Sandra Tan, The Buffalo News
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Sandra Tan

Cityside reporter primarily covering Erie County government. Previously covered Buffalo Public Schools and other community and issue-oriented beats.


Well, it's official. I am completely unafraid of heights. The first thing I said when I stepped outside onto the narrow metal platform 1,168 feet above the ground wasn't, "Oh my God. What was I thinking?" It was, "It's raining!" I'd waited two months for this day, ever since my inspired husband handed me an envelope for my birthday and said, "I just want to say, this…

The Erie County Water Authority last year declared a purchasing “emergency” so it could hire a law firm and then racked up more than $129,500 in legal fees. But agency officials won’t say what kind of legal work $129,500 buys. They also won’t precisely explain why they hired Phillips Lytle last November or what the lawyers are doing. The legal expenses sta…

Southtowns residents are being asked to restrict their water use for another week, at least until next Thursday. But this is short-term inconvenience is likely to be followed by more extended pain — in the pocketbook. The water main break at the Sturgeon Point Water Treatment Plant is now pegged at over $1 million. "This is, by far, the worst incident that's eve…

More than 100,000 Southtowns residents could begin feeling the effects of low water pressure soon if efforts aren't made to curb water usage while the Erie County Water Authority continues to struggle with a complicated repair job for the third straight day. "We're going to be down near 30 feet when we're done," said ECWA Chairman Robert Anderson. "This has been one com…

Scajaquada Creek had the undivided attention of New York State Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie for about half an hour Monday. Looking down at a stretch of the polluted and sewage-fouled creek just west of Cheektowaga Town Park, Heastie also saw the broken trash gates that are supposed to keep debris out of the water. Laying against two of the five trash gates were asso…

Counties were told this year to come up with shared services ideas to contain property taxes. The order came from the state, part of the 2018 state budget. Ultimately, a panel of officials from across Erie County -- mayors, town supervisors and the county executive -- worked to come up with a list of at least 22 ways to work together to save taxpayers up to $4.5 million ne…

Where are the best spots to fish for northern pike, steelhead trout, bass, carp and crappie? A new online map can now tell you, and steer you to the best fishing holes along the Lake Erie shoreline. The new online map may be found at wnyfishing.mrf.com “What we now have made available to the public is a user-friendly internet mapping tool that helps promote the tr…

If you're a woman with a college degree in Erie County, chances are you are making a fourth to a third less than a man of the same educational level. On average, you're making more than $16,000 less. That's if you went to college. If you didn't, you could be earning up to 40 percent less than a man. For full-time employees who work year round, regardless of education…

Erie County Legislator Ted Morton wants to amend the county charter to require that county purchases of $10,000 or more be substantially made in America. Under the proposed law, called the Made in America Act, businesses that contract with the county would have to guarantee that the goods or materials they provide are manufactured or produced "in whole, or in substantia…

There's never a good time to discharge black sewer gunk into Niagara Falls. But doing it on a beautiful Saturday afternoon at the height of tourist season may be the worst timing ever. Niagara Falls State Park was packed with visitors around 4 p.m. Saturday when the foul-smelling, black discharge came billowing out into the Niagara River within sight of the base of the …

Erie County will hold a free household hazardous waste drop-off day from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 5, at Erie Community College's North Campus in Amherst. Items accepted for disposal include: • Pesticides, fertilizers, pool and household chemicals/cleaners (limit 2 gallons or 20 pounds) • Oil-based (not latex) paints, spray cans (limit 10 gallons) • Paint…

William Geary Jr. is Erie County's new Department of Public Works commissioner. Geary has served as deputy commissioner of the department's Highway Division since 2012. He replaces Charles Sickler, the interim commissioner after former Commissioner John Loffredo retired in January. He will earn an annual salary of $131,317 in his new position. “Bill Geary is a grea…

Erie County legislators did not expect it to be so hard spending $500,000 fighting the opioid epidemic. Indeed, legislators wanted to award the grant money fast given the rate of one county resident dying of a suspected overdoses every day of the year. But instead, of 13 spending proposals submitted by community organizations to address the drug crisis, the Legislatu…

There's no doubt about it — Erie County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz is Lackawanna's favorite son. The mayor said so Tuesday. But more importantly for Poloncarz, he's the son of a steelworker. Roughly 100 people stepped gingerly along a fresh dirt path and found their way into a party tent on Bethlehem Steel property in Lackawanna Tuesday morning. They applauded the…