Chris Caya

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The New York State Board of Regents today followed a recommendation to close Pinnacle Charter School in June at the end of the current school year.

The Education Department recommended the school closing because of persistent sub-par scores on state tests. There is no appeal process, although school officials were meeting with legal counsel Tuesday about a possible lawsuit to block the closing.

Parents, teachers, and students have been rallying in recent days to keep the school open.

Chris Caya/WBFO

Leaders and staff of Roswell Park Cancer Institute celebrated the opening of the hospital's new state-of-the-art Intensive Care Unit this morning. 

The $4 million project involved relocating the ICU to the 8th floor and installing additional windows so each room is filled with natural light.  The 8,000 square foot unit is 40-percent larger than the old one.

Roswell Park's Chief Nursing Officer Maureen Kelly says it makes a nice environment for patients, their families and staff.

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Local members of the state delegation are trying to build support for legislation aimed at cracking down on repeat child abusers. 

Senator Timothy Kennedy and Assemblyman Dennis Gabryszak are sponsoring Jay J's Law, named for Jay J. Bolvin who suffered nearly a dozen broken bones at the hands of his father, Jeremy Bolvin, before he was two months of age.

Jay J's guardian Kevin Retzer says the abuse caused permanent brain damage and Jay J still does not talk like a normal two-year-old.  

Western New York is already a popular destination for Canadian shoppers, but local tourism officials believe the region has greater potential.

Visit Buffalo Niagara President and CEO Dotty Gallagher-Cohen says a new study was designed to show local businesses who their Canadian customers really are.

"What we hope to do is take what's happening organically and devise some strategies to increase the frequencies and the lengths of stay of people who come here," Gallagher-Cohen said.

WBFO News file photo

The U.S. Chemical Safety Board has released its report on a fatal blast at a Tonawanda plant. 

The investigation found 'sparks or heat' from welding on top of a storage tank likely ignited flammable vapors inside the tank - a hazard which had been overlooked by DuPont engineers. 

The November 2010 blast at the River Road facility killed one contractor - and it came less than a year after three similar incidents - including one fatality - at another DuPont plant. 

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Several local sites designed by architect Frank Lloyd Wright can now be seen on one day-long tour. 

The Darwin Martin House, Graycliff Estate, the Blue Sky Mausoleum and the Fontana Boat House are among the stops on the All Wright All Day tour announced today by Martin House Restoration Corporation Executive Director Mary Roberts.

"This will be one of the most fun-filled architectural educational tours that you can take," Roberts said.

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More than 50 billboards are up across Erie County encouraging people to join their local volunteer fire department.  It's part of a statewide recruitment drive in conjunction with "National Volunteer Week," which includes an open house at many departments this weekend. 

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Officials from Roswell Park Cancer Institute and the American Cancer Society are joining Assemblyman Sean Ryan in calling for a ban on flavored tobacco products aimed at young people.

Assemblyman Sean Ryan says bipartisan legislation that would close a loophole in federal law was overwhelmingly approved by the Assembly in January.  The Buffalo Democrat says the bill bans the sale of tobacco products that have been flavored to make them more appealing.  

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City lawmakers could fill Michael Kearns' former South District seat as early as Tuesday, according to Council President Richard Fontana. 

Kearns was elected to the State Assembly last month. 

And Fontana says he personally knows three of the seven applicants scheduled to appear before the full Council Monday.  

"This year it will be somewhat different. They (council candidates) won't be able to listen to each other's interviews. In the past, we had them all in the chambers at the same time," Fontana said.

If all goes according to plan, the city of Buffalo should have a new zoning code on the books by the end of the year. 

The process of rewriting the antiquated and confusing set of rules got underway in September of 2010.

The public will have a chance to weigh-in on the proposal in the coming weeks.  

Brendan Mehaffy, Executive Director of Buffalo's Office of Strategic Planning, says the new guidelines will help investors, residents, and existing businesses have a better set of expectations about what fits in a neighborhood.

The rusting frame of the long-stalled Seneca Buffalo Creek Casino is finally coming down to clear the way for a new, smaller venue. 

The Seneca Nation of Indians unveiled redesigned plans today for their property at Michigan Avenue and Perry Street in downtown Buffalo.  Construction on the larger $333 million casino-hotel complex stalled in 2008 due to the recession. 

Seneca President Robert Odawi Porter says the new facility is about one-fifth the size of the original.

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Millard Fillmore Gates Circle Hospital is shutting its doors, ending nearly a century of health care at the location.

Kaleida Health will move the operation to the expanding Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus.

While company officials maintain the move is in the best interests of all of Western New York, employees have mixed feelings.

WBFO and AM970's Chris Caya explores some of those heartfelt stories and looks ahead at the future of the massive structure.

Photo from Independent Health

The Affordable Care Act is on today's U.S. Supreme Court docket. 

Given the complexity of the case, the justices plan on hearing arguments on various issues over three days. 

One local health insurance executive says no matter what the High Court decides several issues still need to be addressed to improve the nation's healthcare system.  
    
Independent Health President and CEO Dr. Michael Cropp says there's no easy solution for what's ailing the healthcare system. 

Chris Caya/WBFO

The mistaken release of a man charged with attempted murder landed Erie County Sheriff Timothy Howard in the hot seat in County Hall. 

The Legislature's Public Safety Committee questioned Howard for nearly an hour about the wrongful release of 32-year-old Awet Gebreyesus who was ordered held without bail after allegedly stabbing his wife in the entrance of the Amherst Street Wegmans in January. 

The recent run of nice weather has bumped up the construction schedule in LaSalle Park by a month. 

The project includes rebuilding the park road along I-190, adding new streetlights, and a new parking lot, complete with a tree, shrub and grass 'rain garden' to filter runoff. 

Mayor Byron Brown says the early start means work should wrap up before the early July opening of Centennial Pool, which underwent a $3 million renovation in 2010.  

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The Niagara Military Affairs Council and Niagara Chamber of Commerce today held an early morning breakfast briefing about the future of the Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station. 

Federal budget cuts are jeopardizing units and jobs at the Falls base.  So far, no new decisions have been issued and leaders of various units say for now, its business as usual. 

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A day-long conference on bullying on the UB North Campus attracted nearly 800 people Wednesday.

The 9th Annual Safe Schools Initiative Seminar was sponsored in part by the Secret Service and the office of U.S. Attorney William Hochul.  He said statistics indicate most students will be victimized at some point during elementary school and 35% of 'chronic bullies' end up in prison.

More than 175 local businesses looking to rebuild Western New York turned out for an Economic Action Summit on UB's North Campus this morning. 

The forum included eight workshops covering small business, infrastructure and commerce, agriculture and energy, and education.  The session was sponsored by Rep.Kathy Hochul.   

An emergency meeting in Common Council Chambers over the possible loss of funding for Buffalo's neediest schools drew more than a hundred people last night.

Unless the school district reaches a deal with its unions on a teacher evaluation plan that Albany will accept by next week, $9 million will be lost.

The deadline for having a teacher evaluation system in place is coming up next week.

Along with the millions at stake, Buffalo could also lose out on an additional $50 million in aid next year unless there's an agreement.

Chris Caya/WBFO

An effort is underway to remake and revitalize the Commodore Perry Public Housing neighborhood downtown.

To qualify for federal funding the Buffalo Municipal Housing Authority has one year to come up with a plan.  If all goes according to plan, the distressed Perry Projects, just off Michigan Avenue near I-190 downtown, will be transformed into the Perry Choice Neighborhood.

The Buffalo School Board could be voting soon on laying off dozens of employees after leaders of the teacher's union approved keeping an attendance clause in the district's teacher evaluation agreement.

Albany insists chronically absent students must count.  The dispute is holding up $9 million in funding for six of Buffalo's low-achieving schools. 

Chris Caya/WBFO

A new fight is underway to save hundreds of jobs at Niagara County's largest employer. 

Niagara Falls Military Affairs Council Vice Chairman John Cooper says the Pentagon's downsizing plan is "one of the most serious threats to the existence of the 107th Airlift Wing to date." 

If Congress goes along, 845 positions, including those of nearly 600 part-time Air National Guardsmen would be eliminated.  It is part of the Defense Department's plan to save nearly $500 billion over the next decade. 

Chris Caya/WBFO

With more than $9 million at risk, Buffalo's Board of Education is appealing to the teachers union for help. 

At a special meeting today, the School Board unanimously approved a resolution asking the Buffalo Teachers Federation Council of Delegates to reconsider removing the student attendance clause from its teacher evaluation plan.  Interim Superintendent Amber Dixon says state education officials won't accept a plan that excludes students with excessive absences. 

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The Buffalo Bills' top receiver is staying put. At Ralph Wilson Stadium this morning, the Bills announced that wide receiver Stevie Johnson has signed a long-term contract extension. 

Johnson led the team in receiving for the second straight year in 2011 with 76 receptions.  He became the first player in franchise history to record 1,000 yards in consecutive seasons. 

Johnson told reporters he got his start with the Bills and he wanted to remain loyal to the team because the team has been loyal to him.  

WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley

Poverty continues to be a big problem in the City of Buffalo - and Friday morning local scholars, advocates and government leaders will be learning about the latest strategies for fighting it.

The third annual Buffalo Poverty Research Workshop at the Olmsted Center is sponsored by the Homeless Alliance of Western New York, the University at Buffalo, the Service Learning Coalition and the Partnership for the Public Good. 

The state agency in charge of redeveloping Buffalo's waterfront is in the market for a new leader. 

Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation Board Chairman Jordan Levy says he resigned his post to avoid any potential conflict of interest.  A company Levy controls is going to be applying for a state grant to help entreprenuers.

Levy said  he would have been happy to stay on, but he couldn't risk his private sector business negatively impacting all the progress being made at Canalside.  

Governor Andrew Cuomo must name a new chair for the Harbor Corporation. 

Push for NEXUS cards

Mar 1, 2012
WBFO News photo

The 'push is on' to get NEXUS cards in the hands of more U.S and Canadian travelers.  Nearly three dozen community groups, business organizations and local attractions in Western New York and Southern Ontario are joining forces to promote and encourage enrollment in the NEXUS Program. 

Peace Bridge Authority Communications Director Matt Davison points out it's the fastest way to cross the border.

Reducing congestion on the region's international bridges is another benefit of NEXUS.  The wallet-size cards cost $50.00 and are good for five-years. 

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