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Joseph Popiolkowski

Joseph Popiolkowski is a reporter for The Buffalo News covering Buffalo's inner suburbs, including the towns of Tonawanda, Cheektowaga and West Seneca.


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By most appearances, the annual YMCA Turkey Trot was its usual festive affair Thursday morning. A mix of serious runners trailed by amateurs in silly Thanksgiving costumes streamed down Delaware Avenue under the faintest snowfall.But there was a noticeable absence felt among the capacity 14,000 participants this year. Longtime race director Tom Donnelly, a stalwart of the …

Local News

Last week’s historic snowstorm was a major topic of conversation Wednesday night among the thousands of Buffalo expatriates who make their annual sojourn here for Thanksgiving to visit friends and family who this year lived through “Snowvember.”“Everyone who knows I’m from Buffalo was asking me, ‘Oh, how are all your friends and family up there? I hope everything’s OK,’ ” …

Buffalo

Buffalo added its voice Tuesday night to an angry chorus from cities across the U.S. protesting a grand jury’s decision not to indict the white police officer who fatally shot an unarmed 18-year-old African-American man in Ferguson, Mo., more than three months ago.“I was upset but I knew it was going to happen,” said Jamil Young of Buffalo, one of about 200 people who join…

Erie County

With the return of winter weather, motorists resumed their white-knuckle grip Thursday.On the season’s first day of accumulated snowfall, police and fire crews responded to a spate of mid-afternoon and evening traffic crashes across Erie County, including a head-on crash in North Collins that sent three people to the hospital. Three other incidents involved school buses.Th…

A side access road to a bustling plaza on Transit Road in Clarence was unanimously approved Wednesday night by the Town Planning Board over strenuous objections of nearby residents.“The people who are directly impacted by this were clear and unanimous in their opposition to the road,” Arman Afshani said following the vote. “But the Planning Board overlooked the people who …

Leaders of American Legion Post 264 tonight tried to calm some members' concerns after it was revealed that the post's building in the City of Tonawanda has been sold. "I believe that most of the Legion members now have a grasp of why it needed to be done," post Commander Dan Misner said tonight following the Legion's meeting. "I wouldn't say everyone's on board, more lik…

The average annual town tax bill for homeowners in the Town of Tonawanda will increase by $8.51 under the 2015 budget adopted last week.Lawmakers voted unanimously in favor of the budget following a sparsely attended public hearing; most of those in attendance were department heads.“It is probably the most difficult budget that we’ve put together, at least in the time that…

Local News

The images of today’s veterans are as common as they are troubling. The homeless veteran pushes a shopping cart with all his worldly possessions. Another sleeps in a cardboard box. The veteran with post-traumatic stress disorder can’t keep a job or stay in a relationship.Some veterans, for sure, have real problems.But for most, the reality is far different from the one sho…

Among the many Veterans Day ceremonies taking place tomorrow is the Town of Tonawanda's annual memorial service at 11 a.m. on the Village Green in front of the municipal building at Delaware Avenue and Delaware Road. Former Town Justice and World War II veteran John J. Gruber will be the guest speaker. The event, which is sponsored by the town's American Legion and VFW pos…

Local News

Get ready for a ride on the roller coaster that is fall weather in Western New York. A warm front ahead of a storm system will bring southwesterly winds across the area today, ushering in much warmer air and possibly a record high temperature, said meteorologist Shawn Smith of the National Weather Service in Buffalo.But that warmth will be short-lived, Smith cautioned, wit…

Erie County

For a respite from the mudslinging in the 60th State Senate District race, listen to the candidates for the mostly overlapping 140th Assembly, where both sides have taken the high road.“I’ve met him and I like him,” incumbent Robin Schimminger says of his Republican challenger, certified public accountant William J. Reece.“I thank Robin for his many years of service,” Reec…

City of Tonawanda firefighters are protesting proposed staffing changes for the department in next year’s budget that they say will limit their ability to do their jobs.“It’s going to change the types of incidents that we’re able to respond to,” said Jim Barber, Tonawanda president of Uniformed Professional Firefighters Local 859. “Other certain non-emergency calls we’re j…

A spike in the price of road salt has Town of Tonawanda officials thinking of new ways to stretch their supply and still keep roads clear this winter.The price per ton of road salt jumped $16.17 from $33.28 last year to $49.45 this year, Highway Superintendent William E. Swanson told the Town Board on Monday. The board approved purchasing 10,000 tons of road salt – 4,000 t…

At last night's Ken-Ton School Board meeting, Superintendent Dawn Mirand noted that the district is scheduled to be featured tonight in Wolf Blitzer's installment of the CNN series “Roots,” in which thirteen of the network’s prominent hosts and anchors set out on a journey to discover their family heritage. Blitzer visited the district in late August and toured his alma…

Concern was expressed this week night about a sharp decline in some Kenmore-Town of Tonawanda student achievement test scores, particularly in the district’s middle schools.“Grade eight was a real struggle for our students,” Robin Zymroz, assistant superintendent for instruction and student services, said during an update to the School Board at its regular monthly meeting …