Category “Local News”

Muir Woods Home Construction to Start in Fall 2018

Muir Woods, pictured in 2014. (News file photo)
Muir Woods

After 17 years in the making, construction on the first of the 133 homes in the Muir Woods subdivision in Amherst will start by fall 2018., Ciminelli Real Estate Corp. says.

The town Planning Board last week  approved the Muir Woods site plan, saying the $50 million project would not harm the environment. The decision followed an extensive discussion that included two members’ unsuccessfully attempting  to require further study of alternate routes into the subdivision or to change how traffic enters the development.

In the end, the board overrode the traffic and safety concerns and allowed the project to move forward.
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History Walk at Stella Niagara Preserve

Stella Niagara Chapel

On Thursday, September 21, the Western New York Land Conservancy will be hosting a special history walk at the Stella Niagara Preserve in Lewiston. The hike will take place at 5:30 pm and will be led by Karen Noonan, a member of the Town of Porter Historical Society and the Youngstown Heritage Tours and Tourism Committee. Karen is also the co-author of “From the Mouth of the Lower Niagara River: Stories of Four Historic Communities.” Tickets cost $25 and can be purchased at (search keywords “Stella Niagara Preserve”). All proceeds will support the work of the Western New York Land Conservancy.

The Stella Niagara Preserve was permanently protected two years ago when the Land Conservancy purchased the property from the Sisters of St. Francis. The property is located on the Niagara County Historic Trail and is part of the Niagara Falls National Heritage Area.

The preserve was an important canoe landing site for the region’s Haudenosaunee who used the Niagara River for transport, trade, and fishing. Stella is the very spot where the British landed in 1813 to capture Fort Niagara. There are still “witness trees” on the property that are old enough to have seen the British come ashore. The small chapel along the river was in the national spotlight in 1955 when it miraculously survived an ice jam and flood that destroyed many other properties along the river. The property is also home to several sgraffito-style murals by Józef Sławiński, a renowned Polish artist.

We invite the community to come and learn about all of this and more at a unique tour of our region’s newest nature preserve. For more information, please contact the Land Conservancy at or (716) 687-1225.

The Western New York Land Conservancy is a regional, not-for-profit land trust that permanently protects land with significant conservation value in Western New York for future generations. The Land Conservancy envisions a future in which open spaces, working lands, wildlife habitat and scenic beauty are cherished and protected as part of the landscape and character of Western New York. The Land Conservancy is accredited by the Land Trust Accreditation Commission and is one of 1,700 land trusts nationwide, including 90 in New York State. Land trusts have protected 40 million acres over the last 20 years. For more information on upcoming events, volunteer opportunities, or the mission of the Western New York Land Conservancy, please call (716) 687-1225 or visit

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In Stunning New Deal with Democrats, Trump Agrees to Be Impeached


WASHINGTON (The Borowitz Report)—In his most stunning deal yet with Democratic leaders, Donald Trump agreed on Friday to be impeached by the end of 2017.

Emerging from an Oval Office meeting with Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, a beaming Trump touted the deal for his imminent removal from office.

“Chuck and Nancy and I got a deal done on impeachment,” Trump said. “It was a good deal and it was a fast deal.”

Trump said that the Democrats had convinced him that agreeing to be impeached would make him soar in popularity. “People are going to love me for doing this,” Trump said. “They’re going to love it on all the channels.”

In a barb aimed at House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Trump said that the impeachment agreement was something he “never could have gotten done” with the Republican leadership.

“I went around and around with the Republicans for months on health care,” he said. “This meeting with Chuck and Nancy took, what, five minutes, and I could get back to watching TV.”

Hoping to capitalize on their momentum, Pelosi and Schumer said that they would meet with Trump next week to discuss the ouster of Vice-President Mike Pence.

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Why a Real Housewife Was at Whole Foods in Amherst

Rosie Pierri, a cast member on “The Real Housewives of New Jersey,” was at the Amherst Whole Foods opening Friday. Her company created the grocery store’s fixtures and displays. (Larry Busacca/Getty Images)
Rosie Pierri, a cast member on “The Real Housewives of New Jersey,” was at the Amherst Whole Foods opening Friday. Her company created the grocery store’s fixtures and displays.

The new Whole Foods store in Amherst seemed to have everything when it opened Friday.

Customers marveled over giant jackfruit, plucked ripe pluots and even snapped up living, breathing Venus flytraps. But not many shoppers noticed that one of the rarest, most exotic species of all was right under their noses: a Real Housewife of New Jersey.

Rosie Pierri wasn’t at the store to make a high-profile celebrity appearance. She was there on business.

A millwright since the age of 17, the popular reality TV star’s New Jersey company Trinity Group custom created the store’s fixtures and displays.
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Site Work to Start This Fall on Restaurant at Reikart House in Snyder

A rendering of Jazzboline, the restaurant planned for the site of the former Sonoma Grille, next to the Reikart House hotel in Snyder (Iskalo Development)
A rendering of Jazzboline, the restaurant planned for the site of the former Sonoma Grille, next to the Reikart House hotel in Snyder

Site work could begin by November on the restaurant connected to the Reikart House hotel in Snyder, after the Amherst Planning Board on Thursday approved the site plan and found the project would not harm the environment.

Iskalo Development plans to submit design drawings for the Jazzboline restaurant to the town for building permits in the next few weeks, said David Chiazza, Iskalo’s executive vice president. Jazzboline, at 5010 Main St., is on track to open in fall 2018.
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Hearing On Westwood Project’s Environmental Impact Set For Monday

Residents post their dislike of the proposed project near the old Westwood Country Club on North Forest Road in Amherst on Friday, July 21, 2017. (Robert Kirkham/Buffalo News)

Amherst residents who think the former site of Westwood Country Club should stay green can state their case Monday to the Amherst Town Board.

A public hearing on a draft environmental impact statement is scheduled for 7 p.m. at Amherst Town Hall, 5583 Main St., Williamsville.  Mensch Capital’s proposed $250 million project, which requires rezoning more than 141 acres of the 171-acre brownfield site and converting more than 99 percent of it to neighborhood development or a multi-family residential area, has generated controversy in the community.

Monday’s meeting comes four days after the town’s Planning Board is set to consider the rezoning.

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Amherst Planning Board Cites Sewer Capacity In Delaying Westwood


The Amherst Planning Board Thursday delayed for at least two months its review of a $250 million proposal to reuse the former Westwood Country Club until it receives more information on how the developer will address inadequate sanitary sewer capacity — during periods of heavy rain — in the surrounding area.

The board’s vote to adjourn the rezoning came at the request of the developer, Mensch Capital Partners, which would build a mix of housing for 1,700, retail and commercial space and parkland.

The Planning Board is weighing a request to rezone 140 of the site’s 171 acres.

The adjournment came over the objections of many neighbors of the former country club, who spoke at a lengthy public hearing Thursday and urged the board to recommend disapproval of the zoning change. That ultimately will be decided by the Town Board, which is reviewing the project’s environmental effect.

The earliest the rezoning is likely to return to the Planning Board is November.

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A Teacher’s Tips On How To Get Kids Excited About STEM

Mill Middle School science teach Kenneth Huff teaches his sixth-grade class a lesson on how to reduce force to prevent a water balloon from breaking on Monday, Sept. 11, 2017. He’s with students Alessandra Sciortino and Reagan Sanchack. Behind in pink is Nina Lombardo.


Emerging diseases, energy sustainability and severe weather are just some of the global issues today’s students will be asked to solve using the skills they learn in the classroom, according to one local teacher.

Kenneth L. Huff, a middle school science teacher in the Williamsville Central School District, was one of 10 teachers nationwide chosen to help promote the science, technology, engineering and mathematics curriculum as a 2017 STEM Teacher Ambassador. The program aims to train the teachers in communication skills so they can provide input on policies for K-12 STEM education on the local, state and federal level.

“We are increasingly asked to make decisions on issues such as health care, environment, food, and energy where a solid foundation of STEM knowledge is essential,” said Huff, a teacher at Mill Middle School. “Unfortunately, we have yet to commit the time and resources to STEM education to ensure all students of New York State acquire these skills.”

Huff has three recommendations:

  1. Engage students in performances: This is more than simply having students do hands-on activities. Engaging students in performances means creating situations where students become curious about science phenomena. Phenomena are the everyday observable events we see around us, such as clouds forming, billowing, and disappearing. Children are compelled by the context to ask questions and seek answers to the causes of phenomena. I began my classes this year by presenting students with the phenomena – Sometimes when a person throws a water balloon at me I can catch it without it breaking and sometimes it breaks when I try to catch it. Students used proportions as evidence to support explanations they constructed for the cause of why water balloons broke. Student’s explanations included how their group engineered design reduced the forces acting on the balloon. They used core ideas including force, mass, and gravity to support their explanations and argued why and/or how the evidence they gathered supported their explanation.
  2. Better harness the power of technology: Students need access to a variety of digital technologies to support their STEM investigations. Examples include scientific probes, wireless sensors, and data collection and analysis software. Each year in my classroom, students go outside and conduct an investigation to measure the amount of propulsion in Newton’s generated by a model rocket engine. Students use a force sensor connected to an iPad via Bluetooth to collect the propulsion data. They create tables, and graphs to make their thinking visible and communicate their reasoning. Through the use of this technology, students deepen understandings of mathematical measures of central tendency as they seek out patterns via analyzing and interpreting data.
  3. Foster real-world, relevant connections: STEM experiences need to be age appropriate and relevant to students’ lives and their community. Addressing problems that have real world application capitalizes on students’ early interest and human inquisitiveness while building on prior formal and informal learning experiences. In my classroom, I invite practicing scientists, including NOAA meteorologists, and engineers to share their work experiences with students. Involving a community or outside expert in the learning can bring a new context via authentic descriptions of practices while cultivating student interest in STEM. If the goal of STEM education is to graduate students who are cognizant of the processes, potentialities, and propensities of STEM, then it is essential our instructional programs and classroom practices expand their scope beyond a compulsion to teach facts and rote details leaving students with the impression that STEM is dull.

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David Kowalski

All things GREEN: Energy, Environment, and Economy


  • FRIDAY, September 15, DISTINGUISHED LECTURE: ‘Global Climate Change and Human Health – Global is Local’ by Linda S. Birnbaum, Ph.D., Director of NIEHS and NTP. Sponsor UB RENEW Institute. 11:45am-1:30pm, University at Buffalo, South Campus, 403 Hayes Hall, Buffalo [LINK]
  • SATURDAY, September 16, CONSERVATION CONVERSATION: ‘Mitigating Climate Change’ – Decreasing the effect of climate change on people, communities and aquatic ecosystems. Expert speakers on climate impacts, extreme heat, and the Paris Climate Agreement. Sponsored by the ADK Niagara Frontier Chapter. 9:00AM-Noon, Daemen College, Schenck Hall (Auditorium, Rm. 107), 4380 Main St., Amherst. Free and Open to the public [LINK]


  • September 29, FEATURED TALK: “The Desperate Climate Fight: Ordinary People in an Extraordinary Moment” by Bill McKibben, environmental author, educator and activist. Part of the 2017 Buffalo Humanities Festival. 8:00pm-9:30pm, Albright-Knox Art Gallery, 1285 Elmwood Ave, Buffalo [LINK]

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New Ranking Says Buffalo’s a Good Spot For Millennials, Mostly Due to Affordability

Millennials gave Buffalo a good score in an survey.
 (Derek Gee/Buffalo News file photo)

Buffalo is the 18th best metro area in the country for millennials to live in, according to a new ranking by

The website surveyed 24,000 renters and also used other data to calculate scores based on affordability, “livability” and the local job market.

Buffalo received an overall grade of ‘A’ and ranked second in the country in affordability, in a tie with Cleveland. Syracuse had the top score for affordability among 75 metro areas.

Buffalo ranked in the middle of the pack on jobs and near the bottom on livability.
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