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With rising costs and shrinking tax bases, education leaders in New York are trying to find solutions.

They are called "low-wealth, high-needs" districts and there may be 300 of them just in the state's rural areas.

That's around 40 percent of the state's school districts.

State regents are looking at ways to deal with some of the problems, perhaps more regional high schools to offer better programs while easing the fiscal pressure on individual districts.

There's also talk of easing restrictions on merging districts so there will be more mergers.

Details emerge in police shooting

May 29, 2012

An Erie County Grand Jury is expected to review the details of the Sunday morning incident in which a Buffalo police officer shot and killed a suspect in the city's Black Rock neighborhood.

Internal Affairs and the Homicide Squad are currently investigating the shooting that claimed the life of 25-year-old John Sordetto.

According to the Buffalo News, Sordetto was likely in violation of the terms of his parole when he was stopped by police.

Officer Mark Andrzejak attempted to handcuff Sordetto before a scuffle ensued during which the fatal shot was fired.

Final arguments resume Tuesday in Corasanti trial

May 29, 2012

The closely watched trial of Dr. James Corasanti is approaching its end.

Closing arguments begin Tuesday morning in Erie County Court as prosecutors attempt to convince the jury that Corasanti was drunk, speeding and texting at the time his car struck and killed 18-year-old Alexandria Rice last summer.

Corasanti's counsel has called upon its own expert witnesses to counter some key evidence.

The Amherst doctor faces several charges that could result in more than 20 years in jail.

 

Splash pads ready for heat wave

May 28, 2012
WBFO News file photo

The city of Buffalo is preparing for one of the hottest Memorial Days on record.

With temperatures expected to reach 90 degrees, the city's splash pads will be open today from 11am until 7pm.

In all, the city has 11 splash pads, but three are currently under construction.

The cooling facilities traditionally do not open until July.

Splash pads will be turned on at the following locations:

Allison (Reese St next to pool)

Cazenovia (by Caz casino)

Centennial (foot of Porter next to pool in Lasalle park)

Western New York marks Memorial Day

May 28, 2012

Memorial Day parades and ceremonies are taking place in dozens of Western New York communities today.

The 914th Airlift Wing will take part in Memorial Day ceremonies in Batavia.

A flyover of one of the Wing's C-130s is scheduled to coincide with the city's parade around 10am. Congresswoman Kathy Hochul will be among the dignitaries on hand.

State Senator Tim Kennedy will take part in a ceremony honoring Cheektowaga Army veteran Walter Casheba at the Town Park at 1pm.

Suspect dies in police struggle

May 28, 2012

Internal Affairs investigators are reviewing the Sunday morning incident in which a Buffalo police officer shot and killed a man in the city's Black Rock section.

Few details have been released but a department spokesman says the shooting followed a foot chase and struggle between the officer and suspect.

The officer was treated for eye and head injuries.

The names of those involved have yet to be released.

The Homicide Squad is also conducting an investigation of the incident.

Photo from Buffalo News video

Buffalo recently stepped up its effort combat the every growing problem of graffiti vandalism. 

This week in our Press Pass conversation, WBFO & AM-970's Eileen Buckley talks with Buffalo News reporter Brian Meyer about how the city has doubled its effort to erase graffiti.  You can watch Brian Meyer's graffiti video story on-line to the Buffalo News Web video link.

Fading generation of World War II veterans

May 28, 2012
Photo from Rich Kellman's video

Memorial Day gives us reason to pause for those who died fighting for their country.

For war veterans who survived combat,  reflect on their battles.  But there is now an entire generation of war veterans who are fading away. 

In honor of our veterans we are rebroadcasting a special story that WGRZ-TV senior correspondent and WBFO & AM-970 news contributor Rich Kellman produced telling the story of some local World War two veterans.

File Photo / WBFO/AM 970 News

State Police in Central New York have released the name of a trooper who died Saturday after an accident late the night before.

The trooper has been identified as 31-year old Amanda Anna of Liverpool. Anna lost control of her patrol vehicle and crashed in the Town of Hastings near Oswego. She was a six year veteran of the force, assigned to the Hastings Barracks in Oswego County.

Governor Andrew Cuomo, in a statement, sent condolences to the trooper's family. Anna is survived by her fiance, also a member of the State Police, and a four year old son.

File Photo / WBFO/AM 970 News

The Huntley Power plant in the Town of Tonawanda will benefit from the settlement of a lawsuit from 2011.

The lawsuit entailed tax exemptions and assessments that the plant filed for and which were denied by the town's Board of Assessment Review. The award totals nearly $9 million, much of it coming from the Kenmore - Town of Tonawanda School District and the Town itself. Both entities made preparations for the payments.

Erie county also owes in the settlement, though there has been no comment from the County Executive.
 

File Photo / WBFO/AM 970 News

Administrators in the Town of Amherst are optimistic that its taxpayer supported golf courses will soon become profitable.

The town's trio of golf courses have lost money over the previous three seasons, with deficits rising to nearly $300,000 in 2011. The town operates the Audubon, Oakwood and Audubon Par Three golf courses. Administrators blame the lackluster performance at the courses to poor weather, competition from private courses, and ongoing construction projects that interrupted play.

Dish Network is finding itself in the midst of legal actions.

A number of major broadcasting companies have filed suit against the firm due to its service called AutoHop that is offered to customers. AutoHop allows viewers to record television programs while eliminating the commercials. Commercial networks are working to protect the many billions of dollars in revenue they receive annually from advertisers.

Dish Network introduced AutoHop this month and has filed a countersuit claiming that the service is not illegal.
 

File Photo / WBFO/AM 970 News

Niagara County's Emergency Preparedness Program has received a perfect score in state performance reviews.

 The county's program has received exceptional scores for three consecutive years, including reviews by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The New York State Department of Health reviewed the program this year.

File Photo / WBFO/AM 970 News

Rescue crews from Canada and the US responded to a report of a man caught in the whirlpool currents near the Falls on Saturday afternoon.

Witnesses claim that a 22 year old Asian male fell into the water at the Niagara Glen nature preserve on the Canadian side. Crews used water craft and helicopters to search for the man. He was spotted in the water but was pulled under from the currents before he could be rescued. He never resurfaced.

The rescue effort was suspended Saturday evening.

File Photo / WBFO/AM 970 News

The University at Buffalo is distancing itself from a controversial hydrofracking report recently released by one of the school's affiliates.

The Shale Resources and Society Institute was formed at the school this year as a source for credible information and research regarding shale gas. It's first report, indicating an improvement in the environmental effects of hydrofracking, has been harshly criticized by being funded and directed by industry interests. Other studies show the Institute's results to be false.

File Photo / WBFO/AM 970 News

Brian Davis, the former Ellicott District representative on the Common Council, could seek a plea deal at a court appearance this week.

Davis faces embezzlement charges for scheming to redirect nearly $50 thousand in federal funds for personal use. According to the News, Davis could face up to ten years in prison, though a deal would lessen that sentence. It could also require that he testify in the federal investigation into City Hall's use of federal funds allocated through the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

A guilty plea was entered this week by a Buffalo man charged with overseeing the trust of a local restaurateur.

Thirty-six year old Scott Huber was given authority to handle a trust established for Mary Tomaselli, owner of the Allentown restaurant La Tee Da. Tomaselli succumbed to colon cancer, but a benefit for her in 2010 raised nearly $90 thousand. Huber faces 5 to 15 years in prison for tapping into those monies for personal use.

He pleaded guilty this past week.

File Photo / WBFO/AM 970 News

An early morning, two alarm blaze closed a portion of Elmwood Avenue overnight.

Crews responded to calls at 353 Elmwood just after midnight where a fire was well established when firefighters arrived. The apartment building suffered an estimated $200,000 in damage, and one person was treated at a hospital for smoke inhalation.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation and the Red Cross is assisting residents of the building.
 

File Photo / WBFO/AM 970 News

Police and prosecutors are working to ebb the increase of shootings that plague Buffalo's West Side.

Seventeen members of the violent Seventh Street Gang were charged with racketeering on Friday. Some members face additional charges of murder, robbery and other violent offenses. Officials claim that the city has suffered more than 100 shootings this year, a 70 percent increase over the same stretch last year.

A rival Tenth Street Gang is also getting attention by police.

File Photo / WBFO/AM 970 News

A guilty plea in a deadly automobile crash in January will send a Blasdell teen to prison for as many as fifteen years.

Bradley Maloney has pleaded guilty in the early morning crash on the Cattaraugus Reservation that killed one teen passenger and injured two others. Maloney and others had been drinking in Buffalo and were headed to a cottage in a Chautauqua County.

He faces charges of vehicular manslaughter, vehicular assault and DWI.
 

eriecanalharbor.com

This Memorial Day weekend marks the unofficial start of summer in Western New York and Canalside in downtown Buffalo is expected to be a popular destination.

From land that’s lain fallow and neglected for decades, the downtown waterfront is being reborn, and people have noticed.

425 events are scheduled at Canalside through October.  Nearly all of them are free. A schedule is available at http://www.eriecanalharbor.com/events.asp.

Nicholas Gunner/WBFO file photo

CBC News is reporting that the Canadian Consulate office in Buffalo will be closing. The Canadian government says the closing is due to budget cuts and changes in immigration rules.

The main function of the Buffalo office was to help foreign students and temporary workers extend their visas to stay in Canada, but that will now be handled online and in immigration offices in Canada. Other consular functions in the Buffalo office will be transferred to New York City.

Senate vote boosts Niagara Falls base

May 25, 2012

A rare showing of bi-partisan support in Washington may benefit the Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station.

By unanimous vote, a spending plan was approved Thursday by the Senate Armed Services Committee that would fund the continued operation of the 107th Airlift Wing at the Falls base.

A similar bill was passed earlier by the House Armed Services Committee.

The Pentagon had proposed to trim Air National Guard operations in Niagara Falls and around the country before Governors and lawmakers offered staunch opposition.
 

provided by Patrick Kavanagh

It may have taken 200 years, but dozens of war veterans who died in Buffalo will receive a more appropriate memorial on Monday.

A commemorative stone will be unveiled at the Gate Eight of the Buffalo Zoo directing attention to the virtually unmarked grave in the heart of the Delaware Park golf course where 300 people are buried.

America honors its heroes, but little respect has been given to these War of 1812 veterans, whose story has been largely untold.

Patrick Kavanagh, Forest Lawn historian, was eager to tell it on a recent sit down inside the cemetery chapel.

Organizers made official what many thought was inevitable: the Thursday downtown summer music series will now make its home on the emerging Buffalo waterfront.

Last year, there were some concerts in the old venue on Lafayette Square and some on the Waterfront.

This year, all of the concerts will be getting new names and a permanent location down on the Central Wharf on the Inner Harbor.

Buffalo Place President and Vice Chairman Anthony Colucci III says the schedule is being released now but there may be even more concerts beyond the five when there will be a charge.

The ECMC campus on Grider Street continues to change, with major construction projects and smaller changes to increase medical care possibilities like the newly-opened Grider Family Health Center.

The general idea is that a patient can go to the emergency room or go to the new family health center and get a family doctor.

Google Map

A school bus with 19 children on board plowed into a house in South Buffalo Thursday morning, injuring four of them.  The bus was transporting students to Lorraine Academy when it struck the house on West Woodside Drive between South Park Avenue and Hopkins Street. 

Four students were taken to Women and Children's Hospital for treatment of bumps and bruises.  The driver was treated at Mercy Hospital. 

Mike Desmond/WBFO

With Governor Cuomo putting up millions of dollars to speed Peace Bridge expansion, community activists want to know if more traffic will translate into more air pollution.

Air pollution from bridge and Thruway traffic has been an issue on the West Side for years, as has the very high asthma rate turned up in local and national studies.

There has been very little air quality monitoring, although there was some in an earlier phase of planning for bridge and plaza expansion.

Bethlehem building gains a temporary reprieve

May 24, 2012

The former Bethlehem Steel administration building in Lackawanna will be spared the wrecking ball, at least temporarily.

The planned demolition of the structure has recently become the subject of public discussion with some in the preservation community calling for its renovation.

According to the Buffalo News, the state will not provide a $500,000 grant which would have covered the demolition's expense.

Nonetheless, the structure's current owner, Gateway Trade Center, will try to move forward with demolition proceedings.

For weeks, there’s been a stalemate in Albany over the issue of raising the state’s minimum age, with Assembly Democrats backing the idea, Senate Republicans opposing it, and Governor Cuomo remaining neutral in the middle, saying he generally backs the measure, but feels that the GOP can’t be convinced.

The governor and the leaders appeared together at an event in the governor’s ceremonial offices, and were asked if they were doing anything to resolve the impasse.
There was a brief pause.

“Who wants to go first, guys?” Cuomo said, with a laugh.

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