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Harvester Avenue

April 28, 2014 - 7:25am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, fire, Harvester Avenue.

City fire is on scene at 116 Harvester Ave. for the smell of smoke in the residence.

A commander reports smoke in the residence and firefighters are investigating.

UPDATE 7:34 a.m.: The smoke has been traced to a burned-out motor in the refrigerator.

UPDATE 7:48 a.m.: City fire back in service.

February 22, 2014 - 7:02pm

A large crowd filled the newest Habitat for Humanity home for a dedication at 11 Harvester Ave. in Batavia this morning.

The home will be occupied by Herb Neal, his mother, Barbara, and his two sons, Christopher, 13, and Matthew, 10. 

Neal says, "Moving in here will give my family the fresh start that we need."

Jessica Maguire Tomidy, CEO of Habitat for Humanity in Genesee County, says the home is the 11th project for Habitat for Humanity in the county, the 7th home in the City of Batavia.

Work on the Harvester Avenue house started in May of 2013. Hundreds of volunteers from all over WNY put in over 10,000 volunteer hours to make the renovations happen. The Neals will move into their new home March 16th.

Maguire Tomidy says the home was in very bad shape when they purchased it from the city. There were dead cats and dead squirrels inside and the remains of a dog in the backyard. The last time it was occupied was in 2007.

In under 10 months, Habitat for Humanity was able to identify a family with a need and put the property back on the city's tax rolls.

"It was not without a lot of resources, volunteer hours, energy and a lot of love, Maguire Tomidy said. "People have to have it in their hearts to help, and they do it again and again for us."

Habitat for Humanity paid the city about $2,000 for the Harvester Avenue parcel, according to City Manager Jason Molino, who says the renovation has increased its assessed value by about 35-38 percent.

"A renovated home and a new family add many benefits to a neighborhood and they contribute to the City's revitalization effort," Molino said.

Habitat for Humanity is currently rehabilitating another home at 2 McKinley Ave. and it will be completed and ready for another family by the end of the year.

Father James Fugle blesses the Neal home on Harvester Avenue.

May 11, 2013 - 8:48pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Habitat for Humanity, Harvester Avenue.

Today was Women Build Day at the Habitant for Humanity project house on Harvester Avenue. More than 75 percent of the workers at the job site were women, part of a national week that recognizes women in the construction trades.

Work on the house began Wednesday with the Day of Caring.

Above, Kelly McCaffery, of Rochester, removes from debris from the house. Also pictured below, Charlotte Dickson (carrying wood out of the house) and Marsha (no last name given) from Wyoming, who was prying wood from the walls of the kitchen.

August 7, 2012 - 9:15pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in weather, Harvester Avenue.

For any residents looking to donate money to help Paul Konieczny save his multi-generational house on Harvester Avenue, which was badly damaged by recent storms, a donation page has been set up with a Web site that helps enable such efforts.

The page is located at "Paul's House" on Indiegogo.com.

The page was set up by Amy D'Amico.

To learn more about Indiegogo.com, click here.

August 6, 2012 - 8:17pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Harvester Avenue.

Friends and family have come through for Paul Konieczny, at least when it comes to the work of repairing the shattered foundation on his home at 144 Harvester Ave., Batavia, which collapsed in a storm July 31.

The work is getting done thanks to the volunteer effort of long-time friends, Konieczny teen-age children and other family members, but Konieczny said he still might not have enough money to meet all of the financial needs that go with making the repairs.

The materials for the new foundation alone costs more than $1,000.

"We're just day-by-day," said Konieczny.

And day-by-day met a bit of a set back yesterday when nearly an inch of rainfall in an hour caused more of the damaged foundation to collapse.

Don Johnson, a friend of Konieczny for 30 years, and a contractor, is working as fast as he can during his off hours to get the new foundation wall in place, knowing that any more rain before the work is done could mean more damage.

"He's willing to fight because he knows I don't want to leave," said Konieczny, who previously said he isn't going to leave the house that's been in his family for 130 years.

Johnson (top photo) said is effort is "just what friends do." He said, "We help as best we can at the things we can do."

Konieczny said he would welcome any financial assistance anybody might be able to provide.

"I'm grasping for hope," Konieczny said. "I pray to God we can get this done."

Bottom photos: Ron Gibble, another long-time friend of Konieczny's, pitches in with the help of Konieczny's son Andy. Daughter Kayla was also helping today. Gibble said he will do the plumbing work once the project gets to that point. The very bottom photo, one of Paul's sunflowers. Kayla said they used to have a neighbor who grew sunflowers and the neighbor and Paul would compete every year over who could grow the tallest sunflower.

August 1, 2012 - 12:21pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in weather, Harvester Avenue.

Paul Konieczny wanted to get his home at 144 Harvester Ave., Batavia, insured again, so yesterday morning he bought the material to re-roof the 130-year-old house. Then the rains came.

The water came so fast that it overwhelmed the foundation on the south side of the residence and the stone wall collapsed into the basement. Konieczny said he heard it come down with a big thud.

Without insurance, he isn't sure how he will repair the structure.

"I need a blessing, is what I need," he said.

A few minutes later, he did get some small bit of good news from code inspector Doug Randell. The house is temporarily condemned, but if he can install temporary bracing in the basement today, he can move back in.

Pending repairs, the gas is shut off, but he can continue electrical service.

A friend was there to help Konieczny and they are looking for any kind of assistance, government, charitable or private, they might be able to find to make permanent repairs.

Konieczny's family has owned the home continuously since it was built in the 1870s, he said. In fact, the man who built it, he said, was Anthony Horch, the city's first fire chief.

He said he has a copy of the original deed in a cabinet in his house.

"I don't care what the house looks like, I'm not leaving," Konieczny said. "There are too many memories. Too many memories."

Inset photo, Konieczny with Director of Public Works Sally Kuzon.

August 1, 2012 - 12:29am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, photos, weather, Harvester Center, Harvester Avenue.

With things winding down from the storm this evening, I drove down Harvester Avenue and spotted this long puddle next to the railroad tracks and thought "that might be pretty interesting come sunset time." So at dusk, I drove back and made this photo.

November 1, 2011 - 1:10pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Batavia Cemetery, photos, Harvester Avenue.

While on Harvester Avenue this morning, I took a short walk through the Batavia Cemetery, because it's always possible to find a picture in the Batavia Cemetery on a clear fall day.

November 1, 2011 - 12:42pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, fire, Harvester Avenue.

What was once the home to a father, mother and their six children on Harvester Avenue was reduced to rubble Tuesday morning.

The house was badly damaged in a fire Sunday afternoon that started after one of the children was reportedly playing with a lighter in a back bedroom.

The family lost almost all of their belongings.

Owner and landlord Andy Young said the structure was insured. He doesn't have plans to rebuild on the property at 23 Harvester Ave.

November 1, 2011 - 8:43am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Harvester Avenue.

Harvester Avenue is being closed for the time being for a building to be torn down.

That could mean the house involved in a fire on Sunday or another house on the street that is boarded up, or ... 

February 11, 2011 - 3:13pm
posted by Gretel Kauffman in Batavia Players, theater, Harvester Avenue, love lines.

With mere days until Cupid shoots his arrow, it's only natural that love is in the air in even the most unlikely places -- including Harvester Avenue. "Love Lines," an original Batavia Players' production written and directed by Patrick Burk, will honor St. Valentine through a series of monologues about romantic correspondence before cell phones. 

Although love is a familiar theme for a show, the venue is anything but old.  "Love Lines" will mark the debut of the Batavia Players' new black box theater on Harvester Avenue.  Burk says that the actors have found the small, intimate setting to be very comfortable: 

"It's been wonderful. It's great having our own theater space, and having all of our costumes right here. People are getting very excited. It feels like home."

Rather than having a plot, the show is made up of monologues by 15 different characters. Most of the monologues -- with the exception of one, which is about love through modern technology -- consist of, you guessed it, love lines.

A few classic love songs are mixed in throughout the show, as well as ongoing piano accompaniment by Jeffrey Fischer (pictured above). The show doesn't need a plot to convey its message, which is that love can take on many different forms, and can affect everyone.

Burk gives the example of a friend's parents who shared their first names with Ronald and Nancy Reagan. Like the presidential couple, the other Ronald and Nancy had a relationship in which letters played a role.

"It shows the juxtaposition of how an unknown subway conductor and the most powerful man in the world can experience the same thing," he says.

Although all of the monologues are about love, not all of them center around traditional infatuation. The objects of affection featured range from Jane Austen to the aforementioned Reagans to the novel "Wuthering Heights."

A large part of the show is autobiographical: Burk's parents only met twice before marrying, resulting in over 150 love letters exchanged throughout their six-month engagement. These letters were the inspiration for the show, which Burk has been piecing together over the past several years. 

The actual rehearsals took no time, compared to the effort of putting the material together. The actors first saw their scripts less than three weeks ago. They rehearsed through a workshop-style format, a style that Burk says he would like to try again.

"It's been an interesting experience," he says. "I've enjoyed it immensely."

Performances are at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 11 and 12 at the Harvester 56 Theater on Harvester Avenue. Tickets are $10 for adults and $8 for students and seniors, and can be purchased at the door or at www.showtix4u.com.

January 16, 2011 - 4:06pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, youth, sports, hockey, Harvester Avenue.

outsideHockey01.jpg

Area youngsters were able to get in a little hockey practice today on Harvester Avenue, where resident Kevin Hamilton built a small hockey rink. Hamilton, who coaches two youth hockey teams, said he constructed the rink out of a wood frame, a plastic sheet base and slowly builds up the ice over time, adding a little water over several days.

October 26, 2010 - 7:02pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, crime, Harvester Avenue.

mug-michael_piasta.jpgA Batavia man previously accused of stealing from local stores is in trouble again -- this time for allegedly burglarizing a business on Harvester Avenue and forging checks from that business.

Michael J. Piasta, 30, of 415 East Main St., was arrested by Batavia Police following an investigation and charged with burglary, 3rd, and criminal possession of a forged instrument.

Piasta is accused of breaking into a business at 56 Harvester Ave. and stealing checks and credit cards.

He allegedly tried to cash two business checks at area banks and is accused of using the credit card at various locations.

Piasta was jailed without bail.

Previously, Piasta allegedly stole some DVDs from Pandora's Boxx and fled on foot. He was the subject of a short manhunt at St. Joseph Cemetery off of Buell Street. Also, he was previously accused of stealing beer from Wilson Farms on East Main Street. In that case, Piasta was apparently caught on camera at the store, and at the time of his arrest he was wanted on a warrant out of Niagara County.

Information on the court status of those cases is not immediately available.

September 12, 2010 - 11:12pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, photos, Harvester Avenue.

harvester_cloud_reflection.jpg

Driving back from the YWCA on Sunday afternoon, I noticed the great sky over Batavia and remembered that I've been wanting to take another shot at getting a picture of the William Morgan monument on a cloudy day. While I was stopped on Harvester snapping away at Morgan, I noticed the clouds reflecting off the windows of the Harvest Center and thought that that would make for a good shot, too. (If you want to see a bigger version, I'll post it to VuFindr.com some time in the next week, probably.)

Below is the shot I came up with of old Morgan, but a bit different than the one I imagined getting.

william_morgan_close.jpg

August 26, 2010 - 2:47pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business, Harvester Center, Harvester Avenue.

newbookstore.jpg

After a few years of being unemployed, Mary Holmes decided it was time to open her own store.

"I just finally got tired of working for other people," Holmes said.

The Batavia resident and Attica native owned a crafts store in Albany during her 25 years living there, but with her family's background in flea markets, it was natural that the store would carry a variety of used merchandise.

The primary focus, however, as the name of the store says, is books. The business name is Anything Goes Books and More. It is located in the Harvester Center right on Harvester Avenue.

Holmes has amazing, impressive array of items to sell, but as she expected, most of her customers to this point have been buying books.

She opened the store the first week of August.

And the outlet is a family affair. Some of the merchandise comes from her father's estate and her two bothers and sister help by going to garage sales and flea markets looking for more used items to sell in the store.

"I need the help," Holmes said. "I can't be out there picking stuff and be in here, too."

Right now, the store occupies three office-sized spaces in the Harvester Center. Holmes said it's her dream to see the store expand and carry even more items, or even when its doing well enough to move to Main Street.

She acknowledged that the Harvest Center is a little out of the way for some people, but with the recent addition of some other new businesses in the complex, it's helped her business a lot, she said.

August 1, 2010 - 1:53pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business, Harvester Avenue.

the_harvester.jpg

Ken Merrick has restored a classic name to his business -- Uncle Tony's is now The Harvester, a variation of a name on the bar for 17 years before it became Uncle Tony's.

Merrick said since he was switching from a sole proprietorship to an LLC, and would have to re-apply for his liquor license, and since Uncle Tony's no longer served food, it seemed like the right time to make the switch.

Merrick has owned the business for 36 years on Harvester Avenue, operating it originally as the Harvester Hotel.

"My customers that go way back said, 'We still all call it the Harvester,'" Merrick said. "They told me, 'Why don't you call it the Harvester?'"  I said, "OK, but I'm not calling it the Harvester Hotel."

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