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Buffalo police block off part of Crestwood as investigation continues

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — On Thursday morning, Buffalo police were seen investigating on Crestwood Avenue.

Shortly before 9 a.m., police were seen kicking in the door of one of the homes on the street.

A News 4 photographer is at the scene. We’ll have more information as soon as it’s available.

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Evan Anstey is an Associated Press Award and Emmy-nominated digital producer who has been part of the News 4 team since 2015. See more of his work here and follow him on Twitter.

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Haunted house provides a good scare, for two great causes

NORTH TONAWANDA, N.Y. (WIVB) — A haunted house that gives back to our community has returned for another year of scares! “870 Lee Home Haunt,” is giving a portion of its’ proceeds to Ten Lives Club and Oishei Children’s Hospital.

The haunted attraction is located at 870 Lee Avenue, in North Tonawanda.

It runs 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. every Friday, Saturday Sunday through Halloween. (Rain or shine!) Admission is $7 for adults and $5 for kids.

With each admission, guests will also receive two coupons for Just Pizza and the Dockside Bar & Grill.

Sunday Oct. 24, there will be a kid’s day with the lights on and no scaring. That takes place from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m., followed by the real haunt.

For more information, head here.

870 Lee Home Haunt was the winner of Buffalo’s Best Haunted House in 2020.

Gabrielle Mediak is a reporter who has been part of the News 4 team since 2019. See more of her work here.

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New Directions, Gateway Longview to hold hiring event next week

LOCKPORT, N.Y. (WIVB) — New View Alliance is partnering with Gateway Longview and New Directions Youth and Family Services for a two-day hiring event.

The first day of the event will take place at New Directions’ Wyndham Lawn Campus (6395 Old Niagara Rd., Lockport) on October 21 from 1-6 p.m.

The following day, the hiring event will continue at Gateway Longview (6350 Main St., Williamsville) from Noon to 5 p.m.

Both New Directions and Gateway Longview are looking to fill full-time, part-time and per diem positions in Buffalo, Lockport, Niagara Falls and Williamsville.

They’re looking to fill openings for youth support specialists, care coordinators, mental health clinicians and jobs in special education classrooms.

Applications and full lists of positions can be found at Gateway-Longview.org and FosteringGood.org.

Offers may be made to qualified candidates on the spot, and some positions will include a $1,000 sign-on bonus.

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Evan Anstey is an Associated Press Award and Emmy-nominated digital producer who has been part of the News 4 team since 2015. See more of his work here and follow him on Twitter.

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Man in critical condition after being shot on Elmwood Avenue

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — A 26-year-old man is in critical condition at ECMC after being shot on Elmwood Avenue Wednesday night.

Buffalo police say it happened on the street’s 100 block just before 11:30 p.m.

According to officials, the shooting appears to have been targeted.

Anyone with information that could help police in their investigation can call or text the Buffalo Police Department’s confidential tip line at (716) 847-2255.

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Evan Anstey is an Associated Press Award and Emmy-nominated digital producer who has been part of the News 4 team since 2015. See more of his work here and follow him on Twitter.

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The candidates for Erie County Sheriff take center stage

EAST AURORA, N.Y. (WIVB) — We are just a few weeks from election day and we’re hearing from three of the candidates in the race for Erie County Sheriff. The League of Women Voters held a forum Wednesday evening in East Aurora.

“I’ll tell you one thing — when I’m the sheriff in Erie County, everything will be on the straight and narrow,” said Democratic candidate Kim Beaty.

“I’m a cop and I’m a leader and I’m ready to take the sheriff’s office into the 21st century,” Republican candidate John Garcia said.

“I will not make my decision based on affiliation, I will make my decision on what’s right or wrong,” added Independent candidate Ted DiNoto.

After 16 years, Erie county voters will not see retiring Sheriff Tim Howard’s name on this November’s ballot. Instead, they have the choice between Democrat Kimberly Beaty, Republican John Garcia and Independent Ted DiNoto.

The league of women voters held a forum Wednesday night. One of the main things the candidates discussed was how to prevent people from dying at the Holding Center.

“I’m going to hire mental health professionals right at intake so we can divide people into three categories — those with mental health issues, those with substance abuse issues and those that are criminal,” DiNoto said.

“We have to look at staffing issues, we have to make sure all incarcerated people get what they need, we also have to first remember that they are people and they don’t deserve to die just because they’re in a lock-up,” added Beaty.

“It’s called a correctional facility, it’s not ECMC. Once they’re there, they have to be screened properly with a deputy and a mental health professional,” Garcia said.

The candidates also spoke about the importance of ending the opioid epidemic and protecting houses of worship as targeted crimes are on the rise throughout the country.

They all say their priorities involve the community and those who work in the Erie County sheriff’s office.

“Transform public safety, we have to mobilize on mental health, we have to stop the surge in violence,” said Garcia.

“We can’t take care of anybody if we can’t take care of ourselves. I want to get their pride back, I want them to get understanding they have a sheriff that’s behind them,” DiNoto added.

“Accountable leadership, would be a priority, we also have to do training for our officers and the people that work for the sheriff’s office, and we have to right-size the sheriff’s office,” Beaty noted.

Marlee Tuskes is a reporter who has been part of the News 4 team since 2019. See more of her work here.

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Ken-Ton students virtually check out farm life

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — Some young students in Ken-Ton had a chance to see what farm life is all about during a virtual field trip Wednesday.

A second-grade class at Hoover Elementary connected with Mulligan Farm, a dairy farm in Livingston County. The teacher told us the virtual visit has its advantages, including not having to wear boots, no long bus ride and an experience with a smaller group of students.

The students’ virtual tour happened the same week as national farm day, which takes place each year on October 12.

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Black Rock and Riverside community members learn more about the River Rock Connections Project

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — People living in Black Rock and Riverside are learning more about projects happening in their neighborhoods Wednesday.

The city’s River Rock Connections Project is all about bringing the two neighborhoods together. Leaders spoke about a new Rails-to-Trails project as well as more waterfront access.

This happened at Riverside Academy.

Councilmember Joe Golombek says it’s important to have these meetings in person.

“People think that everybody is on social media and that is not the case. This is a district with a wide variety of people, it’s one of the most diverse districts. I think it is the most diverse district in the City of Buffalo and so we try to do things in the neighborhood if people are so inclined,” Golombek said.

There will be another meeting about the River Rock Project next month.

It will happen at Riverside Academy on November 10.

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Inflation surge drives up Social Security benefits by 5.9% for 2022

(WIVB) — People on social security are about to get their biggest cost-of-living bump in 40 years, come January almost six percent. It may be good news for seniors, but there are serious reasons why their government checks are getting a boost.

The cost-of-living adjustment is set at 5.9 percent, which comes to more than $90 a month for the average retiree.

But with the cost of food, gas, and heat going up this winter, seniors are not exactly celebrating.

They are not singing the praises of Social Security’s biggest cost-of-living jump in 40 years here at Amherst’s Senior Services Center, but it was big news.

“Unless you’ve got some nice investments someplace, or you’ve got two people working in the family, otherwise it is almost impossible. You are going down, we are not going up, we are going down. You are lucky to stay even,” said Bronislaus Puchalski.

“It is certainly not going to help a whole lot, the price of gas, groceries, medications, everything has just gone sky high. So it is a blessing to have it for sure,” added retiree Sally Donnelly.

The cost-of-living increase might be bringing mixed feelings here in Amherst, but senior advocates say statewide, it is a necessity.

“One in four older New Yorkers relies on Social Security for at least 90 percent of their income in retirement. So an increase like that it is real money that makes an impact for people,” Joe Stelling, AARP Associate State Director added.

The last time Social Security benefits jumped this much was 1982 during a period of runaway inflation and as late as 2016 there was no increase.

“It is not a great increase and a great improvement, but like I say, every little bit helps,” said Brian Vaughn, Amherst retiree.

The cost-of-living jump could also be an omen for higher prices to come which would cost all of us. But Paul Coleman of Level Financial Advisors told us, the experts are calling this inflation “transitory.”

Paul Coleman of Level Financial Advisors said, “I would remind people that transitory does not necessarily mean three months, it can mean 18 months. What it does not mean, if we are truly transitory, we are not looking at 10 years of this inflation. This should not be the 80’s all over.”

But there is a reason for optimism when Social Security jumped by more than 10 percent in 1982, the inflation rate was more than 10 percent. That year, it dropped to 6 percent.

Al Vaughters is an award-winning investigative reporter who has been part of the News 4 team since 1994. See more of his work here. To submit a Call 4 Action, click here.

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Mother of 15-year-old Kameron Stenzel, who fell in the Niagara River, is praying for a miracle

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — Colleen Carey tells News 4 she’s hoping for a miracle as the search for her 15-year-old son continues after he fell into the Niagara River while fishing at Whirlpool State Park Monday morning.

“It’s just non-stop looking. We’re just trying to find him. We’re hoping for a miracle, we’re hoping that we find him alive,” Carey said.

Carey, who works nights, was sleeping when her son Kameron Stenzel headed to Whirlpool State Park’s Lower Gorge Trail to try out his new fishing pole she gifted him for his birthday. Stenzel was with his father at the gorge, the two had fished there many times before, Carey told us.

Kameron Stenzel, a sophomore at Niagara-Wheatfield High School, plays on the junior varsity football team and suffered a concussion early in the season. His mother said Kameron was supposed to attend a concussion clinic on Monday, but instead, he asked the appointment be rescheduled so he could go fishing with his father.

NYS Parks police searching for 15-year-old in Lower Niagara River

“I texted him back and told him I rescheduled your appointment. I didn’t get a text message back from him, because I knew he was fishing, but I didn’t know he was down at the gorge,” Carey said. “He told me on Sunday when we were together, he said me and dad are going fishing – it’s salmon season.”

Colleen Carey shared with us what detectives said happened to Kameron. She said the 15-year-old was fishing when his line got snagged on something in the water and went to pull on the line. He slipped into the rushing water and held onto a rock while his father desperately tried to rescue him. She said Kameron was swept away by the current.

Since Monday, Carey tells us she has been searching for her son every day.

“I met a man last night, he told me he’s been out there every single night until two o’clock in the morning looking for him,” Carey told News 4. “I’ve met some incredible people helping me out here. We have a good search team out here. I’m thankful for the Coast Guard, the Park Police, Homeland Security is out here.”

Colleen Carey said Kameron is “the best kid” and has a heart of gold. She calls him her “gentle giant” and said he loves playing football, he loved his family and is always happy.

She wants the community to “keep hoping for a miracle and keep praying” as the search for Kameron continues.

Agencies helping State Park Police in the search include Niagara Falls Fire, Border Patrol, New York State Police, US Coast Guard, Whirlpool Jet Boat Tours and Canadian Park Police. The search has included shoreline, air and vessel searches.

Patrick Ryan is a digital producer who has been part of the News 4 team since 2020. See more of his work here.

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Erie County Veterans ask Governor Hochul for access to Excelsior Pass

ERIE COUNTY, N.Y. (WIVB) — Those who received their Covid-19 vaccine at VA hospitals have run into some issues when trying to utilize the New York State Excelsior app. John Steigler, from Cheektowaga, is one of them.

“I was on the state website, and I thought I was doing something wrong,” said Steigler. “I finally called them up, and they said ‘the reason you can’t get it, or we don’t recognize it is because you guys are vaccinated at the VA hospital.'”

It’s federal and state laws that are creating the problem, not the VA hospitals. Federal law prohibits the VA from sharing veterans’ health information with state health authorities unless mandated by state law. Right now, New York State does not have any laws which have that mandate.

After getting the Covid-19 vaccine a physical government-issued card is given. But bringing it from place to place makes Steigler uneasy.

“I travel a lot, and I wanted to carry not only the card because I’m afraid I’m going to lose it,” he said. “I have a copy of the card on my telephone, but they won’t accept that at the Bills games or at Key Bank Arena.”

Erie County Clerk Mickey Kearns and State Senator Rob Ortt are calling on Governor Kathy Hochul to take corrective action on behalf of the veterans.

“I understand that not everyone agrees with the requirements of a vaccine pass, and I get that. However, I hope that New York State moves quickly to resolve this roadblock, so veterans who want this choice have proper access to the Excelsior Pass,” said Kearns.

The legislative session will not meet again until January unless Governor Hochul calls for a special session.

Abby Fridmann is an anchor and reporter who joined the News 4 team in November 2020. See more of her work here.

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