Hospitality industry readying to get swamped on Black Friday

Even the most zealous shoppers need a break on Black Friday to refuel with coffee and food, or to get their hair done.

That’s when businesses in the hospitality industry step in, opening their doors to serve customers who take a time out from buying the latest gadgets and trendy apparel on the national shopping day.

In Massena, a hot spot for hungry shoppers is Vino Vidi Vici, an Italian restaurant owned by Tarek and Crista M. Makdouli at the Harte Haven Shopping Plaza.

Mrs. Makdouli said she recommends that customers make reservations for the restaurant, which is flanked by T.J. Maxx, because it otherwise could be a challenge to find a table.

The restaurant is a major draw for Canadians who cross the border to shop in Massena, Mrs. Makdouli said.

“I would say they account for about 40 to 50 percent of our business on Black Friday,” she said. “They’re looking for a meal after they shop. And we always find that we’ll have a bunch of guys come in while their wives are shopping at T.J. Maxx. The husbands are looking for a nice lounge to crash at.”

Mrs. Makdouli estimated that business at the restaurant, open for nearly three years, has climbed by about 15 percent on Black Friday compared with a typical Friday.

And Vino Vidi Vici isn’t alone in the shopping-season buzz.

Dunkin’ Donuts, 1250 Arsenal St., Watertown, will open at 5 a.m. on Thanksgiving and stay open until midnight Saturday, keeping the same hours that were established last year to capitalize on the earlier shopping trend, manager Colleen Precourt said. The special hours are available only at the franchise’s Arsenal Street location because it draws the most Black Friday traffic, she said.

“We’ll have nine employees here the whole time,” Ms. Precourt said.

Five people work at the doughnut shop during a typical shift.

“We’re going to be ready,” she said.

Employee Isabella K. Keenan, who worked at the Dunkin’ Donuts on Black Friday last year, said the drive-thru lane that wraps around the store was jammed “all day long.”

To accommodate longer lines, traffic flows into the neighboring parking lot used by Pearle Vision, she said.

“On a normal day you can tell when there are spurts of traffic, but you can’t know that on Black Friday because it never stops,” she said, adding that “copious” amounts of coffee, sandwiches and boxes of doughnuts are sold that day.

Several big-box retailers will kick off the Christmas shopping season on Thanksgiving night, two or more hours earlier than they did last year.

Some shoppers might even adjust their dinner plans to wait in line at J.C. Penney, Sears, Kohl’s, Target and other stores.

Vina A. Bonner of Watertown said she’ll be hunting for a 70-inch smart television at Best Buy in Salmon Run Mall on Thanksgiving after her 10-year-old daughter and 3-year-old son go to sleep.

“I might buy one of the new curved TVs,” she said. “I think the savings will be great.”

Meanwhile, the Kmart off Arsenal Street will open at 6 a.m. on Thanksgiving, which it started doing in 2010. Walmart on Arsenal Street will remain open 24 hours, but its best doorbuster deals will be from 6 to 8 p.m. on the holiday itself. The retailer also has locations in Evans Mills, Lowville, Ogdensburg, Potsdam and Massena.

As a matter of principle, Watertown resident Darlene D. Sheitz said she has never shopped on Thanksgiving to get deals. She said she might this year, though, because a Samsung smart tablet she wants for $50 at Best Buy could be sold out by Friday.

“I don’t want to be in stores on Thanksgiving, but I might have to,” she said. “If stores are going to open on Thursday, why are they still calling it Black Friday?”

The people who shop on Black Friday, waiting in the long lines to pay for their deals, also could have a wait for meals.

The line at Panera Bread on Towne Center Drive, Watertown, usually extends from the counter to the entrance on Black Friday, manager John H. Dillenback said. The fast-casual restaurant will be open from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. after opening at 3 a.m. on that day in previous years.

“We didn’t get the sales we expected at 3 a.m. last year, and I think it’s because people are shopping on Thanksgiving and then getting out later on Friday morning,” he said. “About 9 a.m. is when we really start to see the traffic flow.”

From the customers’ perspective, Mr. Dillenback said, the restaurant strikes an appealing balance between fast-food restaurants such as McDonald’s and sit-down establishments such as TGI Fridays. Customers can order a cup of coffee and quickly fill it themselves using dispensers at the restaurant, which seats about 250 people.

Plus, Panera’s location, next to large retailers, helps make it a quick-hit destination for shoppers, Mr. Dillenback said. The restaurant is flanked by the likes of Bed, Bath & Beyond, Old Navy, Kohl’s and Target.

“It’s busy here all day long and doesn’t stop, but we keep the line moving,” he said, adding that about 30 employees will work the Black Friday shift.

Shopping breaks don’t just involve food and beverages, though.

Groups of women often get their hair done on Black Friday at Supercuts on Towne Center Drive, manager Elizabeth Shampoe said. She said the business, which opened during the spring of 2013, is expected to lure more shoppers this year because more people know where it is.

Though the store will hold normal hours from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Black Friday, all six of its hairdressers will work the shift — up from two on a regular day.

“Usually at about 11 a.m., it starts to get really busy because people have been shopping all day and want a break to have their hair cut and dry-ironed,” Ms. Shampoe said.

Not all businesses, however, have benefited from the recent trend of retailers opening on Thanksgiving instead of the early morning on Black Friday.

In Lewis County, Lloyd’s of Lowville, a diner on South State Street, used to get barnstormed with shoppers when it opened at 5:30 a.m. for breakfast, manager Melissa A. Zehr said. But she said most shoppers now go home to sleep after doing their shopping earlier on Thanksgiving night.

“People used to run up to Walmart at 3 o’clock in the morning, and as soon as they were done shopping they would come here and eat on their way home before going to bed,” Mrs. Zehr said. “But now they don’t need to wait in line to do that. We’re still busy on Black Friday, but it’s not like it used to be.”


By Ted Booker, Times Staff Writer

Kruger Energy meets with stakeholders to introduce plans to expand hydroelectric facility in Lyons Falls

Representatives from Kruger Energy Inc. met with Lewis County and local officials to introduce the Northbrook Lyons Falls LLC proposed redevelopment plan and to discuss the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission amendment and the permitting process for the hydroelectric plant.

Northbrook Lyons Falls LLC is a subsidiary of Kruger Energy Inc.

Daniel Parker, project manager with Kruger Energy Inc., said Northbrook Lyons Falls has a federal license for the Lyons Falls project. Three hydropower facilities on the Black and Moose rivers, the Lyons Falls Mill, Kosterville and Gouldtown, make up the project, and all three of the sites are part of the same FERC license.

The project has been in existence since 1920, when the hydro units were put in, and it was federally licensed in 1986.

In 2006, a redevelopment project was proposed to have a new powerhouse on the east side of the Black River, but there were concerns about developing that side of the river. Some residents suggested that development on the east side of the river would affect recreational, scenic and cultural resources.

Mr. Parker said the company is looking to amend the license for the mill project. This time the proposal is for the development to remain on the west side of the river at the original facility.

The capacity of the plant now is 5.8 megawatts, and the plan is for it to have a capacity of 12 to 13 megawatts, Mr. Parker said. Kruger wants to amend the license to expand the capacity.

Kruger wants to build a two-unit powerhouse within the footprint of the Lyons Falls Pulp & Paper mill site. However, the company is looking into the possibility of having three smaller units instead of the two larger units, because the plant then would be able to go down to a lower flow before having to shut the system down, Mr. Parker said.

He said the company is not looking to change the elevation of the river upstream, so the dam height will stay the same.

Lewis County Economic Development Director and IDA Executive Director Eric J. Virkler gave a brief overview of how the decommissioning of the Lyons Falls Pulp & Paper mill is a factor for the hydroelectric expansion.

The Lewis County Development Corp. has been working to secure funding to clean up the site, Mr. Virkler said. The LCDC has been working in partnership with Kruger, which put in $450,000 for the first phase and up to an additional $200,000 for other project costs that would come out of contingency. Kruger has made funding contributions to help move along the demolition so it can have access to the plant.

The demolition is focused on the top priority areas of the site to get it cleaned up so Kruger can move forward with its work, Mr. Virkler said. The intent is that Kruger will purchase land surrounding its facility so there will be room for the expansion.

Lyons Falls Mayor Catherine L. Liendecker said the community is on board with the project.

“The biggest advantage for our community is that when the mill site gets cleaned up and whatever goes in there, you could be selling (electricity) to whoever is right next door rather than getting it at a more expensive rate from National Grid,” Mrs. Liendecker said. “It is a plus for whoever comes into this area.”

The availability of cheap power could be a big draw to attract business to the site, Mr. Parker said. The site already has infrastructure with access to water, sewer services, the rail line and the natural gas line.

“You already have some attributes that are very attractive. Hopefully we can add something to make it that much better,” Mr. Parker said.

He said 37,000 megawatt hours are generated per year with the system. The expansion will add 27,000 megawatt hours, which would be able to power about 12,000 houses.

Mr. Parker said this facility could have the capability to supply Lewis County General Hospital, Lowville, and a number of commercial or retail facilities with that energy.

“Anything we can do to make our existing large businesses more economical is going to be important,” County Manager Elizabeth Swearingin said. “You know we are talking about a commerce park. That jumps to the top of my list. If we have a shovel-ready site that has an attractive power footprint to it, that’s going to be something we are very interested in.”

For the hydroelectric expansion to happen, Kruger must file an amendment with FERC.


By Whitney Randolph, Times Staff Writer

Good food draws community to Adams for fun and fellowship

The community came out in full force Saturday evening for food and fellowship at the second annual Taste of South Jeff: Savor Sixtown in Adams.

With a sampling of food from 10 area restaurants, participants ate their way through the Sixtown Community Hall.

“We came again this year because we had such a great time last year,” said Cathy C. Behling of Adams.

At the height of the event, some diners had obvious difficulties balancing their piles of food as they navigated the crowd. Plates were overloaded with lemon meringue waffles, chicken wings, cake pops, doughnuts, stuffed mushrooms, seafood bisque, pork sandwiches, pizza, macaroni and cheese and more.

“I love this event because of the food,” said Adams’ resident Nancy C. Murphy. “I also enjoy seeing people here that I don’t see every day.”

Sponsored by the South Jeff Chamber of Commerce, the event brought in numbers similar to those of the year before. With an hour to go before closing, more than 200 people had walked through the doors of the Sixtown Community Hall.

“Last year, the weather was great and we had 250 attend,” Susan L. Creighton, Adams Center, said.

Mrs. Creighton, a member of the chamber, managed the tickets and front door sales.

“It was a good turnout this year, especially with the snowy weather,” chamber member Paula P. Biazzo said. “The numbers were about the same. I’m impressed.”

Area solo artists Brittany M. Cean and Brian S. Topping provided a backdrop of blues and folk music.

The chamber gave out several awards to the participating restaurants. RJ’s Catering, Adams Center, won the People’s Choice Award and Best Booth. Gram’s Diner, Adams, won Best-Dressed Chef.

The 2013 Taste of South Jeff: Savor Sixtown earned $4,000 for the Adams Fire Department and the South Jefferson Rescue Squad.

All proceeds from this year’s event will go to the Historical Society of South Jefferson County and the historical societies for both Mannsville and Henderson.

Participating restaurants included: Gram’s Diner, Adams; Green Thyme, Adams Center; RJ Catering, Adams Center; Pearl’s Pastry Shoppe, Adams; Barley Pub, Belleville; Cooper’s Landing, Henderson; Mimi’s Depot Cafe, Adams Center; Pizza Shack, Sackets Harbor; and Embellished Catering, Henderson Harbor.


By Heather L. Berry, Johnson Newspapers


Eddy’s Caribbean Cuisine brings international flavor to Watertown

The fusion of Caribbean and Nigerian food isn’t seen much at restaurants in America.

But the combination is offered by Eddy’s Caribbean Cuisine, which opened in late September at the food court in Salmon Run Mall.

Nigeria native Edirin “Eddy” Igho-Akiti said he decided to open the restaurant to show the north country the delights of the international food he’s enjoyed since his youth.

On the one hand, customers can enjoy spicy Caribbean rice dishes with goat and oxtail meat; on the other, they can order Nigerian dishes that include pepper soup, fried plantains, bean pudding and Jolloff rice. Takeout orders are available.

Mr. Igho-Akiti decided to open the restaurant after launching Eddy’s African International Market on Franklin Street in March 2013. The eatery’s motto, “unforgettable taste,” has a special meaning for the owner, who said dishes are cooked with special care. He said his mother, who is from the Caribbean island of St. Lucia, taught him how to cook dishes from her homeland and from Nigeria, his father’s native country.

“I grew up watching my mom cook with passion and love, and that same passion made me start this place,” the 37-year-old said. “That’s why the motto is unforgettable taste. When you taste the food, you’re going to come back for more and more. And it’s because we cook it full of love.”

Mr. Igho-Akiti spent the first 12 years of his life in Nigeria, followed by four on the island of St. Lucia. He spent his time in London until 2001, when he earned a full-ride scholarship to play soccer at West Virginia University — his entry to the U.S. After earning a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering, he went on to earn a master’s degree in business administration from the University at Buffalo in 2011.

He spent several years working in management positions at Olive Garden restaurants, including the one on Arsenal Street in Watertown, before deciding to launch his grocery store on Franklin Street last year. He said he was impressed by the warm reception he received at the store from customers in the Watertown area, who mostly have no connection with Africa or the Caribbean islands.

“It’s all about the taste. When a new customer comes in and tries the food, they almost always come back,” he said, adding that success at the store spurred him to open the eatery.

Weekends have been especially busy so far at the restaurant, which is staffed by five employees, Mr. Igho-Akiti said. He said it already has become a popular stop among Canadians from Ottawa who make frequent shopping trips to the mall.

“We had a group of Canadians that came down here two weeks ago, and they told another group about us who came down last weekend,” he said. “Most of the Canadians have been used to the cuisine we offer and are excited we’re here.”

Restaurant supervisor Barbara N. Robinson, a Carthage native, said she has been surprised by the mix of comments people have made about the international food.

“I didn’t realize how many people from Nigeria and the Caribbean islands were here,” she said. “They say they don’t expect to see this in the north country.”

Others with north country roots are sometimes surprised to see the diverse menu choices, Ms. Robinson said.

“They sometimes get taken aback when they see goat and oxtail,” Ms. Robinson added. “But when they try it, they say it’s actually really good food,” she said.

Follow Eddy’s Caribbean Cuisine on Facebook (keyword: EddyCaribbeanCuisine) or visit its website at


By Ted Booker, Times Staff Writer

Experts evaluate the nature of business closings in Massena, Potsdam

Despite the recent series of business closings in Massena and Potsdam, local business experts said while there will be an impact, the closings do not indicate a dying regional economy.

Experts instead cited competition with online retailers, past plant closings in Massena and the changing value of the Canadian dollar as bigger factors in local economic decline.

In just over a month — from late September to early November — six north country businesses have announced they will close for good: Violi’s Restaurant, Ponderosa Steakhouse, Guy’s Restaurant, Sears and OfficeMax in Massena, and Northern Music and Video in Potsdam.

Marc S. Compeau, an instructor of consumer and organizational studies at Clarkson University, said he does not believe a relationship exists between the closings, calling Massena and Potsdam different communities with different issues.

He called the loss of employment caused by the closings huge for Massena, but said closings and phase-downs of Massena’s Reynolds, Alcoa East and General Motors plants — and the resulting population loss — are bigger factors, which continue to erode Massena businesses.

Indeed, the numbers are down, with 332 manufacturing jobs lost earlier this year when Alcoa closed its east plant, and a total of 500 lost over the life of the GM plant which closed in 2010.

Between 2008 and 2012, out of 5,316 employed residents in Massena, 332 worked in manufacturing while 888 worked in retail trade, according to a U.S. Census Bureau survey. Margins of error were plus or minus 1.8 percent and 3.7 percent, respectively. Census data from 2000 showed 977 of 5,607 residents worked in manufacturing and 932 in retail trade.

The gradual change in the value of Canadian currency over the past two decades has made Massena’s St. Lawrence Centre mall less attractive to Canadian consumers, who came in droves when the mall opened in 1990, according to Mr. Compeau.

“I remember those days. It was such a busy, busy place,” he said. “That mall has struggled mightily for many years based on the lack of the Canadian market that it was founded on.”

Tourism Director Gary S. DeYoung of the Thousand Islands International Tourism Council said the change in the Canadian dollar’s value likely plays a part but is not the main cause for the closings.

He reported that the dollar’s value has been positive for five years, bringing increasing numbers of consumers across the bridges in Ogdensburg and the Thousand Islands, until last year, when those numbers plateaued. So far this year, he said, there has not been a decrease.

Competition with online retailers also has played a role, according Gregory A. Gardner, SUNY Potsdam associate professor of business administration, who cited it as the cause of the demise of the Sears store in Massena’s mall, a small part of a nationwide problem for the company which has struggled against Walmart and other discount retailers over the years.

“We’re seeing Sears trying to cut costs. They’re closing less-productive outlets, and we’re on that list,” Mr. Gardner said. “That’s just what the national trend looks like locally.”

And while Potsdam’s economy has not been as hard-hit as Massena’s by recent closings — thanks to increasing enrollments at its colleges and growth at Canton-Potsdam Hospital — it will nonetheless be affected by the loss of Northern Music and Video, according to Mr. Compeau.

“I think that Northern Music closing in Potsdam is like Market Street losing its Sears,” he said. “We’ve lost our anchor.”

Like Sears, the store has lost business to national and online retailers in recent years, according to Mr. Gardner.

Increasing popularity of online video and music streaming services has not helped.

Digital music companies Spotify and Pandora last year streamed a total of over 22 billion hours of music to more than 90 million users, letting them listen either free of charge or through subscriptions costing as little as $3 per month, according to the New York Times.

The New York Times also reported that subscribers of Netflix’s streaming-video service numbered 27 million in 2012 and are now more than 50 million strong.

Also last year, income from streaming services made up 21 percent of music industry income, up from 9 percent in 2011, according to Recording Industry Association of America data.

“In the end, when you can find most of the products cheaper on the Internet, it’s awfully hard to compete with that,” Mr. Gardner said.

Though he said neither community’s economy is driven by retail, both will take a hit economically, and while Massena will feel the loss broadly, in Potsdam the void left by Northern Music will be filled by outside sources, as people look online and in other stores outside the region for music goods.

Customers in line at the store’s liquidation sale Thursday said the loss of the store is more than just a material one.

Jason A. O’Connell, a Malone resident who has frequented the store since 1990, said he liked being able to make deals in person and avoid shipping delays by buying supplies at a local store.

“I realized I could get better deals talking to a human,” he said. “You can’t do that online.”

Michael P. Farley, an associate professor of music at St. Lawrence University who has also shopped at Northern Music since 1990, said an important meeting place for working musicians will be lost when the business is gone.

“I’m feeling a little bit like a vulture,” he said of the closing. “It feels like a funeral.”

SUNY Potsdam’s Crane School of Music, which partnered with the store in several ways, such as by selling event tickets and the buying of equipment and supplies, was thankful for its relationship.

Michael R. Sitton, dean of the Crane School of Music, said the ways in which the store has benefitted the school and music education throughout the region could not be counted.

“We share the feelings of many, as this significant chapter comes to an end and we lose what has been a wonderful part of the business and musical community in Potsdam,” he said.


By Alan Rizzo, Times Staff Writer

Paquin honored as Woman of the Year by St. Lawrence County Chapter, NYS Women

Friends called her devoted, committed, dependable, hardworking, energetic, generous, full of laughter, always with a smile and an honored friend.

And she’s also the 2014 Woman of the Year for the St. Lawrence County chapter of New York State Women Inc.

Julianne C. Paquin was honored during a dinner Thursday night at the Village Inn, where family and friends came to celebrate a woman whose accomplishments took two full pages to name in her nomination letter from Nancy A. Fregoe, bookkeeper for the town of Massena.

Ms. Fregoe noted that Mrs. Paquin, whom she has known for more than 23 years, was the court clerk for the town and village of Massena for 20 years. She also had served as a speech therapist aide for six years in the Massena Central School system.

“I witnessed the dedication she had to her job — she worked many overtime hours without compensation to try and get everything done, as well as making sure each case was handled in a timely manner, which in turn saved the taxpayers money,” Ms. Fregoe said in her letter.

Mrs. Paquin didn’t slow down when she retired in 2003. She became a volunteer with the Massena Memorial Hospital Auxiliary, serving on the board from 2006 to the present. She served as eucharistic minister for St. Joseph’s Church, taking communion to nursing home residents as well.

She has served as a Brownie leader, chaired door-to-door canvassing for the American Cancer Society locally and volunteered at the Massena Free Clinic.

And, Ms. Fregoe said, it was Mrs. Paquin who decided to take an effort she had seen a news report about on television and localize it in Massena so that elementary children had healthy weekend snacks.

“Many people will recognize her name as the woman who brought Back the Pack to our community,” Ms. Fregoe said. “I remember her talking to me about it at the time and she told me that she wanted to give something back to the community that had treated her family so well over the years.”

Mrs. Paquin said that, in looking through the list of past Women of the Year, she realized she was in excellent company.

In 2011, the first year of the Back the Pack program, 42 snack packs were delivered to students in one school. This past school year, with the program now in all of Massena’s elementary schools, 261 children were served.

“In her small way, Julie has touched the lives of these 261 children and their families. She has done this by showing them that someone cares about them and wants them to have proper nourishment,” Ms. Fregoe said. “Massena is certainly a better place because of this one woman and her unwavering compassion for those in need.”

Loretta B. Perez said during Thursday’s dinner that she and other family members knew the day would come when Mrs. Paquin would be recognized for all she has contributed to the community.

“You are so giving to us. We are so proud of you. I can’t think of anything that you’ve done that would disappoint anyone,” she said.

“They are all such accomplished women,” she said, “and this room is full of accomplished women.”

She said no matter what she has done, it has been with the support of her family. Her mother, she said, “always talked about generosity and kindness and doing for other people.”

Mrs. Paquin thanked the other volunteers who assist with the Back the Pack program.

“They are such wonderful, wonderful people. I came up with this idea and they said, ‘We’re on board.’ The girls work so hard,” she said, “and they just give and give and give.”


By Bob Beckstead, Johnson Newspapers

Cinema’s future is in city’s hands

Ogdensburg’s only movie theater may soon be in the hands of the city.

In a letter to members of the City Council, Gilbert J. Jones, owner of Jones-Trombley Development Corp., Plattsburgh, offered to “gift” the 9,000-square-foot property at 219 Ford St. to the city.

At Monday’s City Council meeting, members did not discuss acquiring Ogdensburg Cinemas, but instead asked City Manager John M. Pinkerton to obtain more information.

Mr. Jones did not immediately return a call for comment Wednesday.

The two-screen movie theater closed in 2012 after a dispute between its owner and the city over waterfront development projects.

Mr. Jones clashed with planning and development officials over alleged violations in the construction of a concession stand near the former Ramada Inn at 119 W. River St.

According to signs outside the Ramada Inn, the inn is being offered for sale.

Mr. Jones bought the theater in 1980 and has invested heavily in the property since that time. Combining his own funds with a $50,000 state grant, Mr. Jones installed a $73,000 marquee. A new roof and ventilation system cost $85,000.

Mr. Jones has said he invested an additional $42,000 for further renovations. The theater was unprofitable when it was open, losing an estimated $5,000 annually.

A digital projection system at a price tag of $100,000 is still needed to modernize the theater.

Mr. Jones requested $100,000 from the Ogdensburg Growth Fund Development Corp. to purchase digital projection equipment for each of his two theaters. But the fund offered only a $60,000 loan, which was to be paid back in five years at no interest for two years and 2 percent annually for three years after that.

His counteroffer of $60,000 at no interest for four years was rejected.

In 2013, Mr. Jones offered to sell the theater to the city, which could not legally run a theater, Mayor William D. Nelson said at the time.

With the closing of the theater, city residents have to travel to theaters in Canton, Potsdam, Massena or Watertown to watch a movie.


By Amanda Purcell, Johnson Newspapers

Price Chopper announces $300M plan to rename, remodel stores

Farewell, Price Chopper.

The grocery store chain will remodel and rename its 135 locations to Market 32, a reference to the founding of Price Chopper in 1932 by the Golub family, it announced Tuesday.

The Golub Corp., parent company of the Schenectady company, said more products and dining options will be available for customers under the plan, which calls for an investment of about $300 million to renovate more than half of the stores across its six-state footprint within five years. Conversions of remaining stores are planned for the following three to five years.

Stores in the north country probably won’t start being remodeled until 2017, but customers will notice the rollout of new products before that happens, according to Price Chopper spokesman Jonathan M. Pierce. In Jefferson County, the chain has stores in Watertown, Carthage and Alexandria Bay; in St. Lawrence County, stores are in Gouverneur, Ogdensburg, Canton, Potsdam and Massena.

Price Chopper said its first batch of conversions will start this fall with stores in Clifton Park, Wilton and Pittsfield, Mass. An additional 10 to 15 stores will be converted over an 18-month period starting next spring. The only north country store included in that construction phase is in Plattsburgh.

Price Chopper said customers can expect major changes at stores under the Market 32 brand, including new products and services and a modernized store layout. It is possible the remodeled stores could be similar to Price Chopper’s new Market Bistro location that opened earlier this year in Latham, which won’t be converted. Unlike other traditional stores, it features 15 in-store eateries and offers a wide range of international products.

“Market Bistro is a standalone, one-of-a-kind store that was designed specifically to provide us with a learning laboratory,” Mr. Pierce said Tuesday. “We’re trying new ideas there and seeing how to bring them to other stores under the Market 32 brand. Some of the elements in new stores will be from Market Bistro.”

In other respects, Market 32 stores won’t change at all. Stores will continue to sell Price Chopper brand products and offer special promotions, weekly features and its Fuel AdvantEdge program.

Jerry Golub, Price Chopper’s CEO, said in a prepared statement that the rebranding campaign signals a new mission for the company.

“This is not merely about beautifying our Price Chopper stores,” he said. “It is a complete refocus of our company on the core values that our customers are looking for in a store. We will be re-engineering nearly every facet of the store, beginning with the name but extending into our marketing, product selection, services offered and customer focus.”

Price Chopper said more details about Market 32 stores will be released in the coming months as store conversions begin.


By Ted Booker, Times Staff Writer

Watertown’s ice rink project could cost $7.65 million

The City Council gave the go-ahead Monday night to proceed with a much-anticipated renovation of the Watertown Municipal Arena, despite a cost currently estimated at $7.65 million, up from an earlier estimate of between $6.2 million and nearly $7 million.

Mayor Jeffrey E. Graham and council members Roxanne M. Burns and Stephen A. Jennings adamantly said they support the total overhaul of the city-owned ice rink, while council members Teresa R. Macaluso and Joseph M. Butler Jr. indicated they were not ready to greenlight the renovations, considering other pending projects.

Ms. Macaluso told her council colleagues that they should wait on final cost projections before deciding to go forward with the construction.

“I’m just nervous about coming back with the numbers,” Ms. Macaluso said.

Mayor Graham and the other two council members who voted to go ahead with the project stressed that the renovations are essential and would be the first ones in the arena’s 40-year history.

“Right now, what we have is a facility we’re embarrassed of,” Ms. Burns said, noting she’s heard complaints about its antiquated locker rooms and restrooms.

The discussion was prompted by a presentation that interim City Engineer Justin Wood and Parks and Recreation Superintendent Erin E. Gardner gave Monday night about the status of the project, which included the new $7.65 million price.

As the result of Monday’s discussion, consultant Stantec Consulting Services, Rochester, now will finish the final design work, Mr. Wood said. So far, Stantec has completed about 66 percent of the engineering drawings. The city is paying Stantec $510,403 to design the project at the Alex T. Duffy Fairgrounds.

Mayor Graham said he considers the project as “maintenance,” since it includes replacing the leaky roof, installing new concrete slabs under the ice and upgrading old locker rooms and restrooms. Supporters also said that the cost of the project would only increase if the city waited to complete it in the future.

Ms. Macaluso and Mr. Butler, however, expressed concerns about the current financial implications.

“We need to communicate how we’re going to pay for it to our constituents,” Mr. Butler said.

The two council members also cautioned that the city will be spending about $1 million on required court renovations at City Hall and about $6.4 million on the reconstruction of Factory Street in the next year.

With those projects pending, Mr. Butler voiced concerns about the debt generated by the arena upgrade, since the city plans to borrow to pay for it. The city’s current debt has reached $1.7 million, with another $937,000 to be added in the next year, he said.

For the arena project, bids are expected to go out before the end of the year, and construction could start as soon as the end of the ice-rink season in late March.

The project would include constructing two-story additions on the front and back of the arena, which means the arena will be closed for several months and will not be available for concerts or other events.

The two-story addition would include a new entrance and lobby, a hospitality room, more office space and a new concession area. An elevator and a set of stairs would lead hockey fans to the second floor.

Plans also call for a second floor to accommodate collapsible bleachers with an entrance from above, rather than at rink level. By having the public enter from above, the design would create separate entrances for hockey teams and fans.

The building’s major tenant is the Watertown Wolves, a new semiprofessional hockey team in its inaugural season after the former team, the Privateers, disbanded after last year. Youth hockey teams and a local figure skating club also use the facility.


By Craig Fox, Times Staff Writer

JCC nursing students have 100 percent success for second year

Over the past two years, 100 percent of nursing students at Jefferson Community College have passed the National Council Licensure Examination on their first attempt, contributing to JCC’s nursing program’s ranking among the top programs in New York state.

“Not only have 100 percent of our students passed their NCLEX exams, 100 percent of our nursing students have found jobs after graduation,” said Lisa A. Cooley, nursing department chairwoman.

Over the past five years, an average of 96 percent of the college’s nursing graduates passed the national exam on their first attempt. For the past two years, 100 percent passed, and in 2013, JCC was one of only two schools to have a 100 percent pass rate for the exam. The state average is 84 percent, Ms. Cooley said.

Accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing, the college’s nursing program is available in two formats. Students may choose to take classes during the traditional weekday or through a program with classes offered entirely on weekends.

Graduates receive an associate degree in applied science and are eligible to sit for the National Council Licensure Examination for registered nurses.

Julie Soule, weekend nursing program director, said the program’s success is possible only because of the dedication and competency of its students and the dedication of the instructors who teach the 48 students in the weekday program and the 16 students in the two-year weekend program.

“It’s thanks to a great deal of sacrifice on the part of our students,” Ms. Soule said. She said the students in the nursing program are held to very high standards.

Ms. Cooley said some of the things the college does differently from other nursing programs are maintaining a one-to-eight teacher-student ratio and keeping all of its students in the classroom instead of having online classes.

Ms. Soule said only one class has an online component, a hybrid online and in-class course for pharmaceuticals. She said some college nursing programs have online courses, but a good nurse needs to be nurtured in a more hands-on environment.

“There is no cookbook to nursing; every patient is different,” Ms. Soule said.

She said that unlike any other major, how well the nursing students absorb their lessons could be a matter of life or death for their patients.

“Our students need to learn not just the technical aspects of nursing; they also need to learn theory and critical thinking,” she said.

Ms. Soule said the success of the students is the best recruitment tool for qualified nursing students.

“Unfortunately, we have more qualified applicants than openings,” Ms. Cooley said. “There is no rule in New York state that we have to limit our class sizes, but it’s something we are dedicated to for the benefit of our students.”

Ms. Cooley said the enrollment for the weekend program is already full for the spring semester, but there will be an informational session for students interested in learning about applying for the weekday program at 4 p.m. Nov. 18 in Room 6-218, Jules Center.

Attendees will learn about prerequisite coursework, admission requirements, the college application process, financial aid and advanced degree opportunities made possible by JCC higher education center partners Keuka College and SUNY Upstate Medical University, Syracuse. Keuka College offers a bachelor’s degree in nursing. SUNY Upstate Medical University offers two master’s degree programs: family nurse practitioner and family psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner.

Applications are due Jan. 30 for the traditional weekday schedule and Sept. 1 for the weekend option.

Students who wish to enroll for the fall semester are encouraged to contact the Admissions Office, 786-2277, or visit


By Katherine Clark Ross, Times Staff Writer