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Shop struggles during road construction

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Photos by Joe McIntyre/staff photographer
The owner of Jordan’s Corner store, Crystal Van Dee, has a change drop for customers to donate to her son’s college fund. A sign on the box read reads, “I may be little but I’m still the boss.” The south Main Street store, which is named after her 4-year-old son, Jordan, has been struggling to stay open. 

By EVAN GEIBEL
Staff Reporter

Although the road work in the south Main Street area has moved onto Page Green Road, Crystal VanDee is still feeling the aftershocks of two summers of construction.
“It’s been a tough road, and I’m still struggling at this point, said VanDee, owner of Jordan’s Corner Store at 180 Main St. “I’m just swimming upstream constantly.”
Since the south Main Street reconstruction began last April, VanDee said she has lost $130,000 in sales, declared Chapter 13 bankruptcy in August, and had even closed the store between Dec. 13 and Feb. 3. She has been in that location for two years.
“I went from a little over $24,000 profit, which was money in my pocket, and then the following year was $5,700. I can show where it went down steadily,” VanDee said. “And it got even worse the last two months in the wintertime.”
After the closing, VanDee said, she reopened the shop and did her best to sell off the groceries she had in stock, but she has been unable to get back on track.
“I do orders on the projected sales, so a lot of times I have to refuse half of my orders because the sales aren’t there,” VanDee said Wednesday. “If it’s toward the end of the month, I have to do smaller orders.”
The shelves are half full, and when one customer inquired about a certain type of soda, VanDee said the item would not be restocked “for a while.”
“I lost a lot of people, and I lost even more because I couldn’t keep stuff in stock,” VanDee said, noting that the number of customers who came in from Cortlandville and Virgil seemed to have tapered to practically nothing. “Even the walk-in people couldn’t get in here — that’s how bad it was.”
Because of money owed for state sales taxes, Jordan’s Corner Store even lost the ability to sell lottery tickets, VanDee said.
The Cortland County Business Development Corp. made a radio announcement that encouraged residents to continue shopping at south Main Street businesses during the construction, VanDee said.
BDC Director Linda Hartsock was unavailable for comment Thursday and Friday.
“I’d like some kind of … recognition for what happened last year. Now I had some prior problems, but the road work put me over the edge,” VanDee said.
In addition to letters sent to President George W. Bush and Gov. George Pataki, VanDee said she has had conversations with Thoma Development Consultants, which administers the city’s economic development program, and Mayor Tom Gallagher.
Linda Armstrong, program manager for Thoma Development, said she has talked with VanDee over the past year and recommended several options, and VanDee is not eligible for some of the grants that have gone to other businesses.
“She was outside the target area for the two particular grants that are going on in the Downtown Development Area,” Armstrong said Thursday. “The district goes to Williams Street on one side, and Frederick Street on the side that she’s on.”
Armstrong said she had suggested a small business loan from the city and administered by Thoma Development, but VanDee said she did not apply for the loan because her credit isn’t very good.
“I did tell her … that if they choose to pursue an application, we certainly will accept an application and it will be up to the loan-committee to approve the loan,” Armstrong said. “Our program is set up to take perhaps more risk than a bank would. However, we have to walk a fine line between a higher risk project and protecting the taxpayers’ funds, and always looking at the potential benefit for the community.”
Armstrong said she would recommend that VanDee look into forming a partnership or ask a relative or friend for help.
Gallagher recommended that VanDee should continue to pursue a small-business loan or perhaps check in with a financial institution.
VanDee feels the city needs to do something to help her out of the financial troubles, for which it may be partially responsible.
“I can certainly feel what she’s going through, but if we had to do that we’d have to take care of every single person down there that had a business problem,” Gallagher said Friday. “We had to do the construction. And we certainly hope that with the new construction on the street, that things will go quite nicely for her … and all the businesses down there.”
VanDee said she will stay in business as long as she can because the store is named after her son Jordan, who turned 4 on Wednesday.
A change receptacle sits on the counter, topped by a miniature-toilet that makes flushing sounds and is labeled “Jordan’s College Fund.”
“I have many, many people who come in and ask, ‘What are you doing, are you going out of business?’ And I tell them I’m going to keep plugging as long as I can,” VanDee said.

 

 

Cause of death determined in crash

MARATHON — An autopsy determined that the driver of a 2001 Freightliner box truck found in a field off Route 11 died of natural causes Friday morning.
According to state police, Dr. James Terzian of Wilson Regional Memorial Medical Center in Johnson City, determined that Carl D. Resier, of 540 Jennings Creek Road in Killawog, died of a heart attack behind the wheel.
Resier was traveling north on Route 11 in Marathon in a Square Deal Machining truck, also of Route 11 in Marathon, when he veered off the west side of the road and into a field. Police said Resier drove over an embankment and through a creek before striking an old building foundation and coming to a stop.
Neighbors said they heard a crash at around 7:15 a.m. but upon investigating couldn’t see what had caused the noise. The truck sat approximately 75 yards off the road, behind trees and weeds, until a local businessman called Square Deal Machining. The company then called 911 at 8:02 a.m.
Resier had reportedly told coworkers early that morning that he wasn’t feeling well, police said.