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Jay Tokasz

Jay Tokasz, who covers higher education for The Buffalo News, has spent 24 years in newspapers, writing on a wide range of subjects, from evidence-tampering cops to papal elections. He previously worked for the Ithaca Journal and the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle.


Heather Smith jotted down a few thoughts shortly after learning that her uncle, Mark Congdon, had died in a plane crash.As she shared her thoughts with other relatives -- Congdon had 24 nieces and nephews -- the portrait grew. Family members revealed other stories; the nuances of Congdon's personality emerged.Smith collected memories and delivered a short eulogy at Congdon…

The Presbytery of Western New York will begin a search for an interim general presbyter following the resignation of the Rev. David W. McKee earlier this week.The presbytery accepted McKee's resignation Tuesday.The longtime minister served since 1997 as general presbyter, akin to a chief pastor role, for a presbytery of more than 15,000 Presbyterians in 69 congregations in…

Joseph J. Marino fondly recalls the days when he could walk into the executive offices of a thriving Niagara Falls corporation, spell out the charitable needs of the community and walk out with a significant donation for the United Way of Niagara."It was just a matter of (the chief executive officer) putting a signature on a check," Marino said.Corporate fund-raising in…

Four Catholic schools in Cheektowaga and Depew whose subsidies pose a problem for their parishes because of declining enrollments will close at the end of the school year.Bishop Henry J. Mansell announced Friday that he had approved the recommended closings of schools at Our Lady of Czestochowa, St. Andrew, St. James and SS. Peter and Paul. In addition, Our Lady Help of Ch…

The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. himself would have had trouble identifying all the countries represented during a parade of flags in his memory Sunday evening during the annual King Day celebration in Shea's Performing Arts Center.Students from Grover Cleveland High School waved flags from 23 countries, including Brazil, Liberia, Sudan, Nigeria, Mexico, Somalia, Senegal, I…

A whole lot of bluster turned out to be enough to close Buffalo Public Schools on Monday, but school officials weren't second-guessing their decision.The potential for a messy commute with high winds and a burst of lake-effect snow never materialized. City schoolchildren received the day off anyway.A spokesman for the district said school officials were concerned about chi…

Some Catholic elementary schools could be shut down and merged with others to save money and improve education, under plans likely to be presented to Bishop Henry Mansell this week.School closings could happen by the beginning of the next school year, in September.However, no decisions have been made about which schools, if any, would close. The bishop, who has been reluct…

A growing number of elderly people, forced out of their homes for a variety of reasons, end up in area hospitals even though they don't need acute medical care, according to a study examining emergency services in Erie County.The stays cost as much as $700 per night and sometimes clog up busy hospitals, but these elderly have nowhere else to go because they are not fit eno…

A Grinchlike economy stole the season of giving in Western New York.Traditional end-of-the-year appeals for charitable contributions came up short for many area nonprofit groups -- in some cases by tens of thousands of dollars.Without the money, organizations are now scrambling to figure out how they'll pay energy bills and stay out of the red.The list of the struggling in…

For a few moments Monday morning, Niagara Square looked and sounded a bit like Ralph Wilson Stadium after a touchdown -- only the praises were for Jesus rather than Drew Bledsoe."Shout the praises of God! Shout Jesus!" declared Michael Chorey, director of the Niagara 2002 Youth Conference.An estimated 4,500 teenagers and youth leaders responded with a sweeping wavelike sta…

A group of Catholic hospitals, schools and nonprofit organizations filed a lawsuit Monday seeking to overturn a new state law requiring that they provide contraception coverage in their employee health insurance packages.The State Supreme Court suit requests an injunction to stop the law, which takes effect Wednesday.In a joint statement, the state's eight Catholic bishops…

Through phone calls to people in Western New York, Campaign Headquarters in North Tonawanda raised more than $327,000 last year on behalf of the Buffalo Police Benevolent Association.In the end, however, the Buffalo police union got $102,913, less than one-third of the money.The remaining two-thirds went to cover Campaign Headquarters' costs and fees.The lopsided numbers a…

Only in the darkest, darkest days, for just a few minutes, did Ralph and Judy Kosinski think that maybe they never would have children.The odds seemed to be stacked against them. The insurmountable biological hurdles preventing pregnancy. A failed attempt to adopt an adorable Russian girl that fell apart when the girl's biological family pressured her to stay in her homela…

Residents in the impoverished neighborhood around St. Luke's Mission of Mercy began knocking on the door Monday morning once word got out that donated gifts were piling up in the sanctuary.Mission staff had planned gift packages for 100 families, but now they were facing additional needy people who hadn't signed up for the packages.How would they satisfy everyone?The Rev. …

Nearly $6 million from the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development will go to a variety of projects aimed at eliminating homelessness in Erie County.The grants include money for more outreach to homeless people, a new information system to track the homeless, a caseworker, additional temporary apartments and expansion of a Buffalo homeless drop-in center."It's …