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Falls mother part of story on soldiers' Christmas in Iraq

A young mother from Niagara Falls who recently started her first tour of duty was included in an Associated Press story on American soldiers celebrating Christmas in Iraq.

Chrisy Adams was one of several soldiers interviewed by reporter Barbara Surk.

Read the story here.

--Aaron Besecker

EPA pollution data available on web

CWM Chemical Services, the commercial hazardous waste landfill in Lewiston and Porter in northwest Niagara County, was the seventh biggest polluter in the state in 2009, according to EPA data. (Charles Lewis / Buffalo News file photo)

I reported today that Western New York has seven of the top 25 polluters in New York state.

Data about environmental discharges was sent to the Environmental Protection Agency by the facilities, and was amassed as part of the annual Toxics Release Inventory.

On the agency's website, anyone can look through the data -- including every facility and type of waste they release -- with the TRI Explorer.

Here's the data from all the facilities in Erie County and what they released; here's the data for Niagara County facilities.

--Aaron Besecker

Weekend in Review -- Dec. 27

Check out the stories you may have missed in our Friday, Saturday and Sunday editions:


The owner of a summer camp where a girl drowned in 2008 will pay restitution after illegally receiving government benefits.

A committee is considering various ideas to commemorate War of 1812 bicentennial.


A 15-year-old volleyball player lost her battle with cancer.

Former Niagara Falls High School basketball standout Paul Harris is trying to keep his career alive in the NBA Development League.

Free parking to end at Niagara Falls International Airport.


Check out the 2010 Niagara County news quiz. (Here's are the answers.)

Luanne Zuccari holds a photo of her son Andrew, 14, who was killed by a drunk driver 14 years ago. (Charles Lewis / Buffalo News)

A group of people whose families were touched by drunken driving continue to work with the DWI Victim Impact Panel.

A man who nearly beat a puppy to death remains jailed.

The Niagara University men's hockey team is energized by a former Sabre working as a volunteer coach.

The Thunder Over Niagara air show will return in September.

The city Youth Bureau is offering a free open-gymnasium program this week.

Norman Miller has published a book about an excommunicated former Amish man.


You can always get the latest Niagara County news at our Niagara County page:

--Aaron Besecker

Niagara County News Week in Review - Dec. 24

Here's a look at this week in Niagara County news:


Former Niagara Falls Mayor Vince Anello, right, gets ready to leave the Federal Courthouse in Buffalo on Monday after he was sentenced to federal prison while his attorney, Joel Daniels, talks with reporters. (Derek Gee / Buffalo News)

Former Mayor Vince Anello was sentenced to 13 months in federal prison.

Florida tourism officials were greeted at Niagara Falls International Airport.

Niagara University will offer a new degree in leadership and policy.

Real estate transactions for week ending Nov. 12.


Staff Reporter Dan Herbeck takes a closer look at former Mayor Vince Anello's fall.

Two Buffalo men were arrested in a sales scam in area parking lots.

A federal probe involving two inspectors and the former buildings commissioner brings another subpoena to City Hall.

The city School District denies wrongdoing in the hiring of its attorney's daughter to $120,000-a-year post.

The city School Board has authorized the use of reserve funds to pay for retirement system obligations and benefits for a former superintendent.

The city is holding a street-naming contest for a roadway in a new business park.

Raising funds for charity by selling movie-themed chocolates are, from left, Niagara University students Talon Fee and Michelle Martineau, professor Bill Angus and chocolatier Mary Ann Hess. (Charles Lewis / Buffalo News)

Soup kitchen and food pantry benefits from a movie-themed, gourment chocolate raffle.


A music teacher has recorded a Christmas song written by her father and is offering it free to active-duty service members and veterans.

A county judge refused to reduce the bail for a murder suspect.

The city and Walmart want a federal judge to dismiss a lawsuit against them.

A silicon plant in the city will benefit from a Commerce Department ruling, according to Sen. Charles Schumer.

Arguments in the lawsuit aimed at stopping a proposed Verizon data center will be heard by a new judge.

Motivational speaker, hip-hop artist and Buffalo native Tee Nyce signs autographs Tuesday for Niagara Falls High School students Lashwana Lowery, center, and Aolyha Holifield. (Sharon Cantillon / Buffalo News)

A Buffalo-born rapper brought his motivational talks to Niagara Falls High School.

The city announced its schedule for holiday closings.

The three area international bridges will be toll-free on Christmas.


Former Niagara Falls police officer Ryan Warme is sentenced to 13 years and nine months in federal prison.

Robert J. Thousand is escorted into the courtroom for his sentencing Wednesday. (Derek Gee / Buffalo News)

An accomplice in the killing of a group home worker gets 20 years in prison.

A lawsuit challenging the review of plans for a Verizon data center heads to court.

A former city employee accused of stealing on the job pleads guilty.

The city has total control over the vacant Rainbow Centre mall, site of the proposed Niagara County Community College culinary institute.

A Buffalo man has pleaded guilty to charges from a January home invasion on Moyer Road. 

Holiday hours have been announced for local auto bureaus.

Be sure to visit our various community pages for the latest news from your area.

For today's Niagara County news, visit our Niagara County page at

--Aaron Besecker

Audio: North Tonawanda lawmakers wrap up the year

A planned Walmart on the site of the former Melody Fair theater, pictured above in a file photo taken in May, is the subject of an ongoing federal lawsuit. (Mark Mulville / Buffalo News)

NORTH TONAWANDA -- Walmart. Water pipes. Christmas lights.

Those were some of the issues on the minds of city officials on Tuesday night during the Common Council meeting in City Hall.

Here's my wrap-up story.

Listen to raw audio from the full, 30-minute meeting here:

--Aaron Besecker

Audio: Niagara Falls' latest economic development obstacle

New Falls econ dev director NIAGARA KAY4 LEWIS
Peter F. Kay's salary for next year as the director of economic development for the City of Niagara Falls was cut from $100,000 to $1, effectively pushing him out the door. (Charles Lewis / Buffalo News file photo)

When Niagara Falls lawmakers slashed the salary of the city's economic-development director last week, the man in the job saw it as part of a political spat.

In a story in today's Niagara Weekend, we get more from all sides on the move to oust Peter F. Kay, what it means and what should happen.

Listen to a portion of my interview with Councilwoman Kristen M. Grandinetti conducted after the Council vote:

City Council Chairman Samuel F. Fruscione said he expects there will be a negotiation between lawmakers and Mayor Paul A. Dyster on where the city goes from here.

Fruscione said the Council will have the final say on how much the new person in the job gets paid. He said he favored a salary in the $50,000 to $60,000 range.

Listen to some of what Fruscione told me:

Here's what Dyster said when asked about Fruscione's preference for a salary:

"From what I know of the market, having been through the search for Mr. Kay," Dyster said, "I don't think you're going to get somebody for that dollar amount that's going to have the qualifications necessary to do the job.

--Aaron Besecker

First Niagara Falls Heritage Area meeting set for Wednesday

The long-standing effort to create a National Heritage Area for the Niagara Falls region really gets going Wednesday with the first meeting of the commission that will manage its development.

The first meeting of the 17-member commission is scheduled for 2 to 5 p.m. Wednesday in the community meeting room on the lower level of the Power Vista at the Niagara Power Project, 5777 Lewiston Road, Lewiston.

The purpose of the commission, and the federal designation, is to promote regional tourism with an effort involving the National Park Service. The commission will control up to $15 million over five years, and must complete a management plan by the spring of 2012.

Bob McIntosh, of the National Parks Service in Boston, Mass., speaks during a December 2005 public hearing in the auditorium at the Earl W. Brydges Public Library in Niagara Falls on creating a Niagara Falls Heritage Area. (Charles Lewis / Buffalo News file photo)

The 15 members of the commission appointed, so far, by Interior Secretary Ken Salazar are:

-Robert H. Borgatti, Niagara County Community College professor

-Bill Bradberry, chairman of Niagara Falls Underground Railroad Heritage Area Commission and former Niagara Falls city administrator

-Deborah L. Conway, National Parks Service

-Thomas A. Chambers, Niagara University associate professor of history

-Willie Dunn, nominated by Niagara Falls Mayor Paul Dyster and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand

-Niagara Falls Mayor Paul A. Dyster

-Chris Glynn, president of Maid of the Mist Corp.

-Margaret-Ann Hanson, former Youngstown village trustee

-John H. Percy Jr., president and CEO of Niagara Tourism and Convention Corp.

-Christopher J. Schoepflin, president of USA Niagara Development

-Mark W. Thomas, western director of the state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation

-Jan H. van Harssel, Niagara University professor

-Barry White, nominated by the Seneca Nation

-Jeffrey D. Williams, partner in Lewiston Management Group and Niagara Falls Properties

-Lillian S. Williams, University at Buffalo associate professor of African-American history

Nominations have yet to be made from the Tuscarora Nation and the New York Power Authority.

The alternates are Timothy Adamson, engineer Robert A. Gallucci, Marjorie E. Gillies and Lewiston Town Board member Michael J. Marra.

Paul A. Dyster, now a member of the Niagara Falls National Heritage Area Commission and mayor of Niagara Falls, speaks during a December 2005 public hearing in the auditorium at the Earl W. Brydges Public Library in the Falls on creating a heritage area. (Charles Lewis / Buffalo News file photo)

Here's the federal legislation enacting the heritage area.

Here's a story from February 2009 when the first seven nominees to the commission were named.

Here's the study report that had to be completed before a designation could be made.

--Aaron Besecker

Bloomberg Businessweek takes a hard look at Niagara Falls

A story in this week's Bloomberg Businessweek explores the failure of Niagara Falls to capitalize on its potential.

"The Fall of Niagara Falls" takes a look at the "decay, corruption and failed get-rich-quick schemes" that the magazine says has made the city "one of the most intractable disasters in the U.S."

"In truth, the failure can't be attributed to any single entity," writes Bloomberg Businessweek's Andrew Rice in the lengthy piece published Thursday. "It's the product of a machine that has for decades been running on unfulfilled promises, from the public and private sector alike, just whirring on in an endless cycle of dashed hope and failed deliverance."

Read the story here.

--Denise Jewell Gee

Weekend in Review - Dec. 6

Check out the stories you may have missed in our Saturday and Sunday editions:


Niagara County lawmakers are considering using a $2 million loan repayment from the county IDA to reduce a proposed tax increase.

There are seven candidates looking to fill John Ceretto's seat on the county Legislature.

A county judge has refused to lower the bail for the woman who operated a bed and breakfast connected to a 2008 drowning.

The Wilson Zoning Board of Appeals will consider a proposal for a farm-winery.

The Aquarium of Niagara needs help in grant bid.


NCCC culinary - what's next

Here's what's next in the development of Niagara County Community College's planned Hospitality and Tourism Center and Culinary Arts Institute in the vacant Rainbow Centre mall. (College President James P. Klyczek pictured above)

George Maziarz and Amy Hope Witryol spent nearly $600,000 together in the race for the 62nd State Senate District seat.

Q&A with director of Independent Living of Niagara County.

Restaurant review: Yummy Thai in North Tonawanda.

A pair of brothers are living a dream on the Niagara University hockey team.

There's opposition brewing in Lewiston to a Whirlpool Jet Boat expansion.

A new contract with the buildings and grounds employees in the Lewiston-Porter School District will save on health care costs.

The Niagara Power Project fishing pier is closed for the season.

Santa will visit the Niagara Power Project Power Vista on Saturday.

The Wilson Free Library presents its first "Christmas Tour of Homes" Saturday.


For your daily dose of Niagara County news, visit

--Aaron Besecker