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Wednesday, April 30, 2014
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NEWFANE — Niagara County Sheriff's deputies responded to a reported theft in the 3700 block of Day Road in Newfane sometime Monday afternoon or Tuesday morning.

According to the report filed with NCSO, someone entered the residence and removed property, including a gun safe with a 20-gauge Mossberg shotgun, a rifle, two hunting knives and miscellaneous ammunition. Also stolen was a laptop computer. Total loss was estimated at $3,600.

The homeowner told patrol that she was confident all of her doors and windows were secure, but once she noticed her items missing, she checked her back doors and noticed that they were unsecured. She also stated that one of her rear doors, a sliding glass door, is always secured with a wood board that prevents it from sliding open. She noticed that the board was dislodged from its spot.

The case will be forwarded to the criminal investigation bureau for further investigation.



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Jim O'Donnell
Today the Senate blocked a bill that would have given low income workers a raise across the entire
country. The reason they denied the raise to workers is because of a false narrative that is being
repeated again and again by some uninformed and reckless media outlets. While people across the
country think raising the minimum wage would benefit the lives of workers, they have continually been told the outright lie that this policy would be devastating to our economy. People have been told this
blatant untruth so often that even the Democratic-led Senate could not get the legislation passed. I am
writing today to dispel a few rumors about the minimum wage.

First off, raising the minimum wage would not lead to mass layoffs. Some restructuring may occur, but if a small raise in the cost of labor causes a company to lay people off, odds are that the company was
already in trouble and those layoffs would have come regardless of a change in wages. The truth of the
matter is that our labor participation rate will likely rise rather than fall. The classical economic
argument against a minimum wage is that business and labor have come together to find this magical
number called the equilibrium, which workers are currently paid based on. Theoretically, this wage is
the highest wage that would sustain the greatest number of workers. This idea states that if a business
provides a higher wage it won't be able to employ as many workers as it would like, and if the business
sets the wage any lower then it won't be able to recruit the number of workers the business wants. The
problem is that this model assumes a natural equilibrium, but the equilibrium we currently have is far
from natural. It is an outdated minimum wage that has not been adjusted for naturally changing market
forces.

The naysayers are basing their claims of disaster on this theory which was meant for analyzing the
imposition of a minimum wage, not raising it to match the new equilibrium. Basically what this means is there are millions of people that are not working minimum wage jobs because they place a higher value on their time than what business is willing to pay. That is what economists call a deficit of labor, and the cure for this ailment of the system is raising wages. The fact that there is currently a deficit of labor, and no risk of a surplus which would lead to layoffs, is made evident by the vast number of minimum wage jobs available and large number of people available but not working them.

Another concern I hear a lot of is if the minimum wage goes up three dollars, that will turn the dollar
menu into the four dollar menu. This is another misconception. Companies set their prices based on
numerous factors and whether it is manufacturing or fast food, labor, especially unskilled labor, typically is no more than 10-30% of the cost associated with producing a good. Every company is different when it comes to how much labor accounts for the cost of a product, but using the highest of the averages above, 30%, raising the minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10 would increase the cost of a dollar menu item only around 12 cents. Even if labor made up 100% of the cost of making a dollar menu item it would still only increase the cost of that item by $0.40. Of that $0.12 - $0.40 increase to the costs of production it's unclear how much, if any, would actually be passed on to consumers.

There are a lot sources telling people all the made up problems that will result from raising the
minimum wage, but they are not telling people all the good it will do. First, raising the minimum wage to $10.10 will save the government and taxpayers around $4.6 billion in the first year alone. Companies are able to pay their employees such a low wage because the government subsidizes the employees, and thereby the company, with benefit programs such as SNAP. By forcing the company to pay their workers a closer number to a living wage, the government would be able to cut back on the subsidies it provides. A second benefit that will be seen immediately is the boost that it will bring to the economy. Unlike their employers, minimum wage workers cannot typically afford to have a savings account. This means that, if given any increase to their wages, all of that money will be put directly back into the economy through the purchase of goods. The last benefit I will discuss, but far from the last benefit that will occur, has to do with the labor market I spoke of above. If the currently unemployed, or even those out of the market, are given an option where they at least have a chance of making ends meet, the country will see a huge influx of workers returning to the labor force, and thereby boosting our economy even further.

If this were any other economic issue I would have started by saying, “I have a Master’s degree in
Economics, listen to me, I know what I am talking about.” But when it comes to raising the minimum
wage and all the benefits that will come, these arguments are common sense. You do not need any
degree in economics to understand that when people earn more money their quality of life goes up, and
our economy does better. You also don’t need to be a business owner to know that businesses make
their money off the backs of employees, and when you pay those employees a decent wage productivity and profits go up. Raising the minimum wage will give people a chance to live a better life while lowering the tax burden for all Americans. Politicians need to stop politicking and start working for the people.

Jim O'Donnell is an Orchard Park Resident and Buffalo police officer. He is running for the 27th Congressional District on the Democratic Party line. 



East Niagara Post will publish letters to the editor on topics of concern to our readers. If you have an opinion on a matter, email it to news@eastniagarapost.com. Please include your full name, town of residence and a phone number for confirmation. 
U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand
U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand denounced a failed cloture vote on the topic of raising the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour. The vote fell six votes short of breaking a filibuster.

“It is simply unacceptable that a single parent working a full 40 hours a week to support a family still has to live in poverty," she said. "America is a place where hard work is supposed to be rewarded, where anyone can earn their way ahead in our economy. But today, Senate obstruction denied an opportunity to raise the minimum wage to a level that can give millions of hardworking Americans a chance at some basic economic security. Hardworking Americans deserve better. They deserve a fair shot to succeed in our economy.”

Gillibrand is an original cosponsor of and has worked hard to pass the Minimum Wage Fairness Act, the bill that was essentially defeated by the failed cloture vote. A cloture vote is a call the end discussion on a topic and bring the topic itself to a vote. It must have 60 votes to pass. Today's had 54.

The federal minimum wage was last increased in 2009.

Gillibrand says that studies have shown that raising the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour over three years would increase wages for 1.6 million New Yorkers, including an estimated 856,000 women; boost New York State’s GDP by $656.8 million; support the creation of 3,100 New York jobs; and lift nearly 210,000 New Yorkers out of poverty.

Opponents of raising the minimum wage say that it will only lead to inflation and actually end in higher unemployment because small and big businesses alike will not be able to afford the extra cost of employee salaries.



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All Saints Parish will hold a drive-through chicken BBQ starting at 3 p.m. Thursday at the parish, 76 Church St.

The BBQ, catered by One Eyed Jacks, features half a chicken, coleslaw, baked beans, roll and butter and dessert. Patrons are asked to enter from Church Street onto Church Alley.

The meal is $10 and will be sold until 9 p.m. or supplies run out. It is sponsored by the All Saints Fundraising Committee.



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The 2014 spring turkey season opens Thursday in all of upstate New York.

“Approximately 100,000 turkey hunters will take to the field this spring, making it a very popular activity,” Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Joe Martens said.

The DEC issued a list of helpful information for would-be turkey hunters.

  • Hunting is permitted in most areas of the state, except for New York City and Long Island.
  • Hunters must have a turkey hunting permit in addition to their small game hunting or sportsman license (if purchased before Feb. 1) or hunting license (if purchased after Feb. 1).
  • Shooting hours are from one-half hour before sunrise to noon each day.
  • Hunters may take two bearded turkeys during the spring season, but only one bird per day.
  • Hunters may not use rifles or handguns firing a bullet. Hunters may hunt with a shotgun or handgun loaded with shot sizes no larger than No. 2 or smaller than No. 8, or with a bow and arrow.
  • Crossbows may not be used for the spring 2014 turkey season.
  • Successful hunters must fill out the tag that comes with their turkey permit and immediately attach it to any turkey harvested.
  • Successful hunters must report their harvest within seven days of taking a bird. Call 1-866-426-3778 (1-866 GAMERPT) or report harvest online at http://www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/8316.html. 




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Guests from last year’s Cruise and Clambake enjoy the 
flotilla of boats gathered together to enjoy The Junk
Yard Dogs playing music during a break in the cruise
up the Niagara River. (CONTRIBUTED PHOTO)
Whether you love to sail, or like to keep your feet on solid ground, the 15th Annual Jack Beatty Memorial Hospice Cruise and Clambake has something for everyone. The Cruise and Clambake is scheduled for July 11 at the historic Youngstown Yacht Club rain or shine. Members of the Yacht Club, along with other skippers from around WNY, will once again generously donate their boats and time to take cruise participants for a wonderful afternoon sail up the Niagara River.

During the sail, participants will enjoy snacks and drinks provided by the boat owners along with live music by The Junkyard Dogs who will play on the river for the yachts sailing by. After the sail, the fun continues with a fabulous clambake and buffet with all the trimmings featuring live music by Soul Committee. The evening continues with a silent auction with gifts generously donated by local businesses and community members.

The Cruise and Clambake has grown tremendously over the years and all proceeds benefit Niagara Hospice. With a record of 39 boats and 238 participants, the event raised a record of $38,000 in 2013.

“This is a terrific event and we are so thankful to everyone in the community who made it such a great success," said Co-Chair Adam Burns. "We are looking forward to another great year in 2014. It is such a great time for a very worthy cause.”

Last year's cruise had a record number of attendees. Hospice anticipates selling out again this year, so they suggest anyone interested in attending to register as soon as possible to avoid missing the boat.

Not a sailor? Working during the day? No problem. Tickets for the Clambake/Cookout only are available at a reduced rate of $35 before June 1 and $45 after.

More details and registration for the Cruise and Clambake are available at www.niagarahospiceregatta.com.

If you would like to volunteer, sponsor, or donate items for this event, please contact Maureen Rizzo at mrizzo@niagarahospice.com for further information.



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State Sen. George Maziarz
State Sen. George Maziarz, R-Newfane, and Assemblyman Sean Ryan, D-Buffalo, announced their joint efforts to advance legislation that would restrict private lobbyists from obtaining pensions through the New York State and Local Retirement System.

The lawmakers say that a little-known loophole has allowed employees of certain private advocacy organizations to access benefits from the statewide retirement system that was designed and intended solely for public employees. These organizations include the New York Conference of Mayors, New York State Association of Counties, the Association of Towns of the State of New York, the New York State Association of Town Highway Superintendents, the New York State School Boards Association, and other school board associations.

“Taxpayers have been footing the bill for these lobbyists’ pensions for too long and it has to stop now,” Maziarz said. “These lobbyists may be retained by government groups for advocacy purposes but to be clear they are not public employees and they are not accountable to the public. Closing this loophole is an important step forward in strengthening the integrity of the pension system and easing a financial burden on local governments.”

“New Yorkers are rightfully concerned that well-connected lobbyists are accessing New York State pension benefits, and the legislature needs to pass reforms to stop this abuse,” said Ryan said. “There is clearly a conflict of interest when these lobbyists set their own salaries, which are often exorbitant, and then expect the public pension system to pay out retirement benefits. There is currently no accountability, and it’s time for the Assembly and Senate to step up to the plate and fix this loophole.”

Maziarz is advancing a bill, S.5935-A which would prohibit any new employees of the aforementioned groups from participating in the state retirement system. Ryan has offered a partner bill in the Assembly, A. 8212-A. Additionally, the Maziarz sponsored S.5936-A, and Ryan's A. 8211-A would entail the same prohibition but also go a step further and prevent any current employees of these organizations from earning any additional retirement service credit immediately.

The legislators pointed out that the organizations affected by their legislative proposals are not subject the civil service system, the Freedom of Information Law, the Open Meetings Law, state financial disclosure requirements, or other tools that would keep their operations transparent and accountable to taxpayers. In fact, employees of these organizations set their own salaries and some of their executive directors make more than $200,000 per year and get perks like bonuses and company cars, the pair claim.

Still, taxpayers are paying for their pensions. In 2013, the retirees of these organizations were eligible for state retirement benefits totaling almost $2 million.

Maziarz also announced that individuals can sign an on-line petition in support of the legislative effort to stop private lobbyists from getting public pensions on his website, maziarz.nysenate.gov.



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The United States Postal Service announced that it will be hiring 50 additional City Carrier Assistants (CCAs) for the greater Buffalo area.

CCAs are appointed for a term of 360 calendar days and may be reappointed for another 360-day term after a five-day break in service. The position, which comes with an hourly wage of $15.30, paid vacation days and eligibility for health care benefits, entails all the duties normally performed by a city letter carrier and may lead to a career position.

Full position details for job posting and online application at www.usps.com/employment. The job posting number is NC76923299

The deadline to apply is Monday. Candidates must have a valid driver’s license, good driving record and two years driving experience.



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Anniversary Bouquet is one of the 64 pieces slated for 
display in the Kenan Center's new exhibition, "Rita Argen
Auerbach: Chronicle of a 40-Year Career in Watercolor,"
opening Sunday. (CONTRIBUTED PHOTO)
If there was a “Who’s Who” of artists in Western New York, Rita Argen Auerbach would undoubtedly be counted among them. For four decades, she’s been an educator as well as one of the region’s most highly regarded watercolorists, especially recognized for her scenes of Buffalo architecture and the charm and Victoriana of Chautauqua.

An exhibit of her work is, in fact, so large that it is being presented concurrently at two galleries: the Meibohm Gallery in East Aurora where an exhibit opened April 25, and at the Kenan Center Gallery, 433 Locust Street, where her exhibit titled “Rita Argen Auerbach: Chronicle of a 40-Year Career in Watercolor,” will open Sunday with an artist’s reception from 2:00 to 5:00 p.m. The exhibit continues through June 15.

The Kenan Gallery exhibit will feature 64 works representing a broad spectrum of Auerbach’s work including Western New York landscapes and architecture, works from her Frank Lloyd Wright series, florals, scenes from travel abroad, and still lifes.

Auerbach received her B.S. and M.S. in Art Education from SUNY Buffalo State College. She taught for twenty years in the Clarence Central School district, serving as Art Department Chair from 1992-1994. Auerbach has also been the recipient of numerous awards, and served in leadership positions throughout her career including President of the Buffalo Society of Artists and Charter/Vice President of the Niagara Frontier Watercolor Society.

Her paintings are represented in numerous museum, public and private collections, and have appeared in both curated and solo exhibitions at Kenan Center, Burchfield Penney Art Center, Castellani Art Museum at Niagara University, Hallwalls, and Art Dialogue Gallery, among others,  as well as at Chautauqua Institution.

Exhibit hours are from noon to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 2 to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. The exhibit will be open special hours during 100 American Craftsmen; from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on May 31 and noon to 4 p.m. on June 1. The Gallery will be closed May 24-26, 30, and June 2, and Saturdays starting June 7.

A Tea & Tour in the Gallery will be held on Sunday, June 8. The event includes light luncheon fare, dessert and teas followed by a conversation with the artist. Cost is $20 per person; advance reservations are required by calling 433-2617.



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Say goodbye to the Internet as you know it. I’m not being overly dramatic here. I am being very serious. The Internet is about to be commandeered by big corporations and the United States government to serve them and only them. We, the People, are about to be left out in the cold …  yet again.

I am talking about a topic known as Net Neutrality.  Right now, any old website has the same chance at being seen by millions of people all over the world as Google or Facebook. By the time Google, Facebook, and the federal government are done, smaller sites will run at a snail’s pace compared to Google and Facebook. Is it fair? Not in the least bit, but it is what the people we elected into office feel is best for us.

George Carlin, God rest his saintly soul, used to say that this country was bought and paid for a long time ago, and he was absolutely right. But even George Carlin would be shocked at the level of disregard that our democratically elected officials have for what is best for us. Lobbyists are pushing all this legislation through and no one is really stopping it.

President Obama understands the importance of Net Neutrality. He made it one of his platform points in the 2007 election. But the absolute corruption on Capitol Hill has caused Obama to turn a blind eye to Net Neutrality and now even the Internet will fall under the icy grip of the federal government, which will be acting on behalf of the big corporations.

So what does all of this mean? What will happen is that Internet providers will create two different “Information Superhighways” that will run side-by-side and at the same time. One of those superhighways will run incredibly fast and benefit from all of the innovations that occur on the Internet on a regular basis. The second superhighway will be throttled down to the point where videos will take minutes to load and information will move at a pace that won’t be much better than a 56k modem.

If you haven’t already guessed by now, only big corporations will be able to afford to put their websites on the fast superhighway. The rest of us will have our websites slowed down so much that no one will want to visit them. A lot of the blogs that you love to read on a regular basis will suddenly be so frustrating to use that you will stop using them. The Walmart website, on the other hand, will run just fine.

The loss of Net Neutrality will also have an effect on the security for slower websites. Information that takes a long time to load is a lot harder to protect than information that loads on a high-speed connection. Viruses and spyware will run rampant on the websites that you love to look at every day, and there isn’t a damn thing you or anyone else can do about it.

People love the Internet because it always felt like the Internet was that one place that the government could not bother us. I remember when the Post Office wanted to charge stamp fees for email, which never saw the light of day because common sense intervened. Most of us know that the government has been monitoring Internet traffic for some time, but this newest attack on the American people crosses a major line.

YouTube will probably start charging people to post videos and you can also expect social media websites to start charging monthly fees as well to offset the significant increase in Internet access costs. The music industry will get its chance to put a stop to the distribution of independent music and big record labels will retake control of the music business. Meanwhile, the average American will go back to being ignored.

Why is this kind of thing happening? Because the federal government and big corporations have learned that no matter how horribly they treat the American people, the American people will still pay their taxes and buy their products from big corporations. If the American people shifted their allegiance back to small businesses, then the consumer would take back all of the power and the lobbyists would start to care about what consumers think. But the American consumer can’t quit buying from big corporations and the big corporations know it.

We gave up our country when we allowed WalMarts to be built on spots where our local malls used to stand (I warned you, but no one listened to me). Now we have to put up with whatever the big corporations and federal government decide to do to us. This newest law is only the beginning. The end game is to create a way for Internet providers to make it financially impossible for small business websites to be seen on the Internet and take away your ability to be exposed to all of the wonderful things that the Internet has to offer.

Why is this happening? Because we let it. What can we do about it? We can stop this if we just decided to shop at small businesses and take the financial power away from big business. In other words, there isn’t anything we do about this except watch even more of our freedoms disappear and turn into profits for big corporations. God Bless ‘Murica.

Nick Oliver is a Niagara County resident and damn proud to be part of the Information Superhighway. His column appears every Wednesday and would still be worth the wait if you had to load it over a throttled-down connection. He can be reached at nickoliver@writeme.com.



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The three teenagers who were arrested in connection with a home invasion on Lock Street on March 29, pleaded guilty Monday to charges of attempted second-degree robbery.

Nineteen-year-old Maria Parete of Hawley Street, 16-year-old Lewis Williams of Garden Street and 16-year-old Kyliek Bembo of Lock Street could each serve as long as seven years when they are sentenced. Bembo and Parete are scheduled for sentencing on June 23, while Williams is scheduled for sentencing on June 25.

The three teens were originally charged with first-degree robbery for holding the residents of the Lock Street home at gunpoint — with an air pistol — while they robbed the home of electronics and other property. Parete was also charged with seventh-degree possession of a controlled substance for having prescription tablets that were not prescribed to her.

Lockport Police, the Niagara County Sheriff's Office and New York State Police responded to what was reported as a hostage situation around 11 p.m. All three suspects were in police custody around 1:30 a.m. but police were still looking for one or more potential suspects at that time.



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The National Weather Service forecasts April to end with more showers today with a high near 69 and a low of around 48.

After today there will be May showers as Thursday brings scattered showers with a high near 62 and a low around 43. Friday: more scattered showers with a high near 54 and a low of around 43. More showers are forecast for Saturday with a high near 57 and a low of around 39.

Sunday brings a high near 54 and a low of around 38 ... with scattered showers. Monday will be partly sunny with a high near 58 and a low of around 38. Tuesday is expected to be mostly cloudy with a high near 60.



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Tuesday, April 29, 2014
Niagara County Sheriff's deputies responded to a Sunset Drive, Town of Lockport address around 9 a.m. for a report of a suspicious package.

According to the couple that filed the complaint, a suspicious envelop was located inside of their mailbox. The front of the envelop read "To: The Best Sister in Law in the World :) From: Bob." Inside of the envelop was a zip lock bag containing a partial piece of meat or poultry.

The couple advised patrol that they don't know anyone named Bob and neither has had any issues with family members. The male half of the couple had checked the mailbox at approximately 4 a.m. when looking for his newspaper and didn't see the suspicious envelop inside the mailbox at that time. It appears that an unknown person placed the envelop inside of the mailbox between 4 a.m. and 9 a.m.

The complainants don't believe the envelop was meant for them, but wanted to report the incident to NCSO. The envelop and contents were discarded by the couple after filing the report with patrol. They will contact NSCO with any further concerns regarding suspicious packages or activity.



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A 28-year-old Lockport man was arrested by Niagara County Sheriff's deputies Monday afternoon and turned over to the Orleans County Sheriff's Department on an outstanding warrant.

Anthony J. Vanderbosh, 362 Clinton St., was westbound on North Canal Road in the Town of Lockport around 4:30 p.m. when he was stopped for having an out-of-date inspection sticker. Patrol also found that he had a suspended New York State drivers license for failure to pay child support and a bench warrant from May of 2013 out of Orleans County for a petit larceny in the Town of Albion, according to the NCSO report.

He was charged with aggravated unlicensed operation and operating a motor vehicle without a valid inspection sticker. Hillman's Towing responded to the scene and secured the vehicle and Vandenbosch was transported by patrol to the post office in Gasport to meet with an Orleans County Sheriff, where he was transferred.



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Nicole Szczepankiewicz
A 26-year-old West Seneca woman was charged with aggravated unlicensed operation, leaving the scene of an accident, and driving while impaired by drugs after an accident in the Town of Lockport on Monday.

According to the report filed by the Niagara County Sheriff's Office, Nicole M. Szczepankiewicz, 1405 East and West Road, West Seneca, was stopped around 7:15 a.m. by State Police on Stone Road after a call of a reckless driver had been made to 911 for a vehicle traveling eastbound on Stone Road from Townline Road.

Patrol states that Szczepankiewicz appeared to be intoxicated, had slurred speech, impaired motor coordination and was confused or disoriented. The report also said that her vehicle had significant damage to it.

"There was what appeared to be fresh damage to the front left side," the report states. "Patrol walked to the right side and observed fresh damage to the entire side. The front right tire was completely off the rim and there was smoke coming from the bare metal rim The smoke appeared to be due to the fact that Szczepankiewicz had been driving on the metal rim without a tire for a long distance."

Patrol asked her about the vehicle damage and she stated that another car had run into her and she hit a guard rail.

Patrol observed her purse in the back seat, and the purse had what appeared to be a hypodermic syringe sticking out of a pocket. She stated that she was taking a blood thinner via hypodermic injection. Patrol arrested her for driving while ability impaired by drugs and secured her in the patrol car.

Patrol looked into the purse and located 10 total syringes and close to 100 waxed paper packets, which NCSO says is commonly used for selling/buying of heroin, although none appeared to have anything illegal inside them any longer. Patrol also located 39 suspected Clonezapam pills inside a cellophane wrapper.

Szczepankiewicz later told patrol that the packets were hers and that she was a heroin user and needed help. She was brought to Eastern Niagara Hospital-Lockport for blood work, which was submitted to the NCSO laboratory for analysis. All of the drug and drug equipment were submitted to the NCSO lab for testing and analysis.

Szcepankiewicz was taken to the Niagara County Jail where her bail was set at $250. She was given a court date in the Town of Lockport on May 6.

Patrol traced back the damage to the roadway left by the listed vehicle's bare rim scratching into the pavement to approximately the intersection of Saunders Settlement and Lockport Junction Road (estimated over 5 miles). The vehicle was towed by Herringtons with a 12 hour hold.



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Local gas prices increased to $3.86 this week, according to AAA East Central. The bump is about three cents higher than last week and 21 cents higher than this time a year ago.

Today’s national average price at the pump is $3.69 per gallon, also about three cents more than last week, and 14 cents more than one month ago. The national average is up nearly 19 cents compared to the same date last year. Despite this differential, today’s price is lower than the same date in both 2011 and 2012. The price remains in line with AAA’s projection for spring gas prices which expected a peak between $3.55 and $3.75.

During the second half of April, drivers in the Northeastern corridor have experienced some of the largest increases in retail prices.  Meanwhile, over the last seven days, prices in some Southeastern and Midcontinent states have declined, including Kentucky, where gas prices have dropped four cents. Drivers in 37 states and the District of Columbia continue to pay a year-over-year premium in the double digits, led by California and Georgia at 35 cents and 32 cents respectively.

Ongoing geopolitical tensions between Russia and Ukraine remain a central reason for crude oil prices remaining elevated, which has contributed to higher gas prices. Additional sanctions on Russia were issued by the Obama Administration, and market watchers will continue to monitor the situation closely for any signs of further escalation that could impact global oil supplies.  At the close of formal trading Monday on the NYMEX, WTI closed 24 cents higher at $100.84 per barrel. This marked the 24th consecutive settlement above $100 per barrel.



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Lockport Police investigate an assault at the Chestnut Street Laundromat. (HEATHER N. GRIMMER / CONTRIBUTOR)

Lockport police are currently investigating a crime scene at the Chestnut Street Laundromat. Niagara County Sheriff's investigators and New York State Police are assisting.

Early reports indicate that a female was assaulted by an unknown male at the laundromat shortly after noon. The suspect fled the scene before police arrived and is currently at large.

The suspect was described as a black male wearing a royal blue hoodie, baggy jeans, and black sneakers with white trim. He was last seen fleeing the laundromat in a northbound direction.

The businesses owner was called to the scene to retrieve video surveillance for police.



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(COURTESY OF TRANSIT DRIVE-IN)

Call it Margaritaville-North, if you will. Or Margaritaville-Nation, more accurately.

The Transit Drive-In announced this afternoon that Jimmy Buffett will perform in a nationwide drive-in theater live-cast on June 19.

The first-of-it's-kind concert will be beamed via satellite from Coyote Drive-In in Fort Worth, Texas to dozens of select drive-in theaters across the country, including the Transit Drive-In.

With technological advancements in digital projection and satellite delivery, properly equipped drive-in theaters are now capable of presenting a live concert performance in high definition with ultra bright light output on outdoor screens a hundred feet wide, or larger. CD quality sound is delivered to each vehicle using high fidelity FM broadcast.

Transit Drive-In owner Rick Cohen said that those digital advancements were necessary to make a show like this happen.

"I met the people up at Coyote Drive-In Theater at the drive-in convention a couple years ago. And they talked about this idea of having big concerts that simulcast at all the drive-ins in the country," Cohen said.

At the time, though, not enough drive-ins had installed the digital projection necessary to allow for the numbers necessary to make a concert live-cast worthwhile for the artist. In the time that's passed since 2012, however, enough drive-ins have upgraded.

"They approached the Jimmy Buffet people last year and they've been in negotiations. And just last week, they closed the deal," Cohen said.

With popular hit songs such as "Margaritaville," "Cheeseburger In Paradise," and "Changes In Latitudes, Changes In Attitudes," singer Jimmy Buffett has amassed legions of dedicated fans worldwide, commonly referred to as “Parrotheads.” His musical style, described as “gulf and western,” reflects a combination of Caribbean themed rock with country and western along with folk music influences.

Advance tickets for Jimmy Buffett Livecast go on sale Friday at 10 a.m. They will be $18 per person. Cohen expects that enough people will want to watch the show for all four of the drive-in's screens to be showing the concert.

"We're hoping that if it's successful enough, that it will attract other acts," Cohen said. "Could you imagine the Goo Goo Dolls live at the Transit Drive-in, broadcasting to 100,000 people at other drive-ins? Or you could have Bruce Springsteen broadcasting live from a drive-in in New Jersey."



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Niagara County Sheriff's deputies were called to a Hess Road home Sunday afternoon for the report of a missing 2-year-old girl.

According to the report, the girl's grandmother had been watching her and left the toddler outside in a fenced in area for 15-20 minutes before noticing that the girl was missing around 12:30 p.m.

Patrol checked the area when a neighbor contacted NCSO Dispatch advising them that she had found the juvenile. Patrol went with the girl's mother to the neighbor's house where the girl was turned over to her mom.



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A 17-year-old from Lyndonville was charged with marijuana possession after Niagara County Sheriff's deputies were called to investigate a suspicious person in the woods off Lake Avenue in the Town of Lockport.

According to the report, there were two teenage males found in the woods around 9 a.m. Sunday. One of them provided various stories to police about what they were doing there. He also gave police an incorrect date of birth.

When patrol asked the teenager if he had any drugs in his possession, the teen replied, "Yes. Marijuana in my bag." Patrol located a tin can containing a green leafy vegetable matter believed to be marijuana."

The teen was placed into custody for unlawful possession of marijuana and then released him on an appearance ticket returnable to the Town of Lockport Court on May 6.



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If you're building a private library, the Lockport Public Library may be of some help.

The Friends of the Lockport Public Library is holding their Spectacular Spring Used Book Sale from 9 a.m. - 4 p.m. Friday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday at the library. The sale will offer good used materials like books, magazines, CDs and DVDs — at bargain prices.

A members-only pre-sale will be held Thursday from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. Anyone is welcome to join the Friends and shop early. A single person Friends membership is $5 per year. A family membership is $10. Patron, sponsor and lifetime memberships are also available.



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The National Weather Service says it might rain. The chance of it is a mere 100 percent today. And at least 50 percent every day for the next week.

Today brings showers and possibly a thunderstorm, mainly after 11 a.m. with a high near 54. New rainfall amounts between three quarters and one inch are possible. Overnight there is a chance for more showers and a low of around 46. Wednesday offers a 90 percent chance of rain with a high near 63 and a low of around 48.

Thursday, showers are likely, with a high near 60 and a low of around 43. Friday, more showers with a high near 55 and a low of around 41. Chance of precipitation is 50 percent. Saturday offers a high of 57, a low of 40, and a 60 percent chance of rain.

Sunday's chance of rain is only 40 percent with a high near 57 and a low of around 38. Monday forecasts a 30 percent chance of showers with a high near 57.



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Monday, April 28, 2014
A Lockport man told Niagara County Sheriff's deputies that while he was shopping at Save-A-Lot on Transit Road in the Town of Lockport Sunday afternoon, someone entered his vehicle and stole items from it.

The man told patrol that his cigarettes were taken, as was a purse belonging to a female passenger. The purse contained a debit card, driver's license, social security card and $60 cash.

The complainant told patrol that he didn't see anyone near his vehicle when he entered — or returned from — the store. Patrol and State Police canvassed the area with negative results.

Total estimated loss is $117.50



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Monday

  • The Niagara County Legislature Public Works Committee will meet at 6:30 p.m. in the County Courthouse, 175 Hawley St.

Tuesday

  • The County Legislature's Community Safety and Security Committee will meet at 5:30 p.m. at the County Courthouse.
  • The Legislature's Administration Committee will meet at 6 p.m. at the County Courthouse.

Wednesday

  • The Lockport Common Council will hold a work session at 5 p.m. in City Hall, 1 Locks Plaza.



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Niagara County Sheriff Jim Voutour issued a press release this afternoon reminding drivers to move over for emergency vehicles at the side of the road following a Newfane man being charged with DWI while allegedly almost hitting a deputy on Lockport-Olcott Road.

Sheriff's Deputy Patrick Tighe said he just missed being struck by a car driven by Shawn P. Robison, 2720 Beebe Road, while completing another traffic stop late Friday night.

The New York State Ambrose Searles Move Over Law came into effect on Jan. 1, 2011 to protect law enforcement and emergency workers. An addition was made to the law in 2012 to include amber light vehicles such as highway vehicles and tow operators. When approaching these vehicles that are "stopped, parked or standing" on the shoulder of a roadway, drivers are required to reduce speed and move to an open lane if it is safe to do so. Penalties for a violation of this law include 3 points and a minimum $275 fine.



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The New York State Department of Labor released preliminary local area unemployment rates for March showing an increase in jobs and a decrease in unemployment.

The state’s private sector job count increased by 108,200 from March 2013 to March 2014. The state’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 6.9% in March 2014, and the number of private sector jobs in the state was 7,539,300, the highest ever for the month.

In the Buffalo-Niagara Falls region, unemployment dropped from 8.2 percent in March 2013 to 7.1 percent this year — 8.1 percent in Niagara County. Upstate unemployment similarly dropped from 8.1 percent to 7.0 percent, while unemployment downstate dropped from 7.9 percent to 7.4 percent.



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Christine Dorward of Lockport was recently initiated into the Sigma Beta Delta Chapter at Nazareth College, the organization announced.

Dorward is studying Accounting at Nazareth.

Sigma Beta Delta traces its beginnings to 1994, where seven founding chapters were established. Currently, there are over 375 chapters in 47 states across the U.S. It is the highest national recognition a business student can receive at a college or university with a Sigma Beta Delta chapter. To be eligible for membership, a business student must rank in the upper 20 percent of the junior, senior or master's class and be invited to membership by the faculty officers.



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A Chestnut Ridge Road man told Niagara County Sheriff's deputies on Sunday that he recently noticed several pieces of jewelry missing from his home.

Missing jewelry items included a watch, valued at $500, a gold necklace valued at $300, a $200 bracelet and a $350 gold rope necklace. Also reported missing were Oxycodone and Diazepam pills, a GPS, metal detector, rifle and Dicks Sporting Goods gift card. In all, the reported loss was $2,475.

The complainant told patrol that the jewelry could have gone missing anytime over the last year. He also said the other items disappeared at various points over the last year. He said he suspected his house cleaner for the thefts. Patrol advised the man not to allow the cleaner back on his property.



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Jared Person
New York State Police announced over the weekend the arrest and arraignment of a Lockport man charged with sexual misconduct and other charges.

According to the report by NYSP, Jared A Person, 18, of 101 Monroe St., stands accused of sexually assaulting a person with force under the age of 17 in the Town of Newfane. In a separate incident, troopers responded to a physical altercation at a Lincoln Place apartment. Person was said to have begun a verbal and physical altercation with another male, which resulted in damage being caused to the wall in the apartment building hallway.

Person was arrested on April 24 and charged with first-degree criminal sexual act, sexual misconduct, fourth-degree criminal mischief, and second-degree harassment. He was arraigned before Town of Lockport Judge Cheryl Antkowiak and remanded to the Niagara County Jail on $500 cash bail for the criminal mischief and harassment charges, for which he is to re-appear on May 8. Judge Antkowiak placed a $2,500 cash bail on Person regarding the criminal sexual act and sexual misconduct charges, for which he is scheduled to appear before the Town of Newfane Court on May 6.



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Two New York Army National Guardsmen who call Lockport home have recently re-enlisted in the Guard.

Sergeant Thomas Pietkiewicz has reenlisted to continue service with the Company D (Forward Support Company Reconnaissance, Surveillance and Target Acquisition), 427th Brigade Support Battalion BSB.

Sergeant First Class James White has reenlisted to continue service with the Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 27th Brigade Special Troops Battalion.

"The New York Army National Guard has sustained our force at or above 100 percent strength for the better part of five years now," said Major General Patrick A. Murphy, the adjutant general. "Each of our 16,000 men and women serving in the Army and Air National Guard has an important role and I'm pleased that so many continue to reenlist and remain part of our New York National Guard family."

For more information about the New York Army National Guard, visit www.dmna.ny.gov or www.1800goguard.com.



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Central Avenue in Gasport between State Street and East Avenue will be closed today for maintenance work to the railroad crossing. The closure is expected to last until May 5, according to the Niagara County Sheriff's Office.

Once the Central Avenue maintenance is completed, the railroad will move east to Bolton Road next week and then Royalton Center Road the following week.



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The National Weather Service forecasts sunny skies and a high of 56 today followed by a chance of rain and a 47-degree low overnight.

Tuesday calls for possible thunderstorms and a high near 54 with wind gusts up to 40 mph. Tuesday night, rain is likely to continue with a low of around 43. April closes out with showers on Wednesday and a high of 62. Overnight it will be around 48 for the low with more showers or thunderstorms. Thursday showers are likely with a high of 61 and a low of 43.

Friday will be cloudy with a chance of showers, high near 55 and low of around 41. Saturday calls for more rain with a high of 56 and a low of around 40. Sunday offers scattered showers with a high near 57.



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Sunday, April 27, 2014
A Lockport man was charged with breaking into several cars in the Woodlands this morning, as well as stealing $1,000 from an unlocked car on Friday.

According to the report filed by the New York State Police, troopers observed someone matching descriptions given for this morning's break-ins and questioned him. That's when 27-year-old Joseph J. Zavarella admitted to this morning's break-ins, as well as the one on Friday, the report said. He was also found to be in possession of a pipe with crack cocaine residue. He was arrested and charged with fourth-degree grand larceny, petit larceny, attempted petit larceny, and seventh-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance

Further charges are pending the completion of the investigation. Anyone with further information is urged to contact the State Police at 434-5588 or 434-5589.



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Thomas Tibbs
Niagara County Sheriff's deputies charged a 25-year-old Lockport man with driving while intoxicated around 1:30 this morning.

According to the report filed, Thomas J. Tibbs, 151 West Ave., was westbound on Dale Road in Royalton when he struck a vehicle that was partially in the road and facing the wrong direction. Tibbs told patrol he didn't see the vehicle until it was too late and could not avoid hitting it.

When patrol interviewed Tibbs, they determined him to be intoxicated at the time of the incident and charged him with DWI. He was held on $250 bail and ordered to appear in Royalton Town Court on Wednesday. His vehicle was towed and a 12-hour hold was placed on it.

The owner of the vehicle Tibbs struck was issued traffic citations for parking on the roadway and having an uninspected motor vehicle.



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Lockport’s Public Library’s budget for 2014-15 was overwhelmingly approved by voters earlier this week.

The $1.62 million budget, which carried a property tax levy of $1.3 million, received 221 yes votes over 37 no votes on Thursday. It represents a 1.57 percent tax levy increase and carries a spending increase of $10,610 over the 2013-2014 budget.

Newfane School District taxpayers will vote on a publicly funded budget for the first time on May 20. If passed, a $125,000 budget will be established for the 2014-2015 fiscal year and the library will become a school district library, meaning the funding for the library will be hereafter collected by the school district, in much the same way the Lockport Public Library's is. The estimated 27-cent-per $1000 library tax will replace the funding previously provided by the Town of Newfane.



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Niagara County Sheriff's deputies charged a 30-year-old Newfane woman with petit larceny Saturday night after they say she took $8.50 worth of merchandise from Dollar General on McKee Street.

According to the report filed by NCSO, Jennifer A. Noonan, 2571 West Creek Road, placed two items into her purse around 8:15 p.m. Saturday and did not pay for the items while at the cashier. Noonan was confronted after passing all points of purchase. The stolen items included facial cleansing buffs and Maybelline Dream Fresh Balm. The total value of the items were $8.50.

She was placed into custody by deputies without incident and given an appearance ticket for petit larceny, returnable to the Town of Newfane Court on May 6. The stolen items were returned to the store.



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The Newfane Free Library will hold a celebration for this year's Poetry Contest at 6:30 p.m. Thursday.

Winners and participants in the annual poetry writing competition for pre-schoolers through eighth-graders will be recognized. Winners will be reading their original works to the audience the evening of celebration and the winning poems will be on display at the library.



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Shawn Robison
Niagara County Sheriff's deputies charged a 52-year-old Newfane man with driving while intoxicated late Friday night.

According to a report filed by the Niagara County Sheriff's Office, Shawn P. Robison, 2720 Beebe while driving southbound on Lockport-Olcott Road, nearly hit Sheriff's Patrick Tighe after Tighe had just completed another traffic stop.

"I was forced to quickly move and lean up against the patrol vehicle to avoid being struck by the vehicle traveling southbound on Lockport-Olcott Road," Tighe's report said. "I quickly got back into my patrol vehicle and activated the emergency sirens, (emergency lights were already activated) to stop the vehicle that nearly struck me."

The vehicle turned westbound onto Wilson-Burt Road, nearly striking another vehicle at the intersection, continuing westbound in the middle of the roadway, until turning in the parking lot of 2239 West Creek Road, when Tighe approached it.

The deputy asked Robison if he was aware he had almost hit him, Robison responded "Yeah, I am sorry. I drank too much," according to the report.

Robison failed several field sobriety tests and was charged with DWI, second-degree reckless endangerment, reckless driving, failure to keep right, failure to use designated lane, failure to use care to avoid colliding with an emergency vehicle, and improper/no signal. He was transported to Niagara County Jail and held on $500 bail. He is scheduled to appear in the Town of Newfane Court on May 6.



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Moms and friends are invited to enjoy a special night of shopping, snacks, socializing, and fun at the Kenan Center Taylor Theater Meeting Room, from 6 to 9 p.m. Friday.

Participating vendors include Monkey See Monkey Do Bookstore, Thirty-One Gifts, Silpada, Stella and Dot, Discovery Toys, Tastefully Simple, Shaklee, Jamberry Nails, Twigs & Sand Paper Goods, Julie Johnson, Massage Therapist, and Cream and Sugar.

The event benefits the Kenan Center Montessori Preschool.

For more information, call 433-2617.



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The National Weather Service says that it will be partly sunny today with a high of around 54 degree and an overnight low of 36.

Monday will be more sun than clouds with a high near 56. Showers are likely overnight with the temperature dropping to about 43. Tuesday forecasts showers with a high near 55 and a low of around 45. Wednesday there will be more showers. The high will be 59 and the low will be in the upper 40.

Scattered showers are expected for Thursday with a high near 61 and a low overnight of around 44. Friday brings more scattered showers with a high near 57 and a low of around 41. Saturday looks the same as Friday with scattered showers and a high near 57.



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Saturday, April 26, 2014
Mayor Anne McCaffrey talks with Captain Mike Niethe at the department's prescription dropoff this afternoon. (PHOTOS BY HEATHER N. GRIMMER / CONTRIBUTOR)

A car pulls up to drop off prescriptions this afternoon.
The Lockport Police Department collected unused and expired prescription drugs this morning and afternoon at the Lockport Plaza.

Mayor Anne McCaffrey was on hand for the drive- and walk-through dropoff, done in conjunction with the Department of Justice and the Drug Enforcement Agency.

Similar drug drop offs were held at DeGraff Memorial Hospital in North Tonawanda, and the Medina Fire Department on Main Street in Medina.



For more photos from the dropoff, click here.

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A release published moments ago on the Lockport Police Department's Facebook page brings new light to the gunman situation on West Avenue late Friday night and early this morning.

According to the release, the department "responded to a shots fired call on West Avenue at Hawley Street" around 10:30 p.m. "Responding officers found a distraught person armed with a loaded shotgun inside his home."

Assisting LPD was the Niagara County Sheriff's Office and New York State Police. The Lockport Fire Department also assisted in closing roads in the area to keep the scene clear of pedestrians and keep the public safe.

Hostage negotiator Officer Mike Stover was able to persuade the male to surrender around 12:33 a.m. after he had once exited the home at 115 West Ave. around 12:25 a.m. and gone back inside. The individual was to Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center for mental evaluation.

The Lockport Police Department continues to investigate the matter.



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Lockport Fire Board President Pete Robinson talks with members from the department after the crew put out a fire on Minard Street this morning. (PHOTOS BY HEATHER N. GRIMMER / CONTRIBUTOR)

Lockport police and fire departments were called to 27 Minard St. around 10 a.m. in response to a fire that cut through the second story of the home. 




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Thomas Dauria
A 53-year-old Town of Lockport man was charged with DWI early Friday morning after Niagara County Sheriff's deputies say they found him asleep at the wheel of his truck.

According to a report filed by NCSO, Thomas Dauria, 6773 Rapids Road, Lot 245, was seen sitting in the driver's seat of a pickup truck, which was in the grass in the 6900 block of Lincoln Avenue with its engine running, lights still on and keys in the ignition.

Patrol opened the door and turned the vehicle off and woke Dauria, who showed signs of intoxication and was uncooperative, according to the report. He refused a chemical test.

Dauria's vehicle was towed and he was charged with driving while intoxicated, and remanded to Niagara County Jail on $250 bail. He is scheduled to appear in Town of Lockport Court on Tuesday.



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The National Weather Service says it's about 50/50 that it might rain today. The high is expected to be around 49 degrees with a low of 34.

Sunday will be mostly sunny with a high of 46 and a low of 34. Monday will be mostly sunny during the day with a high of 58. Rain is expected at night when the temperature is expected to drop down to 41. Tuesday showers are very likely with a high of 52 and a low of 45.

Wednesday showers are likely again with a high of 59 and a low of 47. Thursday will be mostly cloudy with a high of 58 and a low of 45. Friday there's a chance of showers with a high of 54.



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Friday, April 25, 2014

The Lockport Police Department has detained a man they say brandished a shotgun around 11:30 p.m. Friday on West Avenue near Hawley Street.

The man came out of the house once at around 12:25 a.m., but quickly went back inside. When he came out again around 12:33 a.m., he crossed West Avenue and police detained him. A unit was sent into the home to retrieve the weapon.

Police had shut down roads in the area of the situation in order to keep pedestrians clear from danger. Navy Marine Club and Shamus patrons had been asked by LPD to "shelter in place" during the situation.

A negotiator had been called to the scene.



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Patricia Davis
The injury accident on Route 425 in Wilson this morning that closed the road, lead to three arrests, according to Niagara County Sheriff's Office reports.

According to the NCSO incident report, a 1996 Ford F250, driven by Patricia Davis, 25, of Wilson, was heading northbound on Wilson-Cambria Road when it crossed over the southbound land and exited the roadway, striking a power pole.

When patrol arrived, Davis and her passenger Ralph Gillon, 44, of Niagara Falls gave conflicting stories of what caused the accident. Davis also at first provided false information of her name. Based on interview with Davis and a witness to the accident, it was revealed that a second female passenger had fled the vehicle before patrol arrival.

Ralph Gillon
Davis was charged with driving while ability impaired by drugs, DWI, false personation, seventh-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance, possession of a hypodermic instrument, failure to keep right, and open container of an alcoholic beverage. Gillon was charged with seventh-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance.

Patrol was told by some area residents that the female passenger was running southbound through some yards on German Road. Patrol pulled into a driveway west of the original callers house and gave chase southbound towards an open field where the female was running. Patrol quickly caught the female and secured her without incident.

Kelly L. Jarvis, 24, 518 10th St., Niagara Falls, was taken into custody by patrol and charged with criminal possession of a controlled substance, possession of a hypodermic instrument and unlawful possession of marijuana. They had found $20 worth of marijuana and $50 worth of crack cocaine in her purse, the report said.

Jarvis was taken back to NCSO for further processing and all evidence seized was turned over for lab testing. An active Niagara Falls warrant was also faxed to NCSO and Jarvis will be held on that warrant per NFPD.

All three were held on $500 police bail with a return court date set for next week in the Town of Wilson.



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