Friday, September 29, 2023

Hispanic Cultural Institute to open in 2025

By George McClendon Jr.

            Members of the Hispanic Heritage Council of Western New York, Gov. Kathy Hochul and other elected officials broke ground on a new $30 million Hispanic Heritage Cultural Institute on Sept. 15,  the first day of Hispanic Heritage Month

The 37,000-square-foot building will be built on the corner of Niagara and Hudson streets.  It will serve as a center to celebrate Hispanic culture, arts, and heritage for the community. The project is estimated to be completed in 18 months.

It is a "gathering place for people from many different backgrounds, to want to learn about the great contributions of the Hispanic community," Gov. Hochul said, "but also, not just learn about the past, but celebrate with theater and dance, and broadcasting to the world the stories of what people are doing. So, your grandson will know the proud story of the struggles. They have an eye toward the future and know that’ll be better because of those who came before and built a place to celebrate this great story.”

The center will feature three floors. The first two will be for all the amenities provided in the facility and the third floor has been allocated for tenant leased space, allowing people in the community to host their own events there.

The facility will have energy efficient amenities, including solar panels.

“It’s going to be a one-of-a-kind hub,” said council Vice President Maritza Vega.  “It’s going to be good for the community in general, not just Hispanic. We are going to feature experimental learning and we’re going to have a theater, along with a TV and radio station for our youth to learn about all of this.”

Additionally, the interior spaces will include a museum, art gallery, cafĂ©, and a gift shop. The entire facility will have flexible, multi-functional spaces to accommodate various types of programs. 

The council has received funding from both state and federal offices to help fund this project. A year ago, Gov. Hochul announced a $5 million grant through Empire State Development for the institute’s construction.

In addition to that, in 2021, the Western New York Regional Economic Development Council awarded a $725,000 grant. The New York Power Authority also provided a $300,000 funding award.

“This project is very important not only to this organization, but to this community. This project represents art and culture, with many of our partners in the community, but we also envision this project to be the economic engine of this area. The gateway to America, it is going to be a tourist attraction not only locally, but across the state and Canada,” said council President, Casimiro Rodriguez Sr.  




Sunday, September 24, 2023

Massachusetts Ave. farm sets winter schedule

Katherine Pfohl, Massachusetts Avenue Project farm manager, picks eggplants from the garden for the last days of this year’s harvest. “Our market still operates over the winter. We wrap up our CSA distribution obligations as the season ends. The soil needs to take a break. And the market still stays open every Thursday,” Pfohl, said. The Massachusetts Avenue Project, 387 Massachusetts Ave., is an urban farm in the heart of the West Side bringing farm fresh food to its residents. West Side residents can pick up eggs, bread, staple products, beauty products, and storage crops from 3-6 p.m., Thursdays, from November through April.  During December, the farm offers a special holiday market that sells handmade gifts like knit wear and clay pottery from local businesses. By Brittany Whalen

Rowing club wraps season, plans for winter conditioning

The West Side Rowing club is wrapping up most programs and gearing up for the off season in the coming weeks. Head Coach Lily Keane highlights the programs connected with schools across the West Side and what a winter training program utilizes to maintain its  athletes and keep them ready to row for next season. By Joseph Cali

Tuesday, September 19, 2023

Illegal activity decreases after improvements


The Elmwood Village Association Executive Director James Cichocki says improvements have been made to two neighborhood trouble spots greatly alleviating illegal activity. He thanks the Buffalo Police Department for its role in making the Elmwood Village a safer place to be. While crime in certain areas might be improving Areavibes, a website that calculates a livability score for neighborhoods, gives the Elmwood Village an overall livability score of 82 but a failing grade for crime. By Khalid Chapman

Sunday, September 17, 2023

After-school programs up and running at WSCS

Jaymir Johnson, a volunteer for West Side Community Services After School Program helps a student find what toy during a recent afternoon. The program for grade kindergarten to six, runs school days from 2:30 - 5:30 p.m. at the center, 161 Vermont St. The teen program for 7th graders and students to age 19 will begin Oct. 10 and will operate from 5:30 - 8:30 p.m., Tuesdays through Thursdays. The after-school program has a monthly fee, although Erie County may offer a credit to specific families. The teen program is free. Intentions are to host a program for some of the school breaks this year for the first time. “The hope is to do it this year for at least two breaks. We had an awesome staff member who ran our summer camp, and we’re hoping to bring her back for vacation and break camps, although it is not officially set in stone,” Mary Schaefer, the head of the program, said. By Andrew Forsyth

Concerns continue for evicted migrants


Buffalo State University announced the eviction of 44 migrants from campus housing just before the start of the Fall 2023 semester. Matt Tice, Vive Shelter director of Asylum Seekers Programs, says the eviction could be detrimental to their progress and Vive remains committed to stability for migrants and their families. By Angela Caico