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By Aaron Besecker Here are some of the stories we're pursuing today: *There's a new local project aimed at helping people facing debt collectors. *The University at Buffalo is working on establishing its second "Center of Excellence." *Senior Sports Columnist Jerry Sullivan is heading down to New Orleans and will have a column kicking off Super Bowl w…

Even after 10 years, it is difficult for Felicia M. Cruz to speak about her war experiences as a Marine in Iraq.She participated in dozens of supply convoys and became no stranger to enemy fire, often traveling through long stretches of desert to bring fuel, food and ammunition to fellow Marines on the front lines.“It was surreal when we were under fire, but your instinc…

Clad in matching winter hats that looked like cupcakes, Aline Weber and Payton Blesy, both 11, excitedly explained their snow sculpture as they awaited the judging results Sunday during Winterfest at Chestnut Ridge Park. “Blizzard,” which looked like a kind of lizard, featured sticks for teeth and angry-looking eyebrows, a tail made of snow and a pattern of swirls on …

The Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus has made slow but steady progress over the years toward the goal of becoming a downtown hub of medical care, research and education. But 2013 promises to make slow and steady a thing of the past.A slew of projects are expected to get under way this year that will focus public attention and mark a significant turning point in developing th…

The determined efforts of a Buffalo woman to find the cremated remains of her father led to the discovery Saturday of more than 30 boxes of cremains – including those of her father – abandoned in a burned-out Bailey Avenue funeral home slated for demolition.The apparent remains of Benny Goodman, a Buffalo handyman who died in July 2010, were found Saturday morning in t…

A building boom has started in downtown Buffalo, ushering in a torrent of projects that will transform parts of the city and lay the foundation for the new century.At least 11 projects totaling more than $1 billion are in the works or have just been completed, most of it at the two ends of downtown Buffalo – the waterfront and the Medical Campus.Hard hats already dot the…

NORTH TONAWANDA – When Karl Kindt III went to visit his father’s military grave in France 17 years ago, a statue of King Arthur inspired him to invent a new job for himself: as a storytelling knight.After that trip, he found someone to make a suit of armor for him out of “mild steel,” a kind of iron used in medieval times. He began wearing it in parades, classrooms…

Soon after adding Niagara Falls to his expanded congressional district, Rep. Brian Higgins took aim at the thoroughfare that is one of the city’s most recognized and, arguably, most despised: the Robert Moses Parkway.The parkway, he said, is “ruinous” to the city and its waterfront, and it needs to be ripped out.But Higgins may soon get a lesson in just how difficult…

LOCKPORT – Success stories are relatively rare in a program that tries to keep nonviolent, drug-abusing felons out of prison by compelling them to obtain treatment.State statistics show that in Niagara County, more than twice as many people have failed than have succeeded since the program began in 2009.But the winners, relatively few though they are, find that the judic…

Early one April morning, before the sun was up, an 81-year-old woman crept out of her Williamsville home – and wandered away.Luckily, she was found – by a group of girls out delivering the newspaper – and returned to her family.“She was badly bruised,” said Lynne M. Dixon, a county legislator whose mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s six years ago. “We beli…

ALBANY – Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo on Friday appointed his members of a panel that will distribute economic development grants in Western New York, moving along a process that has been stalled the past year.The New York Power Proceeds Allocation Board, created last March, will be activated now that the governor has named a chairman and members to the panel. It is charged with…

A 90-room boutique hotel will be going into the iconic Gothic twin towers of the Richardson Olmsted Complex, operated by the same company that runs The Mansion on Delaware Avenue.The $56.4 million project, at 400 Forest Ave., which includes a high-tech event and conference center, also will occupy two adjacent ward buildings. In total, the hotel will take over about one-th…

An agreement that would pump $130 million into Ralph Wilson Stadium to keep the Buffalo Bills in Orchard Park for at least seven years got a key approval from the Erie County Legislature on Thursday.The unanimous vote by county legislators to approve a memorandum of understanding between the county, the state and the Bills is considered a significant step toward finalizing…

Late on the evening of Feb. 17, the last passengers will use Metro Rail’s Theater Station.The station is being torn down so that vehicle traffic can return to Main Street.Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority officials announced the move Thursday, with demolition slated to begin March 4, after crews salvage as much as possible from the inbound and outbound structures…