Thursday, September 11, 2014 at 9:15 am
posted by Julia Ferrini in Wyoming County, Warsaw, Strykersville, Perry.

Zachary S. Markel, 23, of Buffalo, was charged with speeding, 82 mph in a 55 mph zone, speeding 110 mph in a 55 mph zone, failure to keep right, drove across hazard markings, failure to yield to an emergency vehicle, failure to comply to a lawful order, reckless driving, driving while intoxicated, driving with a BAC of .08 percent or more, and unlawful fleeing of a police officer in a motor vehicle, 3rd. According to the Wyoming County Sheriff’s Office, Markel was observed traveling eastbound on State Route 20A near the area of Merchant Road, Warsaw, at 82 mph. Markel failed to pull over for approximately four miles, while being pursued, speeds reached up to 110 mph. He eventually pulled over in the area of Silver Lake Road and was administered the standardized field sobriety test, which he allegedly failed. Markel was committed to the Wyoming County Jail in lieu of $2,500 bail. He is scheduled for court at a later date. Assisting at the scene were Perry Police, New York State Police, as well as several Wyoming County Sheriff officers.

Harold E. Ritchie, 19, of Perry, was charged with seven counts of criminal contempt, 2nd, all Class A misdemeanors. According to a Wyoming County Sheriff’s report, Ritchie was an inmate at the Wyoming County Jail when he violated an order of protection by initiating numerous phone calls to the residence of a victim who had a stay away order of protection against him. Ritchie was remanded to Wyoming County Jail on $5,000 bail. He is scheduled to appear in Warsaw Court Oct. 20, to answer the charges.

Crawford Thompson, 29, of Toxey, Ala., was charged with driving while intoxicated, driving with a BAC above .08 percent, and driving with a BAC of .18 percent or higher, all as misdemeanor first-time offenses. Thompson was also charged with consumption of alcohol in a motor vehicle and moving from lane unsafely. According to a Wyoming County Sheriff’s report, Thompson was traveling northbound on Main Street in Strykersville when he sideswiped a parked vehicle, causing extensive damage to both vehicles. No injuries were reported. Thompson allegedly failed a roadside field sobriety test and later supplied a breath sample which showed his BAC to be above .18 percent. Tompson was committed to Wyoming County Jail on $1,000 cash bail. He is scheduled to appear in Sheldon Town Court on Sept. 22.

James E. Reiter, 45, of Perry, was charged with failure to keep right, driving while intoxicated, and aggravated driving while intoxicated. Reiter was stopped on Oatka Road, Perry, after he was allegedly observed driving across the center lines of the roadway, Wyoming County Sheriff report. Following a roadside investigation, Reiter was transported to the Perry Police Department where he supplied a breath sample. He reportedly registered a BAC of .18 percent. Reiter was released with appearance tickets and is scheduled to appear in the Town of Perry Court Oct. 8 to answer the charges. New York State Police along with several officers of the Perry Police Department assisted at the scene.

Thursday, September 11, 2014 at 8:44 am
posted by Julia Ferrini in Wyoming County, government, veterans, Warsaw.

Local veterans expressed their concern over the recent hiring process to fill a vacancy in the Wyoming County Veteran Service Office. Both the deputy director and director of the agency recently retired, leaving a possible gap in veteran assistance.

The former Deputy Director William Wilkinson announced his intent to retire in March with an effective date of Aug. 29. However, due to vacation accrual and health issues, Wilkinson’s last day in office was July 7. According to Wilkinson and American Legion member Dan Walczak, the open position has yet to be announced. Furthermore, Gary Cousins, the current director for the Veteran Service Office, announced his retirement in late June, Walczak said. Cousins officially leaves that position Friday. A new director, Richard Perez, has been hired, yet veterans from several veteran organizations around the county voiced concern over the process of how the new director was appointed.

According to both Wilkinson and Walczak, the committee responsible in selecting the new hire did not have any veterans on board. Additionally, two veterans currently serve on the Board of Supervisors.

“If the committee was a selection committee, why wasn’t either veteran asked to serve?” Walczak asked.

According to Douglas Berwanger, chairman of the Board of Supervisors, when board members were asked to volunteer for the subcommittee they took on that responsiblity. In addition to Berwanger, they are: Jean Totsline, town supervisor for Genesee Falls; Becky Ryan, town supervisor for Warsaw; and Denise Morley, Human Resources director for Wyoming County.

“We have two veterans on the board, neither of them volunteered,” Berwanger said.

The Legion members also questioned the political motivation of the hiring process. According to Walczak, the new director is the husband of Deputy Board Clerk Lisa Perez.

“There was a veteran from Attica whose application wasn't even looked at; he meets all the requirements and is active in local veteran activities,” Wilkinson said. “Another veteran was dismissed as a candidate because he moved back to the county just six months ago. He is a recently retired Navy Seal who was born and raised in Wyoming County. His service took him away from the county for the past 20 years. He moved back here because this is where he is from, this is where his family lives. Another veteran who applied counsels veterans daily and is knowledgeable about veteran benefits and the concerns of vets. He meets with vets in both Wyoming and Livingston counties, he wasn’t considered either.”

“The Human Resource Department reviewed all applicants and sent the committee 14 applications that they approved,” Berwanger said. “They sent the ones that met the qualifications for the director position. Of the 14, almost all were equally qualified, so, to narrow down the field, we did begin to look at the length of time each applicant has lived in the county, however, we also looked at education, background, time in the service and service background.”

The director position is a county-appointed position, while the deputy director is hired at the discretion of the director. According to Berwanger, the committee followed the hiring policies put in place by the county; there was no deviation from those policies. Furthermore, the board felt the new director should have the opportunity to hire the deputy, as he or she will be working alongside the director.

The largest bone of contention from local vets is the fact that the new director is not accredited with the American Legion to be the legal voice for veterans applying for benefits.

“The American Legion is accredited to legally represent any veteran applying for services through the Legion,” Walczak said. “They have the power-of-attorney to speak to any authorizing office on behalf of the veteran. Currently, the new director does not have said accreditation.”

Most of the files in the Wyoming County Veterans Service Office have the American Legion as the designated power-of-attorney. Prior to the new appointee, there were two accredited American Legion representatives in that office. 

American Legion Department of New York is the trainer for the responsibilities and legalities of a service officer, according to Wilkinson. Basic training is a one-week course with additional training throughout the year via meetings, online courses and Webinars. The Advanced Services Officer training is the final course. Although all these classes are required, the basic training course is the only one that has to be completed before accreditation is given. The next basic course is in June 2015. Due to the recent retirements of both the deputy director and director, this could potentially leave a gap in the help veterans will receive. 

“There are approximately 100 accredited American Legion Service Officers in New York State,” Wilkinson said. “There is an extreme narrow field that an American Legion member already has the Accreditation.”

There is a catch-22 with Legion accreditation. The requirements for accreditation are: the candidate has to be an American Legion member in good standing; approved by the Post, the County and the 8th District office -- which is comprised of the eight counties of Western New York and lower Ontario; then the application has to go to Washington, D.C.. Because it is a national accreditation, the candidate has to complete training within one year, and has to be a Veterans Service officer.

“There are several accrediting veteran agencies that are recognized,” Berwanger said. “Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), Vietnam Veterans Association, the American Legion, just to name a few. Accreditation from any of those organizations is suitable.”

The quandary is, the American Legion has the only accreditation in Wyoming County, which puts any veteran application off limits to any person lacking Legion accreditation. While the director can have any or all accreditation available to him in New York State to hold the office of director, there are currently only three people who live in Wyoming County who are accredited, all through the American Legion.

“Eric Hesse, the director for the New York State Department of Veteran Affairs, has people in his office that he can send to Wyoming County to train the new director,” Berwanger said. “Gary has also agreed to stay on as deputy director part-time to alleviate any gap in services to veterans. When the American Legion training comes available in 2015, the new director will get that training.”

"We welcome the new director and look forward to working with him,” Wilkinson said. “Our argument had nothing to do with the man himself. We question the process of the appointment. The director is a two-year term position. We would like to see changes in the hiring process."

The Wyoming County Veterans Service Office handles anywhere between four to eight applications per day that require access to some part of a veteran's record.

"In the best interest of services, given our particular situation,” Cousins said. “The Regional Office should have the viewpoint to answer any question asked by the new director until accreditation is obtained."

"We are going to be asking Sen. Charles Schumer to reach out to the American Legion to keep the process running smoothly for our veterans. We are also going to encourage the new director to be accredited over multiple agencies,” Berwanger said. "Our focus is that we want to provide the best service we can to our vets.”

According to Berwanger, there was no political agenda to the process. The board took a look at what they had, and found a way to work with it during the transition process.

“As chairman of the board, I make a conscious effort to take the politics out of the hiring process,” Berwanger said. “Political hacks don't cut it. We need qualified people to run any department."

Wednesday, September 10, 2014 at 10:23 pm
posted by Howard Owens in Chris Collins, ny-27.

Press release:

Congressman Chris Collins (NY-27) released the following statement after the President’s address laying out his strategy to eliminate the ISIS threat.

“It is clear, we cannot allow for the same mistakes that have gotten us into this situation,” Congressman Collins said. “The current events in Iraq and Syria prove the absence of American leadership enables and emboldens our enemies, and puts our country and citizens at risk. I fully support actions to eliminate the threat posed by ISIS and protect our citizens at home and abroad.”

Wednesday, September 10, 2014 at 6:50 am
posted by Julia Ferrini in Wyoming County, Buffalo Audubon Society, North Java.

Press release:

Global warming threatens the survival of nearly half the bird species in the continental United States and Canada, including many of New York’s birds, warn National Audubon Society scientists in a groundbreaking new study released today. Local birds at risk include the following: Baltimore oriole, scarlet tanager, bobolink and wood duck.

“The natural landscape of Western New York is home to hundreds of species of birds,” says Loren Smith, executive director of the Buffalo Audubon Society. “It’s hard to imagine places like Knox Farm State Park without bobolink, or the Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge without the awesome spectacle of millions of migrating waterfowl each spring and fall. This study is a clarion call to action – actions we can take locally to ensure that birds across North America will survive the threat of global warming.”

Of 588 bird species examined in the seven-year study, 314 species are at risk. Of those, 126 species are at risk of severe declines by 2050, and another 188 species face the same fate by 2080, with numerous extinctions possible if global warming continues on its current trajectory. The Audubon report says that hundreds of species not previously considered at risk will be challenged to survive in a climate-changed future.

In Western New York, the Buffalo Audubon Society is working to help birds that live, breed, migrate and rely on habitats found in our region. The removal of invasive species and creation of healthy shrub-scrub habitat for golden-winged warbler and other species at Joseph Davis State Park is just one example. The Buffalo Audubon Society owns more than 1,000 acres of land across the region in preserves that nurture birds and other wildlife. This study adds new urgency to protect the places in our region where birds live today, to prepare for the future, and to do everything we can to reduce the severity of global warming.

“The greatest threat our birds face today is global warming,” said Audubon Chief Scientist Gary Langham, who led the investigation. “That’s our unequivocal conclusion after seven years of painstakingly careful and thorough research. Global warming threatens the basic fabric of life on which birds – and the rest of us – depend, and we have to act quickly and decisively if we are going to avoid catastrophe for them and us.”

Langham and other Audubon ornithologists analyzed 30 years of historical North American climate data and tens of thousands of historical bird records from the U.S. Geological Survey’s North American Breeding Bird Survey and the Audubon Christmas Bird Count to understand the links between where birds live and the climatic conditions that support them. Understanding those links then allowed scientists to project where birds are likely to be able to survive – and not survive – in the future. 

Audubon's study shows how climate conditions including precipitation, temperature and changing seasons – the building blocks for ecosystems and species survival – may have catastrophic consequences for birds when thrown out of balance.

While some species will be able to adapt to shifting climates, many of North America’s most familiar and iconic species will not.

“The prospect of such staggering loss is horrific, but we can build a bridge to the future for America’s birds,” said Audubon President and CEO David Yarnold. “We know that if we help avoid the worst impacts of climate change for birds, we’re doing the same for our kids. And this new report can be a road map to help birds weather the storm of global warming.”

Audubon today launched a new Web portal – – dedicated to understanding the links between birds and global warming, including animated maps and photographs of the 314 species at risk, a technical report, and in-depth stories from the September-October issue of Audubon magazine, which is also devoted to the topic.

“Every community member across Western New York can take immediate action to help the birds of our region and our country,” says Buffalo Audubon’s Smith. “We are committed to creating safe spaces for birds in our homes and across our community and we urge everyone to play their part to ensure that healthy birds can face the challenge of a warming world.”

The National Audubon Society saves birds and their habitats throughout the Americas using science, advocacy, education and on-the-ground conservation. Audubon's state programs, nature centers, chapters and partners have an unparalleled wingspan that reaches millions of people each year to inform, inspire and unite diverse communities in conservation action. Since 1905, Audubon's vision has been a world in which people and wildlife thrive. Audubon is a nonprofit conservation organization.

For more information visit,

Wednesday, September 10, 2014 at 6:43 am
posted by Julia Ferrini in Wyoming County, veterans, Warsaw.



Men from local veterans organizations gathered outside the Wyoming County Courthouse Tuesday in a peaceful protest of the appointment process to fill the director's position at the County's Veteran Services Office, left vacant after the retirement of Gary Cousins.

The complete story will post this afternoon.  

Tuesday, September 9, 2014 at 5:49 pm
posted by Howard Owens in Chris Collins, ny-27, agriculture.

Press release:

Congressman Chris Collins (NY-27) released the following statement today on the passage of H.R. 5078, the Waters of the United States Regulatory Overreach Protection Act, which would prevent the EPA and the Army Corp of Engineers from implementing the proposed rule that would redefine “waters of the United States” under the Clean Water Act.

“Redefining the scope of ‘waters of the United States’ is a dangerous expansion of government authority,” Congressman Collins said. “I have heard from many farmers and small business owners in my district who believe the EPA and Army Corp of Engineers rule will have a devastating effect on their productivity and ability to stay in business. In May, I led a bipartisan letter with Rep. Schrader of Oregon, signed by a majority of the House, asking the EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers to withdraw this overreaching rule. The passage of today’s legislation will ensure that this rule is withdrawn and our farmers and small business owners will be protected.”

Tuesday, September 9, 2014 at 2:58 pm
posted by Howard Owens in Perry.

It takes a village to draft a good comprehensive plan, and that's exactly the approach the Village of Perry is taking as it seeks to replace a plan that's barely been touched in 45 years.

Mayor Rick Hauser explained in an interview today that the village trustees are seeking input from residents, business owners and other stakeholders through a series of public meetings, focus groups and a community survey.

The effort is aimed at getting the broadest range of input possible. The focus groups, for example, will include the old and the young, business owners and workers, longtime residents and newer ones.

"Rather than see this as an obligation or requirement, we are embracing it as a tremendous opportunity to ask ourselves some fundamental strategic questions about where Perry wants to be going and where it is going right now," Hauser said. "If we don't do anything, then what vision of the future are we leaning toward? And frankly, what do we want to do to modify that future if we don't like where we're going?"

Doing nothing would guide the city through planning decisions based on a strategy written 45 years ago that contemplated a larger population, more industry and higher incomes.

"It's outlived its usefulness," Hauser said.

The comprehensive plan project is being led by a steering committee of 12 community members with the aid of a consultant.

The focus groups are aimed at having a broad discussion about a vision for Perry that will draw on as many different points of view as can be gathered. The inclusion of a diverse segment of the community isn't about just getting a variety of views, but drawing input from people in the social circles and networks of those involved.

"I think this will yield very useful information that will help feed the steering committee's direction," Hauser said.

By next spring, the mayor hopes the committee will have a new draft master plan completed.  Then there will be public hearings and written comments solicited. It will then be up to the trustees to adopt part of it, all of it or reject it completely.

"An adopted comprehensive plan may not happen for a year or two, but I hope we have a draft comprehensive plan in place by the spring that will hopefully be an accurate gauge of the vision for Perry as well as a framework for decision making," Hauser said.

To take the survey on the Village of Perry Web site, click here. There's a link on the home page.

Ongoing information about the process will be available through the Perry First page on Facebook.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014 at 2:07 pm
posted by Howard Owens in Perry, Perry Central School District, taxes.

Two potential school tax abatements that Mayor Rick Hauser believes will help fuel residential growth in the Village of Perry are the subject of public hearings at 7 p.m., Sept. 22, at the Perry Senior High School Library.

The school board will be asked to say yea or nay to the proposals, which won't decrease the amount of taxes collected currently. Rather, they would provide tax relief on increases in assessed value for qualifying first-time home buyers of newly constructed units and for homeowners who make substantial improvements to their existing homes.

Perry Superintendent Daryl McLaughlin said the decision is entirely up to the school board, but the abatements can benefit the school district.

"If we can reverse the trend as far as population decline and promote growth within our village and within our community, it's obviously a good thing," McLaughlin said. "Especially within the school district, we would like to see our numbers go up."

Hauser, who has a community planning background, said these abatements can address some important housing needs in the village.

"There's a lot of anecdotal evidence from realtors that Perry lacks housing inventory in a variety of different sectors," Hauser said. "There's housing for sale, but it tends to be similar price, similar age, similar condition and setting and environment. We're missing a lot of other segments that, as a result, people can't find what they're looking for if they're willing to choose Perry."

Throughout WNY, population decline is a problem and Hauser said the village trustees are implementing methods to hopefully reverse the trend in their own corner of the state. They call these their "restore population initiatives."

"Perry has lost 7 percent of its population in each of the last decennial censuses," Hauser said. "Taken together, that's 542 fewer people living in the village."

Those 542 people, Hauser said, could fill an auditorium. They are community volunteers, potential business owners, firefighters, parents to children in the local schools and consumers and taxpayers. A small village losing 542 people has a big impact.

There are a lot of good reasons people leave WNY, Hauser said, but to balance the scales, there needs to be some reasons for them to move to Perry. Improved housing stock and financial incentives can be tools to encourage growth, he said.

A survey of Perry's largest employers found that two-thirds of local workers don't live in Perry. In some cases, that may be because the workers can't find the right house for themselves and their families in the village.

"We're losing a lot of potential residents to other communities," Hauser said. "Not everybody is looking to buy a fixer-upper or to buy a grand old house."

The proposed abatements -- which the village board has already approved for its taxing jurisdiction -- would cap property taxes at the level they were at when construction was started, either on a new home or on big improvements to an existing home. After a period of years, the abatements would expire and the property owners would pay the full amount of taxes on the full assessed value of the property.

"The abatements don't reduce the tax base now, but it raises it later," Hauser said.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014 at 11:52 am
posted by Billie Owens in Attica.

A fundraiser to be split between AYA (Attica Youth Athletics) and One Mission Childhood Cancer Foundation is set for Sept. 13. Brittney Moreis and Matt Good are going have their heads buzzed. Yep, all their hair will be sheared off their heads. And Nicole Meisner is having 10 inches of her locks hacked off. This "hair raising" event will take place at a local AYA youth football game at Attica High School. Under the lights in between the two games (which start at 5 and 7 p.m., respectively) so around 6:30-ish the tresses will be trimmed.

The high school is located at 3338 E. Main St. in Attica.

More people are wanted to go bald or get snipped. All hair will go to Locks of Love. All freewill donations of money at the event or online will be split between AYA and the cancer foundation.

Here's where to find more information or make a monetary donation to this worthy cause:




Tuesday, September 9, 2014 at 7:19 am
posted by Julia Ferrini in Wyoming County, Warsaw.



A plethora of roadside stands with signs hawking farm fresh produce are abundant in and around Wyoming County. One such stand can be found on Saltvale Road, Wyoming. Welch's Farm Market shows the vibrant colors of seasonal produce that is picked within eyesight of its stand. The market is open through October.



Tuesday, September 9, 2014 at 7:05 am
posted by Julia Ferrini in Wyoming County, Warsaw.


Many businesses on Main Street in Warsaw have received facelifts this Summer thanks in part to a $500,000 federal government grant, through New York State Homes and Community Renewal. The grant was approved in December 2011 and building owners began applying to receive a cut of the funds in early 2012. The grant allowed for funding of up to 75 percent of the total cost of renovations and had to be completed within six months.

Photos courtesy of Kevin Carlson at



Tuesday, September 9, 2014 at 7:01 am

Kelvin D. Rook, 48, Dutton Road, Gainesville, was charged with second-degree criminal contempt, a Class A misdemeanor. Rook was a passenger in a vehicle, which had been stopped for an inspection infraction. According to the Wyoming County Sheriff’s report, Rook had just come from a residence the court ordered him to stay away from. The Sheriff's Office says he had a conviction for reckless endangerment in the  second degree in February. That conviction led to an additional charge of aggravated family offense, a Class E felony. Rook was taken into custody in lieu of $5,000 bail and is scheduled to return to the Town of Gainesville Court for further proceedings.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014 at 12:11 am
posted by Howard Owens in accident, Warsaw.

An ambulance is requested to the scene of a one-car rollover accident in the area of 4448 Weathersfield Road, Warsaw. The caller originally reported no injuries, but law enforcement on scene reports the driver has a complaint of side pain. The officer requested the ambulance as precaution. A tow is requested. The vehicle is 10 feet off the road and upside down. There is a ditch between the vehicle and the roadway.

Monday, September 8, 2014 at 10:16 am
posted by Howard Owens in taxes, tax liens, Wyoming County.

The following properties are subject to tax lien auction by Wyoming County. The auction is at 10 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 27, at the North Java Fire Hall, Route 98, North Java. Color pictures and tax maps can be viewed at A PDF list of properties and auction rules can be downloaded by clicking here.

  • 191 Park St., Village of Arcade, assessed value $200
  • 598 Exchange St., Village of Attica, assessed value $38,500
  • West Mill Street, Village of Castile, assessed value $19,900
  • 30 Hurd St., Village of Castile, assessed value $67,000
  • Spring Street, Village of Castile, assessed value $1,000
  • 224 S. Main St., Village of Perry, assessed value $21,200
  • 226 1/2 S. Main St., Village of Perry, assessed value $127,300
  • Wing Street, Town of Eagle, assessed value $24,000
  • Exchange Street, Town of Eagle, assessed value $5,400
  • 3391 Main St., Town of Eagle, assessed value $55,500
  • Shearing Road, Town of Gainesville, assessed value $28,600
  • 4015 Dutton Road, Town of Gainesville, assessed value $36,600
  • 6671 Halvorsen Road, Town of Genesee Falls, assessed value $92,500
  • Nichols Road, Town of Java, assessed value, $19,300
  • Perry Road, Town of Java, assessed value $500
  • Block F, Town of Java, assessed value $200
  • Gulf Road, Town of Middlebury, assessed value $2,000
  • 140 Main Street South, Village of Perry, assessed value $3,200
  • 121 Water St., Village of Perry, assessed value $71,800
  • Water Street, Village of Perry, assessed value $800
  • 118 S. Main St., Village of Perry, assessed value $50,500
  • 20 N. Center St., Village of Perry, assessed value $47,800
  • 66 Water St., Village of Perry, assessed value $40,600
  • 89 N. Center St., Village of Perry, assessed value $88,800
  • 6785 State Route 20A, Town of Perry, assessed value $37,800
  • 3243 Beardsley Road, Town of Perry, assessed value of $47,500
  • 27 Main St., Town of Pike, assessed value $36,000
  • Main Street, Town of Pike, assessed value $9,400
  • Route 78, Town of Sheldon, assessed value $1,800
  • 20 Culver Ave., Village of Warsaw, assessed value $85,600
  • Buck Road, Town of Warsaw, assessed value $3,400
  • 24 Weber Road, Town of Wethersfield, assessed value $27,700
Monday, September 8, 2014 at 6:21 am
posted by Julia Ferrini in Wyoming County, farming, Wyoming.



Nada. Zip. Zilch. Nothing.

That is what the three Shuknecht brothers had when they decided to start a dairy farm. They were going to be equal owners in a venture that started with an idea.

“Find a job you love and you’ll never have to work again,” said Alex, the eldest.

“About 15 years ago our uncle (Elton Shuknecht) asked me and Adam (the youngest brother) to show some cows at the Erie County Fair,” said middle brother Eric.

Before long, Eric and Adam were working for their uncle, prepping the show animals for fairs and auctions; but that just wasn’t enough.

“We started with nothing. We bought our first cow in the Spring of 2009,” Eric said. “We bought her without a place to put her. But it had a domino effect over the past five years.”

So they did what most children would do -- asked their parents for some guidance.

Lynn and Bonnie Shuknecht allowed the boys to pasture the cow in their backyard in Elba; and in the Fall of 2009, they built a calf barn in their parents' yard -- a barn that is still in use.

“The barn is designed for calfs,” Eric said. “We always want to have it full and dad likes working with the younger cows.”

“Dad grew up on a farm but didn’t want it as a career,” Alex said. “He was a mold maker, he’d make the molds that are used as a template to make other things. He started that when he was 18, he's now 55. He wanted nothing to do with farming. But he likes working with the young stock now,”

At least the brothers had a working knowledge of running a farm when they started out. With Adam and Eric continuing to work with their uncle, Alex found himself at the Lamb Farms helping with a herd of approximately 6,000 cows in three locations. With Matthew Lamb at the helm, Alex learned the ropes of managing a herd, as well as the day-to-day operations of the business. And he says Lamb continues to be a great mentor and friend.

The oldest Shuknecht didn’t start out with farming as his choice career, he first went to BOCES for culinary arts and then worked as a salesman. At another time, he worked in an office, but he found the outdoors suited him best.

“I didn’t want to be a chef because of the long hours and holiday shifts,” Alex said. “So instead, I chose a profession with longer days and never having a holiday off. I chose farming because I enjoy it and would like to make money at it. I’ve had offers to work and manage other farms but I would hate myself at 50 if I didn’t try and do this now, at 28. We dove in head first.”

The brothers not only like owning a farm, they enjoy producing something that feeds people. They agree that people who love their job will work harder because they have a vested interest. The business technically formed in 2012 as Genesee Moloko, "moloko" being Slavic for milk.

“Adam came up with the name and we all liked it,” Eric said.

Autumn of 2009 began a busy time for the Wyoming residents -- a calf barn was built, Eric and Adam still worked with their uncle, and what they earned was used to pay for the barn and buy calves as well. They slowly filled the barn with young stock. When the cows reach breeding age, they are bred via artificial insemination. This allows them to select semen from bulls that have the desirable traits they want. They are on a Young Sire program -- the traits they are looking for in the bulls are speculated upon, as opposed to having proven traits. Because the company is strictly a dairy herd; when a male is produced, it is subsequently sold.

Once the cows are pregnant, a new place has to be found for them. Kip Keller allowed them to use his barn in Byron. (In 2010, Keller asked Eric to come work at his farm doing day-to-day tasks, which is how they became acquainted.) The six to eight pregnant cows stayed there for a couple of years. Other Shuknecht cows went elsewhere, and in July of 2012 they purchased their uncle's herd -- ‘the whole shooting match’ -- roughly 60 mature animals creating milk and 45 young stock. The herd grew from eight cows in 2009 to 115 presently.

“All the cows we purchased then went to the Keller farm,” Eric said. “Adam and I worked alongside the other herdsmen. We were essentially leasing our cows to Kip. We wanted to grow our herd and we soon out grew Kip’s (farm). So we moved the herd to a farm in Monroe County, where we began to ship milk under our own account with Upstate Milk.”

Upstate Niagara Cooperative, Inc., is a producer of milks, yogurts, cheese, butter and more. Headquartered in Buffalo, the company is a farmer-owned cooperative consisting of more than 360 family-owned dairy farms throughout Western New York.

Soon after the move to Monroe County, they had to consider purchasing their own farm when they outgrew yet another farm. Consequently, the purchase of their new location on Starr Road in Wyoming was completed Aug. 5.

“Through word of mouth and a lot of phone calls, we found this place,” Alex said. “We work in conjunction with R L Jefferes & Sons, Inc., out of Wyoming. We purchase feed from Jefferes and work with them to apply the cow manure (for fertilizer) to their land.”

Genesee Moloko is continuing to expand its herd with a recent purchase of 71 more cows.

“You’ve got to want the American Dream,” Alex said. “It isn’t dead, you just have to work hard at it.”

And work they did. All three took different college paths to merge into the same course of action -- running a dairy farm. Alex went to Alfred State for Animal Science. Eric went to Genesee Community College (GCC) for Veterinary Technology and Adam studied Agricultural Business and Animal Science at Cornell University.

“Can’t have all three of us (studying) one thing,” Eric said.

Alex is good at managing people and managing the herd. He is constantly checking on the animals to make sure they are healthy, their bedding is clean and there is enough air flow in the barn. He also makes sure the cows are properly vaccinated.

“The health and comfort of the animal it is the biggest thing because it makes them good producers,” Alex said. “It creates longevity. You give to them and they will give back. When a cow shows their ribs for bone structure, that is a sign of a healthy animal. There are extremes, but our job is to keep them healthy and happy.”

According to Alex, cows love "bored consistency." To move a herd is a stressor for them and it affects milk production.

Eric is the "animal nurse" -- a Licensed Veterinary Tech (LVT). He was in the first Vet Tech class offered by GCC and enrolled because of his large-animal background. Large farms, a 700-plus herd, require a LVT on staff to handle the needles, syringes and pharmaceuticals. So Eric's education equips him to manage bovine health. Another plus is that he is task-oriented.

Adam is a "wildly intelligent person," adept at running the "business part of the business." Currently living in Michigan, Adam also handles the legalities of what can and cannot be done as far as medication and the like.

They each have a different skill set to bring to the table.

“We play to each other’s strengths,” Alex said. “We agree as to who has the final say in any particular situation that corresponds to our given strength.”

There are currently three full-time and two part-time employees. Shifts are overlapped so there is more coverage when at least one of them is at the farm.

“I worked on a 3,000-herd farm. I was a herdsman; 90-hour work week with no lunches,” Alex said. “It was hard work but I learned a lot there -- how to treat people and manage things -- by the mistakes they made. We try to cross-train everyone to help them find their niche."

Eric says there are seven breeds of dairy cows, however, Genesee Moloko own just two -- Jerseys, which have double the amount of butter fat and protein in their milk; and Holsteins, which are more of a "fluid milk" cow. The quality in milk is derived from the butter fat and protein found in the milk; fluid milk cows have less butterfat and protein.

The 14-unit milk parlor, which came with the farm, runs down the center of a pit that makes the cows easily accessible when being prepped for -- and during -- milking. The milking is done twice a day, once at 5 a.m. and then again at 5 p.m. with each cow delivering approximately 66 pounds of milk per day (one gallon of milk weighs a little more than eight pounds).

According to Alex, New York State is the third largest milk producing state in the Union, with Wisconsin being the first, and California the second. Furthermore, Wyoming County is the largest county in NYS in milk production.

“There are more cows than people in this county,” Eric said. “A lot of choice cuts of beef come from dairy farms. When a milk cow is no longer profitable, the cow is sent to auction.”

Although the milk parlor was already on the premises, the heavy equipment, tractors, feeders and such, had to be purchased from outside sources. However, when it comes the animals' feed, the Shuknechts like to buy it as close to the farm as possible. During the summer, they silage (compact grass or other green fodder and store it in an airtight condition to use as feed in the winter). This gives them the feed inventory to get through until the next year. The tricky part is when more cows are added to the herd -- more feed is needed, but to have more feed, they have to buy cows -- a catch-22 according to Alex.

The feed mills, where they sometimes get their feed, has a nutritionist on hand to figure out the proper diet for their cows to make them healthy and productive.

The brothers take pride in what they do. At the end of the day, they can say that they did it themselves - from the ground up - from their first calf to their most recent dairy farm purchase.

“I had to go back to dairy farming,” Alex said. “I enjoy it.”










Sunday, September 7, 2014 at 6:20 pm
posted by Howard Owens in accident, Strykersville.

A one-car accident is reported on Route 98 at Sanders Hill Road, Strykersville.

Strykersville fire responding.

A chief on scene reports minor injuries.




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