December 7, 2006

‘He just likes having something to do’

Homer man spends his days at Price Chopper collecting can tabs

Steve Malchak

Bob Ellis/staff photographer    
Steven Malchak, of Homer, sorts cans near the recycling machine at Price Chopper in Cortlandville Tuesday afternoon. Malchak raises money by snapping off the tabs before the cans are redeemed. Malchak also cleans up carts and folds boxes at the store.

Staff Reporter

CORTLANDVILLE — Customers may not notice him as they hurry their carts into the store or feed cans and bottles into recycling machines, but he’s there every day of the week, working away.
Steven Malchak, 84, of Homer, has gone to Price Chopper in the Cortlandville Crossing Shopping Plaza every day from about 1 to 7 p.m. since May to collect can tabs, fold beer and soda boxes and clean up papers from carts.
While he recently found out his tab collecting — which has amounted to more than 60,000 tabs — doesn’t have as much of an effect as he thought it did, he said he’s still happy to help out in any way he can, keep busy and run into people he knows.
“You meet a lot of nice people,” he said.
Malchak said he started going to the grocery store to collect can tabs in January when he was living in Florida. He heard they could be redeemed for money for good causes, such as dialysis machines, so he took up the hobby of collecting them.
When he returned to Cortland in May, he started going to Price Chopper to collect the tabs. As people stop to talk to him or put their cans in a recycling machine, he asks them if he can take some of their can tabs as they work or have some of their cans to get tabs from and later recycle.
Malchak said he has given his more than 60,000 tabs to the Homer Fire Department, where he is a volunteer.
One of the other volunteers — Kathy Keegan — transports his tabs, as well as tabs the fire department collects, to a friend, who transports them to a friend, who transports them to a friend, etc. The tabs eventually go to a charity, she said, which redeems them for money.
Keegan said she was not sure what charity the tabs went to, but that she thought it was the Kidney Foundation or the Ronald McDonald House in Syracuse.
Jennifer Saraceni, director of development for the Ronald McDonald House in Syracuse, said the organization is the only charity in the area that collects can tabs, as far as she knows.
“We get a lot of tabs from people that have collected them for dialysis but (the Kidney Foundation) doesn’t take them,” she said.
A Syracuse recycler pays the Ronald McDonald House 40 cents per pound of can tabs, she said, and the charity uses that money toward its programs.
About 1,200 can tabs make up a pound, according to various Web sites, so Malchak’s 60,000 tabs are worth about $20.
Malchak said he thought his tabs were worth about $15,000 — or 25 cents a piece — and that they went toward a kidney dialysis machine.
He said he is disappointed the tabs bring in a lot less money than he thought, but he still will collect them anyway.
The Ronald McDonald House helps people and any amount of money he can get them helps, he said. Plus, going to Price Chopper to volunteer is good for him, he said.
“I might as well (keep going),” he said. “It keeps you busy.”
Malchak not only collects the tabs, but folds boxes people have left on the ground, put in the garbage or don’t have time to fold, and puts them in a bin for Price Chopper workers.
On Monday afternoon, as Malchak bent over, picked up a box, folded it up and bent it both ways, he explained the importance of the bending step.
“If you don’t (bend the boxes), they spring right up,” he said.
He also throws away stray papers in shopping carts, he said. He said he likes to help out new Price Chopper employees.
“I don’t want to see them get fired because they’re not doing their job, you know,” he said.
Michelle Murphy, who works in the store’s playroom, said Malchak has always been very friendly and generous toward Price Chopper customers and employees alike.
“He talks to the cart guys while they are changing the bottles,” she said. “Sometimes he’ll come out and buy the pastry pies from Aldi’s and he’ll bring them to us.”
Malchak’s wife, Florence, 88, said her husband, who recently retired after decades as a garbage collector and in the pallet business, has always been a friendly and active person.

“Well of course he worked up until four or five years ago, and then he started collecting wood for his fireplace,” she said. “He talks to (people). He’s a great talker. He just likes having something to do.”



C’ville accepts Wal-Mart environmental impact review

Staff Reporter

CORTLANDVILLE — The proposed Wal-Mart Supercenter cleared another hurdle Wednesday night, despite the lingering concerns of a local environmental group.
After more than a year and a half, the state environmental impact review process has been completed to the satisfaction of the Town Board. Wal-Mart still has to complete the town’s project approval process, as those for other state agencies.
The Town Board, as lead agency, issued its Finding Statement for the Final Environmental Impact Statement prepared by Wal-Mart’s engineering firm, and unanimously agreed that the requirements of the State Environmental Quality Review Act had been satisfied.
More than 40 residents sat in attendance, spilling out of the board’s meeting chambers and into the adjoining courtroom.
The project has been referred back to the town Planning Board for a recommendation regarding the Planned Unit Development designation that Wal-Mart has applied for to build a roughly 200,000-square-foot Supercenter on a 33.7 lot on Route 13. The Aquifer Protection Permit application is also going to be referred to both the town and county planning boards for their recommendations.
The next regularly scheduled Town Planning Board meeting is Dec. 26.
Town Attorney John Folmer stressed that two or three additional public hearings are necessary before the process laid out in the town’s ordinances are complete.
In addition to the PUD and Aquifer Protection Permit applications, Wal-Mart also must receive the consent of the state Department of Environmental Conservation and the state Department of Transportation.
Following those approvals, the Town Board would still have to approve the final site plan, as well as the subdivision for the two outparcels that Wal-Mart has said will be occupied by office or retail space.
Folmer also took time to clarify that although the Town Board has certainly reviewed the comments submitted by citizens, and especially the group Citizens for Aquifer Protection and Employment, since the board accepted the FEIS as complete on Nov. 6, no official public comment period is provided for under the SEQRA regulations.
Town Supervisor Dick Tupper said he had reviewed all of the correspondence from both CAPE and individuals.
During the meeting, Town Board member John Proud reviewed and responded to the concerns that CAPE had provided the town and identified many as outside the purview of the environmental review process.
“The purpose of the Environmental Impact Statement is just that, to review environmental impacts, identify environmental impacts,” Proud said, “and then address mitigation in as high a degree as possible … I think that these issues have been addressed, or will be addressed when we get into the site plan (review).”
Concerns regarding the protection of Otter Creek were addressed by Wal-Mart when the site boundary was adjusted to minimize the impact on the stream corridor, Proud said, adding that applicants are only responsible for flooding on their property.
CAPE’s concerns over the economic impact of the project on the surrounding communities are also not appropriate to the SEQR process, Proud said.




Homer man spends his days at Price Chopper collecting can tabs

Staff Reporter

HOMER — The Town Board Wednesday preliminarily approved building a wheelchair-accessible elevator outside the northeast part of Town Hall as well as renovating the courtroom.
The votes, which were 4-1 and 5-0, respectively, give Randy Crawford, a Syracuse-based architect, the go-ahead to expand upon drawings of those options.
At a later point, the board will vote to officially approve the work and decide whether a house to the north of the Town Hall should be razed.
Trustee Dan Weddle made the motion for an outside elevator at the northeast part of Town Hall. He said an outdoor elevator would keep space free inside the Town Hall.
“You’re going to need all the space you can get,” he said.
Trustees Kevin Williams and Brian Young agreed, and so did Town Supervisor Fred Forbes.
Barry Warren was the only trustee who voted against the motion, preferring an inside elevator at the southwest part of the building that would go up through Forbes’ office.
Warren said he thinks an elevator toward the building’s front would encourage more people to use the building’s “beautiful stairs.”
The outdoor elevator to the northeast would cost roughly $211,000, according to an estimate provided by Crawford at a Nov. 2 public hearing on Town Hall renovations.
That was the most expensive option proposed, with estimates for other options at about $140,000.
The board unanimously approved renovating the Town Hall’s courtroom, which is at the far east side of the building, as opposed to building a new one on the Town Hall’s stage level.
The stage level, which is not currently being used, is about 3 feet higher than the building’s second floor level.
The board decided concerns over security, accessibility and cost of a stage-level courtroom merit keeping the courtroom where it is.
Instead, the board would like to renovate the courtroom by increasing its number of seats from 25 to 49, and increasing space for a meeting room for attorneys, the storage room and the bathroom.
Crawford has estimated renovations to the courtroom would cost about $250,000.