Tom Dinki

Reporter

Tom Dinki joined WBFO in August 2019 to cover issues affecting older adults.

Tom is a Buffalo native and 2016 University at Buffalo graduate, holding a B.A. in English and journalism certificate. While at UB, he served as editor in chief of the university's independent student newspaper, The Spectrum.

After graduating from UB, Tom spent three years as a reporter for the Olean Times Herald, where he covered mostly crime and education throughout Cattaraugus and Allegany counties.

His three-part education series, "The state of New York rural schools: Left behind," won a 2018 New York Associated Press first-place Enterprise Reporting Award, second-place Investigative and Watchdog Reporting Award, and first-place Data Visualization Award.

When he’s not eating, sleeping and breathing the news, Tom likes to ride his bike and watch — and more importantly, discuss and debate — movies and television.

You can follow him on Twitter, @tomdinki.

Ways to Connect

Tom Dinki/WBFO News

Erie County officials received the influenza vaccine Wednesday in an effort to encourage residents to do the same.

 

A food worker at a Taco Bell restaurant in Niagara Falls has been diagnosed with hepatitis A.

Tom Dinki/WBFO News

Williamsville residents say turning the Blocher Homes assisted living facility into mixed-income housing will not only displace 50 seniors, but also congest traffic, eliminate green space and decline property values. 

 


Tom Dinki/WBFO News

Dr. Bruce Troen doesn’t want to just increase senior citizens’ life spans. He also wants to increase what he calls their “health spans.”

 

“It’s not about the years in your life, but it’s really the life in your years,” he said.

 

Troen and the University at Buffalo’s Center for Successful Aging will be in a better position to do just that thanks to a recent five-year, $750,000 grant from the National Institute on Aging. UB will match the funds for a total of $1.5 million.

 

Tom Dinki/WBFO News

Maryanne Portugues, 69, knows all too well about scams targeting older adults.

 

“The first time I ever got a call was years ago telling me that my Social Security benefits were going to stop,” she told WBFO. “After I started thinking and realized what I was getting upset over, (I thought), they don’t do this.”

 

Portugues and others at the Belle Senior Center on Buffalo’s West Side received a free seminar on how to protect themselves from scams Thursday. It was part of AT&T’s “Digital You and Cyber Aware” public education campaign, in collaboration with state Sen. Tim Kennedy and the Better Business Bureau of Upstate New York.

 

Tom Dinki/WBFO News

A new series of tax breaks will allow the Lackawanna wind turbines along Lake Erie to get some much needed repairs.

 

Tom Dinki/WBFO News

Erie County Clerk Mickey Kearns is asking for more than $600,000 to pay for New York state’s Green Light Law, but says he still has no plans to provide driver’s licenses to undocumented immigrants.

 


Tom Dinki / WBFO News

Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz won re-election Tuesday, defeating challenger Lynne Dixon to win his third term in office.


Tom Dinki/WBFO News

Mary Ann Basile, 72, cast her ballot at the Harlem Road Community Center in Amherst Friday afternoon, four days before Election Day. 

 

“I just thought it would be more convenient to come today than on Tuesday,” she said. “It’s too crowded on Tuesday. It’s nice to be able to come at your own convenience.”

 

Basile and other senior citizens took advantage of the convenience of New York state’s early voting more than any other age group in Erie County.

 

WBFO file photo

Republicans in the Erie County Legislature want answers about Ruthie’s Law.

The Republican minority caucus sent a letter to Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz on Tuesday, demanding he explain why nursing homes aren’t following the law and what his administration is doing to enforce it.

 

Tom Dinki/WBFO News

Third parties used a public hearing in Buffalo Tuesday to voice concerns New York state’s commission to get big money out of politics is actually meant to get them out of the election system.

 

Tom Dinki/WBFO News

Construction is starting on more affordable housing for seniors on the East Side of Buffalo. 

 

City and state officials held a groundbreaking ceremony Friday for Westminster Commons, an upcoming 84-unit, low-income senior housing complex on Monroe Street. The new facility will be connected to the existing Westminster Settlement House, which will be converted into a health facility for both Westminster Commons residents and other community members.

 

Erie County

Ruthie’s Law was meant to hold nursing homes more accountable. Proposed by Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz and passed by the county Legislature just a few months later, it mandates facilities report abuse-related incidents to the county twice a year, as well as submit proof they’re disclosing their ratings to prospective clients.

 

Now, more than two years after it was signed into law, it’s difficult to say what, if any, impact it’s had.


Tom Dinki/WBFO News

Will New York’s Green Light Law put county clerks at risk of being federally prosecuted for helping hide undocumented immigrants?

 

That was one of the main questions debated Wednesday during oral arguments for Erie County Clerk Mickey Kearns’ high-profile lawsuit against the state for allowing undocumented immigrants to obtain driver's licenses.

 

Tom Dinki/WBFO News

A vacant parking lot has officially been transformed into affordable housing for older adults as part of the Gates Circle redevelopment. 

 

People Inc., as well as the state and city officials who helped fund the $11.6 million project, unveiled Linwood Lafayette Senior Apartments with a ribbon-cutting ceremony Monday.

Eileen Elibol / WNED|WBFO

Lynne Dixon attacked Mark Poloncarz’s leadership in a televised debate Thursday night, even calling the Erie County Executive a “bully,” while Poloncarz defended his record and promised to continue the area’s economic growth if re-elected. 

 


Tom Dinki/WBFO News

PUSH Buffalo and other allies marched down Perry Street Wednesday, from the Commodore Perry low-income housing complex to the headquarters of the city’s economic development offices.

 

The half-mile route wasn’t random.

 

Marchers are demanding New York state provide more funding for public, affordable housing like the Perry Projects, and less funding for private, wealthy real estate developers who benefit from economic development boards housed at 95 Perry St.

 


Tom Dinki/WBFO News

An arrest warrant was issued for Yuriy Bruks on Aug. 5, a day after his wife was found dead in their Cheektowaga home.

 

That was just enough time, according to prosecutors, for the 35-year-old truck driver to retrieve his passport from the crime scene, purchase a burner phone from Walmart and head toward the U.S.-Mexico border.

 

Eileen Buckley / WBFO News

The Erie County Holding Center inmate who deputies say hanged himself Friday has died at a local hospital. Erie County Legislature Chair April Baskin confirmed the inmate was Robert Ingalsbe.

Tom Dinki/WBFO News

Brandon Carrizales, 33, volunteered at Thursday’s Project Homeless Connect Buffalo, wearing a uniform blue t-shirt and directing homeless people to service providers set up around the Buffalo Niagara Convention Center.

 

Two years ago, he was one of those homeless people attending the event and looking for services.

 

Tom Dinki/WBFO News

Nursing homes are speaking out against New York state’s Medicaid re-calculation they say will cost them millions of dollars in funding.

 

Nursing home officials and advocates, as well as their state lawmakers, gathered at Garden Gate nursing home in Cheektowaga Wednesday to urge the New York State Department of Health to reconsider the recent change to the Medicaid reimbursement model.

 


Tom Dinki/WBFO News

Carri Milch of Williamsville considers herself part of the Woodstock Generation. She listened to plenty of music while attending concerts and dances as a young person in the 1960s and ’70s.

 

Tom Dinki/WBFO News

Some were in their 90s. The oldest was 104. Many needed the assistance of a walker or a wheelchair. 

 

That didn’t stop residents of Blocher Homes from making sure their voices were heard in a protest Monday over the proposed sale and closing of their Williamsville assisted living facility.


Tom Dinki/WBFO News

Vernadine Hinton has lived at Piotr Stadnitski Gardens, a 100-unit affordable senior housing complex on Buffalo’s East Side, for 15 years. She said she’s seen the apartment building when “it really wasn’t too much.”

Now she has new windows to keep the heat in and a bigger stove for Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners.

 

UB Living Stipend Movement

The University at Buffalo is lifting its stoppage on Ph.D. student recruitment, saying it will provide additional funding so programs can afford to take on new students.

 

Tom Dinki/WBFO News

A college campus is the new place for Erie County senior citizens looking to get care and socialization while avoiding going into a nursing home, as Catholic Health officially unveiled its new day facility at Villa Maria College in Cheektowaga Wednesday.

Tom Dinki/WBFO News

Nate McMurray is doubling down on his campaign following the resignation of Rep. Chris Collins, expressing confidence he can win Collins’ heavily Republican 27th Congressional District as a Democrat.

 

Tom Dinki/WBFO News

Repairs are finally coming to the deteriorated, pothole-ridden stretch of the New York state thruway that runs through the Seneca Nation of Indians’ Cattaraugus Territory.

 

The New York State Thruway Authority and the Seneca Nation, long at odds over how to repair the three-mile portion of Interstate 90, announced Wednesday they’d reached an agreement and work will begin immediately.

 

 


UB Living Stipend Movement

University at Buffalo doctoral students seemingly got a victory last month when the university announced it would increase their minimum stipend to $20,000 a year.

 

But now, Ph.D. students are learning that the raise is coming at a cost.

Powerful Tools for Caregivers

When it comes to taking care of an aging loved one, health experts warn it can be easy to forget to take care of yourself. That’s why Erie County is once again offering Powerful Tools for Caregivers classes.

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