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March, 2015:

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Friday, March 27, 2015

The National Weather Service says snow is likely today, mainly after noon. The daytime high is projected to be near 36 while the overnight low will be around 17.

Saturday, there's a chance of snow showers with a high near 27 and a low around 17. Sunday will be mostly sunny with a high near 39 and a low around 34. Monday calls for a chance of rain showers after midnight with a low around 34 and a high near 42.

Tuesday, there's a chance of rain and snow showers with a high near 42 and a low of around 31. Wednesday will be partly sunny with a high near 48 and a low around 38. Thursday, there's a chance of showers with a high near 54.

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When 25-year-old Jessica Cassick was 18, a house fire turned her life upside down. It led her into a bad relationship.

"I ran into the arms of a guy that I didn't necessarily like at the time, but he kind of grew on me," she explained. "At some point, he hits me in the face and tried to take my car."

Cassick made the decision to end that relationship — a decision that seems obvious to most but isn't as easy for some. "That caused me to rebound on somebody who I thought to be a gentleman but he turned out not to be," she said. He turned out to be "way more violent and way more sadistic."

In short, tragedy put her in a position to accept continually worse situations. Bad turned into the norm. Things many people would never accept, she didn't think twice about. 

"When I was a victim, because he wasn't leaving actual bruising that people could see ... I didn't think it was enough (to be considered domestic violence)," Cassick said.

Then she had a son. And her life flipped upside down again. "It wasn't until I had a child and my child became in harm's way that I kind of stepped up. The second I had my son, I was a completely different person."

Cassick made the decision to get out for the protection of herself and her son. She said that she went to a safe house, while her abuser went to jail. 

Over time, she learned to find herself and focus on herself. And then she switched gears again, focusing on helping others.

Now the public affairs director at 91.3 FM WBNY, the radio station at Buffalo State, Cassick is attempting to use her own experience as a catalyst to help other victims of domestic violence break their cycle of diminished expectations and worsening situations.

Beginning at 10 p.m. Sunday, the radio station has focused its efforts on the issue of domestic violence. DJs have offered to work 24-hour marathon shifts, while conducting hourly interviews with people connected with the issue: victims, assistants, politicians, law enforcement, etc.

"There are so many people out there that are there to help victims, but we do not know they are there," Cassick said.

By bringing the issue front and center, she hopes it helps to erase some of the stigma associated with domestic violence.

"People do not want to talk about domestic violence," she said. "We as people, do not want to know who is, was, and will be a victim. We want to turn our blind eyes and pretend it's not happening, but I can tell you right now that if we are pretending it is not happening, and victims are pretending it is not happening, won't this mean the victim rates will rise. Why don't we want to talk about it? Why are we so scared of what is real? This issue is staring us in the face and we are waving it away and hoping it doesn't happen to us. This kind of ignorance is taking lives."

"There is a stigma associated with domestic violence that is so upsetting as a survivor of it that I can do nothing but exactly what I am doing," she continued. "I want people to hear about it. I want people to learn about domestic violence. Many victims feel so alone, and I am here to say "you are not alone."

Cassick has had a lot of helping in telling victims that they're not alone. Over the course of the week, Cassick will have introduced victims to nearly 40 different people who want to help them break free from their cycle of abuse — or learn how to heal from prior abuse.

The interviews continue at 10 a.m. with Michael Weiner from United Way. Also on tap today are a domestic violence lawyer, Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown, and domestic violence survivors.

"The interviews alone are identifying so many people that are there to help," she said. "Three years ago I thought I was alone, and I was ashamed, and embarrassed. I didn't know where to go, or who to talk to because the only people I had ever talked to was my family, and the local police department."

And while marathon radio sessions and 40 radio guest throughout the course of a week might sound like a major undertaking, for Cassick, it serves as merely an introduction to a much larger project, which she calls "Vanity Violence," a soon-to-be non-profit organization designed to empower victims through the arts.

"Vanity Violence is my way of eliminating the stigma associated with domestic violence," she said. "I bring information, entertainment, and activism together to create a series of different projects that will have people excited to learn about domestic violence."

She said the program will be "inspirational, proactive, and positive to its core." Plans include programs for middle and high school students and an annual production that is set to launch for this year in October.

"I'm also hoping to create a documentary coming up sometime at the end of the year," she said.

Asked to explain the peculiar name for her group, she said, "There is a pride so prevalent in most abusers that drives me crazy. This is where Vanity Violence adopted its tagline, 'There is no vanity in violence.' We must stop the tolerance of Domestic Violence."


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I've always liked hockey. Ever since I can remember, hockey has been my sport of choice. That's not to say that I don't enjoy football or appreciate baseball. But for me, hockey is where it's at.

I've always loved the Buffalo Sabres. Yeah, I flirt with the Washington Capitals but at the end of the night, I always go home with Blue & Gold. They've been my team when they were awesome. They've been my team when they've sucked. And they'll be my team through the rest of it.

Each and every season, I hope "this is the one." I long to see my favorite team hoist the most impressive trophy in the world of sports. Following a gruesome 82-game regular season, teams still need to win another 16 games to call themselves champions. I hope someday it will be my team — the Sabres.

The beginning of this season was no different. It was billed as a "rebuilding year" for the Sabres by most professional prognosticators. But like most Sabres fans — and like most years — I hoped the experts were wrong. I wanted to watch the Sabres play into May and finally drink from Lord Stanley's Cup.

As the year went on, my hopes became more and more bleak. And many Sabres fans talked about a very peculiar hope: that the Sabres would finish dead last in the NHL and have a 50/50 chance of getting the first pick in the 2015 NHL draft ... and a 100 percent chance of getting either the first or second pick.

These so-called fans were not for me, I said at the time. No one in their right mind wants their team to lose. Ever. It's just plain illogical.

But as the season wore on, I began to be less and less hopeful that "this is the one," and understood more and more the virtue of failure. Finishing last does have its rewards, I concluded.

As the season draws to an end, I have found myself actively rooting against my team. While I want to watch good hockey — as always — I want the game to end with the Sabres on the short end of the proverbial hockey stick. I want them to lose.

I have embraced the tank.

Most of my friends are hockey fans. It's practically a requirement. So my Facebook feed is filled with comments of people watching hockey. And I've found that many of them have embraced the tank, too. It seems like in 2015, loving the Sabres means wanting them to lose.

I was among those greatly looking forward to the battle of the sludge Thursday night. The two worst hockey teams in all of the land in a fight to see which one could lose to the other — while trying to win.

Sabres Head Coach Ted Nolan said he'd never ask his team to tank. They're playing to win. They're just really bad at it, he seems to say. President Ted Black says the same, explaining that the team is focused on the future, which dictates that the present is going to be ugly.

And somehow, I find ugly to be fun. I have enjoyed the memes put out by the likes of TrendingBuffalo.com, which has had a #MagicMcNumber section on their site for well over a month, tracking how man games the Sabres have to lose to "win" Connor McDavid or Jack Eichel. I laughed Thursday night when I saw Sabres fans cheer the Arizona victory. And I have Monday's game against Arizona figuratively circled on my Google Calendar.

I guess in the grand scheme of things, I want the Sabres to be the best at something. And this year, they're really good at losing. So like many Sabres fans, I decided to simply go with it. I'm embracing the tank — hoping the Sabres lose the season so that some day they might win the Cup.

+Scott Leffler would like to watch the Sabres win some hockey games ... next year. For now, he embraces the tank. Follow him on Twitter @scottleffler

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Thursday, March 26, 2015
County Clerk Wayne Jagow accepts the Lifetime Achievement Award from Lockport Business Association member Cookie Butcher. Jagow announced his retirement earlier this year after more than four decades of public service. (PHOTOS BY HEATHER N. GRIMMER / ENP PHOTOGRAPHER)


Cream & Sugar Cafe co-owner Jessica Dittly accepts the
award for businessperson of the year while LBA member
John Gibson looks on. 
TOWN OF LOCKPORT — County Clerk Wayne Jagow was one of five honorees tonight at the Lockport Business Association annual awards dinner, presented at the Lockport Town & County Club.

Approximately 100 people were in attendance to see the outgoing clerk accept the organization's lifetime achievement award, presented to him for his four decades-plus of community service.

Also honored at the annual dinner were the Flight of Five Winery, awarded as business of the year; Cream & Sugar Cafe co-owner Jessica Dittly as the businessperson of the year; the Lockport Monday Night Cruise Optimist Club as the service club of the year; and Jennifer D'Andrea-Terreri of SERV Niagara, given the Community Service Award.

The speaker for the evening was Cornerstone CFCU Arena Board President John Ottaviano, who discussed the economic impact of the arena. Kevin Clark provided dinner music during the event.

There's more photos from the event here. (link)

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ROYALTON — A Lockport woman told Niagara County Sheriff's deputies on Wednesday that her daughter, who lives on Cottage Road, was using her granddaughter's ID on her NYSEG bill.

The complainant said she contacted NYSEG and was told that her 16-year-old granddaughter, who lives with the complainant in Lockport, owed $310.49 to the utility company for the Cottage Road address. The woman said her daughter had put the bill in her granddaughters name because the daughter wasn't able to put it in her own name due to failure to pay previous bills.

The case was forwarded to the Criminal Investigation Bureau for review.

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By +Scott Leffler 

BUFFALO — Just 56 seconds into overtime, the puck is hurled towards the net, passed the netminder for the winning goal. And the crowd goes wild, thrilled because their team — the Buffalo Sabres — just lost.

The race to the bottom of the NHL paired the Buffalo Sabres and Arizona Coyotes tonight at First Niagara Center, where both teams — or at least their fans — hoped to lose the game so they might win the battle (for Connor McDavid or David Eichel).

The overtime loss helped the Sabres' odds in finishing last in the league, increasing their chances of taking one of the two top prospects in the 2015 draft.

Arizona scored first at 7:55 of the first period. The Jordan Szwarz goal was assisted by Kyle Chipchura and Craig Cunningham. Tyler Ennis tied it for Buffalo at 10:49, assisted by Matt Moulson and Johan Larsson.

In the second period, Buffalo took the lead on a Rasmus Ristolainen power play goal, assisted by Ennis and Brian Gionta at 8:37. Arizona tied it up at 11:29 on an Oliver Ekman-Larsson goal, assisted by Martin Erat and Mark Arcobello. They took the lead at 14:20 when David Moss scored, assisted by Sam Gagner.

Brian Gionta tied it back up for the Sabres at 16:23 of the third period, sending the game into overtime where Gagner scored the game winner, assisted by Ekman Larsson and John Moore.

With the overtime loss, the Sabres record stands at 20-46-8, while Arizona is now at 23-44-8. With eight games to go, the Sabres are not six points behind Arizona, who still has seven games to play. Edmonton, with 55 points, is also still in the McDavid/Eichel Sweepstakes, although at seven points ahead of the Sabres, it looks unlikely that they'd finish last.

The Blue & Gold have another game to play against Arizona Monday in Arizona. Prior to that, they play the Colorado Avalanche on Saturday.


  • The Sabres scored two power-play goals tonight and have now scored a power-play goal in five of their last six games, going 6-for-21 (28.6%) during that stretch.
  • With his goal tonight, Tyler Ennis has a goal in each of his last three games against the Coyotes. Ennis left the game in the second period with an upper-body injury.
  • Matt Moulson recorded an assist tonight and now has eight points (3+5) in his last eight games.
  • Moulson hasn't gone two home games without recording a point since Jan. 13 and 15 and now has 11 points (2+9) in his last 13 home games since then.
  • With a goal and an assist, Brian Gionta now has seven points (3+4) in his last six games. It is his most prolific six-game stretch since March 2013.

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By +Scott Leffler 

Mayor Anne McCaffrey
Lockport Mayor Anne McCaffrey says the Common Council appears to be agreeable to hiring current GLDC VP of Business Development Brian Smith to lead the city's economic development office.

“We all recognize that Brian has a lot of potential and a lot of talent," McCaffrey said this afternoon, explaining that the possibility had come up in previous executive sessions of the Common Council, but the information wasn't shared publicly because they dealt with personnel issues.

The mayor said the agreement to share Smith with the GLDC will benefit the city to the tune of about $56,000 annually - between salary and benefits.

“I think it will be a nice cooperative agreement," said said.

One matter that remains up in the air is the issue of Smith's residency. Typically the city requires city employees to live within city limits, however, Chuck Bell — who Smith would be replacing — had the residency requirement waived for him when he was hired. Like Bell, Smith lives outside the city.

The Common Council is set to vote on the issue Wednesday.


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