Afternoon News Brief

Written by on March 22, 2022

A local family is working to bring a Ukrainian exchange student they hosted back to the states. 18-year-old Anastasiia Sobol of Ukraine now attends Seneca College in Toronto but does not presently have the paperwork to come back to the U.S. Before the Russian invasion, she had planned to return back home after the spring semester. With no way of doing that now, her former host family Jim and Lorrie Gammack, is working to get her the proper Visa and funds to continue her education in the future. In Ukraine, Anastasiia’s parents are now staying in bomb shelters because much of her city is in ruins. Sobol reflected, “I check in on them every single day, but the connection gets worse; they’re bombing everything. Places that I used to go with my friends, universities and schools and churches. Places that were very valuable for me and my family are not there anymore.”  (Pictured are Jim and Lorrie Gammack with Anastasiia) The Gammack’s have set up a GoFundMe page to help Anastasiia return to the States at the end of her semester: https://gofundme/b37a502f

In Pavilion, brand new cars were being transported to dealerships when something went very wrong. The sleeper cab of the tractor-trailer hauling the vehicles caught fire yesterday afternoon around 2:00 on Route 63, just west of the tracks; the driver was not initially aware of this until he got out of the cab. By the time firefighters arrived on the scene, three of the cars were completely or partially on fire and part of the truck exploded. The cause of the fire remains under investigation; however, initial impression was that there were engine problems. No one was hurt.

State officials don’t think there will be a steep surge in coronavirus cases as a result of an Omicron sub-variant. Governor Hochul announced yesterday the state is seeing an up-tick in infections and the positivity rate is currently at 1.78%, the lowest it has been in four days. Right now, the sub-variant makes up roughly 42-percent of the COVID-19 cases in New York. Hochul says the state is prepared to administer a fourth dose of coronavirus vaccine should it be approved by the federal government.

The Monroe County Department of Public Health says two more residents have passed away after contracting the coronavirus. Their deaths bring the overall total since the start of the pandemic to 18-hundred and seven. There have also been 727 new cases reported over the last several days. Currently, 134 people in Western NY are in the hospital being treated for the illness with 26 of them in intensive care.

Some big names in the music industry will be making a visit to Western New York this summer. The Outlaw Music Festival is taking place at Six Flags Darien Lake on Sunday, August 14th. The lineup features artists such as ZZ Top, Willie Nelson, Zach Bryan and Charley Crockett, and The War and Treaty. Tickets for the show go on sale this Friday and can be purchased online through Live Nation.

A plan to remove a 35-hundred pound steel pontoon that’s near the brink of the American side of Niagara Falls has been put on hold. A National Guard helicopter was supposed to lift the steel cylinder out of the river today, but the operation was scrapped due to concerns over high winds. The pontoon was one of several that broke off of an ice boom in Lake Erie during a windstorm in 2019. Officials say they want to remove it so it doesn’t damage the waterfall or the Cave of the Winds attraction.

Assemblyman Steve Hawley has joined his Assembly Minority colleagues in calling for the passage of legislation, which would amend the state Constitution to reserve the right to vote in state elections to American citizens. This is in response to the passage of a policy by the New York City Council that allows non-citizens there to vote in the city’s elections. Concerned that similar efforts could be undertaken in the future to implement such a policy at the state level, Hawley and his colleagues would like to see this bill passed to help maintain the integrity of elections.

Anglers in NY will be looking at new regulations come the beginning of April. Effective April 1, the DEC is changing its fishing seasons for some fish and the size limits for others: Rainbow trout, brown trout and splake season for lakes and ponds is now year-round, with a five-fish daily limit, any size; a “no more than two longer than 12 inches” harvest rule applies. Atlantic salmon now has a year-round open season statewide. Ice fishing is permitted on all waters in New York, unless specifically prohibited. Statewide season openers for some fish have been replaced. There are other regulations. You can check the DEC website for a complete list of changes.


The Buffalo Bills have added a few new players. Former Jets Wide Receiver Jamison Crowder has been signed for a season. In 12 games with the New York Jets last season, Crowder racked up 51 catches for 447 yards and two touchdowns. In his last full season, he set a career high with 78 catches playing for the Jets in 2019. The Bills also added Dolphins Running Back Duke Johnson as a third round draft pick. Last season with Miami, he played in five games and recorded 330 rushing yards and three touchdowns. He also added four catches for 41 yards. And finally they signed former Bills Quarterback Matt Barkley to a one-year contract. Barkley is a ten-year veteran and was with the Bills from 2018-2020. In those eight games that he played for the Bills, he threw for 788 yards and three touchdowns. Last season saw him spend time on the Tennessee, Carolina, and Atlanta rosters.

A student at Starpoint Middle School in Lockport has been arrested after allegedly making a terrorist threat. According to Niagara County deputies, a photograph was recently sent using the social media app Snapchat threatening violence at the school. The student, whose name hasn’t been made public due to his age, is facing a felony charge. He was released to his parents and will be meeting soon with Niagara County probation officials.

Officials at Buffalo Public Schools are looking to add more security officers in an effort to keep students, faculty and staff safe. The district is accepting applications to fill those positions and in order to qualify, a person has to be a Buffalo resident with a high school, GED or equivalency diploma. They must also have six months experience as a full-time security guard or taken 15 credit hours from an accredited university or college in the fields of criminal justice or law enforcement. Applications can be filled out online.


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