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Monday, April 28, 2014 at 7:25 am

CIty fire responds to smell of smoke in the residence on Harvester Avenue

post 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.

Saturday, February 22, 2014 at 8:02 pm

Habitat for Humanity home dedicated on Harvester Avenue

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.

Saturday, May 11, 2013 at 8:48 pm

Photos: Women Build Day at Habitat for Humanity house on Harvester Avenue

post 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.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012 at 9:15 pm

Fundraiser set up for Harvester Avenue resident with house foundation problems

post by Howard B. Owens in Harvester Avenue, weather

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.

Monday, August 6, 2012 at 8:17 pm

Friends, family pitching in to help Harvester homeowner get house on better foundation

post 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.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012 at 12:21 pm

Foundation of multi-generation family home on Harvester collapsed in storm

post by Howard B. Owens in Harvester Avenue, weather

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.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012 at 12:29 am

Photo: Sunset after the storm off Harvester Avenue

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Harvester Avenue, Harvester Center, photos, weather

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.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011 at 1:10 pm

Photo: A fall day in the Batavia Cemetery

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Batavia Cemetery, Harvester Avenue, photos

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.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011 at 12:42 pm

Photos: Fire-damaged house on Harvester knocked down

post 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.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011 at 8:43 am

Harvester Avenue being closed

post 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 ... 

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