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Sunday, December 5, 2021

It Would Play Havoc with an Age-Old System:
Farmers protest move to slash OT hours by NYS Wage Board
To Read the Caption, CLICK on it (to enlarge).

Hundreds of letters were hand-delivered Wednesday to the Executive Chamber to Gov. Kathy Hochul’s office from anxious farmers and farm laborers pleading against the state Wage Board’s pending decision to lower the agricultural overtime threshold to 40 hours. The Wage Board must vote by Dec. 15, or within the next two weeks, to lower the current 60-hour threshold standards. Carlos Lopez, who works on a farm in the state, was one of hundreds of workers to write a letter to the governor to request the 60-hour agricultural work week remain intact.

“It gives us the opportunity to work longer and thus produce more money for our family here and our family at home apart from the farm,” Lopez wrote. Lopez’s letter was one of several letters written to the governor in Spanish. About 400 additional farm workers sent Hochul a letter by email to discourage lowering the threshold. Farmers and assemblymembers rallied at the Million Dollar Staircase in the state Capitol on Wednesday before delivering the letters, urging the Wage Board to reject the lower threshold they say would be financially detrimental to the industry.

“You don’t see any other business that has a 40-hour threshold giving people more than 37 hours, so that’s what we’re facing here,” said New York Farm Bureau Board of Directors Vice President Eric Ooms, who owns Ooms Farms in Kinderhook, Columbia County. Ooms’ dairy farm has installed robotics to milk their cows, but vegetable growers will not have the same luxury with fewer workers if the 40-hour work week passes, he said.

“When you go to the green markets in Manhattan or Westchester, there will be product there, but it’ll be from Pennsylvania and New Jersey and other states,” he added. “The reality is, we can’t keep having these increases. ...If you do things like this, you’re going to push people to grow more and more cash crops, which requires a fraction of the labor.”

Farmers said Wednesday labor unions have pushed to lower the overtime threshold to 40 hours to be comparable with other industries, and to address inequities burdening minority groups as most farm workers are undocumented people and people of color. Farmers Wednesday said the agricultural business mode has unpredictable factors that make it near-impossible to change, including perishability of crops and timeliness of selling products and varying work hours in a season depending on the climate and weather.

“You do your best to make hay when the sun shines,” said Brian Reeves, owner of Reeves Farms in Onondaga County. “Sometimes, there’s a little more sunshine this week and sometimes not next week, but you have to go when you have to go and the workers on our farms pretty much understand this, too.”

Farmers also do not get to dictate the prices for their product, Reeves said to explain why a 40-hour work week business model is not feasible for the industry, and would likely reduce the type of crops grown in New York that get sold on supermarket shelves. If approved, the overtime restriction and planned minimum wage hikes would result in a 42% increase in labor costs for small farms, according to a recent Farm Credit East report.

Many expressed concerns Wednesday that overtime restrictions would drive the already dwindling farm laborers to other states with more competitive work schedules. Officials and farmers did not know the date of the Wage Board’s vote or knew other details of the pending decision. The vote must take place on or before Dec. 15, but the board could be called to reconvene at any date.

“The Farm Laborers Wage Board recommended that the Wage Board be reconvened no later than Dec. 15, 2021,” state Labor Department spokesperson Deanna Cohen said in a statement Wednesday. “We will provide an update when we have one.”

Representatives with Gov. Kathy Hochul’s office would not answer questions about the governor’s stance on the proposed increase or her response to the referred to the Labor Department’s statement. The current 60-hour threshold was established under the 2019 Farm Laborers Fair Labor Practices Act, and took effect in January 2020. Farmers and lawmakers were unclear on the details of how the 40-hour agricultural work week was proposed since the act, but said it came about quickly.

“Our farms and agribusinesses are at the mercy of the unpredictable forecast,” said Assemblyman Chris Tague, R-Schoharie, who formerly owned a dairy farm. “Differential rains means all hands on deck to save as many crops as possible ... demanding working ‘til after sundown to protect deals and prolong the growing season. We do a disservice to farms when we fail to recognize the unique circumstances faced by those in the sector.”

Several seasonal workers left the state after farmers reduced the number of hours available for employees in early 2020, financially injuring the workers the measure was intended to help, Tague said. Migrant farm workers are seeking employment to maximize their earning potential, he added.

“If the overtime threshold is lower, as fewer laborers are available to provide the scraps locally, the accessibility of your foods will continue to decline,” the assemblyman said. Assembly members Carrie Woerner, D-Round Lake; and Billy Jones, D-Plattsburgh, also rallied Wednesday with the farmers. Jones was raised on a dairy farm and worked on a vegetable farm as a teenager and through college.

“They’re already paying more than almost any other state in the union for farm labor, so when you’re going out there and asking them when they have a very, very thin margin, to put one of these regulations on them, they’re just not going to do it — they just can’t do it,” Jones said. “This will be the death nail for many of our farms.”

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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, 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.


"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 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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