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Plans unveiled for Heritage Discovery Center


Scott Hawbaker, a life-long member and chief mechanical engineer of the Western New York Railway Historical Society, is enveloped in smoke and steam from a 1925 Baldwin steam locomotive on display during an event to unveil plans for the new Heritage Discovery Center at the site of the former Buffalo Color plant in South Buffalo this morning. (Photo by Derek Gee / Buffalo News)

BUFFALO -- A plan to turn the former Buffalo Color Corp. site on Lee Street into a Heritage Discovery Center that will house a railroad museum, the Steel Plant Museum and other cultural agencies was unveiled this morning.

The goal of the project, estimated to cost $25 million, will turn the vacant manufacturing site into a home for vintage railroad equipment, as well as space for other museums and community groups.

Leaders of the Western New York Railway Historical Society joined elected officials and community members to tour the building and kick off the society's capital campaign for the project.

Read more about the project in this story by News Staff Reporter Mark Sommer that appeared in The Buffalo News in March when the Western New York Railway Historical Society signed an agreement to acquire the site.

See inside the building and take a look at a 1925 Baldwin steam locomotive on display during the event this morning in this video:

--Denise Jewell Gee

Fall festivals highlight leaves in ski towns

FallfestThousands flock to Ellicottville's Falls Festival each year for food, crafts and music. (Buffalo News file photo)

Ellicottville is about more than just the ski slopes, and the village is ready to show that off this weekend.

The village's annual Fall Festival on Saturday and Sunday will bring a lineup of crafts, rides, food and live music to the center of town on Washington Street.

The Ellicottville Chamber suggests two alternate driving routes from Buffalo along Route 400 or on back roads for those who want to avoid traffic entering the village.

If you're longing for snow, Holiday Valley will host a ski swap and a tent sale. Chairlift rides to the top of Mardi Gras will bring participants to live music and a climbing wall.

Ellicottville won't be the only ski town celebrating fall this Columbus Day weekend. 

Peek 'n Peak Resort and Spa in Findley Lake will offer its 23rd annual Fall Festival from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. The event includes a rail jam competition for skiers and snowboarders, ski lift rides through the leaves, a snow sports equipment swap and more.

--Denise Jewell Gee

Morning Roundup: Wednesday, Oct. 6

Good morning.

The rain continues today. The National Weather Service forecast calls for occasional showers with a high near 58 in the Buffalo area. Meteorologists expect the sun to peek out from behind the clouds again on Thursday afternoon.

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

- Carl P. Paladino's latest comments, in which he called Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver a "criminal" during an business breakfast in Manhattan, drew a sharp response from the Albany lawmaker and his gubernatorial opponent, The News' Jerry Zremski reports.

Check out the latest race for governor in The News' Campaign notebook and get the lowdown on area races on the Politics page.

- Buffalo's Guaranty Building will get its close-up at 8 p.m. tonight when "Louis Sullivan: The Struggle for American Architecture" is screened at the Market Arcade Theatre as part of the Buffalo International Film Festival. The film features about 10 of Sullivan's greatest surviving buildings, writes News Staff Reporter Mark Sommer.

Watch an early trailer for the film:

- A decision by the county's two elections commissioners to not allow a proposition to shrink the County Legislature from 15 members to 11 on the Election Day ballot is being panned by some downsizing advocates as "hyper-technical," reports News Staff Reporter Matthew Spina.

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

--Denise Jewell Gee

Community bike workshop re-opens after hiatus

Justin Booth founded Green Options Buffalo to help encourage biking and sustainable transportation in Buffalo. (Robert Kirkham/ Buffalo News file photo)

BUFFALO -- For eight years, volunteers tooled around a former police precinct on Colvin Avenue to help recycle broken bikes and spread the word about sustainable transportation.

Then, this summer, the Community Bicycle Workshop at 98 Colvin Ave. suffered a string of break-ins in which computers and bikes were stolen.

Organizers used the setback as a chance to take a fresh look at how they were operating. 

They shut down the workshop for a month, took stock of what they had and what they needed and revamped their programs. 

The result -- on view to the public during an open house from 7 to 11 p.m. tonight -- is a reopened workshop with a membership program, staff and restocked tools.

"This is a way for us to provide a better service to the community and help us sustain the shop," said Justin Booth, director of Green Options Buffalo, the non-profit organization that runs the workshop and other bicycle programs, including Buffalo Blue Bicycles.

Booth said organizers took steps to re-secure the building while it was closed, as well as to implement new policies they hope will help strengthen the workshop and expand the organization's other bike programs.

"One of our biggest challenges that we had at the shop sometimes was just keeping track of all the bicycles that we do get and keeping an inventory and having a regular mechanic there that can work on bicycles," Booth said. 

The workshop provides space for community members to work on bikes, but also refurbishes and recycles broken bikes for other programs. 

Membership for the revamped workshop is $25, but the open house this evening is open to the public.

Starting in November, the workshop will offer a winter bike-building class, in which participants will have the opportunity to rebuild a bike from the workshop's collection to use during the slushy months.

The open house will feature food, music and a chance to check out the bike workshop. It's free and open to the public in the former 17th Police Precinct building at the corner of Colvin and Linden avenues.

--Denise Jewell Gee

Audio: Gillibrand criticizes China for 'unfair subsidies' for clean energy manufacturing

BUFFALO -- Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand stopped in a Riverside plant this morning to call attention to what she described as "unfair subsidies and discriminatory tactics" used by China to corner the green technology market. 

Gillibrand has lent her support to a petition filed by the United Steelworkers asserting China has violated World Trade Organization agreements.

"I think some of the practices have become far more grave in recent years," Gillibrand said. "I think it's actually reached a very critical mass of unfair trade practices."

The United Steelworkers has claimed China has provided more than $200 billion in subsidies and support to companies in violation of world trade rules.

"Just a few years ago, America was the lead producer of wind turbines, of solar panels," Gillibrand said. "We were the inventors of this technology, but what's happened over the last several years is the manufacturing has moved to China and because of the unfair trade practices, they are now getting the lead in innovating the next generation of these technologies."

She spoke this morning at ENrG Inc., a Rano Street facility that manufactures ceramic technology used for clean energy.

Listen to Gillibrand and William Pienta, district director for United Steelworkers, discuss the issue in this audio clip from the news conference:

--Denise Jewell Gee 


Morning Roundup: Tuesday, Oct. 5

Good morning.

The National Weather Service forecasts periods of rain in the area throughout the day with a high near 54. Showers will likely stick around for Wednesday.

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

- The Buffalo Bills face the probable end to a streak of 26 straight home sellouts, reports News Staff Reporter Gene Warner. About 12,000 tickets remained Monday, and Bills officials didn't expect the game to sell out to lift a television blackout.

- Carl P. Paladino is now striving to take his campaign for governor back to the issues. The News' Tom Precious and Jerry Zremski report that the rookie candidate's tone changed Monday.

- A new poll shows Republican Jack F. Quinn III and Democrat Timothy M. Kennedy virtually tied in the normally solid Democratic 58th District. Incumbent William T. Stachowski, who lost the Sept. 14 Democratic primary, continues to siphon off significant votes from Kennedy, The News' Robert J. McCarthy and Tom Precious report.

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

--Denise Jewell Gee

Morning Roundup -- Monday, Oct. 4

Rain, rain, and more rain. The wet weather we endured this weekend may stick around a few more days as cloudy skies hover over us. Here's a look at the weather.

It was more than just rain coming down on the Buffalo Bills yesterday in their 38-14 loss to the New York Jets. The Jets hit the Bills with a full-blown offensive attack, pounding out 273 yards on the ground for two touchdowns while Jets quarterbacks Mark Sanchez and Mark Brunell threw for a combined 168 yards and served up two more trips to the end zone.

Here's the Week Four Postgame Report with Mark, Al and Sully:

Sully says the Bills "are quite possibly the worst team in the entire NFL."

On the other side of the ball, Bob DiCesare says running back LaDainian Tomlinson, 31, reminded the league that he's still got gas in his tank.

In political news, Bob McCarthy takes a look at how Paladino's "mad as hell" message is sitting with voters.

Also making headlines is Hamburg's Route 62 reconstruction project, with its four roundabouts, which has been named one of the Top 10 transportation projects in the country.

Check out Good Morning, Buffalo for a quick look at what's happening today in Western New York.

Be sure to follow The Buffalo News on Twitter and Facebook.

--Lauren Nicole Mariacher

The Tailgate Report: Sunday, Oct. 3

2:30 p.m. ORCHARD PARK -- If there is one word to explain what keeps bringing Buffalo Bills fans back to Ralph Wilson Stadium, it's loyalty.

"Good or bad, we're going to be here tailgating," said Kevin Morreale, a Williamsville resident who has held seasons tickets for five years. 

Listen to Morreale and other tailgaters explain why they've stuck out the tough years and why they keep coming back for more in this video from Ralph Wilson Stadium:

--Denise Jewell Gee


Bills vs. Jets: Game day photos


12 p.m. ORCHARD PARK -- Anthony Torres has sat through Jets game after Jets game at the Meadowlands. 

Now, it's his turn. 

Torres, the lone Buffalo Bills fan among a group of eight who traveled from Brooklyn to Ralph Wilson Stadium to watch the game today, remains steadfast in his fanhood. 

"I've been suffering for years -- 28 years of my life," said Torres, who said he was drawn to the Bills in the Jim Kelly years. "I'm going to redeem myself today."

Torres was dressed in Bills gear; his friends wore green and white. But he said he'll never give up his passion for "the only New York team."

"Never, just a hard-core Bills fan," Torres said. "I'm a New York Bills fan. That's it. I've loved the Bills since the early 90s. I don't care how bad they've been doing."

His friend, Jets fan Frank Peitropinto, added: "He would never hear the end of it if he switched teams."

--Denise Jewell Gee

11:20 a.m. ORCHARD PARK -- The red 1980 Pinto is back.

Ken Johnson, a superfan from Rochester who gained national attention last month after NFL officials asked him to stop serving up shots from a bowling ball at his tailgating party, is up and running this morning in Lot 1.

The bowling ball shots may be gone, but the controversy has done little to slow down Johnson's elaborate tailgating set up.

Johnson and his group are cooking up a buffet of eggs, chicken wings, pizza and more atop the Pinto, in a mailbox and on other rigged up devices.

"I don't think it's put a damper on today, actually," Johnson said. "The Pinto tailgate is more than the bowling ball that made all the national press."

Johnson said he was planning to move to a different lot before the controversy started because stadium officials were going to change the way vehicles are parked in Lot 1, but said he was convinced to stay in the same spot after receiving so much attention.

"They basically said, 'We don't want you to leave. We could do without the bowling ball,'" Johnson said. "I kind of agreed. It was starting to get out of hand. So here I am back again. I never really left, actually."

Johnson said he's never thought of giving up on the Bills.

"Why am I a Bills fan? I don't know, probably because I'm here," said Ken Johnson. "It's like genetics, parents, brainwashing. Yeah, I've been through some rough years. Those years in the 70s, those years in the 80s, been through some good years, but no, I don't jump off the bandwagon."

Johnson has been running his Pinto party for 21 years.

"I always say, a good Bills fan has to be in denial," Johnson said. "We have to know we're winning this game. We have to be in denial, and actually, I really think we're going to win this game."

--Denise Jewell Gee

10:55 a.m. ORCHARD PARK: The rain. The 0-3 record. Disappointment after disappointment.

No matter. This special breed of Bills fan keeps on coming back.

It all comes down to one thing: It's got to get better.

"They rip our heart our every week, but we still come and support them in the cold and pouring rain, waiting for them to turn it around," said Jesse Krutz, a 29-year-old mason from Albany who gets up at 4 a.m. on game days to drive to Ralph Wilson Stadium. "This is the week, though."

These are no fair-weather fans. These are the men and women who leave the comfort of their couches week after week, rain, snow or shine, for what, at times, can be the grueling punishment of being a Buffalo Bills fan.

Would they ever think of jumping ship? Not a chance.

"Sooner or later, they're going to start winning again," said David Shuler, who drove 120 miles with his wife this morning to watch the game. "I come out every game."

--Denise Jewell Gee

9:30 a.m. ORCHARD PARK: -- Chilly weather and a light drizzle hasn't put the damper on tailgating this morning for diehard fans at Ralph Wilson Stadium.

Tents, barbecue grills, hot coffee and, of course, beer are helping keep tailgaters warm.

If you're heading to the game, expect those light showers to continue until game time. The National Weather Service forecast calls for a cloudy and breezy day with a high near 56.

Traffic here at Ralph Wilson Stadium is just starting to pick up. The Milestrip and 20A exits on the 219 had light stadium traffic shortly after 9 a.m. 

Stay tuned for more from Bills tailgaters this morning, including what keeps bringing fans back despite the dreary weather and dismal team performance.

Bone up on today's game against the Jets with coverage from The News' sports writers and on the Billboard blog.

Game time is 1 p.m. on Ch. 4.

--Denise Jewell Gee

Weigh-off won by 1,070-pound pumpkin


Paul Schweigert stands with his winning pumpkin today at the Great Pumpkin Farm in Clarence. Photo by Derek Gee / Buffalo News

Paul Schweigert of Newfane today won the 2010 World Pumpkin Weigh-off with his 1,070-pound pumpkin during the annual Fall Festival at the Great Pumpkin Farm in Clarence.

Schweigert, a veteran of the competition, was tops among 13 entries. He won comfortably, with second place going to John Sobieski of Grand Island; his pumpkin weighed 860.5 pounds.

Beyond bragging rights, Schweigert gets $1,000 for the first-place finish.

Superfund site in Niagara County subject of public meeting Saturday

A public meeting on a study of a hazardous waste site in the Town of Porter will be held at 9:30 a.m. Saturday in the Lewiston Senior Center, 4361 Lower River Road.

The study is of a site known as Air Force Plant 68, a portion of the former Lake Ontario Ordnance Works -- a federal weapons production and storage site that became active during World War II.

The site is a Superfund site, or an inactive hazardous waste site, according to state regulators. It is owned by CWM Chemical Services and the federal government, and considered "a significant threat to public health and the environment" by the state.

The study is being done by Environmental Remediation Financial Services, and funded by a $50,000 grant through the state Department of Environmental Conservation's Technical Assistance Grant program.

The purpose of the study is to assess the adequacy of historical reports on the site, as well as to review the current investigations of the property, according to the DEC.

Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper was named the grant administrator for a the grant application submitted by Residents for Responsible Government, the Restoration Advisory Board for the former Lake Ontario Ordnance Works, Niagara Health-Science Report and Residents of Lewiston-Porter for the Environment (R.O.L.E.), according to a DEC spokeswoman.

The meeting is the first of two on this study. The second meeting date was not immediately available.

--Aaron Besecker

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