Sunday, May 13, 2012

West Side Rowing Club celebrates 100 years

 The West Side Rowing Club (WSRC) turns 100 this year, with plans for several regattas and a party to celebrate.
 Several regattas are scheduled for the year, including the John Bennett Regatta, which features rowers from the U.S. and Canada, said Matt Logue, director of boathouse operations.
 “We will have crews from across the northeast and Canada racing our own Buffalo based crews right on the Black Rock Canal,” he said.
 An event will be held to celebrate the club’s birthday on August 25, Cotter said. The party will feature an open bar, Buffalo-based food stations and dancing.
 “We expect 1000 people,” he said.
 The club was founded in 1912 as a way to bring rowing to the West Side, said Bill Cotter, a former president of the WSRC who’s been involved with the club for 50 years.
 “The organizers were Irish,” he said. “For some reason, rowing attracted the Irish.”
 While several rowing clubs at the time were more established, the WSRC has outlived them all, Cotter said.
 Currently the club serves as the home base for several area high school and college clubs, including Canisius College’s Division 1 women’s program. There is also a club for high school students who don’t have rowing as an option at their schools, he said, bringing together students from all over Western New York.
 The secret to the club’s longevity is in serving the area high schools, Cotter said.
 “We were the first club to bring in high schools,” he said.
By Michael Canfield and Jacob Tierney

Gear up for Bike to Work Week

  Megan Townsend, Baker and Chef for Sweet_ness 7 café

GO Bike Buffalo is teaming up with several West Side businesses to show their love for cycling and recognize Buffalo’s bike to work week, May 14 to May 18.
To kick off the week, GO Bike, formerly known as Green Options Buffalo, is encouraging cyclists to meet on their way to work between 8 a.m. and 10 a.m. Monday, May 14 at the Sweet_ness 7 Café’s Grant Street location, to enjoy a free coffee and discounted breakfast.
Tristan Trump, program coordinator for GO Bike, says that since the organization has grown in members over the past few months due to a mild winter, he expects a large number of people to participate in bike to work week.  
“Each year it gets a little bigger,”  says Trump.  “People are also preparing for gas prices to go through the roof.”
To finish off the week of cycling, Cafe Taza, located at 100 Elmwood Ave, is opening its doors from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. May 18, where cyclists can enjoy a free cup of coffee and a treat from Five Points Bakery.  During the commute home, cyclists can also stop by Cantina Loco at 191 Allen St. for discounted food and drinks from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.  
In preparation for bike to work week, GO Bike’s staff will be assisting cyclists with bike checks and tune-ups from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m., May 11 at their community workshop, located at 98 Colvin Ave. Story by Katie Anderson and Danielle Wayne; photo by Michael Hargrave and Shayna McKie

HOUSING FAIR - Several housing groups came together to host the fifth annual West Side Housing Fair on April 28 at the Loretto Ministry Center on 14th Street. The fair included vendors who provided information to those looking to live on the West Side, and attendees could participate in workshops to learn home buying and renovation skills. Translators were available to provide information to Spanish, Burmese and Arabic.
 Video by Michael Canfield and Jacob Tierney

In Depth: Old West Side homes for sale need rehab

  “The West Side is hot spot,” said Michael Maywalt owner and broker of Maywalt realty group. “The greatest thing buffalo has is its homes; its resource is a whole lot of houses.” Buyers are spread out in abundance across the many neighborhoods of the West Side, from houses ready for the move in, to those in terrible need of renovation. The effects of renovated houses may go further than you think. They can affect how people can view your street, neighborhood, even city, said Maywalt. Full story by Mackenzie Clarke and Cheri St. Croix

Summer Youth jobs program deadline May 25

 The City of Buffalo is offering incentives such as tax credits to businesses that hire youth’s through the Mayor’s Summer Youth Employment program.  The program targets youth’s between ages 14 and 21 who will have a chance to gain invaluable work experience in a variety of fields. The City of Buffalo’s Division for Youth will provide youth counselors who will monitor and provide support for participants.
 “We employ kids in urban agriculture,” said Diane Picard, executive director for the Massachusetts Avenue Project. “They work 20 hours per week doing various projects at our farm.”
  MAP provides a unique and rare opportunity for urban youth to learn how to grow sustainable foods and how to use them. For not-for-profit and community-based organizations, such as MAP, the City of Buffalo subsidizes the wages of the employed youth through sponsorships and donations.
 Applications for the Mayor’s Summer Youth Employment program can be found at and must be completed by May 25. By Edward Mazzu and Jacob Becker

Friday, May 11, 2012

IN DEPTH: Cornell students continue to help out W.S.

 The Summer High Road Project is entering its fourth year of having students intern with organizations around Buffalo to help revitalize the community as a whole. PUSH Buffalo, Urban Roots and Buffalo First are just a few of the many organizations that are involved in assisting the city of Buffalo. The program has made progress since it started in 2009, going from five interns to 20 this summer. Full story by Anna Dinger and Kevin Freiheit

Thursday, May 10, 2012

IN DEPTH: Rehabbing houses can prove to be costly

 As the city of Buffalo continues its auctions on foreclosed homes, investors like Dave Weitzel are purchasing these properties and rehabbing the board houses on the Westside. The real estate broker explains the challenges he faces during this process. Full story by Cortney Drakeford and Alana Ransom

Normal Ave. rehab to finish this month

 Construction by AmeriCorps volunteers on an abandoned home has been delayed. The renovations at 425 Normal Ave. were supposed to be completed by the end of this month.  While construction is running slightly behind, the volunteers hope to have the project completed soon.  The abandoned home is being renovated by the AmeriCorps organization to be used as a transitional living space for women of troubled backgrounds. The demolition started in March of this year.  Domingo Ramirez, senior Buffalo AmeriCorps program coordinator and project supervisor, said that all of the debris from the demolition has been removed and collected by the city. The exterior has also been totally repainted as well as all interior rooms and halls. The two kitchens and bathrooms are still in progress.  Datz Dat Construction Company has been working on the project from the start. Their next tasks will be to restore and paint the kitchens as well as remodeling the bathrooms and floors, said Jacqueline Ornsby, Buffalo AmeriCorps program coordinator. By Kristina Ferris and Megan Kreps

W.S. Bazaar plans kitchen with $100K grant

 The West Side Bazaar will be adding a commercial kitchen to its new location.
 The money will come from a $100,000 grant from the 21st Century Fund. Westminster Economic Development Initiative (WEDI), parent corporation for the Bazaar, won the grant on April 24, beating out three other finalists.
 “We are very happy about winning the competition,” said Ben Bissell, economic coordinator  for WEDI. “It will definitely be a huge benefit to the community and prospective vendors.”
 The bazaar’s  planned new location will have up to 30 vendors, and now thanks to this grant will include the installation of  a commercial kitchen and other equipment.
 Martha Sosa, a vendor in the current bazaar  and a trained Peruvian chef, plans to use the new kitchen to exercise her skills, and create a Peruvian restaurant in the location she believes will be on West Ferry. 
 “It will be a lot bigger than here,” said Sosa.
 Bissell said the grant has to be used this year. If an issue arises with the location they hope to be in they will have to try and find a different one.
 “We may have to move the bazaar  to a different location if the government process is too slow,” said Bissell. “If this happens we will most likely use the grant to renovate the bazaar.” By Michael Hargrave and Shayna McKie

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Italian-style bakery opens on Grant Street

           It’s the diversity of Buffalo’s West Side and their overall love for baking that drew Sarah and her mother Lucy Gilmartin to open up an Italian pastry shop right in the center of the up and coming Grant Street.
This mother and daughter pair  opened the doors of B. Ferrante’s, where you will find homemade Italian pastries for people all over the city to enjoy.  They will be open from  7:30 a.m. to 3 p.m Wednesday through Saturday and from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Sunday.
The Gilmartins are from North Buffalo, but spend a lot of their time on the West Side, which is what led them to this unique opportunity to expand their Italian cooking skills.
“We came by here, we had been dropping off samples of our cookies,  saw the for rent sign, and everything just seemed to fall into place from there,”  Sarah says.
The name B. Ferrante’s, came from Sarah’s father’s side of the family.  They want the bakery to have an “old school” theme to it, since their baking is very old school and from scratch.  The recipes that they will be using are traditional recipes from within their Sicilian family.
“We’ll have pizza, olive bread, ciabatta, cannolis, cream puffs, and everything’s hand-made,”  Lucy says.
Lucy and Sarah are both very excited to be apart of the expanding West Side community, and look forward to the journey they have ahead of them.
“We really love this neighborhood. Everyone has been so nice and we haven’t even opened our doors yet,”  Lucy says.  By Ann Hendricks and Miranda Ruckdeschel

DYLAN DEVOTEES - Dianne Meldrum talks about the 25th Annual Bob Dylan Imitator's Concert that took place on  April 26 at Nietzche's on Allen Street. The concert took place in honor of her husband, Michael Meldrum, founder of the Imitator's concert. Michael Meldrum, was a well known music figure in the city of Buffalo and people came out to remember and celebrate his passion for music. Video by Michael Hargrave and Shayna McKie

Monday, May 7, 2012

Whole Hog cautious about new truck rules

 Buffalo food trucks are still learning to deal with regulations enacted by the city in February.
 Under these new regulations, food truck owners must buy a $1,000 license. They must not operate within 100 feet of a restaurant or food vendor and must keep 500 feet away from city sanctioned events; like festivals.
 Kathleen Haggerty, the owner of the Whole Hog Food Truck, based on the West Side, said she’s taken the regulations in stride. She listened to what the city wanted before making any big decisions regarding her business.
 “I was very malleable,” Haggerty said.
 Haggerty carries a measuring wheel on her truck to make sure that she parks the proper distance away from restaurants and vendors. Although she’s ready to work with the city, she said she’s not happy with all of the regulations, such as the ban on setting up shop in many of the areas managed by the not-for-profit organization Buffalo Place, which includes much of downtown Main Street.
 “You’ve got Buffalo, NY, the third poorest city in the nation, saying no to a small business?” Haggerty said.
 Even though she’s not allowed downtown, Haggerty said she’s been able to establish a loyal following elsewhere.
 “You don’t want me downtown? I’ll go on the West Side,” she said. By Michael Canfield and Jacob Tierney
RUN AGAINST HUNGER - Friends of Night People’s annual 5K Run/Walk Against Hunger was held on April 22 to benefit its efforts to assist homeless people in the area. Runners of all skill levels took part in the race, which ended with an after-race party at D’Youville College. The race started on Niagara Street and winded its way through the West Side. Photo by Michael Canfield and Jacob Tierney

Firefighters visit during Young Child Week

 The siren roared as the fire engine pulled out of the parking lot of the Belle Center.
 There was no fire; no threat of emergency; just a fire safety demonstration conducted by the Buffalo Fire Department in front of an excited group of young children.
The demonstration was part of the National Week of the Young Child, an annual celebration sponsored by the National Association for the Education of Young Children, which was locally celebrated at the Belle Center, located at 104 Maryland St.
“The purpose of this week is to raise awareness about early childhood education and the programs and services that meet those needs,” said Callie Johnson, marketing communications director at the Belle Center.
 The Belle Center partnered up with Child Care Resource Network to bring a wide range of activities to the community including a series of guest readers, an ice cream social and a family swim day held at the Belle Center’s indoor pool.
 “We’re really excited to be celebrating the National Week of the Young Child and proud to be representing the City of Buffalo,” said Johnson. By Jacob Becker and Edward Mazzu

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Grant supports more workers at Mattina

   The Neighborhood Health Center at 300 Niagara St. is adding several new staff members thanks to a grant from the New York State Health Foundation.
 The grant, which was one of 10 grants awarded throughout the state, is worth $100,000.
 The money will go towards administrative training, administrative support staff and nurses.
 “By adding more staff we can increase the amount of people we can see,” said Joanne Haefner, executive director of Neighborhood Health.
 The health center, known in the community as Mattina Health, was re-opened in November as a part of the Neighborhood Health Center that includes Northwest Buffalo Community Health Center.
 Neighborhood Health leases the Mattina building from Kaleida Health.
 Like Neighborhood Health’s other locations, health services at Mattina are currently by appointment only.
 The center is open Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. with hours extended to 8:00 p.m. on Thursdays. The center is not open on the weekend.  By Michael Hargrave and Shayna McKie

New business set to open on Grant Street

              Another small business is making  its way to Grant Street with high hopes of surviving the neighborhood economy.
 Global Villages is set to open mid-May at 216 Grant St., said Owner Louise Sano. It will include items such as baskets, shoes, jewelry, scarves and other unique gifts, Sano said.
 One of the greatest challenges a small business on the West Side will face is trying to overcome language and cultural barriers to make sure the information is clear, said Tony Maggiotto, Jr., an advisor from the Small Business Development Center of Buffalo State College.
Our most valuable resource is information,” Maggiotto, Jr. said.
 Sano will try to overcome those barriers by providing goods from all around the world specifically Thailand, Nidia, Nepal, Kenya and other countries within Africa and Asia, Sano said.  She will be able to keep prices low due to cutting out the middleman  and purchasing the items directly from her suppliers. The prices will range from three dollars to seventy-five dollars, Sano said.
 While the building space is still under construction, Sano is excited to open a store that will infuse modern and traditional items, she said. 
 Sano is able to rent the building space with the help of her family and friends along with profits her store earned  while located in the West Side Bazaar.
 Sano hopes to inspire other small business owners to take a chance and also fill up more abandoned business spaces on the West Side, she said.
“The worst failure is not to try,” Sano said. By Elaundress Ballard and Christie Jok

Re-Tree Western New York celebrates Earth Day

 Re-Tree Western New York held its Sixth Annual Buffalo Enviro-Fair at Niagara Square on Friday April 20, in celebration of Earth Day.
 According to Paul Maurer, chairman of the event, the fair consisted of a series of not-for-profit booths that supplied information about a variety of environmental concerns including soil conservation, the Great Lakes, free tree samplings and alternative energy options.
  "It's something that is good to have for Buffalo so that people know exactly the ways that they can be more energy conscious and sustain our earth, so it's good when we can do that every year,” Maurer said.
   Maurer said the 80-degree day encouraged a high turnout.
   “We were giving out a lot of tree seed, more than I've ever given out, so I couldn't even take a breather, it was busy," Maurer said.
   "This was our sixth annual, so we hope to keep doing it every year as long as I can still get some great generous companies like the ones that did it this year to come back again every year," Maurer said.
    The event was inspired in 2007 when Al Gore came to the Univeristy at Buffalo to give a speech about global warming.
    According to its website, Re-Tree has a goal of planting 30,000 trees by May. By the time of Enviro-Fair , Re-Tree had surpassed the 23,000 mark. By Anna Dinger and Kevin Freiheit

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Niagara Branch Library sets Children’s Day

 The Niagara Branch Library’s annual Children's Day/Book Day, or  Dia, El Dia de los Ninos, El Dia de los Libros, is occurring on May 2 and high attendance is expected from West Side residents and their ninos. 
 The event is a festivity that emphasizes literacy for children of all cultural backgrounds.Because of literacy events and programs like Children's Day/Book Day, libraries work with parents to raise enthusiastic readers, said Kathryn Galvin, manager of the Niagara Branch.
  “The library plays a key role in this community,” said Joy Testa Cinquino, Library System Public Affairs Manager. “Our libraries meet the needs of the neighborhoods. We made a commitment to make sure every library stayed open, by reducing library hours, staff, and programs across the system all 37 libraries.”
 Having opened in 1957, the Niagara Branch Library, located on 280 Porter Ave, has serviced the West Side for more than 50 years. In hopes of remaining open, the Niagara Branch schedules monthly events, after school programs, and updated library items that draw West Side residents through its doors. By Mackenzie Clarke and Cheri St. Croix

MAP farm opens for Tuesday, Saturday tours

The Massachusetts Avenue Project (MAP) has begun its farm tours for the spring season.  
The tours take place 4 p.m. Tuesdays and 10:30 a.m. Saturdays at its one acre urban farm located at 389 Massachusetts Ave.
“Our tours are seasonal from April through October or November each year, depending on weather conditions,” said Zoe Hollomon, MAP’s enterprise director.
Katie Pfohl, farm and markets intern and Erin Sharkey, outreach and education director are the tour guides.
When giving the tours, Pfohl and Sharkey show off the farm’s urban chickens as well as a 1,200 gallon rainwater catchment system, a straw bale greenhouse with a small aquaponics system, home to many largemouth bass.
Another scaly component of the farm is the 25,000 Tilapia residing in a separate commercial scale aquaponics system.
The farm also features a composting system and many inground and raised garden beds. Three perennial gardens border the farm, said Hollomon.
The tours also provide opportunities for people to volunteer and join the MAP team.
“Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 1p.m. are our volunteer days, so many people come for the tour and learn about us,” said Hollomon.  “Some become volunteers.”
Groups larger than three people can schedule tours on the MAP’s website ( or by phone at 882-5327. By Katie Anderson and Danielle Wayne