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Sean Kirst

Sean Kirst is a columnist for The Buffalo News. Raised in Dunkirk, he has been an Upstate journalist for more than 40 years.


Featured

Jim Julian wrote the note after reading Wednesday's paper. He saw my column about the Electric Tower, a piece explaining how the owner, Paul Iskalo, just invested $100,000 in a new LED exterior lighting system for the downtown Buffalo landmark. The column explained how the building went up in 1912 as a kind of commercial temple of electricity, how the original lighting …

Buffalo

In this regard, Michael Kless speaks for much of Buffalo. He is chief engineer at the Electric Tower, the Washington Street landmark owned by Iskalo Development. That means he has 14 floors worth of equipment and wiring to deal with every day, creating a building that to an engineer almost becomes a living thing. Yet this is no ordinary landmark in the city. Kless never…

Local News

During the yuletide, if you happen to run into Francis Geremia, there's a good chance he'll hand you a Christmas card. Each one carries the image of a beagle, staring at the camera with solemn and knowing eyes. "That dog understood me," Francis said. "Everything that happened for me, with Snoopy, it happened hand-in-hand." Francis, 57, is a quiet Upstate legend. H…

Columns

It was not the destination a kid from Olcott expected. David Donovan is a longtime resident of the island of Vieques, part of Puerto Rico. Before he enlisted in the Navy, more than 40 years ago, Donovan's longest journey beyond Western New York was to Toronto. Things turned out in a way he could not envision. For that, Donovan credits the Navy — and the absolute symbol …

Local News

George Arthur was thinking Thursday about a police officer he knew as a kid, an officer everyone called "Red the Peanut Man." Arthur described him as a classic beat cop. He was stationed out of Buffalo's old Precinct Four, and he would walk every day – in rain, sun or snow – along what was the commercial heart of William Street. "Everyone knew Red," Arthur said. It turn…

Bills

A group of Buffalo Bills are getting a lot of attention for pushing out many motorists Sunday who were jammed up in the snow, and Ruth Mendofik said it's absolutely justified. She was one of the drivers they helped. Mendofik's car became stuck as she tried to leave Ilio DiPaolo's Restaurant in Blasdell with her 73-year-old father and her 12-year-old twin boys. It was th…

Bills

Peggy Manning, a manager at Ilio DiPaolo's Restaurant in Blasdell, worked a long day Sunday. She arrived around 10 a.m., and parked her Chevy Cruze not far from the front door. It was the holiday season, which always means more customers, and people showed up for several celebrations and parties despite a big snowstorm. Many of them kept asking about the score in a Buff…

Columns

Elizabeth Marie Ortiz Olivencia pushed back the shades of the living room window a few days ago in her Black Rock neighborhood. A coating of snow, not even an inch of it, covered Rano Street and the small front yard of her home. It was nothing to most of us, a December dusting, but to Elizabeth it was miraculous, a revelation. It was the first time in her life that she …

Columns

Destiny Rogowski was greeted by one of her own photographs Thursday as she walked into the Ellicott Square Building. The downtown landmark had a magnificent tree in the middle of its grand arcade, with 26 photographs of children set in a circle around the base. The faces were somber, joyous, reflective, timid, reserved. They made up the Heart Gallery of Western New York…

Buffalo

Just one little tale of gratitude to a stranger, in Buffalo. Tuesday was one of those days, a string of things going wrong, most of them due to my own stupidity. I ended up working late, and at 11:15 p.m. or so reached for my car keys on my desk at The Buffalo News, ready to go home and start over. No keys. I carry a big, heavy set of keys. This is strategic. I lo…

Columns

Ed Stone agreed to a little bet Thursday morning. He signed off on it with Ray Garland, who lives in Idaho and made a surprise call to Stone's house in Syracuse. In 1940, Stone enlisted in the Navy, in Buffalo, thus beginning a journey that would put him in Pearl Harbor 76 years ago today, during the Japanese attack of Dec. 7, 1941 . Stone was on the USS Pyro, which had…

Columns

(An earlier version of this column appeared a year ago, but only on BuffaloNews.com. It has been updated for 2017, to appear in print.) Ed Stone enlisted in the Navy in Buffalo, in December 1940. He did what the Navy told him. He brought only a light spring jacket. He remembers that he slept the night before at the YMCA. He remembers the stone steps of the old post o…

Columns

For Andrew Cisternino, you could take it as a sad moment, a passage just too soon. A bell will toll at exactly 10:25 a.m. Monday in Oswego Harbor, the exact instant of a tragedy in 1942. The names of six lost rescuers will be read aloud, and then a Coast Guard vessel will leave the Lake Ontario shoreline. Capt. Joseph Dufresne, commander of the Coast Guard sector in …

Columns

Until last year, Lisa Hitchcock had never met Rosemary Billquist. On a spring afternoon, a car rumbled up a clay driveway on a hill in Friendship, on the Southern Tier, where Hitchcock maintains a home-based rescue operation for dogs. Rosemary and her husband, Jamie, climbed out. "She was wearing a dress, this beautiful pretty dress," said Hitchcock, who watched as d…

Columns

John Patterson believes that he understands Sherman, a little community in Chautauqua County, about 75 miles from Buffalo. He arrived as a young man to take a job as a chemistry and math teacher at Sherman High School. He met his wife Sally about a half-century ago, when she worked as a secretary for the superintendent. The couple ran a family farm, with 100 cows and ca…