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Mark Sommer

Mark Sommer is an enterprise reporter and former arts editor at The Buffalo News. He writes about an array of subjects, including development, the waterfront, transportation and culture.


May 12, 1924 – Feb. 13, 2020 Berta S. Cole, a longtime resident of the Buffalo area, lived an active life in which curiosity, whimsy, coincidence and conviction all played a big part. Mrs. Cole worked for 25 years at the University at Buffalo, first as a research grant assistant in the biochemistry and pathology departments. Later, she became an executive administrat…

Courts

A 28-year-old Buffalo man was charged with one count of second-degree murder on Friday before Erie County Court Judge Christopher J. Burns. Quinton Turner allegedly stabbed Ronald Green six times on the morning of Jan. 5, at the corner of Jefferson Avenue and East Ferry Street. The defendant then fled to North Carolina where he was located by the U.S. Marshals Servic…

Gusto

A demolition ball 40 years ago this month reduced the Metcalfe House on North Street to rubble. The shingle-style brick and sandstone structure, completed in 1884, was the first residential commission in Buffalo by McKim, Mead & White, one of the era's prominent architectural firms. The anger unleashed over its loss became the catalyst for the city's preservation mo…

Buffalo

The recommended location for a new downtown convention center is not sitting well with some preservationists. The clearance of a city block, bounded by Delaware Avenue and Franklin, Mohawk and Huron streets, would require the demolition of six buildings deemed eligible for the National Register of Historic Places. They include the eight-story Crosby Building, built in 1…

Buffalo

The Western New York Land Conservancy has received two major grants to protect the College Lodge Forest, located in Chautauqua County near Fredonia. The grants – $150,000 from the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation and $203,000 from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service – bring the combined amount raised to nearly $400,000. The conservancy…

Courts

U.S. Attorney James P. Kennedy Jr. announced on Friday that a Forestville man has been sentenced to serve eight years in prison for child pornography. Joseph Harvey, 56, was found to have possessed 37 videos and 51 images of child pornography on May 16, 2016. Some of the images included prepubescent minors and depictions of violence. Harvey will have 25 years of supe…

A Sanborn man has been arrested and charged in connection with thefts at an automotive shop. Albert W. Cannata, 43, was identified during an investigation by the Niagara County Sheriff's Criminal Investigation Bureau into thefts last month at a Sanborn automotive shop. He was charged with fourth-degree grand larceny. Cannata was identified by Special Deputy Joseph Gi…

The Genesee County Sheriff's Office is investigating a two-car accident with injuries that occurred Friday on Route 98 near Pike Road in the Town of Batavia. The accident, which was called in at 11:55 a.m., occurred when a Ford pickup traveling south on Route 98, driven by Stephen M. Esposito, 30, of Cowlesville, struck a Toyota pickup head-on. The Toyota was driven by …

Buffalo

An Orchard Park man accused of driving drunk in a September crash that killed his brother's girlfriend pleaded guilty Friday in State Supreme Court to one count of vehicular manslaughter. Daniel W. Witczak, 33, was driving under the influence of alcohol at around 5:30 a.m. Sept. 15 when he crashed his vehicle on Southwestern Boulevard in West Seneca. Police who responde…

A March 24 public vote has been set following the Pioneer Board of Education's approval of a $21.2 million capital improvement project at a Feb. 4 meeting in Yorkshire, The proposed project would focus largely on Pioneer High School. Replacing the roof for $6.3 million would be the biggest expense. Redesigned physical education locker rooms original to the 50-year-old b…

Attractions

Mummies have long been known for their haunting and mysterious images from a long-ago world. A British museum with a world-renowned collection of mummies and Egyptian artifacts is taking them on the road for the first time while the museum itself undergoes a renovation. And the first stop is Buffalo. "Golden Mummies of Egypt," which opens Saturday, offers a sophistic…

Buffalo

What's the best and quickest way without the Skyway to get more than 40,000 vehicles driven by weekday commuters to the Niagara Thruway and downtown? That question loomed large Tuesday as the public looked at preliminary concepts for mitigating traffic without the Skyway. The public scoping meeting in Blasdell was the first of three open houses over two days. The last s…

Buffalo

The public gets a chance this week to weigh in on the removal of the Skyway. Three meetings – each with an open house format – will be held Tuesday and Wednesday, enabling the public to find out what has been done up to now, review proposals and offer ideas. The gatherings – known as public scoping meetings – are an early part of producing an environmental impact sta…

Buffalo

The daily light show projected onto the Connecting Terminal every night has recently gone dark, but the problem is being corrected, officials said. “The control center for the Connecting Terminal grain elevator light show was damaged in a recent windstorm," said Steve Ranalli, president of Erie Canal Harbor Development Corp. "We are aware of the issue and working toward…