May 2016: Business Briefcase

TRANSACTIONS

Valentine plans sale of stores to Sunoco

Valentine Stores Inc. announced last month that it has agreed to sell its entire portfolio of convenience stores, gas stations and restaurants to a subsidiary of Sunoco, one of the nation’s largest gas distribution companies. [Read more…]

April 2016: Business Briefcase

CONSTRUCTION

NNY Builders Exchange recognizes local A&E firm

Aubertine and Currier Architects, Engineers, & Land Surveyors, Watertown, recently received the Excellence in Craftsmanship award from the Northern New York Builders Exchange for its work on phase two of the Clayton Riverwalk project. The Watertown firm was responsible for the design, construction administration and inspection for the project.

This portion of the Riverwalk picks up where the previous portion left off at the Frink Park Pavilion. The goal of the project was to create an uninterrupted visual and physical connection to the St. Lawrence River for pedestrians walking between the village’s existing commuter docks and the recently completed Frink Park Pavilion and Thousand Islands Regional Docks.

BANKING

Citizens Bank earns top rating

Citizens Bank of Cape Vincent was awarded BauerFinancial Inc.’s highest five-star superior rating in March.

Citizens Bank has earned the five-star rating for 105 consecutive quarters since June 1990.

The bank also achieved “Best of Bauer” status, a designation reserved for banks that have earned a five-star rating for 25 straight years or longer.

Citizens Bank of Cape Vincent was established in 1919 and operates three branches in Cape Vincent, Chaumont and LaFargeville.

BauerFinancial has been the nation’s leading bank rating firm since 1983.

COMMERCE

Carthage Citizen of the Year nominations sought

The Carthage Area Chamber of Commerce seeks nominations for its 36th annual Citizen of the Year award.

The award recipient will be chosen based on community activities and involvement by the nominee during the 2015 calendar year. Past accomplishments may be included to support the nomination.

Nominators should submit the entry form and supporting documentation by April 20. News clippings, photos and supporting documents can be included. A review board of seven community leaders will meet April 21.

An annual award banquet will be held on Tuesday, May 10 at the Carthage Elks Lodge.

NONPROFITS

Historical Society nets grant

The Jefferson County Historical Society recently received a $750 grant from Stewart’s Shops Holiday Match program.

The JCHS was one of 1,500 organizations in New York and Vermont to receive a grant from the 2015 Holiday Match campaign.

The Stewarts Holiday Match program received $1.74 million from customer donations and the Stewart’s Shops match. Program money benefits children within the community in which they are won.

The Historical Society grant will help to fund children’s programs inside the Paddock Mansion and historic campus on Washington Street, Watertown.

March 2016: Business Briefcase

TOURISM

1000 Islands to host tourism conference

The New York State Tourism Industry Association will host the 2016 Empire State Tourism Conference from May 2 to 4 at the 1000 Islands Harbor Hotel in Clayton. [Read more…]

February 2016: Business Briefcase

MILESTONES

Watertown Chamber names award winners

The Greater Watertown-North Country Chamber of Commerce recently announced recipients of 2015 Business of the Year awards. [Read more…]

January 2016: Business Briefcase

Camino Real Mexican Restaurant to feature authentic cuisine

0112_WDJ_MEXICAN1 WEBAuthentic Mexican cuisine is coming to Watertown — and in generous helpings. [Read more…]

December 2015: Business Briefcase

ECONOMY

St. Lawrence County sales tax revenues down

Sales tax revenues in St. Lawrence County are continuing to decline compared with a year ago. [Read more…]

November 2015: Business Briefcase

ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT

Tax, business law firm opens Watertown office

Attorney and certified public accountant Joseph M. Callahan has opened a tax and business law firm in the former Agricultural Insurance Co. building, 215 Washington St.

The Watertown office, started in September, is the fourth location in upstate New York opened by Mackay, Caswell & Callahan P. C. The firm also has locations in Syracuse, Rochester and Utica. Mr. Callahan said he is the sole owner of the firm; the two former partners listed in the firm’s name have died.

Mr. Callahan, who has practiced law about 30 years, said he saw a need to open an office in Watertown to do business with clients face to face. The firm is staffed by two enrolled agents. “Clients want to deal with people face to face, and that’s why a brick-and-mortar location makes sense,” said the Syracuse native, who has had clients in the Watertown area about 15 years.

Mr. Callahan, who has practiced law in Syracuse since 1988, said he opened his Rochester office last year and the Utica location this summer. Among other things, he said, his firm specializes in helping clients resolve issues with disputed unpaid taxes.

“After the economic downturn in 2008, I started specializing more in tax work and helping people out with back taxes,” he said, adding his experience as an attorney and CPA enables him to handle a variety of complex legal issues. “I can take it from the investigative stage through the completion stage in court.”

Visit the firm’s website, https://mcc4tax.com.

MANUFACTURING

Air Brake still plans $3.6m Watertown expansion

Recent job cuts at New York Air Brake will not affect the company’s planned $3.6 million expansion that will house its engineering test lab, according to the company’s president.

Preliminary construction work began this fall on the expansion project at the Starbuck Avenue company, which calls for a 7,300-square-foot addition to the test lab, President Michael J. Hawthorne said Friday.

The foundation for the two-story addition has been completed, he said, and the project is expected to be done by the end of the year.

The project is expected to create 10 engineering jobs with an annual salary of $67,000. It remains underway after the company recently laid off 20 salaried workers and 15 hourly production workers. Fifteen more hourly workers are expected to lose their jobs by the end of the year.

Mr. Hawthorne said cuts were made due to an anticipated decline in demand over the next three years for the company’s brake systems, manufactured for railroad cars and locomotives.

Nevertheless, he said, the company hasn’t discarded its investment plans.

Cuts “were in response to a soft market, and we’re not changing our investment plans moving forward,” he said. “We’re still fully committed to the expansion.”

Air Brake plans to invest $2 million to build the addition, which will connect the 252,250-square-foot main plant with a cold-storage building. The remaining $1.6 million would go toward product testing equipment the company will use to simulate the conditions brake systems on freight trains undergo.

To help fund the project, the Jefferson County Industrial Development Agency approved a 15-year payment-in-lieu-of-taxes agreement earlier this year that calls for a 50 percent tax abatement over the period, along with a sales-tax exemption on construction materials.

AGRICULTURE

State grants $1.5m to farms for water projects

The state Department of Agriculture and Markets awarded about $1.54 million in combined funding to soil and water conservation districts in Jefferson and St. Lawrence counties to support water-quality projects at farms.

The funding was announced last month as part of $11.1 million to support 29 conservation projects across 116 farms statewide. Funds will aid farms with projects that prevent water pollution, reduce erosion and protect waterways from harmful sediments and nutrients.

The Jefferson County Soil and Water Conservation District was awarded $1,057,925 for the implementation of cover crops to address water-quality concerns at six farms in the Sandy Creek and Stony Creek watersheds. Both watersheds drain into Lake Ontario and are documented as “impaired” on the state Department of Environmental Conservation’s Priority Waterbody List.

Among other conservation practices, farms will develop riparian buffers on cropland to keep nutrients and other pollutants out of waterways, said Christine M. Watkins, executive director for the district. Buffers are permanent strips of vegetation, situated near waterways, that cannot be used for crops.

“Regulated farms already have a certain setback from waterways, but the installation of vegetative buffers gives us more protection,” she said Wednesday.

Mrs. Watkins, who declined to identify farms, said projects will likely begin in 2016.

The St. Lawrence County Soil and Water Conservation District was awarded $482,555 to help one undisclosed farm in the Raquette River watershed develop practices to address water-quality concerns in the village of Potsdam. The project calls for the construction of a waste storage structure to protect the river from pollutants.

October 2015: Business Briefcase

MANUFACTURING

Plant closure delayed

Nirvana Spring Water now intends to close its plant in November, with no layoffs expected until the middle of next month. [Read more…]

September 2015: Business Briefcase

ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT

New JCED website

Featuring videos of board meetings and other new resources, Jefferson County Economic Development recently launched a new website at jcida.com. [Read more…]

August 2015: Business Briefcase

HEALTH CARE

Major gift kicks off River Hospital campaign

A $1 million donation from a longtime north country philanthropist will kick-start a capital campaign aimed at helping River Hospital expand its River Community Wellness Program, hospital Chief Executive Officer Ben Moore III announced last month. [Read more…]