WNYmedia Logo City

Statement by Congressman Higgins

Congressman Higgins released the following statement in response to the current weather conditions in Western New York:  "Buffalo and Western New York are populated by the hardiest people in the world, and Mother Nature tested that hardiness agai...
Video thumbnail for youtube video Higgins Gives Shout out to Niagara Air Reserve Station -


Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced construction has broken ground on the Robert Moses Parkway South "Riverway," an $18.8 million project that will enhance access to the waterfront and to Niagara Falls State Park. Along the final one-mile stretch mostly within the State Park, all expressway features will be replaced with pedestrian-friendly park road that evokes the characteristics of Frederick Law Olmsted's original design that historically passed through the area. “Niagara Falls is one of the most visited attractions in the nation, and this project will make it easier than ever for visitors to experience this natural wonder for themselves," Governor Cuomo said. "Investing in the Robert Moses Parkway will enhance the park, expand recreational opportunities, and work with hotel and entertainment projects in the downtown area to increase tourism and create jobs in the region." Congressman Brian Higgins said, “Original construction of the Robert Moses Parkway took away this city’s most valuable asset—access to arguably the greatest waterfront in the world. It’s time we, as a community, take it back. This is about more than tearing something down, it’s about building something up. Transformation of the Robert Moses into a new Olmstedian Riverway brings the city closer to its waterfront and with that comes great opportunity.” For many years, the elevated expressway has blocked views and access between downtown neighborhoods and the Upper Niagara River. This project, expected to result in most road work being completed by fall 2015 with all park landscaping work completed in spring 2016, will fully restore visual and physical access to the various natural and cultural features along the River. As part of the project, an elevated interchange at John B. Daly Boulevard will be removed at the entrance to the State Park—along with the earthen berm on which it sits—and replaced with a modern roundabout and signature entry feature. Other plans include a full path system and nature areas, as well as a new water feature evoking the former Port Day Pond, a favorite local fishing and gathering spot for residents until it was filled in 1960 to make way for the Parkway. All of these changes are aimed at allowing easier access to the Niagara River and the American Rapids – where for generations residents and visitors have had to cross four lanes of concrete expressway to access the water’s edge. Now there will be native plantings and a complete trail network to facilitate hiking, biking, fishing, cross-country skiing, all accessible from city streets for the first time in more than 50 years. In addition, there is currently more than $40 million of private investment along this one-mile stretch, in part due to this important infrastructure project. Through the Buffalo Billion initiative, New York State is investing $10 million dollars toward the project’s construction phase. This is being added to $6.8 million in Department of Transportation funds through its Multi-Modal Access and other programs to cover $15.8 million in hard construction costs and $1.5 million in construction oversight. Included in the Department of Transportation allocation is about $1 million in federal highway funding passed through the State. Empire State Development previously approved a grant of $1.5 million to enable State Parks to complete final design and construction documents for the project. The southern segment of the Robert Moses Parkway sits in part on land controlled by the New York Power Authority that was created as part of the development of the Niagara Power Project in the early 1960s. The expressway itself is owned by the New York State Office of Parks Recreation & Historic Preservation, and is maintained under agreement by the New York State Department of Transportation. In 2006, USA Niagara Development Corporation, Empire State Development’s Niagara Falls subsidiary, worked with State Parks, the Department of Transportation, the City of Niagara Falls and the New York Power Authority to draft a memorandum of understanding to jointly solicit funds for the reconfiguration of two key segments of the Parkway to open access to the City’s waterfront. Beginning construction on the Riverway represents the first of these efforts. In addition, the agencies recently began preliminary engineering and environmental review work to reconfigure a segment of the northern portion of the Parkway to open public access along the Niagara Gorge, funded by a grant from the New York Power Authority. The construction contract for the project was awarded to Mark Cerrone, Inc. of Niagara Falls, New York. MCI has been involved in a number of major regional infrastructure projects such as reconstruction of Old Falls Street in Niagara Falls and construction of the cobblestone street network that is part of the Canalside area in Buffalo, as well as efforts to return cars to Main Street in Buffalo. Commissioner of the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation Rose Harvey said, “Creating an entrance to the nation’s oldest state park that is befitting of Frederick Law Olmsted’s vision is one of the goals of this project. When this project is complete visitors will enter Niagara Falls State Park from the Robert Moses Parkway South and know they have arrived somewhere special. Historic revitalization is happening at Niagara Falls State Park thanks to Governor Cuomo and his unending support for New York State Parks. I also wish to thank our terrific partners on this project at the Department of Transportation led by Commissioner Joan McDonald, President, CEO and Commissioner Ken Adams and his team at Empire State Development and President and CEO Gil Quiniones and the team at New York Power Authority.” New York Power Authority President and Chief Executive Officer Gil C. Quiniones said, “The Niagara River is one of the state’s greatest natural wonders with stunning vistas and a diverse ecosystem. The repurposing of the Parkway will allow Niagara Falls residents and others to fully enjoy the proximity of the river and highlights the innovative partnership of the state and the city to add to the abundant attractions of this part of Western New York.” Lieutenant Governor Robert J. Duffy said, "The Robert Moses Parkway is a significant channel that connects visitors to Niagara Falls. This project will make it easier to attract tourists and drive local development and job growth. With thanks to Governor Cuomo's leadership, this is another win for Niagara Falls and the Buffalo Billion initiative." State Assemblyman John Ceretto said, “This project will finally provide the open views and access to the upper Niagara River that residents and tourists have been craving for decades. Governor Cuomo’s strategic plan for growing tourism focuses on taking advantage of all that our majestic Niagara Falls has to offer. This new gateway to the Falls will result in long term economic benefits by supporting lodging and retail projects on adjoining corridors, as they look to take advantage of this unique new view of our world famous natural wonder." City of Niagara Falls Mayor Paul Dyster said, “It is indisputable that Niagara Falls has one of the world’s greatest waterfronts, but for more than a generation, residents, visitors and businesses have been cut off from that resource by the Robert Moses Parkway. Now, with the visionary leadership of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the strong support of his Western New York Regional Economic Development Council, a decades-long planning mistake will at long-last be corrected. Reconnecting the City to its iconic Niagara River waterfront will not only be a major economic benefit; it will also help our residents to recover their sense of identity and self-confidence as we work to accelerate the development of our tourism industry.” Christopher J. Schoepflin, President of USA Niagara Development Corporation said, “The Riverway project will finally re-connect the City to its waterfront, create a proper welcome to both the City and the Park, and prove to be a catalyst for the future of tourism and economic growth in downtown Niagara Falls. This is truly a once-in-a-generation project and a lasting legacy for Governor Cuomo and all involved.” Satish K. Tripathi, President of the University at Buffalo and Western New York Regional Economic Development Council Co-Chair said, “Opening visual and physical access between the Upper Niagara River and downtown Niagara Falls is a natural component for enhancing tourism. Cities all over the world continue to newly discover the beauty and experiences their waterfronts have to offer. We celebrate the creation of this fully accessible waterfront. And, we envision generations of people enjoying the Riverway and surrounding environs which naturally lead to our spectacular waterfalls – one of the world’s great destinations.” Howard Zemsky, Managing Partner at Larkin Development Group and Western New York Regional Economic Development Council Co-Chair said, “Breaking ground on the Riverway project is a critical step toward driving the region’s growth and tourism and providing long-term stability. The project open up access to the river’s edge and make adjoining neighborhoods more valuable for reinvestment as we already begin to see. This plan will revitalize the city and is true to Olmsted’s original vision for Niagara Falls.” About the Buffalo Billion With Governor Cuomo’s commitment to invest $1 billion in the Buffalo area economy, which is designed to spur significantly greater private investment and create thousands of new, sustainable jobs, New York State is helping the Buffalo area to realize immediate economic growth to put “generation now” back to work while setting the foundation for sustainable economic opportunity for future generations. The Western New York Regional Economic Development Council – a top economic development plan award winner – will play a key role in how the funding is used to support the expansion of local companies and how to target the attraction of new businesses across the country and around the globe to come to Buffalo. To learn more about the Buffalo Billion, visit www.buffalobillion.ny.gov. 

Higgins Announces November Congress on Your Corner Schedule

Congressman Brian Higgins (NY-26) announced the Congress on Your Corner schedule for the month of November.  Through the program, staff from Congressman Higgins’ office are available at satellite sites throughout the district to better serve the needs of constituents.   The November Congress on Your Corner schedule is as follows:   Wednesday, November 12 10am - Noon Valley Community Center 93 Leddy Street, Buffalo   Monday, November 17 10am – Noon Golden Age Center-Salvation Army Buffalo 960 Main Street, Buffalo   Thursday, November 20 2:00 – 3:00pm Access of WNY 609 Ridge Road, Lackawanna   During Congress on Your Corner, residents have the opportunity to talk directly with someone from Congressman Higgins’ office about federal matters they may need assistance with.  Issues discussed often include Social Security, veteran benefits or medals, passports, federal student aid or small business assistance.   Residents can also reach Congressman Higgins’ office in Erie County by calling 716-852-3501 or the Niagara Falls office at 716-282-1274.  

Congressman Higgins Presents Military Medals to Private Indiana Hunt-Martin

[[{"fid":"470","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"}}]]   Just days before the 69 year anniversary of her honorable discharge, Congressman Brian Higgins (NY-26) presented Private Indiana Hunt-Martin with the Women’s Army Corps Service Medal, the European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal, the World War II Victory Medal, and the Honorable Service Lapel Button for her service during World War II.  “Private Indiana Hunt-Martin is a true trailblazer,” said Congressman Higgins, at a ceremony held at AMVETS Medallion Post 13 in Buffalo, NY.  “Not only did she honorably serve our country but she did so despite facing discrimination as both a female and African American.  On behalf of a grateful nation, I am honored to present her with these medals that she so clearly deserves.”  Born in Lyons, Georgia in 1922, Indiana Hunt-Martin moved to Niagara Falls, NY with her family in 1926 at the age of five.  She graduated from Niagara Falls High School in 1940 and worked at the Carborundum Company before joining the Women’s Army Corps on September 15, 1944.  Following enlistment, Indiana Hunt-Martin traveled by railroad to Fort Oglethorpe in Georgia where she underwent training for her service overseas.  She recalls encounters with segregation as she traveled south including: a train stop in Washington, DC where passengers were separated into railcars based on their race, facing separate restrooms and drinking fountains when she left the Georgia base, and fellow military members getting in trouble for refusing to sit in the back of the bus.  Hunt-Martin was a member of the 6888th (The Six Triple Eight) Central Postal Directory Battalion, within the Women’s Army Corp.  Composed of 855 women, the 6888th was one of a kind, being the first African American female battalion, as well as being the only all women battalion to be deployed overseas. The battalion sorted and redirected millions of backlogged letters and packages sent to the soldiers. They were required to maintain accurate information cards for more than seven million United States military, civilian, and Red Cross personnel serving in the European Theater of Operation.  The 6888th worked around the clock to deliver approximately 65,000 pieces of mail each shift.  Often times, the letters and packages that soldiers received were the only contact they had with their families and consequently, this communication was critical to keeping their spirits up.   Members of the Women’s Army Corps worked in more than 2,000 jobs stateside and in every theater of operation during World War II.  By 1945, there were more than 100,000 members and 6,000 female officers in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Throughout the war, an estimated 350,000 women served at home and abroad.   Indiana Hunt-Martin was honorably discharged from the United States Army on November 10, 1945.  After the war, Hunt-Martin worked in New York City for the State Department of Labor before being transferred to the Labor Department’s Niagara Falls office in 1949 and later the Buffalo office in 1964.  She worked for the New York Labor Department for a total of 41 years, before her retirement in 1987.  Service was a part of Hunt-Martin’s life following her military duty as well.  She is a member of Erico American Legion Women’s Post, the AMVETS 5 Henry Pollard Post, the American Legion Bennett Wells Post 1780 and the Pratt Willert Community Center Seniors Club.  Indiana has one daughter, Janice Martin, a Registered Nurse and one grandson, Andre Theobalds, who hold a Master’s Degree in Electrical and Computer Engineering.  Her family has a strong record of military service including: a brother, William Hunt Jr who served in the Army during WWII; another brother Samuel Hunt who served in the Army during the Korean War; and a nephew James Brown, Jr. a Marine who served during the Vietnam War.  Congressman Higgins added, “Hunt-Martin’s pioneering courage contributed to the desegregation of the armed forces and it has helped plant seeds for the equal treatment of women and African Americans in the United States.”  Shortly after her service, on June 12, 1948, President Truman signed Executive Order 9981, prohibiting racial segregation in the armed services. Now, over 70 years after she began her service, Private Indiana Hunt-Martin has finally received the recognition that she should have when she returned to her country after World War II.  

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 www.foodbankwny.org 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 ocfs.ny.gov, “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.   

Higgins Says: Parks Not Parking Lots for NYPA Funds

[[{"fid":"465","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) is calling on the Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation (ECHDC) to amend the General Project Plan (GPP) for Canalside to immediately transfer a minimum of $15 million currently proposed for parking structures to instead be used on development of parks and public improvement projects along the Outer Harbor.  “The NYPA settlement gave us finite funds and a once in 50-year opportunity to remake Western New York’s waterfront,” said Congressman Higgins.   “We must choose carefully the highest and best use of limited resources.  Parking lots pay for themselves so why not refocus these public funds to several new projects that enhance the overall public experience along our waterfront?”   In 2005 Higgins secured a $279 million hydropower relicensing settlement from the New York Power Authority (NYPA), which is funding the vast majority of the work at Canalside. Higgins was the catalyst in the creation of the Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation (ECHDC), which is directing Buffalo’s waterfront improvement efforts. In a letter to the Chairman of ECHDC, Higgins points out that over $19.1 million in NYPA settlement funding is set aside in the GPP for parking structures.  Higgins is not opposed to plans that incorporate additional parking at Canalside but argues that parking is self-financing and therefore should be paid for with parking revenue not NYPA funds.  Assemblyman Sean Ryan said "I thank Congressman Higgins for making this push to direct more funding to waterfront development along Buffalo's Outer Harbor. There is no justifiable reason to use funds intended for parks and public access on new parking structures, and I urge the ECHDC to adopt the plan put forward by Congressman Higgins." Higgins noted the success of Wilkeson Pointe, one of the latest parks developed along the Outer Harbor with the use of $3.3 million in NYPA relicensing funds.  The Congressman pointed out that what has been accomplished at Wilkeson Pointe could be replicated in other areas along the Outer Harbor with the infusion of the $15 million in funding.   Thanks to persistent efforts by Congressman Higgins, the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority (NFTA) recently transferred Gallagher Beach and the Small Boat Harbor to New York State for the creation of the first State Park in the City of Buffalo. Work on this park is ongoing along Buffalo’s Outer Harbor with the first phase set for completion next spring and the second phase wrapping up later next year. Higgins believes additional investments along the Outer Harbor would complement the progress at the new State Park and are achievable on a short timetable by accessing funds set aside for parking.    “Over the last several years we have begun the process of creating several pocket parks and public spaces along the Outer Harbor, by continuing in this same very focused but incremental approach we continue the momentum building that is driving people and economic opportunities to Buffalo’s waterfront,” Higgins added.    Since 2008 Higgins helped to secure over $52.23 million in federal funding for projects exclusively along the Outer Harbor including: reconstruction of Fuhrmann Blvd into the Outer Harbor Parkway, Union Ship Canal Promenade, Gallagher Beach Pavilion, U.S. Coast Guard Lighthouse access and improvement project, Times Beach boardwalk and trail, Tifft & Lake Kirsty Piers and the Industrial Heritage trail.  

Gillibrand, Higgins Announce Historic Preservation Certification For HH Richardson Complex

Washington, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and Congressman Brian Higgins announced that the federal Department of Interior is awarding the HH Richardson Complex a Historic Preservation Certificate. They had urged the Secretary of the federal Department of Interior in a letter to approve the Richardson Center Corporation’s application for this major award. With the Department of Interior’s approval, this project is now eligible for up to $10M in federal historic tax credits. The corporation spent over $10M on Phase I and II stabilization projects for the 140-year old HH Richardson Complex and is now ready to move forward with a project to bring a hotel, event and conference space, and a Buffalo Architecture Center to the former state hospital and historic landmark. With the new federal tax credits, this project will create an additional 75 permanent jobs and hundreds of construction jobs. “This is an outstanding development for Buffalo’s ongoing urban renewal efforts,” said Senator Gillibrand. “It will create new jobs for Buffalo’s workforce, and it will inspire other cities to think innovatively about their development. The Richardson Complex is already an architectural landmark in Western New York, and now with this Historic Preservation Certificate, it will soon be a commercial and cultural landmark for the region as well.” "The Richardson Complex is sewn into Buffalo's rich architectural and historical fabric," said Congressman Higgins.  "We have witnessed the rise of Western New York as we embrace characteristics that are uniquely ours.  This federal commitment allows us to continue to build tourism and economic growth by investing in pieces of our past that provide opportunities well into our future." “Senator Schumer, Senator Gillibrand and Representative Higgins have long believed in the reuse of this treasured landmark,” said Monica Pellegrino Faix, Executive Director of the Richardson Center Corporation. “We appreciate their efforts to secure the federal historic tax credits.  Paired with the state funding we are able to undertake the first phase of reuse that will breathe life into one of our historic assets”.  The Historic Preservation Certification will help preserve the Richardson Olmsted Complex, which is already a national architectural treasure, and also help advance a plan to re-develop the building into a hotel, event and conference center, and Buffalo Architecture Center. The Richardson Center Corporation has already invested heavily in making improvements to the buildings and grounds, and they have worked closely with the community to devise a redevelopment plan that will greatly enhance tourism, recreation, and the economy of the local community. Federal historic rehabilitation tax credits are available for any qualified project that the Secretary of the Interior designates as a certified rehabilitation of a certified historic structure. The Historic Tax Credit has been instrumental in boosting the local economy of cities, towns and rural communities as it rewards developers who rehabilitate underused historic spaces for new businesses to use and attract new jobs. The letter to Interior Secretary Sally Jewell is below: Dear Secretary Jewell: We write today on behalf of the Richardson Complex Corporation’s Historic Preservation Certification Application, Part 2.  We urge you to quickly approve this application, which will not only help preserve the Richardson Olmsted Complex in Buffalo – a true national treasure – but which will also help advance a plan to re-develop the building into a hotel, event and conference center, and Buffalo Architecture Center. The Richardson Center Corporation has already invested heavily in stabilization projects and in improvements to the buildings and grounds. In addition, they have worked closely with the local community, including the Richardson Complex Corporation’s Community Advisory Group, and ten public meetings, to come up with a redevelopment plan that provides both community development and improvement, and builds on Richardson’s vision for the building and Olmsted’s vision for the grounds. The resulting project is one that will greatly enhance the tourism, recreation, and economy of the local community and help to restore this grand building. Buffalo is famous for its renowned architecture and the project to stabilize and restore this building fits perfectly into that reputation. We urge you to quickly review and approve the application for Historic Preservation Certification so that this important project can move forward. Thank you for your consideration.  

RPCI Receives Special Funding Aimed at Increasing HPV Vaccinations

BUFFALO, N.Y. — The National Cancer Institute has awarded Roswell Park Cancer Institute (RPCI) a new one-year, $150,000 supplemental grant as part of an effort to increase the number of adolescents — both girls and boys —receiving the HPV vaccine. The three-dose vaccine protects against infection with certain high-risk strains of human papillomavirus (HPV) that are responsible for most cases of cervical and anal cancers as well as many genital and head/neck cancers. RPCI is one of only 18 centers around the country that will be leading this national effort. Public-health agencies and medical societies endorse HPV vaccination for all boys and girls at age 11-12 years, yet only about one-third of 13-to-17-year-old girls received all three recommended doses — considerably short of the 80% goal set by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Healthy People 2020 report. Immunization rates for U.S. boys are even lower — just 7% of boys age 13 to 17 are fully vaccinated. This grant will support the efforts of two staff members working within Roswell Park’s Division of Cancer Prevention and Population Sciences. Field staff will include Frances Harfouche, MSW, Evaluation Coordinator, and Christy Widman, Cancer Control Coordinator. The project will be led by RPCI’s Martin C. Mahoney, MD, PhD, a primary-care physician and researcher in RPCI’s Population Sciences Program. “We have a real opportunity to prevent thousands of cases of cancer in this country,” notes Dr. Mahoney, an expert on HPV and vaccines. “We see much more successful uptake — vaccination rates above 75% — with comparable adolescent vaccines like Tdap, for tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis, and the meningococcal vaccine. This important project is part of a strategic nationwide effort to identify and address existing barriers so that we can see similar compliance levels for HPV vaccination.” The primary goals of this project include completing an environmental scan to identify and establish partnerships with relevant stakeholders such as local and regional health care plans, hospitals, pediatric practices and other medical groups that provide care to adolescents and teens, agencies, immunization coalitions, urgent-care centers, school nurses, Native American tribes, minority health coalitions, and colleges and universities. This effort will yield a compendium of information summarizing local/regional data, programs and resources focused on HPV vaccination and cataloging the challenges to HPV vaccination specific to the Western New York region. “This NCI award once again demonstrates the nation’s confidence in Roswell Park Cancer Institute as a leader in cancer prevention and care,” said Congressman Brian Higgins. “The best way to fight cancer is to prevent it from happening in the first place. This project aims to educate, raise awareness and better connect with the community toward the goal of saving lives.” “This funding gives Roswell Park the opportunity and resources to be a key player in the nationwide effort to vaccinate more adolescents against HPV infections,” said acting New York State Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker. “HPV and HPV-derived cancers threaten tens of thousands of people’s lives each year, and yet the vaccine remains vastly underutilized. Only through continued education and unwavering efforts to raise the vaccination rate among adolescents will we win the fight against HPV.” Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center (NFMMC) has been a longtime partner to Roswell Park, working closely with the RPCI Office of Cancer Coalition Health Disparities and Dr. Mahoney as part of the Western New York Cancer Coalition (WNYC2) Center to Reduce Disparities. They will remain active in assisting with this project helping to create necessary links within the community and with NFMMC clinical staff. “As a vested partner in the Western New York Center to Reduce Cancer Disparities, Memorial Medical Center is committed to improving the health of residents in Niagara County and, more specifically, Niagara Falls,” said NFMMC President & CEO Joseph A. Ruffolo. “This project has tremendous potential for understanding why more adolescents are not getting the HPV vaccine, and we wholeheartedly support this effort.” Roswell Park Cancer Institute endorses the use of HPV vaccination to prevent HPV-related cancers. Through this project, Roswell Park will actively pursue collaborative processes that will result in a significantly increase in the use of this vaccine. The HPV vaccine has the potential to prevent substantial numbers of cervical, genital and anal cancers in both genders. The mission of Roswell Park Cancer Institute (RPCI) is to understand, prevent and cure cancer. Founded in 1898, RPCI is one of thefirst cancer centers in the country to be named a National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer center and remains the only facility with this designation in Upstate New York. The Institute is a member of the prestigious National Comprehensive Cancer Network, an alliance of the nation’s leading cancer centers; maintains affiliate sites; and is a partner in national and international collaborative programs. For more information, visit www.roswellpark.org, call 1-877-ASK-RPCI (1-877-275-7724) or emailaskrpci@roswellpark.org. Follow Roswell Park on Facebook and Twitter.