Local & regional news

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.

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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.

The school board made it official yesterday, Interim Superintendent Amber Dixon is one of three finalists for the post left vacant when James Williams retired in September.

The others named and listed with their credentials are Edward Newsome, an assistant superintendent for high schools in Baltimore County Public Schools, and Pamela Brown, former assistant superintendent and chief academic officer for Philadelphia.

WBFO News photos by Eileen Buckley

There's an increasing problem of misuse of prescription drugs from an increasing oversupply.

Law enforcement officials say they need controls and new Albany legislation may provide those controls.

Police have busted an array of questionable sources of prescription drugs, from a Niagara County doctor to pharmacies.

The drugs then show up in the illegal market, legal pills for illegal purposes.

State Assemblyman Sean Ryan says it's hard to keep track because prescription records only have to be submitted within 45 days.

Trooper saves toddler

May 23, 2012

The decisive action of a New York State Trooper helped save the  life of an Erie County toddler.

State police report Trooper Christopher Sullivan's CPR efforts helped to revive a 23-month-old child who was found unresponsive in the family pool in the town of Boston Tuesday evening.

In a news release issued by State Police, Trooper Sullivan arrived on scene and found the child to be unconscious and not breathing.  He immediately began CPR and was able to partially revive the child.  Moments later Boston EMS arrived on scene and relieved Trooper Sullivan. 

Democrats preparing for Grisanti challenge

May 23, 2012

Democrats are expected to endorse Hamburg attorney Joseph Amodeo to challenge State Senator Mark Grisanti in the November election.

It's the latest addition to what is becoming a crowded field who want to oust the Republican Grisanti.

Charles Swanick already has the Conservative Party endorsement while Kenmore Mayor Patrick Mang may try to run on the Working Families Party line.

The Buffalo News reports former State Senator Alfred Coppola may also enter the race.

Second person goes over Niagara Falls

May 22, 2012

For the second time in two days, there is a report of a person going over Niagara Falls, this time on the American side.

New York State Park Police are investigating the report of a second person going over just after 10 a.m. Tuesday morning.  Police say they are interviewing witnesses, who say the person who went over was an adult, but police tell WBFO and AM 970 there is no further information at this time.

Authorities say due to the rocks below the American Falls, chances of survival are slim. However, a search for a body continues.

Daniel Robison / WBFO

Tightrope walker Nik Wallenda concludes his public practices Tuesday in Niagara Falls, N.Y.

Over the last week, Wallenda has invited spectators to watch him prepare for his June 15 wirewalk over Horseshoe Falls.

But almost a month before the main event, Wallenda's presence is already inspiring an eclectic atmosphere in this hard scrabble city of 50,000.

"Great for the city"

Niagara County's political wars aren't being suspended while Nik Wallenda readies for his walk above the Niagara Gorge.

State Senator George Maziarz and Assemblyman John Ceretto were sponsors of legislation to allow the Wallenda walk to take place.

Both have criticized City Hall and Mayor Paul Dyster, saying they aren't properly supporting the event.

Dyster found a defender in City Council Member Kristen Grandinetti.

mike desmond/wbfo news

Some improvements still need to be put in place, but some Niagara Falls residents and public officials took time yesterday to celebrate the new LaSalle Waterfront Park.

Built on what was once the Century Club on Buffalo Avenue just south of the Grand Island Bridge, the park gives the public some rare access to the river.
"Finally, this park has come to fruition," said Niagara Falls Councilman Charles Walker.

The trial of Dr. James Corasanti enters its 16th day in Erie County Court today.

Corasanti finished testifying early Monday afternoon and then the jury heard a defense witness pick apart the results of Corasanti's blood test.  

For Corasanti's second day on the stand, Alexandria Rice's father sat in his usual front row seat in the gallery wearing a neon green shirt that appeared close in color to the top Rice had on the night she was struck and killed by Corasanti's vehicle.  

Congressman Brian Higgins stopped in during the NFTA Board of Commissioners meeting Monday.  

Higgins has been relentless of late in his push  to have the NFTA relinquish title of the property now known as the Outer Harbor.

His push continued at Monday's   Commissioners meeting.
"We have an agency that has money; we have an agency that has a singular focus," said Higgins in a  reference to the Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation.

Later, NFTA Board Chair Howard Zemsky warmly welcomed the Congressman.

Board will interview three superintendent finalists

May 22, 2012
WBFO News photo

Buffalo Interim School Superintendent Amber Dixon could be moving closer to assuming her position on a permanent basis, though she'll first need to beat out two other finalists for the post.

The Buffalo School Board is expected to formally interview the three candidates later this week.

According to the Buffalo News, the two unnamed applicants come from large urban school districts and presumably would be familiar with the multi-tiered issues hampering the Buffalo district.

Man survives jump into Niagara Falls

May 21, 2012

A man is alive, but badly injured, after plunging into Niagara Falls.

Niagara Parks Police says witnesses saw the man climb over the retaining wall above the Horseshoe Falls and enter the waters below without any sort of protective device around 10:20 this morning.  He was then seen surfacing in the lower Niagara River.

An officer located the man near the shoreline as the Niagara Falls Fire Department, the Niagara Regional Police Service and Niagara E.M.S. arrived at the scene. He was extricated at 12:16 p.m. and taken via  ORNGE air ambulance to Hamilton General Hospital.

At network's insistence, Wallenda to be tethered

May 21, 2012
Daniel Robison/WBFO

Daredevil Nik Wallenda says he's not happy about it but he'll probably be tethered to the tightrope that he plans to walk over Niagara Falls next month.

Wallenda says Monday that ABC is adamant about making him wear the safety device out of concern for viewers who tune in to the network's three-hour, prime-time special on June 15.

He says he's upset by the condition because he's never worn a tether during a performance and it will give him another thing to contend with as he walks through the mist and wind over the waterfall.

A North Buffalo landmark may soon be turned from a closed library to a small apartment building, depending on a decision from the city's Zoning Board of Appeals.

CSS Construction has a deal with the Office of Strategic Planning to buy the former Fairfield Branch Library if a zoning variance to allow building six parking spaces goes through.

CSS President David Pawlik says the project needs those parking spaces to allow the five apartments and office space project to work.

He says the building needs some major reconstruction, inside and out.

Woman held for high speed ambulance chase

May 21, 2012

Police say a woman who stole an ambulance led them on a chase that reached almost 100 mph before she crashed.

Buffalo Police say the woman got into the Rural/Metro Medical Services ambulance at the Erie County Medical Center and took off at about 6:30 a.m. Sunday.

They say she was chased by medical center police and narrowly missed pedestrians and other vehicles as she sped through intersections, lost control and hit a parking lot wall.

Corasanti faces cross-examination today

May 21, 2012

The James Corasanti manslaughter trial continues today in Erie County Court.

Corasanti took to the stand in his own defense on Friday offering emotional testimony in which he claimed that texting, speeding or drinking played no part in the crash that killed 18-year-old Alix Rice.

Corasanti claimed that he sober despite having four drinks and a sip of another in the hours preceding the crash.

The defense is also expected to call upon its own expert witness to review the details of the crash.

File Photo / WBFO, AM 970 News

The ground was broken at the former site of the War Memorial Auditorium on Saturday for further development of that historic, waterfront area.

Members of the Erie Canal harbor Development Corporation were joined by Brian Higgins, Mark Poloncarz, Mickey Kearns and other political figures in ceremoniously kicking off the construction of a series of replica canals and pedestrian bridges. Construction is expected to be completed in 2013.

The work will make the region a year round destination with summer events and winter skating.

File Photo / WBFO, AM 970 News

Area shoppers who have accounts with HSBC or First Niagara Banks may have faced some frustration over the weekend.

More than one hundred HSBC offices closed on Friday afternoon as they transition to First Niagara branches for Monday morning's business. Debit cards from HSBC were voided on Friday afternoon. Online banking customers with First Niagara saw their accounts go offline on Saturday at noon. Those accounts are expected to be back online sometime on Monday.

File Photo / WBFO, AM 970 News

A Buffalo teen has lost his life in a Saturday shooting on Buffalo's West Side.

Police officers from Buffalo's "B" District responded to reports of a shooting at nearly two o'clock in the afternoon. The body of a 19 year old male was found at the corner of Massachusetts Street and Shields Avenue. He was transported to Buffalo General Hospital where he was pronounced dead.

Homicide detectives believe that drugs were involved in the incident and they continue to investigate.

Anyone with information is asked to call the Confidential TIPCALL Line at 847-2255.

A police standoff outside of a Lockport home on Saturday afternoon ended in an apparent suicide.

Police, SWAT team members and hostage negotiators were dispatched to the home on Willow Street after a call was received by Lockport Police that a man wanted to kill himself. Gun shots were heard during that call. After a five hour standoff, Emergency Response Team members forced their way into the home.

An elderly and emaciated woman was found on the first floor. The body of man was found on the second floor. I

dentities have not been released.

File Photo / WBFO, AM 970 News

The Buffalo Common Council has approved its amendments to the Mayor's Proposed City Budget for the Fiscal Year 2012-2013.

A unanimous vote created a new budget line for funding Arts and Cultural groups. Monies were also designated for purchasing bottled water for firefighters and for hiring new police officers as well as firefighters.

The revised budget will now be reviewed by the mayor.