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Morning Roundup -- Friday, Oct. 29

Hasek's Heroes
Marty Dietrich, left, of Hasek's Heroes, gives Joylyn Wiggins some points Thursday as fourth- and fifth-graders at the King Center Charter School learn to skate and play hockey in Riverside's Bud Bakewell Rink.

Good morning. Here are this morning's top headlines:

The FBI is expanding its probe of former Common Council Member Brian C. Davis, focusing on how he handled hundreds of thousands of dollars in city funds. Check out Staff Reporter Dan Herbeck's report.

The cost of higher education is less than the national average even as tuition and fees rise across the country.

There's a sharp contrast between the closest advisers to Carl Paladino and Andrew Cuomo.

As the Sabres get ready to faceoff against the Thrashers tonight, the team's penalty killers are frustrated.

It's Friday, so that means the latest edition of Gusto is out. A new feature on buffalonews.com is something we like to call Gusto TV. Check out the latest video episode:

There's increased support for the death penalty in Connecticut following a deadly home invasion. Check out this video report from the Associated Press.

For a look at today's other happenings, including today's weather forecast, check out Good Morning, Buffalo.

You also can check out The Buffalo News on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

--Aaron Besecker 

Buffalo Tracks -- Oct. 28

In a world where things are a Google search away, people and places with local ties pop up on many corners of the Internet.

People who used to live in the Buffalo area, as well as others who still call this place home, have a habit of making news elsewhere. On an occasional basis, Buffalo News Live will highlight these Buffalonians, whether they're gone or they're still here.

Here's the latest edition of Buffalo Tracks:

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Former area sports broadcaster Brian Blessing is hosting a radio show on sports betting in Las Vegas, according to this piece in the Las Vegas Review-Journal. Blessing is in his second year hosting "Sports Book Radio" on KWWN.

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A Buffalo native is running for lieutenant governor in Michigan on the Libertarian Party line. Dr. Erwin Haas has also made numerous runs at public office in the past, according to an article in The Grand Rapids Press.

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A Buffalo couple who moved to North Carolina got some attention for their Halloween decorations. Geraldine Vincent and Ted Boser used to run a produce market here, they told The Star in Cleveland County, N.C.

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A Niagara Falls native is the lead prosecutor in the case against Maj. Nidal Hasan, who is accused in the Fort Hood shootings last November. Col. Michael Mulligan is a University of Tulsa graduate with experience in death penalty cases, according to this piece in The Austin American-Statesman. 

You can check out previous editions of Buffalo Tracks here.

If you know of former Western New Yorkers making news elsewhere, send me an e-mail at abesecker@buffnews.com.

--Aaron Besecker

Gaughan makes his case for reducing government

The subject of this morning's forum, sponsored by the Niagara Frontier Industry Education Council, was the government reform initiative that local activist Kevin Gaughan has been spearheading.

An audience of more than 100 local business, labor and education leaders heard Gaughan's familiar call to downsize local government through referendums. Those votes have led to three-person town boards in several communities and could shrink the Erie County Legislature from 15 members to 11, if voters agree next week.

Also on hand to offer their opinions were Kevin Hardwick, Canisius College political science professor and county legislator, and yours truly, suburban editor of The Buffalo News. Click the link below to hear the question-and-answer portion of the event. 

--- Bruce Andriatch

Morning Roundup -- Thursday, Oct. 28

Cirque du Soleil
Members of Cirque du Soleil's "Dralion" perform Wednesday night in HSBC Arena. This was the first of seven shows here. Read Arts Writer Colin Dabkowski's review here.

Good morning. Here are this morning's top headlines:

Cosmetic surgery usage for Buffalo Public Schools employees tripled in six years to $9 million.

Carl Paladino and Andrew Cuomo converged on their political bases on Wednesday.

A photograph believed to be the first ever taken of Niagara Falls is going on display in Niagara Falls, Ont.

Jerry Sullivan says the Bills' Aaron Maybin is just taking up space. Here's a video preview of Sunday's matchup with the Chiefs with Sully, Mark Gaughan and Allen Wilson:

For a look at today's other happenings, including today's weather forecast, check out Good Morning, Buffalo.

You also can check out The Buffalo News on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

--Aaron Besecker 

Nightly closures on South Grand Island Bridge to end Nov. 12

Construction work that has closed the northbound South Grand Island Bridge at night for nearly seven months is on schedule to wrap up in about two weeks.

Workers are in the final stages of the $48.2 million project to replace the deck of the bridge and expect to stop closing the span at night by Nov. 12, as long as the weather cooperates, said Thomas E. Pericak, Buffalo division director for the New York State Thruway Authority.

Contractors are now replacing the sidewalks on the northbound span. Once that's complete, the rest of the work will not require the bridge to shut down to traffic, Pericak said.

Workers will continue landscaping and cleanup work in the area, as well as construction on the bridge to add a conduit for Verizon fiber-optic lines.

The project was scheduled to be completed Nov. 18, but workers could be out on the bridge beyond that date.

"They probably have to extend past the original completion date, but again, nothing that impacts traffic," Pericak said. "We do expect them to be out of here before the end of the year."

American Bridge Co. of Coraopolis, Pa., started work to replace the deck of the bridge in April.

Workers completed the surface of the bridge earlier this month.

--Denise Jewell Gee

Last-minute Halloween requests keep costume shops busy

There's always someone who walks into David DeJac's DC Theatricks on Main Street in Buffalo looking for a last-minute Halloween costume.

Sometimes, it comes right down to the wire.

"Every now and then, we dress someone as they're on the way to the party," said DeJac, owner of DC Theatricks on Main Street. "It's almost our 30th Halloween, and you can never figure out what days are going to be the busiest."

DeJac and his staff -- who work year-round renting costumes for theatrical productions -- have extended their hours this week to accommodate last-minute costume seekers.

"People are stepping a little bit more out of the box this year," said Jodie Mancuso, who has worked at DC Theatricks for eight years.

Mancuso said she's seen adult customers this year shunning the skimpy outfits for more intricate costumes.  

"Big and frou-frou and lots of glamour," said co-worker Christina Serio.

The store deals mostly in costume rentals for adults and older children, but also sells accessories and wigs.

Betsy Ross, who has owned Betsy Ross Costumes on Main Street in Clarence for 28 years, said it's always tough to spot the unusual Halloween trends. She stocks up on the latest characters, but always gets a few calls for obscure costumes.

This year, Ross said, she has gotten six calls from people who want to dress up as the Amish.

"They're oddly looking for characters and icons from TV shows and movies from 25, 30 years ago, which at this point don't exist," Ross said. "We've been getting multiple requests for things like Jessica Rabbit."

The character from the 1988 movie "Who Framed Roger Rabbit" got loads of attention earlier this month when television cook Rachel Ray donned her signature red dress and red hair. 

Ross said she's ready for most requests that come in this week.

"I tend to get called when they can't find something else in the big box stores and they end up coming to me," Ross said. "Gladly, I can help, them but I wish they'd come here first."

George Smilanich, owner of George & Co. in the Eastern Hills Mall, said he's gotten several requests for accessories for Chilean coal miner outfits (hard hats and sunglasses). Another person called wanting to dress as "The Rent is Too Damn High Party" gubernatorial candidate Jimmy McMillan.

As for children, Smilanich said, there's no stand-out favorite this year.

"Nothing like in years back," Smilanich said. "When they first came out, every kid had to be Batman and every kid had to be a Power Ranger, but there just hasn't been anything that specific this year."

Smilanich, who is the third generation of his family to run George & Co., said he's expecting a steady stream of customers from now until Sunday.

"Most people usually don't shop until it's necessary," Smilanich said. "It's usually the day before or the same day."

For more ideas, and to read about what's hot this year in adult costumes, read "Going Gaga: Ghosts, goblins give way to Gaga," which appeared in The Buffalo News on Oct. 9. 

--Denise Jewell Gee

Heavy winds to whip through region tonight

2:30 p.m.: A line of thunderstorms that will whip through the region this evening is expected to bring damaging winds.

A wind storm that slammed the midwest earlier today will arrive in Western New York after 5:30 p.m. with thunderstorms and strong winds.

The area could see gusts of wind between 35 and 50 mph, according to the National Weather Service.

A tornado watch is in effect until 9 p.m. for Cattaragus and Chautauqua counties.

"As it crosses Western New York, the strength won't be as great," David Thomas, a National Weather Service meteorologist, said this morning. "But even if it's weakening, it will still produce gusty winds producing damage in Western New York."

The storm -- a "deep and broad area of low pressure out across the plains" -- is slicing east across the country. It produced strong wind gusts and knocked out power in the midwest this morning, but is forecast to weaken before it arrives in Western New York. 

The National Weather Service expects the storm to hit Chautauqua County between 5:30 and 6:30 p.m. and will move through the Buffalo area sometime between 6 and 7 p.m.

The severity of the storm will depend on its strength once it arrives in the area.

The wind gusts will likely bring down small branches with leaves and toss lawn furniture and garbage cans around, Thomas said.

The rain is expected to move quickly through the region and to last about an hour. 

Meanwhile, temperatures today will climb toward the record high this afternoon. The National Weather Service has forecast a high near 72 degrees today in the Buffalo area. The record is 77 degrees set in 1991.

After that, temperatures will drop about 10 degrees a day until Friday, Thomas said.

That means chilly temperatures are in the works for Halloween on Sunday. The National Weather Service currently calls for a high of about 54 degrees Sunday. There is a slight chance of showers.

"By the time trick or treaters go out, it will probably be in the 40s," Thomas said.

Check out how people enjoyed the warm weather this morning in this video:

--Denise Jewell Gee

 

Morning Roundup: Tuesday, Oct. 26

Good morning.

A wind and thunderstorm could roll in tonight. A hazardous weather outlook issued this morning by the National Weather Service says damaging winds are possible this evening as a squall line of thunderstorms moves in from the midwest. Its forecast for today calls for a high near 75 in the Buffalo area.

Here's a look at a few of the latest headlines:

- A new poll shows Republican Carl P. Paladino holds a 48 to 29 percent lead over Democrat Andrew M. Cuomo in Erie County, News Political Reporter Robert J. McCarthy reports today.

- The Seneca Nation dumped $250,000 in donations last week into the coffers of the state's Republican Party to help candidates running for State Senate, News Staff Reporter Dan Herbeck reports. The move was fueled by anger over tax battles with the state's past two Democratic governors.

- Bedbugs are an issue in Western New York for the first time in decades, and public health officials are urging caution, according to a frontpage story by News Staff Reporter Charity Vogel.

For more on what's happening today, visit Good Morning, Buffalo.

--Denise Jewell Gee

Morning Roundup - Monday, Oct. 25

CAKE
Eileen Voss, of the Muscoreil's team, works on their entry in the Nickel City Cake Challenge on Sunday afternoon at Artisan Kitchen and Baths in Buffalo. (Charles Lewis /Buffalo News) Read Staff Reporter Mark Sommer's story on the event here.

Good morning. Here are this morning's top headlines:

In the race for governor, there's an air of uncertainty about what attention the upstate economy will receive.

Even in their loss, the Bills scared the daylights out of one of the best teams in the NFL on Sunday, according to Senior Sports Columnist Jerry Sullivan. Here's a video wrap-up of the game from Sully, Mark Guaghan and Allen Wilson:

Scavengers are finding more value on area curbs, and the pocketbooks of town government are feeling the squeeze.

Staff Reporter Sandra Tan takes a look at the race for the 140th Assembly District between incumbent Robin Schimminger and challenger Kevin Stocker.

For a look at some of the other things happening today, check out Good Morning, Buffalo.

--Aaron Besecker

Town-by-town look at trick-or-treating hours

PUMPKINS
James Wild, of Getzville, picks out a pumpkin amid a sea of orange during the annual Fall Festival at the Great Pumpkin Farm in Clarence on Oct 2.  (Photo by Derek Gee / Buffalo News)

Halloween falls on a Sunday this year, and that's left some to wonder when to celebrate.

Most towns in Erie and Niagara counties are setting trick-or-treating hours on Oct. 31. Below is a list of official trick-or-treating hours in local communities. Check out of list of Halloween safety tips.

Here's a list of the official hours: 

Erie County

Akron: 6 to 8 p.m.

Alden: 6 to 8 p.m.

Amherst: 6 to 9 p.m.

Clarence: 5 to 8 p.m.

Buffalo: Recommended cut-off time is 8 p.m.

Cheektowaga: 6 to 8 p.m.

Depew: 6 to 8:30 p.m.

Grand Island: 5 to 8 p.m.

Hamburg: 6 to 8 p.m.

Lancaster: 6 to 8:30 p.m.

City of Tonawanda: 6 to 8 p.m.

West Seneca: 6 to 8 p.m. 

Niagara County

Lockport: 4 to 7 p.m.

Niagara Falls: 3 to 7 p.m.

North Tonawanda: 5 to 8 p.m.

Town of Lewiston: 4 to 7 p.m.

Newfane: 4 to 7 p.m.

Town of Niagara: 4 to 7 p.m.

Porter: 5 to 7:30 p.m.

Royalton: 3 to 7 p.m.

Somerset: 5 to 7 p.m.

Wheatfield: 4 to 7 p.m.

Wilson: 4 to 7 p.m.

Village of Lewiston: 4 to 8 p.m. 

The following towns do not set official trick-or-treating hours: Aurora, Boston, Colden, Marilla, Town of Tonawanda, Cambria, Hartland, Pendleton.

--Denise Jewell Gee

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