Local & regional news

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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
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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. . 

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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.

Governor Cuomo named a blue ribbon commission to look at the problems facing education in New York, instructing them to come back with an “action plan” not a “theoretical document”.

Amherst author Alice Loweecey touches upon her experience as a nun in her second novel, "Back in the Habit."

Loweecey discussed the work at length with WBFO and AM970's Mike Desmond, telling him the work is less biographical and more a murder/mystery which touches upon some of the issues confronting the religious today.

Loweecey explains that nuns "come from all different backgrounds" and are not represented by the "Hollywood stereotypes" portrayed by Julie Andrews and Sally Fields.

Listen to Mike Desmond's interview with Alice Loweecey here.

A Niagara County coroner has resigned after being accused of giving human remains from a traffic accident to a volunteer fire chief for training a cadaver dog.

In a one-sentence letter to the Niagara County clerk Monday, coroner Russell Jackman says his resignation is effective immediately. He and Cambria Volunteer Fire Chief Vincent Salerno are scheduled to be in Cambria Town Court on Tuesday to answer misdemeanor charges of obstruction of governmental administration.

Pool photo provided by The Buffalo News

Testimony resumed today in the vehicular manslaughter trial of Dr. James Corasanti, who is accused of fatally striking teenager Alexandria Rice last July and then leaving the scene of the accident.

This morning, residents along Heim Road in Amherst where the collision occurred described hearing an unusual noise. One called it a "loud thump" and the other said it was a "horrific" noise and a "jarring sound," unnatural for the quiet neighborhood.  She said it's not unusual for bicyclists and skateboarders to use the bike lane on Heim. 

The future of landmark Saint Ann's Church remains a mystery today after it was ordered closed by Bishop Edward Kmiec yesterday for safety reasons.

An engineering report found major problems in the building's limestone structure which has been damaged by years of air pollution.

Due to declining numbers, Saint Ann's is no longer an independent congregation, instead it's part of nearby Saint Columba and Brigid Parish.

Earth Day came and went in New York without too much discussion of what many environmentalists believe to be the biggest issue facing the state: when and where the gas drilling process known as hydrofracking will occur.

The future of fracking has been stalled in New York for several months now, as the State Department of Environmental Conservation plows through what Commissioner Joe Martens says is a “mountain” of over 60,000 public comments, collected during an environmental review.

“The focus now is on the comments and its monumental,” Martens said.

WBFO News file photo

It may not be an optimal date, but Business First's Jim Fink believes Nik Wallenda's June 15th walk across Niagara Falls should boost tourism, if only temporarily.

Discussing the topic Monday morning on WBFO and AM970's Press Pass, Fink said in "a perfect world" the walk would have taken place in September.

Without Wallenda's appearance, hotels on both sides of the border would still  enjoy near full occupancy in June.

Jim Fink also offers updates on the restored Lafayette Hotel and the summer concert season coming to the Central Wharf.




Pool photos provided by Buffalo News

The trial of Dr. James Corasanti resumes in Erie County Court Monday.

The Getzville man faces several charges including vehicular manslaughter and leaving the scene after his car struck a teenager on a skateboard on Heim Road in Amherst.

Dozens of witnesses are expected to testify, including Corasanti's neighbors.

Erie County District Attorney Homicide Bureau Chief James Bargnesi said during opening statements last week Dr. Corasanti was texting moments before his car struck and killed 18-year-old Alix Rice.

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A Niagara Falls police officer, who is appealing a criminal conviction, is suing the city for the loss of his job.

Mark Feldhousen was 58 years old when he was transferred from a streets detail to a desk job two years ago. His suit alleges that the city discriminated against him based on age in the transfer.The suit, however, makes no mention of his 2011 conviction on third-degree assault charges filed by an ex-girlfriend.

Motions for the transfer began shortly after that conviction.

The suit was filed just this past week.

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Seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong lost a big race on Saturday.

Armstrong was in Buffalo to speak at UB's Distinguished Speakers Series, but first swam in a charity challenge, losing to triathelete and Rochester-area nurse Mary Eggers. Eggers challenged Armstrong to the kickboard race in an effort to raise funds for the Teens Living With Cancer program as well as Armstrong's LIVESTRONG Foundation.

The pair raised $50,000.

A pair of men suffered injuries after a shooting Saturday evening on Busti Avenue.

The  shooter is suspected to have been riding a bicycle when he opened fire. The identities of the wounded have not been released, though one of the victims is thought to be in his mid-twenties. Both are recovering from non-life threatening injuries at ECMC.

Police are looking for help in the case. Anyone with information is asked to contact the confidential tip line at 847-2255.

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The detours that have frustrated drivers along the I-190 South are about to end.

The expressway is currently closed from Exit 15, Sheridan Drive/Kenmore Avenue, to the Peace Bridge at Busti Avenue, and this has made for heavy traffic along River Road and Niagara Street.

The detour will end on Monday morning at 6 AM.

Saturday is designated National Drug Take-back Day.

The recognition is an effort to rid American homes of unused prescription drugs. Abuse of these drugs has become a growing problem across the nation. The effort has already disposed of nearly 500 tons of unused drugs over two years.

There are many locations accepting drugs in counties across Western New York. They can be found at www.nationalprescriptiondrugdropoff.com.

A third trial has been ordered in the murder case of a pair of high school classmates who were killed in 1981.

Robie Drake has been convicted in the murders twice, but both of those decisions have now been overturned because improper evidence had been allowed into the case by the presiding judge. Drake, now 47, faces two counts of second-degree murder for shooting teenagers Steven Rosenthal and Amy Smith.

The District Attorneys office is planning to challenge the current ruling.

The mishandling of human remains at an accident scene have put a pair of authorities under scrutiny.

Niagara County coroner Russell Jackman and Cambria Volunteer Fire Company Chief Vincent Salerno are facing charges of obstructing governmental administration. After a deadly car acident earier this month, Jackman is accused of giving human remains to Salerno for the training of a cadaver dog.

The two will be in court on Tuesday.

File Photo / WBFO, AM 970 News

Local advocates are pushing for the creation of a signature park on a large parcel of the NFTA's waterfront property.

Citizens for a 21st Century Park on the Outer Harbor are getting support from Representative Brian Higgins and others for an Olmsted-style park on land the NFTA recently attempted to sell for development.

The NFTA has yet to commit to the idea.

The city's  Office of Strategic Planning has also not offered an opinion.

Reports of animal mistreatment have led to a raid on a Cattaraugus County farm.

More than 70 animals were removed from the East Otto property owned by Jay D. Williams. Sheep, horses and chickens were found to be malnourished and neglected. Among the charges against Williams are two counts of misdemeanor animal cruelty.

Williams claims many of his animals were in poor shape when purchased at auction and that he was attempting to improve their condition.

Ffile Photo / WBFO, AM 970 News

The Buffalo Teachers Federation staged a walkout during the New York State United Teachers convention on Friday.

The walkout came as state education commissioner John King, Jr. took the stage. King is the focal point in a dispute between the BTF and the state over teacher evaluations. At stake is millions of dollars for low-performing schools. King believes that a resolution is near but that teachers have been misinformed by union leaders.

The News reports that the BTF's actions were supported by a number of attendees from across the state.

File Photo / WBFO, AM 970 News

The Department of Defense has confirmed that a Sailor from Western New York has been killed in Afghanistan.

Navy Lieutenant Christopher Mosko, a 28 year old Pittsford resident, was killed during a bomb attack in the Ghazni Province.

Mosko had been stationed in San Diego and was commanding an explosives disposal platoon in the eastern part of Afghanistan.

On this week's edition of You and the Law, Lauren Breen from the Western New York Law Center and UB Law School discusses Buffalo's foreclosures process. 

WBFO & AM 970's Mike Desmond discuss how the city handles foreclosures and past-due bills for water or garbage collections.

The NFTA's long-vacant property on Buffalo's waterfront should be made into a family play space, according to the group Citizens for a 21st Century Park on the Outer Harbor.  The group also wants the new park to be dedicated to Fredrick Law Olmsted, the man who designed much of the city green space. 

Former Erie County Legislator Joan Bozer says it's an opportunity to carry out Olmsted's plan for a waterfront park, which had to be moved inland in what became South Park.  Bozer points out the Greenway Plan and other waterfront proposals call for extending the "Olmsted legacy."

Governor Cuomo cast further doubt on issues like campaign finance reform and increasing the state's minimum wage to become law this year and says he’s “shifting” to a new phase of governing instead .

In remarks to his cabinet, Cuomo says he expects a “relatively quiet” end to the legislative session. He says campaign finance reform, including public campaign financing, are measures that he supports, but says that they are “controversial” and “polarizing” issues in the legislature.

Mark Leitner/WBFO

Israel is celebrating a birthday.  

A rally featuring speeches from some of the community's religious and government leaders marked the special day in Buffalo's Niagara Square Thursday.

Click the play button above to hear a report from WBFO and AM 970's Mark Leitner. 



Bellavia addresses finance questions

Apr 27, 2012

Republican Congressional candidate David Bellavia is answering questions regarding his personal finances.

According to the Buffalo News, public records show Bellavia was late in paying school taxes and water and sewer fees on his residence in Batavia.

Bellavia has acknowledged the late payments, but points out that in each case penalties and interest charges were paid in full.

It was recently revealed that Bellavia's campaign has been scrutinized by the Federal Elections Commission for failing to explain certain expenditures.

Theatre Talk examines the local production of "A Delicate Balance."