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Morning meeting: Stories we are working on

Here are some of the stories our newsroom has got in the works:

*The NHL lockout is having a trickle-down effect on minor-league players, including one with local ties. John Vogl is on the story.

*Erie County Sheriff's Office sergeant Thomas J. Thompson is being sentenced today in federal court for his role in an inmate assault at the Erie County Holding Center. Thompson could get up to a year in jail, but an arbitrator has already ordered him be allowed back to work.

*Colin Dabkowski checked out "Jekyll and Hyde" last night at Shea's. His review is on the way.

*What would Chris Collins' pledge to eliminate the federal deficit in 10 years -- three times faster than suggested by Paul Ryan -- actually mean? Jerry Zremski will have a full report.

*How are local furniture stores doing, and what are the keys to success?

*Albany Bureau Chief Tom Precious is calculating the costs of Superstorm Sandy to New York State.

--Aaron Besecker

In Focus: BNE President Thomas A. Kucharski

Our weekly "In Focus" video feature looks at efforts to lure new businesses and encourage job-creating expansions in a weak economy. Buffalo Niagara Enterprise President and CEO Thomas A. Kucharski is interviewed.

Morning meeting: Stories we are working on

Here's a look at some of the stories in the pipeline in our newsroom, as discussed in our morning news meeting:

*A Western New York furniture dealer is looking to help out customers left hanging after the closing of FWS.

*Naaman Roosevelt, the St. Joe's and UB grad, isn't giving up on his NFL dreams.

*Bucky Gleason is working on a column looking at NFL coaches who are on the hot seat.

*A number of local volunteers and emergency responders are heading to the New York City/New Jersey-area to help out with storm recovery.

*Washington Bureau Chief Jerry Zremski is continuing to look at how much our local representatives in Congress, including Kathy Hochul, actually get done.

Please make sure you tune in for our live video debate at 11 a.m. Friday with the candidates for the 60th State Senate seat -- Mark Grisanti, Michael Amodeo and Charles Swanick. We're still looking for questions from readers to ask the candidates. Email yours to me at

--Aaron Besecker

Timeless Treasures: Bocce Club Pizza

Many Western New Yorkers say Bocce's is the best in an area with literally hundreds of pizza joints.

Live Blog: Sandy's Impact on Western New York

7:09 p.m.: Reports of power outages are already filtering in around WNY from utility companies as Sandy's winds and rain move into the region. National Grid reports that there are 2,102 customers out in Cattaraugus County followed by 926 in Allegany County, 298 in Chautauqua Co., 169 in Erie County and 47 in Orleans Co. NYSEG has 263 customers in the dark in Erie Co., 102 in Cattaraugus Co. and 421 in Allegany Co.

7:32 p.m.: Cattaraugus County dispatchers tell the News there are trees reported down in Delevan and Farmville that could be responsible for scattered power outages. But, "they've seen it worse" in other storms. Chautauqua Co. officials said there are power line problems in Busti and near Jamestown. Allegany Co. officials said there are small outages near Willing with trees on the ground near Alma, Wellsville, Scio and Hume.

7:35 p.m.: Meanwhile, Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz has announced that his office is "asking for no unnecessary travel tonight & thru late night hours. Situation may change quickly, so stay current."


7:44 p.m.: A FLOOD WARNING will remain in effect for the south shore of Lake Ontario including local counties of Niagara and Orleans until 8 a.m. Tuesday. The strong north to northeast winds associated with the storm are expected to "produce very high waves and rising water" along the lake shore, the NWS reported. Flooding is most likely in bays and inlets, the weather service said, adding that rising water levels in harbors "may break boats from their moorings."

 7:47 p.m.: The Niagara County Sheriff's Office reported they had to remove someone who was apparently surfing near the Wilson Pier on Lake Ontario about 5:45 p.m. today. Suffice to say, that's very dangerous and should not be undertaken -- the surfing, that is.

7:50 p.m.: Hurricane Sandy has forced Laura Kaeppler, Miss America 2012, to cancel her scheduled visit to Buffalo Tuesday. Kaeppler was to participate in events at the Theodore Roosevelt Inaugural National Historic Site.

7:54 p.m.: Mike Pukajlo of the National Weather Service tells me that the forecast models over the last several days have been pretty much on target with Sandy and the cold front that wrapped around it, resulting in the "Superstorm." "We probably are not going to get quite as much rain as earlier estimates of a couple days ago," Pukajlo said. He said, at present, wind gusts across WNY are "closing in on 50 mph." The highest winds are expected to blow through between 10 p.m. and 2 p.m., Pukajlo said.

8:00 p.m.: There are 343 separate outages statewide affecting 21,807 customers, National Grid reports. Of those, 1,988 are in Cattaraugus County, 120 in Erie Co., 421 in Chautauqua Co., 926 in Allegany County. Many of the others are in central and eastern New York State.

9:05 p.m.: Utility crews seem to be making good progress keeping the lights on. Here are some updated totals from NYSEG: Erie, 141 customers with power out; Wyoming Co., 7; Chautauqua, 1 and Allegany County, serveral hundred. National Grid: Cattaraugus, 1,987; Allegany, 968; Chautauqua, 422; Erie, 26 and Niagara, 133.

9:31 p.m.: Just talked with Steve Brady from National Grid who says crews are out in the field fighting to restore power to those areas who have lost it. As the winds pick up and the hours draw later, it's likely, he said, that some of the jobs will wait until morning. "We almost have to for safety's sake for the crews," he said, explaining that crews don't put buckets in the air when the wind is blowing above 30 mph. "In the wind and the dark, it's just a recipe for an accident to happen."

9:34 p.m.: Brady also pointed out that crews from 31 states -- including the West Coast -- have responded to assist National Grid with outages in New York and New England. Two Canadian provinces are also helping out, he said. "We actually started to go into 'storm mode' 5-6 days ago," said Brady. "If there's a positive to a hurricane, they rarely surprise you."

9:50 p.m.: Just off the phone with Niagara County Sheriff James Voutour who indicates there are no evacuations underway anywhere in Niagara County. Called today's events "pretty status quo so far." No injuries reported or serious property damage. Said the county started preparing for the storm late last week. Lake Ontario was pretty intense early with choppy waves, sheriff said.

10:34 p.m.: Some more Local Storm Reports in from the NWS: Tree limbs down in Cold Spring, Catt. Co; tree down on Route 242 in Machias, Catt. Co.; Power Lines down on Rieter Road, East Aurora; tree felled on Hopkins Road, Amherst; trees down throughout Allegany County in the communities of Allentown, Alma, Wellsville, Whitesville, Scio, Willing and Randolph; a tree down at Richmond and West Ferry, downtown Buffalo; tree down in Ripley and Maple Springs, Chau. Co.

10:38 p.m.: Now 14 percent of all NYSEG customers in Wyoming County are out of power, the utility reports. 1,889 customers in all.

11:51 p.m.: A peak wind gust of 43 mph was reported about 10 p.m. at the Buffalo-Niagara International Airport, according to the National Weather Service. There was a gust of 53 mph reported in Youngstown Monday night and 59 mph at the Dunkirk lighthouse about 11 p.m.

11:57 p.m.: News Staff Reporter T.J. Pignataro signing off. Read all about Sandy in Tuesday's pages of The Buffalo News and at

Stay safe tonight.

- T.J. Pignataro

Morning meeting: Stories we are working on

Just got out of our morning news meeting. Here's some of the stuff we're working on:

* How will Western New York be handling the effects of Hurricane Sandy? What are local businesses doing to prepare?

* What will municipalities do with trick-or-treating hours because of the coming storm? Sandra Tan is tracking that story.

* Mike Harrington is on his way back from Detroit, and he's working on a follow-up to the Giants' World Series win.

* Executive Sports Editor Lisa Wilson and Senior Columnist Jerry Sullivan are putting together a NBA season preview.

* Paul Ceglia, the man who is suing Facebook, will himself be in court today.

* Bruce Andriatch has one of his "Timeless Treasures" columns coming on Bocce's Pizza. Joseph Popiolkowski is producing a video story, too.

* Washington Bureau Chief Jerry Zremski is looking into how much our local congressional representatives actually get done in Congress.

As we've previously announced, make sure you watch this Friday's debate between candidates for the 60th State Senate seat at 11 a.m.

--Aaron Besecker

Video: The timing of impacts from Sandy

Video: 111th Anniversary of daredevil Annie Edson Taylor at the Falls

Relatives of daredevil who went over Horseshoe Falls in a barrel 111 years ago visit area for events.

In Focus: Seneca Nation President Robert Odawi Porter

Live blog at 7 p.m.: Amherst Town Board vote on '13 budget

The News' Sandra Tan will be blogging live as the Amherst Town Board votes to adopt a 2013 budget.

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