Local & regional news

President pushes agenda in Albany

May 9, 2012

President Obama was in Albany on Tuesday touting the region's growth in high-tech manufacturing.

After an introduction from Governor Andrew Cuomo, the President took the stage at the University at Albany's College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering.

While much of his speech focused on a 5-point "to-do" list for Congress, which he says will help turn around the economy, Mr. Obama said he came to Albany because the region's high-tech manufacturing cluster represents the economic future of the nation.

Playwright A.R. Gurney admits his Buffalo roots have played a key role in his successful career.

"It took me a long time to start writing about my origins in Buffalo," Gurney told WBFO and AM970's Mike Desmond.

Once he did, Gurney wrote his way to success and accolades.

The Buffalo native has also devoted many plays to images of his own WASP family, including the current production of "Ancestral Voices: A Family Story" in the Road Less Traveled Theatre.

Gurney shared many of his thoughts with Mike Desmond in a conversation that can be heard here.

The first views of proposed changes to the former General Donovan State Office Building on lower Main Street were unveiled today. The renovated building will be known as One Canalside.

The city planning board received the plans from Benderson Development at its meeting Tuesday morning. Three stories of the building will become a 96-room Courtyard by Marriott hotel with the upper floors reserved for the Philips Lytle law firm, and retail and restaurant space on the first floor.

Members of the Buffalo Control Board and the Common Council say they want to get together to talk about a major shift in the way the board operates, from how much money is spent to how well it's spent.

The comments were made during the annually-required public meeting of the board.

By law, the Control Board must approve budgets of the city, the school board and an array of other city agencies.

Board Member George Arthur says his panel has only so much control over school finances.

Cuomo wants to write a book on governing

May 8, 2012

He's held the titles of HUD Secretary, state Attorney General and Governor of New York State, now Andrew Cuomo wants to add "author" to his resume.

The Democrat has been Governor for 17 months and often uses the word ``historic'' as a modifier for his accomplishments, including the legalization of gay marriage.

Cuomo says he will write about his governing philosophy.

Cuomo says he doesn't plan a memoir, but a book on how New York is improving and about its brighter future.

His former  Chief of Staff is seeking a co-author and publisher for the project.

Looking back at how V-E Day 1945 was celebrated in Buffalo

May 8, 2012

May 8th is a date that marks a most memorable moment in our history --known as V-E Day. 

It was the day the German surrender to the allies in 1945.  WGRZ senior correspondent and WBFO & AM-970 News contributor Rich Kellman tells us the "V" stood for victory and how hundreds of Buffalonians celebrated the day it happened. 


Erie County Court judge Sheila DiTullio has denied a defense request for a mistrial in the case of Dr. James Corasanti of Amherst.

As the trial resumed Monday morning defense attorney Joel Daniels asked the judge to declare a mistrial, claiming a report in Sunday's Buffalo News could have tainted jurors.

Corasanti is standing trial for vehicular manslaughter in the hit and run of 18-year-old Alexandria Rice of Amherst last July on Heim Road. 

The prosecution says Corasanti had been drinking prior to hit and run.

It continues to be a dangerous year for motorcyclists in our region. Saturday, there was a fatal motorcycle crash in Chautauqua County linked to high speed.

Motorcycle groups try to teach safety, especially to less experienced bikers, but not all listen.

Andrew Barr is president of the Cattaraugus County Chapter of the motorcycle group ABATE, which stresses education. Barr said a big safety problem is automobile drivers who don't pay enough attention to bikers.  Barr knows first hand because his only accident resulted from being cut off by a car.

Photo from Google Map Street view

The City of Buffalo has spent more than $73 million in the last 12-years to demolish 5,800  vacant buildings -- many were homes. 

The Buffalo News reveals details in a series of articles launched Sunday called  "The Wrecking Crews". 

WBFO & AM-970's Eileen Buckley sat down with Buffalo News reporter Dan Herbeck to discuss the findings in today's Press Pass interview.

"We think the readers of the Buffalo News should know how their tax dollars are being spent on this program," said Herbeck.

On May 15th, voters across New York will go to the polls to consider school district budgets and for the first time, schools will be under the constraint of a property tax cap, and school leaders say they’ve had to make “sacrifices” to live within those limits.

The New York State School Boards Association surveyed its members, and found that the majority of schools , 92%, are proposing budgets that are within the limits of the new tax cap.

City accepting council applicants again today

May 7, 2012

More candidates are stepping forward, offering their resumes in an effort to become Buffalo's next South District Councilmember.

After reviewing an earlier group of 11 candidates, council leaders asked for more applicants who would like to take over the seat left vacant since Mickey Kearns moved on to the state Assembly earlier this year.

Councilmembers are charged with selecting Kearns' successor but have not been able to reach a consensus on any previous candidate.

Five new candidates have applied for the post.

Resumes will be accepted until 5 p.m. today.

A Niagara Falls man is safely in custody after authorities talked him down from the roof of a 7th Street home.

The man is a suspect in stabbing incident, and he barricaded himself on the roof as police closed in on him. SWAT team members were called in to handle the situation. After more than eight hours and a near fall from the peak, the man was safely convinced to surrender.

The identity and condition of the suspect have not been released.

A rare natural occurrence has taken place in Canada, and it is peaking the interest of many naturalists.

A flower known as the Titan Arum has blossomed at the Niagara Parks Floral Showcase. The flower is rare. Approximately 150 of these plants are known to exist throughout the world. The flower is recognized as the tallest blossoming plant, and the flower exudes a strong, putrid odor that has been compared to rotting meat.

The bloom will be on display today from 9:30 this morning until 9 tonight.

File Photo / WBFO, AM 970 News

Buffalo Police are asking for the public's help in solving a pair of shootings on Saturday.

Twenty-three year old Stephan Overton is in critical condition at ECMC after suffering as many as nine bullet wounds. He was shot while sitting on his porch on Johnson Street. Officers are also investigating a tow truck accident. Authorities  determined that the as yet unidentified driver of the vehicle had been shot. The truck struck two cars, a fire hydrant and a Walden Avenue house before stopping. The driver was found to be deceased.

File Photo / WBFO, AM 970 News

A dispute between the City of Niagara Falls and the Seneca Nation of Indians regarding casino revenue payments is headed to arbitration.

At issue is nearly $50 million in slot machine revenues. The city has been seeking direct payments of the funding. The Seneca's claim that the City Council has misrepresented the stance of tribal leasers in the dispute.

Arbitration should begin this month and could last as long as a year.

WBFO & AM-970 present our weekly You & The Law, a conversation with the legal community on a variety of topics.

Mike Desmond speaks with attorney Rachel Kranitz McPee about the  facts of divorce and some of the misconceptions as these cases go into the legal system.

You can hear You & the Law every Friday on WBFO & AM-970 at 5:45 p.m.

File photo

Around 2 a.m. on Sunday in Fort Erie, the lights will go out as some maintenance takes place on the power system serving the entire town.

Canadian Niagara Power says the town's electric grid may be off until ten in the morning Sunday as a major project forces a shut off of the only electric line into Fort Erie from Niagara Falls.

Mayor Doug Martin says every precaution is being taken and he hopes neighbors will make sure someone who needs electricity for a medical device is taken care of.

Martin says emergency services are prepared.

WBFO News photos by Mike Desmond

A computerized animal abuse registry for Erie County is inching closer. Legislators held a public hearing into the matter Thursday night at County Hall in downtown Buffalo.

Legislator Terry McCracken is proposing the registry so data on people with criminal convictions for animal abuse would be online for five years and could be checked by pet stores or animal welfare groups to prevent them from obtaining more animals through purchase or adoption.

Pool photos provided by Buffalo News

Dr. James Corasanti's vehicular manslaughter trial resumed for its fifth day Thursday afternoon in Erie County Court with the Prosecution calling registered nurse Hope Dalrymple. 

Dalrymple is the RN at Millard Fillmore Suburban Hospital who carried out the court-ordered DWI blood test on Dr. Corasanti five hours after the car he was driving struck and killed 18-year-old Alexandria Rice as she was skateboarding on Heim Road the night of July 8, 2011. 

This week on Theatre Talk, Jim Santella and Anthony Chase discuss Driving Miss Daisy and other local productions.

WBFO News photo

Buffalo's $137 million U.S. District Courthouse on Niagara Square was formally dedicated today. The 10-story, 261,00 square-foot building opened last November after years of delay.

Many federal judges were in attendance, as were upwards of 250 invited guests, including Senator Charles Schumer, Representatives Kathy Hochul and Brian Higgins, Mayor Byron Brown and Erie County Sheriff Timothy Howard. 

Among the speakers was Judge Richard Arcara who, along with Chief U.S. District Judge William Skretny, was a driving force to see the project through from beginning to end.

WBFO News file photo

The President of Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation addressed a lunch hour crowd at the Central Library Wednesday. 

Thomas Dee capsulized where downtown waterfront development stands and where the multi-million dollar project is headed. 

"Buffalo's greatest resource is water," said Dee. 

Congressman Brian Higgins was pivotal in making the wake-up call.  More than three years later, you can see the results when you drive the lakeshore complex or visit what's come to be known as Canalside.   

WBFO News file photo

Famed tightrope walker Nik Wallenda appeared in Niagara Falls, New York Monday morning to announce the official date of his walk across the Falls.

Wallenda said he will conduct his highly anticipated walk on June 15th.  Wallenda appeared with state and local Niagara Parks Commission to announce his highwire act that will take place across the Niagara Gorge. Wallenda received both U.S. and Canadian approval for the event. 

Wallenda will make the approximate 1,800 foot crossing above the world-renowed Horeshoe Falls.

Mike Desmond/WBFO

Area law enforcers say they don't know much about why the New York Police Department had officers from its intelligence unit prowling locally and on the University at Buffalo campus.

The revelation created paranoia among Muslims at UB and questions among police officers here about what they were looking for and where they went.  A group of local officers appeared Tuesday night at a public meeting sponsored by the Muslim Public Affairs Council of Western New York at the university to talk about civil rights issues.

Daniel Robison / WBFO

SUNY has stepped up its self-promotional efforts.

In an attempt to paint the university system in a better light - and perhaps to justify its $10.8 billion budget in tight economic times - SUNY staged a regional “showcase” in Buffalo Tuesday. It was one of ten similar events thrown over the past year.

File photo

Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown says his $482.6 million budget, unveiled Tuesday afternoon, holds the line on residential taxes and cuts the taxes on commercial buildings. It also provides additional services and summer youth job hiring.

Brown says city residents will see better parks because of more age-appropriate facilities and cleaner sidewalks because City Hall will be buying special sweepers for neighborhood business districts.

Report: Cuomo to nominate Koelmel to lead NYPA

May 1, 2012
File photo

The president and chief executive officer of First Niagara Financial Group, John Koelmel, is being nominated to become the chairman of the New York Power Authority.

The Buffalo News is reporting that Governor Andrew Cuomo will submit Koelmel’s name to the board of trustees Tuesday.

In addition to the Niagara Power Project, NYPA oversees about 1,400 miles of electric distribution lines and is investigating solar and wind energy as alternative power sources.

Chris Caya/WBFO

Ghoulish-looking protestors staged a 'die-in' this morning in downtown Buffalo as part of May Day/International Worker's Day demonstrations across the country.

Die-ins, where participant simulate being dead, became a popular form of protest against the Iraq war. The silent protest with American flags and anti-war signs took place outside the Lafayette Square military recruiter station. 

Young boy dies from burn injuries

May 1, 2012

A young boy who suffered severe burns after kicking a can of paint thinner into a fire on the Tuscarora Indian Reservation has died. 

The 6-year-old boy, whose name has not been released, was being treated in a burn unit at Shriners Hospital for Children in Cincinnati, where he died Sunday from his injuries. 

The incident happened on April 10 at a home on Walmore Road in Niagara County.  The boy had gone into a neighbor's yard and kicked the accelerant into smoldering embers from a bonfire the previous night. . 

WBFO News file photo

It's back to the drawing board for the Common Council in filling the vacant South District seat.

The seat has been vacant since Mickey Kearns was elected to the State Assembly.

It's been a difficult seat to fill since one applicant turned out not to live in the district and another had done time in prison and no one could come up with the necessary five votes.