Mark Sommer, The Buffalo News
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Mark Sommer

I have worked at the Buffalo News as an enterprise reporter, and as arts editor, for the past 17 years.


The 370 books and pamphlets  Eugene Musial collected over his more than nine decades included the first books ever printed and published in Buffalo. Think about that. There aren't memorable, first-edition novels, or biographies of early presidents or adventurers. But the government documents, books and other materials offer a rare glimpse into a nearly lost time - B…

Help-wanted ads from one of the largest carnival operators on the East Coast failed to get a single call back for full-time jobs this year. Fortunately for Strates Shows, Jose Melendez and other Mexican workers can be counted on. The Mexicans make up about half of the full-time Strates Shows workers who set up and operate the rides. Most hail from either Durango or T…

The effort to build a new Seneca Babock Community Center at the site of former Buffalo Public School 26 received a major boost Thursday. Businessman Roger Hungerford announced he would match the $1 million donation made in March 2016 by Dr. Daniel and Gail Alexander for a new community center at 82 Harrison St., off Seneca Street. The City of Buffalo has allocated $6…

The renamed Richardson Olmsted Campus will hold an information session Wednesday to discuss future moves. But those next steps will be taken without Monica Pellegrino Faix as executive director. Faix was instrumental over the past 10 years in transforming part of the abandoned Buffalo State Asylum for the Insane into the Hotel Henry Urban Resort Conference Center as…

A crane lifted a new aluminum dome onto the roof of the Buffalo Museum of Science Friday so that stargazers will be able to explore outer space next year. The Kellogg Observatory dome replaces the original patina-ed copper dome removed in June. The observatory will house the museum's refurbished Lundin telescope and will be handicap-accessible for the first time by bein…

Sometimes fame comes when you least expect it. It happened to poet Maggie Smith after "Good Bones" was published online in June 2016, the same week as a deadly nightclub shooting in Orlando and the assassination of an anti-Brexit leader in London. Smith's 17 lines of poetry on the beauty and ugliness of the world, and how to protect children from the worst of it, tou…

People passing by Parkside Candy in University Heights could be excused for doing a double take. For as long as many can remember, the twin 1940s-era signs over the entrance to the shop, located at 3208 Main St., had looked rusted and rundown. That all changed Thursday – when two brand-new, Art Deco-style replicas were hoisted by crane above the candy and ice cream sh…

"An Inconvenient Truth," the 2006 film formed around Al Gore's powerful, science-based slideshow on global climate change, won an Oscar for best documentary. It also helped propel Gore to a Nobel Peace Prize the following year. Now, comes the release of "An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power." Is a follow-up really warranted? Oh yeah. Gore's continued efforts ar…

What tornado? When the crowds arrive for the Erie County Fair, which gets underway at noon Wednesday, they'll see little evidence of the July 20 twister that tore through the fairgrounds causing some $1.2 million in damage. The grandstand's roof and the judging and announcing booths have been replaced, along with more than 200 windows that were blown out. The 1930…

"An Inconvenient Truth," about former Vice President Al Gore's science-heavy slide show on global warming, was one of the most successful documentaries in box-office history when it came out in 2006. The film raised awareness of the global threat and is the 11th top-grossing documentary to date. The film, directed by Davis Guggenheim, won an Oscar for Best Documentary i…

Three Canalside projects will each receive $500,000 in state grants. The money will be used for the Explore & More Children's Museum under construction, the planned Buffalo Heritage Carousel and expansion of the Buffalo and Erie County Naval & Military Park. “It’s my belief that with these three attractions we’ll make this more of a year-round destinati…

When a nun portrayed by Aubrey Plaza unleashes a torrent of F-bombs at a gardener in the opening scene of "The Little Hours," it's clear something's amiss. That, it turns out, is just the first glimpse of convent life gone awry in this raunchy tale of lust and buffoonery. Catholic sisters Alessandra (Alison Brie), Fernanda (Plaza) and Ginevra (Kate Micucci) are Itali…

Jan. 15, 1945 - July 27, 2017 Hank Sontag, an antique dealer who owned Horsefeathers Architectural Antiques and Hollywood Hank's, loved what he did. Two years ago, he reluctantly signed an agreement with his family promising to retire. He slowly phased out the store – but not the wheeling and dealing. "We'd get mad at him because he would still buy stuff," said …

The tattered SS Columbia looks like a ghost ship. The three-deck steamboat that last transported passengers a quarter-century ago between Detroit and an amusement park in Canada now sits docked on the Buffalo River in the middle of the old grain silos. Peeling paint, rotted wood and rust mark the once-gleaming boat. The ballroom on the second deck could have staged t…

Join me. That's the message Kevin Gaughan sent this week to leaders of the Buffalo Olmsted Parks Conservancy and to David Colligan, a former chairman. Gaughan has been pitching a $42 million plan with golf legend Jack Nicklaus to create two Nicklaus-designed golf courses in South Park and Delaware Park. The plan also calls for restoring Frederick Law Olmsted's arb…