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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.


Ending months of anticipation, the board of directors of Hispanics United of Buffalo named a recent New York State Board of Parole commissioner as its new executive director Tuesday.Rochester resident Israel Gonzalez, 57, will take the helm of the troubled Hispanic social services agency beginning Monday."I believe I have the ability, the credentials, the interest and hear…

Local Hispanic leaders who are faced with the loss of $80,000 in drug-prevention money say they will do whatever it takes to make sure those dollars don't leave the lower West Side.Given the financial crisis surrounding Hispanics United of Buffalo, the community's largest social services agency, many Latino residents worry that government agencies providing financing will …

A Cheektowaga toddler, who was among six children left with a 17-year-old uncle while their mother vacationed, drowned in a backyard pool Thursday.Eighteen-month-old Destinee Parry managed to make her way outside her French Road home early Thursday afternoon, according to Cheektowaga police. She apparently climbed five steps onto the backyard deck before falling into the f…

The smell of fresh Italian bread wafts across the counter at Cristiano's Bakery as the staff racks and wraps the hundreds of hot, fresh loaves. Owner Pat Cristiano finishes off a last bit of bread and some orange juice.Born and raised on the West Side, Cristiano, 61, has worked in the Niagara Street bakery since he was a boy. But the complexion of the neighborhood and the …

Leaders of the Greater Buffalo Chapter of the American Red Cross announced Thursday that they would consider alternative locations for the placement of an emergency shelter that would serve disaster victims whose homes have burned.The board of directors made the decision Wednesday evening in the face of long-standing community opposition to plans that would place such a fa…

The blighted Upper West Side could be reinvigorated by partnering community services, creating a multicultural center, adding more health and day care services, and developing an entrepreneurial business district, according to a neighborhood report.The recent analysis prepared by the University at Buffalo's School of Architecture and Planning states that the Upper West Sid…

Hispanics United of Buffalo, the lead West Side social service agency for Hispanic residents, went on the offensive Wednesday with a rally to stir public support for its programs.About 50 people with signs reading, "Our community demands justice" and, "Don't cut funding to our community" gathered in Niagara Square to protest a decision by the state to cut funding for the a…

Rob Zimmerman was taking his ordinary route to work at about 2:30 p.m. Monday when he saw a tractor-trailer taking the ramp from the northbound Niagara Thruway onto the Scajaquada Expressway begin to tip over."You could tell his load shifted," Zimmerman said. "I was like, 'Oh my God!' "But Zimmerman was more than just a gawking spectator. He also happened to be an emergenc…

Cindy Longboat says she won't forget the night the lights went out on Hertel Avenue.She was working at Garangelo Cafe on Hertel and making her way through a thick Friday-night dinner crowd last month when everything went black."It was horrible," she recalled. "People started getting up and leaving."Construction crews associated with the $10 million Hertel Avenue street pro…

A young Buffalo man was killed and another injured when a shooter opened fire on an East Side street shortly before midnight Friday.Toriano Brown, 19, of Bailey Avenue, and Deshawn Clark, 25, of West Avenue, were walking along Brinkman Avenue when a man approached them and fired several shots, Buffalo Police Detective James Giardina said.Both men were struck once in the up…

The five-day Italian Heritage Festival opened Wednesday with strong entertainers, big rides, happy patrons, angry neighbors and the usual smells of deep-fried food. As always, it was a mixed bag.French fries, fried onions and funnel cakes stood sprinkled among the stromboli, pasticciotti and cannoli stands. Soaring Italian arias and beautiful Italian and big-band classics …

Buffalo old-timers remember the days stretching back to World War II when the Sorrento Cheese Italian Heritage Festival was still simply called St. Anthony's Festival.Back then, it was much more of a West Side religious celebration. Italian residents fell silent as the statue of St. Anthony was carried through the streets and men and women pinned their money and their pray…

On your mark, Harry Potter fans.Get set to sprint to the nearest bookstore, where "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire," the fourth book in J.K. Rowling's hugely popular series, goes on sale today.In fact, by now some copies will have have disappeared from the shelves. Many area outlets stayed open after midnight Friday to give Harry's Horde a chance to buy early.Every maj…

With an ax and a heavy pair of bolt cutters, vandals broke into four satellite and cell phone towers late Sunday in the Town of Eden and adjacent areas, causing more than a half-million dollars in damage and interrupting some service, police said.The culprits first broke into a Cellular One mobile phone tower at 2300 Shadagee Road shortly after 10 p.m. Sunday, said Investi…

Two police departments and at least a half-dozen citizens were responsible for tracking down a husband-and-wife team responsible for one purse-snatching, possibly several, involving senior citizens in the Buffalo area."I do want to say that in 17 years of police work, this is one of those cases that will stand out in my mind," said Joseph Turkovich, a West Seneca police of…