Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Shelters offer health care to homeless

With flu and cold season in full swing, some shelters offer health services, and provide hot meals for hungry people, making the long winter more bearable.Full story

Monday, December 20, 2010

Pridgen sees need to coalesce city leaders

Rev. Darius Pridgen

 Rev. Darius Pridgen has recently been elected to join the City of Buffalo Common Council as representative of the Ellicott District. Brimming with new ideas on how to re-cultivate business in the area, Pridgen is hoping to bring a new outlook to the common council. He plans to work with Niagara District Councilmember David Rivera to bring the Niagara and Ellicott districts together, creating a new sense of pride and stability downtown. Full story

Sunday, December 19, 2010

English programs for immigrants get boost

Tutor and English-language student at First Presbyterian

 The number of English language learners on the West Side is increasing.
Assisting with this is the BELL Network, a committee made up of the Buffalo Public Schools, local resettlement agencies, Buffalo State College, Houghton College and the Refugee Tutoring Project.
 The focus of the network is to expand existing programs and create new programs supporting English language learners, as well as form a larger network linking the various programs in order to help them all work together. Full story

Saturday, December 18, 2010

UB dental school gives care on West Side

 For some Hispanic residents of the lower West Side, finding proper dental care is like pulling teeth. There is limited access to specialty care and to dentists who might be bilingual. That is why for the past seven years the UB School of Dental Medicine faculty and students hold an event to give residents free dental care and oral cancer screenings. Full story

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Peace Bridge viewed as source of bad air

 The last time plans were scrapped for a new Peace Bridge expansion project, it was for the safety of the birds. This time around, residents are hoping it’s for the safety of the West Side. There has been ample proof from local healthcare facilities, as well as national research studies, that there is a strong association between high Peace Bridge traffic rates and high community asthma rates. The Peace Bridge Authority has done little to resolve the negative health impact other than acknowledging that the problem “may exist”. A larger bridge would allow for more diesel trucks, which often idle in West Side neighborhoods, and thereby send out large quantities of harmful fumes into the air and into the lungs of residents.
Full story

West Side community spreads holiday cheer

 While some families are having a traditional dinner this holiday season, many families need help. Thanks to organizations such as Concerned Ecumenical Ministry, West Side Community Services and Angel Food, these families are able to have a dinner at home or in a soup kitchen. These organizations help families and individuals who find it hard to have a traditional holiday meal. During the holiday season, people who seek help from these groups will not have to be hungry-or alone. Full story

Women's health fair aids Burmese refugees

 With the influx of Burmese refugees into Buffalo, several local organizations such as HEAL-International Inc., Catholic Charities, Karpeles Manuscript Library Museum and the International Institute of Buffalo teamed up with the Susan G. Komen Foundation to host a health fair for Burmese women. The educational fair informed the recent refugees, many who lack any substantial knowledge on breast cancer, about early detection and preventive measures they can take. Full story

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Businesses work to improve the West Side

Jimmy Lorigo opened the Meating Place in 1975

 Four decades ago, Grant Street was flourishing with new businesses and a sense of camaraderie among the owners located up and down the street. In the years that followed, this sense of prosperity slowly faded away.
 Local businesses and organizations are putting forth a renewed effort to bring back that welcoming atmosphere that was once present in the area. Full story

GPS tracking to enhance plow operations

 The City of Buffalo has implemented a new plan that will help snow plow the West Side and other areas this winter. Incorporating new technology and parking time changes, the city hopes to make snow plowing more efficient. This will assist supervisors with tracking streets that have been plowed and which ones still need attention in residential areas. Full story

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Anticipated state award to improve Grant Street

Grant Street florist April Whalen
 Grant Street has lost its vibrancy over the years with businesses moving to other sections of the city and into surrounding suburbs. Now, striving to get some of that vibrancy back, People United for Sustainable Housing, a West Side non-profit organization has received a $500,000 grant to improve upon blocks of Grant Street. PUSH, community organizers and local businesses are hoping the grant will eventually lead to economic improvement and business development, once again restoring Grant Street’s reputation of being a gateway to the West Side. Full story

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

'Tis the season, again, to get a flu shot

 Nurse Barbara Sullivan
With another dreary winter approaching, local citizens are getting ready to begin a new season of influenza prevention. After the H1N1/swine flu scare that Buffalo’s West Side experienced a few years ago, there is an increased emphasis on the importance of receiving an annual flu shot, as well as at home disinfectant techniques. Full story.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

From old to new: West Side soon to recycle

New recycling initiative will help eliminate street clutter
 Plastic, paper, metal, and glass. Residents in the City of Buffalo will no longer be sorting through these items come recycling day. The Department of Public Works has decided to implement some changes in the ways residents do recycling. New totes designated for recycling will be distributed and the schedule for pick-up will be changed as well. The city is hoping these changes will encourage more residents to start recycling. Full story

Friday, December 3, 2010

West Side combats rising health concerns

 The West Side is currently facing a number of health issues affecting many of its residents. One issue is poor air quality directly related to the diesel exhaust from the Peace Bridge, which is causing respiratory problems. Another is a general health concern toward community members due to lack of exercise. Since its inception in 2002, the Near East and West Side Task Force is working to find solutions by advocating health education to the residents of its communities. Full story

Healthy menus lead to healthy choices

Dave Alessi, manager of  LaNova Pizzeria
 Erie County will be the first in the nation to start an initiative to put nutrition facts on local menus. Some West Side restaurants plan to jump on the bandwagon to create a healthier image for their consumers that either demand or request healthier options. Under this new initiative restaurant patrons will have the information to make healthy meal choices, if they so choose. The software Erie County hopes to implement to West Side and other area restaurants is called Menu Calc. This software allows local restaurants to analyze calorie counts, fat content, vitamins and sodium among other things. Full story.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Collaborative polishes up West Side to fight crime

Eight years ago, West Side Community Collaborative started a five-year initiative plan to revitalize Buffalo’s West Side community. The goals included increasing the commercial district by bringing in more storefronts, cleaning up the landscape by gardening and erasing graffiti and raising homeownership. Other goals included reducing abandoned buildings and reducing crime and violence on the streets and in the homes. It’s been three years since the plan has reached its conclusion, but that doesn’t mean the West Side Community Collaborative’s work is finished. The group continues to revitalize this Buffalo community and work to keep drugs and violence out of the neighborhood. Full story

Local gardeners learn how to winterize

 How does someone live in Buffalo and still take up gardening as a hobby?
 The cold, harsh winters are anything but a conducive atmosphere for some of the plants gardeners hope to see grow and flourish. However, Urban Roots, an urban agriculture and gardening center on the West Side, hopes to solve that problem with its overwintering plants workshop.
 The local business paired up with guest speaker and avid gardener, David Clark to help teach local gardeners how to preserve their exotic plants.
 It was a forum not only to hear a how-to from an experienced gardener, but also a gathering of neighbors and gardeners alike. Full story

Monday, November 29, 2010

Housing project makes old homes new again

 Certain West Side streets will be undergoing a major facelift over the next six months with the help of PUSH Buffalo, HomeFront Inc., and a sturdy $3 million budget. The renewal project seeks to remodel multiple deteriorating homes on the same street in an attempt to beautify and create sustainable neighborhoods along some of the West Side’s most blighted areas. While there is a significant abandoned housing problem in this particular region of Buffalo, both organizations believe that the upcoming renaissance of these streets will attract residents with a vested interest in the community and will work towards preserving the upkeep of the neighborhoods. Projects have already gotten underway with two homes having been sold and another three under construction. Full story.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Bazaar expected to bring buzz to West Side

 The West Side Bazaar is an idea created and executed by various West Side organizations. The motive behind the idea is to help build a flourishing commercial business for this particular Buffalo community. However, behind every great idea comes several struggles, and the West Side Bazaar has faced its fair share of struggles. The opening date has been pushed back further and further, but the hope remains alive for all those involved. Full story.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

West Buffalo Charter School in battle over location

 The tug-of-war between Elmwood Village Charter School and West Buffalo Charter School is almost at its end. The conflict between the two schools began when the sale of a vacant building to Elmwood Village Charter School was blocked by an Erie County Supreme Court Justice.
 It has been decided that the final decision will be made by a two-thirds vote made by the Buffalo Common Council. The two schools will be notified when they can place further bids on the building and then the Council will choose which charter school will be the occupant. Full story.

Niagara branch library avoids most cutbacks

 With financial setbacks and shortages within the Buffalo and Erie County Public Library system, many at the Niagara Branch Library located at 280 Porter Ave. are left wondering about the library’s future; with plans of reinvention, many hope that the system as a whole rejuvenates itself. Full story.

Merging old and new through business group

 The Grant-Ferry Association under the new leadership of Kathleen Kinan, president, and Gary Welborn, vice president, is working to better reach out to new and old businesses to establish a strong connection among them. By doing this, Grant Street will start to become a more diverse business strip, which is the association’s main goal. Full story.

West Side goes green to fix sewer problems

 Across the city, much is being done to make Buffalo greener.
Due to the West Side being so concentrated, there is a higher need for improvement than other places in the city. Every time there is a major rainfall, the sewer water  can back up into basements and streets.
 With the help of Niagara Riverkeeper and people like Dave Majewski, the city is fighting to stop the sewers from backing up due to rainwater. Some of the projects include rain gardens and building greener parking lots, and more plans are in talk. Full story.

Tutoring program expands to aid West Side schools

 Public schools in Buffalo, particularly those in West Side communities, struggle to produce the appropriate test scores required by New York State. However, the No Child Left Behind Act enacted in 2001 made Upgrade Academics, a non-profit organization, possible. Nancy Berger, whose drive was education and helping students in need, started Upgrade Academics in 2004. The program since has grown and flourished across Buffalo, and has recently seen an expansion on the West Side. The demands for the program’s services are increasing in the community with hopes of achieving the New York State standard of education and learning. Full story.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

PUSHing the limits of energy efficiency

People United for Sustainable Housing (PUSH) is developing a house on Winter Street that will involve building a ground-based heating system and installing solar panels. Full story.

PUSH against National Fuel incentive program

 How far would you go to fight for something you believed in? PUSH – a Grassroots, nonprofit organization located on the West Side -- is involved in a struggle against utility giant National Fuel. PUSH has petitioned against the renewal of National Fuel’s Conservation Incentive Program. The CIP deals with National Fuel customers who buy new appliances, a rebate is given, as long as the efficiency rate is a certain amount.
 PUSH has been placed under temporary restraint by the state Supreme Court for taking its cause too far. Full story.

Grant Street brings 'sweetness' to West Side

Ray Grasso relaxes over breakfast on Sweet_ness 7 Cafe's patio
 The Sweet_ness 7 Café on 220 Grant St. has developed into a meeting place for some of Buffalo’s West Side movers and shakers. The café offers a homey feel for those looking to get away from the busy and corporate structures populating Elmwood Avenue. The café is contributing to the overall rebuilding process of the West Side, offering a home base to the organizations and people that play into the effort. Full story.

War-torn family finds place to HEAL

 Hassan Farah has overcome a great deal in his life thus far, but those hardships are only driving him to rise above the adversity. At just 22 years old, Farah created a refugee organization on the West Side dedicated to helping the displaced become educated, find employment and participate in their new communities. Full story.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Proposal gives Horsefeathers new life

Karl Frizlen, president of Frizlen Group Architects, is looking to restore 346 Connecticut St., formerly known as Horsefeathers Architectural Antiques. He is in the process of restoring the building for the use of retail and living spaces. Frizlen is working to obtain historic tax credits to help him in this business venture. As part of the remodel he will be putting a bike rowing machine in to generate electricity to make the building more energy efficient. Full story.

City scrutinizes multiple-property owners

The city's permits and inspections division proposed a plan to hold property owners accountable for blighted properties on the West Side which may affect many of the historical buildings in the area. The plan would alter the process in which the city government enforces code violations. The Columbus Park Association, a community group which focuses on historic preservation in the Prospect Hill-Columbus Park district, said the plan is a step in the right direction.Full story.

Streetwear culture hub moves to Grant St.

For Krudmart clothing store, switching store locations from Elmwood Avenue to Grant Street was not a financial move, but one to “embrace an up and coming area” according to co-manager Erin Habes.
Habes' goal is to harness the culture of the West Side and incorporate her vision with Krudmart into it.
Krudmart features streetwear clothing including designs from local artists. It represents the culture of the surrounding area well and is cemented in its spot on Grant and is there to stay.
According to Habes, streetwear clothing is a culture within itself. “If you are into streetwear you know that you live and breathe this clothing,” she said. Full story

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Lesser-known leaders making an impact

Community leaders are of great importance to their neighborhoods and those who live there. They serve as advocates for residents and help act as voices for those residents. However, it’s not always easy being a community leader. The responsibility and lack of political weight can be stressful at times, but these leaders continue their fight for a better tomorrow in their community. Full story.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Golombek announces second swipe at Hoyt

North District Common Council Member Joseph Golombek Jr. has announced his decision to oppose Assemblyman Sam Hoyt for the second time in his quest for the 144th District seat.
Last time Golombek faced Hoyt the outcome was close with Hoyt winning by a mere 760 votes. According to local politicians and supporters, this year’s election is also set to be a tight race.
Three-hundred supporters gathered at the American Legion post on Amherst St to witness Golombek’s announcement, and cheered at his promise to “totally reform Albany” if elected. Full story.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Community gardeners springing into action

With spring just around the corner, the West Side can be an example of how a community and gardening organizations can beautify and enrich the city.
With workshops held almost every weekend by various organizations there is an opportunity for everyone to volunteer and learn about community gardening.
Susannah Barton, director of grassroots of Buffalo, is confident that gardening will continue to grow within the West Side and to other Buffalo areas. Full story.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Housing service lifeline for homeowners

West Side Neighborhood Housing Services is an area organization that aids locals in the home buying and rehabilitation processes for purchases west of Main Street. The organization provides its patrons with the necessary knowledge needed to complete the often-gradual process.
Jolene Paller’s story is one of the many in the organization’s 30-year history. The former radio personality now speaks with homebuyers once they have completed their purchase and encourages them to get more involved with their community.
West Side Neighborhood Housing Services has become a lifeline for some living on the West Side. The organization’s impact reverberates through the individuals who were once apprehensive and lacked knowledge on the subject. Full story

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Something's fishy on Massachusetts Avenue

Who said the only place to buy fresh fish was at the grocery store? Well, not anymore. Starting mid-May, The Massachusetts Avenue Project will be selling farm-grown tilapia at its Saturday farm stand.
In only its second year, this neighborhood idea has surpassed imagination and is a proven success. With a solid business plan in motion, what is next? According to Project Manager Jesse Meeder, “I’m ready to go commercial.” Full story

Business blooms on Connecticut Street

Connecticut Street has undergone a swift transformation into an up and coming retail destination.
Over the last five years the street has welcomed a number of businesses, including its latest addition, Bella Tootsie, a shoe-spa-boutique.
Annette Caldwell, owner of the new enterprise that neighbors her parents' bar, the Golden Key tavern, said she received a warm welcome by the West Side neighborhood and that business is going well.
Bella Tootsie is just a sign of good things to come on Connecticut Street with the multimillion-dollar transformation of the Old Horsefeathers Antique Store into luxury accommodation and a gourmet food outlet. Full story

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Grant-Amherst focuses on business

The rise of economic development in the Grant-Amherst area has pushed urban planners, small business owners and leaders in the community to take a look at the need for revitalization to its streets, such as adding stop signs and traffic lights to enhance safety for pedestrians.
While some members of the community say there’s no need for additional traffic-calming devices, others feel the city needs to capitalize on the positive momentum and change which new store fronts and are bringing to the area.
Existing businesses in the area are also getting a lift, adding a new face to a historical area. Full story.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

After-school programs keep kids safe

Buffalo Public Schools and neighborhood community centers are making efforts to keep children off the streets of Buffalo during after school hours.
PS 30 Frank A. Sedita Academy, on the West Side, made use of the 21st Century Grant in order to fund after-school programs for children.
The Belle Center, a community center in the West Side also implemented after-school opportunities for children. A combination of academic studies and athletics run by project directors, grad students and staff has been established as an outlet for students use in order to avoid the streets. Full story

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Restoring neighborhoods, block by block

HomeFront Inc., a non-profit community development agency, has been working to maintain the character of forgotten homes on the West Side by redeveloping the block of Nineteenth Street.
After purchasing houses from the city on auction, HomeFront, and its team of construction planners develop a strategy to reconstruct homes that are over one hundred years old and have survived fires, neglect and abandonment.
Around $150,000 later, after the structures are like new, they are put back on the housing market. Full story

Assemblyman Hoyt announces re-election bid

Politics are back in full swing in spring in Buffalo. Sam Hoyt and his supporters met at Polish Cadets to rally towards what Hoyt called “A great opportunity to really help the community.”
Assemblyman for District 144, Sam Hoyt, announced he is running for re-election. District 144 covers Black Rock, the entire West Side, as well as Grand Island.
Hoyt held the rally in an attempt to increase his stock and garner support at the next election. He spoke of his desire to “Clean up Buffalo” with Community Organizations like P.U.S.H Buffalo and also spoke of their necessity in the restoration of the region. Full story

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Bazaar needs a place to hang its hat

A promising initiative, the West Side Bazaar has yet to find a proper home. However, though the quest continues, business may start booming for local vendors come June – or so consumers hope.
The West Side Bazaar aims to nurture diverse young businesses, most of which belong to refugees and immigrants from around the world that have settled throughout the West Side area.
Through the mentorship of organizations like WEDI, Westminster Economic Development Initiative Inc., vendors are able to overcome cultural barriers and create comprehensive blueprints and financial plans that will uphold their businesses over time. Full story

PUSH Buffalo hosts Spring cleanup

On March 17 People United for Sustainable Housing hosted part one of its two-part Spring Cleaning program at 43 Lawrence Place.
In just six hours local volunteers in cooperation with a group of Princeton University students cleared and cleaned the property, purchased recently by PUSH to renovate into an energy efficient home.
PUSH is now looking forward to Spring Cleaning Part Two in April where volunteers will restore a local run down park. Full story

Monday, March 15, 2010

Refugees earn tips on being financially fit

     Refugees to the United States often have to overcome cultural and economic barriers to adapt to new living arrangements.
     Understanding the concept of how the American financial system works promotes an overall healthy lifestyle according to Jericho Road Ministries, a non-profit organization located on Barton Street in Buffalo’s diverse west side community.
     “I know how to pay the bills, but sometimes I (would be) late for a full payment, and the (next bill) would be high,” said Rosa Niag, a refugee from Sudan. “This confused me.”
     The eight week program educates participants on how to balance their finances through instruction and partnerships with local organizations. Full story

Friday, March 12, 2010

Italian-Americans still call West Side 'home'

     Old Italian culture is still strong on the West Side. Although the neighborhood has become more culturally integrated during the past decade, Italians who continue to live on the West Side remain true to their native customs and values. Full story

Homegrown chickens part of spring ritual

     Now that springtime is on the way the hot topic is once again backyard chickens.
     Backyard chickens became an issue in Buffalo last year when West Side resident Monique Watts fought City Hall to keep a coop in her yard.
     The chickens have become a major part of a new “urban farm” movement. This movement is all about growing and raising your own food. The main point people in the movement are trying to show is that even though it is more work your getting a better quality food, at a cheaper price, that actually tastes better. Full story.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Project helps immigrant mothers-to-be bridge gap

Imagine living in a foreign country, surrounded by a new language, overwhelmed by change and pregnant. Now imagine yourself in this circumstance with the support of someone else, someone who identifies with your story.

The Priscilla Project has served pregnant refugees in the past and today their services are evolving.
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Friday, February 26, 2010

Campus construction disrupts student life

Students at Buffalo State College have been, and continue to be, subjected to intermittent losses of power and water outages that have made everyday tasks like showering and studying a major dilemma. But as many students agree the biggest disruption to campus life is the continuous noise that interrupts students from their sleep and study.
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Drummers tap into West African culture

They’re loud. They’re proud. And they’ve got the beat.

The West African Drumming Ensemble is the latest addition to the music department at Buffalo State College. The group started meeting this semester and students, faculty and staff are encouraged to join. They gather at 6 p.m. every Thursday in Rockwell Hall, room 107.

The ensemble can be taken as a one-credit course, but students who have any kind of interest in learning about west African culture and music can join the group.
Continuing reading...

Buffalo State retail dining area 'beefed up'

      The Sodexo-operated dining facility, found in the Buffalo State College student union, introduced a few upgrades to campus-dining services including multiple new breakfast options, a fresh salad and Panini bar, increased breakfast hours of operation and multiple new plastic silverware utensils.
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