegetables, and good quality meats and dairy products. “It’s another option for people who like to eat very healthy,” she said. Their demographic includes many local residents as well as tourists hopping off I-81. Renee said they haven’t explored promotional advertising for fear of being overwhelmed. “That can happen and you just end up hurting yourself,” she said. The businesses do gain exposure through social media. “I think a lot of people that enter the business don’t realize it really takes time,” she said. “You’re putting everything you got to get something back, and it just takes time.” “Once you start up, there are so many more expenses that you don’t realize,” she added. She said it is imperative to be patient and keep the books as even as you can while waiting for the business to start taking off.
Local talent converges The gift shop features local products, such as paintings, jewelry, photography, soaps, gourmet cooking ingredients and honey. Edick also has his woodwork on display, and also features furs from his trapping endeavors. “It’s a new experience for all of us. We’ve never operated out of a new location before,” Edick said. “It’s going to take a lot of hard work and dedication. We got a long ways to go. OSWEGO COUNTY BUSINESS
It costs a lot of money to get a business going and operating.” “I take a lot of pride in my work,” he said. “I get a lot of my drive from seeing the end product when it’s done. It gives me a lot of energy to push on,” he said. The majority of the wood featured at the business, including the floors, was harvested at Edick’s father’s camp in Boylston. He said to make the business work, cost-savings measures must be taken and everyone’s expertise needs to be tapped. “There is talent in every direction,” he said. “You get a good product out there and people are going to talk about us. That’s what’s going to carry us,” Edick added. Rebekah Alford worked at Simply Gourmet in Lake Placid in a similar setting and knew she wanted to stress sandwiches and breads. “I’d like to get some catering out of here. Being so close to I-81, it would be easy to cater into North Syracuse,” she said. In Lake Placid, she gained experience catering to house parties and weddings. “That was always a really fun thing to do. You make a lot more money than with just the sandwiches when you go and do that type of thing,” she said. Rebekah earned a degree in culinary arts at Paul Smith’s College in the Adirondacks. She ended up staying in the area for eight years, with the final four being at Simply Gourmet. She said customers are coming in for an array of products. “I wasn’t sure about the grain bowls because that is something new in this area,” she said. Rebekah Alford draws students from culinary schools — such as the New England Culinary Institute and Paul Smith’s College — to do their externships at her restaurants. Rebekah Alford said she enjoys feedback from her customers. “It’s really rewarding to see people happy and excited about your stuff,” Edick said. “Rebekah Alford puts everything into her products, and I care a lot about what I do. People appreciate that,” he added. The business also features an app available on its website for online ordering. “This is relatively new for our area, especially for smaller independent businesses,” Renee Alford said. “We anticipate expanded use of our online ordering feature.”
By Lou Sorendo
Oswego Country Club 2.0: More Than a Golf Course T
After $700,000 renovations, club features updated bar and restaurant and pool, among other renovations
he Oswego Country Club at 610 W. First St. in the city has completed most of its $700,000 renovation. The facility now includes an updated restaurant, bar areas, outdoor fire pit and pool and expects to complete renovation of its locker rooms by early next year. “As a board we made a conscious effort last year to look at the facilities that we had in hopes of giving them a little bit of a renovation to match what we feel is a great golf course,” said the club’s first vice president, Matthew Bacon. Board members realized that the club facilities were getting a bit dated. They wanted the quality of the infrastructure to match that of the golf course itself. Bacon said the board considers the golf course a “hidden gem” of Central New York. They want the other offerings to follow suit. “When you have assets like this awesome course and we had a dated building and a dated dining room, it just didn’t AUGUST/SEPTEMBER 2017
match what as a club we were trying to achieve,” said Atom Avery, the club’s chairman of the building committee. “I think that we’ve achieved that with the upgrades that we’ve done.” The course was founded in 1897, and the restaurant still had a 1950s or ‘60s feel. The board wanted the facilities to be a place members could be comfortable taking business clients to. “People are definitely hearing about us,” Avery said. “We’re excited. We’re thrilled that people are looking at us as a place to come and have business lunches. We kind of lost that. That’s something we’re looking to do more of and we’re happy to do.” The club membership is aging and there is an effort to attract younger generations to the services of the club while keeping the traditional members happy. They want to attract members to not only use the club, but
live in the community. “We really view this as our membership stepping up to beautify the club and try to get the next generation of families and golfers in our community,” Avery said. “Sometimes people chose to live in Onondaga County when we have a beautiful place to live here in Oswego County.” The leadership is promoting the social benefits of the club and advertising mostly online to reach out to younger audiences that can be specifically targeted through Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, Avery said. “We want to be reflective of what the community looks like,” Bacon said. “I think there’s a pretty vibrant Millennial, Gen X group that’s still in the area and we want them to be part of our club.” Currently, according to the club’s own statistics, 71 percent of membership is 50 or older.
OSWEGO COUNTY BUSINESS
The renovation effort has been a group undertaking and required the approval of the entire membership to make the investment, Avery said. “We had our vote March 5,” he said. “We pulled our permit March 6 and we went to work.” The results are impressive. There is now a clean, elegant dining room in the restaurant available not only to members but also to private events for the public to book. The outdoor fire pit is comfortable and spacious. The golf course is being maintained up to its previous standards. The board members said the price for a full family membership for one year was around $2,700. With the implementation of the upgrades morale of the club staff has improved. “I think especially our restaurant staff is reinvigorated,” Bacon said. “It necessarily gives you a boost to up your game.” The restaurant owner, Chris Carpenter, was one of the people who went above and beyond to make the renovation successful. “We’ve even had memberships like John Sharky and Larry Morgia, anonymous donors, and even our operator Chris Carpenter that put their own money into extra projects,” Avery said. “To me that’s pretty awesome to have members step out of the box.” There will be some additional adjustments to the club. Route 48 out front is going through some renovation of its own. “They’re taking by eminent domain about 12 feet of us and they’re going to put up a retaining wall very similar to what’s kitty corner to Lowe’s,” Avery said. “It’s going to look like a new entrance on 48. I think it will look nice.” To compliment what both Avery and Bacon agreed was the club’s new lease on life, it will be offering a special membership offer. Those who join in September will get two months of membership for free. The Oswego Country Club is not done in making its new vision of the organization a reality, but it’s well on its way. Members are already able to enjoy some of the improvements. It’s all to further one main goal. “We’re looking to bring some more vibrancy to the club,” Avery said.
By Matthew Liptak 40
Club directors expect the new fire pit at the Oswego Country Club will be appealing to the club’s membership. Top photos show the club’s restaurant and bar.
Atom Avery, left, is the club’s chairman of the building committee responsible for overseeing all renovations. Next to him is Matthew Bacon, the club’s first vice president. OSWEGO COUNTY BUSINESS
Oswego’s Wireless Technology Draws SUNY, Research Foundation Investment
UNY Oswego recently received notice of an award from the SUNY Technology Accelerator Fund (TAF) to advance the commercial readiness of a novel device that will enable fast and secure transfer of wireless data. Jointly funded by the State University of New York and the Research Foundation for SUNY, the TAF investment targets critical research and development milestones — such as feasibility studies, prototyping and testing -- that demonstrate an idea or innovation has commercial potential. The goal is to increase new technology’s attractiveness to potential investors. Patanjali Parimi, director of SUNY Oswego’s Advanced Wireless Systems Research Center, is one of four SUNY faculty researchers who are receiving investments from TAF as part of its 2017 funding cycle. The other awardees are from three of the system’s large research universities — University at Albany, Binghamton University and University at Buffalo. Oswego is the lone comprehensive college among the recipients. “Competition is high for this award,” said Parimi, who has submitted an application for a preliminary patent for the wireless device. “I am pleased our proposal to advance wireless technology attracted the interest of the Technology Accelerator Fund.” In his application for the award — titled “Secure High Data Rate Communications Employing Orbital Angular Modulation of EM (Electromagnetic) Waves” — Parimi said demand is intense for more secure, higher speed wireless data. If the new device makes it to market, uses abound in defense, mobile communications, auto transportation systems, aircraft and more. SUNY Oswego’s Advanced Wireless Research Center includes a communications and radar research lab in Wilber Hall and a wireless training lab in Shineman Center, both with state-of-the art equipment. AUGUST/SEPTEMBER 2017
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OSWEGO COUNTY BUSINESS
SPECIAL REPORT By Lou Sorendo
Oswego landlords Rod and Marie Kouthoofd.
Landlords With a Mission Husband-wife team overcomes barriers, challenges to excel in rental business
or Marie and Rod Kouthoofd, proprietors of RMK Properties of Oswego County, serving as landlords as well as life coaches to less-fortunate tenants has become their life mission. Together, the couple owns 21 buildings, many of them multi-unit dwellings. Of those properties, eight are in Oswego with the bulk being in Fulton. Marie has general manager responsibilities and delegates tasks. She does whatever is required at every stage of the process, ranging from cleaning to screening tenants. “We are both hands-on,” Rod said. “Electrical is my favorite thing, and we take on pretty much any odd jobs that 42
we have to do.” The couple started its first rental in 2000. “Then for probably the next eight years, we just floated along and picked up a house here and there just because it was available,” Rod said. The couple actually came into their initial properties serendipitously. The first was Marie’s grandmother’s house in Fulton. “I just didn’t want to let go of my hometown,” Marie said. The couple had moved to Rochester, and Marie wanted to keep that property within the family. “So we bought that and held on to it while flying by the seat of our pants. “When we moved back to Oswego, OSWEGO COUNTY BUSINESS
Rod wanted to get into real estate. I wanted nothing to do with it. I was too busy, and had worked enough in the community and didn’t want to deal with it,” Marie said. Marie, a Fulton native, turned 52 in August. She formerly worked as a licensed practical nurse before developing retinitis pigmentosa. RP causes blindness by first taking peripheral vision away, then central vision. Marie’s blindness presents challenges when it comes to running the business. She often needs to have either Rod or her daughter Michelle describe what an apartment looks like, while she AUGUST/SEPTEMBER 2017
is also unable to recognize tenants’ faces. Rod, 49, is originally from Hilton, near Rochester. He drives part-time for NFI Industries. Marie is affiliated with the National Federation of the Blind, and for years served as the Upstate New York representative for the NFB as well as vice president of the state affiliate. “I’m a blind person, a blind woman, and I’m proud of being blind. That’s something that took a lot of years to get used to,” she said. “The only thing that gets in my way with blindness is lack of skills; it has nothing to do with blindness.” She earned her bachelor’s degree in psychology and her master’s degree in behavioral psychology at SUNY Brockport. Marie has also served as an adjunct professor at the Fulton branch of Cayuga Community College. Both Marie and Rod are black belts in tae kwon do, and actually first met during a sparring match with each other. Marie has also taught self-defense seminars, mostly for blind women. The vegan couple has been married for 23 years. “We are both very disciplined, linear and direct. Those are skills both of us have that help a lot, because we push through anything,” she said. When Rod started in the business, he didn’t have any experience or skill in home repair and maintenance. “I’ve learned over the years,” he said. Rod said it is imperative to learn how to deal with fear. “I don’t have fear because I went through the military, and have done truck deliveries in the middle of the night in New York City,” he said. “Some of the properties we have purchased are in not-so-desirable neighborhoods,” he noted. “You have to hold your own,” Marie added. “It’s not having fear of attacking [a situation], whether it’s dealing with tenants or dealing with problems with a house. We got to keep hitting it, keep going and keep trying,” Rod said. He suffered a bad accident early on in his trucking career, to the point where folks were telling him he would never drive again. “I had to push through that and just kept going. I’ve been driving for almost 15 years. It’s like you can’t even deal with fear, and that’s the way we’ve done it with our real estate business,” he said. AUGUST/SEPTEMBER 2017
Marie said they have “an ace in our pocket” with their daughter Michelle, who recently acquired her real estate license and helps manage the properties.
Modest beginnings The couple had acquired six properties prior to 2008, the time when Marie was diagnosed with skin cancer. “We ended up going on a trip and coming home and deciding we’re going to sell everything and move,” Rod said. Not only was Marie struck by cancer, but her daughter and mother were as well. Marie said that was a pivotal time in their lives, and the couple deliberated on whether to sell their rental properties. “Then we realized we’re actually making money at this,” Rod said. Following the trip, the couple decided to aggressively pursue their business goals. “We started reading, learning and really diving into it,” Rod said. Marie said that is when it became more of a mission. “I was focused on single women. I was a divorcee with two kids. I found that distrustful landlords were not friendly at all to single mothers,” Marie said. Marie was fortunate to have a landlord — David Mirabito of Fulton — who rented her a house on Worth Street in Fulton. “He was willing to work with me and actually believed what I said,” she noted. “So when I started renting, it was all about wanting to work with single mothers who were struggling, having doors shut in their faces and being treated rudely,” she said. Marie and Rod then expanded into low-income housing with an eye toward bettering neighborhoods.
Leading a renaissance Marie wanted to work with the lower-income demographic, mainly because her own background “wasn’t that pretty,” she said. She grew up in a low-income housing tract on Denesha Place on Fulton’s west side. “The properties we bought had garbage strewn about, the kids were dirty and crying, and the parents were screaming. And there was not one flower,” Marie said. “We had to literally go in and get rid of the drug dealers and shady characters OSWEGO COUNTY BUSINESS
that were ruining the neighborhood and making it unsafe for other people who were just trying to survive,” Marie said. “Having a lower socio-economic status doesn’t mean you are a scumbag,” she said. “We got rid of the people who were damaging the potential for others who were just struggling and had fallen on hard times.” They planted flowers, cleaned up the garbage, put up a basketball hoop, and gave children chalk and bubbles. “We’re a little bit different [when it comes to landlords],” Marie said. One of the greatest challenges for the couple is getting someone else to want to learn skills, whether they are parenting or life skills. “It’s all about [building a sense of] social conscience, and that’s a very difficult thing. We work with generational welfare sometimes, and these are people who have never really tapped into that work ethic because they haven’t had to,” she said. “That’s our biggest challenge, and sometimes the business piece gets in the way. We’re focused on something a little different here,” she added. “It’s not so easy in some of those places. In those pockets, sometimes many of the properties and people are so distressed. Anything you do is going to help,” Marie said. “Recently, we were both working all day on two different properties. Rod came over to me and I said, ‘You know what? I haven’t heard one child cry, or one adult scream. All I heard was laughter, music and a basketball bouncing. That’s nice,” she said. When she first started renting and working on properties, she had to do it in spurts. “It hurt my spirits so much that I couldn’t stay for long. The kids would come home from school and be under a lot of duress, and their mom and dad lacked parenting skills. It would make me want to cry,” Marie said. “I said this is going to change.” The greatest challenge for the landlords does not concern aspects such as late rental payments. Rather, the greatest challenge involves people. “Behavior is an attitude,” Rod said. “In order to live in a community, you have to behave. Some tenants don’t know how to get along with other people.” Marie said another challenge is dealing with tenants who cannot maintain a household. “Stoves don’t clean themselves and windows don’t wash themselves,” 43
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she said. “You’re always the hero initially,” said Marie, noting the process is termed the adaptation level phenomenon in psychological circles. “When new tenants come in, they love the place and they love you,” she said. “But what will happen is the shine will slowly wear off.” That occurs, she said, because the tenants are not maintaining the house. “They will come into a really clean, beautiful house and then start to trash it,” she said. Marie said when they try to talk to tenants and tell them to pick up their cigarette butts or clean out their apartment, the landlords become the villains. Smoke detectors often come up missing, or the batteries are taken out of them or die and are not replaced. “It seems like we have to check them every other day,” Marie said. “You can’t just go in like a militant, because that is not going to work. Our biggest challenge is finding that balance between not wanting to micromanage people’s lives and creating a sense of neighborhood while maintaining our properties,” Marie said.
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In terms of cost, Rod said every property is different. “Lately, we’ve been buying bulk and distressed properties,” he said, noting the couple’s latest purchase last December included six units and four properties grouped together in Fulton. The couple has spent thousands of dollars remodeling over the last several months. In terms of overhead, landlords must pay mortgages, taxes and insurance, which tend to be higher because of their business status. “Things start adding up. You got vacancies, repairs, roofs and plumbing issues because tenants tend to not take care of certain things and they break down,” she said. “There are months we just shake our heads and say, ‘I don’t know how we are going to do it,’ but we just smile and go plant flowers,” Marie said. “We’re just like everybody else who is trying to balance their checkbooks,” Marie said. “We’re putting every penny we have back into the houses.” On top of that, code enforcement is on the ready to ensure repairs are made. In addition, the city of Oswego raised its rental permits from $30 to OSWEGO COUNTY BUSINESS
$150 per unit. If landlords fall behind on taxes, the city can pull their permits. “Code enforcement can hit us pretty hard, understandably,” she said. Marie said she believes in the “broken window theory.” “If a place looks like trash, people are going to treat it like trash, and it will continue to deteriorate,” she said. “It you fix that window, pick up that trash, plant those flowers, paint that deck and hang those pretty little lanterns, people start feeling cheerier and birds sound chirpier,” she noted. While dealing with people, costs and maintenance of properties are paramount, so are the relationships that RMK forms while growing its business. “We’ve purchased a lot of properties from owners and retiring landlords, and they hold the mortgage,” Rod said. “We’ve grown great relationships, and from one purchase comes another from the same owner or from somebody nearby that knows them and our reputation of always trying to improve. That circle just grows.” Marie said their real estate business is preparation for retirement. “We are 20 years ahead in our minds, and always have been,” Marie said. “I don’t plan on doing this all my life. I would love to see my daughter and son Alex take over.” AUGUST/SEPTEMBER 2017
owner gets to try out his or her business idea at minimum risk and the property owner gets a vetted company to occupy their space who might turn out to be a long-term tenant. That’s what happened with the retail shop Vintage Love. The owners signed a four-month lease over the holidays in 2015-2016. “Vintage Love was our first pop-up shop,” Schroeder said. “That is a store at the corner of Jefferson and Warren streets. That houses two separate stores. One is Maeflowers Vintage — vintage clothing. Driftwood and Glitter is a vintage furniture and housewares store. They joined forces and did a limited four-month run over the holidays in 2015 from November to February. They did so well that they decided to invest money in the space and do some upgrades. They signed a lease. They’re celebrating their one-year anniversary.” Not all pop-up attempts are a success in the traditional sense.
Heather Schroeder, economic development program manager at the Downtown Committee of Syracuse.
Pop Up Program Helps Entrepreneurs, Property Owners Syracuse program matches entrepreneurs and owners of vacant buildings for shortterm rentals By Matthew Liptak
he Downtown Committee of Syracuse saw a need in the local business community. Many downtown retail spaces were going vacant and start-up entrepreneurs were looking for short-term space they could lease at a reduced rate to test their business models. Based on a program developed in Dayton, Ohio, the committee developed the pop-up business program. “We stepped into the role of matchmaker and negotiator,” said the organization’s economic development program manager, Heather Schroeder. “We have a list of vacant properties. We AUGUST/SEPTEMBER 2017
went through our list and said, ‘Here’s a property owner who has expressed an interest in doing some creative things. Here’s an entrepreneur who is looking for experimental space. Why don’t we introduce them?’” The committee acts as facilitator for negotiating short three-or-four month leases for entrepreneurs with an established sales record. They persuade the landlords to offer below-market rates for rent, generally about 50 percent of their regular cost, Schroeder said. It can be a win-win for both the landlord and entrepreneur. The business OSWEGO COUNTY BUSINESS
More flexibility Melanie Cutillo, owner of The Little Tea Cart, is a veteran of the committee’s summertime farmers’ market. She engaged in a pop-up lease over the last holiday season, but decided not to pursue the retail space once the lease expired. “The Little Tea Cart, after its initial three-month run, decided not to pursue a long-term lease,” Schroeder said. “To me that’s also a successful outcome of the program. You as a business owner have the freedom to decide on your terms whether or not to continue where you are or to re-evaluate. That provides more freedom than a typical lease arrangement.” According to Schroeder, there were 80 vacant storefronts in the downtown area in December of 2015. By the next December, that number had shrank to 66 storefronts, largely due to redevelopment of the area and an uptick in the economy. But all that vacant space remains an issue, so the committee instituted an additional program to go along with the pop-ups. “We came across several spaces that I would say weren’t ready for prime time,” she said. “They didn’t have the right certificate of occupancy or they were just not in a state of repair that was ready for immediate occupancy. For those properties, we applied for local funding through the Central New York 45
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Community Foundation. We asked them for grant funding which they generously provided to fund an ‘Art in the Windows’ program. That program matches up artists with available storefronts and provides compensation to artists for their design and work and matches them with spaces with a minimum two-month installation.” Schroeder said demand is substantial, not only for retail space downtown, but also an increasing interest in office space. She said the committee could consider a pop-up program for office space too, but as of now, there isn’t one. She encourages the pop-up concept for other communities too. “It’s something any community can do,” she said. “It’s a matter of putting the legwork in behind the scenes so that when you have these businesses that are ready to try out their model in the downtown setting, you have the infrastructure in place to help them.” The committee’s pop-up program hasn’t been around too long, but Schroeder considers it a valuable tool in attracting business to downtown. That said, she hopes for the day when it is obsolete. “The goal of the pop-up program is to put ourselves out of business,” she said. “If we don’t have vacant space, we can’t have pop-ups. That would be the long-term goal.”
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uring its 65th annual meeting at the that brought the 45th Annual NAPA Auto Lake Ontario Event and Conference Parts Super DIRT Week event to the Oswego Center in Oswego on June 16, Operation Speedway in 2016; for the cooperation and Oswego County (OOC) honored three busi- team work between the World Racing Group, ness organizations, a successful entrepreneur DIRTcar Racing, the city of Oswego, the county and a long-standing economic development of Oswego, New York state and Oswego Speedadvocate for significant contributions to way that led to the conversion from asphalt economic development and job creation in to a dirt track, along with spectator camping Oswego County. and parking improvements, grandstand and n The Ally Award for 2017 was presented infrastructure renovations, all completed in to CiTi in recognition and appreciation of its record setting time; for hosting a tourism event outstanding vision, commitment and dedica- that delivered an economic impact of 70,000 tion to implementing educational programs fans contributing $12 million to the local and designed to enhance career opportunities for regional economies; for being recognized for its students; for collaborating success by being awarded with business partners to host Super DIRT Week Economic Trends such as Davis-Standard, 2017; and for Oswego The Fulton Companies, Huhtamaki, Novelis Speedway’s integral role in the tourism inand Sunoco to implement the P-TECH program dustry in Oswego County and Central New targeted for students interested in science, York since 1951. technology, engineering and math careers; for n The 2017 Jobs Award, was presented to creating a program that can lead to a regents Exelon in recognition and appreciation of its high school diploma and an associate degree significant contribution and commitment to in applied science for mechanical technology the Oswego County and Central New York or electrical engineering technology; and for economies; for its purchase of the James A. the P-TECH program’s vital role toward ad- FitzPatrick Nuclear Plant and the operation of vancing Oswego County’s workforce skills that Nine Mile Point Nuclear Station in the town of are essential to Oswego County’s employers. Scriba; for having the generating capacity of n The Business Excellence Award for 2017 2,300 MW, representing approximately 5 perwas presented to Oswego Speedway in rec- cent of the state’s capacity; for the generation ognition of the highly successful collaboration of carbon-free electricity and the avoidance
From left, Garrette Weiss, CiTi BOCES CTE business liaison; Christopher Todd, CiTi BOCES district superintendent; Barbara Bateman, OOC board president; L. Michael Treadwell, OOC executive director; William Lynch, CiTi BOCES P-TECH principal; Amber Preston, CiTi BOCES P-TECH liaison; Misti Yaddaw, CiTi BOCES P-TECH teacher; Sage Sirotkin, associate vice president of K-12 partnerships at Onondaga Community College; and Greg Hilton, engineering and maintenance manager at Huhtamaki. OSWEGO COUNTY BUSINESS
From left, Barbara Bateman, OOC board president; Debbie Bond, Oswego Speedway marketing; Camden Proud, Oswego Speedway public relations director; L. Michael Treadwell, OOC executive director; and Tom Salvador, representing Novelis, a sponsor of Oswego Speedway
From left, Barbara Bateman, OOC board president; Allen Chase, owner of Allen Chase Entreprises, Inc.; and L. Michael Treadwell, OOC executive director.
From left, Barbara Bateman, OOC board president; Chris Mudrick, Exelon senior vice president of northeast operations; and L. Michael Treadwell, OOC executive director
From left, Barbara Bateman, OOC board president; Kevin Gardner, Oswego County legislature chairman; and L. Michael Treadwell, OOC executive director.
of 16 million tons of carbon emissions annually; for its pivotal role in helping the state achieve its clean energy standard goals; for employing 1,500 workers, making Exelon the largest private sector employer in Oswego County; for its impact on 1,000s of supplemental jobs needed during refueling and maintenance outages and the associated economic benefits to the local economy; and for its generosity for contributing and supporting community initiatives including education, environmental improvements, community based notfor-profits, community sponsored events and economic development. n The 2017 Dee Heckethorn Entrepreneur Award was presented to Allen Chase in recognition and appreciation of exceptional entrepreneurial spirit, creativity and dedication to fostering the growth and development of Allen Chase Enterprises, Inc., a commercial outdoor maintenance provider for plowing, landscaping, herbicide application and mechanical vegetation removal; for transforming the garage-based start-up in 2001 to a fleet of more than AUGUST/SEPTEMBER 2017
70 specialized equipped vehicles and 72 employees located in the town of Scriba; for providing services to public and private sector customers across New York state, Pennsylvania and beyond; for achieving annual sales growth of more than 35 percent per year since 2014; and for his vision, commitment and focus on operating a very successful business in Oswego County. n The 2017 Martin Rose Economic Developer Merit Award was presented to Kevin Gardner in recognition and appreciation of his outstanding record of exhibiting leadership, support and cooperation in furthering economic development efforts that have substantially enhanced the business climate, economic progress and the quality of life in Oswego County through his dedication and commitment serving as the chairman of the Oswego County legislature; for serving on the Oswego County legislature since 2004 and as chairman since 2014; for effectively utilizing his private sector background in business and manufacturing to be vigilant in helping make the Oswego County government efficient and cost effective; OSWEGO COUNTY BUSINESS
for his leadership role in supporting the New York Clean Energy Standard and partnering with the Upstate Energy Jobs Coalition to protect the nuclear industry in Upstate New York and to save the James A. FitzPatrick Nuclear Power Plant; and for his vision on establishing the Oswego County Land Bank and the development of the Oswego County Strategic Economic Advancement Plan. The OOC board of directors re-elected board members Peter Cullinan, Exelon â€” FitzPatrick; William Galloway, Century 21 Galloway Realty; Jeffrey Grimshaw, Jeffrey Grimshaw Consulting; Daniel Murphy, Exelon Corporation; Bruce Phelps, Fulton Tool Company; and Nancy Weber, Mexican Pride Farm. Theresa Himes, Boscoâ€™s Food Market, was re-elected for a one-year term to fill the vacancy due to the transition of Gary Toth to an ex-officio as chairman of the County of Oswego IDA. The OOC board of directors also elected Tricia Peter-Clark, VP / chief of operations at NOCHSI and James Ransom, vice president of sales for United Wire Technologies, to the board. 49
Oswego Mayor Billy Barlow holding a check during an event last year to announce the city would receive $10 million in grants from the state. File photo.
Port City on Verge of Renaissance Oswego Mayor Barlow breaks down significance of major projects By Lou Sorendo
he city of Oswego is preparing for a makeover. A dozen projects were recently selected for funding through the $10 million Downtown Revitalization Initiative, which is allocated through the Central New York Regional Economic Development Council. A city team led by Oswego Mayor William “Billy” Barlow was successful in applying for the funds. A key to success 50
was demonstrating that the downtown area has attractive features, potential for job growth, and would serve a sizeable, diverse population within “easy reach” of the area, according to the CNYREDC. Among the projects, Barlow said he personally pushed hard for was the $1 million Complete Streets Streetscape Make-over on West Bridge Street (state Route 104). A Complete Street is a roadway OSWEGO COUNTY BUSINESS
planned and designed to consider the safe, convenient access and mobility of all roadway users of all ages and abilities, according to the state Department of Transportation. This includes pedestrians, bicyclists, public transportation riders, and motorists. It also includes children, the elderly, and persons with disabilities. Complete Street roadway design typically features sidewalks, lane striping, bicycle lanes, paved shoulders suitable for use by bicyclists, signage, crosswalks, pedestrian control signals, bus pull-outs, curb cuts, raised crosswalks, ramps and traffic calming measures, according to the DOT. Barlow said Complete Streets will transform downtown in several different ways. “It will allow us to better control the ambience of downtown and create an enjoyable, comfortable atmosphere,” he said. “Having our downtown divided by state Route 104, essentially a fourlane highway, limited opportunity and growth.” He said the momentum the city is experiencing north of state Route 104 has never quite been able to penetrate across the major thoroughfare and into the south side of downtown. “This project will finally allow that to happen,” he said. “It also will completely change the setting from having cars and trucks speed through downtown to giving pedestrians, not vehicles, priority. “In order to have a healthy and successful downtown, the pedestrians and patrons of downtown need to be comfortable, not the vehicles whizzing by.”
Integrative process Barlow said he believes projects that complement each other are vitally important. He said the Complete Streets project will complement other projects such as the Downtown West Gateway Project, the West First Street Multi-Building Redevelopment plan and renovation of the Children’s Museum of Oswego. The Downtown West Gateway Project will see redevelopment of a single-story structure at West First and Bridge streets into a two-story mixed- use building. The project was awarded $1 million through the DRI. The West First Street Multi-Building Redevelopment plan looks to create a multi-building, mixed-used commercial and residential project to replace existing AUGUST/SEPTEMBER 2017
buildings and a vacant lot on West First Street. It is funded by $2 million through the DRI. Renovation of the Children’s Museum of Oswego will see renovated space and the installation of hands-on educational and cultural exhibits at the site, located on the ground floor of the historic Buckout-Jones Building. “Those projects all complement each other because geographically, they connect downtown destinations,” Barlow said. He said the projects existing directly in that core area of downtown — West First Street and West Bridge Street — are crucial. “We can build outward from there, but ultimately if that core is strong and connects, we will have a walk-able, destination-worthy downtown,” he said.
Magnetic appeal Barlow noted the entire premise of the DRI and the downtown plan specifically argues if a community has a strong downtown, it will better attract residents. “To be a 21st Century community, you’re going to need to attract Millennials and retain middle-class, middle-aged families,” the mayor said. “They are attracted toward vibrant and active downtowns.” “People generally like to be around other people,” he said. “They like to be busy and have things to do.” He said the projects not only provide more reasons to visit downtown, but place an emphasis on downtown living. “Millennials specifically are attracted to downtown living and downtown social activities,” Barlow said. “They’re the future and for Oswego to grow in five, 10 and 15 years from now, we need to accommodate their needs and market to their preferences to better position ourselves.” Barlow said he personally worked extremely hard to win the DRI competition. “I lobbied our state officials and the governor’s office, and I shared our plan with whoever would give me five minutes of time to pitch it,” he said. Barlow said his team at City Hall created a vision touted by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, and it’s “incredible” to see hard dollars targeted to make that vision a reality. “I truly believe these projects will re-brand, re-ignite Oswego and create an Oswego that has never existed before and put us in a better position to thrive AUGUST/SEPTEMBER 2017
“This project will completely change the setting from having cars and trucks speed through downtown to giving pedestrians, not vehicles, priority. Oswego Mayor Billy Barlow
than we’ve ever been in,” he said.
Ready for challenge The biggest challenge of implementing the DRI is going to be “sizing up private developers, keeping them motivated and encouraging them to get moving and get the projects done,” Barlow said. As of now, the grant will be locally administered, meaning the city will provide oversight, he noted. “Obviously, I’ll be personally involved and these projects to me are personal,” he said. Barlow said the city reached out to the business community and private developers to offer money for projects they envisioned. “We did our job. We competed for the money, we won the money, and we provided the main resource,” he said. “Now, the private developers who were identified to receive allocations have to do what they said they would and could do with some financial assistance.” The mayor said this is a once-in-alifetime opportunity and the city needs to capitalize on it. “We can’t have developers dragging their feet. This is the opportunity they asked for and we’ve all been waiting for and the city has to push to see it through,” he added. Barlow said the process as far as timing is unclear at this time. “Every project is different, with different budgets, schedules, obstacles and challenges,” he said. Barlow said in mid-July that the city is meeting with private developers and state officials, and the state will be laying out the process once all information is compiled in order to move forward. OSWEGO COUNTY BUSINESS
Major Projects Here is a glimpse at the other major projects happening as part of the DRI: • The transformation of the historic Cahill building will feature a riverfront restaurant and six upscale housing units in the building, plus six new town homes on the same site. The project has been awarded $700,000 through the DRI. • The Harbor View Square mixed-use development will transform an underutilized industrial Brownfield site on the waterfront in downtown Oswego into a mixed-use residential and commercial development that will provide 75 units of new housing and retail and commercial space along the West First Street corridor. The project was awarded $740,000 through the DRI. • Construction of the new indoor Lake Ontario Water Park to attract visitors and create a four-season family destination downtown, linked to an existing hotel and event-conference center near the waterfront. The facility will build on existing anchor developments and attractions in downtown to strengthen the appeal as a family destination, according to Operation Oswego County. The project was awarded $500,000 through the DRI. • The transformation of the aging Midtown Plaza will create an attractive, mixed-use gateway development on the east side of the Oswego River with 45,000 square feet of commercial space and 95 housing units. The existing structures on the site will be demolished and a new attractive anchor development will be a catalyst for additional investment and growth on the east side of the Oswego River, according to OOC. The project was awarded $2 million through the DRI. According to OOC, DRI-related business-housing projects are poised to receive financial assistance from the County of Oswego Industrial Development Agency or will be eligible for assistance. The remaining projects, including streetscape make-over on West Bridge Street, restoration of the historic Buckhout-Jones building facade, renovation of the Children’s Museum of Oswego, creation of a pocket park on Market Street, improvements to the river walk and creation of a revolving loan fund to support local business growth, building renovation and outdoor programming will receive $2,760,000, according to OOC. 51
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President Trump and the Media: A Contentious Relationship
U ‘During my career as a journalist, fists have been shaken at me, obscene words were spewed at me, and I have had an angry relative get in my face as I was trying to do my job, but I have never been assaulted’
ntil recently, it was pretty much journalists in foreign countries who feared for their safety or their lives, but the ugly incident during a Congressional campaign in May in Montana has shown that you can body-slam a reporter and still get elected to Congress. During my career as a journalist, fists have been shaken at me, obscene words were spewed at me, and I have had an angry relative get in my face as I was trying to do my job, but I have never been assaulted. In fact, during the 37 years of having been actively involved in newsgathering activities, I have known just one colleague who was — Jim Sachetti, editor of the Press-Enterprise in Bloomsburg, Pa. An angry reader, who had been the subject of a news article written by a reporter at the paper, punched Sachetti in the mouth. He was not seriously injured, but it took us journalists by surprise, and for a while we were on high alert. But this was more than 30 years ago, and after a few months, things went back to normal. Since Donald Trump became president, the dynamics between the White House and the news media have changed dramatically. Trump constantly accuses the media of printing “fake news.” He has complained about “witch hunts.” Perhaps the most startling development was when he called the media the “enemy of the people.” This type of characterization had been previously the domain of autocrats and dictators who systematically did away with their opponents. The concern is that it sets the stage for events such as the one that happened in Bozeman, Mont., when multimillionaire Republican
Congressional candidate Greg Gianforte bodyslammed reporter Ben Jacobs of the Guardian newspaper to the ground, jumped on him and started pounding him with his fists. Jacobs was taken to a hospital for minor injuries, treated and released. Gianforte was charged. He pleaded guilty to misdemeanor assault. The judge in the case originally gave Gianforte four days in jail, where under the terms of a jail work program he would be able to spend two of those days working. However, after consulting with prosecution and defense lawyers, the judge changed the initial sentence just minutes later to no jail time, but he ordered Gianforte to do 40 hours of community service and undergo 20 hours of anger management therapy. In Montana, the maximum penalty for misdemeanor assault is a $500 fine and six months in jail. The judge also fined him $345. Gianforte entered the plea days after reaching a deal with Jacobs, which involved an apology and a donation of $50,000 to the Committee to Protect Journalists. In exchange, Jacobs agreed not to sue Gianforte. In his victory speech, Gianforte apologized to Jacobs. “When you make a mistake,” he said, “you have to own up to it. That’s the Montana way. I made a mistake, and I took an action that I can’t take back, and I’m not proud of what happened. I should not have responded in the way that I did, and for that I am sorry.” Someone in the audience called out, “We forgive you, Greg.” Shortly after the incident, his campaign lied and accused Jacobs of instigating the assault. It issued a statement that said, “It’s
BRUCE FRASSINELLI is the former publisher of The Palladium-Times and an adjunct online instructor at SUNY Oswego. 52
OSWEGO COUNTY BUSINESS
unfortunate that this aggressive behavior from a liberal journalist created this scene at our campaign volunteer BBQ.” A Fox News crew that was in the room at the time of the incident set the record straight by confirming Jacobs’ recounting of events. It took a full 24 hours for the Gianforte campaign to back off its original story. What is just as disturbing or more so were the reactions from conservative talk radio hosts and remarks from the public. Rush Limbaugh commended the “manly, studly” Gianforte for taking down a “pajama boy journalist, a 125-pound wet dishrag reporter.” Jacobs’ “sin” was to ask Gianforte his reaction to the Congressional Budget Office’s assessment of the proposed House Republican health care plan. One caller to Limbaugh’s show said if every Republican candidate threw a reporter to the ground, it would guarantee his voting for them. On Fox News, one analyst called Jacobs a “snowflake reporter.” During his victory celebration, when Gianforte was issuing his apology, someone in the audience called out, “he deserved it,” which brought some laughs from Gianforte supporters. The incident has caused alarm among media groups. Dan Shelley, executive director of the Radio Television Digital News Association, said this is an “outrageous escalation of the recent trend toward elected officials and those seeking elected office obstructing and now assaulting reporters who are merely trying to do their jobs.” The Committee to Protect Journalists, a press freedoms advocacy group, said that the incident “sends an unacceptable signal that physical assault is an appropriate response to unwanted questioning by a journalist.” Jeff Ballou, president of the National Press Club, said that since President Trump took office in January, there had scarcely been a day when he hadn’t had to deal with some serious challenge to members. “The steady deterioration of atmosphere, of civility and common decency, of outright unconstitutional behavior toward journalists, is deeply worrying,” Ballou said. As for President Trump, he congratulated Gianforte on his victory but was completely silent about the assault on the journalist. Gianforte has taken the oath of office and is now a member in good standing of the Congress. AUGUST/SEPTEMBER 2017
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Michael Harlovic Takes the Helm at Oswego Health From Pittsburgh to Oswego: New CEO wants to make Oswego Health a destination facility, improve the patient experience and quality of service, and create a culture of ownership By Lou Sorendo 54
OSWEGO COUNTY BUSINESS
ittsburgh has always been known as the “Steel City,” a moniker enhanced by a blue-collar workforce legendary for its grit and determination. While natural gas and oil from shale rock represent the new steel in Pittsburgh, its people still reflect the toughness and resolve the city was built on. Take Pittsburgh native Michael Harlovic for instance, the new president and CEO at Oswego Health. He has more than 31 years of health care experience, having started his career as a nurse’s aide and steadily advancing through the years to the position of president and CEO of Allegheny General Hospital in Pittsburgh. His tenacity and proactive approach have been deemed a perfect match for the top spot at Oswego Health. Under former CEO and president Chuck Gijanto, many advances have been made at Oswego Health on both the administrative as well as clinical levels during his 21-month tenure. In order to continue to build on what Gijanto and the corporate team have built, Harlovic intends on fostering a culture of ownership. Harlovic referred to a book titled “The Florence Prescription: From Accountability to Ownership.” “The difference between accountability and ownership is that no one checks the oil on a rented car,” he said. “Ownership within itself requires a culture that is emotionally positive.” Harlovic noted Oswego Health must continue to improve patient experience and quality by adopting industry best practices. He said this is accomplished through hourly nursing and leadership rounding. “We also must continue to integrate ourselves within the community,” noted Harlovic, who said he plans to meet regularly with local business and community leaders. In continuing where Gijanto left off, Harlovic will also focus on improving the financial performance of the organization. “That allows us to reinvest in the facility from a capital perspective and our employees from a benefits and compensation perspective,” he added.
“Patient experience scores have really taken off, and along with the culture of the organization, it’s all on the upswing,” Harlovic said. “So it was very attractive.” “I felt like I was walking into a healthy organization,” he added. In making his career move, Harlovic indicated he wanted to go back to a community health setting. “I said one of the requirements when I reentered the market was that I wanted to find an independent community hospital in a rural setting that was not part of a health system, with no matrix reporting,” he said. Harlovic also desired to be in a neighboring state to Pennsylvania, particularly since his elderly parents still reside there and “I didn’t want to have to jump on an airplane in an emergency or anything like that.” He also has a cabin on the border of Western New York and Pennsylvania by Chautauqua Lake in the Jamestown area, located about three hours from Oswego. “It’s a place to decompress,” he said.
— On maintaining the patient experience and satisfaction:
— On his 2 1/2-year-old chocolate Labrador retriever, Legend:
A new chapter
“If you come in here and have a really good experience, you’re going to come back. It’s just like going to a restaurant. If the meal wasn’t good,
“He’s a wild man, but still kind of a puppy. He’s just great to have around and gets you moving every day.”
Harlovic discussed the reasons why he opted to come to Oswego Health. AUGUST/SEPTEMBER 2017
Michael Harlovic’s Thoughts on Healthcare, Management Michael Harlovic is the new president and CEO at Oswego Health. Here are his thoughts on a myriad of issues: — On the importance of forming interpersonal relationships as a CEO: “Ninety percent of being a CEO is developing good relationships, both internal and external to the organization. We need the community, and the community needs us. “If people get to know a little something about you without crossing that personal-professional line, then they see you as a real person and not just an administrator. I take great time in introducing myself to employees and people and telling them a little bit about myself. I think it helps them get to know me and really want to work with me.”
OSWEGO COUNTY BUSINESS
“I was also looking for a place that was progressive in strategy, services and employee culture, and I think Oswego Health is that,” he said. Harlovic said Oswego Health’s portfolio of services is “very uncommon” for an independent community hospital. He said many community hospitals do not feature a long-term care facility located on a separate campus such as the Manor at Seneca Hill. Meanwhile, Oswego Health’s independent retirement community, Springside at Seneca Hill; its professional corporation, Physician Care, P.C.; and its primary care clinics in Central Square and Fulton make the organization the most comprehensive care provider in Oswego County, Harlovic noted. “One of the things I hope to do is help brand and communicate that better to the community,” he said. Harlovic said another thing that influenced him to come to Oswego Health was the quality scores of the organization. Oswego Hospital was recently you’ll probably tell 10 people not to go there. “If you go to a really good restaurant and receive great service and food, you’re probably going to tell lots of people about that as well.” — On adhering to a system management style of leadership: “Everybody has to know the organization’s goals, our real time progress and how they can contribute to the success of the organization. It’s just getting all employees on the same page with the same goals.” — On playing football with Hall of Fame quarterback Dan Marino at Central Catholic High School in Pittsburgh. “The neatest thing about that at the time was you didn’t realize he was that good, but all these national coaches were coming in to recruit him, including Joe Paterno of Penn State.”
awarded its third consecutive “A” rating for providing safe, high-quality care to its patients by the Leapfrog Group. Harlovic noted that only 6 percent of the nation’s 2,400 hospitals that get evaluated earn that “A” rating three consecutive times. Harlovic noted Oswego Hospital has earned The Joint Commission’s Gold Seal of Approval for Hospital Accreditation by demonstrating continuous compliance with regulatory standards. Harlovic came to Oswego on short notice, and didn’t have time to sell his house in Pittsburgh. His wife has been back and forth while taking care of her ill 92-year-old mother in Pennsylvania. Harlovic has rented a house on Cemetery Road in the town of Oswego, which is about a 3½-mile commune from the hospital. “I’m going to need a little bit of green space but I want a short commute, and Cemetery Road meets that right now,” said Harlovic, noting he doesn’t want to be too far from the hospital being that he is part of the on-call team.
son’s point of view because sometimes you have competing interests,” he said. Harlovic has incorporated that into his leadership style, which he characterizes as servant. “I’ve spent 30-some years working in a hospital and started out as a caregiver and working side by side with the people that do the core work,” he said. Harlovic spent the majority of his career — 21 years — at Allegheny Valley Hospital, a 200-bed community hospital. He said there are a lot of similarities between Oswego Health and Allegheny Valley Hospital. “Both facilities were formed by members of the community based on the health care needs of the community,” he said. Both are geographically located about 30 miles from the largest big city — Pittsburgh in the case of Allegheny Valley and Syracuse in respect to Oswego Health. “Both have limited funding, so the best way to compete when in a small
community hospital is to deliver high quality and service,” he said. He said Oswego Health is able to compete based on just that — high quality and service. For three years prior to coming to Oswego Health, Harlovic ran Allegheny General Hospital, an academic 631-bed facility. It is part of Highmark Health, a health services company that offers insurance and other health-related services in 50 states. Allegheny General has 5,000 employees along with about 400 residents and fellows. Three medical schools use it as a training facility, and there are 37 other schools — such as RN or technician schools — that also use it. “It was in an urban setting and I can only describe it as working in a small city, probably like working on an aircraft carrier,” he said. “It was a pretty amazing experience.” “Interestingly, the same principles to
Rise to the top Harlovic said learning the business from an entry-level position ignited his career ascension. After starting as a nurse’s aide, he subsequently became a registered nurse. “It helped because I was able to view care from both a patient’s and operational perspective,” he said. Harlovic said along the way, he had a series of strong mentors. For example, the chief financial officer that Harlovic first worked with helped him understand hospital finance. Harlovic, who strictly had a clinical background, was taught aspects such as the revenue cycle, billing, and how clinical outcomes and metrics are financially intertwined. Harlovic also worked with members of the medical staff, who helped him understand from a physician’s perspective what it was like to work and practice in a hospital, and the needs that they were going to have. He also had excellent administrative mentors, he said. In terms of personal skills, Harlovic has the ability to effectively establish relationships with people. Harlovic said he prefers talking to people versus texting or emailing, and opts not to be on social media. “I always try to see the other per56
Oswego Health Recognizes Retiring CEO, Board Members Who are Stepping Down Oswego Health honored retiring President and CEO Chuck Gijanto along with five board members who have stepped down from their positions. The board members were presented a plaque in recognition of their service. Among those honored are seated Pamela Caraccioli, who was on the board for 19 years, which included serving as board chairwoman from 2009 to 2011; and Patricia Mears, who OSWEGO COUNTY BUSINESS
had been on the health system board for 15 years. Standing are Gijanto, who has retired as president and CEO and board chairman Adam Gagas, who presented plaques to the health system officials. Also honored were Yvonne Petrella and William Galloway, who both served 18 years, and physician Ivan Proano, who had been on the board for five years.
run a smaller hospital apply to a larger hospital,” said Harlovic, such as the way the organization approaches quality of patient care and experience, and the manner in which business is grown. “The concepts are the same, it’s just the size,” he said. Harlovic said that generally, the larger the organization, the harder it is to implement change and get things done. “In a smaller organization that is independent versus being part of a health system, you can move faster,” Harlovic said.
The fundamentals When operating a hospital, Harlovic follows four tenets or “pillars”: quality of care, the patient experience, how the organization is performing financially and how it intends to grow business. He noted it is imperative to understand value-based purchasing. Hospital value-based purchasing is part of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ ongoing effort to structure Medicare’s payment system to reward providers for the quality of care they provide. “There are things the government reimburses you for based on clinical performance, such as preventing central line-associated bloodstream infections, catheter-associated urinary tract infections, and surgical site infections,” he noted. Harlovic said nationally, 20,000 people a year die from hospital-acquired infections. “You can actually get penalized and lose money and not get paid as much if you are not meeting standards of care.” Oswego Hospital had the lowest infection rate in the region, which bodes well toward its safety rating. “The other thing you have to do is create a really safe environment, not only basic patient safety so they don’t fall or anything like that, but also employee and visitor safety,” he added. Prior to Harlovic’s arrival, an employee opinion survey was taken, and one of the concerns was making the facility safer. “So we now have uniformed security on the premises,” he said. “I think I’m going to probably look at that even more, and may add more security to the emergency department.” The reason is simple. “There is an epidemic of violence in the country, and a lot of it is drug induced. I’m sure Oswego is not immune to the AUGUST/SEPTEMBER 2017
Lifelines Age: 56 Birthplace: Pittsburgh Current residence: Oswego town Education: Bachelor of Science and Master of Science degrees in nursing, University of Pittsburgh; certificate in executive leadership, Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania Personal: Wife Cornelia, two sons Hobbies: Exercise, spending time with his family, fishing, enjoying activities at his cabin in Western New York opioid crisis in this country,” he noted. In terms of the financial success of the organization, Harlovic said one of his goals is to make Oswego Health a destination facility. “I want it to be a destination facility in the sense that this is where physicians want to bring their patients, this is where patients want to come, and I want it to be a destination workplace where employees want to come to work with adequate compensation and a good working culture,” he said. Harlovic, 56, and his wife Cornelia have been married for nearly 31 years. He earned both Bachelor of Science and Master of Science degrees in nursing at the University of Pittsburgh. Both their sons also graduated from there. He also earned a certificate in executive leadership from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. Their eldest son is entering the Master of Business Administration program at the Wharton School, while their youngest son works for a major private equity firm in Pittsburgh.
Better branding needed Harlovic said he gets an early sense that Oswego Health “probably needs some better branding and education in the community about how it is the comprehensive health care provider OSWEGO COUNTY BUSINESS
in the community and all the different services that it offers.” Over the next six months, Harlovic intends on taking a close look at the organization’s branding and image. He said it is important to communicate Oswego’s Health’s accomplished system and specifically, the high-quality care and services patients receive. The key toward accomplishing that is communication and being present in its own facilities and local companies. For instance, Oswego Health has established a primary care physician and a mid-level practitioner at Novelis, the major aluminum fabricator located in Scriba. “One of the things we’re looking at is making sure our leadership at the hospital is involved in community boards and present during community events,” he added. Harlovic gains great gratification from leading the success of the organization. He also enjoys mentoring individuals and guiding their career progress. With job challenges comes stress. Harlovic said a work-life balance is essential, and he achieves it through physical exercise, spending time with his family and activities such as fishing. He also has a two-and-one-half year old chocolate Labrador named Legend. Harlovic said dogs have that “unconditional love” for their owners that erases a bad day. The duo will walk and hike through the woods, and also swim. “My cabin is on the Alleghany River. It’s as wide as it is in Pittsburgh, but it’s shallow, and in the summer there are no barge traffic or speedboats,” he said. Harlovic and Legend will walk and swim out to an island on the river. “I got a life jacket I put on him in case I have to grab him quickly. It’s not that he is going to sink because he swims better than me,” he said. “It’s just for safety purposes.” Harlovic was a former member of the Pittsburgh chapter of the American Congress of Real Estate and was involved in both commercial and residential development. He was a member of the North Side Community Development Board, and also was a board member with the Center for Hope, which assisted disadvantaged people. “My plan is to become a board member as invited or as I seek out here in the community,” he said. “I want to root myself in the community as a representative of the health system.” 57
SPECIAL REPORT By Deborah Jeanne Sergeant
Is CNY Ready for the Baby Boomers’ Health Needs? Sure, experts say, but we could use more services, more medical professionals to care for the aging population
he baby boomer generation has been driving change in the age structure of the U.S. population since their birth at the end of World War II, according to “The Baby Boom Cohort in the United States: 2012 to 2060” published by the US Census. Their care for later in life may prove no exception. By 2030, the US will have 61 million people aged 66 to 84. That means one in five Americans will be 65 and older, according to the US Census. Is Central New York ready for these numbers? Peter Headd, executive director at Onondaga County Office for Aging, said that the infrastructure and expertise are in place among the county-based offices for the aging, but the county resources are “being stretched,” he said. 58
“We may not be as prepared as we would like to be because of the baby boomers’ size as a generation,” Headd said. “We’re wrapped in a dynamic of more seniors aging every year while funding is flat and even being reduced in some circumstances. Some of the supports required are still emerging.” The area’s agencies’ ability to collaborate throughout their organizations and among other unrelated organizations encourages Headd. But a few areas could still use some improvement such as transportation, assisting with medication and finances, aiding older adults in staying in their homes and city planning issues such as accessibility. Headd hopes that more volunteerism across the generations will help fill in some gaps, as well as entrepreneurship. OSWEGO COUNTY BUSINESS
Dan Dey, CEO of Northern Oswego Health Services (NOSCHI), believes that the most critical need Central New York faces is the number of providers necessary to provide primary care services. “It would be helpful if we had more residency slots for primary care physicians,” Dey said. “They’re the gatekeepers that the patients see first before they get referrals for specialists. If we had more, we could prevent more movement into more expensive avenues of care like emergency care.” He thinks that physician assistants and nurse practitioners can help meet the need, as well as telemedicine. Dey also wants more human services agencies to help meet non-medical needs that lead to medical needs. Meeting long-term care needs represents one of the most important and potentially costly expenses facing baby boomers and their families. “I don’t think any region is fully prepared for the rapidly growing population,” said Kim Townsend, CEO at Loretto in SyrDan Dey acuse. Townsend described the baby boomers as unique for their tech savvy and desire for personalized services. “They see themselves as consumers of health care,” Townsend said. “What we also know about baby boomers is many have not saved for retirement as their parents did. We’re facing a very large and demanding population who has less resources available to provide care.” Since people are living longer, she thinks that the demand for memory care will only rise. In addition, “we’re beginning to deal with people with Alzheimer’s and related dementias at younger ages,” she said. About 7 percent are in their 50s. Finding enough quality affordable housing will be challenging.” She wants more people to plan ahead for remaining in their homes
continued on page 60 AUGUST/SEPTEMBER 2017
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through home modifications and setting up the supports they need to stay independent. She hopes Central New York will continue improving the area’s age-friendliness such as focusing on wellness and prevention; enhancing quality of life for older adults; improving accessibility; and meeting older adults’ needs on their terms.
An Optimistic view George Chapman, owner of GW Chapman Consulting in Syracuse, said that the cost of long-term care will likely become the biggest cost, but that can be partially offset by family members. He estimates that if the economy continues to grow at a rate of 3 percent annuChapman ally, the country can cover the
cost of long-term care. “All these dire predictions about physician shortages — I think that they are overgrown,” Chapman said. “The baby boomer generation is also easier to care for because they tend to be better educated. College-educated people have half the disability that the high school educated people do. He added that the American Geriatric Society claim that the 7,500 certified geriatricians falls far short of the 17,000 needed doesn’t account for the non-geriatrician physicians caring for the elderly. “I don’t think it’s that important that people specialize in geriatrics,” Chapman said. “These self-serving statistics discount other doctors and mid-level practitioners and mental health workers who are physicians.” Overall, Chapman offered an optimistic outlook. He believes that the economic burden of caring for the baby boomer should prove no different than the economic burden of rearing them as children. “We didn’t go bankrupt in the 60s and we won’t go bankrupt in 2030,” Chapman said.
OSWEGO COUNTY BUSINESS
Substance Abuse Eric Bresee, executive director of Farnham Family Services in Oswego, said that his agency is working to adapt to the needs of older adults experiencing substance abuse disorders, including opioid and alcohol abuse. Only about 3.8 percent of the agency’s clients are older adults; however, Bresee thinks that the statistic doesn’t reflect the true problem. “The Surgeon General’s report states that nine out of 10 people who need treatment aren’t getting it,” he said. “I think it could apply more so to the older population because of the stigma many of their age range hold about treatment, the challenge of transportation and their increased risk factors.” He said the organization is exploring community-based treatment options and peer support, which may prove helpful.
SPECIAL REPORT By Deborah Jeanne Sergeant
Corporate Wellness. What’s in it for Businesses?
Proponents of wellness program say companies gain when they help keep their employees healthy
orporate wellness has become a buzzword for upward trending companies. But what can it really do for your organization? And how does it work? Emily Skaj, corporate wellness coordinator for Metro Fitness in Syracuse, said that more companies have included wellness among their benefits because they want to improve their company culture. She assesses companies’ employee health needs and, working with management, develops programs related to those needs such as stress management, physical activity and nutrition. For example, she worked with factory employees to incorporate stretches and hand exercises to reduce the effects of repetitive work. Performing stretches before work a few times weekly helped improve the company’s OSHA compliance. Skaj also requests client companies to offer healthful break room snacks instead of the typical low-nutrition vending machine fare and to improve catering to include healthful options. Games such as “Nutrition/Fitness Bingo” makes learning about better health fun for employees, she said. “I call out a bingo number having to do with nutrition and fitness they try to do that week, like pre-planning to bring healthful snacks to work,” Skaj said. AUGUST/SEPTEMBER 2017
Offering walking programs, complete with pedometers, has also helped sedentary employees to move more. “It gets competitive and they can form teams,” Skaj said. Other programs have included training for a 5K race as a group. “Infinite studies say that exercise is good for the average person,” Skaj said. “When it pertains to the work you do, it will help you your time management, meeting deadlines and concentration up to 60 percent.” She said that just moderate exercise such as a half hour during the lunch period to start can make a difference, but wellness programs can include after hours programs also. Joseph Jones works as the strength and conditioning coordinator of YMCA of Greater Syracuse, which offers corporate wellness. He said that once employers understand the long-term benefits of corporate wellness, most are onboard. He listed lower insurance premiums, fewer absentees, and greater esprit de corps among the benefits. “It shows the people who work for you that their leaders actually care,” Jones said. “It shows they want to invest in your employees. That’s what your responsibility is for your employees.” The YMCA can facilitate “Lunch and Learn” meetings where if the employer provides the food, a YMCA represenOSWEGO COUNTY BUSINESS
tative will provide a presentation on a health-related topic such as smoking cessation, stress reduction or preparing healthful snacks. Jones said that up to $10, the YMCA will match employer contributions to provide employee memberships. That leaves only $6 as the employees’ responsibility. While hiring a corporate wellness program may not be affordable by small companies, they can still take measures to improve employee wellness. Jones said that easy-to-implement measures include “walking meetings” to help get employees moving more, as can walking groups on breaks, which should include leadership. “Seeing the CEO doing the program will encourage you to want to do it more,” Jones said. “Participation from that higher authority group needs to improve in corporate wellness.” Including health tips in companywide communications, such as paycheck inserts and company newsletters can also help improve employee health. Designate the property as tobacco-free to support smoking cessation. Hosting speakers from health organizations during the lunch break can also help employees learn about improving their health.
Wellness Plans Pay for Themselves
According to a 2016 report “Winning with Wellness” from the US Chamber of Commerce: • More than 33 percent of Americans are overweight or obese. • Almost 86 million Americans have pre-diabetes, but fewer than 1 in 10 realize it. • Depression and obesity are the top two drivers of employers’ health care costs. Doing only five simple steps can decrease health costs by 33 to 50 percent: walk half an hour daily, eat a healthful diet, avoid tobacco use, drink only in moderation and maintain a waist circumference less than half their height. Well-planned corporate wellness programs offer a return on investment of $1.50 to $3 per $1 spent over the next two to nine years. 61
SPECIAL REPORT By Lou Sorendo
Unhealthy Premiums? Insurers continue to jack up premiums as health care market dictates rates
he health care industry is in a seemingly constant state of transition, and so are insurance premium
rates. As the powers in Washington continue to seek solutions to a troubled health care system, consumers in New York state are dealing with insurance premium costs that continue to shoot skyward. Insurers want to boost premiums for individual plans sold on the New York health insurance exchange by an average of 17 percent next year. The premium compensates the insurer for bearing the risk of a payout should an event occur that triggers coverage. According to The Commonwealth Fund, the average annual increase of premiums for single coverage in New York was 5.4 percent from 2010-15, compared to the U.S. average of 3.8 percent during that same time frame. For family coverage in New York, the average annual increase of premiums was 5.9 percent from 2010-15, compared 62
to the U.S. average of 4.5 percent. On the individual market in the U.S. in 2017, the average individual premium rate for the second-lowest cost silver plan before tax credits is $456 for a 40-yearold non-smoker earning $30,000 a year, according to the Commonwealth Fund. That compares to $369 in 2016. Insurers in New York state in the small group market had average premium increases of about 7 percent in 2016. More than 3.6 million people — about 18 percent of the state’s population — were enrolled through the NY State of Health as of the end of the 2017 open enrollment period on Jan. 31, 2017. According to the NY State of Health open enrollment report for 2017, there were 242,880 New Yorkers enrolled in Qualified Health Plans and 665,324 enrolled in the Essential Plan as of January. Both are individual markets. The number of employees and dependents enrolled in the Small Business Marketplace — a small group plan — was 11,769 as of January 2017, according to the NYSOH report. OSWEGO COUNTY BUSINESS
Wide disparity The 2018 rate hike requests filed by 16 insurers range from a low of 4.4 percent being sought by Excellus BlueCross BlueShield to a 38.5 percent increase by UnitedHealthcare of New York. Jeffrey Gold, senior vice president and special counsel, insurance and managed care, Health Association of New York State, said he thinks in terms of the Excellus marketplace, some of that reflects economic reality. “They understand the economics of the Central New York market for one, and I think they probably feel that they have relatively tightly managed that product. “In places where increases are vastly higher, I think it’s probably a reflection of the fact that in the plan’s view, the risk pool is probably much sicker or has higher users than they anticipated,” he said. “As a result, their calculus based on the number of lives and the way they can spread risk is that, in the absence of getting those type of [requested] numbers, they are not going to be able to succeed.” Gold said it is important to go back in history before the ACA when “we had individual mandates and subsidies comAUGUST/SEPTEMBER 2017
ing in various different ways, both with cost-sharing reductions and in terms of tax subsidies,” Gold said. Gold said the individual market in New York had gotten very small, and was down to 10,000 or 15,000 lives. “Those products were incredibly expensive because it involved those individuals who knew they needed insurance and were in that typical age range where they weren’t eligible for Medicare and not on employer insurance,” he noted. “That was a very expensive population. When the ACA came along in New York, that significantly broadened the pool because it started to include some of the ‘young invincibles,’” he said. Members of the U.S. population between the ages of 18 and 29 who decide that it is in their financial best interest to forgo health insurance are sometimes referred to as “young invincibles” by the insurance industry. It’s a term used to express the idea that the young demographic perceives themselves as immune to sickness and injury. “That helped for a while. So for our state, we were not seeing the premium increases that the rest of the country was seeing in the exchange market,” Gold said. “But in a sense, some of our premiums were already fairly high. We’ve done better in the ACA years with our individual market increases compared to the rest of the country, where there is a lot of screaming in the federally certified exchanges.”
Turbulence in DC Gold said anybody who is trying to determine what will happen in Congress over the short term is “really just guessing,” and projections on how health insurance premium rates will fare will change whether a bill gets through or doesn’t. “We are all going to have to react as a result of Congressional action or lack of action,” he said. He said the ACA was successful in getting more people insured, lowering the rate of the uninsured in New York and providing some significant affordable products, particularly those that included cost shares and subsidies. “The cost curve itself has not really slowed down, so there is going to continue to be pressure on premium rates for the foreseeable future until we figure out what successfully bends the cost curve,” he said. Most of the people who entered the New York State of Health marketplace AUGUST/SEPTEMBER 2017
bought into the cost-sharing standard silver plan. After a consumer fills out an application with the health insurance marketplace and provides household and income information, he or she will find out if they qualify for a premium tax credit that lowers one’s monthly health insurance bill. The consumer will also find out if, in addition, his or her income qualifies them for extra savings known as cost-sharing reductions. “The State of Health marketplace is supposed to provide both electronic calculator tools and hands-on assistance in order to be able to sift through that shop,” Gold said. While insurers are continuing to withdraw from the ACA marketplaces across the country, New York is not seeing any evidence of that, Gold said. “It’s hard to know until we see what happens in Congress. There is a lot of
Understanding the Process of Approval of Higher Rates The prior approval law in New York state requires that health insurers make an application to the NYS Department of Financial Services (DFS) to evaluate proposed rate changes. The department reviews rate applications along with the insurer’s calculations to ensure any premium rate increases are justified and not excessive. Health insurers must convince the DFS that they are entitled to get the rates they seek, according to Jeffrey Gold, senior vice president and special counsel, insurance and managed care, Health Association of New York State. “They put those in and I suspect that they expect them to be potentially adjusted down,” Gold said. “This is supposed to be a true reflection of what market pressures cost, with the individual market typically always having been pretty expensive,” he said. Gold said most of the rate increases tend to be in the individual and group markets. He noted there are a number of factors that drive premium increases. One key factor involves risk adjustment money required by federal law and the Affordable Care Act. This resulted in several plans — particularly in the downstate market — ending up paying “a lot of dollars in risk adjustment fees, and that ended
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up significantly cutting into their margins,” he said. In addition, the federal risk adjustment program, under which insurers with healthier enrollees are supposed to pay insurers with less healthy enrollees, has caused significant shifts in dollars among plans, requiring some insurers to make substantial payments under the program, according to the DFS. DFS has previously raised concerns about the federal risk adjustment program in New York. “In order to better achieve the goals of this risk adjustment program, DFS is examining possible future actions to address disparities caused by the program in New York,” the DFS states. “I think that was significantly reflected in those high-end increases in terms of what they were doing. Also, it’s my understanding that plans did not calculate their 2018 requests with the collapse on repeal of the Accountable Care Act in mind,” he said. The Trump administration and Congressional Republicans are in the process of trying to repeal the ACA with a new version of the health care bill. “I don’t think in New York that the plans were factoring in the possible loss of cost-sharing reductions and other things,” Gold said.
pressure on Congress to take steps to stabilize the market, which includes cost-sharing reductions being sustained for a while, although it’s hard to say how that plays out,” he said. Gold said while marketplace abandonment or departure from exchanges is happening across the country and involves some of the larger payers such as United Health Group and Aetna, “we are not seeing any evidence of that in New York.” “There is a lot of competition, and our marketplace seems to be OK for now. It’s hard to say how it’s going to be impacted depending on what the next couple of weeks or months bring, but right now, our market is not in disarray.” Reflecting a nationwide trend, another main drivers of premium rate increases are underlying medical costs, according to the NYS Department of Financial Services (DFS). Inpatient hospital and drug costs
account for the largest share of medical expenses at more than 40 percent, the DFS stated.
High Premium Rates? Consumers Have Recourses The New York State Department of Financial Services’ website allows policyholders to comment about an insurer’s proposed premium rate increase. Insurers must also send their customers a notice about a proposed premium rate increase when they file the application with the Department of Financial Services (DFS). This notice should state that an application has been filed and that consumers can review the application on the DFS website and submit comments about the premium increase. The insurance company is also required to send policyholders a second
more specific notice if a final premium rate has been approved. This notice will contain more specific information about particular premiums. “First of all, consumers can certainly shop and they can communicate with the New York marketplace and get consumer assistance and facilitated enrollment help to shop for an affordable plan,” said Jeffrey Gold, senior vice president and special counsel, insurance and managed care, Health Association of New York State. They can also make sure they are eligible for cost-sharing reductions, tax subsidies and other benefits as long as they still exist, he added. The DFS consumer hotline is 800342-3736 while local calls can be made to 212-480-6400. For more information, visit www. dfs.ny.gov/consumer/health_ins_ prem_comment.htm.
Glimmer of Hope Regarding Premiums Costs Expert: Growth of premiums within employer-sponsored health plans slowing
ealth insurance premiums on the Affordable Care Act’s exchanges are expected to increase faster in 2017 than in previous years, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. A combination of factors leading to increases includes substantial losses experienced by many insurers in this market and the phasing out of the ACA’s reinsurance program, the foundation noted. However, Sara Collins, vice president for health care coverage and access for The Commonwealth Fund, said within employer-based health plans, the rate of growth of premiums has actually slowed since 2010. Annual premium growth rates for employer-sponsored health plans have slowed on average since 2010, the year the ACA was enacted. For single-person plans, or those that cover only the employee and not any family members, average premium growth rates slowed to 3.8 percent per year from 2010-15 compared with an average 4.7 percent from 2006-10. Collins said recent analysis shows a sustained slowdown in premium growth rates in a majority of states
since the ACA was enacted in 2010, likely reflecting the nationwide deceleration in health care costs. The findings note that the law’s employer requirements have been absorbed relatively easily by companies in the United States, including the coverage mandate for large companies, the provision that allows young adults to stay on parents’ policies, and the requirement that plans cover preventive care without cost-sharing. However, the findings also offer evidence as to why many insured Americans view their health care costs as unaffordable. “While growth in employee premium contributions have slowed along with premiums, deductibles continue to proliferate and their annual growth rate exceeds premium growth by a wide margin,” a recent issue brief by The Commonwealth Fund stated. Making matters worse is growth in median family incomes has lagged behind health insurance cost growth. “Middle-income families continue to see a growing share of their household budgets going to health care. Where employees have less generous health plans as well as lower median incomes,
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the combination is particularly toxic. People with high deductibles relative to income are far more likely to avoid getting needed care than those with more affordable out-of-pocket costs. For those who do get health care, large medical bills can quickly exceed assets,” the report stated. “Premiums are growing more slowly, which reflects in large part a slowdown in overall health costs over the last few years,” she said. She said the rate of growth of premiums in New York “is a little higher” than the national average. “Fewer plans in New York relative to the national average come with deductibles, which tend to be lower than the national average,” she said. Deductibles for single coverage in New York rose at a pace of 5.6 percent from 2006-2010 and 8.1 percent from 2010-2015, compared to the U.S. average of 9.5 percent and 8.5 percent, respectively. Premiums are slightly higher in general in New York because there is more and better coverage offered to the consumer, she added.
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Farnham to Open Opioid Treatment Program in Oswego
arnham Family Services plans to open Oswego County’s first opioid treatment program (OTP) to combat what it calls a “heroin epidemic” in the region. According to the nonprofit, residents of Oswego County have faced the opioid epidemic with little to no services in the area. If an individual wants OTP services he or she would need to travel to Watertown, Rochester or Syracuse. Farnham’s OTP will be licensed and supported by Oswego County Mental Hygiene, NYS Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse (OASAS), Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) and Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), which is a branch of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The program will offer medication-assisted recovery services to AUGUST/SEPTEMBER 2017
individuals with opioid substance use disorder. The medications, when taken as prescribed, will allow the individual to discontinue use of heroin and illicit opiates with diminished or alleviated symptoms of withdrawal, reduced or alleviated cravings and can provide a blockade effect if other opiates were to be used, according to Farnham. The patient does not get “high” when taking the medications properly, according to Farnham. The three medications for treating opioid substance use disorder are methadone, buprenorphine and vivitrol. Farnham plans to offer all three depending on patient needs and preference. In addition to medication, the program will offer patients support services by a multidisciplinary treatment team that will include a physician, registered nurses, master’s level therapists, support staff and more. OSWEGO COUNTY BUSINESS
Services offered include individual counseling, group therapy, physicals, family involvement, case management and referrals to other services as needed. Medication-assisted recovery services have proven to give patients the opportunity for decreases in illicit opiate use, opiate related overdoses, criminal behavior and spread of infectious disease, while improving health, wellness and overall functioning, according to Farnham. 65
Brewerton Doctor Transitions to New Care Model Longtime Brewerton physician now practicing concierge-style medicine, taking calls from patients and visiting them at home By Matthew Liptak
hen was the last time you called the doctor and the physician herself answered the phone? Under physician Laura Hamilton’s new way of running things that could happen if you call her. “I think it’s easier to make an appointment,” the 60-year-old said. “Many times I will answer the phone myself if the rest of my staff is busy. “We’re able to spend more time with our patients for either acute or chronic appointments.” Hamilton downsized her practice from more than 1,200 patients to 600. She is partnering with MDVIP, a national network of 940 providers serving 270,000 patients. It will allow her to devote more time to each individual patient and include more prevention in their care. “I think it allows us to improve outcomes,” she said. “Improve nutrition, improve weight management, minimize the medication impact that it has on patients by decreasing the number of those medications, an increase of quality of life and decrease in hospitalizations.” According to the American Journal of Managed Care, Medicare patients in MDVIP-affiliated practices were admitted to the hospital 79 percent less than patients in traditional practices. The reductions in hospitalizations translated to $300 million in saving to Medicare. “I think that’s pretty impressive, and certainly would have a financial and economic impact on healthcare should this be a model that would be adopted in a more widespread way,” Hamilton said. Hamilton now provides a more personalized care to her patients. They receive an annual comprehensive wellness program that lasts between 90 minutes and two hours. They are evaluated in many areas, including heart health, emotional well-being, diabetes risk, re66
spiratory health, quality of sleep, hearing and vision, sexual health, nutritional assessment, weight management, bone health, and risk factor analysis. The service isn’t free. It breaks down to about $1,650 to $1,850 a year, but Hamilton takes Medicare and major insurance. The fee includes a “no waiting” waiting room, and the ability to contact the doctor via cell phone 24/7. MDVIP claims a 90 percent satisfaction rate with its patients. “I think that what I’ve seen in the few months since I started this practice is my ability to affect the outcome of patients is greater than it was before,” Hamilton said. Hamilton gave the example of an elderly couple who are home-bound. With her new model she is able to offer house calls to them and make a real impact on their health outcomes. “We’ve been able to avoid at least two hospitalizations in the last three months by being able to intervene sooner in their care, by being able to initiate therapy, get services into the home that we would not be able otherwise to do, just by my having the ability to do that,” she said. On a personal level, Hamilton said the change has been good for her too. “I think it allows me to get today’s work done today,” she said. “At the end of the day those things are all taken care of and I can go home. I don’t know that necessarily I spend less time in the office, but I sleep better at night because I feel like I haven’t missed anything or I haven’t left something that was undone.” Hamilton believes prevention and wellness are key ingredients in extending the quality and length of her patients’ lives. She said it is a growing trend in health care. OSWEGO COUNTY BUSINESS
“I think that what I’ve seen in the few months since I started this practice is my ability to affect the outcome of patients is greater than it was before,” -Physician Laura Hamilton “Prevention is the key to minimizing medication, to minimizing the development of chronic diseases,” she said. “If you can impact a patient’s weight, their nutrition, their activity, then you can keep them from becoming ill.” She is taking new patients even though she has reduced the number of people she will see. Hamilton encourages those who are interested in the model to get in touch with the office. “Patients who are interested in education, who are interested in wellness rather than taking another pill — I think that it’s very attractive for those kinds of patients,” she said. “They are very interested in that kind of information.” Hamilton’s MDVIP office can be reached at 315-668-3002.
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Nurse Practitioner Takes Over Brewerton Medical Practice Part of a trend that shows more NPs running medical offices
ue Stucker, 51, is no stranger to medicine. She started out as a licensed practical nurse (LPN) decades ago and worked her way up to her current position as the provider in FamilyCare Medical Group’s northernmost office in Brewerton. She is part of what seems to be in increasing trend in healthcare — nurse practitioners taking a role that was once the exclusive domain of medical doctors. Physician Laura Hamilton was the previous provider in the office. She’s leaving to pursue a different type of care model in an office next door to what is now Stucker’s office (see related story). “Dr. Laura Hamilton who was in the practice now is going into concierge medicine with MDVIP,” Stucker said. “My company, FamilyCare Medical Group, was looking for somebody to step in and were unable to find somebody... so they asked me.” Stucker started in the early 90s as an LPN. She eventually trained to become a registered nurse and then moved to being a nurse practitioner. “I went back to school at Upstate for my nurse practitioner,” she said. “I worked in another FamilyCare office for three years with Brighton Medical AUGUST/SEPTEMBER 2017
Nurse practitioner Sue Stucker is now in charge of medical practice in Brewerton. Associates right on Intrepid Lane in Syracuse. Then I moved here.” She’s been in the new office since April. She said she learned a lot about being an effective NP from her former coworkers at Brighton. “They were great doctors to learn from. Dr. Shawl, Dr. McMahon — they both are instructors at St. Joe’s for the family practice program,” she said. OSWEGO COUNTY BUSINESS
“And Dr. Nanavati is there also. He is an instructor and a lecturer. It was a great place for me to learn.” Stucker said a lot of her work is educating her patients on how to take care of themselves and live healthy lifestyles. Being a nurse practitioner can differ from a doctor’s approach toward patients care, she said. “Doctors are very medical,” she said. “They treat physical ailments. Nursing is more holistic. We treat the patient as a whole person, not just the medical issue.” She said she loves the nursing field and enjoys helping her patients. Stucker started out in healthcare as an aide for disabled people. She saw there was a need for her talents and that she could grow in the field of nursing. “Way back when I was younger I started working with the handicapped,” she said. “I liked working with the handicapped a lot. The state system overall seemed to fail many of them. There were so many patients and not enough staff. I just started looking at taking care of the whole patient not just being an aide.” The Chittenango native said her job is a 24/7 and she often brings work home with her. Although she has more work than hours in the day now, she is taking new patients. She hopes the office will grow and add more providers. Until then she said she is loving just doing what she is doing. “The patients-they’re definitely the reward,” she said. “They thank me. I have cards and letters. Just the satisfaction of knowing that they get helped — that they get what they need.”
By Matthew Liptak 67
Four in 10 Job-Based Health Plans Are Now ‘High-Deductible’ These employees are more likely to face financial barriers to care, researchers find
igh-deductible health plans are gaining ground among U.S. adults with employer-sponsored health insurance coverage. But too often, enrollees say high out-of-pocket costs are causing them to skip or delay needed medical care, a new government report finds. Nearly 40 percent of adults with job-based coverage were enrolled in a high-deductible plan in 2016, the report said. That’s up from just over 26 percent in 2011, according to the National Center for Health Statistics, a unit of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Increasingly, employers are adding high-deductible health plans to the menu of health plan choices they offer employees, or they’re replacing traditional offerings with high-deductible plans, said Paul Fronstin, who was not involved in the report. He’s director of the nonpartisan Employee Benefit Research Institute’s health research and education program. “If you’re not in a high-deductible health plan, that could be what you see next open-enrollment season,” Fronstin said. “It’s perhaps the easiest way to manage your costs as an employer.” The move toward high-deductible plans isn’t just about asking people to pay more out of pocket, he explained. Employers still pay the lion’s share of employee health plan premiums, he said. 68
“It’s about getting people to think differently about their health care — to get people to have more skin in the game,” Fronstin said. But the report, which was released June 6, also revealed a potentially worrisome aspect of these plans. People with job-based high-deductible plans were more likely to forgo or delay needed medical care than adults in traditional health plans that have low or no deductibles. While the proportions of people having problems are low, the difference is significant: 8.5 percent vs. 4.1 percent, the report said. People with job-based coverage were also more likely to be in a family having problems paying medical bills if they were enrolled in a high-deductible plan (15.4 percent) vs. a traditional plan (9 percent), NCHS reported. Physician Mark Fendrick is director of the University of Michigan Center for Value-Based Insurance Design. He said the new data highlight problems with high-deductible health plans. “People really need to know what type of insurance they’re getting before they buy it,” Fendrick said. The NCHS analysis is based on an early release of estimates from the National Health Interview Survey, a quarterly survey that provides estimates of health insurance access and coverage. In 2016, a high-deductible health plan was defined as having an annual OSWEGO COUNTY BUSINESS
deductible of at least $1,300 for self-only coverage or $2,600 for family coverage. Health plans with high deductibles generally have lower premiums because the coverage is less generous, Fendrick explained. That’s why these health plans appeal to younger, healthier people, he said. But people with chronic diseases — asthma, depression, diabetes, HIV, cancer — often have fairly predictable health expenses and may be better off enrolling in a health plan with a higher premium and a lower deductible, he said. Otherwise, they could get stung with expenses for routine doctor visits, tests and drugs to manage their condition — all before meeting their deductible. “I don’t think they need to go bankrupt filling lifesaving prescriptions because they’ve chosen the wrong health plan,” Fendrick said. The NCHS report also examined trends among people who purchase their own health coverage, including people who buy health insurance through the Obamacare marketplaces. They, too, faced financial barriers. Roughly 16 percent of people in directly purchased high-deductible plans had problems paying medical bills, about the same as in directly purchased traditional plans, the report found. These people generally have lower household income, NCHS reported. “The design did not make a difference for them,” said Robin Cohen, an NCHS statistician and lead author of the report. Roughly half (51 percent) of these direct purchasers had high-deductible coverage in 2016, Cohen noted. That percentage hasn’t changed much since 2011, according to the report. Fronstin said it’s important for people to spend time weighing their health plan options and asking questions about costs and benefits. “You want to make sure you understand your plan, what it covers and how it’s covered,” he said. SOURCES: Robin Cohen, Ph.D., statistician, U.S. National Center for Health Statistics, Hyattsville, Md.; Paul Fronstin, Ph.D., director, health research and education program, Employee Benefit Research Institute, Washington, D.C.; A. Mark Fendrick, M.D., director, University of Michigan Center for Value-Based Insurance Design, Ann Arbor; June 2017, report, U.S. National Center for Health Statistics
Physician assistant joins OCO medical staff
Some of officials involved in the launching of the new Cornerstone Club, a new adult day club service in Fulton are Nicole Greenier, Cornerstone Club director; Mary Costigan, administrator, Michaud Residential Health Services; MaryMargaret Pezzela-Pekow, Catholic Charities of Oswego County executive director.
Cornerstone Adult Day Club Comes To Catholic Charities New Location
he Cornerstone Club, a new adult day club developed by St. Luke Health Services, has joined Catholic Charities of Oswego County (CCOC) in its new location at 808 W. Broadway (state Route 3) in Fulton, said Mary-Margaret Pezzela-Pekow, CCOC executive director. Both CCOC and The Cornerstone Club were scheduled to move in to the new location in early August. “We are delighted to have The Cornerstone Club as a service partner in our new location,” said Pezzela-Pekow. “There continues to be a high demand for adult care throughout the state and this new service will help meet that need.” The Cornerstone Club, which will serve the entire county, is a new program designed to offer older adults a structured, comprehensive program that provides functionally impaired individuals with a safe place to socialize and receive personal care and nutritional services in a comfortable and engaging setting. According to Nicole Greenier, Cornerstone Club director, the program will AUGUST/SEPTEMBER 2017
provide respite services that will help alleviate stress by providing caregivers a place to bring their loved ones. “We believe this program will be attractive to family caregivers because of its accessible location and the flexible attendance options of full or half-day visits,” she said. For more information, visit www. cornerstoneclubfulton.com, or contact Greenier at 315-806-8721. CCOC is actively engaged in a capital campaign to assist with cost of renovating the new location for its services and programs. According to Pezzela-Pekow, CCOC has raised more than $750,000 toward its goal of $1.5 million. CCOC will be conducting its capital campaign through the end of March 2020. “People will be making an investment in our new location, but ultimately, they are bringing hope and transforming the lives of thousands in our county.” For information, visit www.ccoswego. com, their Facebook page, or contact Mary-Margaret Pezella-Pekow at email@example.com, 315-598-3980. OSWEGO COUNTY BUSINESS
swego County Opportunities (OCO) Oswego Center for Reproductive Health has welcomed Dinah Olson, a physician assistant, to its staff of medical professionals. Olson most recently worked for Comprehensive Gynecology in Syracuse and had previously worked at OCO Health Services. As part of OCO’s medical staff Olson works with women and men of all ages throughout their reproductive years from adolescence to post-menopausal in regards to all aspects of their reproductive health, from routine exams and preventative care, to visits for current health issues. “Working for OCO again is a wonderful opportunity,” said Olson. “I enjoy the field of reproductive health, so when I decided to come back to Oswego, I was very happy to find OCO needed someone in this field.” OCO’s Health Centers offer a wide range of confidential sexual health services for females and males from routine visits, birth control, STD testing and treatment, to breast and cervical cancer screenings. “I’ve always been a fan of OCO Health Services’ mission of providing quality, affordable, comprehensive health services in a sensitive and caring manner,” added Olson. “It’s important we serve those that find it difficult accessing healthcare services. I’m happy to be back with OCO,” added Olson.
Dinah Olson 69
Center for Wound Healing Opens at Oswego Health
he Center for Wound Healing at Oswego Health officially opened July 19 with an open house and ribbon cutting. The center provides a multi-specialty team that includes a board-certified physician and nurses who possess extensive knowledge in wound care management. The center offers comprehensive wound care treatment for patients suffering from chronic or non-healing wounds that have not healed after 30 days. A physician referral is not necessary for this service. This outpatient service, located on the third floor of Oswego Hospital, includes four private treatment rooms and
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two hyperbaric chambers. The pressurized chambers allow a patient to breathe 100 percent oxygen, which stimulates many physiological responses in the cells and tissues, promoting wound healing. Oswego Health is collaborating with Healogics, the nation’s largest provider of advanced wound care services to bring this service to the community. Healogics and its affiliated companies manage nearly 800 Wound Care Centers in the nation. Healogics utilizes an evidence-based systematic approach to chronic wound healing in treating an underserved and growing patient population.
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Oswego Health has announced it was awarded a $13 million grant from the New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH) to transform its behavioral health services in the county. “This is wonderful news for Oswego Health,” said President and CEO Michael Harlovic. “I’d like to thank Gov. Andrew Cuomo for recognizing the importance of providing exceptional behavioral health services locally and that health system is the healthcare leader to deliver these important needed services.” Oswego Health has provided behavioral health services to county residents for more than 35 years. The health system provides care at its BHS division at the Oswego County Building on Bunner Street in Oswego, and at its Child and Family Services Department on North Second Street in Fulton. “The continued development of behavioral health services is an important initiative of the health system’s board of directors and I look forward to working on the outlined improvements to our hospital and outpatient services,” Harlovic said.
ACR Health: New Help Available to Combat Opioid Crisis
Oswego Awarded $13M for Behavioral Health Services
@ www.oswegocountybusiness.com OSWEGO COUNTY BUSINESS
ACR Health has just been notified that it has received funding to establish a drug user health hub, further expanding its existing services for drug users. The initial grant is for $250,000 for a one-year period, which began July 1. Services will include medically-assisted treatment, buprenorphine prescribing; opioid overdose prevention or aftercare and safety planning for individuals who have experienced overdose; linkage and navigation for substance use treatment; and cultural competency campaigns and training for others providers to ensure medical, mental health, substance use or other services are available and appropriate for people who use drugs. “The opioid crisis is multi-faceted. It’s important that we recognize and treat the entire individual, not just one aspect of their life,” said Alexandra Punch has become ACR Health’s first director of drug user health. AUGUST/SEPTEMBER 2017
TOURISM Special Report • Virtual Oswego • Where Do Visitors Come From • New Major Hotel in Oswego • Janet Clerkin: Passion for Tourism • Weak Canadian Dollar • Casinos: Gambling on Success
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Where Do They Come From? Studies show most CNY visitors hail from the Northeastern states By Deborah Jeanne Sergeant
swego, Cayuga, Cortland, Madison and Onondaga counties are drawing more out-of-state visitors from the Northeast than anywhere else, according to Young Strategies, Inc. Information the firm compiled in 2015 shows most who travel for leisure and stay overnight in those counties are from the northeastern and mid-Atlantic states, New England, and the eastern seaboard. Fewer hail from the western states. From Canada, CNY draws many from Montreal, Ottawa and Toronto. Fishing licenses purchased in Oswego County reflect the region’s attraction to anglers. In 2015, 33,789 fishing licenses
were sold in Oswego County to out-ofstate and international visitors. The number does not reflect online sales through the DEC website or purchases made at retail stores outside of the county. The top states for visitors who bought their fishing licenses in Oswego County are Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Vermont, Maryland, Virginia, New Hampshire, Maine and Ohio. Janet Clerkin, coordinator of tourism and public information for Oswego County Department of Tourism and Promotion, explained that much of OSWEGO COUNTY BUSINESS
the organization’s marketing targets an area that’s a five- to six-hour drive from Oswego. “Most visitors to our area are travelling by car; however, we know from data from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation that in 2015 we had visitors from every state in the nation and at least 33 countries around the world.” Drawing plenty of visitors is important to Central New York’s economy. In Oswego County alone, 8.7 percent of the workforce relates to tourism. Clerkin added that a 2015 economic impact report compiled for Empire State Development by Tourism Economics states that the tourism industry generated $58,315,000 in direct and indirect labor income in the county, accounting for about 2,906 jobs. Tax revenue is another reason visitors are so important to the region. For Oswego County, that amounts to $8,128,000 in local taxes, and $7,585,000 in state taxes in 2015, all generated by the tourism industry. The money spent by tourists save the average tax-paying household about $345 annually. Not surprisingly, Clerkin said that fishing is a huge draw to out-of-state visitors, along with festivals and events, heritage tourism, and year-round outdoor activities. The regional study by Young Strategies, Inc. indicated that CNY attractions also include dining, shopping, and sight-seeing, with nearly half of domestic overnight visitors engaging in outdoor recreation. Clerkin believes that a strong internet presence is vital to drawing non-local tourists. “The research shows that travelers rely heavily on websites and social media as sources of information when people plan their vacations,” she said. “Web and digital marketing are key on local, regional and state sites.” She listed Facebook, Trip Advisor, mobile apps, Instagram, YouTube, and blogs as resources that visitors use. Making it a trip that they truly remember will encourage visitors to share their experience with others. “We encourage businesses and attractions to partner with other attractions to offer package deals, seasonal discounts or unique activities,” Clerkin said. Working with the local tourism organizations can help hospitality and entertainment-based businesses better network. AUGUST/SEPTEMBER 2017
Meg Vanek, executive director at Cayuga County Office of Tourism, said that by 2011, the local tourism industry recovered from the recession and is expected to grow at about 3 percent annually. About 10,600 jobs in Cayuga County are in the tourism sector. Visitors spent more than $100 million on lodging, dining out, transportation, recreation, taxes and other travel-related costs, she said. Vanek also said that most of the area’s out-of-state visitors come from Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Connecticut, and Ohio for the dining, scenery, outdoor recreation, history and performing arts. “Businesses can attract more tourism dollars by keeping on top of current tourism trends,” Vanek said. She listed the boom in “bleisure”, the merging of business and pleasure travel; millennial travelers who want reasonably-priced, memorable trips; and using social media to reach more travelers. Steve Chirello, owner of Chirello Advertising in Fulton, thinks that unique experiences will continue to draw more outside visitors. For example, the growth microbreweries shows promise as becoming a major draw for people of all age ranges, from millenials through retirees. Chirello compared it with the Finger Lakes wine trails. “What I’m seeing in this phenomenon is you’ve got many, many people out there in a very broad age range — from millennials through retirees — who are putting together a microbrewery trail,” he said. Several apps and websites offer “beer trails” to guide those who imbibe and Chirello thinks that this kind of networking helps all of those involved. He wants those who operate area events and attractions to underscore the waterfront, which he believes is a large reason people want to visit the region, along with bringing in big-name entertainment. To fund these endeavors, he hopes more local businesses will sponsor event organizers. “That to us is evident that they not only want to give back to the community but to help the area,” Chirello said. Mom-and-pop restaurants and lodgings often lack the clout of their wellknown counterparts; however, Chirello thinks that effective use of social media can improve their business. “Keep it interesting,” he said. “Put out video showing your operation. Show how close you are to events. Local charm is what you can offer.” AUGUST/SEPTEMBER 2017
Virtual Oswego: The City With No Snow Visitors looking for information about Oswego online: all about sunsets and fishing, nothing about snow
By Matthew Liptak
ull disclosure: I don’t live in Oswego. The editors at Oswego County Business magazine decided to assign me the unique task of looking into how this Lake Ontario community appears to others who don’t live here and are reaching out to it via the world wide web. One of the main findings: The Port City has none of the white stuff online that embraces it during the winter months in the real world. I looked up the term “Oswego, NY” on Google, Bing and Yahoo. The top five websites returned on all of those search engines turned out to be the same: 1. The city of Oswego website—oswegony.org 2. Oswego NY’s entry in Wikipedia 3. SUNY Oswego’s website, Oswego.edu 4, Oswego NY on Mapquest 5. Facebook’s “Things to do” page for Oswego That is the order for the Google results I got when I submitted “Oswego NY.” It was just a few of the first entries for results that Google said totaled 1,740,000 links. That came back to me in just .8 seconds. These sites do a good job of painting a positive picture of Oswego. The city’s page even has a warm and fuzzy video featuring some Oswego neighbors, mostly couples and families, explaining what they like about living there. The video was filmed in the summer where the neighbors and their neighborhoods look warm and inviting. Not a trace of lake effect to be found. On visitoswegony.com, a top-10 result in the search, the website calls the city a premier lakeside destination with “small town charm” and “nautical ambiance.” This tourism site skillfully points out the attractions of Oswego — everything from Harborfest, to Fort Ontario, to the amazing lakeside sunsets visitors can enjoy. There is a lot to admire about the OSWEGO COUNTY BUSINESS
city. It does a lot with a little, and the residents are working on doing even more. They want their city to live up to that standard of being a premier lake destination. I wonder though, if Oswego can be all it can be, if it ignores the community’s very real winter in the virtual world. On the visitoswegony.com website under festivals it only lists Harborfest and the Pumpkinfest. Wintertime Oswego is apparently fest-less. There was a term in the military used by troops when they were sent over to the tough terrains like Afghanistan and Iraq. It was “Embrace the suck.” To translate, that means learning to embrace the hard parts of the situation in order to persevere and overcome them. Oswego shouldn’t be afraid to show its three months (some say six) of winter to the rest of the world. It is certainly part of the reality of every day living in Upstate and often especially Oswego. Other areas that have embraced the adversity of their environment have been able to profit immensely from it. The Adirondacks, for example, turned its barren winterscape into a snowmobiling mecca and a place for many intrepid souls to come climb the mountains in the winter. Can Oswego do something similar? Sure, the city is an-often bucolic small town with lots of things to do in the summer months. It represents itself well online for that half of the year. But what about Oswego in the wintertime? There must be ways to feature the visceral, awesome beauty of the area in wintertime rather than just ignore it. My findings: it’s summer all year long in cyber-Oswego. If the city chose to show its snow-packed underbelly to the rest of the world wide web it could “embrace the suck” and maybe show that the suck isn’t suck at all. It could be turned into a winter wonderland that would become a tourist spot for all four seasons. 73
SPECIAL REPORT By Lou Sorendo
Hotel Sector Grows in Oswego Home2 Suites opens in the Port City. Does Oswego have enough visitors to accommodate one more large hotel?
hile Oswego County tourism advocates tout the area’s many destination points, the hospitality industry is following suit with new options designed to entice visitors. Oswego now features a new Home2 Suites by Hilton and a Holiday Inn Express & Suites on the city’s east side, along with several other large- and smallscale hotels and motels. Home2Suites by Hilton is the second and the latest brand hotel to open in Oswego within a year. The new 89-room hotel in Oswego was constructed by Oswego Lodging Group, LLC, a subsidiary of Visions Hotels, LLC, based in Corning. The hotel encompasses 52,000 square feet of space on four floors. Is the pie big enough to sustain all the hospitality options in Oswego? “Home2 Suites has a positive outlook on the pie being big enough in Oswego,” said Stacey Phillips, director of sales for Home2 Suites by Hilton. 74
“Oswego is now able to offer a variety of appealing, branded hotel options because of the addition of this hotel.” “This may actually entice additional groups and organizations to plan larger events, meetings and training in Oswego,” she added. Phillips said the city of Oswego was deemed an ideal market for an extended-stay hotel. “The current product in the hotel market was lacking both a Hilton-branded hotel as well as an all-suites property,” she said. Oswego Mayor William “Billy” Barlow said the more events the city has and options it has to host people and events, the more visitors will come. “I believe once we get people here, our assets speak for themselves and we can make return visitors out of them,” Barlow said. Michael Doran is executive director of Branch Management LLC. He is reOSWEGO COUNTY BUSINESS
sponsible for both the new Holiday Inn Express & Suites in Oswego as well as a Holiday Inn Express & Suites in Malone. “It is a benefit to have growth in the hotel sector as other businesses may be enticed to open shop close by,” he said. “We believe there is room for growth in Oswego, especially considering the future expansion of downtown and the current number of reasons people already have to visit.” While one may think that the hospitality industry is highly competitive, there is a spirit of collaboration within it as well. Doran said in the hotel industry, there’s definitely an ability to work together when people choose to. “By working together it means using each other’s assets to offset what somebody might be looking for,” he said. “Sometimes we get calls from groups that look for something bigger than what we offer, like a large group meeting space AUGUST/SEPTEMBER 2017
or something along those lines. We can definitely recommend the right attribute to that guest to satisfy them, as long as it’s done collaboratively and on a reciprocal basis. It works very well.” Doran said all players on the hospitality scene aspire to a certain niche. “Definitely for small hotels, they do a lot of things very well that people can identify with that fits their needs. They market toward that,” he said. In his hometown of Malone, Doran also serves as president of the chamber of commerce. “The reality is when you build business, more business comes. That’s really what we are looking at, especially being in Oswego on this side of town. We have an opportunity with lodging to spur on more growth with restaurants and other segments that might not be here at this time. I think it’s a bonus for everybody. It’s catalystic growth where everybody can work together and create a better environment with more things for people to do and more reasons to come here.”
Right at home Stacey Phillips said the demographic that Home2 Suites is trying to appeal to consists of a variety of guests. Home2 Suites is targeting extended-stay guests — five-plus nights — such as individuals requiring a long-term stay due to various reasons that include relocation or home renovations, longterm training and consultation projects, construction projects, and power plant shut downs. In addition, Home2 Suites is looking for transient-stay guests as well — one to four nights— such as the travelers associated with corporate business and government, as well as leisure guests coming in for a weekend event. Phillips said Home2 Suites brings a “beautiful” addition to the hotel product in Oswego, offering an array of abundant hotel amenities. She said it offers an option for the loyal Hilton Honors members, as well as the guest looking for a more comfortable stay in a spacious suite. Phillips noted Home2 Suites is the only all-suites property in the Oswego market, therefore giving it a competitive edge for extended-stay business in the area. Other amenities that might influence the choice of a business or leisure guest to choose Home2 Suites could be that the hotel is an eco-friendly as well as a pet-friendly facility. AUGUST/SEPTEMBER 2017
Stacey Phillips, director of sales for Home2 Suites by Hilton, joins her general manager Ian Wilson at their recently opened Oswego location.
Michael Doran, executive director of Branch Management LLC, makes sure operations are running smoothly at the new Holiday Inn Express & Suites, located off state Route 104 East in the city of Oswego. OSWEGO COUNTY BUSINESS
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City leader receptive Barlow said these hotel corporations spend money doing feasibility studies and analyzing the market before they decide to invest millions of dollars on a new location and facility. “They just don’t build it as a shot in the dark, hoping to make money,” he said. “They usually have confidence in the market and see some sort of trend that entices them to invest. It’s their job to make the business decision to build and their job to infiltrate the market in a way that turns a profit.” In terms of the new top-brand hotels in the city, Barlow said they are offering a different product by catering to people who are staying for a longer period of time and want something more than a typical hotel room. 76
Barlow noted the new hotels “are very modern, trendy, unique and different than the hotels that currently exist,” he said. Barlow said the Home2 Suites by Hilton offers a different choice. “If you’re in town for a week or more on business or visiting family, you may want more than a hotel room,” he said. “This facility gives you that choice.” He said when people visit Oswego, “you want them to be comfortable and satisfied. “You want their experience to suit them. By offering more choices in any area, you increase your chances of providing that desired experience.”
Finding their niches Doran, who runs the new Holiday Inn Express & Suites in Oswego, said the city of Oswego represents a well-balanced hotel consumer market that includes a steady mix of business and leisure visitors throughout the year. “The Oswego market has for many years been underserved and needed a boost in overall room count to satisfy OSWEGO COUNTY BUSINESS
the demand of this exceptional visitor mix,” he added. Of its 81 rooms at the Oswego hotel, 12 are suites. “Holiday Inn Express & Suites represented the best fit from the major hotel brands for the Oswego market as it is designed with both corporate and leisure travelers in mind,” Doran noted. “We have a design that purposefully attracts a broad audience.” The Holiday Inn Express & Suites in Oswego was the first built in New York state featuring a new design from its parent company, InterContinental Hotels Group, named “Formula Blue.” “The design creates a warm environment for people who may want to just relax, collaborate with peers or even relax and work at the same time. This allows the hotel to appeal to a broad audience,” Doran said. He said during the design phase, his team was able to add special amenities not originally in the Formula Blue specifications, such as a large outdoor gas fireplace and seating area. “This outdoor area has been a favorite for many of our guests,” he said. AUGUST/SEPTEMBER 2017
Janet Clerkin at her office in the Oswego County building in Oswego.
Passion for Tourism Janet Clerkin has nurtured Oswego County’s tourism industry since its early beginnings By Lou Sorendo
or Janet West Clerkin, the only other place she would rather be than hiking and camping is coordinating tourism for Oswego County. There, she gets to realize her passions for writing and history while showcasing a region she loves. Clerkin has served as tourism and public information coordinator at the Oswego County Community Development, Tourism & Planning Department since 2007. She has worked for Oswego County for 33 years. “I really believe in the assets and strengths that Oswego County and its government has,” she said. After graduating from SUNY Oswego with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English and history, she worked at The Palladium-Times in Oswego in the AUGUST/SEPTEMBER 2017
editorial department. She would later do reporting work for The Messenger, which was an offshoot of The Palladium-Times following a labor dispute. “That was really my basic background and training in writing,” she said. “Being a reporter at a daily paper gives you a lot of skills, such as being able to work under pressure and balance priorities.” When The Messenger shut down in 1984, Clerkin was offered the position of information officer for Oswego County and hired permanently after completing civil service requirements. The county created its own tourism department, and Clerkin transitioned into that while staff was expanded. Tourism and public information were one department until consolidated OSWEGO COUNTY BUSINESS
with planning and community development around 2006. She would eventually become the county’s public information coordinator and then its public information and tourism coordinator. “I’ve always had an interest and respect for programs and services of county government,” said Clerkin, who covered that area as a reporter. During that process, she became familiar with various departments of county government and its leadership. “Being able to help educate the public about services and programs that are really helpful to quality of life was something I found really fulfilling,” she said. From there, she transitioned into the tourism piece. “I’ve always had a lot of interest in the outdoors and was familiar with Fort Ontario and a lot of the historic sites in the area anyways,” she said. “It was a natural transition for me when the tourism opportunity opened up.” Clerkin developed a passion for writing in her childhood. “When I was in fourth grade, we went on a field trip to the daily newspaper in Plattsburgh, the Press-Republican,” said Clerkin, who is from Chazy, located north of Plattsburgh. “I just was fascinated by it and carried on from there,” she said. Clerkin, an avid newspaper reader as a youth, was enamored with the whole process of compiling information, writing stories and trying to get accurate information out to the public. “I have a lot of creative energy,” she said. “I like working with people and have an interest in human nature.” Clerkin said she loves the area and its history. “I visited Fort Ontario when I was a student in college, and after graduation, I started really exploring places like Happy Valley and Little John and some of the wildlife management acreage we have in the county. It was a good fit for me,” Clerkin added. Both her parents had a thirst for learning, and that has carried over into their daughter’s life. Her father, John West, 96, graduated from SUNY Oswego on the same day that Janet did. He was a bricklayer by trade, but went back to school to become a masonry teacher. Her mother Mary “Peg” West was a long-time teacher. “Both were very good examples of doing what you can 77
in your community to make it better,” Clerkin said.
Healthy workload While Clerkin’s focus is on public information and tourism, her office is part of the Oswego County Community Development, Tourism & Planning Department. It features five full-time staff. Her office is responsible for both the Oswego County government website (www.oswegocounty.com) and its tourism website (www.visitoswegocounty. com). On the public information side, Clerkin and her team develop news releases and distributes them weekly and sometimes on a daily basis depending on topics of relevance. “We are a resource to other departments of county government,” she said. “For example, we were very busy with the flooding that took place along the shoreline of Lake Ontario [earlier this year], and our staff created a flood information brochure.” The tourism end features a broad range of duties, including overseeing a marketing plan that involves both traditional and digital media; maintaining the tourism website; offering consumer shows; and forming alliances with partners in the Thousand Islands region and
Central New York. Clerkin said among the challenges of her job is juggling duties. “The biggest challenge for me and the staff is we have a lot of responsibilities that we juggle and sometimes we just have to put everything down and take on another priority project,” she said. Clerkin’s staff embraces her positive attitude while keeping lines of communication open. “When we’re working on projects, we sit around the table and brainstorm things. Everyone has different strengths and great skills, and we try to use them all to create a product.”
Sound fundamentals Clerkin attended public school from kindergarten through 12th grade at the Chazy Central Rural School in Chazy. The school is believed to be the first centralized rural school district in the United States. “There is a long tradition of encouraging excellence and hard work, and inspiring students to remain involved in their community,” Clerkin said. “The upbringing and education that I received in Chazy shaped much of who I am today.” SUNY Oswego was her choice partly because Clerkin has always been drawn to the outdoors and the campus was on
Lake Ontario. “I had some professors who really challenged me outside of my comfort zone. That motivated me and really helped me develop my writing skills and figure out what some of my interests were and what direction I wanted to go in,” she said. She has also taken courses in marketing and has been involved in several marketing seminars over the years. The Clerkins reside in Parish. “I grew up in a small rural town,” she said. “I really wanted my kids to live out in the country and be able to run around and make noise without bothering neighbors,” she said. Her husband Kevin is an applications engineer for a small manufacturing company in Syracuse. He interfaces with programmable logic controllers, certainly different from his wife’s occupation. “He’s more logic-oriented than I am. A lot of what he does is a flow of logic,” she said. The couple has three children. Brendan is the oldest and lives in Cortland. He works as an oncology nurse in Syracuse. Middle son Sean — a restaurant manager — resides in Pittsburgh and recently graduated from college. He served with the United States
Changing Times: Trends in Local Tourism
anet West Clerkin has seen the tourism industry undergo many transformations over the years. Clerkin has served as the tourism and public information coordinator at the Oswego County Community Development, Tourism & Planning Department since 2007. “I have seen a lot of investment of private dollars for facilities like the Lake Ontario Events and Conference Center, the Oswego Speedway, the Tailwater Lodge and the new hotels opening up in Oswego and other areas,” she said. “There’s definitely been growth in the industry.” In terms of sport fishing, Clerkin said it remains the county’s greatest asset. “We are a world-renowned destination,” said Clerkin, noting in 2015, people from every state in the country along with visitors from 33 other nations bought fishing licenses in the county. Clerkin said there has been an 78
overall trend that sees a shift from lake fishing to tributary streams, mainly the Salmon River. Clerkin noted there is more focus on collaboration amongst heritage tourism sites, museums, historical societies, and venues such as Fort Ontario and the Safe Haven Holocaust Refugee Shelter Museum. “All of them have more visibility and the groups are working hard to partner with each other,” she said. As a result, Clerkin said the county is also seeing businesses such as Oswego Food & History Tours and Oswego Expeditions prosper and grow. Another growth area is recreational outdoor activities such as paddling, fat biking, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing and snowmobiling. “That is a big segment of the winter economy,” Clerkin said. “We’ve seen a lot of growth in those areas.” Technology has hugely impacted the tourism industry. OSWEGO COUNTY BUSINESS
“There’s hundreds of emails that come in a week,” she said. “Much of the communication is done by email.” Computers have streamlined the writing process. “The resources that are available on the internet for research and marketing are huge,” she noted. “We also have different apps the county is involved in, and we have an interactive map on our tourism website.” Clerkin restructured a position in the department over the last several months to oversee social media, do graphics for ads, and attend to layout and design. “Another shift is a lot of the publications we do are produced inhouse,” Clerkin said. “We do still use agencies from time to time, but a lot of what we do is produced in-house. We found we have talented people working here who can take that on and save the county money in the long run.” AUGUST/SEPTEMBER 2017
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Army’s 10th Mountain Division, and was deployed to Iraq. “We not only appreciate what he did but also what all service families go through,” Clerkin said. “It gives you a different perspective.” His unit was one of the last to be brought back from Iraq, and Sean had the opportunity to meet former vice president Joseph Biden when he thanked the troops. Clerkin reflected on being a mom to a soldier on the front lines. “It’s a tough time. I don’t think it ever leaves you. When I hear now about someone being injured or a casualty in Afghanistan or somewhere around the world, you just feel so much for those families,” she said. Their youngest, Mary Katherine, recently graduated from SUNY Oswego and works for a small marketing firm in Rochester.
On solid ground The Clerkins have been married for 38 years. “We try to keep communications open. The things we both really enjoy — camping and hiking — we try to make AUGUST/SEPTEMBER 2017
a priority now that the kids are older,” she said. “It’s about commitment, not just when you take your vows, but all the time.” In terms of hiking, Clerkin said she enjoys many places in Hamilton County, including the Cedar River Flow and Pillsbury and Brook Trout lakes. “I’ve been to some remote places and I’ve also been to some of the state campgrounds. I’ve done both,” she said. Clerkin said she does not foresee a dramatic career change until she retires. “When that happens, I hope that I can get back into doing some more creative types of writing,” said Clerkin, who was a contributing writer for the Syracuse Post-Standard. She focused on producing features that required historical research. “There is so much in our local history that is interesting, and stories to tell that maybe are not well known,” she said. “There’s a lot of people that seem ordinary that are doing extraordinary things in their daily lives.” “It’s really gratifying to be able to find about that and give those people some of the credit they deserve and support they might need,” she added. For Clerkin, history is relevant. OSWEGO COUNTY BUSINESS
“I think that it’s important we don’t take for granted what people have fought for and the sacrifices that people have made before us for the quality of life that we have now,” she noted. Clerkin also likes to play the accordion. A traditional accordion has a keyboard on one side and a set of 120 bass keys on the other. “The way I got into it was my grandmother was French-Canadian, and she had what they called a squeeze box (also known as a button box), which is smaller than a classical accordion with different buttons on it. “I had always loved listening to it. Her accordion was given to me about eight years ago after she passed away,” Clerkin added. Highly active in the community, Clerkin is affiliated with the New York State Tourism Industry Association board of directors; Friends of Fort Ontario board of directors; Oswego County Pioneer Search & Rescue Team; Ontario chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution; Parish Historical Society; New York Cultural Heritage Tourism Network; and the Oswego County Green Team anti-littering campaign. 79
Gambling on Success
Casino industry in state growing, but will it prosper?
By Lou Sorendo
ore is not always better when it comes to the growing casino industry in Upstate New York. The third of four casinos planned for Upstate New York opened earlier this year when the Rivers Casino & Resort started rolling the dice in Schenectady. “More is not always better because all that happens is the pie gets divided up,” said Alan Woinski, president of Gaming USA, a casino analyst in New Jersey. “You need a really deep feeder market [market that a casino draws from] to be able to absorb supply and that is the biggest problem now.” Not only do Upstate New York casinos compete against themselves, but with out-of-state venues as well. Casinos in neighboring states open and tend to take 10 to 20 percent of business from existing casinos that are located within an hour, Woinski said. 80
“The closer they are, the more business they take. That hurts both state and local revenue from the casino,” he said. When casinos open in a nearby state, either they take a lot of business from an existing casino or, like in New York, they take business from an existing casino but the new casino underperforms, Woinski said. He said the Turning Stone Resort & Casino in Verona is a good example. Oneida County officials are complaining that they are taking in less revenue from the Oneida Nation since del Lago Resort & Casino opened earlier this year in Seneca County. “At the same time, del Lago has not generated expected revenue,” the analyst said. The Oneida Nation generated nearly $62 million in revenue sharing payments to New York state and Central New York OSWEGO COUNTY BUSINESS
counties in 2016, according to Oneida Nation officials. Oneida County was the biggest beneficiary in CNY, hauling in nearly $27.8 million. Madison ($3.5 million), Onondaga ($3.1 million), Oswego ($819,174), Cayuga ($536,858), Herkimer ($432,829) and Cortland ($330,973) also received revenue-sharing payments in 2016. Casinos with regular slot machines and table games are taxed at a rate of about 35 percent. Woinski said the casino industry in Central New York is already oversaturated. He said oversaturation occurs when casinos open and what results is casinos stop racing and threaten closures unless they receive a tax break. In addition, it is also oversaturation if a county such as Oneida that relies on a cut from Indian casino revenues sees a reduction in payments, Woinski added. According to New York state Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, the new casinos approved by the state will create thousands of local jobs, drive economic development in surrounding communities and create new tax revenue. However, while new casinos create jobs, the impact on existing racetrack casinos and tribal casinos works in the opposite direction, Woinski said. Finger Lakes Gaming and Racetrack in Farmington, Vernon Downs and Saratoga Casino and Raceway in Saratoga Springs have all seen revenue decline, he noted. Vernon Downs is already setting dates to close the property if it doesn’t get tax relief. “All three will, at the least, cut staff or limit hours, or close,” he said. Woinski said when Resorts World Catskills opens in 2018 in Sullivan County, the same will occur. “Monticello Gaming and Raceway will remain open for now, but it will be a ghost town,” he said. Tioga Downs in Nichols is the first of four commercial casinos licensed by New York state to open and increased its staff after converting into a Las Vegas-style casino. “They are spending more money on development and will be hiring more people, but that is flawed,” Woinski said. When accounting for reductions in revenue to the state, layoffs at the racinos, cutting of racing days and if Vernon Downs and others close, the gambling industry will hold a losing hand. “It’s all about expectations, but AUGUST/SEPTEMBER 2017
the last few casino openings — with the exception of MGM National Harbor in Maryland — have underperformed expectations,” he said. Woinski said when Resorts World Catskills opens in 2018 in Sullivan County, the same trend will occur. “Monticello Gaming and Raceway will remain open for now, but it will become a ghost town,” he said. Woinski said when a casino turns a profit, it tends to quickly expand and constantly reinvests in itself. Conversely, a casino that is not doing well is most likely being taxed at an excessive rate, and similar to racetracks, has to constantly ask for tax relief. “This usually reduces employment and the casino is slow to reinvest to refresh or expand its properties,” he added. There are now 16 casinos or racetracks with video-lottery terminals in New York north of New York City.
Critical of planning Woinski said thus far, casino revenues have been below expectations while at the same time there has been a significant impact on existing casinos [combined race track and casino],” he said. Woinski coined the phrase “zero sum game” when discussing casino expansions that were not well thought out. “The state is going to find out soon that it is not generating what it expected in terms of casino and racino revenue,” he said. In addition, “someone in Cuomo’s administration goofed because the Seneca Indian Nation no longer has to pay the state a cut of its revenue per the gaming compact signed with the state.” Woinski said in New York state, new casinos have the majority of their taxes going to the state with a small percentage being distributed locally. “Indian casinos enter into what is known as a gaming compact, in which they typically give a small percentage of their revenue — whether it be from slots or total casino revenue — to local regions for services and to be a good neighbor,” Woinski said. In return, the Indian casinos usually are allowed to have traditional casino games or “exclusivity,” he added. “The big problem is that states and local municipalities tend to rely on casino tax revenue and never realize that every time a new casino opens — either nearby in-state or in neighboring states — that tax revenue declines,” he said. AUGUST/SEPTEMBER 2017
With five major Vegas-style casinos in the state, and with more on the way, some analysts claim there may be a chance the casino market could become saturated. Risky business Woinski said in terms of how casinos aid in economic development, it all depends on how they have been developed. He said the Rivers Casino & Resort in Schenectady is doing more for the Capital Region than the Finger Lakes venue “because it is more than just a gambling facility.” Woinski said for any region, hotels and other non-gaming amenities are always better for economic development, particularly in areas that have experienced tough economic times such as the Capital Region. “The original casino selling points were jobs and economic development,” he said. “Somewhere along the way, it was changed to putting casinos on borders to keep casino revenue from
crossing the borders.” Woinski said when casinos first began opening across the country, the prevailing concept was, “Build it and they will come. “A casino could open hours away from any border and people from surrounding states showed up,” he said. “As more casinos opened, that feeder market started shrinking to around 50 miles.” That’s when the border wars started, he said. “Let me use Massachusetts and Rhode Island as an example. Rhode Island is a tiny state. Plainridge Park in Massachusetts opened 30 minutes from Twin River Casino in Rhode Island. “Even though Rhode Island is so small, the owners of Twin River are building a new casino in Tiverton, which is right on the border with Massachusetts,” he said. Woinski said it is “like a war.” “Casinos have convinced lawmakers that the best idea is to put casinos as close to the borders as possible,” he said. Woinski said when casinos opened in Ohio, they hurt casinos in Pennsylvania, Indiana and Michigan. When MGM National Harbor opened in Maryland, the biggest concern was how much business it would take from Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races in West Virginia.
Fight for tourists
Alan Woinski, president of Gaming USA
From a tourism perspective, the presence of casinos initially was thought to enhance a region as a possible destination point for visitors. In addition, the hope was that other attractions would gain additional visibility by tourists visiting nearby casinos. That used to be the case, Woinski said. “When casinos were first being developed across the country, they were developed to create jobs, aid tourism and provide tax revenue,” he said. “For the most part, that has changed and now the new ones that are developed are usually keeping revenue from going to neighboring states.” He said the closer a casino is to a border, the more likely it is that the venue will generate out-of-state business. “But for the most part, it is for gambling and not real tourism,” he said. “As casinos are established and reinvest in themselves, they add things like retail, conference and events centers, hotels and even theme parks,” Woinski said. “But these regional casinos are
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not like Las Vegas, where vacations are planned. The hope is that Resorts World Catskills will do that and revive the region.” However, a billion-dollar investment like Resorts World Catskills “would have made a lot of sense 20 years ago,” Woinski said. He said the region is now saturated with casinos and the climate of the Catskills is not likely going to create year-round tourism, he noted. In other words, the new casino’s financial health during the winter months will depend on patrons located within a 30-mile radius. In addition, Monticello Gaming and Raceway “has been the only game in the area for many years and has been a very poor performer,” he said. Woinski said New York state still has the “two best racinos in the world” with Empire City Casino at Yonkers Raceway and Resorts World Casino New York City. “If New Jersey would understand what is going on and allows a casino at the Meadowlands, or Connecticut allows gaming facilities near the New York state border, New York will be in big trouble,” he said. He noted that Cuomo “is making a big mistake” by not allowing racetrack casinos to have table games. “Allowing them to have table games — but only in return for a major non-gaming investment — would accomplish everything and beat the other states to the punch,” he said. On the positive side, the three new Upstate casinos have paid a total of $151 million in licensing fees that will be used for education aid in New York and split among local communities where the facilities are located, according to the governor’s office.
Oneida Indian Nation’s Turning Stone Resort Casino injects economic vitality across region
t’s a fairly safe wager to say The Oneida Indian Nation’s Turning Stone Resort Casino is an economic boom for the Central New York region. As the largest employer in the region, the Oneida Nation has more than 4,750 employees, which is nearly 3,000 more employees since Turning Stone opened in 1993, and in 2016, paid employees nearly $145 million between salaries and bonuses, according to Joel Barkin, vice president of communications for The Oneida Indian Nation. According to an economic study by Colgate University, the Oneida Nation’s businesses indirectly create an additional 3,570 jobs in the three-county area of Oneida, Madison, and Onondaga through the multiplier effects of The Nation’s employment. The Nation supports thousands of families, has generated billions of dollars for New York’s economy, and attracts more than 4.5 million visitors annually, Barkin noted. “The Oneida Nation and Turning Stone have fortified our position as the principal tourist destination in the region by making major and ongoing investments in our enterprises and in our employees,” Barkin said. One of the top-five tourist destinations in New York state, The Oneida Indian Nation’s 3,400-acre Turning Stone Resort Casino has been a catalyst for growth in Central New York. In 2016, the Nation spent $93 million while working with more than 1,600 New York companies, Barkin said. More than $61 million of that was spent working with companies in Central New York, including Northland Communications, Owera Winery, Utica Coffee Roasting, Syracuse-based design firm Zausmer-Frisch Scruton & Aggarwal, and one of Central New York’s leading furniture manufacturers, Stickley Furniture, Barkin said.
CNY counties benefit As a rest of the historic 2013 settlement agreement between the Oneida Nation, New York state and surrounding counties, the Oneida Nation in 2016 82
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generated more than $62 million for New York state, with $27.6 million going directly to the 10 counties of Central New York. All total, the Nation has generated more than $170 million since 2013 in revenue-sharing payments to surrounding counties and the state, Barkin said. According to the New York State Comptroller, 10 counties within the Oneida Nation’s gaming exclusivity zone receive distribution payments from the settlement agreement (see related graphic). Onondaga County received $3,133,065.41 in 2016, an increase of $447,593.13 from 2015, while Oswego County received $819,173.85 in 2016, an increase of $117,028.07 from 2015. Barkin said gaming revenues that counties collect are being put to various uses. Onondaga County used $2.5 million from Oneida Nation gaming revenue to help pay for its Lakeview Amphitheater. Oneida County received more than $17.5 million in 2016, an increase of more than $2 million compared to 2015. Gambling revenues are used to finance Oneida County’s Partners in Prosperity Fund. The fund was included in the county’s 2015 budget and finances projects in infrastructure, public safety, arts and culture, sharing agreements and economic development as well as tax stabilization. Oneida County also uses some of its casino revenue to help fund arts as well as science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) programming, according to Barkin. Meanwhile, Sylvan Beach used money from Oneida Nation gaming revenue to hire additional Oneida County deputies and for new police body armor. In addition, revenue money from the Oneida Nation helps to cover increases in county road funding, according to Barkin.
Competition builds With five major Vegas-style casinos in the state, and with more on the way, some analysts claim there may be a AUGUST/SEPTEMBER 2017
chance the casino market could become saturated. “For the last 20 years, all across the Northeast, there has been massive proliferation of gaming, so competition is not new to us,” Barkin said. “Having said that, to preserve and expand the crucial public revenues that are serving Central New York through Turning Stone and other Nation enterprises, it is more critical than ever for public officials, business leaders and civic groups to commit to the spirit of collaboration that has served this region so well.” Meanwhile, the Turning Stone has an ace up its sleeve with its new Point Place Casino in Bridgeport. The casino, which will cost approximately $50 million, will be built on Route 31 near the corner of Bridgeport-Kirkville Road in the town of Sullivan in Madison County. It will open in the spring of 2018. Barkin said Point Place Casino will create a wide range of more than 200 full- and part-time jobs as well as 250 local construction jobs. “We’re planning to open a recruitment office in Cicero and will begin hiring this fall,” Barkin said. Madison County Supervisor John Becker was quoted recently saying there are several businesses interested in opening in Bridgeport as a result of the tourist draw Point Place Casino will be.
Who Gets What. Select Counties Receiving Funds from the Oneida Nation A total of 10 counties within the Oneida Nation’s gaming exclusivity zone receive funds from the casino, according to the New York State Comptroller • Oneida received more than $17.5 million in 2016, an increase of more than $2 million compared to 2015. • Madison received $3.5 million. The county agreed to receive $3.5 million a year, after collecting $11 million in 2014 to settle outstanding tax claims. • Onondaga received $3,133,065.41 in 2016, an increase of $447,593.13 from 2015. • Cayuga received $536,858.11 in 2016, an increase of $76,696.15 from 2015. • Chenango received $338,627.27 in 2016, an increase of $48,376.66 from 2015. • Oswego received $819,173.85 in 2016, an increase of $117,028.07 from 2015. AUGUST/SEPTEMBER 2017
Disparity in U.S.-Canadian exchange rate one of the factors negatively affecting number of Canadians visiting CNY
he ever-changing value of the Canadian dollar, or loonie, can drive any tourism advocate bonkers. As of July 20, a U.S. dollar was worth $1.26 in Canadian currency. Conversely, the Canadian dollar was worth 76 cents in U.S. currency on that same date. For facilities such as Destiny USA in Syracuse, visitor flow from Canada has been affected by several major factors. Destiny USA is New York’s largest destination of its kind with over 250 places to shop, dine and play, and is visited by 26 million guests every year. “We continually see Canadian plates in our parking lots along with Canadian-based motor coaches,” said Rose Hapanowich, director of travel and tourism at Destiny USA. She said 2016 was a record-breaking year for motor coach visitation and 2017 is trending even higher. An underlying factor perhaps tempering numbers is that Canada is celebrating its 150th anniversary this year. “There have been quite a few special events scheduled and programs in place to keep Canadians at home to celebrate this momentous occasion,” Hapanowich said. She recently returned from visiting with tour operators in Ontario and Quebec. “The feedback was although there is a currency disparity and it is a concern, there is still value in shopping in the United States,” she said. Prices are lower in the U.S. and sales tax is considerably less, she noted. In Ontario, sales tax is nearly 14 percent and it is even higher in Quebec, Hapanowich said. “Canadians may be acting more frugal than in the past, but they are certainly still coming and spending,” she said. She noted Destiny USA’s new onsite hotel, a 209-room Embassy Suites by Hilton that will open in early September, is expected to be a popular spot for Canadians coming to Central New York.
Tourism strong in Canada OSWEGO COUNTY BUSINESS
“The feedback was although there is a currency disparity and it is a concern, there is still value in shopping in the United States” Rose Hapanowich, Destiny USA.
While Canada’s economy remains in a tumultuous state, one sector is proving surprisingly strong: tourism. It is providing a much-needed boost by keeping Canadian vacationers at home and luring Americans north. Bigger than mining, forestry or agriculture, tourism is emerging as a key growth industry, according to Toronto’s The Globe and Mail. Meanwhile, Canadians are balking at traveling south to where their spending power has shrunk, opting instead to stay in Canada, The Globe and Mail reports. “At the same time, the low Canadian dollar — along with a strengthening U.S. economy and low gas prices — is pro83
viding a strong incentive for Americans to come here,” the newspaper stated. Tourism operators across Canada say they are benefiting from Canadians who’ve decided a “staycation” is more economic this year and Americans coming north to spend their valuable U.S. dollars, the newspaper reported. Nonetheless, Canadians enjoy shopping in the outlets, department stores and even specialty shops searching for value and quality, Hapanowich said. “Even with American brands that have expanded their footprint into Canada, the goods are less expensive in the states,” she said. “Our wide variety of entertainment options is also a great draw for Canadian families and we have seen them take advantage of both our summer and winter fun pass programs which offer substantial savings over individual admission rates.” Destiny USA is continuing to experiment with its marketing strategies. Hapanowich said this past year, Destiny USA partnered with area hotels to offer an “at par” promotion targeting Canadians, offering a true “play and stay” experience at dollar-for-dollar value. “It was a phenomenal success, and we look forward to continuing to meet Canadians halfway,” she said. “We will continue to market to Canadians to ensure that they have a current perception of all that we have to offer.” Hapanowich said Destiny USA is constantly evolving its product and “it’s important to refresh our image regularly to encourage demand. “It is also important to show them that we value their patronage by being visible in their market.” From a marketing standpoint, Hapanowich said it is essential to stay visible and welcoming when faced with a weakened Canadian dollar. “As demand becomes pent up, they will come. If you are not out there reminding them that you’re here, your competition certainly is,” she added. Destiny USA’s Passport of Savings gives shoppers access to deals and discounts throughout the facility. It is a booklet of discounts and is available for registered motor coach groups as well as individuals carrying a Canadian Automobile Association card. “Canadians are always looking for any incentives they can find to entice them to cross the border and spend, especially for accommodations,” Hapanowich said.
By Lou Sorendo 84
Linda Syrell Tyrrell ‘I worked a minimum of 60 to 70 hours a week, with longer hours during the holiday season. It was love. It has to be love.’ continued from page 11 Thanks to my own background in education and business, I always had a focus on the customer and client, and I think that’s just as key today as it was back then. You have to listen, learn and adjust. Inventory and services have changed a lot over that 40-year period of time. I was raised on a farm, so I learned to work very early. One of my Dad’s favorite expressions was, “Someone who works 40 hours a week is just a part-timer.” But I think sometimes either you grow up with a work ethic or you don’t. We had to have a work ethic. When we had our big store on George Street, we were open five nights a week until 9 p.m. I worked four of those. I worked seven days a week year round after I retired from the college. I worked a minimum of 60 to 70 hours a week, with longer hours during the holiday season. It was love. It has to be love. Q: What do you enjoy the most about being your own boss and running your own business? A: One of the greatest things is the reason we did it to begin with. You really get to test yourself. You know when you’ve made a good decision and you learn when you’ve made a bad decision. You learn from the choices that you make, the mistakes you make and the successes you have. Human beings should always desire to grow and continue to learn. If you are in a small business where you’re doing whatever needs to be done, you have to grow and learn. That’s very rewarding to me. Q: What future plans do you hold for Harbor Towne Gifts and Souvenirs? What changes can customers expect in the years ahead? A: We will continue to modify what we carry and continue to look for new and different merchandise. I really don’t know exactly what the future is going to look like. We’ll continue to work at that. I OSWEGO COUNTY BUSINESS
don’t anticipate a larger shop again simply because of the economic realities of the area and emerging technology. We are not in the 1990s anymore and you have to be cognizant and realistic about that. We’ll continue to adjust and change but probably within this physical footprint. Q: What is your perfect retirement scenario? A: Frank is playing music three to five days a week. When I can, I go with him, and I tell him that I am the best roadie he’s ever had. We do that together, and he’s a great supporter of the shop. He does a lot of computer work that’s necessary for the shop. We do love to travel and take short trips, and we love the Finger Lakes area. Lunch at The Sherwood Inn in Skaneateles is one of our real treats. I think balance is what we try to achieve — we work but we also play. We really enjoy the people that we meet through Frank’s music and through the music shop. I think there will come a time when we won’t be able to do all these things. My Dad died working on his farm, which is exactly what he would have wanted. That’s the image that I have. If you can achieve some balance and enjoy what you’re doing, why give that all up?
By Lou Sorendo AUGUST/SEPTEMBER 2017
By Lou Sorendo
High Adventure Sportfishing Veteran Charter Boat Captain Embodies Success of County’s Robust Sports Fishing Industry
he skipper is in command. Charter boat captain Troy Creasy has been traversing the waterways of Oswego County now for more than 30 years. Currently, he is docked at the Oswego Marina while taking clients out onto Lake Ontario in search of not only that dream king or Coho salmon or lake trout, but also for sheer fun. A Pulaski resident since 1987, Creasy is the owner of High Adventure Sportfishing and is part of a local sports fishery that is rated second to none. The formula necessary to be a successful charter boat captain contains far more than the ability to fish. “There are a lot of good fishermen out on the water, but you have to be more than that. You have to be an entertainer,” AUGUST/SEPTEMBER 2017
he said. Also, captains must know how to deal with children. “You have to be good with children if you’re going to cater to families, which I do. Probably half my business is families,” he said.’ “You have to be patient. You are going to lose fish and things are going to happen,” said Creasy, noting patience and keeping calm are all vital ingredients. Creasy, 55, said he can take four to six people out on his 30-foot boat, but if he gets a dozen or so people, or a large family or church group, he will look for another captain to handle the overflow. “I won’t always look to those who catch the most fish, but rather those who OSWEGO COUNTY BUSINESS
are going to treat these people the way I’m going to treat my people,” he said. Another key to being successful is having sufficient funds for startup and to purchase a vessel and tackle. Creasy said the majority of captains in Oswego started by working on another boat as first mates, or they served as a first mate for an older captain, and they bought into the business when that captain retired. The Berwick, Pa. native said many captains also have full-time jobs. “They are school teachers, or carpenters, or whatever, and they book their charters on days off or when school is closed,” he said. “I love what I do, but if I could do it all over again, I would have got a nice job with a 20-year pension and then by now, I would have a little pension coming in and chartering would be less stressful,” he said. “The captains who are not counting on money from chartering have a lot less stress.” For instance, if high winds are 85
forecast and wipe out two trips, that is $1,200 down the drain, Creasy noted. “That’s bad for the guy next to me who loses $1,200, but he’s got retirement, pension and Social Security,” he said. “I’m certainly not saying that I’m better or any more valuable, but this is my sole income.” “When someone is fighting a fish and they are smiling, excited and their heart is pumping, then I feel successful,” he said. “If they land the fish, I feel more successful.” “So I’m sitting here watching them or standing next to them, and say to myself, “Yeah, that’s why I’m doing this.’” Creasy said the younger generation is preoccupied with computers and video games, with less hands-on interaction. “I had kids on a charter recently, and it was awesome. They were 10 and 12 and they just had a ball,” he said. “If you get a real big fish, the parents have to help, and that’s understandable. But if you get a smaller fish, they get to do it all by themselves,” he said. Creasy said he enjoys teaching people and educating them about the fishery and how it started, as well as other venues in the surrounding area, such as attractions like Fort Ontario and Harborfest. “I like to just spend time educating them about the whole thing, not just reeling in fish,” he said. Creasy sees himself as well as all charter boat captains in the area as tourism ambassadors. “I think we all are because people come up and ask, “What else is there to do?’” he said. “Oftentimes, they are up for the week and want to do more than just fish,” he said.
Hooked on sport Creasy started the business in 1985. “A few years prior to that, I had booked a lake charter and caught a couple salmon and had a good time,” he said. “I started looking into guiding part-time on the rivers and working on another boat, so that is what I did.” He served as a first mate on a boat and then bought a drift boat and started his own year-round river business. “I guess the toughest thing was obtaining clients. In the infancy of this fishery, you had to market yourself and go to sport shows back in the day,” he said. “There would be 20 people lined up with $100 bills in their pocket and you’d have your book open and they 86
would be waiting to take a day.” “Obviously, it’s flooded now and it’s a little more competitive. You got to work harder to keep your clientele,” he said. Creasy does not attend shows anymore, primarily because he works in Florida as a guide during the winter for about 3 ½ months. Creasy also has an established clientele. “It’s not that I don’t need more people. Of course, we all do, but I’m good enough just with word of mouth, a little marketing and the Internet. It seems to work,” he said. When he launched his business, he did not rely on outside lending sources. “It was just myself. If you are doing bank guiding, it’s as simple as buying fishing equipment,” Creasy said. “My first drift boat was $3,200 brand new in the mid-1980s. Now that boat is $15,000. So back then starting out initially, it wasn’t big capital.” River fishing requires less overhead costs, but once one enters lake fishing, it’s a whole different cost structure. “I worked on a lot of boats as a first mate, and then decided to buy my first charter boat, which is a bigger expense,” he said. His first pre-owned boat plus gear cost $20,000 10 years ago, and then he upgraded to his present boat — a 30-foot 2000 Penn Yan with an 11-foot beam — that cost $50,000.
Time for a change Creasy, who grew up fishing, said before he launched his business he worked two jobs. “I did a lot of construction, and I was actually a police officer at a small department in Pennsylvania. Back then, there were no cell phones and we had poor radio communication. I just wanted a change and wasn’t happy,” he said. “There were a lot of good things about it, but I got into it too young and I wanted to change, so I decided to fish,” he said. He said part of being competitive in the charter boat industry is having an established clientele. “If you were to go out right now and say, ‘I want to be a charter boat captain,’ which a lot of people do, and have the money to buy a boat and gear, that’s good, but now you need clients.” He said having that established clientele come year in and year out allows him the opportunity to expand into other endeavors. “Because I’m busy here, I can go to OSWEGO COUNTY BUSINESS
Florida and I can work a few less days until I build that business up,” said Creasy, noting the same holds true for his charter business on Oneida Lake. In Florida, he charters on Pine Island, on the Gulf coast in the Fort Myers area. “It’s backwater fishing, and it’s winter, but still warm obviously,” he said. There, fishermen target in on snook, reds, trout and snapper. “It’s fish people like to eat. They are not always big fish but just fun fish,” he said. “The clients down there are predominately from up here. They are snowbirds vacationing in Florida in the winter.” “They want to see dolphins, manatees and catch a couple of fish,” he said. “It’s working out well for me.” The U.S. Coast licenses charter boat captains, and those licenses are renewable every five years. Recently, Coast Guard members inspected many Oswego-docked charter boats to make sure they are safe and equipped with proper equipment such as fire extinguishers, flares and life jackets. Captains must have proper insurance and know CPR and how to administer first aid. Creasy said like anybody else, rates have not been able to rise as much as the cost of doing business. He said fuel, insurance, and the costs associated with docking, storage and maintenance fees go up while rates stay relatively stable. “From the time I started, rates really haven’t gone up that much. They went up a little bit,” he said. “This year, we’re pretty good with gas because the cost is down. The year gas was $5 and $5.50 a gallon over here, I couldn’t just raise my price $50. So I made less money two years ago when the gas was higher than I am this year because the gas is $1.50 lower,” he noted.” The charter boats burn literally thousands of gallons of gas during the summer. “When you are running or going to the fishing area, most boats will burn close to two gallons a mile,” he said. When trolling, most boats burn about one gallon an hour. “It will vary with the time of year,” Creasy said. “If the fish are real close, it might be $50 a trip, but if the fish are far away, it would mean $100 in fuel costs,” he noted.
High-tech era of fishing
Creasy said electronics has dramatically changed his industry. “The technology is just nuts,” he said. “The equipment is computerized, and just like any computer, in a year or so they become outdated.” Charter boat captains use a GPS, radar and fish finder. He said there are fish finders that still print fish, but for people who are in the know or for someone who wants to see the best images, they have to upgrade, Creasy said. “The biggest thing with technology is that it has cost us more to keep up with it,” said Creasy, noting the $3,500 fish finder he bought last year is already considered an antique. “It will serve me for five more years, but there is another one that is even better,” he said. New transducers provide live images where one can actually see the fish swim on a computer monitor. “You can easily drop $5,000 to $10,000 into new electronics on a boat,” he said. He noted a colleague invested $21,000 just in electronics. Besides keeping up the technology, another challenge for Creasy is the weather. He said this summer has been exceptionally windy and has occasionally shut down all action. “You can book 100 charters, and you can get blown off 20 of them. That’s 20 percent less money than what you projected you were going to make,” he said. Although sitting on the dock means not burning gas, the captain is paying a fixed fee for his dock. “If you leave 100 times, that dock costs me a lot less per day than if I left 10 times,” he said. “If the wind blows and we can’t fish, the day is gone and there is no making it up,” he said. When he needs to reschedule, he is creating a slot that may have been booked by another client. “If you can’t perform your work that day and get paid, you might not be able to make that up,” he said. “Everybody says I have a great office and I do, except when there are six to eight footers and I’m sitting on the dock asking, ‘How am I going to pay my mortgage this month?’” he said. During certain times of the year, captains need to scratch for trips, Creasy said. But when it is busy, there is a tendency to overbook knowing that some of those trips are going to be adversely affected by weather. AUGUST/SEPTEMBER 2017
Troy Creasy has been traversing the waterways of Oswego County now for more than 30 years. Currently, he is docked at the Oswego Marina while taking clients out onto Lake Ontario The lake season extends from late April until late September. Because Creasy is a river fisherman as well, he won’t appear at the Oswego Marina until early May and finish up in mid-September. During the fall and winter months, Creasy can be seen river fishing on the Salmon River in Pulaski. Creasy said usually April 20 is about as early as anyone can start their business, and by Oct. 10, all boats must be cleared from the marina. Creasy said there is a plethora of fishing forums on various websites and Facebook pages indicating whether fishing is hot or not. “They are posting whether they caught fish, where they caught them and how many they caught,” he said. Creasy has both a personal Facebook page as well as a High Adventure Sportfishing page. “I have people that follow that every day. They want to know what I’m catching, whether they are coming up next month or whether they are looking to book a trip. Social media is huge with booking,” he said. He belongs to the Lake Ontario Trout and Salmon Association, and OSWEGO COUNTY BUSINESS
is a member of the International Joint Commission, a fisheries commission that works in conjunction with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources. He sits on a 12-man panel that meets throughout the year to discuss fishery issues.’ He and his wife Shelley have three children and several grandchildren. Because they are becoming less tolerant of Oswego County winters, the couple is intent on spending more time in Florida in the coming years. “By the time I’m 60, I hope to be down there six months as opposed to three,” Creasy said. The Florida gig involves a new fishery, and Creasy said he is involved in the same kind of learning process he experienced in Oswego 30 years ago. “I thought you had to have snow at Christmas. You don’t,” said Creasy, noting he and his wife make it a point to fish every Christmas Day. Creasy also will seek to do some bird hunting with his new pup. He is also an editor for Lake Ontario Outdoors magazine, a quarterly publication promoting outdoor sports in the Lake Ontario region. 87
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OSWEGO COUNTY BUSINESS
Best Business Directory AUCTION & REAL ESTATE Dean Cummins: Over 35 years experience. All types of auctions & real estate. Route 370, Cato. 315-246-5407
AUTO COLLISION Northside Collision, Baldwinsville. Upstate’s largest collision/repair center. Lifetime warranty, loaners or rentals. We assist with the insurance claims. 75 E. Genesee St., Baldwinsville. Call 315-638-4444.
AUTO SALES & SERVICE Bellinger Auto Sales & Service. Third generation business. Used cars, towing, auto repair & accessories, truck repair. Oil, lube & filter service. 2746 County Route 57 Fulton, NY 13069. Call 593-1332 or fax 598-5286.
AUTO SERVICE & TIRES Northstar Tire & Auto Service. Major/minor repairs. Foreign & domestic. Alignments. Tire sales. Call Jim at 598-8200. 1860 State Route 3 W. in Fulton.
BUILDING SUPPLIES Burke’s Home Center. The complete building and supply center. Two locations for your convenience: 38 E. Second St. in Oswego (343-6147); and 65 N. Second St. in Fulton (592-2244). Free deliveries.
COPY + PRINT Port City Copy Center. Your one-stop for all of your copy + print needs. 52 West Bridge St., Oswego. 216-6163.
CUSTOM PICTURE FRAMING Picture Connection. 169 W. First St. Oswego. Quality conservation matting & framing for your photos, prints, original artwork & objects. 343-2908.
DEMOLITION Fisher Companies. Commercial & residential demolition. Great prices. Fully insured. Free estimates. 46 years of experience. Call Fisher Companies at 315-6523773 or visit www.johnefisherconstruction.com.
EXCAVATING Gilbert Excavating. Septic systems. Gravel & top soil.
Septic and tank pumping. 691 county Route 3, Fulton, 13069. Call 593-2472.
GLASS Fulton Glass, Oswego County’s only full service glass shop. Residential. Commercial. Shower enclosures. Auto glass. Window and picture glass. Screen repair. Window repair. Beveled mirrors and glass. Hrs: M-Th 8-4, Fri 8-noon. FultonGlass.net, 840 Hannibal St., Fulton, NY 13069, 593-7913.
HOME IMPROVEMENT Wet Paint Company. Paint, flooring, blinds & drapes. Free estimates. Call 343-1924, www.wetpaintcompany. com.
INSURANCE & ACCOUNTING Canale Insurance & Accounting Service for all your insurance, accounting, payroll and tax needs. Locally owned and operated. Call 315-343-4456
INVESTIGATIVE SERVICES Lie detection, EXAMS, matrimonial, criminal, custody. Call P.I.B. Investigations at 315-952-1118. Liedetectionssyracuse.com. Director: W. Malcolm Plummer.
JEWELERS JP Jewelers is your hometown jeweler offering supreme design at wholesale prices. Whether you’re buying or selling, JP Jewelers is here to be your local jeweler. 136 W. Bridge St., Oswego. (315) 342-GOLD. Find us on Facebook.
KILN-DRIED HARDWOODS Lakeshore Hardwoods. We stock kiln-dried cherry, walnut, maple, butternut, ash, oak, basswood, mahogany, cedar figured woods, and exotics. Also, hardwood flooring, moldings, stair parts & woodworking supplies. 266 Manwaring Rd. Pulaski. 298-6407 or visit www. lakeshorehardwoods.com.
LAND SURVEYOR Robert M. Burleigh, licensed land surveyor. Quality land surveying. Residential, subdivision, commercial, boundary surveying. 593-2231.
LANDSCAPING D & S Landscaping office. Servicing Oswego & surrounding areas. Quality work, prompt & dependable service. Free estimates. Fully Insured. Backhoe services, Lawn mowing, Snow plowing, Top soil, Tree work. Hydro-seeding & asphalt seal coating. 315-5986025 (cell 315-591-4303).
LUMBER White’s Lumber. Four locations to serve you. Pulaski: state Route 13, 298-6575; Watertown: N. Rutland Street, 788-6200; Clayton: James Street, 686-1892; Gouverneur: Depot Street, 287-1892. D & D Logging and Lumber. Hardwood lumber sales. Buyer of logs and standing timber. Very competitive pricing. Call 315-593-2474. Located at 1409 county Route 4, Central Square, NY 13036.
OUTBOARD MOTORS Arney’s Marina. Route 14 Sodus Point, NY. Honda fourstroke motors, 2 hp to 250 hp. Repower your boat with the best! Call 483-9111 for more information.
OUTDOOR POWER EQUIPMENT BJ’s Outdoor Power Equipment/ Sales & Service. 3649 state Route 3, Fulton, NY. www.bjsoutdoorpower.com. We sell Ferris, Echo, Central Boiler, and Simplicity products. Call 598-5636.
PAWN BROKER Pawn Boss. We buy everything from game systems to gold & silver. Coin collections, guitars and flat screen TVs too! Check us out on www.newyorkpawnboss.com or call 415-9127.
QUILT SHOP Quality fabrics, Notions, Classes for everyone. Explore a new hobby. The Robins Nest, 116 W. Broadway, Fulton, NY 315598-1170.
ROOFING/GUTTERS Over The Top Roofing. Mike Majeski. Commercial & residential roofing. Quality craftsmanship. 50-year manufacturer’s warranty for residential roofs. Best price on seamless gutters. Call 882-5255. 400 Co. Rt. 7 Hannibal, NY 13074.
$159 for 1 Year Just fill out this form, and
Oswego send it with a check to: 2017 AUGUST/SEPTEMBER
County Business P.O. Box 276 • Oswego, NY 1312689 OSWEGO COUNTY•BUSINESS
By Lou Sorendo
Kathy Ouellette Ontario Orchards’ co-owner talks about the increasingly popular Fall Jamboree she organizes Q.: This is the 16th anniversary of the event. What has made it such a long-lasting tourism attraction? A.: It’s fun for the whole family! We’ve had a great repeat customer base with families coming back year after year. We get to watch families grow from one generation to the next. The jamboree is the kickoff to our “u-pick” season featuring a variety of apples that lasts a few weeks following the event. Q.: What are some of the more popular activities at the jamboree? A.: Riding the mechanical bull, making scarecrows, decorating pumpkins, riding the ponies, running through the corn maze, challenging the zip line and picking apples. There really is something for everyone. We also have representatives from local wineries, as well as a few new things to offer such as a Velcro wall, which should provide some laughs. We always feature new local musicians, and of course local artisans will be offering arts and crafts. Q.: What does it take for the event to come off successfully? What do visitors look forward to the most when they come to the jamboree? A.: The weather is always a big factor in making our event successful. It is a “rain or shine” event and it is always positive when it’s a dry day. I always ask my mother, “Sister June,” to pray for us. I believe that our visitors always look forward to coming out to the country and having lots of fun with happy people. There will also be good food and great free entertainment. Q.: How do you feel about the Ouellette family being a critical component of Oswego County’s growing agritourism industry? A.: We are very fortunate because our farm market business is in Oswego 90
County but our farms are in Cayuga County. We are blessed to be able to bring in a lot of local produce to the area. People love to buy what’s in season and what’s homegrown. More and more people are getting back to the old roots of buying local and wanting to know where their produce is coming from. We do a lot of free field trips in the fall to educate kids from the Oswego, Hannibal, Red Creek and Cato-Meridian school districts. My mom and dad are very involved in that educational process.
thing. We also enjoy working with our local musicians to see what they have to offer and what may fit our atmosphere for the jamboree. Q.: What are the most challenging aspects of organizing the jamboree? A.: The biggest challenge is making everything fit in the field. Every year, we try to offer something new along with the traditional things that folks look for, but space is limited. We are cutting down trees to make room because each year, we grow a little more. My father always tells me, “Take small steps in business to be successful.” We are 16 years and still growing!
Q.: What is the most fun part of putting the jamboree together? A.: My sister Laurie and I started the jamboree 16 years ago. We wanted to bring back to the community what Laurie and I grew up with on the family farm in Sterling. We were able to run our horses through the apple farm, pick pumpkins, make scarecrows, and skateboard and bike on country roads. You don’t see kids do that now. We love to invite families to our jamboree and our old stomping grounds and experience what we had as children. One of the most fun aspects of putting the jamboree together is organizing all of our This year’s Fall Jamboree takes place vendors. We try to from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sept. 23-24 at make sure that we don’t have people 15273 Center Road, Sterling. featuring the same OSWEGO COUNTY BUSINESS
Superior stroke care. It’s about time.
eceiving the area’s fastest stroke diagnosis and treatment starts even before you arrive at Crouse Hospital. That’s because our EMS
partners start communicating with our team the moment they arrive on the scene. Once here, our stroke specialists immediately assess your condition. And if more advanced care is needed, our boardcertified, fellowship-trained neurosurgeons use the most progressive stroke-rescue therapies and technology available. When it’s about time, say “Take me to Crouse.”
Three in a
Row! Spring 2016 Fall 2016 Spring 2017
We have one goal — to provide the safest care close to home Oswego Hospital was awarded an “A” for patient safety for the third consecutive time by the Leapfrog Group, an independent nonprofit run by purchasers of health benefits. This Hospital Safety Score used 30 measures of safety data to calculate this single score representing the hospital’s ability to keep patients safe from infections, injuries, medical and medication errors. The Leapfrog Hospital Safety Grade is an elite designation from the Leapfrog Group, an independent nonprofit that sets the highest national standards for patient safety, quality and transparency in healthcare.
Oswego Health oswegohealth.org/safety
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