April 22, 2007

Showcase highlights the positive

More than 100 businesses, groups on display at 23rd annual event


Cathie Bisha, left, director of day habilitation at J.M. Murray Center is dressed as a pirate as she speaks with Cortland resident Laura Moulton Saturday during the 23rd annual Cortland County Chamber of Commerce Business Showcase at the J.M. McDonald Sports Complex. The J.M. Murray Center/Employment Connection’s booth, themed “Hidden Treasures of Cortland County,” was given the best nonprofit booth award.

Staff Reporter

CORTLANDVILLE — The 23rd annual Cortland County Chamber of Commerce Business Showcase held at the J.M. McDonald Sports Complex Saturday showed off thriving businesses and nonprofits and eager new businesses in more than 100 displays.
“We try to focus on what’s going right in Cortland,” Garry VanGorder, executive director of the Chamber of Commerce, said of the Business Showcase. “A lot of people are working hard in the business community. There are a lot of positive stories.”
One example is Bangles, Bags & Bling, a small company relocating to 839 Route 13, South Cortland (Indacom Place) from the Clocktower building, which burned in April 2006.
Owners Jodie Wainwright and Bonnie Calzolaio were ecstatic about winning the 2007 Outstanding Exhibit award for a small business. Awards were given out Friday evening during the preview party.
Their store is scheduled to open May 1. Brightly colored handbags, jewelry and other accessories decorated their booth. Dots in all colors cut out from construction paper were spread across a black backdrop to their showcase.
Wainwright said they wanted to open a year after the fire, but re-establishing the business took longer than expected.
“It’s a very elegant atmosphere,” Wainwright said of their new home in Indacom Place, the former Smith Corona factory. Their husbands spent seven months of nights and weekends working on the new space.
Another small business that was eye-catching was Linda Pearson’s A Kaleidoscope of Quilts. Quilts were displayed around and on a single bed. Pearson said her husband is also working on a building to house her fabric and notions for quilt-making.
A home economics teacher in Marathon, Pearson also teaches classes on making quilts from her home at 6258 Little York Lake Road in Little York. Her new building will be next door at 6270 Little York Lake Road.
“I will have a tea room so the hubbies can sit while the women indulge themselves in fabric,” Pearson said.
The winner for best nonprofit booth was the J.M. Murray Center/Employment Connection with a treasure hunt theme.
Wendy Claiser, business liaison for the merged agencies, said this was the first year of the merger. She said the agencies deal with “people with barriers to employment.”
“That’s how we came up with hidden treasures,” she said of their theme. Tropical flowers, palm trees, a treasure chest and pirate outfits were part of their display. The group also had a treasure map, with various steps toward “employment treasures.”
Claiser said Brianna Goff, team leader for Employment Connection; Molly Riley, assistant director for service development; and Shannon Howitt, head of service coordination, were also part of the team that came up with the theme.
The nonprofit passed out the treasure maps and gold-colored chocolate coins.
“That’s a nice booth. I knew they would win when they were setting it up,” said Jeff Bradley, from NAPA Auto Parts. He and Rich Borra, owner of O’Shea Tire & Service Center, said their booth was unique in that five auto care businesses came together to form a group called the NAPA Auto Care Center. The other auto service centers in the group are Tallmadge Tire, Byron’s Service Center, Main Street Auto and Hartley’s Auto Service.
With a display of doors and windows, Builder’s Best Do It Center captured the Outstanding Exhibit award for a large business during the showcase.
The showcase preview party Friday night attracted 700 people, VanGorder said. That figure is comparable to last year’s figure. Shortly after the showcase opened at 10 a.m. Saturday, a long line formed in front of the ticket area. Officials at the Chamber of Commerce said slightly fewer than 2,000 people attended, compared to last year when slightly more than 2,000 attended. Saturday was a warm, dry day and a year ago an overcast sky and rain attracted more to the indoor event.
“We did a lot of things to try to make it a good family event,” VanGorder said.
Throughout the day, Bob the Builder, SUNY Cortland mascot the Red Dragon, Clifford the Big Red Dog, the J.M. Murray Toothbrush, the Stork Express and Mighty Molar wandered between the artificial turf and smaller bare floor areas of the showcase and the cooler ice arena. A magician, Jason the Entertainer, also was on hand to entertain the crowd.
Shauna Brug, a Cortland resident, brought her son, Christopher MacDuffee, who was fascinated by the magician, to the showcase. Jason the Entertainer did a sleight-of-hand trick with a card, putting it by one of Christopher’s ears and pulling it from the other one. Christopher had him do it again after Christopher tried to imitate the trick by trying to stuff the card in his ear. The entertainer then pulled out an orange balloon to blow up for Christopher.
“I’m fairly new to the community and wanted to see what was here,” Brug said of the Business Showcase, adding she has lived in Cortland for 1 1/2 years.


Sports and Recreation Expo in step with showcase

Staff Reporter

CORTLANDVILLE — The ice arena at the J.M. McDonald Sports Complex turned into a playground for children Saturday during the second annual Sports & Recreation Expo.
Besides the sports complex, other agencies and businesses represented there included Bailey’s Karate, Mid-State Microd Club, the Fitness Gap, Cortland Youth Bureau, Greek Peak, the YMCA and the YWCA.
The event was held in conjunction with the 23rd annual Chamber of Commerce Business Showcase.
Laurie Greene, fitness director at the YWCA, brought two bosu balls with her. With a flat bottom and a curved top, she demonstrated how they could be used for exercise, showing how they worked muscles and could improve balance.
“So many people, as we get older, we start to lose our balance,” she said, noting that one woman in her 70s comes to her bosu classes. “They’re not just for someone young and fit.”
“They’re really cool and innovative. They’re fun,” Greene said.
Several children signed up to try their hand at making a basket from the foul line or for young children, closer to the basketball hoop.
Harold White, who runs the basketball leagues and does personal training at the YMCA, said he was giving out information on all the programs at the YMCA. “I let them know where we are and what activities we have for the kids,” he said.
Jason Teribury, a youth services specialist at the Cortland Youth Bureau, was taking registration forms for programs. One of the things he was promoting was a Cortland Area Communities That Care Youth Conference — a day of inspirational speakers, workshops, activities and food, to be held May 5 at the Holiday Inn. He said children would present some of the workshops.
Tina Faulkner, from McLean, brought her three children. They watched children from the Montague School of Irish Dance perform various Irish dances to music with an upbeat rhythm.
Jack, 4, kneeled on the cold floor to watch the dancers. Jeremy, 6, stood in back of him while watching. Josh, 11, attended to participate in a demonstration with Bailey’s Karate.
“Bailey’s brought us out,” said Tina Faulkner. “It looks like it’s getting bigger every year,” she said of the combined Business Showcase and Sports and Recreation Expo.
As she was taking off her black dance slippers, Kathleen Starr, one of the youngest dancers at age 6 1/2, said she had been dancing at this school since September.
“I like the steps,” she said of the dances and said the music puts her in a happy mood. Kathleen said she was “a little bit” nervous “and it was cold out there.”
She and her father, Bill Starr, were heading over to the business showcase section so she could warm up.
Josh said his favorite activities at the expo were basketball and watching the dancing and a gymnastic demonstration that had just started after the dancing.


Bomb scare closes store

CORTLANDVILLE — The Wal-Mart store on Route 13 was evacuated Saturday morning after a bomb threat and reopened five hours later at about 4 p.m. after bomb-sniffing dogs checked the 100,000-square-foot building, police said.
Cortland County Undersheriff Herb Barnhart said K-9 units from Cornell University and State Police in Oneonta were called in to check the building. Barnhart said the county Sheriff’s Department was assisting the company in following its policy governing responses to bomb threats.
The undersheriff said someone had called the store and said there was a bomb inside that would explode at a certain time.
He declined to say what time the caller had said the bomb would detonate.
Wal-Mart called 911 at 11:09 a.m., Barnhart said this morning, and the Sheriff’s Department responded minutes later. When officers arrived all customers had already been evacuated from the building.
Barnhart said no evidence of a bomb was found.
The Sheriff’s Department notified nearby stores to give them the option of closing. The First Niagara Bank branch closed, but the Price Chopper remained open.
Wal-Mart workers gathered at a picnic table in a grassy area near the bank branch along Route 13.
Company spokesperson Marisa Bluestone said employees evacuated the store in five minutes.
No arrests have been made and police are investigating a few leads, Barnhart said, declining to elaborate.