Sunday, June 6, 2021


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Long-Time Neighbor Cuba Cheese will Close:
Great Lakes Cheese pulls plug on
$505 million plant in Allegany County
The future of a proposed $505 million cheese manufacturing plant is in doubt after Great Lakes Cheese indicated Tuesday the company is no longer pursuing a mega site in Allegany County’s crossroads development area.

The proposal had called for construction of a 480,000 square-foot cheese manufacturing facility along County Route 20, in the Crossroads development area off I-86 in the towns of Amity and Angelica. The new plant would replace the existing Great Lakes Cheese facility in Cuba, which produces a number of signature products for the Cuba Cheese Shoppe locally, among other customers.

Citing infrastructure issues, specifically electricity, Great Lakes Cheese is no longer targeting the Crossroads location, the company confirmed to The Spectator on Tuesday.

“We’ve been working with RG&E for about 18 months on power to the site, and unfortunately it just didn’t pan out,” said Matthew Wilkinson, Great Lakes Cheese Vice President of Technology and Business Development. “There’s obviously a lot of reasons behind that, but the summary of it is that the electricity to the site is an exceedingly long duration, longer than the amount of time we would have before we would need power out there, at an extremely high cost.”

A rendering of the land proposed to be acquired for the Great Lakes Cheese project in Allegany County. RG&E released a statement Wednesday that it was "very disappointed" to learn of the decision not to move forward with the Crossroads location. The company stated it remains committed to economic development projects in the area.

“RG&E, along with regional and county economic development partners, has been very active in supporting the state’s economic development proposal to Great Lakes Cheese. As part of that proposal process, RG&E has been committed to meeting the electric service needs required by the new Great Lakes Cheese location," said Sarah Warren, Corporate Communications Manager at NYSEG. "RG&E also filed a petition to the New York Public Service Commission to provide additional economic development assistance to this project.

"While Great Lakes Cheese has chosen not to move forward with this project at this location, RG&E will remain committed to offering economic development support for projects and programs that benefit our customers and will help build a strong and healthy economy in the communities we serve for years to come.”

Great Lakes Cheese currently employs around 230 at the Cuba plant, and the new facility was expected to add 200 more employees. The company began searching for a new home more than a year ago after determining its Cuba facility had reached the end of its useful life.

Great Lakes Cheese examined about 80 development sites in Allegany County, looking at “every piece of flat land that’s available in Allegany County” hoping to find a suitable location nearby to keep its current workforce intact. It eventually settled on the Crossroads, an area long targeted by the county for development projects.

The company will revisit some secondary sites within the county after the Crossroads project fell apart.

“The reason we’re still looking at these areas is the company and the Epprecht family, who still owns a majority of GLC, they are very committed to trying to preserve the jobs of our existing employees at that location,” said Wilkinson. “That’s the main driver. Otherwise if you were any typical corporation, you definitely wouldn’t be trying to put all this effort into trying to find somewhere (nearby).

“All of the sites in Allegany County have their flaws," added Wilkinson. "Maybe we can live with 10 of them, but when it goes up to 20 or 25 and we’re talking tens of billions of dollars and a schedule that can’t be maintained, at some point it becomes too much. That’s what happened at the Crossroads.”

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Allegany County will have competition for the new plant. Wilkinson said the company is still debating how broad the search will expand geographically, but Western New York remains part of the scope.

The timetable to make a decision is being measured in weeks.

“Some triggers have already been pulled, so we don’t have a lot of time to think about it,” said Wilkinson.

The Great Lakes Cheese manufacturing facility on Haskell Road in Cuba produces mozzarella and provolone and is home to award winning string cheese as well. 'Pursuing all avenues' to keep GLC in Allegany County Allegany County Industrial Development Agency Executive Director Craig Clark has been working with Great Lakes Cheese throughout the process. Clark said the company's risk analysis for the Crossroads site swung too far against the project.

CRAIG CLARK
“We’re disappointed, obviously. The IDA board and the county is disappointed the site didn’t work out,” said Clark. “We’re still committed to working with them on developing an Allegany County site. They’re still committed to looking at the region, including Allegany County. That was their preferred site, there’s no doubt about it because that would keep all their people in Cuba still employed. We’re still working with them on a potential siting in Allegany County.”

State Senator George Borrello said Tuesday he is “pursuing all avenues” to keep Great Lakes Cheese in Allegany County. Borrello indicated conversations have been initiated at the “highest levels of state government” as to what additional assistance the state can provide.

“I think it makes good business sense for Great Lakes Cheese,” Borrello said. “There are a lot of challenges out there when it comes to workforce, infrastructure and supply chain. They have the workforce already in Allegany County and they have a good and consistent supply chain. For me, it’s a good business decision for them to remain in Allegany County.

GEORGE BORRELLO
“Preserving the jobs is critically important," Borrello added. "There’s also the dynamic of the dairy industry that supports that plant and is also supported by the plant. That’s an important part of this.”

At full capacity, the new facility would double current milk consumption from 2 to 4 million gallons per day, supporting 600 farm jobs in the region's agricultural community. The project has the support of the Upstate Niagara Cooperative and Dairy Farmers of America.

Local agriculture was not united in favor of the plant, however. The proposed site sits on 269 acres of farmland owned by Charlie Bares of Mallards Dairy, who refused to sell the property. The IDA pursued eminent domain to acquire the land and the issue remained unresolved when Great Lakes Cheese decided to pursue a different site. Several protests in favor of Bares and his property rights were held outside the county courthouse in Belmont.

Wilkinson said the dispute over eminent domain did not ultimately play a major role in the company’s decision.

“That was an approach the IDA had put forth to attempt to keep the company in that local area,” said Wilkinson. “The eminent domain in itself wasn’t a deciding factor.”

The 200 new jobs at the plant were expected to double payroll in the county to around $21 million annually. Allegany County legislators reached by The Spectator on Tuesday declined to comment on the decision to shift away from the Crossroads. In March, the legislature voted unanimously in favor of a resolution supporting the proposal as well as the use of eminent domain to acquire the land.

The proposal called for on-site packaging and distribution facilities, employee parking, access roads, and related utility infrastructure, such as a 50,000 square-foot wastewater treatment plant. In addition to new factory and farm jobs, construction was expected to create an average of 240 jobs from 2021-2023, with a peak workforce of 480. Clark said the cheese factory would result in more than $1 billion in total investment in Western New York over the next 20 years.

“It’s probably the biggest thing that’s happened in the county economically in my lifetime in one fell swoop,” Legislator Dwight “Mike” Healy (R-Belmont) said in March.

Chris Potter can be reached at cpotter@gannett.com or on Twitter @ChrisPotter413.


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SILVER LAKE EXPERIENCE (SLE) - Registration now Open for this August 4-6, 2022's SLE. See: SilverLakeExperience.org

W. PETE MAIRS

W. PETE MAIRS
Walter D. “Pete” Mairs, 81, died peacefully on July 23, 2021. Born in Avon, N.Y., on Sept. 3, 1939, Pete was a longtime resident of Geneva, N.Y., and these past many years in Buffalo, N.Y., as well as his beloved Silver Lake. Pete is survived by his wife, Linda Bergstrom Mairs, a loving and true companion; children, Mimi C. Mairs, Jonathan B. Mairs; sisters, June Huff, Helen Dole; brother, Thomas Mairs; stepchildren, Daniel Brinkworth, Jennie Ramsey; sister-in-law, Anne Bergstrom, eight beautiful grandchildren, and nieces and nephews. A service and celebration of life is planned for the fall when all can share the joy of Pete’s life together. Arrangements by Stephenson – Dougherty Funeral Home, Avon, N.Y.

Editor's Note: It was a privilege knowing and working with Pete Mairs during his presidency of the Silver Lake Institute. He was a kind and gentle man, but also firm in his leadership. I served as Treasurer and Chaplain of SLI during those years and I could always depend on Pete's presence in the worship service. He was a man of faith and a gem of a human being. May he rest in God's care.

GERALD C. SAHRLE

GERALD C. SAHRLE
Gerald C. Sahrle, 80, of Perry, passed away on Sunday, Oct. 24, 2021, at Strong Memorial Hospital in Rochester. He was born on Oct. 10, 1941, in Wayland, N.Y., to the late Charles A. and Helen I. (Blowers) Sahrle. Gerry was a line foreman for 32 1/2 years for NYSE&G, working out of the Perry and Hamburg locations, and was a Town of Perry Councilman. He was a member of the Free and Accepted Masons of the Constellation Lodge -404 in Perry. He was an avid fisherman, hunter and woodworker. He is survived by his wife, Valary A. (Conley) Sahrle; 1 son, Gerald (Pamela) Sahrle II of Silver Springs; 2 sisters, Millie Edmond of Greece, Bonnie Fink of Winston-Salem, N.C., 3 brothers, Ronald (Linda) Sahrle of Dansville, Robert (Susan) Sahrle of Springwater, Kenneth Sahrle of Dansville; 5 grandchildren, Bradley Musscarella, Stone and Winston Sahrle, Conley and Cooper Gayton; along with many nieces, nephews and friends. Along with his parents, he is preceded in death by a brother, Thomas Sahrle, who passed away in 2012. Services will be held at the convenience of the family. Gerry will be laid to rest in West Perry Cemetery. Memorial contributions may be made to the Perry Center Fire Department, P.O. Box 204, Perry, NY 14530. For more information, please call (585) 237-2626 or to leave a message of condolence, visit www.eatonwatsonfuneralhome.com. Arrangements completed by Eaton-Watson Funeral Home, LLC. 98 North Main Street, Perry, NY 14530.

Editor's Note: Gerald and Valarie could always be seen in the family pew with Pamela, Stone and Winston at Perry First United Methodist Church and continue to be loved. Gerry will be sorely missed. Both were supporters of the Arts at the Silver Lake Institute and Valarie was active in painting and participating in the Annual Show in August. Valarie's presence was always valued and appreciated.

KATHARINE E. PRACZKAJLO ("Kathy P.")

KATHARINE E. PRACZKAJLO ("Kathy P.")
"Kathy P." passed November 8, 2021, of Hamburg and Boston, NY. Beloved daughter of Joseph and Barbara Michalak; loving sister of Daniel Michalak; devoted wife of the late Jeffrey Praczkajlo; cherished mother of Jennifer (Shawn) Jump; loving babcia of Lily Jump; also survived by many beloved family members and friends who became her family. A Celebration of Life will be held at a later date.

Editor's Note: "Kathy P." as she was better known to us at Silver Lake was an annual summer visitor for most of the last number of years at the invitation of Silver Laker Julia Hoffner. She stayed at the Hoffner Cottage, and became known as both the fun visitor with the vivacious smile to the neighbors at the intersection of Haven Ave. and the Ames Walkway. Kathy P. and Julie could be seen walking and talking between the cottage and the Hoffner boathouse where they could be close to the water. She was also occasionally seen at the Saturday morning breakfasts at Stoody Hall. Her stay was anywhere between 4 days and a week where she had the opportunity to develop a love for Silver Lake. She was not yet eligible for retirement when late last week she developed "a cold" and had to remain home from her job. She did not update her condition over the weekend so the local police made a wellness visit and found her deceased on Monday. She was one of those many people who found Silver Lake and friendship for brief respites where she also found new strength and energy to return to work. She is being particularly mourned by those in the Haven/Ames neighborhood. She will be memorialized next summer at the annual Celebration of Life Memorial Service at Epworth Hall.

BRENDA J. PADDOCK

BRENDA J. PADDOCK
Brenda Joan Paddock, 82, of Perry, born April 15, 1939, now resides in heaven with her Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Brenda met Jesus as her Savior in 1965. She met him in person on Nov. 14, 2021. She had a beautiful homecoming with music, singing and praying, leading her into Glory. Her last words were “I am well, I am well.”

Brenda’s greatest loves were her family and friends. Brenda had five children with her husband Roger: Don and Daelene Paddock of Florida, Jody and Tim Von Sanden of Pavilion, Bradley and Jeanie Paddock of Warsaw, Jennifer and Paul Guy of Massachusetts, and Nathan and Jill Paddock of Perry.

Brenda dearly loved her grandchildren: Jessica Morillo, Nikki and Clint O’Brien, Luke Paddock, Paul Paddock, Ian and Brooklyn Paddock, Joe and Louana Paddock, Burke and Megan Paddock, Aaron Paddock, Ellen Paddock, Andrew Paddock, Rachael Paddock, Abigail Paddock, Erik and Cassandra Von Sanden, Jacquelyn and Michael Jones, Tim Von Sanden, Brandon and Brandee Paddock, Jamey and Laura Paddock, Peter and Kara Guy, Candy and Jay Waitkevich, Marlo and Ryan Bolger and Jenna and Rory Peterson.

Brenda was blessed and loved her great grandchildren: Chloe, Olivia and Nicholas Von Sanden, Joshua and Jaxon Morillo, Jameson and Cassandra O’Brien, Atlas Paddock, Noah and Ezra Jones, Colton, Brantley and Charlotte Guy, Cameron Waitkevich, Amelia Bolger and Brennen Leonard.

Brenda is also survived by her brother and sister in laws; Frank and Emma Paddock, Viva and Jim Phillips-Richardson and Kurt and Lynn Paddock.

Brenda first started working as a secretary at Perry Central School. She then assisted her husband building Paddock’s Breeding Service. Roger and Brenda together built and ran the Sandsabarn teenage nightclub. Brenda was owner and operator of Serendipity Travel. Brenda’s pleasures included playing organ and piano. She played at a number of area churches along with performing for her loved ones. UPDATED -- Brenda also played with conviction at both indoor and outdoor services at the Silver Lake Institute where her grandson, Luke, sang at Epworth Hall on several occasions and was appreciated by all who heard his inspiring voice.

Brenda was preceded in death by her parents Noble and Freda Buckland, her husband Roger and son Bradley.

A Committal service at West Perry Cemetery will be held tomorrow, Wednesday, November 17 at 11 a.m., followed by a Celebration of Life at LaGrange Baptist Church at 4 p.m.

Memorial donations may be made in Brenda’s honor to the LaGrange Baptist Church 7092 LaGrange Rd. Perry, NY 14530 or to the First Congregational Church P.O. Box 156 Perry, NY 14530. Arrangements completed by Eaton-Watson Funeral Home, LLC. 98 N. Main St., Perry, N.Y. 14530. For more information or to sign the online guest registry please visit www.eatonwatsonfuneralhome.com.

AUGUST 4-7, 2022

AUGUST 4-7, 2022
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