Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Community Beer Works expansion on hold

          Community Beer Works, 15 Lafayette Ave., has decided against the purchase of a new 15-barrel system that would have allowed for increased production of beer.
           Head Brewer Rudy Watkins had said he and other owners would attend the Craft Brewers Conference in Portland, Ore. in mid-April in pursuit of purchasing such a system. Watkins says that while there was no immediate purchase, there is still a possibility that Community Beer Works will upgrade in the future. 
          “There’s no huge development on the bigger system,” Watkins said. “Things move slowly, as they always do, but we’re working on it.” 
          While they did not purchase a new system, the owners discovered new breweries and learned new techniques at the conference. 
          “We went around and chatted with the hundreds of vendors out on the trade show & some of their offerings will be making it into our processes,” Watkins said. “They're making insanely good and interesting beers out there.” 
          Watkins believes his brewery’s attendance at the conference will be beneficial.  
          “The sessions I attended were super informative,” Watkins said. “Every year's conference is different and has different areas of focus, but I always come back inspired to improve our day to day operations as well as grow our long-term goals.” By Ryan Beiter and Jonny Moran

Refugees help Erie County population grow

          Availability and affordability of housing on the West Side is playing a major role in the increasing refugee population in Erie County.
          Refugee Resettlement agencies such as the International Institute have created a link between available housing and the population increase of Erie County indicated in the 2014 Census. 
Iraqi refugee Nadeen is a new W.S. resident
          A report released by the United States Census Bureau in 2014 showed that the population of Erie County in April 2014 was 922,835, an increase of 952,000 from 2010. According to that same report 12,196 people from other countries moved to Erie County between 2010 and 2014, exceeding the 8,394 residents who moved away.
           Mary Sullivan, self-sufficiency coordinator at the International Institute who is responsible for refugee family budgeting and financial education, points to the fact that the West Side is full of places for refugees seeking a place to live.
           “I think a huge part of what is happening in Erie County and the West Side is attributed to housing availability,” Sullivan said. “Not only are there buildings that are vacant for refugees to come and live in but the prices on these properties are low enough for them to afford.”
           The influx of refugees into Erie County has not only given the county its first positive population increase since the 1960s but it is acting as a resuscitation device for the community itself.
           “Grant Street has come such a long way in the past few years,” Sullivan said. “They are coming into these areas that were once abandoned and giving them life again.” By Ryan Esguerra, Amber Rinard and Dallas Taylor

Businesses, residents taking aim at johns

Grant Street business owners and residents such as barbershop owner Nick LaFornara and PUSH Lead Community Organizer Brenda Miller-Herndan are looking for ways to stop prostitution solicitors. Known on the West Side as johns, those who encourage prostitution are warned by bright yellow signs placed on street poles that they are being watched. Local shop owners feel these taboo practices could negatively affect their businesses, and can only bring more criminal activity to the area. By Jessica Miranda and Ashley Stobnicki

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Marchers push for marijuana legalization

Carol Panzarella, left, marched outside City Hall on April 20 with the Buffalo Marijuana Movement, which is pushing the Buffalo Common Council to consider The Buffalo Medical Marijuana Act. This bill would legalize industrial hemp, medical marijuana, and make marijuana enforcement the lowest law enforcement priority. Panzarella said marijuana is one of the only safe ways she can alleviate her rheumatoid arthritis. By Ryan Beiter and Jonny Moran