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Sandra Tan

Sandra Tan primarily covers stories related to Erie County government. A Buffalo News staff reporter since 2000, she previously covered Buffalo Public Schools, Amherst and other communities. She is particularly interested in shedding light on issues and people that tell us something important about how we live. email: stan@buffnews.com


Erie County

Erie County Clerk Michael "Mickey" Kearns took his first legal step to fight a new state law that allows immigrants in the country illegally to obtain a New York State driver's license. Kearns sent a letter to the Erie County Attorney's Office on Tuesday seeking legal representation. "As I understand it, this Act requires that, as an agent of the Department of Motor …

Erie County

Erie County Sheriff Timothy Howard told county lawmakers Thursday that he has no problem with a corrections advisory board being re-established. Howard said he supports "the creation of an open-minded, honorable advisory board." Though he has a few concerns, the sheriff said he believes the board's work could benefit the Sheriff's Office and the public through recomm…

Art

Shark Girl needs some extensive beauty treatment and will get a two-month makeover under the auspices of the Albright-Knox Art Gallery. The popular sculpture will undergo up to $49,900 in repairs and maintenance for eight to 10 weeks after Labor Day, the Erie Canal Harbor Development Corp. announced today. That cost covers the temporary removal, repair work and re-insta…

Erie County

Someone was apparently desperate to take care of some dirty laundry. Buffalo Police report that security officers working at Tops Market, 345 Amherst St., stopped a man they said attempted to steal two containers of Tide Pods laundry detergent Saturday afternoon. According to Buffalo Police, a Lackawanna man was stopped after placing the two Tide containers in a shop…

Environment

Gov. Andrew Cuomo issued a letter to the International Joint Commission on Saturday demanding immediate action in response to Lake Ontario flooding. In addition, U.S. Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand have called on the Army Corps of Engineers to approve two projects to help New York communities devastated by the flood waters. Their call…

Buffalo

A Buffalo woman has been accused of ransacking an apartment and setting it on fire Friday morning. Buffalo police and firefighters walked into an apartment on the 300 block of Minnesota Avenue in University Heights and found cardboard smoking on the stove amid other wreckage, including bleach dumped over the bed and clothes in the bedroom, food pulled from the refrigera…

Environment

It started with the bees. After Jennifer Zeitler decided to become a beekeeper, she faced some tough choices about clearing brush from property she owned in Franklinville. She didn't want to use herbicides that would have harmed her beekeeping colony. But she couldn't afford to bring in heavy machinery to remove it. On the internet she learned about "goatscaping," wh…

Erie County

Two Erie County elected officials are predicting negative local consequences if state lawmakers grant driver's licenses to immigrants living here illegally. Meanwhile, Democratic Party Chairman Jeremy Zellner said most area lawmakers will vote against the bill. Republican Erie County Comptroller Stefan Mychajliw and County Clerk Michael "Mickey" Kearns, an independent D…

Environment

Erie County has come up with a unique way of handling the overgrowth of poison ivy and invasive species like Japanese knotweed at Como Lake Park. It got goats. As part of a pilot project with Let's Goat Buffalo, six goats are now spending their days eating away the knotweed and poison ivy. The small herd will be tasked with clearing one acre of invasive plant growth …

Erie County

Overdose deaths in Erie County are falling sharply, but cocaine-related overdose deaths are rising. Erie County is following national trends that show the percentage of drug deaths related to cocaine use has markedly increased. Last year, cocaine was identified in 37% of the county's drug overdose deaths, according to the county Medical Examiner's Office. That compar…

Environment

Orchard Park resident Paul Barnas, a hunter for more than 50 years, remembers when he and his brothers would join hundreds of others for the opening day of big game hunting season in small towns through the Southern Tier. "They used to be mobbed," said Barnas, 71, recalling the local bars and restaurants. Nowadays, he might spot a handful of people like him. Hunti…

Erie County

Taking a step toward transparency, the Erie County Water Authority has launched its new website, ECWA.org, designed to make information easier for customers and visitors to find. And the agency is now livestreaming all board meetings. The site gives visitors access to agenda, minutes and video recordings of Water Authority board meetings, and includes an expanded sectio…

Erie County

Erie County Legislator Lynne Dixon attempted Thursday to force a County Legislature vote on a 5-cent fee for paper bags, which counties have the option to impose after the state's ban on single-use plastic bags goes into effect in March. Dixon, I-Hamburg, opposes the fee. Her long shot attempt to force a Legislature vote represents her latest effort to raise her prof…

Erie County

The Erie County Legislature's fight over how to spend millions of dollars in year-end surplus has ended. Clear winners emerged. The Albright-Knox Art Gallery will receive $5 million for its museum expansion. The Republican-supported minority tried to to cut that funding but failed. The Erie County Botanical Gardens will receive $2.5 million for its expansion projec…

Crime

The Erie County Sheriff's Office has pledged to begin the process of buying and outfitting its deputies with body cameras, as early as this fall, after the Erie County Legislature voted Thursday to approve $600,000 to jump-start a body camera program. "The sheriff said, 'Show me the money,' and we said, 'OK, we're showing you the money,' " said Legislature Chair April B…