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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.


Buffalo

A row of seats with a name tag on each seat sat empty for 90 minutes Saturday. The chairs were for commissioners of the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority. A representative of the advocacy group Buffalo Transit Riders United had presented the NFTA's chairwoman, Sister Denise Roche, with an invitation on March 22 to attend Saturday's meeting, held in a room at St.…

A man who was denied using a check to make expensive purchases was arrested after becoming combative Thursday, police said. Javon Carter tried to buy $400 in gift cards and a carton of cigarettes at a store at 650 Delaware Ave., despite a previous incident in which he wrote a bad check for gift cards. Carter was told to leave on multiple times, and police were called…

The Boys and Girls Club of Buffalo appears the loser in a case of grand larceny. East Side resident Shari McDonald told Buffalo Police she ordered 42 notebook computers with a value of $32,550 from Close 2 Da Edge PC Technology Solutions. McDonald said the company's owner, Vern Ramon Lockridge, cashed the check on Dec. 27, 2017, and the Boys and Girls Club has not re…

Buffalo

Two teenagers attempted to steal a car after forcing the two occupants out at gunpoint on the East Side Friday. Buffalo police say the two teens showed they had a black hand gun at 7:30 p.m. to get the driver and passenger out of the car. They proceeded to blow out the drive shaft trying to operate the car and fled on foot. The teens were apprehended at 282 Babcock S…

Local News

Tim Tielman has been called an obstructionist, and he'll no doubt be called one again. But it can be argued that no one has done more than him in Western New York to save Buffalo's history from the wrecking ball. Tielman has played critical roles in preserving the Richardson Olmsted Campus, the Webb Building, Squire Mansion, the Metzger Building and the Great Norther…

Two former members of the New York chapter of the Black Panther Party are in Buffalo for local appearances. Sekou Odinga, who was also a member of Malcolm X's Organization of Afro-American Unity, and Dhoruba Bin Wahad will be speaking at 7 p.m. Friday in Burning Books, 420 Connecticut St.; 1 p.m. Saturday at Pilgrim-St. Luke's Church, 335 Richmond Ave.; and 4:30 p.m. Mo…

Buffalo

Buffalo saw an evolving Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. speak out against the Vietnam War in Buffalo, less than five months before he was assassinated 50 years ago Wednesday. The civil rights leader came to Kleinhans Music Hall on Nov. 9, 1967, months after first linking the growing anti-war movement to the civil rights movement. "I must honestly say, even as those who d…

Buffalo

Linda L. Steffan's store has a frozen-in-time, no-frills look. Shelves holding hundreds of boxes and drawers with faded names reach the 12-foot-high dropped ceiling at M. Steffan's Sons Inc. Rickety wooden ladders run along a track on the sides of the store. Display cases haven't been disturbed in decades. The tile floor, once a shiny red and cream, is worn and missi…

Buffalo

A proposal for a Rick James neon public art display outside a public parking garage in Buffalo has been dropped. Organizers planned to erect the homage to the Buffalo-born funk star on Elmwood Avenue, near the former Women & Children's Hospital. But James' 1994 conviction for assaulting and imprisoning a woman, as well as his acquittal at another trial where viol…

Buffalo

The Western New York Land Conservancy wants public input on a proposed trail along the abandoned DL&W rail corridor in downtown Buffalo. [Gallery: Explore Buffalo's 'High Line'] An open house for the 1 1/2-mile DL&W Corridor, which runs from the Buffalo River near Solar City to downtown Buffalo near Canalside, will be held at 6 p.m. Wednesday in the Larkin at…

Buffalo

The homeownership rate in the Buffalo Niagara region dropped to its second-lowest level in 25 years in 2017, according to new data released by the Census Bureau. Not since 2009 during the Great Recession has the region's homeownership rate been lower than last year's 62.4 percent. A marked uptick in rentals accompanied the drop in homeownership. The region's renta…

Books

The news is full of stories about refugees fleeing harsh and often uninhabitable conditions. Viet Thanh Nguyen (pronounced like "Win") knows something about that. Nguyen came to the United States at age 4 with his family from Vietnam following the fall of Saigon. His search for identity led to his debut novel, "The Sympathizer," a spy novel set in Vietnam that earned…

Buffalo

Preservation Buffalo Niagara has announced the honorees for its 2018 Preservation Awards. The recipients are: for the Project of Distinction, the Hotel Henry at the Richardson Olmsted campus; for Outstanding Commercial Project, Evergreen Lofts and The Sinclair; for Outstanding Residential Project, Harmony House, at 3 St. John's Place; and for Neighborhood Conservation, …

Buffalo

The owner of Ontario Express in Riverside said he was robbed at gunpoint early Saturday afternoon. Muthana Ahmed Ali Saleh reported that an unknown suspect came into his store at 245 Ontario St., brandished a large handgun and demanded money from the cash register. Saleh said he gave the man $165, and the suspect fled on foot into a house on Mayer Avenue. Police s…

Buffalo

Artists who created "The Freedom Wall" mural on East Ferry Street, near Michigan Avenue, and the president of People Inc. will be honored by Housing Opportunities Made Equal on April 13. Edreys Wajed, Julia Bottoms, John Baker and Chuck Tingley painted the 28-panel mural as part of the Albright-Knox Art Gallery Public Art Initiative, in partnership with Niagara Frontier…