Thursday, December 15, 2011

IN DEPTH: Small businesses gear up for holiday season

The holiday season is upon us! Which means spending time with friends and family, having extravagant feasts and, of course, shopping for the perfect gifts to give your loved ones. What better way to celebrate than by investing your money into the ever-growing West Side community? Businesses like West Side Stories, Guercio & Sons Inc., Krudmart and the West Side Bazaar are all working to make holiday shopping on the West Side more appealing to their customers. By Samantha Murphy and Desiree Wiley Full story

NHS adopt-a-family program needs donors

 West Side & Black Rock-Riverside Neighborhood Housing Services is once again hosting a Christmas season adopt-a-family program.
 NHS matches needy families with donors, which can be businesses, organizations or private families. The State Employees Federal Credit Union, for example, has already adopted 15 families, according to NHS Executive Director Linda Chiarenza.
 Needy families create a wish list, which NHS gives to donors to fulfill. Donors are asked to gift-wrap the donations.
 People or organizations looking to adopt a family can contact NHS at 885-2344.
By Kaitlin Fritz and Kaitlin Riznyk

Holiday spirit lights up the West Side

 Nearly 2,000 homes in four block clubs on the West Side will remain aglow until Jan. 6 as part of the fourth annual Festival of Lights.
 Ranging from Front Park to Symphony Circle, the holiday competition has grown every year since it began, said Jim Messina, one of the organizers of the event. Members of the block clubs go door-to-door getting people to sign up.
 “We encourage neighbors to put out a strand of lights to show colors for holiday,” Messina said.
 Participants are eligible to win prizes, around 35 available, from cash prizes to gift certificates. All awards are donations.
 The collaboration is part of an ongoing effort through the Prospect Hill Neighborhood Alliance to unite neighborhoods in that area.
 The event culminates with a reception at the Karpeles Museum Jan. 6.
By Mike Meiler and Julia Merulla

D’Youville volunteers head to New Orleans

 D’Youville College is having its annual volunteer service experience from Dec. 14 through Dec. 20.
 The Lending a Hand New Orleans community service experience is a program held annually for the last nine years where students and staff members from D’Youville College take a trip to New Orleans to volunteer.
 “This year there will be 25 students and six staff members,” said Rev. Janice Mahle, associate campus minister and project coordinator.
   The students and staff will team up with different agencies in New Orleans volunteering their time to help build houses, hand out energy-saving light bulbs and repair and clean up of the city's cemeteries.
   “I call it voluntourism, the students assist with various agencies and they help their economy as tourists,” said Mahle. By Brian Geerhart and Erica Lindo

Prish Moran, owner of Sweet_ness 7 Cafe, talks about  open-mic sessions she plans to hold at her Grant Street location throughout the holidays.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Journey’s End seeks clothing donations

 Refugees who resettle on the West Side and throughout the rest of Buffalo are forced to adjust as winter weather approaches.
 Development Coordinator for Journey’s End Refugee Service, Brian Brown-Cashdollar said, “Many of our clients come from warm weather climates and don’t have any winter clothing when they arrive.”
  This is why Journey’s End is accepting donations of new and gently used winter apparel. About 150 winter coats are needed as well as gloves, hats, boots and scarves.
  Anyone looking to donate is asked to please call ahead at 716-882-4963. Donations can be dropped off at Journey’s End’s office at 2495 Main St., Suite 317.
By Kaitlin Fritz and Kaitlin Riznyk

School 36 bought out and set to reopen

 The former School 36 on Days Park is expected to reopen in September 2012, thanks to a new agreement that gave ownership of the property to the Elmwood Village Charter School.
 “This will accommodate our expansion to include a middle school and a second of each classroom through grade eight,” said school director John Sheffield.
 The building, located at 40 Days Park, has been vacant for nearly a year and a half since School 36, the Bilingual Early Childhood Center, moved down the street.
 Sheffield said the second location is ideal because it is located close to the school’s current location at 124 Elmwood Ave., and students already come from Allentown and parts of the West Side.
 “We’re an intrical part of this community,” Sheffield said.
 Construction is expected to begin immediately and should be completed by the beginning of the next school year. By Kevin Freiheit and Melissa Kania

Ice Boom date set back due to warm temps

 Each year the placing of the ice boom into the Niagara River marks the beginning of the winter season for Buffalo.
  However, due to warmer than usual temperatures plans for dropping the ice boom have not yet occurred.Each year the placing of the ice boom into the Niagara River marks the beginning of the winter season for Buffalo. However, due to warmer than usual temperatures plans for dropping the ice boom have not yet occurred.
 Each year the placing of the ice boom into the Niagara River marks the beginning of the winter season for Buffalo. However, due to warmer than usual temperatures plans for dropping the ice boom have not yet occurred.
 Bruce Sanders, public relations representative for the Buffalo District of U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, said, “There is no set date to drop the boom. The water temperature needs to be a certain temperature for a certain number of days.”
 According to their website, installation can begin on Dec. 16 or whenever the water temperature reaches at least 39 degrees Fahrenheit.
 The dropping of the ice boom has annually occurred every year since 1964. The ice boom is a series of steel pontoons spanning the outlet of Lake Erie. The boom helps to break up thick chunks of ice, which left whole can lead to flooding, shore damage and reduction of flow to hydro-electric power plants. By Samantha Murphy and Desiree Wiley

IN DEPTH: Brewery hopes to revive Buffalo tradition

Ethan Cox expects to open Community Beer Works  next year.

 A new neighborhood brewery is coming to the West Side. Community Beer Works, a project spearheaded by Ethan Cox and David Foster, is under construction at 15 Lafayette Ave. and should be in production in early 2012. The owners say the location, in a building already connected to the city's brewing history, is ideal because of the up-and-coming neighborhood as well as its proximity to the surrounding Grant and Elmwood areas. CBW plans to partner with the Massachusetts Avenue Project and local urban farmers to donate grains for reuse and produce hops for the company's beer making. By Kevin Freiheit and Melissa Kania Full story.

Christmas trees available at Urban Roots

 When it comes to holiday flora, Urban Roots is stocked with options to grace homes with the beauty and aroma of a live evergreen tree.
 The organization is selling trees right up until Christmas, with eight varieties of evergreens to choose from. Each tree is 3- to 4-feet tall and costs $60 to $70.
 Because the trees are still living, they can last years after the holidays with proper care.
 "We're hoping, because the trees are still alive, they'll be recycled and replanted into the ground after use. They really should only be inside for around seven days," said Urban Roots employee Bryan Lovullo.
 For those who aren’t able to plant their evergreen after they’re done with it, Urban Roots offers the option to donate it to a local organization. Olmsted Parks, Grassroots Gardens and Buffalo Riverkeeper have partnered again with Urban Roots in this effort. Donors can choose which organization receives the tree by filling out a donation form available at Urban Roots.
By Mike Meiler and Julia Merulla

West Side Festival of Lights continues

 The Heart of the City Neighborhoods, Inc. is holding the fourth annual Neighborhood Festival of Lights on the lower West Side. The festival started Nov. 23 and runs through Jan. 6.
  The festival is open to both renters and homeowners. To enter, all you have to do is put up ornamental lights on the outside of your home so that the judges can see them from the street.
  The winners of the festival will be announced at 2 p.m.on Jan. 8 at Karpeles Manuscript Museum, 453 Porter Ave., where prizes will be awarded.
  You can vote online for your favorite lighting display or volunteer by contacting your block club president or by emailing By Brian Geerhard and Erica Lindo