Category “Local News”

‘Suspicious death’ of Amherst Funeral Director Ruled a Suicide

Jan. 9, 2020

Yellow crime scene tape could be seen on Nov. 4 outside the John E. Roberts Funeral Home on Grover Cleveland Highway. Charles Durante, a funeral home director there, was found in the middle of the road and later died in what police now say was a suicide. (Aaron Besecker/Buffalo News)
Yellow crime scene tape could be seen on Nov. 4 outside the John E. Roberts Funeral Home on Grover Cleveland Highway. Charles Durante, a funeral home director there, was found in the middle of the road and later died in what police now say was a suicide. 

The “suspicious death” of a man who was found last year in the road outside the John E. Roberts Funeral Home in Amherst was a suicide, police say.

Police responding to a 911 call just after 6 a.m. Nov. 4 found Charles Durante in the middle of North Bailey Avenue, near Grover Cleveland Highway. He was taken to Erie County Medical Center, where he died around 1 p.m.

As Amherst police investigated how the 43-year-old ended up in the street, they discovered a possible hazmat situation at the funeral home involving an embalming fluid known as “dricav.” Hazmat crews responded and declared the area cleared.

Durante was a director at the funeral home at 280 Grover Cleveland for about 10 years and lived in an upper-floor apartment.
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New Lancaster Supervisor Miffed At $71,098 Salary; Denied $5,000 Stipend

Jan. 9, 2020

New Lancaster Supervisor Ronald Ruffino is not happy with his salary.

He had no problems saying so in public this week.

During his first Town Board meeting in the elected office, Ruffino noted that his $71,098 salary is almost $18,000 less than the town clerk draws after his bid for a $5,000 stipend was denied for 2020. He also said his pay pales in comparison to the $85,121 paid to the highway superintendent.

“The supervisor’s salary for 2019 was $76,098 and was scheduled to be $77,520,” said Ruffino, a Democrat. “The outgoing board victimized the supervisor’s salary out of spite and reduced it to $71,098.”
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Subscribe Satire from The Borowitz Report Trump Furious at Iran for Distracting People from Impeachment for Only Two Days

Satire from The Borowitz Report

Jan. 8, 2020

WASHINGTON (The Borowitz Report)—Donald J. Trump is “incredibly angry” at Iran for taking the American people’s attention away from his impeachment for only about two days, Trump told reporters on Wednesday.

“When I did that drone strike, I was under the impression that it would knock impeachment out of the news for at least a month,” a visibly enraged Trump said. “Instead, it’s Wednesday and we’re back to this Pelosi garbage.”

Trump said that he had hoped that Iranians would react to his provocation in a way that might have forced Democrats to forget about impeaching him altogether, but “all I got for my trouble was a chickenshit couple of days.”

“Honestly, Iran reacted like it was Belgium or something,” Trump said.

Trump said that he was unlikely to attack Iran again “if this is the thanks I get,” and wondered if attacking a different country might have resulted in a more substantial distraction from his impeachment.

“Should I have attacked North Korea?” he said. “Frankly, I don’t know who to trust anymore.”

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Security Boost Helps Amherst Chuck E. Cheese’s to Get License Renewed Again

Jan. 8, 2020

Amherst officials have renewed the game room license for the Chuck E. Cheese's on Harlem Road. (Sharon Cantillon/News file photo)
Amherst officials have renewed the game room license for the Chuck E. Cheese’s on Harlem Road.

Amherst officials say they’ve had no serious incidents at the Chuck E. Cheese’s in town since the company made significant security improvements to the entertainment venue in 2018.

The Town Board on Monday voted with little discussion to renew the game room license for the facility at 4994 Harlem Road, at Sheridan Drive, for another year.

A series of high-profile incidents, including assaults of guests and employees, between spring 2017 and summer 2018 led town officials to threaten to shutter the facility unless safety fixes were made.
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End of an Era: Stereo Advantage Store Closes As Company Focuses On Repair Business

Jan. 8, 2020

Almost 100 people attended a seminar held by The Stereo Advantage on high-definition television in 2005. (Buffalo News file photo)
Almost 100 people attended a seminar held by The Stereo Advantage on high-definition television in 2005.

In 1978, Stereo Advantage began as a tiny electronics store on Main Street in Williamsville, favored by music fans seeking optimal sound for their speakers and turntables. But over the past four decades, its owner, the Advantage Co., diversified toward a wide array of other services.

It’s the end of an era for audiophiles: The Stereo Advantage store on Wehrle Drive in Amherst has closed.

“It’s simply time to move on,” Tony Ragusa, the store’s founder, said in a statement.

Lifetime Service warranties on Stereo Advantage purchases will remain in effect. The Advantage Co.’s Lifetime Service & Solutions Co. has grown and expanded nationally, and the company is turning its focus on it and its many other ventures that span from clothes and food to finance and recruiting.
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Pittsburgh Firm Buys National Traffic Service Building

Jan 8, 2020

The National Traffic Service building on John James Audubon Parkway in Amherst was acquired by the Pittsburgh company that bought NTS three months ago. (Google)

A decade-old Pittsburgh-based freight management company completed its acquisition of National Traffic Service’s Amherst building last week – three months after purchasing the much older Western New York company.

Target Freight Management, through Rebel Realty II, paid $792,500 for the property and facility at 151 John James Audubon Parkway, where NTS will maintain its operations as a division of its new owner. The property had been owned by NTS President Mark Preskop, through a limited liability company.

Both NTS – which was founded in 1956 – and TFM – which was founded by Mike Wagner in January 2009 – provide freight auditing, payment services and other support for the transportation industry. TFM, a fast-growing company whose revenues now exceed $1 billion, did not disclose the overall purchase price for the business when it announced the deal in October.
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Lois Weinstein, 73, Directed Holocaust Resource Center

Jan. 8, 2020

Lois Weinstein, 73, directed Holocaust Resource Center

Lois Weinstein was shopping with her daughters at a mall in the late 1970s when a sales clerk, not knowing the family was Jewish, asked what the girls wanted Santa to bring them.

“Well, they had been good,” she told Buffalo News reporter Paula Voell in 2007, “But still Santa wasn’t going to bring them anything. So they were upset. And here were these nice little girls and it was so unfair. They’d say, ‘Why can’t Santa come? I’ve been good.’

“At that time, I wasn’t equipped to give an answer,” she said, “and in trying to find a way to do it, instead I found a void.”

Her research to find an answer led her to write “Explaining Christmas to the Jewish Child,” a first-of-its-kind booklet she published in 1981.

Adopted by temple schools and synagogue libraries in many states and Canada, it sold 10,000 copies. It also served as a guide for introducing Jewish traditions to Christians.

Mrs. Weinstein went on to become director of Buffalo’s Bureau of Jewish Education for three years and executive director of the Holocaust Resource Center of Buffalo for eight years.

“She was in the forefront of Jewish-Christian relations,” said her husband, former Amherst Supervisor Dr. Barry A. Weinstein. “She was very knowledgeable and worked with a lot of Christian educators. She spoke at churches and gave tours at Temple Beth Zion.”
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DA: Probe Shows Hate Crime, Arson Pose No Larger Threat to Area Jews

Jan. 7, 2020

DA: Probe shows hate crime, arson pose no larger threat to area Jews

Authorities say a monthslong campaign of harassment directed at an Amherst family doesn’t pose a threat to the wider Jewish community.

An 18-year-old Amherst man is charged with a hate crime after, prosecutors say, he barraged a Jewish acquaintance with threatening phone calls and text messages.

Police also are looking into a fire set at the victim’s home last month.

“The initial investigation into the arson reveals that there appears to be an anti-Semitic component to the crime,” the Erie County District Attorney’s Office said Tuesday morning. “However, the initial investigation also reveals that this appears to be an isolated incident directed at a specific member of the household.”
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Joel Giambra’s Latest Health Challenge Derails Planned Political Comeback

Jan. 7, 2020

Former Erie County Executive Joel A. Giambra. (Derek Gee/News file photo)
Former Erie County Executive Joel A. Giambra.

Twenty years ago this week, Joel A. Giambra recited the oath of office as Erie County’s sixth executive, 18 days after surgery in New York City removed the aggressive cancer invading his throat.

Gaunt and thick-tongued that day in a downtown courtroom, Giambra went on to serve two terms as county executive before joining the private sector.

Now politics and disease intersect for Giambra once again. On the day he was to announce his comeback with a Republican bid for the Assembly, the former county executive instead revealed this week a battle with kidney failure that puts him on the long list for a transplant.

His political resurrection — for the moment — is ended.
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For a Decade, Dr. Eugene Gosy Illegally Prescribed Painkillers

Jan. 7, 2020

Dr. Eugene Gosy leaves the federal courthouse after taking a plea deal on Tuesday, Jan. 7, 2020. (John Hickey/Buffalo News)
Dr. Eugene Gosy leaves the federal courthouse after taking a plea deal on Tuesday, Jan. 7, 2020.

Dr. Eugene M. Gosy, the Williamsville pain specialist who came to symbolize the opioid crisis, stood before a federal judge Tuesday and admitted that he unlawfully prescribed painkillers to his patients over a 10-year period.

Gosy, who at one time operated one of the largest pain management practices in the state, acknowledged prescribing  fentanyl, oxycodone and other drugs without a legitimate medical purpose.

As part of a plea deal with prosecutors, the 59-year old doctor stopped short of admitting any connection to the six overdose deaths detailed in the indictment against him.

Gosy, 59, will face a recommended sentence of 78 months in prison when he is sentenced on May 21 by Chief U.S. District Judge Frank P. Geraci Jr.
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