The Buffalo News - Northtowns http://www.buffalonews.com Latest stories from The Buffalo News en-us Thu, 10 Jul 2014 14:02:09 -0400 Thu, 10 Jul 2014 14:02:09 -0400 <![CDATA[ Town of Tonawanda man faces multiple drug charges ]]> http://www.buffalonews.com/city-region/city-of-tonawanda/city-of-tonawanda-police-arrest-man-with-45-pounds-of-pot-pills-and-more-than-24000-in-cash-20140710
A search of the man’s vehicle turned up 4.5 pounds of marijuana, along with hundreds of pills – including 262 Xanax, 45 Alprazolam and 26 suboxone – marijuana butter and hash oil, as well as pipes, scales and grinders. Police also found two backpacks stuffed with $24,533 in cash.

City of Tonawanda Police Officer Frank Washburn stopped Graham M. Hagen, 25, of Parker Boulevard, for allegedly going 50 mph in a 30 mph zone at about 2:10 p.m.

The officer noticed a “strong odor of marijuana” in the car, police said in a statement.

“This was one of our larger seizures in the past few years, based on the quantity and weight of the marijuana, the street value of the marijuana alone was $20,000,” said Police Capt. Fredric Foels in the statement.

A State Police drug-sniffing dog from Clarence was brought in to help in the investigation.

Hagen was charged with felony counts of criminal possession of narcotic drugs with intent to sell and criminal possession of marijuana, and other lower level charges – including a speeding ticket.

He was arraigned in City Court and bail was set at $10,000. A relative bailed him out. A felony hearing is scheduled for Tuesday.

email: mbecker@buffnews.com ]]>
Thu, 10 Jul 2014 14:00:58 -0400 Maki Becker
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<![CDATA[ Williamsville Board of Education elects Losito president ]]> http://www.buffalonews.com/city-region/amherst/williamsville-board-of-education-elects-losito-president-20140710
Patricia M. Losito will serve as president and Michael J. Schmidt will serve as vice president. The board unanimously elected them to the leadership posts during its annual reorganization meeting Wednesday night.

The board also appointed Jay Smith parliamentarian.

Losito and Schmidt were also sworn into their second terms on the board, along with Ronald Shubert, who was sworn into his sixth term.

Losito replaced Michael J. Littman as board president. Littman, who nominated Losito to serve as president, said she had “served as a “highly competant vice president” during the 2013-14 school year. ]]>
Thu, 10 Jul 2014 13:52:29 -0400
<![CDATA[ Child struck in City of Tonawanda intersection ]]> http://www.buffalonews.com/city-region/city-of-tonawanda/child-struck-in-city-of-tonawanda-intersection-20140710
The incident took place shortly after 1 p.m.

The child was taken by ambulance to a local hospital.

No other details were immediately available. ]]>
Thu, 10 Jul 2014 13:48:03 -0400
<![CDATA[ $238 million neighborhood proposed for Westwood ]]> http://www.buffalonews.com/city-region/amherst/developer-wants-to-build-238-million-neighborhood-on-westwood-country-club-property-20140710
A new traditional neighborhood has been proposed for the Westwood Country Club site in Amherst, featuring pedestrian-friendly mixed uses.

“This is smart development using traditional neighborhood design, which includes residential, recreation, neighborhood shops, hospitality and professional office space elements,” Andrew J. Shaevel, managing partner for Mensch Capital Partners, said today.

Mensch, which bought the 170-acre site at Sheridan Drive and North Forest Road from its members in 2012, submitted its rezoning proposal to the town today.

Shaevel said the $238 million project includes components of the town’s Bicentennial Comprehensive Plan, which envisioned when the continued operation of a golf course would become difficult because of changing demographic, economic or social trends.

The conceptual master plan for the site includes 600 housing units, consisting of patio homes, townhouses, single-family homes, apartments, and assisted and independent senior living. Some 280 of those housing units would be located above residential shops and neighborhoods in a neighborhood center, which also would include a 130-room hotel and 200,000-square-feet of professional office space.

More than one-third of the property, 64 acres, would be public green and open space, with pedestrian and bike trails, and lake access.

The developer will be scheduling neighborhood informational meetings. Meanwhile, it also has established a website, westwoodamherst.com, to provide full public access to information and filings about the proposal.

email: jhabuda@buffnews.com ]]>
Thu, 10 Jul 2014 13:37:41 -0400 Janice Habuda
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<![CDATA[ Buffalo Hospital Supply workers evacuated when smoke reported in building ]]> http://www.buffalonews.com/city-region/buffalo-hospital-supply-workers-evacuated-when-smoke-reported-in-building-20140710
The Cheektowaga Fire Department responded at about 9:50 a.m. and found smoke coming from a blown ballast in a light fixture in the building, located at 4039 Genesee St.

Workers were evacuated until firefighters figured out the cause. Cheektowaga Assistant Chief James Speyer said shortly after the evacuation, the building was safe to re-enter.

Buffalo Hospital Supply is a health care company that distributes medical and surgical equipment to hospitals and nursing homes. ]]>
Thu, 10 Jul 2014 12:30:45 -0400
<![CDATA[ Travel delays likely Saturday on I-290 in Tonawanda ]]> http://www.buffalonews.com/city-region/travel-delays-likely-saturday-on-i-290-in-tonawanda-20140710
The work zone will be between Exit 1/Delaware Avenue and the Niagara Thruway, according to a spokeswoman for the state Department of Transportation. Lane closures will occur between 7 a.m. and 6 p.m.

The work is weather-sensitive and could be delayed. For real-time travel information, call 511 or visit www.511ny.org. ]]>
Thu, 10 Jul 2014 10:43:31 -0400
<![CDATA[ Perfect Places to Picnic in Western New York ]]> http://www.buffalonews.com/life-arts/perfect-places-to-picnic-in-western-new-york-20140710
So, of course, we also eat outside.

The outdoor picnic is a tradition that spans the generations. Chances are that even the most bug-infested and rain-soaked picnic still will spark a pleasant memory in the future.

You can almost smell the charcoal burning, the music playing and the children screaming.

And everyone who enjoys a picnic has a favorite picnic spot. Maybe it’s a peaceful setting by a waterway, or a place that has stayed the same while the world around it has changed. Maybe it’s the baseball diamond or the playground nearby.

You don’t need much to have a picnic, which means this region has plenty of spots that are perfect for a blanket and a basket. But here are some of the best.

Ellicott Creek

Whether you choose to dine under the weeping branches of the willows along the creek bank or in one of the offered picnic shelters, you can enjoy the leisurely activities the park offers before or after the meal. There is a canoe launch, and fishing is allowed. You can inline skate along the paths or fly kites in the open meadows. If you are looking to wander around, make sure to head across the footbridge to Ellicott Island. There are playgrounds for the kids and baseball diamonds for pickup games.

Chestnut Ridge

After eating a large lunch at one of the picnic areas complete with a grill, you can work off the calories by hiking or biking through the park’s 1,213 acres. In the southwest corner of the park, you can visit a remote creek in a wooded ravine. The “Eternal Flame Falls” also are in that pocket. If you want something more mainstream, you can play tennis on one of the 12 courts or leisurely drive along the roads.

Hoyt Lake

There are many private pockets around the lake in Delaware Park that are well-suited for a picnic date. Trendy Elmwood Village dwellers often bike over with blankets and snacks. If you are there on a Wednesday evening, you can even catch a Shakespearean play en plein air. Where else in the area can you simultaneously be immersed in nature and surrounded by classical architecture?

Beaver Island State Park

The designated picnic areas are only a small part of what this 950-acre park has to offer. If you wait the 30 minutes following your meal to eat, you can swim on the half-mile long sandy beach on Niagara River. If 30 minutes is too long, you can also canoe and kayak on the river or bike the trails. For those who have a competitive streak, there are horseshoe pits and an 18-hole golf course.

Erie Basin Marina

You could spend a whole day relaxing at the Marina, where the Buffalo River and Lake Erie meet. There is a path to wander, and the summer brings flower gardens to explore. It’s a great place to people and boat watch. If you are still hungry after your picnic, an ice cream store is nearby for dessert. This is also a good spot to have an evening picnic and watch as the landscape changes with the setting sun.

email: acernavskis@buffnews.com ]]>
Thu, 10 Jul 2014 10:25:12 -0400 Andra Cernavskis
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<![CDATA[ Seven things you should know by 7 ]]> http://www.buffalonews.com/city-region/seven-things-you-should-know-by-7-20140710

A cool beauty

To enjoy a day like today to the fullest, you need a convertible. Sunny skies, mild temperatures in the low 70s, no cross winds. Forecasters are promising another one just like it Friday, only a little warmer.

Hot night

Will jackets may be needed to ward off the chill at the weekly Thursday evening concert at Canalside? Depends. The neo-soul headliners, Fitz and the Tantrums, are pretty hot. Buffalo’s Albrights get things started at 6 p.m. Admission is free.

Dropping anchor

Providing a backdrop to Canalside festivities this evening will be the U.S. Brig Niagara, a two-masted, square-rigged replica of Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry’s relief flagship in the War of 1812. It arrives with cannon fire about 3 p.m. and will be open for ticketed tours from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday through Sunday.

Snark attack

Talking back at the movie will be part of the show in “Rifftrax Life: Sharknado.” The crew of wisecrackers from TV’s “Mystery Science Theatre 3000” will provide running commentary as they watch that awful film live in Minneapolis and broadcast it to 700 theaters nationwide at 7:30 p.m. Here it can be seen at the Elmwood Regal and Regal Transit. Bonus will be previews of the upcoming “Sharknado 2: The Second One,” which may or may not include footage shot in Buffalo.

Fair shares

How should federal funds be distributed in Buffalo next year via Community Development Block Grants and other programs in the 2014-15 Annual Action Plan? That will be discussed at 11 a.m. in Room 1417, City Hall, in a special meeting of the Buffalo Common Council’s Community Development Committee. The media and the public have been invited.

Greenskeepers

Last week the Town of Amherst declared that it wants to rezone thousands of acres of property to preserve green space. Today Mensch Capital Partners LLC, which owns one of those properties, Westwood Country Club, will announce its plans to redevelop the golf course in a briefing at 10 a.m. in the Amherst Chamber of Commerce offices, 400 Essjay Road.

Setting the table

A kickoff event will be held at 11:30 a.m. in Martin Luther King Park to make people aware of the Summer Food Service Program, which provides free lunch Monday to Friday during summer vacation to all children 18 and younger, regardless of family income. More than 100 sites throughout Erie County, most of them in Buffalo and Lackawanna, will be serving lunches through Aug. 15. ]]>
Thu, 10 Jul 2014 06:55:27 -0400
<![CDATA[ Sloan man accused of animal cruelty awaits trial after evidence hearing ]]> http://www.buffalonews.com/city-region/sloan-man-accused-of-animal-cruelty-awaits-trial-after-evidence-hearing-20140709
“What are you going to do with a 100-pound shepherd that’s going bananas?” Michael Tortorici can be heard telling officers who arrived at his home after receiving a report about the dead dog. “I’m sick about it. He went lunatic tonight. There’s blood all over the building.”

The audio tape recording of Tortorici from Nov. 3 was released Wednesday during a court hearing before Erie County Court Judge Michael D’Amico.

Tortorici, 58, was charged with beating the 8-year-old dog named Max with a wooden stool and a two-by-four before taking him into the basement and shooting him with a shotgun.

Cheektowaga officers have recording devices attached to their bulletproof vests, and the recording of Tortorici came from the vest of Officer Thomas D. LaBelle, one of the first officers at the scene about 1 a.m.

LaBelle testified during the hearing that he arrived at the Tortorici home after pulling over a speeding Mustang on Genesee Street.

The man inside the Mustang told LaBelle he was in a hurry because he had received a call from his mother – Deborah, the wife of Michael Tortorici – about the dog’s being shot. LaBelle ended up following the man to the house on Broadway and calling for back up.

Wednesday’s hearing was to determine whether prosecutors will be able to use some evidence against Tortorici at trial that defense attorney Frank LoTempio III contends was improperly attained. D’Amico will rule on LoTempio’s motion at a later date.

Also testifying Wednesday were Lt. Dana Cadwallader and Det. Joseph Crean of the Cheektowaga police.

Police became suspicious of Tortorici only after he offered inconsistent accounts of what had happened over the course of the evening.

Tortorici told police the dog bit him an hour to an hour and 20 minutes prior to their arrival at the home, and that he shot the dog about 20 minutes after it bit him, according to Cadwallader.

Cadwallader also said he asked Tortorici why he hadn’t called police to handle the dog and that Tortorici responded that he didn’t think police could have helped him.

Crean testified that he came to the house the morning of Nov. 4 to find a wooden stool and two-by-four that police learned earlier may have been used to beat the dog.

Crean saw the two-by-four next to garbage cans in the driveway as he went to knock on the door.

“It had red all over it. It looked like blood,” he said.

When no one answered the door, Crean returned later and talked with Deborah Tortorici, who signed a consent form allowing him to take the stool and two-by-four from the property as evidence, he said.

A necropsy determined that the dog had suffered multiple fractures – including a broken eye socket – from being beaten on the head, according to Cheektowaga police. It also was determined that the gunshot wound wasn’t immediately fatal and the dog suffered considerably before it died.

email: jtokasz@buffnews.com ]]>
Wed, 9 Jul 2014 17:39:03 -0400 Jay Tokasz
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<![CDATA[ Power out to 2,300 in Buffalo, 900 in Cheektowaga ]]> http://www.buffalonews.com/city-region/buffalo/power-out-to-2300-in-buffalo-900-in-cheektowaga-20140709
Power was expected to be restored by 4 p.m. in Buffalo and by 4:15 p.m. in Cheektowaga.

It was not clear what caused the power outage. ]]>
Wed, 9 Jul 2014 15:13:35 -0400
<![CDATA[ Girl suffers facial burns in butane lighter fire ]]> http://www.buffalonews.com/city-region/cheektowaga/cheektowaga-toddler-suffers-facial-burns-in-butane-lighter-fire-20140709
Assistant Police Chief Jim Speyer said this morning that police haven’t been able to locate the young man, but they think that others may know of his whereabouts. His name hasn’t been released.

“We don’t believe that they’re cooperating fully,” Speyer said of the family.

The almost 2-year-old girl, whose name was withheld by police, is being treated in Shriners Hospital for Children in Cincinnati. “I have heard that the child is going to be OK,” Speyer said.

The incident occurred shortly after 8 p.m. Tuesday, when the victim’s uncle was refilling a butane lighter in the kitchen of a Broad Street home. He was standing near the stove when the butane ignited, according to Speyer.

“This happened in front of the little girl’s mother,” Speyer said. She told officers, “It looked like he had a ball of flames in his hands,”

As the young man ran outside, he passed the child, who was standing near the doorway. Flames spilled onto the little girl, Speyer said, causing burns to 20 percent of her body – primarily her face.

The victim’s father and younger brother were elsewhere in the house at the time.

Police and fire investigators spent much of Wednesday at the scene.

It hasn’t been determined if the teen will face criminal charges. “We’re looking at everything – ruling nothing out,” Speyer said.

email: jhabuda@buffnews.com ]]>
Wed, 9 Jul 2014 15:06:27 -0400 Janice Habuda
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<![CDATA[ Hearthstone Manor customers set to receive refunds this month ]]> http://www.buffalonews.com/business/hearthstone-manor-customers-set-to-receive-refunds-this-month-20140709
Seventy-one customers whose their long-planned wedding receptions, fundraisers and other events were cancelled are set to receive $45,000 in full deposit refunds as part of a settlement negotiated between the Attorney General’s Office and the owners of the Depew business.

The Hearthstone Manor’s owners are using some of the proceeds from the sale of the 333 Dick Road property, which closed June 18 at a price of $950,000, to reimburse their customers.

The Hearthstone Manor’s owners agreed to pay the $45,000 to the Attorney General’s Office, which will distribute the refund checks to the facility’s former customers, said Casey Aguglia, a spokeswoman for the office.

Interest will begin to accrue if the business’ owners don’t make that payment by July 24, Aguglia said, and any interest also would be passed along to the former customers.

The property is set to live on as a banquet hall operated by the owners of the Grapevine Restaurant in Amherst. ]]>
Wed, 9 Jul 2014 14:42:05 -0400
<![CDATA[ Millard Fillmore Suburban to begin construction of neonatal unit ]]> http://www.buffalonews.com/business/millard-fillmore-suburban-to-begin-construction-of-neonatal-unit-20140709
The 10-bed unit will be located on a new fourth floor built above the three-story, labor-and-delivery building that sits behind the main Maple Road hospital building.

Kaleida Health is converting six licensed maternity beds, two rehabilitation beds and two critical-care beds for the 13,192-square-foot neonatal unit, part of 30,632 square feet of new space that includes related mechanical and structural work.

Officials say construction of the new unit eliminates the need for critically ill newborns to be taken to another facility, risking further complications. The neonatal unit will be connected through a “hub-and-spoke model” to Kaleida Health’s Women & Children’s Hospital of Buffalo, according to system administrators.

Work on the neonatal unit is expected to begin by the end of August and be completed within 12 to 16 months. ]]>
Wed, 9 Jul 2014 12:30:41 -0400 STAFF REPORT

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<![CDATA[ Depew hikes school lunch prices ]]> http://www.buffalonews.com/city-region/depew/depew-hikes-school-lunch-prices-20140709
The Board of Education voted unanimously Tuesday to approve a 10-cent increase for full-priced lunches. Middle and high school lunches will be $2.10, while elementary lunches will be $2. Breakfasts for all schools will remain $1.20.

Superintendent Jeffrey Rabey said that the need for the increase was twofold.

First, the district must stay within regulatory raises set by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, he said, and second, a review of the district’s food services budget revealed a need for the price increase to maintain programming.

“We’re looking at sustainability for the future,” Rabey said.

In other action, Jessica Neischel was renamed district clerk with a $1,500 stipend for the academic year. She then administered the oath of office to board members Barbara Staebell and Donna Kapinos, who won board seats during the election in May. Member David Sheff was elected to serve another term as president, and Staebell was re-elected as vice president.

Nancy Gerretsen was named district treasurer with a $3,900 stipend. She also will collect a $3,380 stipend to serve as central treasurer of the student activity funds.

The board’s next meeting will be held at 6:30 p.m. Aug. 19 in the cafeteria at Depew High School, 5201 Transit Road. ]]>
Wed, 9 Jul 2014 09:15:19 -0400 Lisa Johnson
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<![CDATA[ Tonawanda Town Board cracks down on spending ]]> http://www.buffalonews.com/city-region/town-of-tonawanda/tonawanda-town-board-cracks-down-on-spending-20140709
The Town Board took the rare step of denying a department head’s request when it canceled plans to spend up to $2,000 to send two police officers to New Hampshire for a day to inspect the department’s new mobile crime scene and accident investigation vehicle.

“I have a problem with two officers going,” said Councilman Joe Emminger. “That’s a lot of money.”

Police Chief Anthony J. Palombo explained that the department has been saving its Erie County STOP-DWI funds to pay nearly $100,000 for the vehicle, which resembles a box truck and will carry evidence-collection equipment, including cameras, portable spotlights and computer stations.

“Because this whole project comes out of STOP-DWI, it really isn’t coming out of our budget,” Palombo told the board. “It’s properly budgeted under STOP-DWI.”

At the preconstruction meeting with the manufacturer, the officers would inspect the custom-made vehicle and obtain ownership documents for the chassis, he said.

“We want it done right if we’re spending that kind of money,” Palombo said. “I guess you could look at it as spending to make sure it’s done correctly and exactly to spec is probably not a bad investment.”

But Emminger was unswayed, and other board members agreed.

“We don’t have a blank checkbook,” Emminger said, noting the town faces a number of unfunded state mandates. “We’ve got to watch what we’re spending.”

His comments Monday followed a review of an audit by accounting firm Drescher & Malecki of the town’s books, which showed that while the town’s expenditures have grown only 0.5 percent since 2010, its revenues have fallen 2.5 percent over that same period.

“That’s where the challenge is going to come, is trying to fill in that gap,” accountant Thomas P. Malecki told the board. “We’re going to anticipate that expenditures are going to increase unless you’re making some service cuts or personnel cuts.”

Plans had called for sending Lt. Nicholas A. Bado and one of the department’s accident investigators to New Hampshire. But after checking with Bado during the work session, Palombo said it would be all right to send one officer, which Emminger agreed to.

email: jpopiolkowski@buffnews.com ]]>
Wed, 9 Jul 2014 09:13:54 -0400 Joseph Popiolkowski
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<![CDATA[ Tonawanda begins process of consolidating elementary schools into one school ]]> http://www.buffalonews.com/city-region/city-of-tonawanda/tonawanda-begins-process-of-consolidating-elementary-schools-into-one-school-20140709
The tentative consolidation plan, dubbed “Tona 2020,” would leave Fletcher School as the only remaining elementary building in the district. The consolidation would require another district capital project of $30 million to $40 million to retrofit Fletcher to accommodate all the students.

With the district currently completing an $11.9 million capital improvement that saw extensive work at the Tonawanda High/Middle School campus, another project would push Tonawanda past its debt limit. However, the district can go ahead with the project if they win at least 60 percent of the community’s approval during a voter referendum.

“In my opinion, it’s not too early [to propose another capital project],” said Superintendent James Newton. “The savings realized would be substantial.”

What concerned some board members is the high cost of another project, which wouldn’t go out for a vote until the district hires an architectural firm to design the Fletcher changes. If the public doesn’t approve it, the district would still have to pay upwards of $2 million just for the designs.

Board President Jennifer Mysliwy encouraged administrators to seek alternate forms of funding, including grants, for the expense of the designs. The board heard a presentation from Robert J. Miller, a Tonawanda grant writer, about securing outside money.

“We can’t risk that kind of money,” Mysliwy said of the design costs. “We would have to know it would pass [a public vote].”`

In other matters, the board held its annual reorganizational meeting and unanimously appointed Mysliwy to her first term as board president. A member of the board since 2009, Mysliwy previously served several terms as vice president under former president Sharon Stuart. ]]>
Wed, 9 Jul 2014 09:05:47 -0400 Mark Ciemcioch
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<![CDATA[ Seven things you should know by 7 ]]> http://www.buffalonews.com/city-region/seven-things-you-should-know-by-7-20140709

Sweet relief

The humidity is gone. So is the heat. You won’t need the air conditioner today, but you’ll want a jacket tonight. Forecasters say it will stay like this for a couple days – highs around 70 or 75, overnight lows in 50s.

New era

Can the former head of Erie 1 BOCES, Donald A. Ogilvie, turn a failing school system into an academic success story? His chance begins when the Buffalo Board of Education meets this evening and does as it’s expected to do, appoint him to be the new interim superintendent.

Promises to keep

Justin Timberlake apologized to Buffalo for postponing his Feb. 22 appearance in First Niagara Center in front of the whole nation on “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.” Tonight, in a sold-out performance, he’ll make good on that promise he made: “We’re going to party. We’re going to party hard. That’s a guarantee.”

Unfinished business

Injury prevention will be part of the drills at a youth football clinic and symposium for players aged 6 to 14 and their parents at 6 p.m. on the Starpoint High School football field, 4363 Mapleton Road, Town of Lockport. Focus will be on “HeadsUp” tackling techniques and concussion awareness. Former Buffalo Bills defensive back Mark Kelso will be featured.

Abramson emerges

Not much has been heard from Jill Abramson, the first woman executive editor of the New York Times, since she was dismissed from her post in May. Today, however, she’s speaking at 10:45 a.m. in the Chautauqua Institution Amphitheater, addressing this week’s topic, “The Ethics of Privacy,” and the role of the media in covering privacy issues.

Homecoming

Kevin Kalicki, better known as Kevin K, is familiar locally from the punk-rock group The Toys in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Now living near Tampa, Fla., he’s back in town to play the Thank a Veteran Concert at 7 p.m. in the Forvm in the Maple Entertainment Complex, 4224 Maple Road, Amherst. Part of the proceeds benefit Habitat for Humanity Buffalo’s Veteran Build Program. He also sticks around to kick off the new Thursday night series in Central Park Grill, 2519 Main St., which will be taped for “Buffalo Night Out TV” on WKBW, Ch. 7. ]]>
Wed, 9 Jul 2014 06:34:31 -0400
<![CDATA[ Elderly Tonawanda woman charged in husband’s murder had struggled to care for him ]]> http://www.buffalonews.com/city-region/police-courts/elderly-tonawanda-woman-charged-in-husbands-murder-had-struggled-to-care-for-him-20140708
But some caught glimpses that hinted of trouble. Phyllis A. Eson, 83, struggled to care for her 89-year-old husband, who reportedly had Alzheimer’s disease. And she had “aggression issues,” a neighbor said.

A call from a concerned landlord culminated in Tonawanda police discovering her lifeless husband on the floor of their home, where he had been lying dead for several hours.

When police arrived at their home, Phyllis Eson opened the door and had blood on her clothes, police said. She appeared confused.

Police arrested Phyllis Eson on a second-degree murder charge Monday. Authorities said she beat her husband to death in their home on the 100 block of Hawthorne Avenue in the Town of Tonawanda.

“The blows were bad, but it’s also the fact that he was an old man,” said Town of Tonawanda police spokesman Joseph F. Carosi. “It takes a lot less to cause the death of a person who is of that age than a young, virile person.”

The landlord, who asked not to be identified, said Mrs. Eson tried to deceive the police.

“She was nasty; he was senile,” the landlord said.

A family member said the couple had been together for at least 50 years. He was a retired pharmacist.

The incident startled neighbors.

“The last time I saw her, she was getting in an ambulance and had blood all over her nightgown,” a neighbor said of Mrs. Eson.

Police checked on the couple at the request of the landlord, who is related to the Esons and lives next door to them.

Police arrived at the residence at about 10 p.m. Sunday.

The landlord called 911 while visiting Ohio over the holiday weekend. He said it was a welfare call – he was concerned about Norman’s well-being because he said Mrs. Eson did not treat him well.

An autopsy determined Mr. Eson died from blunt force blows to his head.

Carosi said a motive has not yet been determined. He said a judge has ordered a forensic investigation.

“Because of her age, he wants to have her checked out and make sure she fully understands the charges and gravity of the charges,” Carosi said.

Killing Mr. Eson is like killing a baby, the landlord said. Neighbors said he had Alzheimer’s disease.

“They were old, and she couldn’t handle taking care of him,” a Hawthorne Avenue resident said. “She had some aggression issues.”

Mr. Eson was described as a friendly retired pharmacist, not capable of taking care of himself but not frail or helpless.

“He could walk and talk and eat,” the landlord said.

The Esons’ pistachio-green house sits in a quiet, unassuming neighborhood, between the Kenilworth Volunteer Fire Company and the Kenilworth playground.

The area is two streets from Niagara Falls Boulevard, just over the Tonawanda border and near Buffalo’s University district.

Another neighbor said there is rarely police activity on the block and “it is not a troubled neighborhood.” He said the Esons were good neighbors but he did not know them well.

The couple was new to the street. They lived in Vancouver, B.C., for most of their adult lives, the landlord said.

The couple lived in Fort Myers, Fla., from 2000 to 2006, until they moved to Allentown, Pa., where they purchased a home in her name.

They lived in Allentown until April of this year, when they moved to Tonawanda.

She also owned a home on Main Street in Tonawanda from 1997 until May of this year, when the house went into foreclosure. She owned another home on Fiddlers Green in East Amherst until 2000.

Mrs. Eson is scheduled to appear in court at 4 p.m. Monday.

email: amansfield@buffnews.com ]]>
Wed, 9 Jul 2014 09:01:08 -0400 Aaron Mansfield
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<![CDATA[ Crowd on hand as piece of Marilla history moves ]]> http://www.buffalonews.com/city-region/elma-marilla-wales/crowd-on-hand-as-piece-of-marilla-history-moves-20140708
It was a short parade.

The distance of less than half a mile, from the Bullis Road site where the log cabin stood for 160 years or more to town-owned property around the corner on West Avenue, was covered in about 15 minutes.

The 16-by-22½-foot cabin, part of a larger home owned by John and Sharon Gingerich since the mid-1990s, was donated to the Marilla Historical Society by the couple, who are building a new home. They and their 14-year-old grandson, Cody, were among those who followed the cabin’s progress along the two-lane streets to its new address, where it will remain on a trailer until a foundation is built.

Sharon Gingerich fought back tears as the trailer was maneuvered into position.

“A lot of memories,” she said. “I made my daughter-in-law’s wedding gown in that house. The train was so long the only place I had to work on it was the living room floor.”

The Gingeriches had two bedrooms, an office and a living room in the log cabin.

“We had originally planned on saving that and fixing up the foundation and building onto it,” explained John Gingerich, a cousin of Town Supervisor Earl Gingerich Jr. “When we got into it, there was too much wrong with it. It was going to cost us a whole lot more than just removing it and building new.”

Removal of the structure from its stacked stone foundation occurred before Monday’s torrential downpour turned the site into a muddy mess.

With Gus Hartloff of Walter S. Hartloff & Son in the driver’s seat, a one-ton pickup pulled the 16-wheel trailer. The only hiccups during transport occurred when a roof shingle was snagged by an overhead wire near the intersection and a cable snapped on West Avenue.

Historical Society President Mary Beth Serafin had scrambled to find a way to move the structure after the Gingeriches contacted the organization in May. Town officials agreed to pay for the move, which has cost approximately $8,000 so far, and the foundation, she said.

“The Historical Society will be responsible for restoration,” Serafin said.

The original cabin probably had a single large room, divided by a partition, and a loft, Serafin said. Its exterior was covered in clapboard, in the Greek Revival style popular between 1820 and 1860.

Through the years, multiple additions were built, and the loft became a dormer.

The Historical Society also is working to establish the provenance of the house, which was thought to have been built for an agent for the Buffalo Creek Reservation as part of the Treaty of Big Tree. But the latest information indicates it was built by German settlers sometime between 1810 and 1854 – when the town was founded, according to Serafin.

A sign erected at the Bullis Road site by the Erie County Historical Society, as part of the county’s 1971 sesquicentennial, states the house was built in about 1823 and was the first in Marilla, among other things. “We have always disputed the statement on it,” said Serafin.

Establishing a precise date is difficult in many ways, said Town Historian Hubert Kutter. Title searches don’t necessarily indicate whether there was a structure on the property, he noted.

“A lot of times, you have to read between the lines,” Kutter said.

An expert from Cornell University is testing a wood sample to determine when the logs were harvested, Serafin said.

email: jhabuda@buffnews.com ]]>
Wed, 9 Jul 2014 06:39:11 -0400 Janice Habuda
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<![CDATA[ City of Tonawanda man indicted in Leandra’s Law case ]]> http://www.buffalonews.com/city-region/city-of-tonawanda/city-of-tonawanda-man-indicted-in-leandras-law-case-20140708
Donald E. Smith, 44, of Penarrow Drive, pleaded not guilty to a felony charge of aggravated driving while intoxicated for allegedly violating Leandra’s Law by driving drunk with a child on board. He also faces a misdemeanor driving while intoxicated count, leaving the scene of a property damage accident and endangering the welfare of a child.

The incident allegedly occurred April 8 on Shawnee Road in Wheatfield. Smith allegedly left the scene, but police were summoned to DeGraff Memorial Hospital in North Tonawanda, where Smith went for treatment of an injury. His blood alcohol content was measured at 0,18 percent. ]]>
Tue, 8 Jul 2014 19:50:48 -0400