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Stephen T. Watson

Stephen T. Watson reports on development, government, crime and school districts throughout the Northtowns, including the towns of Grand Island, Tonawanda, Amherst and Clarence. A native of the Town of Tonawanda, he worked at the Post-Standard newspaper in Syracuse before starting at The Buffalo News in 2001.


Local News

Joseph Spino is an endangered political species in the Northtowns. Assuming his 48-vote lead over his Democratic opponent holds up after absentee ballots are counted, Spino would join the Amherst Town Board as its only Republican. Amherst would have the only town board with a dissenting voice in the most populated of Erie County's northern suburbs. In Tuesday's el…

Local News

Grand Island's 2020 budget raises the tax levy by nearly 3.5%, an increase that remains within the state's property tax cap. The Town Board on Thursday approved the $24.5 million budget, which raises spending by 4.86%. The overall levy, the amount the town collects in property taxes, would rise by 3.47% to $10.6 million, within the tax cap of 3.54%, said supervising …

Business

Amazon has paid $1.7 million to buy the property in the Town of Tonawanda where it plans to build and run a $25 million warehouse and distribution facility. The global online retailer agreed in June to buy the 24-acre site at TM Montante's Riverview Solar Technology Park, and the sale closed Oct. 18, according to the deed. However, the transaction wasn't publicly record…

Local News

It’s a time-honored tradition in Off Main Street: Someone introduces an elected official at a news event and butchers the title. This happened again Thursday at Daemen College in Snyder during the announcement of Amherst’s plan to plant one million trees over the next five years. Michael S. Brogan, Daemen’s senior vice president of academic affairs and dean of the co…

Amherst

The math behind Amherst’s push to plant 1 million new trees in the town over the next five years is eye-catching. In a town of about 34,000 total acres, it requires planting 29 trees on each acre of land. It means putting 549 trees in the ground every day for the next five years – or 730 trees daily if you don’t count the winter months. And to put that in context,…

Local News

The developer reviving the former Northtown Plaza in Amherst plans to break ground on its planned lifestyle center later this month. The project dates to WS Development's 2015 acquisition of the Sheridan Drive property. The company finished the first stage of its redevelopment when Whole Foods Market opened in 2017. WS Development had cleared tenants out of the retai…

Local News

Incumbent Justice Diane Y. Devlin, a Democrat, led Republican challenger Gerald J. Greenan III in a race for a seat on the State Supreme Court as of late Tuesday night. This was the only contested race for State Supreme Court in the Eighth Judicial District, which covers the eight counties of Western New York. Democrat Gerald J. Whalen, presiding justice of the Appel…

Local News

A Democratic incumbent won re-election but the race for the second Amherst Town Board seat on the ballot Tuesday was too close to call. Councilwoman Deborah Bruch Bucki was in first place and and Republican Joseph Spino had the slightest of leads over Democrat Mike Szukala with Republican Steven D. Sanders trailing. The issue likely will be settled by absentee ballots. …

Local News

Former Grand Island Town Engineer John C. Whitney, who had the Republican and Independence party lines, will win the race for supervisor over Deputy Supervisor James R. Sharpe, who had Democratic and Working Families party backing. Conservative Thomas J. Franz, a patrol sergeant with the State Park Police, lagged well behind. And with the two Republican candidates fo…

Erie County

Supervisor Joseph Emminger handily won re-election against Republican challenger Chuck Sankey. Emminger's re-election was not be a surprise. Democrats have held total control of the Town Board since 2007 and Republicans confronted a Democratic voter registration edge of 45% to 28% this year. Redeveloping the former Huntley generating station and Tonawanda Coke si…

Local News

Clarence's preliminary 2020 town budget holds the general fund tax rate flat even as the tax levy goes up. Spending in the overall budget plan, including special districts, rises by 2.4% to $24.2 million. Spending in the general fund portion would rise by 2.7%, to $13.3 million. The budget plan includes raises for many senior town employees but not for the supervisor…

Local News

Work to overhaul the Paddock Chevrolet Golf Dome in Tonawanda is running behind schedule but town officials say the dome should reopen before Thanksgiving – if the weather over the next few weeks isn't a turkey. Crews deflated the dome in June as part of an estimated $2.5 million reconstruction of the landmark visible to tens of thousands of motorists who pass it on the…

Local News

For the second time in 2019, towns and villages in Erie County are at risk of losing millions of dollars in state aid. It's the latest wrinkle in the yearlong fight over a category of direct state aid that Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo initially proposed slashing statewide. Facing strong objections from mayors and supervisors, the Governor's Office and State Legislature in th…

Local News

Geneseo is taking the City of Tonawanda's Young Street railroad bridge – scene of nearly 60 truck crashes since 2000 – and raising it with its bear fountain. People can't stop driving into the historic fountain, a focal point for the village and generations of SUNY Geneseo students since it was dedicated in 1888. The circular stone fountain is topped by a bronze bear…

Local News

Perhaps the most influential person in this fall's Grand Island elections isn't on the ballot. Town Supervisor Nate McMurray, a Democrat, is a polarizing figure, drawing strong support from progressives but criticism from political opponents who call him out of touch with his Grand Island constituents. McMurray's announcement that he wouldn't seek a second term, as h…