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Aaron Besecker

Aaron Besecker is a breaking news and criminal justice reporter for The Buffalo News. He has been a News staff reporter since '07.


Several state beaches, including the one in Woodlawn Beach State Park, will be closed to swimmers this summer, while budget cuts will shorten hours and days of operation at other facilities across Western New York, state parks officials announced Thursday.The closuring and operating changes anticipate a 15 percent reduction in this year's operating budget for the state Off…

Pledging to reduce spending, repair roads and restore professionalism and confidence in City Hall, 29-year-old Army National Guardsman and City Clerk-Treasurer Robert G. Ortt entered the race for mayor Wednesday.In a speech before about 50 people in the Stephen Sikora Post 1322, American Legion, Ortt said the city's problems, while challenging, are less daunting than what …

A proposed year-round snow park in downtown Niagara Falls with a tubing hill and a synthetic ice rink will receive a 10-year break on property taxes as a result of an agreement approved Wednesday by the Niagara County Industrial Development Agency.The agency's board voted, 7-0, to approve a payment-in-lieu-of-taxes agreement with Snow Park LLC, a company operated by Joseph…

The "Pothole Killer" will hit the streets of North Tonawanda next week after lawmakers approved a contract with a Pennsylvania firm Tuesday.The city will pay Patch Management about $500 per day, for a total of $30,200, under the contract approved, 5-0, by the Common Council.A one-man spray-injection machine, the "Killer" has already been used in Niagara Falls to combat pot…

The restaurant, kitchen and retail portions of Niagara County Community College's new hospitality and tourism school in downtown Niagara Falls could all be up and running about four months after the school and the owner of a hotel complete a lease agreement.The problem, though, is that a final lease has not yet been completed, college President James P. Klyczek said Monday…

Racism will live on, no matter how many people stand in the rain and demonstrate against it.That was part of the message that Bill Bradberry, president of the Niagara Branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, delivered Friday at an event coinciding with the YWCA's "Stand Against Racism."One of the day's first local events took place in Niaga…

Operators of the Northeast's only hazardous waste landfill dug almost 300 12-foot holes in the soil beneath their Town of Porter facility last September in the area where they want to build a new landfill.CWM Chemical Services was checking for chemical and radiological contamination at the urging of state environmental regulators but proceeded without approval from regulat…

A South Buffalo family wants answers after police shot and killed two of their dogs during a raid Saturday, leaving blood puddled on a living-room carpet and speckled on the wall.Police, who were looking for a drug suspect and narcotics, left the Indian Church Road home without finding any evidence or arresting anyone, according to residents of the house.The incident has l…

As one of the holiest times in the Christian calendar nears its peak, an area vocal group is harnessing the power of song to help tell the season's tale.The Lewiston Choraleers will perform six free concerts at Lewiston and Niagara Falls-area churches in the days leading up to Easter Sunday, April 12.Their material: an Easter cantata, "The Rose of Calvary," written by Jose…

A study prepared for a parks advocacy organization says nearly 5,000 jobs and more than a half-billion dollars in annual economic output are tied to state parks in Erie and Niagara counties.The total economic impact statewide due to the spending of the state parks office and park visitors is nearly $2 billion and is tied to more than 20,000 jobs, according to the study pre…

Ongoing efforts to improve the state of fishing on Lake Ontario have turned up some mixed results, state and federal regulators said Wednesday evening.In a gathering for anglers at Cornell Cooperative Extension, representatives of the state Department of Environmental Conservation and the U.S. Geological Survey said the complex ecosystem that is Lake Ontario and its tribut…

The man who ran the South Buffalo Moose Lodge had lashed out before, but last weekend, he reached a new extreme, according to police.In early 2007, Robert L. Braughler Sr. was accused of punching a woman in the head while he was fighting with a man inside the South Park Avenue lodge.Then, in November 2007, Braughler and another man allegedly attacked a man, breaking his no…

Don Sunshine, a minister based in southeast Pennsylvania, is coming to a Lockport church later this month to run a Christian outreach workshop.It's a return trip for Sunshine, a former police officer and member of the SWAT team at a department in northern New Jersey, who came to Lockport Alliance Church to present a similar program in 2007.When he comes back on March 28, i…

A Wheatfield woman with 10 adopted children will be honored later this year by the North American Council on Adoptable Children, based in St. Paul, Minn., as the group's "adoption activist of the year."Jody R. Hansen-Walker, 45, is an adoption coordinator for the Rochester-based Hillside Children's Center.Originally from Cheektowaga, Hansen-Walker used to work designing al…

NIAGARA FALLS -- It was 6:11 a.m.Nine armed men hopped out of a white Ford van and approached the rear of a three-story Fourth Street home.In a matter of seconds, the SWAT team was inside the home, face to face with a man who had been sleeping with a sawed-off shotgun under his mattress.A Buffalo News photographer and reporter were embedded Thursday morning with the Orlean…