April 1, 2012

Business briefs: April 1, 2012


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Accreditation received

UTICA — The managed care plans of Excellus BlueCross BlueShield have again received the highest accreditation status available, a rating of "Excellent" from the National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA).

Excellent rating applies for all commercial, Medicaid and Medicare plans.

The committee is a private, nonprofit organization dedicated to improving health-care quality. Employers and consumers use its information to make more informed health-care choices. Its excellent accreditation status is reserved for the best health plans in the nation and is only awarded to those that meet or exceed its rigorous requirements for consumer protection and quality improvement and deliver excellent clinical care.

To become accredited, a health plan must undergo a rigorous evaluation of more than 60 standards designed to evaluate its clinical and administrative systems. The committee accreditation evaluates how well a health plan manages all parts of its delivery system — physicians, hospitals, other providers and administrative services — in order to continuously improve the quality of care and services provided to its members. Full accreditation is effective for a three-year period.

To learn more, visit

Engineering award

ALBANY — New York State Department of Transportation Commissioner Joan McDonald recently served as master of ceremonies at the American Council of Engineering Companies of New York annual Engineering Excellence Awards gala and accepted the Award of Merit for the department's response to tropical storms Irene and Lee.

"It is a pleasure to be honored by the leading engineering organization in New York State, both for the hard work we performed following devastating late-summer storms and for the work of our consultants on important infrastructure projects across the state," McDonald said. "When storms cut off transportation access for thousands of New Yorkers, NYSDOT crews were on the scene clearing debris, making repairs and restoring mobility."

The flooding destroyed more than 400 bridges and segments of road across New York State. The department worked quickly to repair the transportation infrastructure in order to re-establish safety and mobility for residents. Nearly all of those segments were reopened to traffic within 10 days following the storms, with the final and most badly damaged section, which included rebuilding six miles of road and two bridges, reopening in February.

As part of the honor, ACEC New York awarded a $5,000 scholarship to CUNY third-year engineering student Benjamin Conable on DOT's behalf.

Homebuyers workshop

PLATTSBURGH — UFirst Federal Credit Union will be hosting a free Homebuyers Workshop on Thursday, April 19, at the West Side Ballroom at 253 New York Road, Plattsburgh.

Guest speakers are Dave Stagnitti, a licensed mortgage loan officer, and Attorney Gary L. Favro of the Law Offices of Gary L. Favro PLLC. Registration will be from 5:30 to 6 p.m. and the workshop from 6 to 8 p.m.

The workshop is for anyone getting ready to buy their first home or anyone who wants to learn more about refinancing. Space is limited, so early sign up is encouraged.

To sign up, contact Miranda Grabie at 324-5700 or by Monday, April 16. Leave your name, email address and phone number, or stop by one of the branches at 274 Rugar St., Plattsburgh; 72 Champlain St., Rouses Point; or 2488 Route 11, Mooers.

Grants awarded

PLATTSBURGH — The Advocacy and Resource Center was recently awarded a $1,250 grant from the Stewart's Holiday Match Program.

The grant will be used to purchase supplies for ARC's Therapeutic Respite Program. The program provides respite/training services for families with children who have an autism-spectrum diagnosis. The program offers specialized opportunities for individuals on the spectrum to receive training in the areas of socialization and communication.

Additionally, families are able to participate in group sessions that will provide enhanced training and group problem solving strategies. Currently, ARC is the only agency in Clinton County offering this service for this group of children.

Young Careerist

PLATTSBURGH — The Champlain Valley Business and Professional Women have announced that applications are now being accepted for participation in the 2012 Virginia Allan Young Careerist Program to be held Tuesday, April 17, at American Legion Post 20 on the Quarry Road in Plattsburgh.

The program is a high-profile signature program that recognizes and celebrates the accomplishments of young professionals. The purpose is to provide an opportunity for encouragement, support and recognition of women and men in the early stages of their careers.

Young Careerist representatives must meet the following criteria:

▶ Must be between 21 and 35 years of age.

▶ Must have been employed in business or professions with at least one year of full-time work experience.

▶ Must be living, working or training, or continuing their education, in New York State or Vermont.

▶ Must support the goals, objectives and legislative platform of the BPW Foundation.

This year's four-minute speech topics include career paths of those around you, employee retention, diversity departments in the workplace, and mentoring programs.

A certificate, pin and one-year BPW membership will be awarded, as well as the opportunity to proceed to the state level competition in Vermont.

Applications are due by Friday. For more information and/or for applications and background materials, interested candidates may contact Vicki Marking, 2012 Young Careerist chairperson, at 324-9322 or via email at

Recycling program

PLATTSBURGH — New York State Electric and Gas (NYSEG) can help customers jump start their spring cleaning by recycling those second refrigerators or freezers that have outlived their usefulness.

Customers who participate will receive a $30 check and stand to save as much as $150 a year in electricity charges.

"Participating in this program is an easy way to instantly improve your home's energy efficiency and start saving money," said Mark S. Lynch, president of NYSEG. "It's as simple as making a phone call to schedule a time to have us pick up your old refrigerator or freezer."

To schedule free pickup, call 1-877-691-0021 or visit ficiencyprograms/.

Second refrigerators and freezers, often kept in garages or basements, are usually older models that may use as much as three times more electricity to run than newer models built to higher energy-efficiency standards. Units to be recycled must be in working order and have an inside volume of between 10 and 30 cubic feet.

NYSEG contractor JACO Environmental safely dismantles and recycles the energy-guzzling refrigerators and freezers, converting 95 percent of each appliance into recyclable metals, glass and plastics.

Funding received

TICONDEROGA — Fort Ticonderoga recently received a grant from Stewart's Foundation supporting new King's Garden programs in 2012. The program will encourage young visitors to learn about different vegetables, flowers and insects.

The funds will specifically support the development of four new themed areas within the Children's Garden including Flying Friends, a garden bed devoted to attracting pollinators; Vegetable Maze, a non-traditional free-form vegetable area; Edible Petals Patch, a garden devoted to plants with edible flowers; and Onion Island, a garden bed devoted to the allium or onion genus.

The Children's Garden, located in the King's Garden at Fort Ti, offers an opportunity for families to explore beauty and nature at one of America's oldest and most significant historic sites. The garden is open June 1 through Oct. 8 and offers a wide variety of horticulture programs throughout the season.

"The Discovery Gardens are a place where people can really connect with the plants, learn how they grow and realize the joy of gardening," said Heidi Karkoski, Fort Ti's curator of landscape.

Fort Ti's gardening programs are part of Let's Move Museums & Gardens organized by the Institute of Museum and Library Services.

To learn more, visit http://www.fortticondero or call 585-2821.

Proposals sought

PLATTSBURGH — The North Country Workforce Investment Board (WIB) is making approximately $350,000 of Workforce Investment Act funding available to fund services to high-school youth.

"There is incredible pressure on school districts to cut funding," said board Chairman Joe Riccio. "At the same time, the WIB is seeing an increasing need to ensure that young people have access to opportunities for career exploration, internships and part-time jobs."

The intention is to fund projects that keep youth engaged by connecting classroom experience to real-life work activities and career pathways. Programs must engage youth at risk of dropping out of school by creating a link between academic learning, work-based experiences and career pathways.

Organizations interested can call the WIB office at 561-4295 or visit

The WIB will hold a mandatory bidders' conference on Wednesday to entertain questions. Call the WIB office to register.

Open house

TICONDEROGA — The Ticonderoga Area Chamber of Commerce will host a OneWorkSource and the InternetXpress@Your Library open house from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Wednesday, April 18.

The chamber, OneWorkSource, Adirondack Community Action Programs Inc. and the Clinton, Essex, Franklin Library System have a partnership to serve the Ticonderoga area by offering OneWorkSource open houses on a monthly basis. They are available to employers, employees and community members.

The services will be provided once a month on the third Wednesday of the month at the chamber unless otherwise advertised.

The services will include OneWorkSource registration, job-search activities (including lists of current employment opportunities for Clinton and Essex counties) and the chance to register for free computer and digital literacy classes with the InternetXpress program.

The services offered for employers will include the ability to post any employment opportunities, applicant referral and discussion of services that can provide the employer with hiring incentives or workshops that can be used to train current employees in digital literacy such as basic computers, Microsoft Word/Excel and email.

Energy conference

LAKE PLACID — The North Country Clean Energy Conference will be held at the Conference Center in Lake Placid, 2608 Main St., from 5 to 8 p.m. on Thursday, June 21, and from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday, June 22.

The idea for the conference came out of the winning North Country Economic Development Council Plan's vision that called for creating the greenest energy economy in the state.

Following a presentation at the North Country Symposium in late 2011, a team started working on developing a conference to identify the projects and investments that will help the region achieve its vision.

The conference will begin Thursday with networking, a student poster session and other activities. Dinner will be served at 6:30 p.m.

Friday's session is a full day featuring workshops in six areas: solar, wind, hydro, biomass, biodigesters and conservation. There will be a chance to give input into the NYSERDA-funded Cleaner Greener Communities Sustainability Plan for the North Country.

All meals are included in the admission fee, which is $50 until May 15. After that, $65. Conference sponsors so far include NYSERDA, the North Country Symposium, National Grid and Iberdrola Renewables. The conference is being produced by the Adirondack North Country Association in partnership with the Alliance for Clean Energy New York Inc.

To register or for more information, call 891-6200 or visit

Air show

PLATTSBURGH — The North Country Chamber of Commerce has once again been designated by Empire State Development Corp. to coordinate and lead New York State's participation in the Farnborough International Air Show.

The show is held every two years outside London and is the largest global aviation and aerospace event of its kind. Scheduled this year for July 9 to 15, the event is once again expected to feature more than 1,400 exhibitors and more than 120,000 visitors from the aviation and aerospace trade community.

"Serving in this role for the state means that we will be leading the state's presence at this global event, including participation by several New York State aerospace companies, and we will be a visible part of the U.S. Pavilion," said Garry Douglas, chamber president.

"Plattsburgh International Airport will be featured as the only New York airport and aerospace park. The exposure is tremendous and will be supplemented over the seven days with a great many meetings we will be setting up and with active participation in networking events with aviation and aerospace executives from around the world."