Friday, October 27, 2006

"4-H Head Heart Hands And My Health To Better Living"

"4-H Head Heart Hands And My Health To Better Living"

Last night I had the pleasure of attending the Annual Dinner for the Cornell Cooperative Extension -Oneida County.

Earlier this year I had conducted a Toastmaster Public Speaking Youth Leadership Program over a six week period. The program was conducted for their full time staff members, parents and kids. It was a complete pleasure to work with everyone involved- even the other instructors remarked how uplifting it was to work with such fantastic people. The parents gave phenomenal support to the kids and were an active part of the class.

- Why 4-H at this time? It was truly due to the dedication of Lynette Kay as Program Coordinator who made it happen. It was the culmination of a six month effort on her part where she went to breakfast and a Toastmaster dinner to promote the idea. Lynette said it was part of her job description but she went well beyond any job description to make the event happen.

What is great about this extension is Lynette is typical of the dedication for the staff and volunteers for 4-H.

Last night the NYS Commissioner of Agriculture, Patrick Brennan, spoke about the contribution of farming to a local community in economic development.

As a final thought, I remember a lecture from Stephen Covey years ago. He stated that if we run our businesses as effectively as farmers ran their farms, we have more successful businesses. He then played a ten minute videotape where a farmer just talked about what he did- it was an excellent metaphor for businesses.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Griffiss Air Force Base

"Why the Thruway Still Touts Griffiss AFB"

One of those pet peeves I have is that we still have a sign for Griffiss Air Force Base, a base that has been closed for over a decade.

If you are driving west from Utica to Westmoreland, a large sign touts Exit 32 for Griffiss AFB and Oneida County Airport. I have always thought that there are probably two better, more current attractions to advertise such as the Air Force Research Laboratory or Fort Stanwix or Oriskany Battlefield. To me, I thought it was just not putting the best foot forward for the Mohawk Valley.

Today's organization is the New York State Thruway who recently faxed me the reason the sign is still there. I understand the logic from the New York State Manual of Traffic Control Devices stating that destinations such as the Griffiss Business and Technology Park are not eligible for these destinations signing.

The decision has been to leave the sign in place until it needed replacing. It is now 15 years old and is slated to replaced with a sign noting the Oneida County Airport and possibly Griffiss Tech Park.

I did find the people at the Thruway Authority very helpful to explain this situation. This post is more a reflection of how NYS works than the Thruway Authority personnel ( it is the system, not the people in the system).

PS. Did you realize there is a "Green Discount" for owners of certain hybrids that will provide an additional 10% off Thruway fees. I know someone who just took advantage of that today. Here is the link- www.nysthruway.gov/ezpass/greentag.html

Monday, September 18, 2006

Accent On Excellence

Mohawk Valley Accent On Excellence

Observer Dispatch provided major coverage to the latest 2006 winners of the Mohawk Valley Accent on Excellence awards touting the top ten people under 40 in the area.
Once again, the list of winners is quite impressive.

One negative is the lack of engineers on this list. Last year in fact produce two engineers but overall the number of engineers/technical people that have won since 2000 is surprising low.

This is not an indictment of the program but may be a reflection of the Mohawk Valley loss of engineering and manufacturing personnel in the last twenty years. Technical people who have won have predominantly been from the Air Force Research Laboratory ( where top notch engineering is being done) or the President of a technology company.

I look at this as a leadership concern as the Mohawk Valley is either not generating or recognizing young technical talent in the area. The latter is not as much of a concern-individuals tend to enjoy the intrinsic value of the technical challenges and may be uncomfortable with recognition.

Not generating young engineering talent is serious. The local colleges are showing a dropoff in technical programs and there are less jobs in the area to support the graduates. Professional technical societies are struggling.

What is the answer? We will know in the next decade by either the growth or the decay of technology based companies in the area.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Wood Pellet Mills In United States

Recently my wife and I put in a purchase offer for a house in Herkimer County. The house, over 130 years old, has oil for heat in the original structure but electric in the new addition. To combat the higher fuel costs expected this winter, we are taking a look at a wood pellet stove.

Yet so are many other people as the demand for wood pellets last year was high. Manufacturing capacity had been reached due to this demand with the possibility of a shortage ( Pellet Shortage is expected to last all winter - December 2005.

New England Wood Pellet is expanding their manufacturing and storage operations to Frankfort, NY in a new 72,500 square foot facility. Looks like a great industry coming to Herkimer County at the right time. Upstate NY Blog referencing an Observer Dispatch article also in July.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Guilty Pleasure

One Central NY blog that I read often is CNY Underground that has some interesting insight about our upcoming Congressional Race. Some entries will show up as a later story in the Observer Dispatch, others never will.

His screen name will get blocked from probably any corporate filtering program but he does seem to have some good information particularly on the Oriska situation and the NYRI . Gossipy yes, but that is one thing that makes it interesting reading. I have shared this with others informally and now decided to blog it.

Take it for what it is worth.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Irish Celtic music

Irish Celtic Music

Yesterday I attended the volunteers party for the Great American Irish Festival (GAIF) at Piggy Pat's Pub. It was a party touting the over 400 volunteers that make the GAIF possible.

And what a festival it was this year! I attended both nights and the Irish music was fantastic. There was great food, many gift shops, and at 2-3 bands playing at any one time. The Great American Irish Festival is becoming a signature event for the Mohawk Valley.

On a personal night, I had both my brothers there ( one times his visit from New Orleans to the Mohawk Valley in order to attend the event) as well as my father and stepmother. So it is now a family event as well.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Precision Cooling Integrators & Manufacturers

Precision Cooling Integrators & Manufacturers

On Monday July 31st, I had the chance to go to the open house for Air Innovations, a company celebrating its 20th anniversary. Mike Wetzel, son of founder Larry Wetzel, talked about how they bought the company ten years ago and had only four employees. A decade later, they now have 40 employees and are shipping their product internationally.

As a precision cooling manufacturer, Air Innovations makes the cooling units for products such as wine coolers, flower displays, and military laser applications. One of the new products is called Isolation Air that is a portable air purifier for hospitals to use with burn victims.

As part of the tour, we saw what had to be the world's largest vending machine. We then saw the Floratech product line showing the company's competitive edge- their refrigeration floral units are open air instead of closed behind refrigerator doors. This is a customer-centric approach appealing to those want to easily reach out and touch/smell the flowers making these consumers more likely to buy them in supermarkets.

We also had a chance to see the "mad scientist" of Air Innovations whose job is to expose the finished units to harsh conditions to improve the reliability of the product.

Anne from HR talked about the typical Air Innovation manufacturing technician. It is a person who buys the unassembled ten speed bike for a child on Christmas Eve and easily follows the directions to assemble the bike for Christmas day. Included in the message was the safety push since you want that product to be safe for the child or end user so you take extra precautions putting it together.

Air Innovations was praised for its diversity of products- that praise was well deserved.