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MAN WITH TOWEL ON HEAD ROBS GAS STATION

A man who had a towel on his head and his hand in his pocket robbed a Buffalo gas station Friday afternoon, according to Northwest District police reports.

An employee of Sunoco, 700 Kenmore Ave., told officers that the robber said: "I'm sorry, but I'm robbing you. Give me all the money." He was given some cash.

The robbery occurred shortly before 3 p.m.

The employee's description of the robber included a light blue towel that he wore on his head.

Cause of man's death undetermined

The cause of death for an Buffalo man found dead in his apartment remains under investigation.

Though an autopsy was performed Friday on the body of Willie Nelson, the cause of death remains undetermined, pending further investigation.

Nelson, 76, was found dead Thursday afternoon in the bedroom of his Fox Street apartment, which police said had been ransacked. Still missing is Nelson's car, a black, 1994 Cadillac Coupe DeVille, which has mag wheels and license plate EG352S.

$33.5 million in sales tax distributed

Erie County Comptroller Nancy A. Naples Friday released details regarding distribution of $33,494,560 in sales tax received during June.

"The county retained $17.2 million of the June sales tax receipts and distributed $16.3 million to cities, towns, villages and school districts," Naples said in a statement.

Naples said the $33.5 million in June sales tax receipts is $3.8 million higher than the amount received last June.

"It's the third month in a row showing improvement over last year," she said.

The June receipts bring the year-to-date total for 2001 to $229.3 million, which exceeds last year's six-month total of $221.5 million by $7.8 million, she said.

Man charged in assault on marshal

A Rochester man has been charged with assaulting a Seneca Nation marshal early Friday, Erie County sheriff's deputies reported.

Rod P. McBride, 20, initially was taken into custody by Marshal Travis Schapp after a fight on Route 438 was broken up. When he was brought to the marshals' office, McBride allegedly became belligerent and assaulted Schapp.

McBride was arrested by Cattaraugus County Sheriff's Deputy Steven Meerboth on charges of assault, criminal mischief and disorderly conduct. He is in Erie County Holding Center pending arraignment in Brant Town Court.

Grant to help probe for contamination

An $85,000 state grant to investigate possible contamination of the old Hanna Furnace site on the Union Ship Canal was announced Friday by Gov. George E. Pataki.

The grant from environmental bond funds will cover 75 percent of the estimated $114,000 it will cost to study the 22-acre buffer area around the canal, which the city acquired for nonpayment of taxes in 1997 -- 11 years after it was last used for industrial purposes -- and plans to convert to a waterfront park.

"This project will help the City of Buffalo turn what was once considered a liability into a community asset," Pataki said.

Injured woman accepts settlement

A Lancaster woman left with severe permanent injuries when the car in which she was a back-seat passenger hydroplaned off a wet Depew street and slammed into a tree in July 1995 has accepted a $7.3 million insurance settlement, her attorneys said.

Judeann M. Cronin, 23, and her parents, Dennis and Ann Cronin, will get the settlement within 21 days from a number of insurance carriers representing Richard M. LaPress of Clarence and Sean M. Refermat of Depew, said attorneys John J. Fromen Sr. and John J. Fromen Jr.

The settlement came just before the start of a financial damages trial before State Supreme Court Justice Kevin M. Dillon.

Refermat, charged with speeding and other traffic infractions, ultimately pleaded guilty, but court records of his case are not available, the lawyers said.

Tree planted in city to mark Canada Day

There is a new Canadian presence in Buffalo -- a crimson maple planted Friday on the plaza at One HSBC Center, which houses the nation's diplomatic mission here.

A rock bearing a quote from the late Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau was placed alongside the ceremonial tree during the Canada Day ceremony led by Consul General Mark Romoff. It marked Canada's 134-year history and "the distinctive voice which Canada brings to world, continental and regional affairs," Romoff said.

County, Isle collaborate on taxation

County Executive Joel A. Giambra had high praise for Grand Island as the town filed its first tax-assessment roll under a new collaboration effort with the county.

"This is proof that cooperation between the county and local government will work to produce real savings while the level of service expected by the taxpayer is maintained or, in this case, enhanced," said Giambra.

The intermunicipal cooperation agreement between Grand Island and the county was approved in April. Under the agreement, the county will perform all tax assessment functions for the town. Grand Island is the first town in the county to have such an agreement.

"Overall the agreement is working extremely well," said Town Supervisor Peter A. McMahon.

According to Joseph L. Maciejewski, director of the county's office of real property, $6.2 million in assessed value was added to the town's roll in the latest assessment.

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