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Bronxville Branch of HSBC Escapes Cut in $1 Billion Deal PDF Print Email


August 17, 2011:  Tucked away between Underhills Crossing and Papyrus on Pondfield Road, the HSBC Bronxville branch is one of the smallest of the village's eight banks.

It might have won a more prominent place in the sun had it been among the 195 branches that First Niagara Bank, based in Buffalo, NY, has just acquired in the lower Hudson Valley in a $1 billion sale.  Four of the HSBC branches in Westchester will become First Niagara banks--the branches in Bedford Hills, Mount Kisco, Ossining, and Yorktown Heights.

In keeping with its low profile, HSBC Bronxville declined to provide an explanation for its survival.  Nor were any data on depositors, assets, or other aspects of the business provided.  The manager of the bank, Tanya Norris, referred all questions to Neil Brazil, HSBC's vice president of public affairs for North America, in Mettawa, Illinois.  He replied that the information was proprietary.  Asked for rental and other information, Jonathan B. Ford, the property manager, declined to answer.

HSBC Bronxville branch is a taxpayer, but the amount of taxes it pays is unavailable, according to Robert Fels, village treasurer, because it is part of a larger parcel.  That parcel, the other occupants of which were not disclosed, is the property of an off-site owner, Petrillo Family Three of Yonkers.  Asked for rental and other information, the property manager declined to answer.

Apparently, to dispel any lingering air of mystery, a 450-word notice in tiny type has now been posted in the doorway of the bank. It reads in part:

HSBC Bank USA has been undergoing a review ... to reposition our businesses around our vision to become the leading international bank.  Consistent with [this] strategy, HSBC has been conducting an analysis of its retail branch network to align the size and locations of our US branches with those markets with strong international connectivity.  HSBC [will] sell all retail branches in Upstate New York [and] four branches in Westchester County, two in Putnam County ... and six in Connecticut to First Niagara Bank.

If your accounts are not held in one of the impacted branches, this announcement will not affect any of your current banking arrangements.

The bank hearkens back to Hong Kong and Shanghai, where branches were first opened in 1865 and The Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation was established.  Its initial purpose was to finance the growing trade among Europe, India, and China, and it focused on expanding in China and the rest of the Asia-Pacific area throughout the rest of the 19th century.

In the 20th century the bank continued to expand into other continents, growing significantly in the US and the UK primarily through acquisitions, including the acquisitions of Midland Bank in the UK and Marine Midland Bank and Republic National Bank of New York in the US.  In 2002 it acquired Household Finance Corporation (renamed "HSBC Finance"), which was closed in 2009 as a consequence of the subprime lending crisis, resulting in the loss of 6,000 jobs.

The bank was restructured in 1991 due to the planned transfer of sovereignty of Hong Kong to China.  HSBC Holdings plc was established as the parent company of The Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation for the purpose of taking over Midland Bank in the UK, and it relocated its world headquarters from Hong Kong to London.  "HSBC" was established as a uniform, international brand name in 1999.

HSBC Holdings plc through its group of affiliates now has offices in Africa, the Americas, Asia, and Europe, calling itself the "world's local bank."  It is the world's second-largest banking and financial services group and second-largest public company, with assets of $2.418 trillion as of June 30, 2010 (Forbes magazine).

Pictured here:  The Bronxville branch of HSBC on Pondfield Road.

Photo by N. Bower

Former Concordia College Baseball Star Mike Aviles Traded to Boston Red Sox PDF Print Email


August 10, 2011: On Saturday, July 30, former Concordia baseball player Mike Aviles was traded from the Kansas City Royals to the Boston Red Sox and promptly appeared as shortstop, going 1-3 and scoring a run.

In a matter of 24 hours, Aviles found himself in the midst of the American League East pennant race. And even better for him, he played in his old New York stomping grounds last weekend when the Red Sox took on the Yankees at Yankee Stadium.

As soon as the report hit the media on Saturday that Aviles had been traded to the Red Sox, his cell phone lit up with congratulatory text messages from friends and family.

"I've gotten like nine million texts and phone calls over the last few days," Aviles said this week. "They are definitely happy for me, but they have been joking and saying 'don't talk to me' and stuff like that. The Yankee fans say they will cheer for me, but they won't wear my jersey..."

Aviles, 30, began playing baseball in the Castle Hill section of the Bronx and his grandparents lived only a few blocks from Yankee Stadium. He starred in high school at Middletown High School in Orange County, New York, and then at Concordia College, where he proved formidable as a power hitter and infielder/outfielder.

Red Sox manager Terry Francona was quoted after the trade as saying that Aviles could see time in the outfield, a position he hasn't played since his days at Concordia. Francona also told Boston reporters that the Red Sox have liked Aviles for some time because of his versatility - he has played second base, third, and shortstop, and he has potential power.

Aviles, an NCAA All-America player at Concordia, was drafted in the seventh round in 2003 by Kansas City. He made his major league debut in May 2008 and hit .325 that season. Aviles was the Royals' player of the year and finished fourth in the AL rookie of the year voting. He batted .304 last season after returning from major elbow surgery.

Concordia College, which has an outstanding baseball tradition, has had a number of players picked in the Major League Baseball draft and featured former Clipper stars John Doherty, a pitcher in the '90s for the Detroit Tigers out of Eastchester High School, Scott Leius, a shortstop for the Minnesota Twins who hit a game-winning home run in the 1991 World Series, and Dell Alston, from Yonkers High School, who played for the 1977 World Series Champion New York Yankees.


Representatives from Concordia and Iona Colleges Present $1,200 Check amd Canned Goods to Eastchester CAP Food Pantry PDF Print Email


August 3, 2011:  On Thursday, July 28, representatives from Concordia and Iona colleges handed over a $1,200 check and many canned goods to support the Eastchester Community Action Project (ECAP) Food Pantry. Kathleen Hymes, from the registrar's office at Concordia, and Regina Reilly, from the admissions office at Iona, presented ECAP area director Charlene Lambrecht with the contributions.

The money and food items were donated through an inaugural charity softball game played at Concordia College's softball complex by the faculty and staff of Concordia and Iona colleges.  "We are so grateful for the support and awareness that [were] brought to our organization through this effort.  There are so many in the community who struggle to provide for their families," said Ms. Lambrecht.

Each month the ECAP Food Pantry, through partnerships with local food banks, distributes food to more than 100 families living far below the poverty line.  While canned food drives are prevalent throughout the holidays, ECAP points out that there is a growing year-round need for offerings that is often overlooked.  ECAP notes that nearly 25% of Westchester County residents live below the poverty line and over 3,000 are homeless.  ECAP says that last year over 5 million meals were served in Westchester, about half served to children.

Aside from the food pantry, ECAP hosts an after-care program and summer camp for low-income families.  The programs focus on fitness and nutrition while providing educational and computer skills.

For more information on the Eastchester CAP Food Pantry, contact Charlene Lambrecht, area director, at 914-337-7768, or email CLOAKING .

Editor's Note:  Eastchester Community Action Program is a component of Westchester Community Opportunity Program, Inc.

Pictured here:  (L to R) Kathleen Hymes and Regina Reilly present ECAP area director Charlene Lambrecht with their collective contributions.

Photo by Flladi Kulla

Bronxville Career Network to Explore Entrepreneurship at August 3 Meeting PDF Print Email

July 27, 2011:  "To Be or Not to Be an Entrepreneur" will be the focus of the Wednesday, August 3, meeting of the Bronxville Career Network (BCN).

The guest speaker will be Persephone Zill, program specialist and business counselor at the Women's Enterprise Development Center of Westchester County (WDEC).  The meeting begins at 7:15 pm at The Reformed Church of Bronxville and is open to anyone seeking work, making a career change, or starting or growing a business.

Zill is an expert in training and counseling for entrepreneurship.  She will discuss:

• General traits of a successful entrepreneur
• A 12-point plan for starting your own business
• Resources available at WEDC

WEDC helps Westchester area residents learn to successfully start or grow a business through classes and workshops, individual counseling, webinars, ongoing technical assistance, and access to capital information.  WEDC's programs address the needs of entrepreneurs at all stages of business development.  For upcoming WEDC events, visit

At the August 17 BCN meeting there will be group discussion about the August 3 presentation as well as an open discussion of various topics suggested by attendees.

The Bronxville Career Network is a volunteer-operated organization sponsored by The Reformed Church of Bronxville.  Its mission is to support people who are taking their careers to the next level, whether they are in career transition, in entrepreneurship, or in a current business that is growing.

Members develop their skills through guest presentations, small group discussions, and informal networking opportunities.  The group meets twice each month at The Reformed Church of Bronxville.  Membership is free and all are welcome.  Unless otherwise noted, all meetings take place from 7:15 to 9:30 pm in the Edwards Room at the church.

For further information, email BCN facilitator Pat Drew at CLOAKING or call 914-588-8243 or visit

Pictured here:  Persephone Zill, speaker at August 3 meeting of the Bronxville Career Network.


Concordia College Announces Dr. Stephanie Squires as Director of New Master of Science Program in Childhood Special Education PDF Print Email


July 20, 2011:  Concordia College announced the appointment of Dr. Stephanie Squires as the new program Director of Master of Science in Special Education; Vicki Ford Professorship in Special Education.

Coming from the College of New Rochelle, Dr. Squires brings a wealth of experience and leadership in the area of special education.  She worked for 14 years in the field and holds a Ph.D. in special education from the University of New Orleans.

In addition to her teaching experience, Dr. Squires has coordinated a number of federal and state grants in special education and has served as a consultant to school districts in several states.  Dr. Squires has served as presenter and panelist at conferences across the country, presenting lectures, papers, and films on such topics as bullying and literacy strategies for learners with autism.

"It is an honor to join Concordia College at such an exciting time in its history," said Dr. Squires.  "Working with our talented faculty, I know that our new special education program will be among the best and will serve our region well."

The program is funded by the Vicki Ford Professorship of Special Education, supported through contributions from Bronxville residents Vicki and Si Ford, who are dedicated to the success of Concordia's programs and facilities, including the college's OSilas Gallery for fine arts.  "Special education and learning differences have been important interests of mine for many, many years," said Vicki Ford.  "Si and I are very happy to share in Concordia's plans to offer graduate teaching degrees in the field.  This is a significant event for Concordia and for the quality of special education instruction in the region."

Concordia College is currently accepting applications for the fall semester for the Master of Science Program, which will train teachers certified in an area other than students with disabilities to teach special education students in grades 1-6.  It is a two-year part-time program leading to an M.S. Ed. degree.  The program combines current theory with practice in the field of special education, offering instruction on classroom management, instructional and assistive technology, development, literacy and mathematics instruction, collaboration, and research in special education.

"Certification in the field is of value to both special education teachers and all classroom teachers, as students with special learning needs and styles are increasingly mainstreamed in the classroom," said Dr. Christine Rowe, dean of the Division of Professional Studies at Concordia.

Pictured here:  Dr. Stephanie Squires, director of Concordia's new master of science program in childhood special education.


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