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Farewell To A Dear Friend

Joel Thomas' official title at the Erie County SPCA was 'Wildlife Administrator and Veterinary Technician', a long title to be sure. But as titles so often do, it fails to even come close to describing Joel as a person.

He was a true renaissance man. Musician, environmentalist, author, husband and father. It seemed to those who knew him, Joel could do it all. And although he left us at far too early an age, his spirit will live on with the many people whose lives he touched.

Gina Browning was a close friend who worked with Joel for almost 20 years at the Erie County SPCA.

"He had a wonderful church family, his daughter, his wife, his son, he had an amazing family life too," says Browning. "Then you look at professionally here at the SPCA, all that he did. It wasn't just a job, all that he did to impact the lives of people, and especially the lives of wildlife here."

Investigative Post: Outer Harbor and Stadium Lease

Here at 2 On Your Side, we recently announced our proud partnership with the Investigative Post, a non-profit investigative reporting center right here in Western New York.

It's run by former Buffalo News investigative reporter Jim Heaney. 

Heaney stopped by the Information Center to discuss the latest on plans for the Outer Harbor and negotiations with the Bills stadium lease.

Unknown WNY: Birthplace Of The Cocktail

LEWISTON, N.Y. - You probably know that Hamburg lays claim to the title of "birthplace of the hamburger", but did you know that a Western New York community claims to have given birth to the cocktail?

In the early 1800's, one of the favorite places in the Village of Lewiston was Hustler's Tavern. It was so popular that in 1813, when the British forces came across the Niagara River to burn down Lewiston in retaliation of the U.S. attack on Niagara-On-The-Lake, Hustler's Tavern was the only building they spared.

Around that time, the American troops brought Catherine Hustler, the tavern-keeper, several roosters and hens taken in their raid on the British. They asked her to roast them for a victory dinner. As she plucked the birds, she placed the tail feathers in mugs and glasses on the bar. Legend has it that one of the soldiers asked Catherine for a drink in one of the glasses with a cock's tail feather, and the name was born.

Unknown Stories: House With 4 Cellars

LEWISTON, N.Y. - From the street it looks like a normal house, but the view from the river reveals a series of four basements. It was this site that, for possibly hundreds, represented freedom.

Amos Tryon built the home in 1830 for his wife. He added the elaborate series of cellars with the idea that it was make it easier to transport goods up from the river to the house level.

It quickly became known as Tryon's Folly when Amo's wife decided she did not want to move from the village and the house sat empty.

It was empty until Amo's brother Josiah found another use. Josiah was a tailor in the village, but also an elder at the Presbyterian Church. The church became very active on the Underground Railroad. Josiah was known as a "station master".

With the help of Amo's idle home, Josiah was able to sneak possibly hundreds of escaped slaves down the gorge wall, to the river and row them across to Canada and freedom.

Seneca Gaming Corporation Antes Up for Culinary Institute

Seneca Gaming Corporation Antes Up for Culinary Institute

Company presents NCCC leadership with check for $375,000

Leaders from the Seneca Nation of Indians, Seneca Gaming Corporation and Niagara County Community College, as well as New York State Senator George Maziarz, gathered this morning near the future home of the College’s Niagara Falls Culinary Institute to talk about one of the project’s key ingredients - money.

The Seneca officials presented the college with a check for $375,000 for the Culinary Institute, which is being developed in the former Rainbow Mall near the entrance to the Niagara Falls State Park. It was the first payment of the $1.275 million Seneca Gaming Corporation has pledged to the project over the next five years.

Wilson High School Graduate Involved in Secret Service Scandal

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- A scandal that has rocked the U.S. Secret Service has a local connection.

A Wilson High School graduate is one of the secret service agents identified as being in the center of the Colombia prostitution scandal.

Arthur H. Huntington graduated from Wilson in 1989.   The school yearbook indicated he wrestled and played football and was co-captain of the wrestling team his senior year.

Last week, CNN identified Huntington as the agent who got in a dispute over pay with an escort at Hotel Caribe in Cartagena while there on business.

A source in law enforcement in Florida says he worked with Huntington for a short time about a decade ago, and Huntington told him he was from Wilson, New York.

High-Wire Expert Nik Wallenda to Train at Seneca Niagara Casino & Hotel

High-Wire Expert Nik Wallenda to Train at Seneca Niagara Casino & Hotel

The world waits in anticipation for Nik Wallenda to accomplish a childhood dream this June: walk over the awe-inspiring Niagara Falls on a high-wire.  Although the “King of the High Wire” holds a Guinness World Record and comes from a seven-generation circus dynasty, he needs to prepare.  That preparation will take place May 12 to 22 at Seneca Niagara Casino & Hotel – Wallenda’s home base in Niagara Falls and a major sponsor of the high-wire walk.

The public is invited to watch Wallenda train for free each day from 10:30 a.m. to noon and 3:30 to 5 p.m. in front of the property near Third Street and Old Falls Street.  Two cranes – with the reinforcement of stanchions drilled 15 feet into the ground – will support a 1,200-foot long wire that will span the outdoor parking lot and be exactly like the one Wallenda will walk on June 15 – but this practice wire will be placed a reasonable height above the ground.