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Heritage panel meets Wednesday

The Niagara Falls National Heritage Area Commission will hold a public workshop on Wednesday night in Earl W. Brydges Public Library, 1711 Main St., Niagara Falls.

The commission will also hold a regular business meeting at 9 a.m. Wednesday in the Power Vista at the Niagara Power Project, 5777 Lewiston Road, Lewiston. This meeting also is open to the public.

The federal commission is tasked with drawing up a plan for a heritage area, aimed at boosting regional tourism.

Here's a recent Q&A my colleague Emma Sapong did with the panel's chairman, Thomas Chambers.

Here's a story I wrote in January about the commission's work.

4:14 p.m. update: Check out this newsletter from the commission.

--Aaron Besecker

Heritage Area Commission meets Wednesday

The Niagara Falls National Heritage Area Commission will meet and hold a public information session Wednesday at the Castellani Art Museum of Niagara University in Lewiston.

A commission business meeting will be held from 4 to 6:30 p.m., with the information session to follow from 7 to 9 p.m. The business meeting is also open to the public.

The information session will feature a presentation by A. Elizabeth Watson, of the consulting firm Heritage Strategies, on "approaches followed by other National Heritagea Areas," according to a press release.

The federal commission is tasked with drawing up a plan for a heritage area, aimed at boosting regional tourism.

Niagara University professor Thomas Chambers was recently elected chairman of the commission.

For more information and background on the commission -- including its members -- check out my previous stories: when the commission was seated, after it began meeting in December and when it held its second meeting last month.

11:43 a.m. update: The late-afternoon business meeting will include an official public comment period, and the evening session will be less formal while allowing for full participation by members of the public, according to Chambers.

--Aaron Besecker

Another unique hazardous waste site

A unique hazardous waste site in New York state recently failed a test for cancer-causing emissions.

But this one's not in Niagara County.

Norlite, the state's only commercial hazardous waste incinerator, exceeded the amount of dioxin it emitted during a self test last fall, according to the Albany Times-Union.

The facility is located in the City of Cohoes, in Albany County.

CWM Chemical Services, located on Balmer Road in the Town of Porter, hosts the only commercial hazardous waste landfill in New York.

--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

Witryol touts need for campaign finance reform

Amy H. Witryol, Lewiston resident and Democratic candidate for the 62nd state Senate district, speaks to a crowd of about 20 people outside North Tonawanda City Hall this afternoon.

NORTH TONAWANDA --The Democratic challenger running against Republican State Sen. George D. Maziarz continued her call for campaign finance reform during a campaign stop this afternoon.

Standing in front of North Tonawanda City Hall, Amy H. Witryol of Lewiston said she believes the state's campaign finance laws have so many loopholes and allow so much money into the system, the influence from ordinary voters is diminished.

"This, in my view, is one of the major causes of the problems in the state of New York," Witryol said in front of a crowd of about 20 people. "We have a system that’s an obstacle to challengers to incumbents and to people who have different experiences and expertise to bring to the Legislature. And that’s why I'm running -- to change that."

Witryol also took aim at money she said has been raised by Maziarz, a 15-year incumbent and Newfane resident who is a former North Tonawanda city clerk and a city native.

If elected, the former banking industry executive said the first piece of legislation she would introduce would be a bill that would return unspent campaign funds at the end of each election cycle to the district covered by that office.

The name of the bill: "You Can't Take It With You."

"Legislators can take all of the money they raised while in office and use it to make money when they leave office by lobbying with it," she said. "That’s got to change."

Campaign finance reform has been the most pronounced message from Witryol's campaign in the race for the 62nd Senate District, which covers all of Niagara County, except for the City of Niagara Falls, as well as Orleans County and a section of western Monroe County.

According to the most recent filings with the state Board of Elections, Maziarz's campaign account has $698,971 on hand, while Witryol's campaign account has $8,919.

Speaking of campaign finance, here's a story from August by my colleague Thomas Prohaska about Maziarz's campaign coffers.

Here's a story from July when Witryol joined the race.

--Aaron Besecker

Video and Audio: Independent film shooting in Falls


Director Ken Cosentino shoots a scene with actress Lizzy Bruno at a house on Ferry Avenue in Niagara Falls for the independent film "CRIMSON: The Motion Picture." (Charles Lewis /Buffalo News)

The Niagara Weekend section in this Sunday's Buffalo News will feature a story about some area filmmakers working on a movie about a comic book artist-turned-vigilante.

Dubbed "CRIMSON: The Motion Picture," the film is currently in production in Niagara Falls, and has also shot in Lewiston and Greece, N.Y.

Here's a video with interviews with the filmmakers during a day of shooting in late September inside and outside a home on Ferry Avenue in the Falls:

Director Ken Cosentino further describes the plot of CRIMSON in this audio clip:

Listen to writer Michael Shimmel talk about the origin of the story:

Here's actor/producer James Ventry describing what it was like taking on his first acting role:

Here's a teaser for the film from YouTube:

Find out more about the film at, and don't forget to check out Sunday's Niagara Weekend section for the front-page feature story.

--Aaron Besecker

Panel to debate controversy around Ground Zero Islamic center proposal

LEWISTON -- A panel discussion on the controversy surrounding the proposal to build an Islamic center near Ground Zero will be held at 4 p.m. Wednesday in Niagara University's Gallagher Center.

The event is free and open to the public. A 45-minute debate will be followed by a question-and-answer session, the university said in a press release.

Participants will include Dr. Othman Shibly, an active Muslim and clinical assistant professor at the University at Buffalo; Peter Baxter, assistant political science professor at NU; and Reta Jabar, a student in the Diversity Advocates program at Niagara.

The panel was organized by NU's Middle East and Islamic Studies Committee and Diversity Advocates. For more information, call the university at 286-8696.

Advisory board-sponsored talk on radiological contamination at NU

A Washington State University professor who has studied radiological contamination will speak tonight at Niagara University in a session sponsored by the Lake Ontario Ordnance Works Restoration Advisory Board.

Read more at the Buffalo News Live blog.

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