Chris Jamele

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A second local judge has committed to handing down jail time for convicted copper thieves.

Niagara County Judge Sara Sheldon Farkas set the precedent, and now State Supreme Court Justice Richard Kloch, Sr. is following suit. Kloch announced his intentions during the arraignments of a pair of culprits in court on Thursday.

Farkas claims that the stiffer sentences led to a decrease in the crime in the past.
 

WBFO News photo / WBFO News

There is an increasing focus on the long-awaited re-writing of Buffalo's zoning code.  New discussions will also get underway soon regarding the possible re-use of the iconic Trico Building in downtown Buffalo.

This is part of this week's Press Pass conversation with WBFO & AM-970's Chris Jamele and Artvoice editor Geoff Kelly.

 

File Photo / WBFO, AM 970 News

After significant study, the Buffalo Bills are proposing that Ralph Wilson Stadium undergo a major renovation as new lease talks get underway.

The cost of the renovation is anticipated to be in the $200 million range, and much of that funding will be provided by taxpayers. It is a less expensive option than retrofitting the stadium or contracting for a new one. The current fifteen year lease agreement between Erie County and the Bills regarding Ralph Wilson Stadium expires in 2013.

The man the US Government once accused in an international incident at the Rainbow Bridge will now be their star witness in the case.

Robert Rhodes was accused of beating Chinese tourist Zhao Yan during her arrest in 2004. Rhodes was later acquitted of any charges, but only after he lost his job, his health and his savings. He has returned to work and is now being identified as a key witness for the government as they pursue a case against Yan.

For Rhodes, he believes his testimony could represent his complete exoneration in the case.

File Photo / WBFO, AM970 News

Questions are being raised concerning the rejection by the Air Force of the Council of Governors Plan to preserve jobs and missions at the Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station.

A memo issued by the Air Force appears to use misleading information to undermine efforts to save Air National Guard jobs at the station and to establish a new mission for the 107th Airlift Wing. The Air Force memo focuses on scenarios not indicated in the Governors Plan, including the realignment of F-16 fighter planes, an issue not connected with the Falls base.

File Photo / WBFO, AM 970 News

The Congressional career of Chris Lee ended suddenly and in disgrace. It also ended with significant funds in his political coffers.

Lee resigned his seat last year after shirtless photos of him were published by the Gawker news blog. Lee is now closing out his campaign committee and will be donating more than $14 thousand to the Food Bank of Western New York.

That money will help pay for nearly 80,000 meals.

 

Republican Senatorial candidate Wendy Long was in Buffalo on Saturday, espousing her views for a reformed tax code.

Long is a Manhattan attorney, pursuing her party's nod to contest Democrat Kirsten Gillibrand in this year's election. Long emphasized the need for a simpler and fairer tax code. She denounced raising taxes on millionaires. She also called for the end of tax loopholes and a cap on taxes for business owners and employers.

Long is being challenged for the GOP nod by two other candidates.

Continued racist taunts and vandalism have force a Lovejoy family to expedite their move from the neighborhood.

A brick was thrown through a bedroom window of Ann Cooper's home early Friday morning. Such attacks have forced the African-American family to plan a move to the West Side. This latest incident forced the move to be made immediately.

Police are investigating the attacks, and three teens were arrested earlier this week on hate crime charges.

File Photo / WBFO News

An announcement scheduled for later today will disclose that a Buffalo-based healthcare provider will be participating in the Medicaid Health Homes program.

Senator Tim Kennedy will be at the Urban Family Practice on Niagara Street in Buffalo to introduce the state program that will ensure that health care services are available for underserved communities.

Funding for the program was approved in the state budget.
 

The Canadian doctor who faced charges in the US of smuggling drugs and human growth hormone across the border has been cleared of charges up north.

Canadian authorities have issued a stay against Dr. Anthony Galea, the sports doctor known to have treated Alex Rodriguez, Tiger Woods and other high-profile athletes.

Galea was given a year of unsupervised release in US courts and faces no prison time.
 

One of Western New York's most prominent real estate developers has died.

Nathan Benderson, founder of the Benderson Development Company, suffered a stroke on Tuesday while in Florida and passed at the age of 94. He was the magnate behind the Thruway Mall, Delaware Consumer Square, the Outlet Mall in Niagara Falls and numerous other projects both in the region and nationwide.

The News reports that Benderson, a high school dropout, began following his entrepreneurial instincts while a teenager in the Depression.

He is survived by his wife and three sons.

A youthful game might have been behind the deadly train accident in Westfield on Friday.

Authorities are investigating the possibility that three men being struck by a freight train might have resulted from a dare. All three men are in their twenties. Two of the victims were killed. The third is recovering from  serious injuries in a Pennsylvania hospital.

The accident occurred as the men were running along a railroad bridge in Westfield.

The train was fitted with a camera and authorities believe that the footage will help in their investigation.

WBFO News file photo / WBFO

Congresswoman Louise Slaughter has returned to Rochester after suffering a broken leg in New York City.

Slaughter fell while in The Big Apple last week. The fall injured her left leg. The Congresswoman expressed relief that the injury wasn't worse and that it won't prevent her from fulfilling her duties and responsibilities to the people of Western New York.

Doctors at the University of Rochester Medical Center claim that her rehabilitation is going well and that they expect a full recovery.
 

An apparent Internet scam nearly cost a student government organization at the University at Buffalo many thousands of dollars.

Two officials with the UB Student Association, working outside of established protocols, contracted with Virtual Academix for website development costing $300,000. The News reports that other officials with the student organization halted the process before money was exchanged.

The investigation continues but criminal charges are not expected to be filed.
 

A Hamburg man will serve jail time for a decades long investment scheme.

Timothy Geidel employed a Ponzi scheme to bilk investors, many who were family and friends, of more than $1 million over twenty years. Geidel was given a three and a half year prison sentence in federal court. He is also required to repay $1.3 million.

Civil suits against the Geidel and the companies he represented are still pending.

UB President Satish Tripathi has announced the hiring of a new school provost.

Chemical engineer Charles Zukoski will fill the $400,000 per year post. Zukoski is the chairman of chemical and biomolecular engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

He will begin his new job this summer.

The Village of Kenmore is offering an amnesty period to motorists who have outstanding parking tickets.

Village officials have passed a law that vehicles with at least three outstanding tickets can be towed. It is estimated that at least $500,000 in unpaid tickets have been issued since 2003.

The amnesty period will last until May 31st, and vehicle owners can learn about any unpaid citations by contacting the Kenmore Police Department.

WBFO News file photo by Eileen Buckley

A local man is facing a lengthy prison sentence and a hefty fine after a guilty plea was entered on Friday for drug conspiracy charges.

Twenty-six year old Scott Bald is accused of stealing more than 1300 prescription pills from a Clinton Street pharmacy in 2010. The charges detail that Bald conspired with Michael McCallum to steal and later distribute Oxycodone, Oxycontin and Percocet from the pharmacy.

Bald is facing a 20 year prison senctence and a $1 million fine and will be sentenced in July.

McCallum has also pleaded guilty and will be sentenced in May.
 

WBFO News file photo by Eileen Buckley

Three winners in three different states have been identified as winners in the $640 million Mega Millions jackpot.

The Democrat and Chronicle out of Rochester is reporting that a second place ticket was sold at a Wegman's store in the Town of Henrietta. The value of the ticket is reported to be $250,000.

This is one of seventeen second place winning tickets sold in New York State but the only one purchased in Western New York.

The identity of the winner has not been released.
 

Shoppers in New York will be getting a tax break on some of their favorite items one again.

Beginning today, a four percent tax break will be applied to clothing and shoe purchases that are valued under $110. A similar expemtion was lifted in October of 2010.

The exemption cuts the added tax to these purchases in half for most counties in the state.

A man who is facing financial challenges in both Buffalo and North Carolina has been served with subpoena papers by the New York State Attorney General.

David Tomasello, a former local resident, is facing nearly $3 million in fines for environmental violations dating back to 2008.  His Lake Front Recycling firm in Lackawanna was cited at that time for multiple waste violations. He is also being sued for $1 million dollars after accusations of financial malfeasance by business investors in a Carolina beverage company.

WBFO News file photo

Three contestants have been added to the growing list of candidates seeking the South District seat on Buffalo's Common Council.

Former County Legislator Timothy Whalen joined bartender Patrick Burke and nurse Linda Bain in raising the number of candidates in the race to six.

The seat became available when Michael Kearns was elected to the state's 145th Assembly seat last week.

photo from Newt.org

GOP presidential primary candidate Newt Gingrich is scheduling a stop in Buffalo next month.

Gingrich will be in town on April 20th for a day long visit, attempting to drum up votes and money for the state's primary in that month. Local developer Carl Paladino is among those assisting with arrangements for the visit.

Gingrich is expected to address area business leaders and supporters at the Buffalo Club.

Off-shore wind farms in New York State's Great Lakes are once again a possibility.

New York is one of five states to have reached a memorandum of understanding with Washington on Friday for the development of off-shore wind farms. Once deemed too costly, the viability of the farms is still in question, but their construction and operation are expected to generate numerous jobs.

Environmentalists claim that wind farms in the state's Great Lakes and along the Atlantic shoreline could power every home in the state.

NFTA commissioners have tentatively agreed to terms for hosting a series of summer concerts at the former Shooters restaurant site.

A proposal by Funtime After Dark, a local promoter, was panned last week, but commissioners re-opened negotiations after facing criticism for their decision. According to the Buffalo News, the proposal would bring at least four big name concerts to the waterfront locale, with anticipated audiences of between 5,000 and 10,000 people.

The NFTA would receive $20,000 to rent the land for the events.

The new state budget approved by Albany this week will increase state aid to schools over the levels the Governor had proposed.

Locally, that means some jobs and academic programs will be preserved, but the aid will not cover all of the budget gaps for local schools. A majority of the increased aid will go to what are considered high-needs districts, such as Buffalo.

The News reports that the only district in Erie and Niagara Counties not to receive aid was Holland.

WBFO News file photo

Republican former Erie County Executive Chris Collins has officially thrown his hat into the ring for the 27th Congressional District race.

Collins made the announcement on Saturday in an interview with the Buffalo News. Should Collins survive a June primary against fellow Republican David Bellavia, he would face incumbent Democrat Kathy Hochul in November.

Collins suffered a stinging defeat in his re-election bid for County Executive to Mark Poloncarz. In a special election, Hochul upset Jane Corwin, a Republican candidate, who was heavily supported by Collins.

After weeks of warm, summer-like weather, a hard freeze is being predicted for the overnight hours on Monday.

Colder weather will approach the region with daytime highs reaching the upper 30's on Monday, but it is the overnight temperatures that are raising some concerns. Temperatures are expected to dip to the mid 20's during Monday night. These temperatures could be damaging to fragile blooms that have responded to the recent heat.

Precaution should be taken to protect sensitive plants and trees from the freezing temperatures.

"Fish Out of Water" continues on stage this weekend at the Irish Classical Theatre.

Irish playwright Gilliam Grattan was recently in Buffalo for the premier of her show. The play looks at problems in a small Irish vacation community.

Grattan sat down with WBFO and AM 970's Mike Desmond to discuss her work.

An early morning blaze at the 3M plant in the Town of Tonawanda sent alarms to several local fire companies.

The fire was reported at around 3 o'clock Saturday morning and was quickly extinguished. Workers were evacuated and sprinklers were triggered when a machine caught on fire.

The building itself was not affected but an estimate on the damage to the machinery was unavailable.

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