December 2016: Business Briefcase


Community Bank donates $10k to United Way

Community Bank, N.A., presented a $10,000 corporate check to the United Way of NNY.

Cathy Ward, Community Bank manager presented the check to Tobi Darrah, United Way campaign director, and Bob Gorman, CEO of the United Way of NNY.

The corporate gift will be used in Jefferson, Lewis and St. Lawrence counties. Individual branches conducted employee campaigns through the end of November.

YMCA to open Sackets facility at former barracks

The Watertown Family YMCA will use the former Madison Barracks Health Club owned by Lawler Realty LLC to open a satellite facility early next year.

Steve N. Rowell, executive director of health and wellness at the Y, said the facility, at 119 Pike Road, will offer programs similar to the Watertown and Carthage facilities and potentially create new programs to meet local demand. The Y and Lawler Realty reached an agreement in October that will require the Y to pay only utility bills, taxes and interest.

“It’s one of the best things to happen to Sackets in a long time,” Mayor Vincent J. Battista said.

The Y will incorporate a full fitness center with family wellness programming and multiple youth and senior activity programs at the former health club.

Mr. Rowell said the Y will offer its preventive care program for senior citizens and its after-school child care program, which it offers at Sackets Harbor Central School, at the new facility. The Y also considered using its access to Lake Ontario to create watersport activities to accompany its youth sports programs. Members will have access to the facility’s gymnasium, weight room, locker rooms and cardio equipment. The Y has not determined its hours of operation.

“We will also offer a group exercise room with many different exercise classes,” Mr. Rowell said. “It would really just be an extension of our services out of the Watertown YMCA.”

To preserve the facility and accommodate his new tenant, Michael A. Lawler, owner of Lawler Realty, completed multiple interior and exterior renovations for the facility.

Mr. Lawler said his contractors have built a new roof, replaced the doors, repaired and painted the walls, repaved the road and installed new windows, lights, carpet and ceramic tile flooring since last summer. Lawler Realty received a $500,000 grant loan commitment from the Development Authority of the North Country to help finance the $600,000 project in July. Mr. Lawler said he expects the contractors and construction workers will finish most of the renovations by Jan. 1 if he receives funding from the grant loan commitment next week, with only some additional masonry work in the spring and brick work in the summer.

Lawler Realty purchased the former health club in 2010 from Madison Barracks Associates, which operated the facility from 1993 to 2005. Mr. Battista said the club closed about nine years ago.

“I hope that we as a community can help support” it, he said, “and make it an important part of our community.”


North Country Family Health director lauded

The Community Health Center Association of New York presented Joey M. Horton, executive director of North Country Family Health Center with the Jeffrey T. Latman Award at its annual conference in October.

Association Interim President and CEO Lisa Perry presented Ms. Horton with the award in Tarrytown, on Oct. 31 to recognize her achievements.

Ms. Horton became executive director in early 2014. According to the organization, under her leadership NoCo has increased its revenue by $1.15 million, obtained federal grants worth more than $1.5 million to enhance and grow its provider network, expanded its school-based medical and dental programs to three additional districts and much more.

The NoCo administrative team nominated Ms. Horton for the award, citing “her ability to be forward thinking and strategic, her ability to make difficult decisions with acuity and insight, and never losing sight of the mission that drives NoCo — to provide accessible, high-quality care to those who need it.”

NoCo is a federally qualified health care center working to provide affordable health care to approximately 9,000 residents in Watertown and Lowville. It runs low-income oriented programs including a WIC program, school-based dental clinics, and insurance enrollment assistance.

August 2016: Business Scene

History in the Garden, The Walton Homestead, Watertown

The Waltons hosted the Jefferson County Historical Society’s “History in the Garden” event on Saturday, July 9, at their homestead and gardens on Rome State Road, Watertown. The Historical Society presented its annual Awards of Distinction at the event. Photos by Ken Eysaman, NNY Business. [Read more…]

August 2016: Real Estate Roundup

Student debt’s impact on home ownership

Lance Evans

Lance Evans

A survey on student loan debt and housing released in mid-June showed that 71 percent of non-homeowners with student loans believe their debt is stymieing their ability to purchase a home and slightly more than half of all borrowers expect a delay in buying a home by more than five years. [Read more…]

June 2016: Real Estate Roundup

Realtors meet members of Congress

Lance Evans

Lance Evans

From May 9 to 14, the National Association of Realtors held its Realtor Legislative Meetings and Trade Expo in Washington, D.C. Approximately 8,500 attendees from across the country and around the world attended the annual conference. The week included about 200 meetings and events that covered many real estate topics and allowed NAR members to take an active role in advancing the real estate industry, public policy, and the association. [Read more…]

Community shows enthusiasm for city’s downtown revitalization application

Mayor Joseph M. Butler Jr. speaks at a rally for the $10 million downtown initiative competition that Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo is holding. Photo by Amanda Morrison, Watertown Daily Times.

Mayor Joseph M. Butler Jr. speaks at a rally for the $10 million downtown initiative competition that Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo is holding. Photo by Amanda Morrison, Watertown Daily Times.

Mayor Joseph M. Butler Jr. called for the crowd to make noise on Thursday at a pep rally to show support for the city’s efforts to win a $10 million award from the state. [Read more…]

City finishing up $10 million downtown application

City officials are putting together the final touches on an application for a $10 million award from Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s Downtown Revitalization Initiative program. [Read more…]

May 2016: Business Scene

Carthage Area Chamber of Commerce Business After Hours at Community Bank

Community Bank’s West Carthage branch hosted the April Carthage Area Chamber of Commerce Business After Hours on April 13. [Read more…]

January 2016 20 Questions: Joseph M. Butler Jr., City of Watertown

Charting a new course

Joseph M. Butler Jr., talks about his vision for Watertown during an interview in the conference room at his Community Bank office on the eve of his swearing-in as mayor of the City of Watertown. Photo by Stephen Swofford, NNY Business.

Joseph M. Butler Jr., talks about his vision for Watertown during an interview in the conference room at his Community Bank office on the eve of his swearing-in as mayor of the City of Watertown. Photo by Stephen Swofford, NNY Business.

Mayor Joseph M. Butler Jr. shares his
vision for a city that celebrates its victories

On the eve of his swearing-in as mayor of Watertown, Joseph M. Butler Jr. is decidedly optimistic about the city’s future while talking about its challenges. In short order, he hopes to see a city where people talk more about “our victories over drugs opposed to our defeats.” He also envisions a downtown “that flourishes morning, noon, afternoon and evening.” After serving two terms as a city councilman, the 48-year-old financial advisor took the same oath of office on Jan. 1 that his father, Joseph M. Butler Sr., took in 2000. We sat down with the young mayor hours before he began a new four-year term, taking the reins from the same man the elder Mr. Butler defeated in 1999 to become mayor. [Read more…]

Calendar – January 2016

Community/Business Calendar

[Read more…]

Watertown renters have growing number of choices, developer Murray says

WATERTOWN — Renters have not had so many choices of where to live in and around the city for a long, long time.

Local developer Brian H. Murray gave that assessment Wednesday during the 2015 Economic Forecast Forum hosted by the Greater Watertown-North Country Chamber of Commerce at the Ramada Inn, which featured a panel discussion on the short-range forecast of the local and national economies.

The Woolworth Building, two new apartment complexes in the town of Watertown, the redevelopment of the old Mercy Hospital, and single-family homes and duplexes dotting the city are among the many reasons for a changing housing stock.

It’s good news for renters, he said.

With all that competition, rent is now coming down, said Mr. Murray, CEO and founder of Washington Street Properties.

“Overall, the market is healthy,” Mr. Murray told about 80 business owners and leaders.

With so many projects completed or underway, the community has met Fort Drum’s need for more than 1,000 units, he said.

Watertown is not alone.

Mark Tryniski, CEO and president of DeWitt-based Community Bank, said communities across the country are going through the same trend of people moving back into city centers. It’s happening in Syracuse, where Armory Square has become a mecca for urban dwellers, he said.

“It’s called urbanization,” he said. “You will continue to see that’s happening.”

Some local apartment complexes now have vacancy rates of 20 percent and offer a free month’s rate or other incentives to attract new tenants, Mr. Murray said.

There’s now an ample supply of housing and high-end apartments that go for $1,000 to $1,200 a month, but demand remains for units in the $500 to $900 range, he said.

Mr. Murray is in the process of purchasing the Rodeway Inn, 652 Arsenal St., for $1.3 million and plans to convert the two-story hotel into 48 studio and one-bedroom apartments. Once that project is completed this spring, the units will cost around $500 per month to rent and include utilities.

In the past couple of years, Mr. Murray has acquired the Lincoln Building on Public Square; the Solar Building on Franklin Street; the former Hospice Foundation of Jefferson County Inc. building at 425 Washington St.; the former Sanquist Apartments at 505 Washington St.; the Top of the Square plaza; and the Palmer Street and College Heights apartments.

Downtown is in the midst of a building boom that’s also creating some 300,000 square feet of commercial space in the business district. Most of that space has been vacant, Mr. Murray said.

There are a couple of corporate office complex projects underway nearby, but “downtown has become the business district,” he said.

While he looked at investing in other communities, including some out of state, Mr. Murray decided to remain committed to Watertown, he said.

Community Bank also has invested in the north country during the past 10 years by doubling its footprint and adding nearly 50 branches in the region, Mr. Tryniski said.

There are more than 300 Community Bank employees working in the north country, he said.

“We perform really well in the north country,” he said.

The other speakers on the panel included: Stephen Hunt, regional director of Empire State Development; John Chatterton, vice president of operations for New York Air Brake; and Col. Gary Rosenberg, garrison commander of Fort Drum.

Sponsors of the 2014 Economic Forecast included Community Bank, Visual Technologies, Sackel & Navarra CPA PC, NNY Business Magazine and the Watertown Daily Times.



By Craig Fox, Times Staff Writer