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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


Overriding neighborhood objections, the Lackawanna City Council adopted a comprehensive plan Wednesday that includes the controversial rezoning of a vacant property near a new housing development on Wilmuth Avenue in the 1st Ward.The plan, in the works for more than a year, will be considered the blueprint for long-term development and includes a number of zoning requireme…

In a last-ditch effort to save jobs and rescue the Lackawanna School District's failing lunch program, the School Board voted Wednesday to seek takeover bids from private food-service companies that would keep the district's existing cafeteria staff."We're going to try that first," said School Superintendent Paul Hashem, "primarily for the benefit of the employees here. If…

Brandon Gonzalez thought he had it made.After acing a civil service exam and making it through the Lackawanna Police Department's background checks and interviews, he was appointed a police officer last summer.Three months later, while still in the academy, Gonzalez was fired.His abrupt dismissal -- considered extremely rare in the Police Department -- has since fueled spe…

Despite a few hundred complaint calls from disgruntled and panic-stricken residents, Lackawanna City Council members and community members applauded the city Monday for doing the best job it could in dealing with the crushing snowstorm in December.Officials credited the coordination efforts of the city's emergency operations center and applauded snow-removal crews for thei…

Nearly a dozen children, teenagers and their parents showed up with purple toboggans, red saucers and plastic snowboards, unable to resist what looked like sledding heaven.Thirty-foot mountains of snow, piled as far as the eye could see -- and all right there, in the middle of flat, downtown Lackawanna."We thought we'd try it out," said Nathanael Cruz, 16.Cruz had brought …

Think of this week's snowstorm like a whip's leather. The thin strip of storm delivered a painful lashing wherever it fell, but its narrow grip left other parts of Western New York virtually unscathed.In this case, it was the City of Buffalo and adjoining areas immediately to the south that were stung worst by the storm with nearly 7 feet of snowfall. Southern Niagara Coun…

Darren and Patty Zoldos expected to spend their honeymoon snowmobiling in the Adirondacks. Instead, the Cheektowaga couple on Thursday pulled out their snow cruisers and found themselves surfing snowbanks in South Buffalo."We didn't want to chance it," Darren said of the honeymoon trip.Besides, they figured, the trails up there couldn't beat the side streets in the souther…

It could have been a headline ripped from the tabloids: 91-year-old man escapes death by UFO.Except that it really happened Wednesday morning on South Park Avenue in Lackawanna.Michael Gordon, 91, had just finished eating breakfast and had fallen asleep in his recliner when an unidentified flying object came crashing through his house and missed his head by inches."I didn'…

"Lovely" would describe it -- a 2 1/2 -story Victorian in mauve and lavender, with white paper snowflakes hung sweetly in the second-floor bay window.Hard to believe that this same property at 425 Norwood Ave. was once a rooming house filled with drug users, a place regularly visited by police for complaints ranging from threats and harassment to thefts and assault.That w…

Time to move on.A month after receiving her lay-off notice, Buffalo schoolteacher Tina Shareno walked her pupils to their buses and said good-bye.Friday was her last day as a full-time classroom teacher. But Shareno didn't bother cleaning out her desk. Why be in a hurry to crush the hopes of a lifetime?She left everything behind -- her classroom decorations, books and supp…

It was an odd sight. The bishop for the Episcopal Diocese of Western New York, robed in full regalia, walked out of a rickety vinyl tent and into the snowy and blustery weather Thursday, strolling over patches of mud and scraggly grass with a shaker of holy water.Destined for the site is a development where homeless families will find permanent shelter.And some divine prot…

Lackawanna public school students have a reason to rejoice. Wednesday, their School Board approved a policy making formal midterm exams optional for all middle school and high school students.These exams, which typically occur near the end of January, may now be dropped from the school calendar if a building principal decides they are not necessary, said Superintendent Pau…

The Lackawanna School District is hiring an outside food-services consultant to save its troubled school lunch program.In an urgent attempt to save jobs and turn around a program that has cost the school system more than $1.3 million since 1979, the district has signed a short-term contract with Sodexho Management for a new food services manager.Robert D. Kelly, a Rocheste…

The Lackawanna City Council on Monday approved the donation of four pieces of property in the 100 and 200 blocks of Ingham Avenue to Habitat for Humanity International, a nonprofit Christian housing organization that plans to build two single-family homes there.The Council also approved two controversial pay increases, one for Deputy City Clerk Jacqueline Caferro and one f…

Anyone in law enforcement knows that the holiday season is a time not only of good cheer but also of crime. Break-ins and robberies can surge even in normally quiet neighborhoods as thieves go hunting for extra cash.Just ask some Parkside-area residents.The quiet and attractive neighborhood just east and north of Delaware Park has been hit with more than 20 daytime home br…