Acconia’s Brand New Big Turbine

Acconia’s factory in Iowa: from These are strange days in the wind turbine industry. Due to events...

On National Food Day Congressman Higgins Joins the Food Bank of WNY to Promote Awareness of Community Need

[[{"fid":"468","view_mode":"teaser","fields":{"format":"teaser","field_file_image_alt_text[und][0][value]":"","field_file_image_title_text[und][0][value]":""},"type":"media","attributes":{"class":"media-element file-teaser"}}]]     Congressman Brian Higgins (NY-26) visited the Food Bank of Western New York as communities across the country recognize National Food Day with events aimed at promoting access to healthy food.  Higgins and Marylou Borowiak, President & CEO of the Food Bank of WNY, marked the day with a kick-off to the annual food collection drive aimed at putting food on the tables of seniors and families this holiday season.  “No one should go hungry,” said Congressman Higgins. “Today and every day we need to come together to better position our community economically to improve access to healthy foods and work to ensure our neighbors can put food on the table.  I commend the Food Bank of WNY and their many partners for the work they do to address this urgent need.” “This year we have approximately 39,000 families relying on our services and we will need to acquire additional turkey donations to meet the increased need,” said Marylou Borowiak, President and CEO of the Food Bank of WNY.  “As of today, we need 6,000 donated turkeys by Thanksgiving to provide for our local families in need.  We are counting on the generosity of the Western New York community to come through with enough turkeys to help us provide holiday meals to those we serve.” The Food Bank of WNY serves 106,000 individuals, including nearly 37,000 children and over 11,000 seniors who receive food and non-food essentials from the 330 member agencies such as food pantries, soup kitchens, shelters and group homes in Cattaraugus, Chautauqua, Erie and Niagara counties each month. Senior citizens and children represent 44% of those served by the Food Bank of WNY and are the fastest growing populations in need locally.  The growth in need among seniors has been compounded by cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, which Congressman Higgins opposed.  The need among children is being addressed through the Food Bank of WNY’s BackPack program that serves over 1,000 children in 16 schools found to have limited access to food on the weekends.  The Food Bank of WNY “Faces of Hunger” 2014 report found that 59% of all individuals served indicated they have been forced to choose between paying for medicine/medical care or food in the last 12 months and 68% say they have had to choose between paying for utilities or food in the last year.  The report also found that 27% of those served are veterans. This year over 8,000 events will be held in conjunction with National Food Day.  The events will cover a number of interest areas including reducing hunger and addressing the challenges of access to fresh and healthy foods in our cities. According to Feeding America, a national organization of member food banks that includes the Food Bank of WNY, 1 in 6 people in the United States struggle with hunger.   Feeding America also reports that 12.9% of the population in Erie County and 12.3% in Niagara County are considered “Food Insecure.”  For more information, or to help, visit the Food Bank of WNY website at or call 716-852-1305.   

Congressman Higgins Presents Family with Bronze Star Medal and Other Medals Earned by Private First Class Samuel J. Insalaco

[[{"fid":"467","view_mode":"teaser","fields":{"format":"teaser","field_file_image_alt_text[und][0][value]":"","field_file_image_title_text[und][0][value]":""},"type":"media","attributes":{"class":"media-element file-teaser"}}]]   Congressman Brian Higgins (NY-26) presented military medals and honors, including the Bronze Star, to the family of World War II Veteran Private First Class Samuel J. Insalaco.  “For your father’s bravery, commitment and sacrifices, it is truly our honor to present you with these medals on behalf of a grateful nation,” Congressman Higgins said as he presented the service medals over to the Insalaco family.     Born in Pennsylvania, Samuel J. Insalaco moved to Buffalo and bravely enlisted in the U.S. Army on May 28th, 1942, completed his infantry training in Camp Croft in South Carolina, and served with the 1st Infantry Division of the U.S. Army. The 1st Infantry Division led the fight against the Germans in the Invasion of Normandy on June 6, 1944, the largest seaborne invasion ever, just over 70 years ago. The Unit fiercely fought the Germans and became the first to capture a major German City in WWII when they when they seized Aachen on October 21, 1944. The Tunisia Campaign was another battle that Private First Class Samuel J. Insalaco never forgot. He fought in Battle of Hill #523 in 1942 which was known as one of the bloodiest battles fought in North Africa during WWII. It was there where he became one of many soldiers captured by the enemy and then later escaped.   Private First Class Insalaco fought in a total of five battles during WWII: the Invasion of Normandy, Northern-France, Rhineland, Sicily, and Tunisia, before being honorably discharged in 1945. Private First Class Samuel J. Insalaco passed away in 1989 but his son Nick Insalaco recently sent a letter to Congressman Higgins’ office. He wrote, “This year, as the nation and the world mark the 70th Anniversary of D-Day, the Invasion of Normandy, I can’t help but think of my Dad and the other brave servicemen that risked their lives to free the world. They were truly a different breed, ‘The Greatest Generation.’ It is with his memory in mind that I am requesting the assistance of your office in securing information regarding any and all service awards or medals that may have been awarded to my father for his years of service in the U.S. Army during WWII.” Soldiers like Private First Class Insalaco are recognized as heroes because it was their determination to not give up in key battles like the Invasion of Normandy which helped to turn the tide of the war leading to a victory for the Allied Forces. It is also important that we reflect upon the sacrifices that were made. According to some estimates, the Allied Forces suffered more than 10,000 casualties and more than 4,000 lost their lives on D-Day. Like many veterans, Private First Class Sam Insalaco was in a hurry to get home when the war ended, so he never looked into whether he was eligible for any medals. He married Sophie and they raised a family on Buffalo’s West Side on 10th Street between Hudson and Maryland. Sam’s sons also served in the military, Nick served in the U.S. Army Reserves during the Vietnam War and Tom served in the U.S. Army in Vietnam. Congressman Higgins worked to secure Mr. Insalaco’s medals and presented the family with the Bronze Star; Combat Infantryman Badge 1st Award; Presidential Unit Citation; European-African Middle Eastern Campaign Medal with 1 silver service star; World War II Victory Medal; Good Conduct Medal; and the Honorable Service Lapel Button WWII. The Bronze Star is the fourth highest individual award in the U.S. military awarded to members of the military for meritorious service in a combat zone. The silver service star on the European-African Middle Eastern Campaign Medal recognizes the five battles that Private First Class Samuel Insalaco fought in. The Presidential Unit Citation is awarded to units of the United States Armed Forces for the extraordinary heroism while fighting against an enemy. 

$4.3 Million in Federal Funding Awarded to Domestic Violence Prevention Efforts

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced New York is receiving more than $4.3 million for programs that serve domestic violence victims across the state. The funding is provided through the Federal Family Violence Prevention and Services Act, which supports the establishment, maintenance, and expansion of programs to prevent domestic violence. It also provides immediate shelter and support services for all victims of domestic violence and their children, as well as specialized services for underserved populations throughout the state. "Too many families experience violence at home, and my administration has made it a priority to help New Yorkers break this cycle of abuse," Governor Cuomo said. "This funding will support proven programs that are designed to help victims and combat the problem of domestic violence all across this state." The funding is split into non-competitive grants totaling more than $1.2 million and competitive grants totaling $3 million. The non-competitive grants were awarded to domestic violence programs in smaller counties with fewer resources, while the competitive grants were based on county poverty rates, type of model, county Child Protective Services reporting rates, regional office ratings, and racial equity and cultural competence. The New York State Office of Children and Family Services used a competitive Request for Proposals to allocate the funds, which are awarded on an annual basis from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Applying for this funding helps the state better align with emerging needs and the national emphasis on reaching underserved populations and creating effective new evidence-based responses to domestic violence. Awardees had to demonstrate in their proposals that the funds will support preventing incidents of family violence, as well as provide immediate shelter, support services, and access to community-based programs for victims of domestic violence and their children. They also had to offer specialized services for children, underserved populations, and minorities that are exposed to domestic violence. Acting Commissioner of the Office of Children and Family Services Sheila J. Poole said, “Last year, more than 15,000 New Yorkers received emergency domestic violence shelter services at programs licensed by Office of Children and Family Services. This funding is critical to help come to the aid of adults and children who are desperately seeking help from dangerous situations at home. The organizations benefitting from this funding provide important care to families of all shapes, sizes, and backgrounds affected by domestic violence every day of the year. It is important to recognize that there are victims across the state who need services not only to keep them safe, but to help them overcome the trauma of abuse.” According to Safe Horizon, a victims' services agency that assists crime and abuse victims throughout New York City: · One in four women will experience domestic violence. · More than three million children each year will witness domestic violence at home. · Without help, girls who witness domestic violence are more vulnerable to abuse, and boys are more likely to become abusers of their partners and children as adults, continuing a cycle of violence we see in families all too often.   Award Populations Name of Program Amount Served Equinox, Inc. $75,250 Albany Co. Allegany County Community Opportunities and Rural Development (ACCORD) $75,250 Allegany Co. Cattaraugus Community Action, Inc. $75,250 Cattaraugus Co. Cayuga/Seneca Community Action Agency, Inc. $50,563 Cayuga Co. The Salvation Army (Jamestown) $75,250 Chautauqua Co. Grace Smith House, Inc. $35,050 Dutchess Co. House of Faith Ministry, Inc. $30,000 Dutchess Co. Erie County District Attorney's Office $55,000 Erie Co. Child and Family Services of Erie County (Haven House) $56,074 Erie Co. Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Albany/Catholic Charities of Herkimer County $75,250 Herkimer Co. Liberty Resources, Inc. $74,636 Madison Co. The Safe Center LI, Inc. $75,250 Nassau Co. YWCA of Niagara, Inc. $58,879 Niagara Co. Family & Children’s Service of Niagara, Inc. $56,811 Niagara Co. Jewish Board of Family and Children's Services $35,073 NYC Queens Legal Services Corporation $75,250 NYC Urban Resource Institute $75,250 NYC HELP Social Service Corporation $75,250 NYC Safe Horizon, Inc. $75,250 NYC Henry Street Settlement $75,250 NYC Palladia, Inc. $75,250 NYC Good Shepherd Services $75,250 NYC Barrier Free Living, Inc. $75,250 NYC New York City Gay and Lesbian Anti-Violence Project $75,250 NYC Urban Justice Center $75,250 NYC New York Asian Women’s Center, Inc. $75,250 NYC YWCA of the Mohawk Valley $75,250 Oneida Co. Vera House, Inc. $50,000 Onondaga Co. The Salvation Army (Syracuse) $75,250 Onondaga Co. Family Counseling Service of the Finger Lakes, Inc. $67,535 Ontario Co. Oswego County Opportunities, Inc. $75,250 Oswego Co. Putnam/Northern Westchester Women’s Resource Center $69,379 Putnam Co. Unity House of Troy, Inc. $75,250 Rensselaer Co. Seamen's Society for Children and Families $75,250 Richmond Co. Mechanicville Area Community Services Center, Inc. $53,920 Saratoga Co. YWCA of Schenectady $75,250 Schenectady Co. Retreat, Inc. $75,250 Suffolk Co. Brighter Tomorrows, Inc. $75,250 Suffolk Co. A New Hope Center, Inc. $75,250 Tioga Co. Advocacy Center of Tompkins County $50,992 Tompkins Co. Circulo de la Hispanidad $75,250 Ulster Co. Family of Woodstock, Inc. $53,613 Ulster Co. Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Albany $75,250 Warren Co. & Washington Co. My Sisters' Place $75,250 Westchester Co. Hope’s Door $70,000 Westchester Co. Westchester County Office for Women $39,134 Westchester Co. TOTAL: $3,088,909 If you or someone you know is in immediate danger, call 911. If you are a victim in crisis seeking assistance or for information about resources in your community, call the New York State Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-942-6906, or 1-800-621-HOPE in New York City. Congressman Brian Higgins said, “Programs serving domestic violence survivors are crucial to providing the necessary shelter, treatment and counseling these situations call for. This funding will support these programs, allow them to expand their scope and services, and help them continue to serve survivors of domestic violence.” Providers statewide received nearly 195,000 domestic violence crisis or hotline calls in 2013 alone. Local domestic violence hotlines provide community-specific information and resources. A list of local hotline numbers can be found on the New York State Coalition Against Domestic Violence website. Additionally, the Office of Children and Family Services website contains information about domestic violence service providers. The information listed contains business addresses, and does not represent actual DV shelter locations. The Office of Children and Family Services serves New York by promoting the safety, permanency, and well-being of children, families, and communities, and coordinates the licensing process for 163 residential domestic violence programs across the state. For more information, visit, “like” the New York State Office of Children and Family Services Facebook page, or follow @NYSOCFS on Twitter. OCFS also maintains a Spanish-language Twitter account, @NYSOCFS_espanol.

Higgins Announces $325,000 for Housing Opportunities Made Equal

Congressman Brian Higgins (NY-26) announced $325,000 in grant funding for the organization Housing Opportunities Made Equal (HOME).  The grant, awarded through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), aims to prevent or eliminate discriminatory housing practices and to ensure individuals know their rights and responsibilities under the Fair Housing Act. “It is unacceptable that discrimination continues to play a role in our society,” said Congressman Higgins.  “However, it is reassuring to know that HOME is available for Western New Yorkers to turn to for assistance.”   HOME Executive Director Scott W. Gehl said, “Thanks to the support of Congressman Brian Higgins and the New York congressional delegation, HOME will be will able to continue its work with our partners at HUD to keep alive the promise of fair housing in the nation’s sixth most racially segregated metropolitan area.” Housing Opportunities Made Equal, a Buffalo based civil rights organization, works to promote diversity and assure equal housing opportunity for all.  HOME has led the struggle for fair housing in Western New York since 1963.  HOME was among only 10 organizations in New York to receive funds though HUD’s Fair Housing Initiatives Program, which supports programs that assist people who believe they have been victims of housing discrimination.  This federal funding will allow HOME to recruit and train new fair housing investigators, establish partnerships with other non-profits to promote fair housing, conduct systematic investigations of larger housing providers and real estate firms, in addition to numerous other activities aimed at reducing housing discrimination.  Federal support allows HOME to provide services throughout all of Erie and Niagara Counties and to respond to requests for service from Chautauqua, Cattaraugus, Orleans, Genesee and Wyoming Counties.   

Congressman Higgins, Mayor Brown, Assemblyman Ryan & Councilman Rivera Announce Start of Construction on Ferry Street Bridge

[[{"fid":"466","view_mode":"teaser","fields":{"format":"teaser","field_file_image_alt_text[und][0][value]":"","field_file_image_title_text[und][0][value]":""},"type":"media","attributes":{"class":"media-element file-teaser"}}]]   Congressman Brian Higgins, City of Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown, New York State Assemblyman Sean Ryan and Buffalo City Councilman David Rivera announced the start of a major reconstruction project on the Ferry Street Bridge connecting Niagara Street to Squaw Island.  “Once again collaboration is quite literally building bridges in Buffalo,” said Congressman Higgins.  “With this project we strengthen destination points along Niagara Street gateway, put people to work in the City of Buffalo and invest in the future of our waterfront.”  “The Ferry Street Bridge is an important link to one of Buffalo’s crown jewels - Broderick Park - as well as to neighborhoods along Niagara Street,” said Mayor Brown.   “We are excited to begin this major infrastructure improvement project that will further strengthen the Niagara Street corridor, create jobs and serve as a vital link to historic Broderick Park, which is currently undergoing a $2.3 million transformation into a space that memorializes Buffalo’s unique local history associated with the Underground Railroad.  I thank our partners for being a part of this effort that will give residents and visitors improved access to Buffalo’s waterfront and a unique cultural amenity at Broderick Park.” Assemblyman Sean Ryan said, "The Ferry Street Bridge is an iconic and historic structure in the City of Buffalo, and I am thankful that the federal and state governments and the City of Buffalo have teamed together to preserve this important part of our history. The rehabilitated bridge will be a welcome complement to the new Broderick Park and Buffalo's West Side." “The investment being directed here on the West Side is very important to developing and maintaining the historic and cultural importance of Broderick Park and Ferry Street. As we move forward and plan for future development in Buffalo, we also must honor our past and preserve the stories of Broderick Park and Ferry Street and the roles they played in our City’s early history,” added City of Buffalo Councilman David Rivera.  “We also must provide safe bridges and roads to access our landmarks and I commend Mayor Brown and Congressman Higgins for prioritizing the Ferry Street Bridge and supporting this project.”   Originally built in 1913, the Ferry Street Bridge is a bascule bridge crossing the Black Rock Channel.   Work is just beginning to rehabilitate the bridge and is slated for completion in early 2016.  The $7.92 million reconstruction project includes $5.56 million in federal transportation funding, $1.31 million in funding from the City of Buffalo and $1.05 million from the State.  The Ferry Street Bridge project compliments a number of other improvement projects in the area surrounding the bridge:  Broderick Park will see a $2.3 million investment from the City and State.  Of that total, approximately $1.5 million in enhancements are nearly complete including: creation of a south lawn and parking area, a new shelter, railings, sidewalks, bike path, amphitheater and central overlook.  Concession building improvements, a memorial garden, Underground Railroad Freedom Walk pathway, north parking area and additional landscape features are scheduled for completion next year.  Over $1.5 million in funding was dedicated to recent repairs along Bird Island Pier.  Collaborative efforts between the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, City of Buffalo and Niagara Greenway Commission, supported dredging and repairs to shore up the unique pedestrian path that serves as both a barrier providing calmer waters for boats traveling the Niagara River and a fishing destination for anglers.  In 2013 Higgins also successfully fought efforts by the U.S. Army Corps to block off access to Squaw Island fishing pier.    An additional $5.9 million in federal funding, including resources provided through the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, was secured in 2011 for waterside improvements to the Black Rock Channel, Tonawanda Harbor and Buffalo Harbor.   The International Railroad Bridge underwent $2 million in improvements providing vehicular access to Squaw Island Park via a suspended roadway.  The repair work included $1.6 million in federal funds, a $300,000 state allocation and $100,000 in city funding.  The bridge supports rail transportation across the U.S.-Canada border.  Earlier this year, $500,000 in U.S. Environmental Protection Agency funding was awarded to support green infrastructure projects along Niagara Street.  This is in addition to over $16.3 million in commitments for the multi-phase Niagara Street Gateway project which began in August.  Construction on the Ferry Bridge brings the total recent investment along this portion of the Niagara Street section of the waterfront to over $36.42 million.