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Video: Former head of arts group speaks after receiving probation for embezzling

BUFFALO -- The former head of the Buffalo & Erie County Arts Council was sentenced this morning to five years of probation for embezzling money from the council.

Celeste L. Lawson told reporters after her court appearance that the missing funds were not related to a gambling addiction.

"When you love a community and you love what you do, it's very difficult to be charged with not caring about that and acting in inappropriate ways," Lawson told reporters.

See Lawson and attorney John Nuchereno explain what happened in this video:

--Denise Jewell Gee

Frost advisory issued for early Wednesday

Temperatures are forecast to plummet tonight across Western and Central New York, and that could mean frost late tonight and early Wednesday.

The National Weather Service has issued a frost advisory for Erie, Niagara, Chautauqua and Genesee counties. The advisory is in effect from 2 to 9 a.m. Wednesday.

Temperatures are expected to drop into the mid 30s overnight.

Areas near the shoreline of Erie and Ontario lakes could escape the frost, the National Weather Service reports.

--Denise Jewell Gee

Morning Roundup: Tuesday, Oct. 12

Good morning.

The morning's cloudy skies are forecast to clear with a high near 57 today in the Buffalo area. The National Weather Service calls for sun again on Wednesday with a high near 61.

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

- An anti-violence rally that is scheduled to be repeated all week at True Bethel Baptist Church drew about 400 people Monday night. The rally continues at 6 p.m. today at 907 E. Ferry St., News Reporter Harold McNeil writes.

- Local couples took their squabbles to the Walden Galleria on Monday, as the NBC sitcom "The Marriage Ref" conducted an open casting call. Read about who showed up in this story by News Staff Reporter Charlie Specht.

- Sabres right winger Jason Pominville suffered a concussion and a gash about his eye after a hit from behind Monday night, but was sitting up and talking before the team finished a 4-3 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks, News Sports Reporter John Vogl reports. Keep up with the latest on Sabres Edge.

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

--Denise Jewell Gee

Polluted site on Buffalo River topic of public meeting Tuesday

A cleanup proposal for a portion of a contaminated site on the Buffalo River will be discussed at a public meeting Tuesday night in South Buffalo.

A section of the Exxon Mobil Buffalo Terminal site -- at 625 Elk St. and located inside the planned "Elk Street Corridor" -- is contaminated by a variety of materials, including degraded gasoline, diesel, volatile and semi-volatile organic compounds and metals, according to state environmental regulators.

The meeting is scheduled for 6 to 7:30 p.m. in the Dudley Branch Library, 2010 South Park Ave.

Here's the state's notice of the meeting, and here's a report on the site published in August.

--Aaron Besecker

Morning Roundup -- Monday, Oct. 11

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

Republican gubernatorial candidate Carl P. Paladino's comments Sunday about gay issues has stirred another controversy. Click here to watch a video of a portion of his comments.

A battle on the Indian tax issue is expected no matter who wins the governor's race.

A Niagara Falls teacher has been accused of making an ethnic slur in a conversation with a Palestinian-American girl who wears a burqa.

Students at the Park School are taking part in an international video documentary project.

The Bills' loss to the Jaguars keeps them on a possible road to a winless season, according to Senior Sports Columnist Jerry Sullivan. Check out what Mark Gaughan, Allen Wilson and Sully had to say after the loss:

There won't be a cost-of-living increase to Social Security benefits next year. Watch a 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 

Video & audio: Sunday at the Stadium -- Oct. 10 Edition

ORCHARD PARK -- The sun was out. The sky was clear. And those who bleed Bills' colors were ready for another Sunday.

2:35 p.m.: Here's audio from Rich Szustak, the Blasdell man I quoted earlier who scored a pair of tickets for $20 apiece:

Listen to Russeau Taylor -- the Cheektowaga man who earlier said sales were "real slow" -- describe today's sales:

2:27 p.m.: The struggles of a ticket seller were hard to dispute today. Take a listen to "Junior" from Buffalo explain how ticket sales went before the game:

1:01 p.m.: Football fans might be able to question the product out on the field today at Ralph Wilson Stadium, but the one thing no one can question is the weather.

The sun is beaming through a mostly clear sky. Some fans have come in shorts and T-shirts.

With kickoff a couple minutes away, it's 63 degrees here in Orchard Park, according to the National Weather Service.


Buffalo Bills fans, from left, Sarah Smith, Nicole Layer-Pardy, Chelsey Kelchlin and Amanda Bolibrzuch enjoy the pregame festivities outside Ralph Wilson Stadium today. (John Hickey /Buffalo News)

12:20 p.m.: Many of the ticket sellers outside the stadium couldn't spare even a second to talk with a reporter today, instead dedicating their time to trying to get rid of their product.

"Cheap," one ticket seller said, when asked about how ticket sales are going.

"The bottom line is [the game's] not on TV and you can buy [tickets] at the window," another seller said.

12:14 p.m.: Make sure to get in on the live chat over at Bills Live.

12:12 p.m.: Rick Szustak of Blasdell was one of those fans who cashed in buying his tickets for today's game on the street.

Szustak scored a pair of $42-tickets for $20 apiece.

"I'm getting 'em half price," Szustak said standing along Abbott Road. "And money in my pocket is better than [giving it to] people who have more money than me."

He said he considered buying tickets on Craigslist, but didn't want to deal with the hassle of meeting up with a seller in order to complete the transaction.

A former season ticket holder, Szustak said he came because his daughter wanted to see the game.

"I got 'em half price and my daughter and I are happy," he said, "and we're going to enjoy the game."

11:04 a.m.: Anyone trying to sell tickets to today's game will probably face a little difficulty. Just ask Russeau Taylor of Cheektowaga.

"It's real slow. Hardly can't move 'em," Taylor said, standing on the curb of Abbott Road near Southwestern Boulevard.

Taylor has a pair of 300-level seats at the 50-yard line. Face value is $55 each. He says he'll take $40 apiece.

Taylor, who tries to sell tickets at every Bills home game, has his own game plan for days like today, when the game hasn't sold out.

"All we do is just see who's out here that want to buy a little less than the gate pays," he said. "We go through the parking lots to get 'em, stuff like that."

The blackout should increase ticket demand, at least a little, but Taylor's not sure if he'll be stuck with any tickets.

"You never know until the rush comes," he said. "It might be a lot, it might not be any. Like last week was terrible. Couldn't give 'em away."

10:05 a.m.: It was a chilly start to the morning, but temperatures have already escaped the 30s and are expected to peak near 70. No precipitation is expected, according to forecasters with the National Weather Service.

Stay tuned for a look at how scalpers handle a game like today's, which hasn't sold out and is blacked out on local television.

For all your need-to-know info leading up to Bills-Jaguars, check out's Bills & NFL page and on the Billboard blog.

And make sure to check out Bills Live starting at noon for a live chat that will continue throughout the game.

Here's the Bills-Jags preview from Mark Gaughan, Allen Wilson and Jerry Sullivan:

--Aaron Besecker

Catholic Diocese welcomes two new priests


Priests of the Buffalo Diocese perform the laying on of hands during the ordination to priesthood of Thomas Roman, left, and David Richards, at St. Joseph Cathedral i. Photo by Charles Lewis / Buffalo News

Bishop Edward U. Kmiec ordained two men into the priesthood this morning during a Mass in St. Joseph Cathedral.

The Rev. David Richard and the Rev. Thomas Roman, who were ordained transitional deacons in February, received the sacrament of holy orders today. 

Richards will officiate his first Mass at 3 p.m. Sunday in Our Lady of Charity Parish, Holy Family Church worship site, 1901 South Park Ave. Holy Family's founding pastor, Monsignor John Nash, was Richards' great-great uncle.

"I felt it appropriate to go back to the roots of my mother's and father's families to celebrate the faith they learned about from their parish, which they then passed on to me," Richards said in a statement released by the diocese prior to today's ordination.

Roman's first Mass as a priest will be at 11:30 a.m. Sunday in St. Vincent de Paul Parish, Prince of Peace Church worship site, 1040 Cayuga Drive, Niagara Falls.

"I am excited for the priesthood, but nervous, too," Roman said in a statement.

Morning Roundup -- Friday, Oct. 8

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

Carl Paladino has gotten his wish for a debate with Andrew Cuomo.

A new poll shows a number of Democrats leading little-known Republicans in races for several statewide offices.

A judge has ruled a downsizing referendum for the Erie County Legislature may appear on the Nov. 2 ballot, though the decision is expected to be appealed.

The Sabres kick off their season tonight in Ottawa. Check out the Sabres & NHL page at for all your need-to-know hockey info. Here's a video preview of their season with John Vogl, Mike Harrington and Bucky Gleason:

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

Father Baker statue unveiled

Msgr. Paul J.E. Burkard the life-size bronze statue of Father Nelson Baker today. (Photo by Harry Scull Jr. / Buffalo News)

Some say they can still feel the spiritual presence of Nelson H. Baker watching over them as they stroll the Our Lady of Victory Basilica campus on the corner of Ridge Road and South Park Avenue in Lackawanna. After today, they'll be able to visualize a form of his presence too.

A life-size bronze statue of Father Nelson Baker was unveiled this morning at the church's recently renovated St. Joseph Garden.

Head of Our Lady of Victory's Institutions Msgr. Paul J.E. Burkard said the statue will stand as a sign of gratitude to Father Baker, whose work in the community included not only the basilica, but an infant home, a home for unwed mothers, a boys orphanage, a boys protectory, a hospital, a nurses home, and two schools.

"The statue faces the property here, but also Lackawanna," said Msgr. Burkard. "It is a representation of him blessing his work here."

Fr. (Father) Nelson Baker
Father Baker, center, and the OLV Institutions offered a complete lifetime of care to those in need (birth-5 at the Infant Home, 5-10 at the Orphanage, 10-15 at the Protectory, and 15+ at the Working Boys Home).

Church leaders said they had planned on erecting a statue of Father Baker for quite some time, but an undisclosed donation from a private family from Western New York made their visions reality a year or two ahead of schedule.

"Several months ago a family approached me and said they wanted to donate funds for this," said Msgr. Burkard.

"They felt their family had been particularly blessed by Father Baker over the years and they wanted to say thank you to him for that."

The statue is located on the northeast corner of South Park Avenue and Ridge Road next to the site of Father Baker's original orphanage.

--Lauren Nicole Mariacher

Morning Roundup -- Thursday, Oct. 7

Good morning Western New York.

The rain has finally taken a break this morning. The National Weather Service is calling for a windy day with temperatures ranging from a high of 62 to a low of 43 degrees with clear skies.

Here are some of the latest local headlines:

-A new poll out this morning shows Republican gubernatorial candidate Carl Paladino now behind Democrat Andrew Cuomo 55 percent to 37 percent. Two weeks ago the Quinnipiac had the race just six points apart.

-In other Paladino news, News Reporter James Heaney takes a look at the Buffalo developer's political contributions, which total $468,787. Here are highlights of a Buffalo News analysis of his contributions.

-The Coca-Cola bottling plant in the Town of Tonawanda wants to make something clear: It is not Tonawanda Coke, the foundry coke manufacturer accused of numerous pollution violations.

-News hockey writers John Vogl, Bucky Gleason and Mike Harrington preview the Sabres’ 2010-11 season in the video below.

You can also check out the Buffalo News Sabres page for a preview of the NFL season or pick up a copy of the paper for a special preview edition of the Sabres' 40th Anniversary season.

--Lauren Nicole Mariacher

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