Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Community Beer Work expansion on hold

          Community Beer Works, 15 Lafayette Ave., has decided against the purchase of a new 15-barrel system that would have allowed for increased production of beer.
           Head Brewer Rudy Watkins had said he and other owners would attend the Craft Brewers Conference in Portland, Ore. in mid-April in pursuit of purchasing such a system. Watkins says that while there was no immediate purchase, there is still a possibility that Community Beer Works will upgrade in the future. 
          “There’s no huge development on the bigger system,” Watkins said. “Things move slowly, as they always do, but we’re working on it.” 
          While they did not purchase a new system, the owners discovered new breweries and learned new techniques at the conference. 
          “We went around and chatted with the hundreds of vendors out on the trade show & some of their offerings will be making it into our processes,” Watkins said. “They're making insanely good and interesting beers out there.” 
          Watkins believes his brewery’s attendance at the conference will be beneficial.  
          “The sessions I attended were super informative,” Watkins said. “Every year's conference is different and has different areas of focus, but I always come back inspired to improve our day to day operations as well as grow our long-term goals.” By Ryan Beiter and Jonny Moran

Refugees help Erie County population grow

          Availability and affordability of housing on the West Side is playing a major role in the increasing refugee population in Erie County.
          Refugee Resettlement agencies such as the International Institute have created a link between available housing and the population increase of Erie County indicated in the 2014 Census. 
Iraqi refugee Nadeen is a new W.S. resident
          A report released by the United States Census Bureau in 2014 showed that the population of Erie County in April 2014 was 922,835, an increase of 952,000 from 2010. According to that same report 12,196 people from other countries moved to Erie County between 2010 and 2014, exceeding the 8,394 residents who moved away.
           Mary Sullivan, self-sufficiency coordinator at the International Institute who is responsible for refugee family budgeting and financial education, points to the fact that the West Side is full of places for refugees seeking a place to live.
           “I think a huge part of what is happening in Erie County and the West Side is attributed to housing availability,” Sullivan said. “Not only are there buildings that are vacant for refugees to come and live in but the prices on these properties are low enough for them to afford.”
           The influx of refugees into Erie County has not only given the county its first positive population increase since the 1960s but it is acting as a resuscitation device for the community itself.
           “Grant Street has come such a long way in the past few years,” Sullivan said. “They are coming into these areas that were once abandoned and giving them life again.” By Ryan Esguerra, Amber Rinard and Dallas Taylor

Businesses, residents taking aim at johns

Grant Street business owners and residents such as barbershop owner Nick LaFornara and PUSH Lead Community Organizer Brenda Miller-Herndan are looking for ways to stop prostitution solicitors. Known on the West Side as johns, those who encourage prostitution are warned by bright yellow signs placed on street poles that they are being watched. Local shop owners feel these taboo practices could negatively affect their businesses, and can only bring more criminal activity to the area. By Jessica Miranda and Ashley Stobnicki

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Marchers push for marijuana legalization

Carol Panzarella, left, marched outside City Hall on April 20 with the Buffalo Marijuana Movement, which is pushing the Buffalo Common Council to consider The Buffalo Medical Marijuana Act. This bill would legalize industrial hemp, medical marijuana, and make marijuana enforcement the lowest law enforcement priority. Panzarella said marijuana is one of the only safe ways she can alleviate her rheumatoid arthritis. By Ryan Beiter and Jonny Moran

Sunday, April 26, 2015

West Side food pantry feeds pets in need

           West Side Pet Clinic, 1245 Niagara St., has started a small food pantry for cats and dogs.
            Pet owners who are in need of cat or dog food can go to the clinic and get an emergency bag of food with no appointment necessary.
            This initiative was inspired by a previous effort to feed pets on the West Side, according to office manager Joe Speranza.
            “There was a church downtown that used to do it but then the church shut down, so we realized that we are in a position to do it,” Speranza said.
            He is excited for this new addition to the clinic and hopes it reaches greater heights once fully set in motion.
            “We want to have enough food at all times, we never want to have to say ‘no’ to anyone,” Speranza said.
            The clinic gave away their first emergency bag of food last week, a four-pound bag of food for a cat and dog.
            Donations are welcomed.
            Those wishing to donate food can find out how on the clinic website or Facebook page. Buffalo CARES, an animal rescue organization, has contributed seven bags of food so far. 
            The clinic wants the pantry to be a success and continue to feed cats and dogs on the West Side.
            “We are hoping to keep this going all year around”, Speranza said. By L'Oreal Adams

Public Espresso plans cafe on Grant Street

Sam Scarcello, co-owner of Public Espresso hopes expansion of his flagship café attracts customers from all over the West Side when its doors open at 368 Grant St.  Public Espresso is known for its signature pour-over method and self-serve stations. Construction on the new venue is underway but in the meantime Public Espresso can be found in the Hotel Lafayette lobby, 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. seven days a week at 391 Washington St. By Steven Cornelio and Omon Ejemai

IN DEPTH: West Side Rowing Club preps for Henley

The West Side Rowing Club is forming teams for the Royal Canadian Henley Regatta, an international competition that takes place annually in St. Catharines, Ontario. Boathouse Director and Head Coach Miles Schwartz said the race attracts the best rowers from around the world. Full story by Jessica Miranda and Ashley Stobnicki