A two-newspaper town


I'm still up here in East Aurora, New York, east of Buffalo, where the daffodils are just starting to bloom.

I just spent a pleasant hour at Tony Rome's Globe Hotel, which is not a hotel at all, but a restaurant in what was an inn for a century or so. Over a prime rib dinner and a Guinness (which really is good for you), I perused the two weekly newspapers which compete for the patronage of the 6,000 or so residents of East Aurora, and the 30,000 more who live in the surrounding townships, a semi-rural area on the eastern edge of Erie County.

The East Aurora Advertiser is an independent broadsheet paper, in operation since 1872. Its publisher channels the ghost of Millard Fillmore at the 13th president's annual birthday bash here.

The East Aurora Bee is part of a chain of tabloid weeklies circling Buffalo.

Both papers devote a lot of space to detailed coverage of various town, village, and school board meetings in the area, along with local columnists and civic events. Can you imagine it? Two different detailed accounts of the village council meeting. You might actually gain some perspective.

Zoning and budgets seem to get a lot of attention here. East Aurora's village council passed a budget that won't require raising property taxes for the coming year. The board almost deferred the vote, because there was a question about whether the work session qualified as a public meeting under the state's Open Meetings Law. According to the story, the Advertiser's publisher has "criticized local officials for improperly condeucting business behind closed doors." (Imagine, a newspaper publisher who wants public officals to have their debates in public!)

The village board is also considering a moratorium on the development of gas stations and automotive businesses. This was prompted by a convenience store company buying a commercially-zoned house two lots behind an existing Main Street location, deeper into the neighborhood. The broader concern is about homes which are zoned commercial and could be converted to any commercial use, no matter what the context is. They may convert these homes to "residential-commercial" zoning which would allow small offices, but not gas stations. There's also talk of a moratorium on auto-related businesses and drive-throughs on Main Street. The village board's attitude is interesting, because they seem to place preserving the character of Main Street and the neighborhood above the value of new development, and they don't seem to be concerned about being sued for changing the zoning after the property has been bought by a commercial interest.

The Bee covered most of the same stories, complimenting the accounts in the Advertiser. The Bee does not have much content online, but they do have a very long page of police blotter entries, taken from all of the chain's papers, with links to the best of the blotter for each of the past eight years. The blotter page in the paper itself runs with the following disclaimer:

The Bee's police blotter is a sampling of unusual, sometimes humorous calls received by the police department. It is not intended to be a complete record of all incidents reported.

Some recent entries in the blotter:

Authorities were called to settle a dispute in which the daughter of an East Aurora woman alleged her mother read her diary.

Three pudding containers were thrown at a residence on Osgood Avenue, damaging a shutter.

Read on for more....

Three men were reported throwing Jell-O at windows of homes on Harlem Road.

An Oakwood Avenue woman received a harassing phone call political in nature.

A man overheard youths talk about a crack in his fence on Cambridge Square, Amherst; he thinks they’re up to no good.

An Oakwood Lane resident said he saw a man on his property. It turned out to be a fence installer doing an estimate.

Police received a call from a husband in Snyder, who wanted police to explain “the finer points of living in the United States” to his Columbian wife who wants to leave.

Lawn ornaments were taken from a lawn on Lou Ann Drive. The resident found that someone had left stickers from the "Gnome Liberation Front."

A caller said a white male was walking west on Route 20. She said he was wearing funny clothes with lots of colors, a funny hat and was carrying a large bag. She said he looks like a terrorist and doesn't belong in Orchard Park.

Suspicious activity was checked on Stahley Road. Just kids playing baseball.

Greiner Road was checked for a report of an erratic driver. No car found but a horse acting erratic.

I'll stop there. Go to the site to read more, if you like.

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on April 17, 2004 9:55 PM.

Raising taxes makes a city livable? was the previous entry in this blog.

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