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Friday, October 31, 2014

East Niagara Post co-publishers Heather Grimmer and Scott Leffler sat down recently with local law enforcement officials to discuss domestic violence. Niagara County Sheriff Jim Voutour, Lockport Police Chief Larry Eggert, Anita Provenzano and Doug Haak shared their thoughts with us on this very important issue. The question-and-answer session follows below.

SCOTT LEFFLER: Some very very simple basics. And this goes to the heads of each department. Well, not necessarily. But I wrote this question towards the heads of each department. Does your office have a policy or theory on how to handle domestic violence cases?

DOUG HAAK: It comes from New York State.

JIM VOUTOUR: It's New York State protocol.

SL: Which is?

DH: Pro-arrest policy. If there's a crime that is committed, an arrest is made.

LARRY EGGERT: Actually, the county and the city of Lockport, were the first to use the policy. We've been doing this for quite a while.

SL: If I recall correctly, it had a lot to do with the Simpson/Brown case — O.J. Simpson.

LE: That was the trigger. It was on the radar, but then it really got moving.

SL: I guess that leads to my next question, which is that oftentimes domestic violence cases are "he said / she said." How do you get to the root of the matter and separate fact from false claim.

DH: Our officers are specifically trained to have interview questions that can distinguish initial aggressor. That's what the state's looking for. Sometimes it is "he said/she said" and we have to use our basic interview skills to be able to decide who's telling the truth and who isn't. The system seems to be working at that point. And if there is enough evidence after our interviews, an arrest is made.

SL: There was a case a couple weeks ago maybe, in which a male was arrested for, I don’t know whether it was harassing or assaulting a female. No. It was the female that was arrested first. And then a couple days later, the male was charged with almost an identical crime. Does that happen a lot? Obviously, I don't want to get into names but are you familiar with what I'm talking about?

DH: It doesn't. Very very rarely does it because there's alway an initial aggressor. Someone's always the first one to initiate something. Order of protections are given immediately after an arrest. It depends on the severity of the crime, but our judge is on board with us. He automatically issues an order of protection. Whether or not the victim wants it or doesn't. It's automatic. So in the case of the scenario that you're giving, it could have been that he showed up and did something back to her or it could have been a retaliatory thing. It could have violated an order of protection. Two days later, doesn't necessarily mean he was arrested based on the first initial thing. I'm just speculating.

JV: It's actually rare that both get arrested.

SL: On the issue of an order of protection. That goes both ways, right? If Sheriff Voutour has an order of protection against me and he shows up at my door, can he be charged with violating an order of protection?

JV: It's specifically, there's a petitioner and a defendant.

SL: If he shows up at my door, can I be charged with violating an order of protection?

JV: That's too broad of a question.

SL: Well let's change the setting - we're in a public place.

DH: The defendant has knowledge of the order of protection?

SL: Correct.

DH: If you're in a public place, he or she has an obligation to leave immediately or face being charged.

SL: What constitutes a public place?

JV: Anything that not private. A home is private.

SL: Is a business private?

JV: A business is private, but that can be construed as a public place if its open to the public to come into.

SL: Does it get gray?

JV: It can, but, for the most part, we're pretty smart guys. We can figure out what's public and what's private. Keep in mind that ... we pretty much do the same things with domestics. One difference I want you to be aware of is I deal with 28 town judges who all have different opinions and protocols. Well, not protocols. But they do things different. I don't have judge Watson or Judge DiMillo every time. I might have someone in Barker and the next day I might have someone in the Town of Niagara. We're dealing with different judges.

SL: Different judges look at things differently?

JV: just like cops look at things different. Just like you might look at a story and say 'that's going to be a great story' and Heather might say 'Scott, that story stinks.'

SL: You’d be surprised how often that happens. (laughs) She is right 90 percent of the time.

JV: So, you know, judges are unique. They're unique people. That's why in the towns, they're elected officials. In the city too, of course.

SL: Do you know … not know … well, no. When arresting someone, 'Oh crap, this is going to go before "x" and he's going to get nothing or he's doing to get out. Or she. I don't mean to be discriminatory in my explanation here. But when you arrest someone in a specific township, for example, and you know what judge it's going to go to, without trying to get you in trouble here, do you sometimes wish it would end up somewhere else?

DH: We don't have that issue because we deal strictly with the District Attorney's office.

LE: A lot of the more serious cases go to the county.

JV: Any felonies ...

ANITA PROVENZANO: Really, Scott, no one's going to say that ...

SL: Fair enough.

AP: I mean there are certain judges that ...

SL: I didn’t ask you to name judges.

AP: I mean, there are certain ones that are more lenient.

DH: We go right through the District Attorney's office. so as far as a judge, how we do it in the city of Lockport ... we go through the district attorney's office. They make recommendations and then that goes before the judge. And then the district attorney decides how they want to proceed. It's been a system that is really well looked at. And then if it is very serious, it goes right up to the county anyway. To the county prosecutors that handle the felonies and the really serious ones.

LE: They do a good job screening and taking cases ...

JV: Bail recommendations sometimes.

AP: And the ADAs actually ask us to forward all the felony charges over there to look at ... anything that's assault or whatever is always forwarded over to teh DA's office.

JV: I guess the point with the town judges is, it's probably safe to say that if you took, let's say, an assault third - a misdemeanor assault - in front of five judges, you could get five different bails. On something more serious like a felony, they're going to call the DA that's on call and get a recommendation on bail. But on any basic assault ... or sometimes a harassment. You're calling a judge at 3 in the morning sometimes. You might get $100 from one judge. You might get $300 from the next. $500 from the next. You might get no bail from another one. It varies. And they have that latitude. They're not doing anything wrong. Again ... Heather likes the story. Scott doesn't like the story. Judges are different. You could get something different between DiMillo and Watson. It's just ... they have that leniency and there's not hard and fast rules for each case. They look at each case for its merits. and that's how they base it.

HEATHER GRIMMER: You mentioned bail. Can you explain what bail is. Because a lot of our readers have no idea what bail is and they think it's supposed to be a punishment.

JV: It's not.

HG: Can you clarify?

JV: It just guarantees an appearance in court. It's that simple.

LE: No matter what the charge.

JV: No matter what it is.

LE: Sometimes we get backlash. "How come they don't have more bail?"

JV: And they always blame the police for that. Someone will do the most egregious crime. Like animal abuse. Animal abuse sells like no tomorrow in the media. They'll set $500 on an animal abuse case. And then they yell at me and Larry on social media "Why isn't the bail higher. What's wrong with these police?" We don't have anything to do with it.

SL: Sometimes you do, though, right? There are instances where there’s police bail. How does that work?

DH: We can set bail based on the criminal procedure law up to certain amounts for anything e-felony down. Usually, what we try to do, I know when I was shift commander, I would set the maximum for the charge based on the criminal procedure law. But ultimately, the judge could come in, do and arraignment and redo my bail. Which often happens.

JV: Happens with us too.

DH: And like we said before, bail is never used as a punitive measure. I, myself tried to be very consistent with my bails, so that no one could say, "well there was personality involved." Or anything like that. If there as a DWI, it was a $500 bail. If it was this it was $250. And I tried to stay very very consistent with my bails so that it took all that personality right out of it. But quite often, some of the things that we dealt with, especially domestics, you're dealing with felonies where we can't set bail. The judge has to be notified. And our court, because of the city, we do have full-time judges. If a domestic incident occurs, we as police officers cannot set bail. Mandatory. It has to be in front of a judge.

JV: Same with us. There's exceptions to everything.

DH: Everything. But the rule of thumb is: Domestic, police officers, supervisors and the chief of police cannot set bail until that person is arraighned before a judge. Or magistrate.

SL: Is that to allow a cooling off?

DH: Basically because of the new protocols that have been instituted since the OJ Simpson incident, our judge, when he come sin, no matter what, will issue an order of protection for our victims. It really has nothing to do with a cooling off period. It has to do with protocols of this individual is going to get served an order of protection that states - there's one of two - a full stay away or a limited order. Full stay away means you can't be around them, kids, homes, owrk, whatever. Or if it maybe a spouse, first time offense - depending on the issue - they may offer a limited order that says that you have to refrain from harassing, stalking, annoying, those kind of behaviors. And that's usually revisited after a six-month period. Or when they go back to court to discuss the state with the victim. If she says, "well, we tried that temporary one, it didn't work out too well for us," then the judge and the district attorney has the ability to bump it up to a full stay away, which can be anywhere from six months to, I've seen as long down the road as a 10-year order of protection. Which is pretty serious.

SL: We’ve both done this Doug. We’ve both used “he” and “she.” And when we've done it, "he" has been the aggressor and "she" she has been the victim. How often is that the case? I know it's not universal, but is that typically the case? Is that still the standard, if you will.

DH: Statistically.

AP: But we are getting more and more male victims.

DH: Maybe 85/15. Maybe even higher. Maybe 90/10

SL: Anita, why do you think there are more male victims? Is it that there are more male victims or that they’re more willing to come forward?

AP: I just think men are withholding. Trying to control themselves and a woman is beating on them, harassing them. And they go to the cops or they call and have the cops intercede to solve the problem. Sometimes it ends up with an arrest if the girl's really hurting them. I mean, some of these girls are wicked when they fight.

DH: Remember, too, Scott, that we live in a different time now where same-sex relationships are prevalent. So when we're talking male victims, it could be a male victim in a relationhips with another man. We live in a whole different time now where society is accepting to this and the laws cover that just as much as it covers a heterosexual relationship. So you've seen a little bit of an increase because of that. Which is a good thing. ANd that came into effect about two year ago under the Cuomo administration where same-sex relationship relatinship are treated with the same protocols as heterosexual relationships.

SL: To be clear, most people, self included, tend to generalize domestic violence as spousal abuse or significant other abuse. But it also includes other familial relations, correct?

JV: Well, it includes children as well. If you beat your kids, that's a domestic. So it's anybody ... it's two people that have a relationship of some form. It always has been that way.

SL: Earlier you mentioned special training that officers undergo. Is that part of police academy? Is that after police academy? Are there checkups? Do they get re-done? What is the training?

DH: We have a specialized unit, I know the Sheriff's department does too, We have a domestic violence unit that oversees, looks at, reviews all of our domestic incident reports. Those officers have gone to specialized training through the state. Through the Department of Criminal Justice Services - on how to deal with, specifically how to deal with victims. How to interview them. Signs to look for. As far the department goes, we've continued to have training over the course of the last 16 years or so. With the changes in the environment, we have evidence-based prosecutions that came into effect a few years back where we don't need a victim to sign a statement anymore. If there's probably cause to believe a crime has occurred, we can make the arrest just based on our own observations. So they're up to speed on that.

AP: Obstruction of breathing.

DH: Obstruction of breathing just came into effect. Once those criminal laws come into effect, the state is very good at sending us not only briefings, but case law to back up the briefings, which we do at our briefing time. We have training at our briefing time just to let the officers know, "here's a new charge. Here's what it constitutes, here's the statute. This is the punishment." And if a victim says, "Yeah, he put his hands around my neck and caused me fear and I couldn't breathe," before that, the charge was harassment. Now it's obstruction of breathing. Now it's a misdemeanor, which is a big difference when we're talking about going to court.

SL: Doug, do you head that unit?

DH: Do I? Yes.

SL: Do you have a title?

DH: To be honest, I just call myself "in charge of the Domestic Violence Unit." I don't give myself a title. I'm just the same as any of the other guys that are working.

SL: Create you have your own police department, you can make your own titles. That’s what we did. Well, not our own police department. But we made our own titles.

DH: No. No. Chief's doing a great job. I'm good.

AP: But we have six or seven officers on the team.

SL: Is there always one on duty?

DH: Most of them because they're older now, most of them are on the day shifts. But we go out at night. We do home visits. We do safety planning. It's the same as the Sheriff's Department. They do the same stuff. Sue LaRosa would tell you the same thing. Each of us model ourselves after each other. We have monthly and quarterly meetings together. So that we're all on the same page. We're all training the same way. So there's consistency. I think that's the big thing. There's consistency among the departments and among the victims. You don't want a victim on Robinson Road in the town saying "Well, the Sheriff's Department did this," and then they moved into the city, "Well you guys do that." We all do the same thing. I mean guys handle calls a little differently but the protocols are all the same.

SL: That leads to one of my questions actually. How is … without BS-ing me because I’m sitting here at the table. How’s the communication between the departments? Because I know that sometimes something will happen in the town. And something else will happen in the city. They're treated differently. Every different officer, despite going to the same training, might view things differently. How do you keep things in line between, not just in the city but from the city to the Sheriff's Department. Do you guys have meetings? Do you get together?

JV: I can tell you that's probably the one thing that we do best. On a county-wide way. They know about all the domestics in the town. We know about all the domestics in the city. All that information gets compiled into one database so if Doug is reviewing a domestic that happened on West Avenue in Lockport, he might see that that couple lived on Robinson Road and had six priors. All of that is compiled.

SL:  Now is that true with all crime or is that specific to domestic?

JV: Just domestics.

SL: Really? Who created that?

DH: The state actually came out with a project to do it. And the county having the most resources to have that database, everything gets filtered through the county. So all of our reports from us, NT, all the cities ...

JV: That includes State Police, city of Niagara Falls, every police agency in this county.

DH: We send our reports directly to them.

JV: We kind of ... I don't want to say retain them all, but we compile them.

SL: Is that available in the car? Or is that something that’s at dispatch?

DH: We have access to it through our dispatch centers.

SL: Okay.

JV: Do you want the 2013 numbers for the county? For domestics.

SL: Yes, I do.

JV: 3,169 domestic violence reports county-wide. Niagara Falls had 1,400. The Sheriff's Office handled 800. Lockport, 230. Again, that's 2013. We don't have 2014's yet.

SL: Lockport was 230?

JV: Lockport was 230. So there is one big database of reports that we call can see. So if we need, again, we can see "I got John Jones here involved in a domestic. He's involved in Barker. He's involved in Niagara Falls. So we can see the history."

DH: And that also works with order of protections. We pull up a name and just because the order of protection was given in Newfane, it doesn't mean Lockport doesn't have access to it if for some reason the parties were at Lock 34, they showed up and they say, 'I got an order of protection.' If we don't have documentation, we can immediately go to the database and find out yes, indeed, there is an active order of protection. And they'll be able to disseminate that information to our units on scene.

JV: And that could be the basis for an arrest.

SL: Sheriff Voutour, do you know how these numbers compare to last year? Steady?

JV: They remain pretty steady. They've always been pretty consistent.

DH: I have our numbers up to September of this year.

JV: Which are?

DH: We have ...until September, we reviewed 475 domestic incident reports, which has led to 173 victims.

SL: When you say 173 victims, does that mean that there have been 173 charges?

DH: There was 173 arrests based on those DIRs. So that's how we kind of distinguish. Because just because we reviewed 475 domestic incident reports, that doesn't mean there's 475 victims because domestics give a lot of repeat business, it could be the same person. The same victim. And anytime, we show up on any call that's considered a domestic, a domestic incident report has to be completed. That's by our protocols made by the state. So there could be multiple DIRs for the same person.

JV: You could also have a domestic where nothing takes place that would be an offense or a crime. Two people may call the police because "she lit a candle and he doesn't want it lit. They get into an argument over the candle. Police get called."

DH: And quite frankly, this quarter is the worst quarter for domestic violence because of Christmas and Thanksgiving. Right around Thanksgiving is our busiest time of the year. And that's consistent in the last 16 years that I've been doing this.

JV: And you also have fights with custody of children. "I get 'em Thanksgiving." "No, you don't." And they get into a fight. That has a lot to do with it, too.

SL: It seems to me just in reading police reports that October was busy in terms of domestic incidents. Did I just happen to notice them more because of it being Domestic Violence Awareness Month? Or was this month … was something weird in people's Wheaties this month?

LE: You get ... for no rhyme or reason ... you'll get one shift with 25 domestics and you'll think "What the heck is going on? Is there something in the water?"

JV: If the Bills lose.

LE: Yeah. It happens.

DH: If the Bills lose, we get fights. We're not joking at all. If you think about it, most the time when you're watching a football game, beverages are being served. And all of the sudden, things didn't go their way. People are passionate about their sports. You're not going to see a humungous fight. But you will see incidents where we are called because the Bills lost. And they will say that. The holiday season is a very tough season. Finances. That has a lot to do with it. You can see it increase, just based on these numbers, for this year. Our numbers are going to be up ... I don't want to say significantly ... but in a double-digit higher percentage than they were last year.

AP: The weather's starting to change. With the colder weather, people are inside a lot more, too. Cooped up people get a lot of arguments going.

SL: You kind of touched on this earlier, but I want to ask it specifically. If someone not directly involved, say a neighbor or someone passing by, calls and says, "hey I hear something in the apartment downstairs, the apartment next door, or the house across the street. Will you guys go check it out?" And they indicate for some reason or another that they feel like it's a domestic incident, but you get there are both parties say they're fine and everything is great, is there anything that can be done? Or are your hands tied?

JV: We've all been on those calls. You're doing you evaluation as you're interviewing if you can even get their door open.

DH: Stop. Listen. You park down the street a little bit. Those are all the tactical protocols. You go there with two man teams. You stop. You listen.

JV: A lot of times, you listen before you go in. It's the key. But everyone is so different, Scott. It's so hard to give you a blanket answer.

SL: It sounds to me like you're saying that there are things that can be done.

JV: If we look through a window and she's got a black eye or we see an assault in progress, they'll probably be lying under a door if they don't open it. We have a duty to act. Or if the door opens and she's standing there with a black eye or bleeding or he's standing there bleeding ...

SL: Now the other side of that is you go to something, you feel like you know what's going on, but there's no physical evidence, there's nothing you can do about it, is there something that you wish that victims of domestic violence knew that they don't? Do you ever wish you could just hand somebody a not discretely and be like 'look, here's a tip for you.'

DH: A big thing that Anita does better than anyone at this table just by the fact that she has a women's group, or victim's group that she has every Wednesday ... and one thing that I've gotten out of it is to tell these individuals that they're not alone. That this is not a unique problem to just them. And I think that that's a big factor because they think that they're alone. They're with somebody for financial reasons or because of a home or because of a job. There's things that can be done.

AP: Watching the children.

DH: The things that come out of people's mouths of why they stay ... because of an animal.

JV: Religious beliefs.

DH: "My parents won't forgive me." Just really really

LE: The sheriff has said it a couple times, it's a different dynamic every time you walk through the door. There's no two that are exactly the same.

AP: And the one thing is, too, you were mentioning sometimes the guys do go look in a window and something's going on, and the girl will deny it. She might have a black eye. And the guys see it, what's going on, sometimes they see them, actually with a weapon or whatever. And I think they need to know that this evidence-based prosecution is new now, isn't it?

JV: It's probably seven or eight years old.

AP: But it's hard ... certain judges ...

LE: Do you know what evidence-based prosecution is?

SL: I think I get the general gist. Is that you can be the plaintiff.

DH: Bad guy. No, we can be the bad guy.

SL: Right.

DH: That's how I look at it.

SL: So the other person doesn't need to press charges.

DH: Correct.

SL: You can press charges on their behalf to an extent.

AP: Like the girl will say, "no, no, no. I'm alright."

DH: You get the 911 call, "oh my God, he's beating me." Click. You get there and "oh, no, that was the kids playing with the phone." And then you see the phone dangling off the wall, she's got marks. The furniture's all in disarray.

JV: Nobody else in the house.

DH: No kids in the house. He's sweating. He's got blood on his knuckles. I mean, those kind of things, we separate, we start taking photos, we start interviewing. And based on the experience of the officers, we make an arrest.

AP: I wish they'd use that more, really, because we do have a lot of that that goes on and they deny it, and there is evidence there. But a lot of the guys, they'll really take a stand on it and say they're going to do it.

JV: It's harder to prosecute because you have a victim that's not willing to testify or give a statement. So it is harder to prosecute ...

SL: You mentioned your group on Wednesdays. Are there enough resources available for victims of domestic violence? Is there enough being done to help after the fact?

AP: Yes, we have a lot of ... there's a lot of support systems.

JV: A ton of 'em.

AP: All over the place. Shelters. There's financial help. There's help with clothes, furnishings for apartments.

DH: Cell phones.

AP: Right, cell phones. We have ...

JV: Panic buttons.

AP: Right. Apartments. Transitional housing for them.

DH: In Niagara Falls, they have a domestic shelter that includes animals if that's an issue for people that have a cat or a dog because, believe it or not, people won't leave their homes if they think they're going to leave an animal behind. So now there's homes that will now take animals ...

AP: There's two main things that I think stand in the way. That is transportation. These mothers, they don't have any transportation to get to job interviews. You know, we try to promote them to go out. I do. To get out and work, they'll feel good about themselves. They're working. They're around people. They're not dependent on DSS. Transportation and babysitting. Child care. That's the hardest thing for these women to get. And they ... it kind of inhibits them to be able to out and find a job. A lot don't have families that are supportive and will baby sit. Some have small little toddlers and they don't have anyone to watch them or can't pay for day care. So these kids are kind of stuck. They have to go on social services or whatever. Those are the two main things I see as inhibiting them from going out and getting on their own.

HG: You touched on resources. What are some of the ways that victims of domestic violence find themselves obtaining the resources. I know through arrest and whatnot, that's kind of a clear path to getting help. But what about the girls that are in danger? They're too afraid to call the police. What are some ways they can seek help? If they haven't been introduced through the system yet.

AP: Well there is the hotline. There's the domestic violence assistance hotline. It's out there. It's in the phone book. It's in all kinds of advertising. So all they need to do.  Or dial 911.

DH: She's saying without police intervention.

AP: Oh without police intervention. I'm sorry.

HG: If they've been too scared to. Or they don't know that is a resource.

AP: The hotline is the best way to get hooked up with support services. And those are Erie County, Niagara County. I'm sure Susan, I know she does, I get calls all the time just from your name being out there. From people from different counties. The southern tier. They're coming to here. Got your name from somebody. It always astounds me.

DH:DH: I think what Anita is alluding to here is, if they do get her name or they do call us in kind of a blind reporting kind of way, we set them up with the YWCA, which has great programming. Child family service has great programming. Even DSS has great programming without involving the police. And a blind format, peopel do that all the time.

JV: JV: Yeah, there's no shortage out there of help, at all. You can call the YMCA and say, "I'm in a domestic situation and I need help." They will get you to the right spot. There's no shortage.

DH: Without police involvement.

AP: I know you're saying without police involvement, but I have to say most of these officers are very very fluent in referring girls to help. They give them the numbers to call. They give them - they're homeless. They help them. They'll call me. I'll get calls at night from some of the officers wanting to know if a girl can get into the shelter. So these guys have resources themselves that they share with victims.

JV: One phone number that we have is 438-3301. Domestic violence intervention. But that is ... it's not 24/7. So it's important to remember that. And keep in mind anytime we fill out a DIR, a domestic incidence report, which, by the way, is being revamped by the state. Should be out in a couple months. They've actually gone to the police officers and said, "how do we make this form better?" They're rewriting it. It should be out very soon. But ... we give a victim sheet off the back of it. It's a carbon-copy type report and we fill that report out. And we have to do it on scene. And then we rip the back page off and we hand it to the victim. There's all sorts of resources and everything on the back. In two languages. Spanish and English.

DH: People are not afraid to come out now and discuss it. Talk about it because it such a, I don't want to say "hot topic." It's always been there. But now it just seems that it's okay to say that "yeah, this is happening to me. And it happened to Ray Rice or whoever. And let me get the help that I need now to get out of this relationship. But can we do more? Absolutely.

JV: And if you're living with Race and you're raising a baby, you're a 22-year-old girlfriend, wife, whatever. And you're with a guy making $5 million a year in the limelight. It's hard to leave that. It might take a few punches to the face ... and that's sort of the unfortunate part. And you can bring that right down to an incident in the city of Lockport where we've got a young mom who maybe didn't go to college, doesn't work. Dad works maybe over at Delphi, providing for the family. And she's looking, saying "I got nowhere to go. If I leave him, I have noting." And that's what keeps these ladies in these relationships."

AP: It does. But one idea I had. And I'm guilty of procrastinating also this month. I was thinking of having a poster contest with the paper where, throughout the schools. And have a contest with each grade level. Not you know like the middle school. The intermediate, high school ... and you can get some prizes and have them submit their entries. For domestic violence. I though that'd be a good idea for next year.

DH: What's that ... I don't want to call it a run, but ...

AP: Oh the high heel run?

DH: Where the guys ...

JV: I don't wear high heels.

DH: They would seriously need a big high heel. They don't run, but what is it? "Walk a mile in my shoes," where police officers and other people in the community, they wear high heels and walk that mile and I think it's called "Walk a mile in my shoes?"

AP: Right.

DH: And it brings a lot of focus and attention to domestic violence. I think that would be fun. It'd get a huge response. But we just ... it's hard ...

AP: Money is a big thing.

DH: And it's hard to get somebody out there to really organize something of that magnitude. But it would be big. I think it would be fun. Something neat. Something different.

JV: I just want to give you the New York Domestic Violence Hotline. It's 800-942-6906. Multiple languages. Hearing impaired. All that stuff is on there. Someone can call there anytime day or night and depending where they are, we'll get referred to. If it's something criminal in nature, we'll get notified right away. Maybe it's a psychological abuse that's been going on for 20 years and finally she wants to call or he wants to call. That will get people started in the right direction.

AP: And you can give my number out. I mean just like LPD. 439-6630.

DH: That's not manned 24-hours but there is a voice message that's on there.

SL: I think you very much. Heather you set?

HG: I'm set. Thank you.

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Dear East Niagara Post,

I would like to commend you on the coverage you have provided with regard to Lockport’s new hockey team, Lockport Express. After waiting so long to have an ice rink back in our city, having this new team is very exciting. I’m glad there is one news outlet reporting on these young men as they chase their dreams.

Over the past weekend, the Express played two games at Niagara University. Saturday’s game was an offensive juggernaut for  the team as they won 7-4. Sunday’s game was a bit more defensively minded as they scratched out a hard-fought victory in overtime, 4-3.

There are a couple things that stand out about these games. First of all, the speed of the game is fast. These kids have one speed — afterburner. They swivel away from defenders, pass, shoot and hit with great exuberance. There is end to end action and endless passion from both teams on the ice.

The second thing I noticed was the general lack of attendance from the Greater Lockport Area. There were definitely people in attendance, but not nearly the numbers I expected after hearing how excited everyone was about having hockey in Lockport. Sure, the games were at Niagara University, but that’s only 16 miles away. Some people drive over twice as far to Buffalo to watch a team that just doesn’t capture the excitement that the Lockport Express delivered this weekend.

For those who came out, thank you. I want to see this team do well. Part of that is having a cheering audience. After the long wait for hockey and how many people seemed so excited, we should be filling the stands. And we will. Once Cornerstone Arena is up and running, I foresee great crowds cheering on their home team.

I took the plunge and purchased season passes for the Lockport Express. For Saturday’s game, I took my 12-year old nephew with me. It was his first hockey game and he was enthralled. He liked it so much he asked if he could come back for Sunday’s game. Of course he could.

On Sunday, the whole family went, including our nephew. Three of the kids sat right at the glass, pounding on it and watching intently. It as downright exciting to see the kids just as fired up as we were about hockey.

We cannot wait until we have a home game right in downtown Lockport. We will be there, and I’m sure there will be a lot more people attending. For those who missed the two games over this past weekend, be prepared for a great show on Chestnut Street on November 14th. It will be worth it.

Again, I would like to thank East Niagara Post for their exemplary coverage of the Lockport Express. I hope to see many more wins by the Lockport Express in the new Cornerstone Arena. I know the six of us in my family will be in attendance.

Craig Bacon is a city of Lockport resident and columnist for East Niagara Post. 

East Niagara Post will publish letters to the editor on topics of concern to our readers. 
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GASPORT — A 26-year-old Chestnut Ridge Road man was charged Thursday with shoplifting from the Rochester Road Dollar General.

According to the Niagara County Sheriff's Office, Joshua M. Bachman, 8430 Chestnut Ridge Road, Apt. 3, entered the store around 1:15 p.m. Wednesday and stole items. The store manager told NCSO that she had video of Bachman stealing a four-pack of Red Bull cans and a two-pack of LED flashlights.

When the complaint call was made, patrol was at Bachman's residence already speaking to him about a different matter. They then asked him about the Dollar General incident and he admitted to taking the items, according to the report.

"Bachman further stated to patrol that the backpack that he used inside the store was inside the apartment and the items were mostly still inside the bag," the report says. " Bachman had several flashlights in the back pack, but stated that the two silver lights were the stolen items. Patrol also located three of the four Red Bull cans. Bachman stated that he must have already drank one of the cans."

The stolen items were returned to the store and Bachman was charged with petit larceny and released on an appearance ticket to appear in Royalton Town Court on Nov. 20.

Patrol had also noticed that Bachman was currently on Niagara County Probation, so his assigned Probation Officer was notified of the new arrest.

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Andrew Cuomo
Gov. Andrew Cuomo is expected to stump for votes — for himself and fellow Democrats — in Niagara County this afternoon.

The governor's public schedule, made available daily to the media, lists stops in New York City and Onondaga, Monroe, Niagara and Erie counties today.

Niagara County Democratic Chairman Nick Forster says the incumbent governor will be at an event at the Como Restaurant in Niagara Falls around 4:30 p.m. Also expected to attend is Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman.

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Niagara County Majority Leader Rick Updegrove stands at the lectern with PB&J Drive founder Pete Robinson to his side. PB&J drive volunteers surround them. (CONTRIBUTED PHOTOS)


The official proclamation naming November as Peanut Butter & Jelly Month.
“This is a good reminder of why we’re here.”

That’s how Niagara County Legislature Majority Leader Rick Updegrove, R-Lockport, explained what has become an annual tradition to a pair of new lawmakers Tuesday: the donation, by Majority Caucus legislators, of a heaping portion of peanut butter and jelly to boost the local Peanut Butter & Jelly Drive.

“We are here to improve our community, and to support the people who work every day toward that goal,” Updegrove said. “The Peanut Butter & Jelly Drive turns five this year, and it has become a local charitable effort we should all be proud of. Along the way, it’s helped thousands of people.”

Updegrove and Legislator Wm. Keith McNall, R-Lockport, welcomed the volunteers at the core of the Peanut Butter & Jelly Drive Tuesday night, presenting them with a proclamation declaring November “Peanut Butter & Jelly Month” in Niagara County. Majority Caucus lawmakers also donated 11 dozen jars of sandwich spreads: six dozen jars of peanut butter, equally divided between creamy and chunky, three dozen jars of grape jelly, and two dozen jars of strawberry jam.

Lawmakers showing personal support for the PB&J Drive has become an annual fall tradition in Niagara County. Updegrove and his colleagues embraced the unique food drive in its second year, when he, McNall, and Legislator Tony Nemi, R-Lockport, made a surprise donation of six dozen jars of peanut butter and jelly to support the drive.

Since then, support for the drive has been a rite of passage in the Majority Caucus, with Republican lawmakers expected to each make a sizeable donation to the local effort. It also has, in some years, provoked good-natured competition between the Legislature’s Majority and Minority, with the two groups vying to show more generosity to the drive.

“The Peanut Butter & Jelly Drive keeps food that children like on the shelves of our local food pantries, and we wanted to recognize them tonight for proving, five years in a row, that good people can make the world better,” McNall said. “Making our caucus’s donation to the Peanut Butter & Jelly Drive is one of the truly satisfying things we do every year, because it’s good to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with neighbors who are making good things happen for both people they know and total strangers.”

One of the major forces behind the drive has been New York State Courts Sgt. Pete Robinson, who helped organize the inaugural drive and every year’s collection since. Robinson was on hand Tuesday night at the Niagara County Courthouse.

“People want to be a part of something that they can see the fruit of their labor,” Robinson said in a recent interview in East Niagara Post. “You can make a change one jar at a time ... like our logo says, 'spread the love.’”

Niagara County legislators pose with PB&J volunteers.
That message resonated with freshman legislators Randy R. Bradt and Richard L. Andres, both of North Tonawanda, who made what they both said they hope will be the first of many donations Tuesday.

“As a social studies teacher, I try to instill in my students that they can make the world a better place, but they need to start with their own communities,” Andres said after handing a dozen jars of grape jelly over to Robinson. “The Peanut Butter & Jelly Drive proves that’s true. It was a real honor to get to talk with these great volunteers.”

The Peanut Butter & Jelly Drive will continue through Dec. 6. Individuals interested in learning more can visit the Drive’s Facebook page.

Lawmakers also urged county residents to do what they can to support the drive, pausing for a bi-partisan photo with PB&J Drive volunteers to promote the event. Individuals interested in supporting the drive are invited to stop by the Niagara County Clerk’s Office in the Courthouse, 175 Hawley St., Lockport, or any of the sites listed on the PB&J Drive Facebook page.

Niagara County Legislature Minority Leader Dennis Virtuoso said his party will be making a donation to the drive, as well.

Information on the drive is also available by calling Robinson at 510-7108.

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The National Weather Service calls for a chance of showers today with a high near 49 and an overnight low around 39.

Saturday calls for showers with a high near 42 and a chance of rain and snow showers overnight with a low around 30. Sunday, there's a slight chance of snow showers before noon with a high near 43 and a low around 32. Monday will be partly sunny with a high near 52 and a low around 41.

Tuesday offers a chance of showers with a high near 58 and a low around 42. Wednesday also forecasts a chance of showers with a high near 50 and a low around 40. Thursday: A chance of showers with a high near 49.

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BUFFALO — Buffalo's shot production was increased 50 percent Thursday night — to 15. And they scored two more goals than they did in Toronto. But they still lost.

Up 2-1 with five-and-a-half minutes to go in the third, the Sabres allowed Boston's Brad Marchand to score the game-tying goal. Marchand scored again 1:20 into the overtime to seal the deal for the Bruins.

After a scoreless first period, the Sabres got on the board first 5:12 into the second with a power play goal by Drew Stafford, assisted by the Tylers — Ennis and Myers. Boston tied the game at 1 at 11:36 with a goal by Adam McQuaid, assisted by Carl Soderberg and Marchand. Then Ennis put the Sabres back up 2-1 at 16:25 of the second with assists by Torrey Mitchell and Stafford.

From there it was the Marchand show with support from Loui Eriksson and Dennis Seidenberg on the third-period goal, and Reilly Smith and Dougie Hamilton on the overtime goal.

The Sabres shot output so far in the 2014-2015 season has been lackluster. Tuesday night the team got just 10 shots on goal in a 4-0 loss in Toronto. So while Thursday's 15 is nothing to celebrate, it is an improvement.

With the loss in overtime, the Sabres are now 2-8-1 for five points. Only the Carolina Hurricanes have a worse record at 0-6-2.

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TOWN OF LOCKPORT — A woman walked out of Walmart on Monday with sheets, shirts and a blanket, according to a report filed by the Niagara County Sheriff's Office.

The woman, identified only by a single name by the report, put the items into a shopping cart and passed all points of purchase without paying for the $187.41 in merchandise, according to the report.

The store employee did not know the woman's address or phone number. Patrol checked with welfare fraud to see if the woman receives social service benefits. She did apply for such benefits, according to the report. Patrol submitted paperwork for a petit larceny warrant on her.

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TOWN OF LOCKPORT — A North Tonawanda woman had told Niagara County Sheriff's deputies that she had marijuana during an interview — so they got a warrant on her vehicle and found it.

Jamie Lee Albert, 28, 1451 Payne Ave., North Tonawanda, was charged with unlawful possession of marijuana at the Niagara County Jail on Oct. 24, according to NCSO.

She was issued an appearance ticket returnable at the Town of Lockport court on Nov. 25.

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The Tonawanda News, sister paper to the Lockport Union-Sun & Journal, will cease production on Jan. 31, the newspapers announced on Thursday.

The Tonawanda News has served the Tonawandas for 134 years, the paper's publisher said in a story that appeared online on the Tonawanda News, Niagara Gazette and US&J websites. The decision to close it was made due to "economic conditions," according to the article.

“Revenue from advertising and circulation simply could not sustain the operation,” Publisher Chris Voccio said in the article. “The company tried everything possible to stabilize and grow the paper but it eventually became an impossible goal.”

In addition to the physical paper ceasing production, the paper's website,, will also be shuttered at the end of January.

The Tonawanda News was a six-day-a-week publication until 18 months ago when it stopped publishing on Tuesdays on May 5, 2013, along with the other three papers comprising Greater Niagara News — the Medina Journal-Register, the Niagara Gazette and the Lockport Union-Sun & Journal. Earlier this year — on May 30 — the Journal-Register ceased publication and its website went dark.

The identical, and news stories both indicate that "the Niagara Gazette in Niagara Falls and the Lockport Union-Sun & Journal in the north suburban Buffalo market (will both) continue to serve their markets."

The three papers — as well as Greater Niagara News' weekly papers and other periodicals — are printed in the Tonawanda News building on River Road in North Tonawanda. The company did not indicate that that would change.

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Thursday, October 30, 2014
Lockport police arrested a 17-year-old Niagara Falls girl around 3:23 p.m. Wednesday and charged her with attempted assault. According to the arrest report, patrol had responded to Prospect Street for a report of a man who had been struck by a vehicle and assaulted. The complainant said the girl who had struck him with her car got out of her car and kicked him while he was on the ground. She then left the scene. The man was taken by Twin City Ambulance to ECMC. The woman was located by LPD walking down Hawley Street with an open pair of scissors. She told patrol, "I am going to kill the dog." She was taken to ENH-Lockport for a mental health evaluation and later transferred to Brylin Hospital.

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Jerauld T. "Jerry" Dowd, age 81, of Lockport, passed away unexpectedly Wednesday, October 29, 2014 at the Sisters of Charity Hospital of Buffalo.

He was born in Lockport, NY on November 5, 1932, a son of the late Nicholas and Ruth (Campbell) Dowd.

Jerauld graduated from Lockport Senior High in 1951 and attended Erie County Community College. He proudly served in the US Army and was a veteran of the Korean War.

Jerauld retired a supervisor after 30 years of service working for General Motors at Harrison Radiator. Those who knew Jerry know he never really retired, but instead changed careers to golf. He would go on to work at several golf courses from Naples, FL to Western New York. He ultimately found himself working at Willowbrook Golf Course, which over more than a decade became a second home and family to him.

Jerauld was an avid historian and spent much of his free time doing genealogic research for friends as well as the Ancient Order of Hibernians, where he was the resident historian. He loved to provide people with information about their family’s history and would jump at the chance to help someone learn more about their family tree.

Jerauld was a member of St John the Baptist church in Lockport, NY. In addition, he was a member of the American Legion Post 410 and Ancient Order of Hibernians.

He is survived by his loving wife of 59 years, Nancy (Murrie) Dowd; two daughters Jacqueline Spark and Patricia DiGiorgio; a son, Thomas Dowd; four grandchildren, Thomas Spark, Jourdan Spark, Tanya Stadelmaier, Aaron Stadelmaier; and a brother John (Linda) Dowd. Predeceased by brother Nicholas (Delores) Dowd.

Friends and Family may call Sunday, November 2nd from 2-6pm at Prudden and Kandt funeral home, 242 Genesee St Lockport NY. A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at St John the Baptist church, 168 Chestnut St Lockport, NY at 1pm on Monday, November 3rd. Internment will be in Cold Springs Cemetery.


Isaiah I. Frazier passed away October 27, 2014 in Strong Memorial Hospital, Rochester, NY.

Born in Buffalo on March 8, 1999 he is the son of Billy Frazier and Lorianne (Kurt) Dames Ridley both of Rochester. Isaiah enjoyed video games, talking and helping people and was a motivational speaker. Besides his parents he is also survived by his siblings Krishaon Ewing of Washington DC, Cashis Gray, Justin Frazier, and Kurt Ridley, Jr. all of Rochester, NY; grandson of Betty and Grampa Marion Singleton, Arthur Dames all of Lockport and the late Ernest and Ernestine Frazier; nephew of Delano Ridley; special friend of Jessica Daugherty and Lydia Jones; also survived by a host of aunts, uncles, cousins and one nephew.

Relatives and friends may call Saturday, Nov. 1st from 10:30-11:30 AM in Prudden & Kandt Funeral Home, 242 Genesee St., Lockport where services will follow at 11:30 AM. Interment will be in Cold Springs Cemetery.


Kids were out in droves last Friday for Lockport's downtown Trick or Treat. Tomorrow, they'll be at your door. Check the list below for times in your community.  (PHOTOS BY HEATHER N. GRIMMER / ENP PHOTOGRAPHER)


Batty for candy?
Municipalities in East Niagara are offering Trick-or-Treat times for area youngsters Friday.
  • Appleton: 4-7 p.m.
  • Barker: 5-7 p.m.
  • Gasport: 5-7 p.m.
  • Hartland: (no official hours)
  • Lockport: (city) 4-7 p.m.
  • Lockport: (town) 4-7 p.m.
  • Middleport: 5-7 p.m. (with a party at the fire hall to follow)
  • Newfane: 4-7 p.m.
  • Olcott: 4-7 p.m.
  • Rapids: 4-7 p.m.
  • Royalton: 5-7 p.m.
  • Somerset: 5-7 p.m. 
  • Wrights Corners: 4-7 p.m.

East Niagara Post went through more than 700 pieces of candy in about an hour on Oct. 24. Are you stocked up for tomorrow? 
There's more photos of last Friday's downtown Trick-or-Treat here.

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Jose Molina-Roman
TOWN OF LOCKPORT — A 35-year-old Lincoln Avenue man was charged with second degree prison contraband earlier this week for allegedly attempting to bring an assortment of items into the Niagara County Jail, including marijuana.

Jose Molina-Roman, 5558 Lincoln Ave., was found with a green leafy substance, one altered AA battery, an altered head phone wire, as well as pieces of paper fashioned into rolling papers, and the guard to a set of hair clippers while he was being processed at the jail, according to NCSO, which considers all of these items contraband.

All of the above items were secured as evidence, and turned over to the lab for processing. Molina-Roman was transported to Lockport Town Court to be arraigned, however, his arraignment was postponed until due to the need for a translator.

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The National Weather Service calls for partly sunny skies today with a high near 50 and a low around 39.

Friday, showers are likely with a high near 47 and a low around 37. Saturday, more showers are likely with a high near 42 and a low around 30 with possible snow showers overnight. Sunday will be partly sunny with a high near 40 and a low around 32.

Monday's forecast says it will be partly sunny with a high near 48 and a low around 40. Tuesday calls for a chance of showers with a high near 55 and a low around 43. Wednesday: A chance of showers with a high near 51.

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Editor's note: ENP columnist Bob Confer took the week off from "Exploring the Niagara Frontier" to write a column for the final week of Domestic Violence Awareness Month." His regular column will return next week.

Reality TV is anything but reality. It has mutated our very understanding of the human existence to the point that this so-called “entertainment” has us finding enjoyment in other people’s misery. Ratings are good only if the shows participants have significant tension between them.

This sickness started 27 years ago when the TV show “Cops” hit the airwaves. That show emphasizes the short-term causes and effects of broken relationships and, therefore, broken homes. Like train wrecks, we just can’t seem to take our eyes (and the producers can’t take their cameras) off of them and we revel in the scale of their destruction. You’d be hard pressed to find an American who hasn’t laughed at the poor souls, especially when they tell the policemen why the situation escalated to the point that it did.

This reveling in the collapse of relationships and human dignity extends to all sorts of shows across the dial. Look at a show like “Couples Therapy”. It would not survive were it not for some of its stars, supposedly in love, mentally abusing and/or manipulating their significant other.

Maybe we as a society find humor and enjoyment in all of this because we think that we’re protected, that domestic violence (in either the verbal or physical form) won’t happen in our neighborhood or homes. But, we’re only kidding ourselves. The chances are good that it has happened or will happen in one or both of those environments.

Domestic violence is more common than you think.

And, it’s never funny.

Listen to a police scanner (“reality radio”) on any given evening and the weekends. It seems that the calls for domestic situations are endless. Our officers have to be peacekeepers in homes as much as on the streets. They are called to calm altercations playing themselves out before young children, keep women from verbally abusing their men, or prevent husbands from following through on their threats of violence to their wives. On one particularly-frightening Saturday a few years ago, one fellow threatened to put a bullet in his girlfriend’s head while another chased his around a woodlot with a baseball bat.

Those last two police calls are extreme circumstances, but the other situations are not. They’re common.
According to data provided by the New York Division of Criminal Justice Services, all police departments within Niagara County reported 1,673 arrests for domestic violence in 2013. Among them were 1,428 cases of simple assault and 45 sexual offenses against a family member, 33 of which were not the intimate partner.
What makes these numbers even more disturbing is the fact that the total number of arrests represents a 12.5% increase over that from just 4 years ago. We have a declining population, but acts of violence against those who are allegedly loved by the perpetrators is on the rise.

Mind you, those are just the cases recorded as actual arrests. There were thousands of 911 calls and tips for domestic arguments and other forms of verbal abuse (victims will tell you it is just as painful as hitting). The Niagara County Sheriff’s Office alone responds to 4,000 such calls every year. There were thousands more covered by the city police in Niagara Falls, North Tonawanda, and Lockport. And, remember, most victims and witnesses remain silent; there are tens of thousands of situations that go unreported.

Realize, too, that this is not just men berating or beating women. Domestic violence does not discriminate at any level. Just think back to 2009, when among the cases was a fatal stabbing of a Gasport man by his girlfriend on Christmas morning. That one instance proves that domestic violence knows no sex (men can be victims, too), boundaries (it’s just not an urban issue), limitations (assault can escalate to murder) or rest (even the holiest of days is not off limits).

Does any of that seem even remotely funny like it may have on the television? Absolutely not. It’s on the other end of the emotional spectrum: It’s sad.

If you’re human, you can’t help but feel for those affected by such monstrosities, especially the kids raised in such unloving homes. The vitality and morality of a society can be measured by the strength of the family unit and how it treats its children. You cannot help but wonder where we as a people are going if we allow such abuses to widely occur or broken homes to fester, because, more often than not, a child raised in such misery repeats the same later in his or her adult life. It’s a never-ending cycle of hate in environments that should create and inspire love and respect.

So, the next time you find yourself laughing aloud at the conflict you see on TV, stop and think about what you’re watching. Change the channel and count yourself lucky that it’s not a reflection of your life or that of people close to you.

If, on the other hand, that reality show is close to what you consider reality whether in your home or a neighbor’s, do something about it. Change reality for the better. Ending domestic violence starts with you. Don’t be a participant. Don’t be a bystander.

It can be tough, but the power of love and respect can and always will beat the power of the fist.

Bob Confer is a Gasport resident. He can be reached at or on Twitter @bobconfer.

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Debate moderator Corey Brown, left, introduces state Senate candidates Johnny Destino, center, and Robert Ortt. The pair faced off Wednesday night in Niagara Falls. (ENP STAFF PHOTOS)


The candidates were civil to start but the exchange got testy at times once
the debate began. 
NIAGARA FALLS — At a debate held Wednesday evening at the Earl Bridges Library on Main Street, Johnny Destino and Robert Ortt agreed on a lot. Except who should be elected.

Destino, a former Republican who is now running as a Democrat — with the support of the Democratic Party — said there is a culture of corruption in the Republican Party, specifically in Niagara County.

"I offer a fresh start," he told the audience of the debate — sponsored by the Niagara Falls Block Club Council, Rotary Club of Niagara Falls, the Niagara Falls chapter of the NAACP and the Kiwanis Club of Niagara Falls.

Ortt, the endorsed Republican, Conservative and Independence parties candidate said he has a "record of accomplishment" as the mayor of North Tonawanda. He also highlighted his military service, saying "my adult life started Sept. 11, 2001."

Despite the debate being held in what is typically a Democratic stonghold — Niagara Falls — Ortt's supporters in the audience of 150 or so were many. And loud.

The "George Maziarz question" was brought up be debate moderator Corey Brown of Niagara University. The Ortt campaign has worked to position itself as respectful of — but independent of — the political juggernaut whose decision to withdraw from the race before his nominating petitions were accepted in July led to Ortt's candidacy. 

Tonight, Ortt referred to Maziarz as a "fierce advocate" for Niagara County, but said they're not identical, adding, "I'm not running to be the king of Niagara County politics."

Destino has worked to tie Ortt to Maziarz, a strategy some might question considering Maziarz' continued popularity in the district — despite his having been subpoenaed as part of a federal investigation.

A group of protesters greeted visitors as they entered the
library's back entrance. They were upset about Destino's
silence on the issue of abortion. 
Party allegiance was a topic of conversation with Ortt calling Destino "a career candidate who will join any party he can to win office" and himself a "lifelong Republican."

Destino countered by saying that he wasn't happy with the local GOP. "You have to know who you're associating with ... and if they're doing wrong, it's time to leave." He also stuck up for Gov. Andrew Cuomo, saying he's paid more attention to Western New York than any other governor in 40 years. 

Destino added that party politics has hurt the district — in particular Niagara Falls. "We had a senator who continually butted heads (with Niagara Falls officials) and that really hurt us."

Ortt said Niagara Falls officials are to blame for Niagara Falls' problems, noting that the city has received millions of dollars in casino revenues and is still $9 million in the hole, while North Tonawanda has a $6 million reserve — without casino revenue. He added that the casino money doled out should come with restrictions. 

Both candidates said after the debate that they felt confident with their performance. Destino had one final zinger: "Ortt finally had a platform today and it was mine."

One prominent Republican in the audience felt that Brown was unfair to Ortt. The moderator attempted to keep both candidates on point, but did seem to set Ortt up with a question about Common Core, asking if the Republican candidate would support a system that asked schools to improve their own grades year over year rather than try to meet a certain statewide score. When Ortt agreed, Brown said it was what Common Core already does. 

"He knows absolutely nothing about Common Core," Destino said.

In the end, the candidates differed very little in terms of their goals and policies. But that doesn't mean they didn't have their differences.

Working Families Party candidate Paul Brown was again a no-show to the event. His podium sat empty for the 45-minute debate.

Notable members of the audience included former Assemblywoman Francine DelMonte and her brother John, who is running for State Supreme Court Justice, Maziarz' Chief of Staff Gerald Meal, Niagara County Legislator Dennis Virtuoso, and former Niagara Falls Mayor Vince Anello. Current Mayor Paul Dyster was notable absent.

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Wednesday, October 29, 2014

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Shawn M. Owens, 24, 136 Spaldin St., was charged around 9:45 p.m. Tuesday with fourth-degree criminal mischief. According to the LPD arrest report, Owens smashed an Oliver Street woman's pumpkin. He was to be in court this morning.

An unknown person spray painted graffiti on the south side of a Pine Street business between 5 p.m. Monday and 9 a.m. Tuesday. The pink and blue spray paint caused about $200 damage, according to the report. There was also graffiti damage done to the F&M building, 116 Main St. Damage to that wall was estimated at $800.

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Patrick William Udell, age 64 passed away suddenly in his sleep on October 28, 2014.

Patrick was born and raised in Lockport, N.Y. After graduating high school, he enlisted in the Army and served fifteen months in Germany followed by fifteen months in Vietnam as a Radio Relay Operator. He was proud to have served his country voluntarily at a time when many were being drafted. Pat received Army Commendation, National Defense Service and Good Conduct Medals. After his honorable discharge from the Army he worked for a short time at Harrison Radiator and then left to run his own construction firm, building and renovating many houses throughout Niagara County for many years. Thereafter, he was hired by Delphi Motor Parts as a skilled tradesman and continued in that position, working for General Motors until the time of his death.

Pat was a proud member of Amalgamated Local 686, UAW of Lockport. He was never one to sit down could be found working on a project at one of his three real estate properties. Pat was extremely proud of his yard, always searching for the next vegetable, fruit or flower to plant in his many gardens. He was proud to see the accomplishments of his three children and always looked forward to spending time swimming or playing games with his three grandchildren. Pat was a loyal friend to many. Pat was a fierce and loyal friend. He toiled tirelessly to provide for the extraordinary family he and his loving wife, my cousin Gaye, raised. I find some comfort in the fact I can see some of him in each of their faces and those of his 3 grandchildren. People of Pat's character and warmth come along rarely and our family's world is diminished by his passing. I will recover, but I will never be the same. Peace. He was a lifelong Yankees fan and had season tickets for the Buffalo Bills for over thirty years. Pat loved tailgating before the games with many friends and family members, always ready to grill, share a beer, tell a joke or say something that made people not only laugh, but feel truly loved.

Pat leaves behind his wife of 41 years Gaye Eaton Udell, his daughter Tamara (Gary) Scoville of Clarksville, NY and sons Benjamin (Mary) and Christopher (Amanda West) Udell of Lockport. In addition Pat is survived by his sister Cynthia (Mike) Harris of Lockport and three grandchildren, Cole and Sara Scoville and Marley Udell. Patrick was predeceased by his parents William and Jennie Udell as well as a son Joshua Ryan. He is also survived by several aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces and nephews.

Relatives and friends may call Thursday, Oct. 30th from 4-8 PM in Prudden & Kandt Funeral Home, 242 Genesee St., Lockport. A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated Friday, Oct. 31st at 10 AM in All Saints Oratory, 391 Market St., Lockport. Interment will be in Cold Springs Cemetery. Memorial donations to the Calvary Cupboard Food Pantry, PO Box 625, Medina, NY 14103 would be appreciated by the family.



The DeSales Knights swim team will face St Greg's Sunday for the Neumann Catholic League Swim Title thanks to a win over St Johns this past Sunday in the pool at Sweet Home High School.

Both Catholic schools are undefeated this season and the winner this coming Sunday will end the dual meet season as the league champion. The swimmers then will compete on November 9th at UB for individual championships as well as relay championships for the  Neumann Catholic League.

This match up was made possible with the Knights swimming to a team win over St John's this past Sunday with a score of 138-107.

The Knights 8 and under division had a double winner in Jack Strong in both the 100 IM and the 25 butterfly while Henry Genewick was a winner in the 25 freestyle.

The 9-10 division was dominant again throughout the meet with 1st place sweeps of all individual races as well as both relays.  The 200 Medley Relay of Gracie Cordle, Madison Fragale, Aidan Morgan, and Grace Buzak and the 200 Freestyle Relay made up of Fragale, Buzak, William Rahill and Cordle were victorious.  In individual races, Aidan Morgan was a double winner in the 100 IM and 100 freestyle.  Individual race winners were Elizabeth Swartz in the 50 freestyle, Andrew Mullane in the 50 butterfly, Cordle in the 50 backstroke and Fragale in the 50 breaststroke.

The 11 and over division was also winners win both the relay events.  The 200 Medley Relay composed of Sarah Mullane, Sam Murphy, Mark Crocker, and Isabel Treanor and the 200 Freestyle Relay with Treanor, Murphy, Jason Buzak, and Crocker were winners.  Individual winners for the division were Mark Crocker in the 200 IM, Isabel Treanor in the 50 Free and Bianca Franco in the 50 Butterfly.

The clash of in the pool between DeSales and St Greg's is November 2nd at Sweet Home HS. The meet begins at 9 a.m.

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