1/14/15: Bee News - Ringing in 2015 with Active January

Happy New Year to all and best wishes for a safe and productive 2015! With the holidays behind us, January promises to be a busy month around Erie County, with activities and programs to help residents stay warm, have fun, and even protect their pets.  Here are some of the things happening this month:

Cold weather is settling in across Erie County and home heating is vital. For qualified homeowners needing assistance with heating during these cold winter months, the Home Energy Assistance Program (“HEAP”) is ready to help and is hosting outreach events throughout January in West Seneca, Lancaster, Hamburg, Angola, Amherst, Buffalo, and other municipalities. No one should have to endure a cold home because they can’t afford the heat, so please plan on stopping by one of the outreach events or contacting the HEAP office to schedule an interview. If you need more information, please call the HEAP hotline at 858-7644 or visit http://www2.erie.gov/ and follow the HEAP link.

Looking for some free outdoor fun this month? Families should plan on being a part of the annual Winterfest celebration, returning to Chestnut Ridge Park on Sunday January 25 from 11 AM – 4 PM. In addition to traditional winter family fun such as sledding, tobogganing, and snowboarding (all dependent on snow totals), there will be hay rides, marshmallow roasting, refreshments, and many other activities. The Erie County Parks Department and their partners work hard every year to present this free event, with thousands of happy participants joining in the fun over the past few years, and I would like to thank them for their efforts to keep this tradition going.

While you’re at Chestnut Ridge, you may notice the tremendous amount of work that’s been done to improve the park and enhance the overall experience for the thousands of visitors who use the park each year. Since I took office we have invested nearly $1.3 million into Chestnut Ridge Park alone, part of more than $8 million in total invested in parks countywide since 2012, with more improvements to come. There are over 10,000 acres of natural beauty spread across our parks system, and these continuing wise investments will help to protect and preserve our parks in all seasons and for years to come.

Don’t forget to take care of your pet’s health needs during January as well. The Erie County Health Department, along with their partners, will be conducting a free rabies vaccination clinic on Wednesday, January 28 from 3 – 7 PM at the North Buffalo Community Center on Sanders Road. In 2014, nearly 5,000 pets were vaccinated at clinics held around Erie County in January, May, and September, demonstrating the popularity of the free vaccination program and underlining the importance of providing services such as these to residents. Vaccinations are available for dogs, cats, and ferrets, and owners are asked to bring their pet to the clinic on a leash or in a carrier. The animals’ vaccination record should also be brought along, if possible.