Afternoon News Brief
Written by Doug Thompson on April 8, 2022
Western New York drivers are continuing to see falling gas prices when it comes time to fill up their vehicles. According to Triple A, as of this morning, the average cost for a gallon of regular fuel is now $4.31. That’s down 3 cents from last week but is 11 cents higher this time one month ago. The state average is $4.26 a gallon while nationally it’s $4.15. In Batavia, the average price per gallon is $4.30, the same as it was yesterday but down 4 cents from a week ago.
On this date in…the future…April 8, 2024, there will be a total solar eclipse, and Western New York is in the path of totality. During a solar eclipse, the moon gets between the sun and the Earth. In a total solar eclipse, people who are in the path of totality see the sun’s bright disk totally covered by the moon for a short time. The moon will begin to cover the sun at 2:07 p.m. Using a safe solar viewing method, we’ll see more and more of the sun covered by the moon for the next 73 minutes. This time is called a partial phase because the sun is partially covered by the moon. Totality begins at 3:20 p.m. and lasts 3 minutes 38 seconds, plus or minus a few seconds, depending on your exact location. After totality, the moon gradually uncovers the sun in a second partial phase. The eclipse ends for us at 4:33 p.m. So make a note on your calendar…April 8, 2024.
Three finalists have been named for the superintendent position at Attica Central School. The finalists will visit the district on three separate days later this month and different district stakeholders will interview each candidate throughout the day. Meet and greet forums will also be conducted 3:30 to 4:15 p.m. each day in the Attica Middle-High School Library. They are open to the public. Final interviews with the Board of Education will follow the meet and greet forums. It’s anticipated the new superintendent will start his duties on July 1. The three finalists are: Brian Swatland, who is currently principal at Williamsville East High School in Erie County; he will visit the district on April 20; Dr. Kiel Illg has served as assistant superintendent of Lackawanna City Schools since 2019. He will visit the district April 21; Dr. Sean C. Kinsley is the principal of Barron Collier High School in Naples, Florida where he has served since 2021. He will be on hand in the district on April 25.
It was a routine traffic stop for minor traffic violations but further investigation revealed a prescription drug selling operation. The case began last August 19th when 60-year-old Harjeet Ghotra of Niagara Falls Ontario was pulled over on Route 20a in Warsaw; it was discovered he was driving with a suspended license and over $30,000 cash in his pockets. It was later learned that the company Ghotra worked for, ‘MKG Wholesale of Cheektowaga’ apparently was a front for criminal diversion of prescriptions and prescription medications. It was found the company bought diabetes medications from people in WNY and sold it out-of-state. Ghotra was charged only with aggravated unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle; a representative for MKG appeared in court last month and accepted a plea deal that included the county receiving that $30,000 plus in cash. It still remains unclear who exactly owns MKG; the site on which it’s located only has on it a two-unit apartment building. By the way, the FBI declined to pursue the case.
It took longer than they would’ve liked it to, but Governor Hochul and lawmakers have finally come to an agreement on a new state budget. It calls for 220-billion-dollars in spending which is four-billion-dollars more than what the governor proposed earlier this year. The budget includes changes to the state’s bail reform laws, investments in education and infrastructure and the suspension of a state tax on gasoline; that 16 cent reduction in price will be in effect from June 1st until December 31st. The Senate and Assembly are expected to have all of the budget bills passed by the end of today.
Home health care workers are getting a subsidy set aside in the new state budget to increase their wages. More than $10 billion of the $220 billion budget will be invested into healthcare. $4 billion will go to support the wages and bonuses for health care workers. Governor Hochul said the plan is to provide nearly $7.4 billion for a $3 wage increase for home health care aides. And, she promises, that’s just the beginning. Critics say this increase only sets the wage at 15.20 an hour and several fast food restaurants are offering more for new hires. The field of home health aides is understaffed and overburdened with some workers working well over 100 hours every week.
The four-game road trip of the Buffalo Sabres is off to a disappointing start following a loss to one of the best teams in the NHL’s Eastern Conference. The Sabres went ahead 2-0 early but were defeated by the Carolina Hurricanes by a final score of 5-3 last night. This clinches a playoffs berth for the Hurricanes. Tage Thompson, Alex Tuch and Victor Olofsson each scored for the Sabres while goaltender Craig Anderson stopped 27 of the 31 shots he faced. Up next for the Sabres is a game against the Florida Panthers tonight, starting at 7:00.
Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz has laid out his vision for the months ahead during his State of the County address. In his speech yesterday, Poloncarz talked about several initiatives such as installing new air filtration systems in schools, grants for arts and cultural organizations and the future of a countywide broadband network. Poloncarz also spoke about the county’s $250,000,000 commitment to help build a new stadium for the Buffalo Bills in Orchard Park. He said $75,000,000 will come from the county’s 2021 year-end surplus and the remaining funds will be borrowed.
For the first time in almost two years, Social Security offices are back open for in-person services. The offices closed in March 2020 because of the pandemic. Since then, people could only communicate with Social Security online or over the phone. Appointments are recommended although the offices are taking walk-ins.
Spring only started a few weeks ago, but officials at Six Flags Darien Lake are already looking ahead to summer. The theme park is holding an in-person hiring event for summer jobs tomorrow from 11 a.m. until 4 p.m. at the Six Flags Darien Lake Hotel. There are about 1500 positions available including ride operators, lifeguards, food service and security. Anyone who can’t make the job fair can apply online or visit the park’s human resources office Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
The Genesee County Chamber of Commerce Home opens this afternoon at 5, and closes at 9:00. Tomorrow the hours are 10 to 5 and then on Sunday, 10 to 3. The show is taking place at the David McCarthy Memorial Ice Arena on Evan Street. Admission is $3. There is a door prize of a $500 gift certificate to your vendor of choice. Make sure you stop by the WBTA booth and say hello.
Two state senators from the GLOW region are making their bids for re-election official: Senator Rob Ort is seeking the 62nd State Senate District that includes Orleans County; George Borrello is seeking the 58th, which includes Wyoming County. Both have filed petitions to run again on the Republican and Conservative lines.
The deadline for candidates to sign up for the New York State Trooper entrance exam is fast approaching. They have until this Sunday to fill out and submit their application for the exam, which will be given through April 30th at 54 testing centers across New York State. A study guide has been posted online for people who will be taking the test. The starting annual salary for a New York State Trooper is $59,000 but increases to more than $84,000 after the first year.