K&N’s celebrates a year of growth in Fulton

K&Ns
Above, Stephen Dean (left), the company’s warehouse and logistics manager, and finance director Jon McDonald (right) display some of the products made in Fulton. 

By Colin Hogan

With the one-year anniversary of its operations approaching, the leadership at K&N’s Foods USA in Fulton is feeling optimistic about where the company is headed.

Located in the former Birds Eye Foods plant on Phillips Street, K&N’s began setting up shop in Fulton — its flagship operation in the United States — in 2013, and started commercial production on Aug. 4, 2014. By the end of September 2014, it had completed its first sale, and has continued lining up new distributors since.

At its earliest stage it only had two employees and now is up to about 60, with plenty of room in its facilities to continue growing.

The company prides itself on the food it produces, saying its products are “purely different.” Not only does it make foods that are unique to the North American market, but produces them under high quality standards with locally sourced ingredients, which company officials say sets them apart from most other frozen foods.

“Our product is a whole food. We buy ingredients, like for instance chicken, whole. It isn’t mechanically separated meat — it’s an actual chicken leg when we start with it,” said Jon McDonald, the company’s finance director. “One of the things that I, and I think a lot of people, really like about working here is that you can stand behind our food.”

K&N’s line of foods is mostly themed along the cuisine of Pakistan, where the global company is headquartered. K&N’s products are considered to be the frozen foods of choice for millions of people in that region and around the globe.

Company officials in Fulton boast the “premium edge” their foods carry. McDonald said all the chicken the company uses comes from a farm in Fallsburg, N.Y., and a lot of the produce that goes into the food comes from C’s Farm Market in Oswego. The company uses Vermont-based Cabot brand cheese for its cheese-stuffed products, and there is no MSG, no nitrates or nitrites, no preservatives and no trans fat to be found in any of their products. Most of their non-breaded foods are gluten free, as well.

“It all has a premium edge to it, and we won’t compromise on that,” McDonald said. “Any idea that has ever been brought up that would compromise the quality has been shot down immediately.”

The products — which K&N’s sells locally out of its cash and carry outlet at 28 Lakeview Avenue in Fulton — provide an interesting spin on the usual American frozen fare. Its lineup includes everything from seekh kabobs and kofta meatballs to skinless frankfurters (some stuffed with cheese) to not-so-basic chicken nuggets that come packed with a little extra spice and some cilantro. Company officials say that this day and age — with a popular culture growing increasingly interested in both exotic and quality foods — marks an ideal time to be growing K&N’s presence in the North American market.

“It’s an interesting taste, it’s a good taste, and I think America is ready to try something like this,” McDonald said.

According to warehouse and logistics manager Stephen Dean, K&N’s has already begun selling its products through 10 distributors in the U.S. and another two in Canada.

“We’re trying to really branch out in a smart way to ensure the kind of growth we want,” Dean said.

A big part of the company’s growing success, Dean said, is its employees. He said K&N’s places a premium on talented workers, and often looks to its staff for the next great idea.

“Working here isn’t just moving a box — it’s thinking outside the box,” Dean said.

Dean said ideas like opening a cash and carry outlet for the local market, and offering samples at places like the Fulton Speedway and Oswego Harborfest were both ideas that came from the bottom up.

“It was one of our team members who came up with the idea for the cash and carry store, so we sat down and came up with a spot and plan to launch,” Dean said.

Dean stressed that the company sees its employees as a vital investment, and knows the Fulton area has no shortage of talented workers who can help the company grow.

If you haven’t tried any of the fare from K&N’s, you’ll get your chance at Oswego Harborfest today. Officials from the company will have a table set up along Riverwalk East near Alex’s on the Water where they are offering samples of their foods. Samples include their Jumbo Franks filled with Cabot cheese; gluten-free Kofta meatballs in fresh tomato sauce; and their popcorn-sized chicken nuggets filled with Cabot cheese, called Croquettes.

Tops slated to purchase Struppler’s next month

Staff Reports

Upstate New York-based supermarket chain Tops Friendly Markets is currently working through a deal to purchase Struppler’s Shurefine Supermarket on West First Street in South Fulton.

A Tops spokesperson said Monday that the company is currently “going through a process of due diligence” before the deal can be closed. Once that process is complete, the company expects begin operating out of the Struppler’s location in late August.

The store’s current staff members will have the option to continue working there.

“Tops will also be extending the opportunity for all current associates to continue employment at the store,” the company stated.

John Struppler, store owner, said he had been considering the sale since he was approached by Tops late last year and confirmed the arrangement with Tops to maintain continuity through the sale process.

“They [Tops] were impressed with the operation of the store and our personnel,” Struppler said, praising his staff for their professionalism and hard work. “The staff are the ones who do most of the work and take care of our customers.”

Struppler, who also owns stores in Clayton and Warsaw, N.Y., said the grocery store business was requiring him to lose out on time spent with his family and cited the long, seven-days-a-week hours as one of the reasons he’s ready to sell the Fulton location.

Tops’ plans for the change over include some renovations to the facility, the details of which were not available Monday. The company also stated that it would utilize the fueling station currently operating on the Struppler’s site for its gas rewards program.

“Soon enough, Fulton citizens will have a renovat­ed local supermarket with enhanced product variety, a fueling station that utilizes Tops gas points, and more ways to save on their grocery shopping trips,” the company stated.

According the store’s current website, it has been operating under the Struppler’s name since 1990. Prior to that it was known as Angelo’s. In 2008, the switching of distributors changed the store’s name from Big M to Struppler’s Shurfine. It represents one of the last small family-owned grocery stores in the area.

Tops Friendly Markets, which is headquartered in Williamsville, N.Y., had previously operated a store in Fulton at the corner of West First and Oneida streets until selling that location to Price Chopper in October 2005.

Twelve compete in third annual Fulton Idol

Participants in this year's Fulton Idol singing competition, hosted by the Open Doors Neighborhood Center at the First United Church of Fulton, gather after their performances Friday.
Participants in this year’s Fulton Idol singing competition, hosted by the Open Doors Neighborhood Center at the First United Church of Fulton, gather after their performances Friday.

By Matthew Reitz

The third annual Fulton Idol was held at the First United Church of Fulton last week.

The “star-making experience,” hosted by the Open Doors Neighborhood Center, was open to children ages 10-15, and participants worked with vocal coaches throughout the week before performing in competition Friday night.

Open Doors board chair Carol Dexter said Fulton Idol came to be because the center wanted to “do something nobody else was doing” in the area that could engage older adults, families and children. Dexter said she was “absolutely happy” with the turnout this year, but noted that “every year has been good.”

“It was just a positive experience for the entire week,” Dexter said of the event. “Everybody worked extremely hard all week long and it was great.”

Mistress of Ceremonies and Open Door Neighborhood board member Barbara Hubbard said it was great to see all the supporters who came to cheer on the contestants.

“Anyone who participates has really good support and I think that’s wonderful,” Hubbard said.

Dexter said she was pleased to see how many kids had returned to the event after participating in previous years’ competitions.

“What’s nice is there are a lot of repeats coming back,” Dexter said. “They enjoyed the program and wanted to be a part of it again.”

Lisa Kisselstein, a coach for the event, said the kids she worked with were “wonderful” and very responsive to coaching and suggestions.

“I love seeing people that I’ve worked with,” Kisselstein said of the performances. “I love to help them uncover what gifts they have and to help them learn to step out of the comfort zone and into what the fullness of their gifts can be.”

Another coach for the event, Gina Mazolli, said what she enjoyed most was “seeing the camaraderie among the contestants.” She said it was good to see, because getting up on stage to sing and compete is hard to do, “especially in that middle school age.”

“I think the biggest thing the kids will take from this is that they all grew musically, they all learned something, and some of them got over stage fright,” Mazzoli said. “I feel like I had a lot of individual moments with each kid and that I got to create some kind of musical impact on them.”

Eighth-grader Alexis Barth was awarded the top overall prize for her performance of the song “Warrior.” Barth said it “felt good” to win the event. She said last year, she competed and finished fourth, but this year she was determined to improve upon that performance.

“Last year I got fourth, and I felt like I really needed to step up my game this year,” Barth said.

Dexter said Barth also had a lot more confidence this year.

Chloe Hurlbut was voted second place, Vita Dean took third place, Mya Kinder took fourth place, and EvaLynn Dickens took fifth place. Also competing in the event were runners up Jessica Gilmore, Elizabeth Rowland, Serenity Lauckarn, Mikayla Vannorstrand, Madajiaha McLaughlin, Sabastion Lauckarn and Pipe Dunning.

“All of you who competed are winners, and I give you a lot of credit for that,” Hubbard said before handing out the awards. She said she thought it was an accomplishment “just for the kids to get up there” and perform, but noted that this year’s event featured some truly excellent singers.

Community comes together to add to Hulett Park

Pictured, from left, kicking off the playground equipment community build in Hulett Park are Shineman Foundation Executive Director Karen Goetz, Shineman Foundation board member Casey Raymond, Shineman Foundation Board Chairman Barbara Shineman, senior administrative assistant Penny Halstead, Fulton Mayor Ron Woodward Sr., Fulton Parks and Recreation Superintendent Barry Ostrander, and Friends of Fulton Parks board member Kelley Weaver.
Pictured, from left, kicking off the playground equipment community build in Hulett Park are Shineman Foundation Executive Director Karen Goetz, Shineman Foundation board member Casey Raymond, Shineman Foundation Board Chairman Barbara Shineman, senior administrative assistant Penny Halstead, Fulton Mayor Ron Woodward Sr., Fulton Parks and Recreation Superintendent Barry Ostrander, and Friends of Fulton Parks board member Kelley Weaver.
Volunteers pitch in to install the “Skyport Climber,” a new state-of-the-art piece of playground equipment, at Hulett Park in Fulton Friday.
Volunteers pitch in to install the “Skyport Climber,” a new state-of-the-art piece of playground equipment, at Hulett Park in Fulton Friday.

By Matthew Reitz

The Fulton community came together last week to install new playground equipment at Hulett Park on Division Street, with more than 75 people volunteering their time for the project.

Friends of Fulton Parks board member Kelley Weaver said Parkitects, the company the equipment was purchased from, was on site to lead and instruct volunteers in the installation.

The Fulton Department of Parks and Recreation worked with Parkitects and Broadwell Excavating & Construction to complete the heavy-duty portion of the project before volunteers took over.

The Hulett Park project was made possible through a collaborative community fundraising and installation effort, as well as funding from the Richard S. Shineman Foundation.

Shineman Foundation Executive Director Karen Goetz said that having a healthy parks program in Fulton is important. She said when the foundation’s board was considering the project last year, what they found most enticing is that it was “being done primarily with volunteers.”

Barbara Shineman, chairman of the foundation’s board, said “it’s wonderful to see volunteers like this.”

Shineman said she was intrigued by the “long-term benefit” of the project, and that several generations of kids would be able to enjoy the playground with their families.

“It’s for the kids,” she said. “It’s something that’s really worthwhile.”

Weaver said the “Skyport Climber” volunteers installed is the first of its kind in Central New York, and stressed the importance of volunteer work on not only this project, but the community as a whole.

“It’s important for the community to volunteer in order to build a sense of community pride, and it’s an excellent hands-on learning experience for the youth,” Weaver said. “People who want to make a difference in Fulton can do it through events like this.”

Over 75 community members, Friends of Fulton Parks, the Shineman Foundation, Broadwell Excavation & Construction, the Fulton Department of Parks and Recreation, and several other local businesses contributed to the project.

A second phase of the project is tentatively scheduled for about a month from now when the three remaining components arrive, according to Weaver. She said the installation of the “Swiggleknots Bridge,” “Rush Slide,” and “Overhead Trekker” will require 20 volunteers. The equipment vendor will again be on site to supervise the project.

Weaver said anyone interested in volunteering or making a contribution toward this project, or other efforts to improve Fulton’s parks, should contact Friends of Fulton Parks at friendsoffultonparks@gmail.com, or P.O. Box 572, Fulton NY.

Volney updates mass gathering law, adjusts water service budgets

By Matthew Reitz

The Town of Volney approved changes to its mass gathering law last week that regulate any gathering “which is likely to attract 1,000 people or more within a 12-hour period.”  The town also approved budget adjustments for Airport Water Service Areas #2 and #3.

The law puts forth requirements on water supplies, hand washing facilities, parking, noise and planning for first aid and emergency situations at mass gatherings. Permit applicants will need to show the town how they plan to address each of these issues.

Each mass gathering event will be required to staff one maintenance employee for every 400 people in attendance and two security staffers for every 50 people in attendance. Applicants are also obligated to furnish the town with a comprehensive liability insurance policy, and deposit cash or a bond of no less than $100,000.

The town will charge a fee upon submission of the permit application, and collect a gross receipts charge of 3 percent on all sales at the event, including ticket sales. Violations of the law are subject to a fine of not more than $5,000 and not less than $1,000, or imprisonment not to exceed one year, or both.

Exceptions were given to functions sponsored by the Volney Fire Department and at town parks, the Fulton Speedway, school events at Volney Elementary School, and camping events with 250 people or less in a 24-hour period. Events sponsored at town parks and the speedway will not be authorized to hold mass gatherings that provide musical entertainment to the general public without securing a permit.

Town Clerk Barbara MacEwen said several other exemptions were sought, but none were granted.

“There were several of them that wanted to be exempt, but why would you make a local law if you’re going to exempt everybody,” MacEwen said.

The town does have the option to issue a separate permit that releases the applicant from certain conditions.

The town board also voted to place $1,002.55 back into the town’s contingency funds from the bookkeeping budget of Airport Water Service Area #2. The town had originally anticipated $2,000 in bookkeeping costs, but those services were completed for $997.45.

The board also made changes to the budget of the upcoming Airport Water Service Area #3. The net interest budget for the project is anticipated to be lower than the $25,000 that was originally budgeted. The new net interest total is $13,090, and the $11,910 will be placed back into the town’s contingency funds.

The major changes to the budget of Airport Water Service Area #3 are the elimination of the single audit and water meter allotments. The town had originally budgeted $10,000 for a single audit that they now expect to complete outside the scope of the project, according to the resolution. The town will also forgo water meters for the new project at a savings of $23,800.

The changes were made strictly for financial reasons, according to Town Supervisor Dennis Lockwood. He said the audit and the meters could still be included in the project.

“Depending on how the bids come in, everything we took out of it, the meters and things, could go back in,” Lockwood said.

The bids for Airport Water Service Area #3 will be opened on July 24 at 10 a.m.

Greenleaf: Town should move forward with solar project quickly

By Matthew Reitz

A solar power leasing program that would provide the Hannibal Town Hall with electricity was again discussed at length in this month’s town board meeting, with Supervisor Ron Greenleaf urging the board to take action on the opportunity.

Greenleaf said CNY Solar had come in with a lower price after Councilman George Ritchie asked them last month to “sharpen their pencil.” The new price was a half-cent lower per kilowatt hour, which Greenleaf said made quite a difference.

“It’s considerable if you look at the overall savings,” Greenleaf said. “We really need to think about whether we want to do this or not before it goes away.”

Ritchie told Greenleaf he had spoken with Hannibal schools Superintendent Donna Fountain who had expressed interest in learning more about the program. Ritchie said he set up a meeting with representatives from the schools to discuss the possibility of including the district in the project.

“She told me that the school is very much interested in this,” Ritchie said. “I think if we can get the school involved with us, and we can get the fire department involved with us, we can lower the dollar amount.”

Ritchie also said he would “like to see the town look into purchasing a system” because that had the potential to save “a whole lot of money.”

Judge Jack Beckwith reiterated Ritchie’s thoughts. Beckwith said the town has access to low-interest loans that could make purchasing a system more beneficial. Gary Thompson, a candidate for town council, said there were several grants available that could help offset the costs of a system, as well. Thompson said the Town of Floyd purchased a system last year and received grants from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), the New York Sun Initiative, and a competitive capital improvement project that left the town with minimal costs.

“I spoke with the Town Supervisor Willard Streiff and he is completely happy with it,” Thompson said. “They don’t pay anything for electricity and anything extra they produce they capitalize on.”

Greenleaf said he had begun looking into the purchase of a system and discovered that the town could be eligible for grants from NYSERDA and the USDA Rural Energy for America program, but he expressed some concern over stalling the process any further.

“If we keep waiting it could go away,” Greenleaf said.

The board agreed to revisit the project after speaking with the school district and the fire department.

Other news

The board also discussed the town’s updated dog control and zoning laws, a request for a speed limit on Mill Street and approved funding for a recreation program in the town. It also appointed two alternates to the planning board and zoning board of appeals.

Greenleaf told the board the updates made last month to the town’s dog control and zoning laws had to undergo some slight revisions. He said he discovered the laws could not be approved together and must each be adopted separately before they can be sent to the state.

“Before we sent them in to the state we found out we need to do each one separately,” Greenleaf said. The board then unanimously agreed to adopt each of the dog control laws.

Greenleaf said the town’s lawyers had also identified some “improper wording” in the zoning law which needed to be revised.

The new Article 18 is an addition to the town’s zoning laws that will regulate dog facilities. The law sets forth definitions of dog breeding, boarding and sheltering facilities. All three types of facilities will require a special permit to operate in the town. Permits will need to be renewed each year, and the law stipulates owners and operators must allow inspections of the facilities “at any time it is occupied or open for business.”

The law stipulates the size and type of enclosures that can be used, mandatory daily cleaning of facilities, and that all dogs are provided adequate food and water. Facilities are also obligated to provide all dogs with veterinary care and must adhere to heating, cooling and ventilation standards. The law may have an impact on residents who aren’t operating a facility, as any property housing three or more unspayed female dogs will be considered a dog breeding facility and therefore must follow the law in its entirety.

Residents Gary and Rebecca Jeffery sent a letter to the town board requesting a speed limit of no more than 35 mph at the end of Mill Street near Blythe Road. The letter stated that the speed limit would “provide safety to their neighbors and fellow residents,” and mentioned that “many children including the Hannibal track team and school buses frequently use Mill Street.”

The road is currently unposted and carries a 55 mph speed limit. Greenleaf said in the past the board hasn’t acted on such requests until it receives a written petition seeking the change, and it was “up to the board” if it wanted to take any action. Councilman Randy Hendricks said he “would like to see more signatures,” and Greenleaf said he would let the Jeffreys know that.

Representatives of the Hannibal Recreation Program, which Greenleaf said was run through AmeriCorps, asked the board for $200 to help fund programming that focuses on teaching children about health and nutrition. Greenleaf said the town had the money to fund the program and had done so in the past. He also told the board that this program “didn’t just squander” the funds, and has typically returned any unspent money to the town. The board unanimously approved the $200 in funds the program was seeking.

The board received requests from David Eamer and Charles Fadden, who each wished to be considered as alternates for the town’s planning board and zoning board of appeals. Greenleaf suggested the town appoint them, as both boards are in need of alternates. The town board unanimously approved Eamer and Fadden as alternates. Ritchie and Greenleaf asked that anyone else who is interested please notify the board.

Richard “Rick” W. Felt

Richard W. Felt, 51, of Phoenix passed away suddenly Saturday, July 18 at home. Rick was born in Fulton on January 9, 1964 to Richard and Barbara Bowyer Felt, and had resided in the Fulton area his entire life. He enjoyed building scale models of tractor trailers and being outdoors. Richard was predeceased by his father Richard “Dick” C. Felt in March of 1988 and infant granddaughter Aubrey Smith in February of 2014. Rick’s memory will be forever cherished by his wife Laurie Felt of Granby; his mother Barbara DeSantos of Bridgewater, Mass.; four brothers, Terry Felt of Winfield, Pa., William Felt of Baldwinsville, N.Y., Peter Felt of Oswego, N.Y., and Michael Felt of Mexico, N.Y.; four children, Lance Smith of Fulton, Lee Henderson of Dallas, Texas, Robert Smith of Fulton, and Amanda Felt of Fulton; grandson Alexander Chapman of Fulton, and several nieces and nephews. Calling hours are Thursday July 23 from 4 to 6 p.m. with a service to follow at Foster Funeral Home, 910 Fay St., Fulton. Should friends desire, donations in Richards memory may be made to the NRA.

Bradford D. DeRocha, Sr.

Bradford D. DeRocha, Sr., 68, of Hannibal died Wednesday, July 15 at home. Born in Syracuse, Brad had resided in the Hannibal area all of his life. He was a self-employed sheet rocker for over 25 years and also worked for the Town of Hannibal. Bradford belonged to the local Draft Horse and Pony Club and also enjoyed hunting, gardening and going to auctions. Surviving are his wife of 49 years, Kathleen of Hannibal; daughter, Heidi (John) Miller of Hannibal; two sons, Brad Jr. (Darlene) of Cato and Henry (Stephanie) of Hannibal; five grandchildren, Joshua, Alex, Zoey, Eryka and Zenon; his mother, Thelma Dunn; one brother, Douglas; two sisters, Michelle and Beverly; several nieces, nephews and cousins. Calling hours and a service were held Monday, July 20 at Foster Funeral Home, Hannibal.

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