Dryden farm family looks to the future

Stuttle family will continue to operate 420-acre farm on Livermore Road with help from state grant


Photos by Joe McIntyre/staff photographer   
Lewis and Linda Stuttle stand outside their hilltop Lew-Lin dairy farm in Dryden. The Stuttle’s son Steven is taking over the 420-acre dairy farm on Livermore Road, in part with the aid of a state grant that will buy the farm’s development rights to preserve the land as agricultural.

Staff Reporter

DRYDEN — Steven Stuttle could have stayed in Pennsylvania after college, but his family’s dairy farm brought him home.
“My heart’s been here, and she knows it,” said Stuttle, 34, looking at his wife across the kitchen table during a work break Thursday afternoon.
Lisa Stuttle, 42, moved to Dryden 10 years ago with her husband and although she had no farm experience, she said she’s come to embrace living on a farm, too.
“It’s a more meaningful life,” she said.
The couple are looking to take over Steven Stuttle’s parents’ 420-acre farm on Livermore Road within the next year; if it weren’t for a state grant they were awarded a week ago for their development rights, that dream might not become a reality, the family says.
Lewis Stuttle, 65, who co-owns the Lew-Lin Farm with his wife, Linda, 63, said a tough market for small, family farmers and development pressure have pushed dairy farms out of the town.
The town of Dryden had about 16 farms when the couple bought the farm from the Livermore family in 1964, he said, but now only a handful of farms exist.
Those farms have been replaced by housing developments — about 40 nearby houses have been constructed within the last year, he said — and growth around Tompkins Cortland Community College and along Route 13.
“That’s all encroaching on our property,” Stuttle said.
From 1985 to 2002 Tompkins County saw its acreage of farmland drop by about 9 percent, from 111,000 to 101,000, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
During that same period, Cortland County saw its acreage of farmland drop by about 14 percent, from 148,000 to 127,000.
Development has not only changed the landscape visually, but it’s also made the area less peaceful and clean, Steven Stuttle said.
“They litter,” he said. “You know, college kids.”
Lewis Stuttle said a number of developers have offered to purchase the family farm in the recent past, but the family has turned them down.
He said the family wasn’t sure it would be able to resist offers forever,  but now that it’s receiving financial help from the state it must. The state Farmland Protection Program’s Environmental Protection fund — the fund providing the money — restricts the land to agricultural use.
Once the Stuttles sell their development rights to the town and county, they will have about $700,000 to invest in the farm.
The money will help the family buy new equipment, new cows and new land to keep the farm thriving, the family said. Currently, the farm has 500 cows, 250 of which are heifers, Linda Stuttle said. The farm also has several bulls.
The family hopes to continue to sell semen from its bulls to countries such as China, Saudi Arabia, Russia and Japan.
The family also sells bulls to other countries, but that’s becoming less popular with high shipping costs and the increasing popularity of embryo selling.
Lewis Stuttle said he hopes the farm will eventually expand into embryo selling, a fast-growing and relatively cheap practice. Embyros would be removed from cows and shipped to buyers. Those buyers would transfer an embryo into a cow for the remainder of embryo’s gestation period.
New products should help the farm produce enough revenue to offset low milk prices, Lewis Stuttle said.
“It’s a tough business to be in,” he said. “You gotta’ have another source of income.”
Linda Stuttle said the farmland protection money will help the family embark on new ventures. It will help ensure the younger Stuttles, including their 8-year-old daughter, Selena, don’t have to leave the life Lisa Stuttle has grown to love.
“She’s a true farm girl,” she said.


Buckbee owners agree to cleanup

Staff Reporter

CORTLAND — Around-the-clock security at the Buckbee-Mears facility should be in place within a day, as the India-based owners of the facility have agreed to handle the cleanup of hazardous chemicals being stored in the building.
Representatives of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency met last week with lawyers for International Electron Devices, which is based in New Delhi, to discuss a consent order from the EPA requiring the company to clean up the chemicals, and, in essence, IED has agreed to comply.
“We’ve spoken with the company and they should be taking care of the issues shortly,” EPA spokesman Ben Barry said Monday. “As of today, they’re supposed to have posted 24-hour security at the site, which is something we will need to confirm as soon as possible.”
IED is contacting security firms and hopes to have security in place very soon, said Tom Fucillo of _the Menter Law Office in Syracuse, the attorneys handling the situation for IED.
IED is trying to find a security company that can handle the job on short notice, Fucillo said.
The EPA would be looking to verify that security was onsite within the next couple of days, Barry said.
Assuming IED is compliant, Barry said, the next deadline the company faces is Nov. 6, by which it must submit a removal plan for the chemicals.
Fucillo said IED had been hopeful that the facility could still be used, and the chemicals could remain on site.
“The owners all along have intended that the site be utilized for the same type of thing it was doing previously, and they were hoping to use those chemicals,” Fucillo said.
Fucillo couldn’t comment on IED’s current intentions for the facility.
Since the facility closed in May 2005, city officials have been left to speculate what IED might do with the building.
Cortland County Business Development Corp. Executive Director Linda Hartsock has said she has heard the company is looking to sell the facility to another company in the aperture mask industry.
Aperture masks are a component of color television tubes and were produced at the factory before it closed.
If that fails, Hartsock has said, IED is considering signing a marketing agreement with an unnamed international real estate company that would market the site to other industries.


Salvation Army to open in former Peck’s store

Staff Reporter

CORTLANDVILLE — The Salvation Army plans to move into the former Peck’s Furniture building and hire up to 14 new employees by March.
The nonprofit bought the property at the intersection of Routes 281 and 13 for $1.3 million about a month ago, said Jennifer Halpard, administrator for the Salvation Army Binghamton Adult Rehabilitation Center.
“Well, our present building is undersized — we could use more space — and the Peck building … is a nice building,” she said.
The current Salvation Army store is located at 3975 Route 281 in Cortlandville. It consists of 9,000 square feet, 6,700 of which comprise the sales floor, compared with the new location’s 19,800 square feet, 19,000 of which comprise the sales floor.
With the additional space, the Salvation Army will expand its clothing offerings, which account for 65 to 70 percent of its store income.
The Salvation Army will also expand its bric-a-brac and furniture selection, Halpard said.
“We’ll try to get it as full as possible,” she said about the store.
Perry Rindenow, district manager for the Salvation Army Binghamton Adult Rehabilitation Center, said the store will more closely resemble the Salvation Army in Ithaca.
“A lot of what we’re doing in Cortland is what we did in September 2004 in Ithaca,” he said. “We went both from a building that didn’t meet our needs for sales, size and processing, and we went to a building that did.”
Halpard said all income produced from sales goes toward a drug rehabilitation program in Binghamton. The program helps 65 men live in a rehabilitation center for nine months, she said. Eight other regional Salvation Army stores contribute to the program as well, she said.
Rindenow said the new store will no longer have to send its donations to Binghamton to be processed.
“We’re going to be a self-sufficient store where we’re going to process local donations as opposed to feeding from the store in Binghamton,” he said.
Halpard could not be reached this morning to provide a figure for the store’s annual income.
As a result of the store’s expansion, it will be increasing its staff of six to about a staff of 20, he said. Those employees will consist of part-time and full-time workers; the store has already started the hiring process, he said.
Halpard said the new store has a better location than the old one. It’s “in a very busy part of Cortland,” at a busy intersection near Wal-Mart, she said.
“We’re hoping that’s a good thing,” she said.
Halpard said the new store will have an aesthetically pleasing and people-friendly look.



Groton schools work on wellness policy

Staff Reporter

GROTON — The Groton Central School District is developing two new policies, a wellness plan and a new evaluation process for school administrators.
The Board of Education discussed the issues at its meeting Monday evening.
Dave Remick, the school athletic director, said the school’s Wellness Plan would be compiled using a federal Student Health Index plan.
“A Student Health Index is a self-assessment, data-gathering kind of guide,” Remick told the board. “It would identify the strengths and weaknesses right now, and give us an idea of where we wanted to go with this.”
Remick said graduate students from SUNY Cortland would help with the plan and Groton students will provide input beginning in January. He was unsure when the policy would be completed.
Superintendent of Schools Brenda Myers described a new procedure for evaluating the performance of administrators.
The process involves annual goal setting and self-reflection by each administrator, as well as the compilation of a portfolio of achievements in working with faculty and staff. The process also involves assessing priorities and relationships.
Myers said the qualities administrators need to have are integrity, fairness and ethics.
Board Vice President Miriam Zubal supported the assessment.
“Very good, very comprehensive. It covers everything,” Zubal said, before adding, jokingly, “I’m going to use this in my business.”