Wednesday, April 27, 2011

City, county redistricting may impact West Side

 Every decade the census data are released to the government, counties and cities are then forced to redraw districts to fit the census numbers. Erie County is going to downsize its Legislatures from 15 to 11 and redrawing district lines West Side residents could see a decrease in representation. Full story.

Grant St. crosswalk project still grounded

Artist's rendering of proposed crosswalk design
 With a national conference coming to town, local activists are trying to paint five Grant Street intersections in an effort to brighten up the area. That doesn't sound too complicated, but the Department of Public Works still hasn't approved the plan, even though the National Preservation Conference arrives in October. Activist Cornelia Dohse-Peck said the whole situation is “mysteriously complicated.”Full story.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Richardson Complex project moving ahead

 It is a valuable piece of Buffalo architecture plagued by decay and vandals. The Richardson complex is currently surrounded by tree stumps and wire fences. It is now once step closer to being restored to its former glory by bill that would transfer ownership of the property to the Richardson Center Corp. The organization has big plans for the property that include making this unique building into a hub of tourism in Buffalo.Full story

Union protests closing of Mattina health center

Union protesters at the Mattina health center
 Kaleida Health, a Western New York healthcare provider, has made a controversial decision to close the Judge Joseph S. Mattina Community Health Center on Niagara Street. West Side community members, as well as healthcare workers and union members, protested the decision outside the center on Monday. Despite the protest’s sizable turnout, it is unlikely that reasonable negotiations will be made. The Mattina Center will downsize its staff and fall under new management should Kaleida follow through on its decision, leaving many to wonder how this will effect the West Side. Full story

Monday, April 18, 2011

Rising gas prices forcing business' hand

Prish Moran serves up some coffee

 The rising gas prices around the United States have hit the West Side and its businesses already. With Buffalo’s average price for a gallon of gas nearing $4, some businesses are forced to make tough decisions that might affect West Side residents’ wallets. Full story

Organizations fight to stop budget cuts

 Federal budget cuts have affected many different organizations in Western New York. It can be argued that perhaps no other type will be affected more than not-for-profit organizations on the West Side. But these organizations are trying come up with ways to counter these budget cuts by lobbying officials and holding rallies. Full story

Housing service nabs redevelopment grant

 While foreclosures continue at a frightening pace throughout the United States, West Side Neighborhood Housing Services is hoping a new $68,150 grant will help slow that pace in the community. Teaching new homebuyers the basics of home owning will undoubtedly go a long way in decreasing the foreclosure rate. The grant came from NeighborWorks America and is completely funded through taxpayer dollars. It will also be used to rehabilitate current homes that are in dire need of improvements. Full story

No contract, firefighters cover own health

 “The health care issue has been brought forward because it shows the city’s unwillingness to negotiate a fair and equitable contract,” said Daniel Cunningham, the 282 Firefighters Union representative. “It is costing the city and the citizens of Buffalo more money, because they won’t negotiate.”
 In 2004, the City of Buffalo forced firefighters to accept one health care provider, which was Blue Cross Blue Shield. Previous to this change, they had the option of choosing between four companies: Univera Healthcare, Independent Health, Community Blue and Blue Cross Blue Shield. Full story

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

BPO makes musical connection with schools

 The city’s prominent Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra has created a unique collaboration with the West Side. Eleven of Buffalo’s public schools and the African American Culture Center recently worked with the Philharmonic to provide an educational experience. This partnership will reach out to middle and high school students through the use of music. The program also entailed school appearances from well-known conductors and musicians, including visits by violinist Randall Goosby and associate conductor Matthew Kraemer earlier this year. The West Side Connection program was created by the Philharmonic Education Director Robin Parkinson. Full story

Buffalo impound lot in need of makeover

 The Buffalo City Impound lot at 166 Dart St. holds plenty of bad memories for city residents. The reason most people visit is generally the result of a very bad day. And the unattractiveness of the lot definitely does not help.
 For residents of the West Side, it is not only a place to pick up a towed vehicle, but it’s a long-standing part of the neighborhood that is soon going to see a few big changes. Full story

Monday, April 11, 2011

West Side awaits status of Grant St. P.O.

The West Side post office is at 465 Grant St.
 The U.S. Post Offices are tightening their belts like never before. A national announcement will reveal which locations will be forced to either consolidate or close. Paul Urbanski, customer service manager of the West Side Station, at 465 Grant St. said that those that are spared will likely face some kind of reduction of staff and services. Though there is no official word yet, the office is still a crucial West Side service needed by businesses and residents alike. Full story

Federal funding threatens West Side services

 he West Side could be taking a major hit if the new federal budget is passed that could do away with the last of the AmeriCorps workers. A bill has just been passed in the House of Representatives that will take away $60 billion in federal funds if passed by the Senate and the president. This will affect America as a whole, but will hit the West Side hard, as AmeriCorps could be done away with. AmeriCorps helps numerous non-profit organizations, which use them as full-time workers. Full story

Buffalo schools have anti-bully policy

 With the recent bipartisan passage of Dignity for All Students Act, the Buffalo school district has implemented new district wide anti-bullying measures. By creating an innovative District Bias Response Team, the district seeks not only to quell individual instances of harassment but assess if greater social problem persists throughout the school. To accomplish this, the district began training all professional and non-professional school staff on ways to prevent and diffuse instances of harassment. Amendments to the district’s code of conduct came at a time when harassment targeted towards refugee students appears to be on the rise at one West Side school. Full story

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Language barriers hurt schools' test scores

 While Buffalo Public Schools have long been criticized for test scores, one aspect of the student demographic has been ignored. State law has required refugee students in grades three through eight to be thrust into taking math and English assessments without the language skills necessary to succeed. This, in turn, has adversely affected the test results at West Side schools and contributed to damaging their reputation. Full story