February 10, 2007

Family tradition expands onto new farm


Joe McIntyre/staff photographer
Sarah Head stands with the family dog Thursday in a meeting room overlooking the Little York dairy farm’s high tech milking parlor. Head, an animal science graduate, said she can see her future kids growing up on a farm as she did.

Staff Reporter

LITTLE YORK — Siblings Sarah and Trevor Head grew up in a farming family and are now choosing to continue that lifestyle as adults.
Trevor Head, a West Point graduate who lives in East Homer and is 29, said he couldn’t get away from the life he is familiar with. “No two days are the same,” he said.
Sarah Head, an animal science graduate who lives in Liverpool, and is 26, said she can see her future kids growing up on a farm as she did. “It was just a good way to be raised,” she said.
Trevor and Sarah Head, along with Trevor’s wife, Scarlett, and Trevor and Sarah’s parents, Bill and Caroline, of Preble, just bought Dairy Development International, an 850-cow dairy farm on Route 11, from DeLaval, a Sweden-based company that researches and develops dairy products.
Bill Head, nor DeLaval would reveal the farm’s purchase price, though the county’s Real Property Tax Services shows that the farm is assessed at $1.5 million.
The farm, which is 117 acres and has been renamed New Hope View Farm LLC, will complement the farm they already own in Niles on Skaneateles Lake, they said, and should provide them with enough revenue to be successful.
Bill Head said he and his two brothers, Roger and Leonard, bought New Hope View Farm in Niles, about 35 years ago.
The 100-cow dairy farm has served their families well, Head said, but when his children decided to join the family dairy business they needed something bigger.
“On a 100-cow farm you can’t have five families,” Head said.
The family got lucky, he said, because as they were looking for something additional, DeLaval was putting its farm up for sale.
Linda Hartsock said last month the family would not get any assistance from the Business Development Corporation/Industrial Development Agency for the purchase. She said the financing for the sale is through loans from the Small Business Administration loans and the New York Business Development Corporation.
Jason Dake, deputy general counsel for DeLaval, said the company, which has owned the farm since 2001, chose to sell the farm to save money.
DeLaval will still conduct research at the farm, he said, yet it won’t have to pay costs associated with owning a property.
“It’s just got to the point where we decided it was more cost-effective for us to outsource our functions, our research,” Dake said.
Bill Head said his family and their 13 employees will help DeLaval with some of its research at the Little York farm, and host interns from other countries for the company, but work with DeLaval will only represent about 5 percent of the family’s income at that farm.
Head said most of the family’s income will come from selling milk to the Preble Milk Cooperative. That milk will be used to make Kraft products, such as yogurt and cheese, he said.
Head said in this day and age, with low milk prices, farmers have to produce as much milk with as few employees as they can.
The family’s new farm allows it to produce about 70,000 pounds of milk a day, he said, which is a good amount for the number of employees it has.
The family’s farm in Niles also supplies milk to the Preble Milk Cooperative, Head said, but within the next couple of months the family will stop selling milk from that farm and focus instead on raising heifers.
Head said the family will produce additional revenue at the Little York farm by growing feed, renting out space for nearby farmers to grow their crops and renting office space out to the FARME Institute, a five-employee farm research firm on the farm’s property.
Head said the farm is cutting costs by producing methane to heat its water and its barns. The family’s next goal is to use the methane_to run turbines to produce electricity on the farm, he said.
Head said he and his family may have a big farm that is working with a giant company, but they have modest goals.
“We’d like to be able to feed our family, that’s all.”



County administrator dropped from election suit

Staff Reporter

Attorneys for both sides in the county election commissioners’ lawsuit against the county have agreed the naming of two county officials in the suit is unnecessary.
Democratic Election Commissioner Bill Wood and Republican Election Commissioner Bob Howe are suing the county over the Legislature’s decision in December to even their salaries at $26,384 for 2007.
Ralph Moore, attorney for the commissioners, said he had consented to removing the names of Cortland County Administrator Scott Schrader and county Personnel Director Annette Barber from the lawsuit.
The commissioners had requested the county even their salaries — Wood was paid $25,616 in 2006 while Howe was paid $29,967, based on longevity — to comply with state law, but the suit claims that lowering Howe’s salary mid-term is illegal, and that Wood should be paid retroactively to even his 2006 salary with Howe’s.
Barber and Schrader were named initially because they had played roles in the actions that prompted the suit, but it became clear that their actions and interests were indistinguishable from the county’s, Mohr said.
Greg Gates, an attorney from Binghamton who is defending the county in the suit, agreed.
“As county officers, they’re both just a part of the mix,” Gates said. “Whatever the county’s going to do is going to be followed through upon by all of its employees, so there’s no reason to name them.”
In January, Schrader opted to hire his own attorney, John Corcoran, of Syracuse, to defend his and his office’s interests in the case.
Barber has said she would be willing to proceed with Gates defending her interests, but has reserved her right to seek counsel if her interests became divergent from the county’s.
Corcoran said Friday that because Schrader would likely be removed from the suit, his involvement with the case was finished.
He said he would not bill the county for any time spent on the case.
Schrader could not be reached for comment Friday, but he has said he hired Corcoran to protect him from the outset of the suit, should the suit be amended at any point to name him in his personal capacity, rather than his capacity as administrator.
“I heard that the county administrator had said that he might be named personally, but that was never contemplated or intended,” Mohr said.


Lawman of Year Award presented Monday

Staff Reporter

Three officers from local police agencies have been nominated for Cortland Elk’s Club annual Lawman of the Year Award.
This year’s candidates are Sgt. William Carpenter, of the city police department, Capt. Roy Lewis, of the County Sheriff’s Department and Trooper Steven Bilodeau, of the State Police.
The heads of each department nominated the candidates for their service in a letter to the Cortland Elk’s Club.
City police Chief James Nichols said in his letter he nominated Carpenter for multiple cases he has been involved in, including investigating a high profile child abuse case in which Judy Gratton was arrested and later convicted of starving her 5-year-old son.
“Sergeant Carpenter was able to obtain a detailed voluntary statement from the children’s mother, which played a crucial role in her prosecution,” Nichols wrote. “Due to Sergeant Carpenter’s immediate intervention in this case, he affected the rescue of three children from a life of squalor, saving the life of at least one.”
Sheriff Lee Price nominated Lewis from his department for this year’s award based on a long career of service. In his letter, Price said Lewis has been an exceptional leader while being in charge of the Cortland County Jail, and pointed out that after 26 years with the department Lewis is scheduled to retire this year.
“The dedicated officers that work in Correctional Facilities seem to be forgotten lawmen,” Price wrote. “Day after day and year after year, though confronted with extreme dangers and abuse, they strive to produce a better person than the inmate that was given to them.”
Capt. Lawrence Jackmin, of the State Police, said in his letter that he nominated Bilodeau not only because he is an “outstanding road trooper,” but also for the 28-year veteran’s outstanding actions during an incident where a man with a loaded gun was threatening to kill himself.
“Trooper Bilodeau was faced with an extremely dangerous situation where he clearly demonstrated his skills, dedication and heroism above and beyond the call of duty,” he wrote. “Unassisted, Trooper Bilodeau entered the garage and began to speak with the distraught man, who was seated, holding a loaded .380 handgun to his head … (Bilodeau) calmly continued his dialogue, ultimately convincing the man to put down the weapon. Trooper Bilodeau’s actions certainly saved the man’s life.”
The award’s winner will be announced at the Elk’s Lodge at 9 Groton Ave., Cortland, during a banquet on Monday evening.