Chris Caya

Reporter (Lead reporter for WBFO Business & Economy Desk)

Ways to Connect

Courtesy of The Buffalo Zoo

Within several months, visitors will have easier access to The Buffalo Zoo. 

Local elected leaders joined Zoo President Donna Fernandes Thursday morning to break ground on a new entry plaza. Fernandes says it will be safer because it's located directly off the parking lot in the former Children's Zoo building.  

"We had to relocate the entrance.  One reason was safety," said Fernandes.  

WBFO News photo

With National Bullying Prevention Month about ten days away, educators, law enforcement, mental health professionals and others took part in conference Wednesday on "Understanding and Addressing Cyberbullying."

WBFO and AM 970's Eileen Buckley moderated a panel discussion during the day-long event at the Millennium Hotel.

Photo from Mother Jones video

Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney's statements about nearly half the population are "improper" according to one local lawmaker.  

Romney's comments about not having to worry about  47-percent of Americans who, as he put it, believe they are victims, are inappropriate according to Rep. Kathy Hochul.

Hochul says many of the people Romney is referring to are seniors or low-income workers who do pay federal payroll taxes.  

Chris Caya/WBFO News

Buffalo's new federal courthouse has been open for months, but an important part of the project remains undone.

According to Congressman Brian Higgins, plans for the new building included re-using the old courthouse.  
Standing at the corner of Court Street and Niagara Square Monday, Higgins told reporters the government's landlord agency, the General Services Administration, should be following through on its plans to reopen the former Dillion Federal Courthouse. 

Rep. Brian Higgins says the U.S. needs to let the unrest in the Middle East "play itself out."

An privately-produced, anti-Islam film made in the America has provoked a week of unrest in predominantly Muslim countries.  But Higgins, a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, says the U.S. can not impose itself in every conflict . 

"Those places aren't going to change until those people want to change. What we can do is influence our country and how we are viewed as a nation throughout the world," Higgins said.

WBFO News photo by Chirs Caya

Cash registers are ringing again at "998 Broadway."  The catchy sounding address made famous locally by the old Sattler's Department Store is now the site of the City's newest ALDI.

Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown helped cut the ribbon on the new store across from the Broadway Market Thursday morning.

The Mayor said "it's another great day of momentum in Buffalo."   

WBFO News file photo

The Buffalo Bills and Erie County have agreed to extend their current stadium lease through July 2014.

The one-year extension was announced Wednesday morning by Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz.

Talks over lease negotiations for the Bills lease at Ralph Wilson Stadium have been stalled.

Poloncarz said the last meeting between the Bills, the County and the State was June 29th. But Poloncarz insists this weekend's game will not be the Bills last home opener in Orchard Park. He says the Bills have agreed to extend their current lease through July 2014. 

Chris Caya/WBFO News

Nearly 60 years after it was formed, the Cantalician Center for Learning has consolidated its operations and moved to a facility designed for the children they serve.

The former St. Barnabas Catholic Church and School in Depew has been transformed into a state-of-the-art academic campus for kids with special needs.

With dozens of students looking on, area elected officials, new Bishop Richard Malone, board members and staff cut the ribbon on phase one of the Cantalician Center's new academic campus on George Urban Boulevard in Depew.

WBFO News photo by Chris Caya

Buffalo Sabres owner Terry Pegula met Mayor Byron Brown Monday morning to walk the future site of HARBORcenter.  That's the name of the Sabres$ 123-million development for the Webster Block - in front of First Niagara Center in downtown Buffalo.

Pegula said  when he bought the Sabres last year he had aspirations to help the area and create jobs.

"This project, that the city has so graciously given and handed off to us, against some pretty stiff competition from others, we are very proud to carry it forward," said Pegula.

A new scholarship for graduates of the Buffalo Public Schools interested in studying human rights - will be available at UB next year.

The late historian, human rights activist, and local resident Alison Des Forges is being honored - by the University at Buffalo - with a four-year scholarship in her name.

Des Forges earned a MacArthur Foundation Award in 1999 - for her land mark book on genocide in Rowanda - and was senior advisor to Human Rights Watch. She was flying home aboard Flight 3407 - when it crashed in Clarence Center in February 2009.  

WBFO News photo by Chris Caya

Former Common Council member Brian Davis was sentenced to one year and one day in jail Wednesday for stealing money that was intended to benefit organizations in his council district.

Davis learned his sentence in an appearance before Federal Judge William Skretny.

"I totally accept responsibility" said Davis outside the courthouse to reporters. "I'm truly sorry, I apologize and I only aspired to be the best Ellciott District Council member that the city of Buffalo has ever seen."

Chris Caya/WBFO News

People who use the paths around Hoyt Lake should begin noticing some much needed improvements soon.

However, improvements at another signature park remain unfinished.

The City of Buffalo and the Olmsted Parks Conservancy are both kicking-off separate projects in and around Hoyt Lake.

Deputy Parks Commissioner Andy Rabb says two new fresh water wells are being installed to reduce algae and odor problems. The access road is being fixed to make it easier to clean out debris. New landscaping is going in.

Chris Caya/WBFO News

A Buffalo based manufacturer with roots stretching back nearly 150 years is filling an unusual order.

The Kittinger Furniture Company has been commissioned to build replicas for an upcoming thriller set in the White House.

Kittinger has made furniture for presidents for the past several decades. Sony Pictures has commissioned the company to replicate the furniture now being used in the Oval Office. 

Google street view

Five years after closing its doors in anticipation of a new Peace Bridge, the Episcopal Church Home has a buyer. 

New York Lt. Governor Robert Duffy told reporters in Buffalo today the state has acquired the seven-acre property in the shadow of the Peace Bridge to help move the plaza expansion project forward.  

The home closed in 2007 due to a decline in business over concerns about a new bridge. Duffy says the purchase is "the last piece that will get the project going."

Chris Caya/WBFO News

Daredevil Nik Wallenda is back in the City of Niagara Falls for the first time since his high-wire stunt over the Horseshoe Falls two months ago.

The purpose of the visit is to scout out possible locations for a family entertainment center.  While the attraction could end up on either side of the river, Wallenda says his heart is on the U.S. side.  

Say Yes Buffalo initiative adds 20 colleges

Aug 23, 2012

A new round of commitments to the "Say Yes Buffalo" education initiative was announced today.  Twenty private colleges are pledging to provide scholarship opportunities for the program. 

Say Yes will allow eligible Buffalo Public and Charter School students a chance to attend college tuition-free.

Among the colleges expanding scholarship opportunities is Medaille College in Buffalo.  Medaille is already involved with Syracuse's Say Yes to Education.  

Medaille's president Richard Jurasek says the effort is "extraordinary."

WBFO News file photo

Summer recess for the Buffalo Common Council wraps up in just over ten days and one of the first things they take up could be a proposal for developing a prime piece of downtown real estate near Canalside. 

Mayor Byron Brown says a decision on who will develop the Webster Block is imminent.

"We had a good series of meetings on Monday, with the two  short-listed developers."  

Brown says Sabres owner Terry Pegula and developer Carl Paladino provided some additional information and detail on their proposals.  And no major changes have been made. 

The samurai-sword wielding robber of a North Buffalo gas station/convenience store remains at large.  Mayor Byron Brown says the investigation of the armed hold-up at Hertel and Colvin avenues early Tuesday is continuing. 

Also, Brown says Homicide Detectives are still looking for a suspect in a deadly shooting near the Entertainment District.  Police say 27-year-old James Henley died early Sunday after being shot in a parking lot near South Elmwood and Johnson Parkway. 

Chris Caya/WBFO News

Local elected leaders and state officials gathered at Canalside to kick-off the annual inspection of New York's canal system Tuesday. 

The yearly inspection has been a tradition since the waterway opened back in 1825, but  a key focus of the current trip is spurring economic growth.        

Before setting out on the first leg of their boat tour from downtown Buffalo, Canal Corporation Director Brian Stratton said the inspection is a critical tool in assessing the overall condition and capital needs of the nearly 200-year-old state canal system.

Local fire departments could end up saving money thanks to a recent change in state law.  Fire departments are no longer required to buy safety equipment they may never use.
After 2005's "Black Sunday" in which six New York City firefighters were forced to jump from the fourth floor of a burning building, the state legislature passed a law requiring fire departments to purchase emergency escape systems.

But with no flexibility, small town departments were on the hook for the same equipment as large cities. 

File photo

A bill that would make illegal immigrants in New York State eligible for financial aid is running in to some local opposition. 

The legislation introduced recently by Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver would apply to children of illegals who have lived in the U.S. for more than five years. 

Assemblyman Dennis Gabryszak says Albany has cut back on the Tuition Assistance Program in recent years. The Cheektowaga Democrat says if anything, funding should be restored to TAP  first.

According to local law professor, inmates and guards in New York's maximum security prisons share many similarities. The findings led to a new documentary about the "human cost" of long-term exposure to Attica State Prison.

Photo from Buffalo News pool photo

Dr. James Corasanti of Amherst has been sentenced to one year in prison for a DWI conviction stemming from the hit-and-run accident that killed 18-year-old Alexandria Rice last summer.

It was the maximum sentence that could have been handed down by Erie County Court Judge Sheila DiTullio, who reminded Corasanti "you drank a lot of booze that night."

WBFO News photo

Tax returns took center stage this week in the heated battle for the 27th Congressional district.

Earlier this week, Democratic Representative Kathy Hochul offered the public a look at the her salary and that of her husnand, U.S. Attorney William Hochul.

The figures produced fodder for her Republican foe, Chris Collins, who said the Hochuls have become millionaire's on the backs of taxpayers.

"She's not really this middle class person she pretends to be," said Collins.

Congresswoman Hochul refuted the attacks.

A local foundation named for a young boy with a lethal disease is urging Congress to pass legislation that would speed up the Food and Drug Administration's lengthy drug approval process. 

Suneel's Light Foundation Chief Science Officer George Hajduczok says the FAST (Faster Access to Specialized Treatments) Act removes regulatory uncertainty and formalizes the process for getting drugs approved faster.  

Chris Caya/WBFO News

The head of the U.S. Postal Service made a surprise visit to Buffalo's William Street Mail Processing Center this morning. 

Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe toured the facility before speaking to the 2,500 attendees at the 108th National Rural Letter Carriers Association Convention. 

After being targeted for closure in a cost-cutting move, the William Street facility won a temporary reprieve from earlier this year. The Postal Service is seeking to close a multi-billion dollar budget shortfall and stay solvent in a time of declining mail volume.

Given the popularity of animal exhibits and petting zoos at county fairs, health officials are reminding the public about the importance of practicing good hygiene. This after an outbreak of swine flu in about a dozen states. 

So far, the outbreak has been limited to mid-western states.  But the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention calls the 162 cases reported as of Friday an extraordinary increase over the 13 swine flu cases confirmed during all of 2011. 

Chris Caya/WBFO News

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta offered encouraging words after he toured the Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station Thursday. In a speech delivered to hundreds of base personnel,  Panetta said that he was"committed" to protecting the base and finding a new mission for its employees.

"Let me be very clear. The Department of Defense is committed to protecting New York's Air National Guard. It's the largest in the country. I think it's one of the best. And I also want to make clear that we are committed to maintaining this base for the future," Panetta said.

Photo from State DOT Website

After months of delay, some much needed road repairs will be made to state highways and bridges on Seneca Nation lands south of Buffalo.

New York State Department of Transportation Commissioner Joan McDonald and Seneca Nation President Robert Odawi Porter said in a joint written statement Monday they have agreed to a "framework" to allow the start of rehabilitation work on Interstate 86 and other state owned roads on the Seneca's Allegany and Cattaraugus Territories. 

Canalside is gearing-up for the arrival of Canada's largest sailing tall-ship. 

As WBFO and AM 970's Chris Caya reports, the 'Empire Sandy' is visiting Buffalo as part of the ongoing 200th Anniversary commemoration of the War of 1812.     

Depending on sailing conditions the Empire Sandy should arrive in Downtown Buffalo's Inner Harbor between 9 p.m. and 10 p.m. Monday.

Based in Toronto, it's billed as the largest tall-ship sailing on the Great Lakes.