Erie County DPW Gears Up For Winter Weather, Plowing

snow plow

New Trucks, Additional Salt Fortify County’s Weather-Fighting Road Crews

ERIE COUNTY, NY— The Erie County Department of Public Works’  (“DPW”) Highways Division reports readiness to handle Mother Nature’s wintriest offerings this season with a force of 40 primary snow plows equipped and ready for action this weekend, with five new vehicles to be added to the fleet starting in the last week of November. The new arrivals are equipped with salters and plows, and four of the five are heavy-duty, tandem-axle trucks featuring all-wheel drive. Since 2011, the DPW has replaced fully 50% of the primary fleet of snow plowing vehicles.

“With the arrival of wintry weather, I want to remind residents that Erie County crews are fully equipped and already busy clearing snow in some areas of the County, particularly in the southern reaches,” said Erie County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz.  “My administration takes public safety very seriously and understands the responsibility that comes with it when it comes to readiness, responsiveness, and reliability in keeping the roads clear. Many municipalities across Erie County are joining forces with us to keep county roads clear and residents safe this winter, and for those that are a part of the team, I say thank you for sharing our commitment to public safety. Just like last year, we are prepared for the worst that winter can ‘snow’ at us.”

The four new all-wheel drive trucks will be added to two already in Erie County’s snow removal fleet. These trucks are essential for operations in the hill country and in southern Erie County where snows are typically heavier. In addition, these trucks can be used throughout the year, rather than the “winter-only” all-wheel drive vehicles purchased in years past. A new high lift was also purchased along with the five new trucks, bringing the total investment in snow-removal equipment to nearly $1.4 million.

In response to a colder-than-normal winter in 2013-14, DPW has also built up its road salt stocks from a year ago. In 2014, 17,000 tons of salt were ordered but over 34,000 tons of salt were used throughout the winter due to harsh conditions. In 2015, DPW has 25,000 tons of salt available for usage on area roadways, with plans to procure more should conditions warrant.

For more information:

On the Erie County Department of Public Works, visit

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Buffalo Philharmonic to Present $15,000 to the John R. Oishei Children’s Hospital

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BUFFALO, NY -The Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra will present a $15,000 check to the campaign for the new Oishei Children’s Hospital at 9 a.m. on Monday, November 17 at Women & Children’s Hospital of Buffalo.The donation reflects proceeds from ticket sales to the July 19 Doctors of the World performance at Kleinhans Music Hall.

This $15,000 is the start of an endowment that will help to build the foundation for bringing Buffalo’s culturals to the children and their families in the new Oishei Children’s Hospital. Music and the arts are integral tools for healing and respite, and it is the hope that they become a key element in the design and atmosphere of the new Oishei Children’s Hospital.

“We are overjoyed with the success of the Doctors of the World concert and are honored to accept this generous donation on behalf of Western New York’s children and all future patients of the Oishei Children’s Hospital,” said Allegra Jaros, President, Women & Children’s Hospital of Buffalo. “It’s extraordinary to see a local not-for-profit organization go above and beyond to raise funds for another not-for profit. The BPO is a remarkable community asset and we look forward to continuing our partnership with them for years to come.”

The July 19 Doctors of the World concert featured 40 doctor-musicians from England, Norway, South Africa, Taiwan, Denmark, Germany, Costa Rica, Japan, and across the United States performing Holst’s “The Planets;” Bernstein’s Overture to “Candide;” and Respighi’s “Pines of Rome” together with the BPO. The collaboration was part of the global network of doctor-musicians who play together each year in different locations and raise money for local health organizations. This was the first time one of these performances has been done as a side-by-side concert with a professional orchestra.

“The musicians and I enjoyed working with the doctors who came to Buffalo this summer to present a successful and well-received concert,” said JoAnn Falletta, BPO Music Director. “Their enthusiasm and their spirit would have made the entire experience gratifying enough, but to be able to provide this support to Women & Children’s Hospital provides an even deeper meaning to that one special weekend in July.”

On November 17, BPO Music Director, JoAnn Falletta will present the $15,000 check to Allegra Jaros, WCHOB President. Also in attendance will be Daniel Hart, Executive Director of the BPO, Amy Habib Rittling, co-chair of the Oishei Children’s Hospital Campaign, WCHOB patients and their families who will benefit from this partnership and two BPO trombonists, Tim Smith and Jonathan Lombardo.

The partnership between the BPO and WCHOB continues on through the creation of a new program called BPOKids Exceptional Kids.  Through the sponsorship of Kaleida Health and the BPO, families with children benefiting from services and support groups at Women & Children’s Hospital are invited to attend five BPOKids concerts throughout the year.  These families are given the opportunity to enjoy a family outing in a supportive environment at Kleinhans Music Hall, including family friendly performances by the BPO and pre-concert activities sponsored by cultural partners such as Albright Knox Art Gallery, The Buffalo Zoo, Explore & More Children’s Museum and others.  More than 65 people participated in the first concert in October, and over 100 have registered for future concerts.

As Buffalo’s cultural ambassador, the Grammy Award-winning Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra under the leadership of music director JoAnn Falletta presents more than 100 concerts each year. Since 1940, the orchestra’s home has been Kleinhans Music Hall, a National Historic Landmark with a reputation as one of the finest concert halls in the United States. During the tenure of JoAnn Falletta, the BPO has rekindled its history of radio broadcasts and recordings, including the release of 29 new recordings on the Naxos and Beau Fleuve labels. For more information about the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, visit

The vision for the Oishei Children’s Hospital is to be recognized as the innovator, the highest quality, highest value provider and partner, and the regional referral center for women and children’s health care for Kaleida Health, in Western New York and beyond.

Women & Children’s Hospital of Buffalo, a Kaleida Health facility and teaching hospital for the University at Buffalo School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, is the regional center for comprehensive and state-of-the-art pediatric, neonatal, perinatal and obstetrical services in Western New York and beyond. For more information, please go online at

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Republicans Demand Return of Passive Obama


WASHINGTON, D.C. (The Borowitz Report)—Congressional Republicans on Friday expressed outrage at the new leadership style that President Obama has demonstrated in the aftermath of the midterm elections, and demanded a return of the “passive and unassertive Obama to which we have grown accustomed.”


In a joint statement, House Speaker John Boehner and his counterpart in the Senate, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, accused Obama of “engaging in a flagrant display of leadership that we find deeply offensive.”

“For the past six years, we have enjoyed a President who has been conciliatory and acquiescent to the point of emasculation,” Boehner said. “We want that President back.”

McConnell threatened that if Obama does not return to his weak and ineffectual ways at once, “he will face the prospect of being a two-term President.”

At the White House, the President did not respond to the Republicans’ remarks, telling reporters that he planned to work through the weekend raising the minimum wage, granting amnesty to immigrants, and legalizing marijuana.

Get ne

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Walter: We Must Override Cuono’s Veto of Veterans Bill

Ray Walter 1

Assemblyman Ray Walter calls on Assembly and Senate to convene a special session in order to override Gov. Cuomo’s veto of bill. 

            Assemblyman Ray Walter (R,C,I-Amherst) is calling on the legislature to override Gov. Cuomo’s veto of veterans “peacetime” pension bill. The bill would have allowed our state’s veterans to purchase up to three years of pension service credit for time spent in the military. Walter is calling on both the Senate and Assembly to convene a Special Session in order to override the veto.

“This bill is meant to help the brave men and women make up for the time they lost at home protecting our freedoms,” said Walter. “It was passed unanimously in the Senate and all but one member voted for the bill in the Assembly. With such overwhelming support, there is absolutely no reason as to why we should just accept our Governor’s veto. I would gladly return to Albany before the years end in order to vote this into law.” 

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Letter to the Editor

letter to the editor

Disgraceful. Been away for a few weeks to get away from things, including my E-mails but now I am catching up on them. None the less, I’d love to hear Jerry’s thought processes for doing this. He should be made to account for his actions on this decision with both the ADC and registered Democrats. This could very well be his swan song in his leadership role with the ADC.

Sadly, instances like this abound everywhere and every day our real civil liberties and rights to privacy are evaporating right before our eyes. It is increasingly becoming more difficult to fight and right these things, unless you are wealthy enough to be able to do so and even the 2% Hell, lets make it the top 5%) come out on the short end sometimes. Or, you must give up your personal life to fight something that is just plain wrong. That, the average American should not have to do every stinking time to obtain decent representation.

To digress a bit, but still on message, I hope everyone takes a moment to read what’s going around concerning J. Edgar Hoover’s FBI letter asking Martin L. King to commit subside. We Americans, while doing many good things, have much to be ashamed of as well. I am aware that in general terms the personal facts concerning MLK are not a state secret. However, the uncovering of this letter written by the last person in the world who should make such statements given his personal life and disdain he held for the constitution while holding a position of such power and trust in our government is a classic example of what our government and one well placed person can do to us if we are not careful. It’s not a far stretch of the imagination for this type of person to crawl out of the woodwork again, given the  trend that is occurring with our government and government agencies be the federal, state, and local. We have our work cut out for us.

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Long Lines Anticipated During Opening of HEAP Program


First Day for Applications is November 17; Residents Encouraged to Avoid Lines, Apply Online

ERIE COUNTY, NY— Applications for regular Home Energy Assistance Program (“HEAP”) benefits will be accepted beginning Monday, November 17, 2014 and Erie County’s Department of Social Services (“DSS”) anticipates receiving more than 20,000 HEAP applications by the end of December.  To expedite the application process and to prevent residents from standing in long lines to apply, HEAP applicants are encouraged to apply for benefits online, rather than make a trip to the downtown HEAP office.

Eligible households whose primary heat is electricity or natural gas and who make payments based on their household’s actual usage can receive a regular benefit up to $350. Households using a different heating source or that have their heating costs included as part of their rent may receive a larger or smaller amount.

“HEAP is a critical program that assists low-income residents with the cost of heating their homes. However, as HEAP benefits are only available for a specific time during the year, many people mistakenly believe heating assistance is available only on a first-come, first serve basis,” said Erie County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz.“With a heavy day for applications anticipated for next Monday’s opening, we are encouraging residents to save themselves a trip downtown, avoid a potentially long line and wait time, and apply for HEAP benefits online.”

Residents with their heat service currently on and without a shutoff notice are advised to apply online or by calling the HEAP Application Request Line at 858-1969.

Regular HEAP eligibility and benefits are based on income, household size, the primary heating source and the presence of a vulnerable household member who is under age 6, is age 60 or older, or is permanently disabled. An eligible household may receive one regular HEAP benefit per program year.  Households currently receiving Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (“TANF”) and/or Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (“SNAP”) benefits may qualify for an automatic basic HEAP benefit and would not be required to file a separate application. Households may ascertain the status of an AutoPay by calling the HEAP Hotline at 858-7644.

Last season, over 100,000 HEAP benefits were authorized to Erie County households. In order to qualify for a regular HEAP benefit, the members of the household must be citizens of the United States or qualified aliens with gross monthly income at or below the amount per household size listed in the table below:

2014-2015 HEAP Benefit Gross Monthly Income Guidelines

Household Size

Maximum Gross Monthly Income

Household Size

Maximum Gross Monthly Income





















The season for applying for regular HEAP benefits runs through December 31st. HEAP Emergency Benefits for households whose main source of heat is natural gas or electricity can be applied for beginning January 2, 2015.

For more information:

On the Erie County Department of Social Services, visit

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McConnell’s Election as Majority Leader Announced With Puff of Toxic Black Coal Smoke


WASHINGTON, D.C. (The Borowitz Report)—The election of Senator Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) as the Senate Majority Leader was announced on Thursday by a puff of toxic black coal smoke rising from the United States Capitol.

Speaking from the well of the Senate, McConnell blasted President Obama’s recent climate-change deal with the Chinese, saying that it violated “the human rights of carbon.”

“I’m not a scientist,” he told his colleagues, “but I’m told that carbon is the basic building block of all life on earth. And that means it should enjoy the same human rights as you and I.”

Clutching a charcoal briquette in his fist and raising it defiantly over his head, McConnell received a standing ovation from the Republican caucus.

Outside the Capitol, McConnell supporters who had been waiting for the symbolic puff of black smoke let out an exuberant cheer, before rubbing their irritated eyes and choking.

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New EC Road Policy Addresses Low-Volume, Residential Roads

Erie County Seal

Policy Establishes $1,000,000 Fund to Repair Roads Contingent on Municipality Accepting Ownership upon Completion

ERIE COUNTY, NY—Erie County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz has announced a new County policy regarding the repair and maintenance of “low volume” county roads, roads which are scattered across the County and which do not facilitate inter-town traffic. The new policy, which goes into effect immediately, will set aside up to $1,000,000 annually in the Erie County budget for repairs on any road of this type. Municipalities seeking these repairs through this funding will enter into an agreement stating that they will take ownership of the road upon completion of the repairs. This funding will be available on a first-come, first-served basis for all interested municipalities. If this funding is not assigned to projects by May 15th of the budget year (contingent on an agreement with a Town) the Commissioner of Public Works will be authorized to reassign these funds to any other county highway project.

“With 2,400 total lane miles of roads in Erie County’s inventory, the inclusion of 200 miles of low-volume residential-type roads is an unnecessary burden on our Highway Department. It is time to return these residential roads to the Towns, where they truly belong,” said Erie County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz.  “The relatively short lengths and out-of-the-way locations of many of these roads make them ideal candidates for addition to the road portfolios of the communities they are located in and also emphasize the need for a more efficient approach to maintaining them. That approach involves cooperation between the County and the Towns to first repair these roads and then turn them over to Town ownership.”

The main function of the county road system is to facilitate vehicular traffic between towns within the county. There are approximately 200 miles of such “low volume” roads included in the 1,200 center-lane miles of roads Erie County is responsible for maintaining. Many of these roads are residential roads, dead ends, and segmented roads which do not connect to any other county road and have very low daily traffic usage. These roads are at a disadvantage when competing for limited County repair funds, as they are grouped in with major county roads that see high traffic volumes and serve as main thoroughfares. Under the new policy and following repairs by the County, roads that are turned over to Town ownership could compete more favorably in the future with other low-volume, residential-type Town roads for repair funding.

For more information:

On the Erie County Department of Public Works, visit

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Leading Violinist to Share Knowledge With Western New York Youth

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BUFFALO, NY — When violinist Tai Murray comes to town during the week of Nov. 10, she will not only entertain, but will educate.

On Wednesday, Nov. 12, she will give a masterclass from 7 to 8:30 p.m. at Kleinhans Music Hall, 3 Symphony Circle as part of the Buffalo Philharmonic’s free masterclass series which presents talented guest artists in educational settings. Three performers have been selected from a pool of applicants. Violinists Sarah Rice of Buffalo State College, Mandela Namaste of Williamsville East, and Gigi Monachino from the Eastman School of Music will perform and receive feedback from Murray. Students and members of the community are invited to attend to learn more about violin technique and performance, and to observe as Murray imparts her wisdom. Attendance is free of charge, but a reservation is required. It can be made at

Murray will speak to students at the Buffalo Academy for the Visual and Performing Arts at 1:30 p.m. Friday, Nov. 14 as part of the “Success Looks Like Me” program of the Communities of Giving Legacy Initiative, a fund of the Community Foundation of Greater Buffalo. The program provides low-income youth of color with opportunities to interact with successful adults who reflect the multi-cultural, multi-ethnic richness of Western New York and our nation. Murray will talk about the path she took to become one of her generation’s most successful and sought-after concert violinists. The program will be live-streamed so that students at other schools may watch. Free tickets will be available to any BAVPA student wishing to attend the BPO’s Saturday night’s performance.

Murray first gained national attention at 15, when she tied for first place in the inaugural Sphinx Competition. The Competition’s aim is to encourage excellence among black and Latino string players. Since then, she has won an Avery Fisher Career Grant and was named a BBC New Generation Artist. She has toured throughout North America and Europe as an orchestral soloist, a recitalist, and a chamber musician. Her third disc in as many years was just released.

Murray’s Buffalo Philharmonic debut concerts will take place at 10:30 a.m. Friday, Nov. 14 and at 8 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 15. Former BPO Music Director Maximiano Valdes will conduct Ginastera’s Pampeana No. 3 and Franck’s Symphony in D minor, as well as Murray’s solo piece, Lalo’s Symphonie Espagnole. Tickets are available by calling 716-885-5000 or at

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Poloncarz Gets Flu Shot, Encourages Others To Follow Suit

flu shot

County Executive, Health Commissioner also Discuss Completion of Dr. Glick’s Ebola Quarantine 

ERIE COUNTY, NY— Today, Erie County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz was joined by County Health Commissioner Dr. Gale Burstein to emphasize the importance of vaccination in preventing the flu as he received his yearly flu vaccination and recommended that all residents do the same. Influenza is a serious disease that can lead to hospitalization and sometimes death. During a regular flu season, about 90% of deaths occur in people 65 years and older; however, each flu season is different and influenza infection affects people differently. In the United States the “flu season” can begin as early as October and last through May.

“Getting a flu shot is important not only to keep yourself healthy, but also to protect the people around you,” said Poloncarz. “By getting immunized, you are keeping yourself healthier and not spreading influenza to family, friends, and co-workers. That means fewer people missing work, school, and other activities. It is a quick, easy, and safe way to protect myself from the flu.”

Two types of vaccine are available, including the traditional “flu shot” and a nasal spray vaccine. The shot, usually given in the arm, is approved for use in people older than 6 months, including healthy people and those with chronic medical conditions. Three different flu shots are available: a regular flu shot approved for people ages 6 months and older; a high-dose flu shot approved for people 65 and older; and an intradermal flu shot that uses a “micro-needle” and is approved for people 18 to 64 years of age. The nasal spray vaccine is approved for people 2 through 49 years of age who are not pregnant. This year, the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (“CDC”) recommend the nasal spray vaccine for healthy children between the ages of 2-8 years old. About two weeks post-vaccination, protective antibodies develop in the body to resist influenza viruses.

“An annual seasonal flu vaccine, either the flu shot or the nasal spray vaccine, is the best way to reduce the chances that you will get seasonal flu, as well as lessen the chance that you will spread it to others. Flu viruses are constantly changing, so the flu vaccine is formulated each year to keep up with the changes.” said Burstein.“When more people get vaccinated against the flu, less flu will spread through the community. We all benefit from this protection. Now is a great time be vaccinated before getting caught up in the hustle and bustle of the holidays.”

Seasonal flu vaccines protect against the three (trivalent) influenza viruses that research indicates will be most common during the upcoming season. Viruses in the vaccines can change each year based on international surveillance and scientists’ estimations of which types and strains of virus will circulate in a given year. A yearly vaccination provides the best protection against influenza throughout the flu season.

Poloncarz and Burstein also discussed the completion of quarantine for Dr. Myron Glick, a local physician who had been under quarantine for symptoms of Ebola following a recent visit to Sierra Leone. Dr. Glick, who had no contact with Ebola patients while in Africa and exhibited no symptoms of the virus since his return to the United States, willingly complied with twice-daily temperature checks and reported his findings to the Erie County Department of Health. Dr. Glick’s 21-day observation period drew to a close on Thursday, with all temperatures reported within the normal range and no observed symptoms.

Burstein added, “The Department of Health sincerely thanks Dr. Glick for his cooperation during this voluntary quarantine period. Dr. Glick’s willingness to participate in the daily monitoring and reporting of his health status helped to allay many unfounded fears.”

For more information:

On the Erie County Department of Health, visit

On the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, visit

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