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   I wasn't really sure how community service worked until I talked to Clarence Justice Michael Powers about his idea to make it more Clarence-specific.    It turns out he didn't know a whole lot about it either, until he became a judge.    His idea, which was the subject of my column today, struck me as a decent idea. As he put…

  Jody and Chris Morphy are two Amherst residents who, like most homeowners, didn't spare much thought to their homeowners insurance until disaster struck. When their property suffered a landslide that made their home uninhabitable, they naturally assumed that their homeowners insurance would protect them.    It didn't.    The state does …

   There were just over 2,100 people voting in the referendum Tuesday that rejected the expansion of the Hamburg ice rink Tuesday.    A positive vote would have resulted in the town leasing the facility to a private company to renovate the existing rink, add another ice pad and field house, as well as manage the facility.    Some residents sai…

   Maybe it's just a coincidence that for the second year in a row, a town highway superintendent in Erie County is in trouble with the law.    Both times, the allegation was that the official was using his office for his own benefit or for the benefit of some purpose other than for the good of the whole town.    In my column today, former Amh…

   If you live long enough, you hear so many strange things that you wonder if anything will ever surprise you again.    Then you hear that a high school principal was caught - "red-handed"  is the term police used - stealing money from the school safe and after being confronted with photographic evidence, she resigns.  …

   You can tell Mary Travers Murphy likes what she is doing as supervisor of Orchard Park. Constituent work is very similar to her former job as a consumer reporter for WKBW-TV.    She wasn't unfamiliar with politics when she ran for supervisor in 2005. Her late  father-in-law was Democratic Assemblyman Matthew J. Murphy Jr., who represe…

   The roundabouts and traffic calming plan in Hamburg are working; there have been far fewer accidents since six traffic signals were replaced with four roundabouts.    A traffic study of Buffalo and Main streets (Route 62) in the Village of Hamburg showed the number of accidents dropped by 63 percent since October, compared to the number bef…

On June 19, 2007, this story about the Lancaster Highway Department ran in The Buffalo News: "Town of Lancaster officials wrongly gave a $60,000 chief job in the town Highway Department to someone in a politically connected family last summer, according to union leaders.....  In order to comply with an arbitrator's finding against the town for its hir…

Politics aside, there was something refreshing about Satish Mohan in 2005. He ran for Amherst town supervisor promising the one thing that we all seem to want but are afraid of at the same time: change. It was enough to get him elected, but that mandate for change did him no good once he was sworn in and had to get to work. As I write in my column today, the facts suggest …

   Every town used to have a theater like The Palace in Hamburg. The memories of those movie experiences come flooding back when you walk in, which is a big part of its allure, and a big reason I wanted to write a column about it.    But Jay Ruof isn't content to bring in nostalgia-seekers only; he also is trying to thrive in a highly competitive e…

   It was a moment Amherst property owners were warned was coming. They were told to be calm, to exhibit understanding - to believe that their taxes weren't going to go through the roof.    But the reaction was anything but once the notices starting arriving last week telling plenty of residents that the value of their property had skyrocketed…

I drove to Clarence Center Sunday for the first time since the plane crash. I'm not sure why. There was no way I would have gone when the investigation into the crash was still going on or when parts of the plane were still there, but a part of me just felt the need to see the site. After I read "A Time to Die," Tom Wicker's incredible insider account&#…

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Had Tim Horton died during the era of the 24-hour news cycle, we would have known much sooner. But he died in the middle of the night, at a time when the term multimedia meant you had one newspaper in the morning and one in the afternoon. So as I went through a normal school day, I didn't know. Even worse, my brother didn't know. Michael was a huge Tim Horton fan …

    I'll admit that my approach to snow removal is different from most, having learned long ago that no matter how much we get, it will all be gone by May, June at the absolute latest. So I shovel only as much as I absolutely have to.    Apparently some of you are a little more unhappy and stressed about it, and take out your fr…

   Shortly after I left the luncheon at Charlotte Avenue Elementary School that I described in my column today,  I got an email from board member Matt Dills. Dills said he walked away from the event a "better person."    Quoting from him: "I hope through your column that other boards will borrow on our small idea and start a &qu…