Tuesday, November 22, 2011

MORE THAN JUST TURKEY: Brian Morin, sales manager at TOPS Friendly Markets, guides us through the basic Thanksgiving checklist and sales aimed to please. Video by Samantha Murphy and Desiree Wiley

IN DEPTH: Grant St. thrift shop offers job training

 289 Grant Street is home to the unique thrift shop called New to You. Run by a nonprofit organization, the New to You Shop offers on-the-job training to the youth they employ as well as helping the people they serve. New to You offers students the opportunity to earn money, help their own community and learn life lessons along the way. By Brian Geerhart and Erica Lindo Full story.

Property values rise in parts of West Side

 West Side & Black Rock-Riverside Neighborhood Housing Services has been tracking home prices in the Grant-Ferry area for over three years. Over the summer, the organization surveyed 96 houses in the Grant-Ferry neighborhood and discovered a 51 percent increase in property values since 2009.
 “From observation, we’re seeing fewer vacancies and a lot of young professionals buying homes. We’re also seeing more young families in our homebuyer education classes,” said Laura Sweat, assistant to the director for resource development and communications.
 Sweat pointed out that while certain areas of the West Side seem to be booming, others are stable and still other areas see properties getting worse.
 Although it recognize there are areas that need improvement, Neighborhood Housing Services is still calling the West Side “inspiring.”
 Sweat said she believes the rise in property values could be attributed to people seeing the West Side is coming back and wanting to be a part of it. By Kaitlin Fritz and Kaitlin Riznyk

Vermont St. center hosts holiday luncheon

 The Westside Community Center is hosting its senior Thanksgiving luncheon on Nov. 24 at its location at 161 Vermont St.
 The senior luncheon is one of five such events held around specific holidays throughout the year, including Easter, Mother’s Day, Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas. The Christmas luncheon is open to all Niagara District residents.
 The community center uses programs such as this in order to give residents of the West Side activities for all ages. In addition to other senior programs, the center also has a number of youth programs that focus on education and culture in the area. By Brian Geerhart and Erica Lindo

Sunday, November 20, 2011

LEAVES TO MULCH - Mike Scanlon of Buffalo donates his leaves to a recycling program that will benefit Grassroots Gardens of Buffalo. This year, the City of Buffalo and Larden Construction, Inc. are participating in this cost-reducing program that will turn leaves and yard debris in mulch. The mulch will then be donated to Grassroots Gardens, one of which is located on the West Side. Leaf collections begin Nov. 14, will go until Nov. 25 and are scheduled for the same days as garbage pickup. Residents also have the option of donating their leaves at a drop off site. The drop off sites include:
• Cazenovia Park golf course parking lot: south of Seneca Street at the foot of Wildwood Avenue • Shoshone Park parking lot: north off of Hertel Avenue at the foot of Beard Avenue • 1120 Seneca St.: parking lot between Babcock and Smith streets. Photo by Kaitlin Fritz and Kaitlin Riznyk

Church food pantry running low on turkey

 Primera Iglesia Metodista Unida de Buffalo is doing its part to help feed the needy this holiday season.
 The church at 62 Virginia St. runs a food pantry each year, helping support 20 to 40 families in the West Side. The Rev. Alberto Lanzot said that pantry is always low on food.
 “We get pounded,” he said. “We’re open Monday, Wednesday and Friday. The only contact we have is through the food bank. As soon as we fill up, we’re empty.”
 Lanzot said the area the church services is mostly Hispanic and that rice and beans are two food items that are always in demand, though with the holidays coming, they’re also short on turkey.
 “I managed to get 30 (turkeys),” he said, “but we’ll probably need 100 more. We usually give out 200 to 300 turkeys a year.” By Mike Meiler and Julia Merulla

Anti-violence group puts up billboards

 Cries from the West Side community to reduce gang violence among youth rang in the ears of many. In 2009, Buffalo State College answered by establishing the West Side Youth Violence Prevention Coalition.
 Project coordinator Jonathan Lindner focuses on directly involving the community through the coalition’s work.
 “A behavior survey has gone out, which focuses on parent behavior,” Lindner said. “They are the most crucial and critical influence in a child’s life.”
 The coalition was recently awarded a federal grant of $30,000, which will be used to place billboards throughout the 14213 zip code. The billboards will display positive messages aimed to help adults positively influence children.
 “Our role is to expand parenting to anyone who influences a child and our environmental practices are expected to be very successful,” Lindner said.
 The billboards were released Nov. 17. By Samantha Murphy and Desiree Wiley

Parking restrictions in place on West Side

 Winter parking restrictions are now in effect on bus-route designated streets, including portions of Richmond and Plymouth avenues and Niagara, Maryland and York streets.
 Parking is not allowed between 1:30 a.m. and 7 a.m. on any portion of a street where passenger buses operate, with a few exceptions.
 The first exception prohibits parking at all times on one side of the street; parking continues to be allowed at all times on the opposite side of the street.
 According to the City of Buffalo's parking website, routes affected include West Delavan Avenue between Niagara and Herkimer streets (even side), Maryland Street between Efner and College streets (odd side), and West Utica Street between Rhode Island and Chenango streets (odd.)
 The second exception allows parking on one side of the street at all times, when not prohibited by alternate parking regulations. Streets affected by this restriction include College Street between Cottage and Maryland streets (even), Cottage Street between Virginia and Maryland streets, and Jersey Street between Lakeview Avenue and Seventh Street (even).
 Lastly, the third exception means that parking is allowed on both sides of the street at all times when alternate parking regulations do not prohibit it. This affects Normal Avenue between Hampshire and York streets (odd), Plymouth Avenue between Hudson and Hampshire streets (even), Richmond Avenue between Porter Avenue, North Street and West Ferry Street (odd), and York Street between Normal and West avenues (odd.)
 These regulations will be enforced daily until April 1 between the hours of 1:30 and 7 a.m. Full list of exceptions. By Melissa Kania and Kevin Freiheit 

BACKYARD MASTERPIECE - Local gardener Richard Price gives a tour of his garden, which he has been working on in his backyard for 17 years. Price, explains what he is doing to preserve some of his seeds over the winter and the process of ordering seeds for next spring. Video by Kevin Freiheit and Melissa Kania

IN DEPTH: Institute helps immigrants settle in

 Grocery shopping, getting gas and making doctor’s appointments are all everyday, simple tasks for most people. For refugees who come to America, these tasks can seem impossible. This is why local programs, such as the International Institute of Buffalo, are there to help refugees resettle in Buffalo neighborhoods. By Kaitlin Fritz and Kaitlin Riznyk Full story

Thursday, November 17, 2011

SWING AWAY- Many couples enjoyed a night of Lindy Hop Swing dancing put on by Lindy Fix and Buffalo Swing on Nov.8. The monthly event featured the Seattle-based band Glenn Crytzer and His Syncopators and was held at the Polish Cadets Hall, 927 Grant St. Photo by Brian Geerhart and Erica Lindo

Police: Stay safe this holiday season

 As the year comes to a close, Buffalo Police are reminding West Side residents to be more aware of potential crimes over the holiday season.
 Increases in travel and the number of people shopping are two factors that make the holidays an enticing period for criminals, “D” District Police Officer Roscoe Henderson said.
 “There are two types of people: honest and dishonest,” Henderson said. “People who are not honest use the holidays as an excuse to commit crimes.”
 Henderson advises residents who are traveling to use automatic timers on lights to keep the appearance of activity in their home, making it a less likely target.
 He also said shoppers should travel in pairs and use credit cards to keep the amount of cash on hand to a minimum.
 “The more people together, the less likely you are to be confronted,” he said.
Henderson added that people should be extra cautious when carrying bags from their car to their house, which is when they are most vulnerable.
 “Try not to leave a lot of items visible in your vehicle,” he said. “When you get out of your car and get to your house, you should take a look around... Be conscious of your surroundings.
 “People are going to be breaking into cars and shoplifting,” he said about the holiday season. “If you see anything suspicious, you shouldn’t hesitate to call 9-1-1. It doesn’t have to be a crime, but if it doesn’t look right, it probably isn’t." By Mike Meiler and Julia Merulla

Monday, November 14, 2011

IN DEPTH: Grants flow slowly to area small businesses

 In September 2010, PUSH Buffalo received A $500,000 New York Main Street Grant for renovations on Grant Street between West Delevan and Auburn avenues. After a year, the visible effects are limited as businesses work with PUSH to secure their shares of the money.By Mike Meiler and Julia Merulla Full story

MAP's mobile market extends selling season

 The Massachusetts Avenue Project’s Mobile Market is having its most successful season ever and is extending its selling period through Nov. 19.
 Tyler Manley, director of the Mobile Market, said the seasonal produce has been selling out weekly from the farm stand at 389 Massachusetts Ave. As of Oct. 1, the organization had had 1,300 customers since May.
 The Mobile Market has used grant money to purchase a refrigerated truck to use for next season.
 “Next year we plan on doing a lot more because having a truck is really going to change everything,” Manley said.
 The Mobile Market is open from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Thursdays and Fridays and from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturdays. By Mike Meiler and Julia Merulla

Journey's End to host Thanksgiving dinner

 Journey’s End Refugee Services will be hosting Buffalo’s First Thanksgiving Dinner once again this year. It will be held from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 19 at the Belle Center located at 104 Maryland St.
  This dinner, which has been held by Journey’s End for eight years, is a way to help refugee families understand what Thanksgiving is.
  “Many of them don’t even know what a turkey is,” said the Development Coordinator of Journey’s End, Brian Brown-Cashdollar.
  “The first thing we do is explain what a turkey is and what Thanksgiving is all about.”
  Niagara University culinary students will be working in collaboration with Journey’s End to make a full Thanksgiving meal. For most refugees, this will be their first Thanksgiving dinner, which is how the event acquired its name.
  Between Journey’s End and other refugee and immigrant services there are about 200 clients expected to attend.
  “It’s a great way to help them understand our culture and welcome them to our city,” said Brown-Cashdollar. By Kaitlin Fritz and Kaitlin Riznyk

West Side schools part of science grant

 The National Science Foundation has recently awarded a $9.8 million grant to Buffalo Public Schools in the hopes of promoting student interest in the sciences. The grant will fund a five year program in which teachers from 12 different elementary and high schools will have the opportunity to research alongside scientists.
  The program, titled the Interdisciplinary Science and Engineering Partnership, will be led by the University of Buffalo, Buffalo State College and the Buffalo Museum of Science. Of the 12 schools involved, two are from the West Side community, the Native American Magnet and Hutch-Tech High School.
  According to Joseph Gardella, a professor at the University of Buffalo and the project lead, the program launched in 2005 at the Native American Magnet school and has already made leeway in getting students interested in their education. Students in the ISEP classroom were 30% more likely to achieve proficiency on the eighth-grade New York State science exam.
  “The Native American Magnet has been in this program for seven years,” said Gardella, “and we have already seen substantial results.” By Samantha Murphy and Desiree Wiley

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Swing Buffalo hosts 'vintage' dance band

 On Tuesday, Nov. 8, Swing Buffalo will host Glenn Crytzer and his Syncopators. From 8 p.m. to 11 p.m. the band will play to a room full of dancers and music lovers alike at the Polish Cadets Hall, 927 Grant St.
 This Seattle based group prides itself on being “America’s most authentic vintage swing band.”
  “This is an awesome band and cost us a pretty penny to hire,” said Rob Leach, who found Swing Buffalo in 2007, “and we’re only charging $12 that night to have them here.”
  Leach runs Swing Buffalo, which is an organization that loves dance forms such as the Jitterbug, Balboa, Lindy Hop and Charleston. Lindy Hop classes are Tuesdays starting at 8 p.m., followed by a social dance. The Lindy Hop was popularized in the 1920s and 1930s and experienced a huge revival across the country in the early 1990s.
  There's a small fee for class. Leach says dancers of all skill levels are welcome.
By Brian Geerhart and Erica Lindo

Riverside High School gets book donation

 Riverside High School students taking a basic computer course will receive a classroom set of donated books from Buffalo State College.
 The college’s computer information systems department gathered 35 sets of Microsoft Office 2007 concepts and application practice books from instructors and former students. Since the campus switched to using Office 2010, the old textbooks would have been thrown away, said Ramona Santa Maria, assistant professor in the department.
 “It’s always a top priority of the CIS faculty and students to recycle our materials as much as possible,” Santa Maria said, “and since the Buffalo schools are always in need of resources, it’s just a really good way to pass on materials that we don’t need and they do.”
 Santa Maria said the subject material can apply to students with any level of computer knowledge.
 The high school has been given this donation twice now. Santa Maria organized the effort in 2008, when the campus switched from Office 2003 to Office 2007.
By Mike Meiler and Julia Merulla