Niagara Gazette

February 14, 2014

CHEERS AND JEERS: The best -- and worst -- of the week for Feb. 14

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Niagara Gazette

Niagara Gazette — • CHEERS: Kudos to Niagara Falls police and Niagara County Sheriff’s Office investigators in quickly tracking down the suspect in Monday’s bomb threats to Niagara Falls and Niagara-Wheatfield high schools. As it turned out, a morning of panic and disruption for staff, students and parents at the schools was the all the result of a 15-year-old high school student looking to get out of going to class — and getting his girlfriend out of school as well. It’s unbelievable to us, in this day and age, that a 15-year-old youth doesn’t know better than to phone in bomb threats to a school, or anywhere for that matter. Fortunately for him, he avoided more serious charges but we hope he’s suitably punished in family court.

CHEERS: Speaking of the Niagara County Sheriff’s Office, 2013’s statistics show a pretty good year for the police force. Overall, Niagara County saw a 13 1/2 percent drop in violent and property crimes in 2013 compared to 2012. It wasn’t all good news, though, there was an increase in robberies. The targets of those robberies ranged from banks and gas stations to people’s residences. “We try to be proactive (in addressing spike in robberies),” Undersheriff Mike Filicetti said. “(We do that) by reassigning resources to the hot spots we identify. You try to look for the prime targets (for robberies) and work with other agencies as well as redeploy your resources.” Using those methods both Filicetti and Sheriff James Voutour see this year’s numbers taking a drop as well.

CHEERS: Are you starting to stress out about getting your 2013 taxes done? There are two places you can go for free help. Consumer Credit Counseling Service, a Cheektowaga-based non-profit, will be offering free tax preparation as part of an effort to expand its services in Niagara County. Residents can either follow instructions at the Consumer Credit Counseling Service website or they can schedule a face-to-face appointment with a representative from the non-profit at its Niagara Falls offices in the Family and Children’s Services Niagara Family Center, located at 1522 Main St. Residents can schedule appointments on Tuesdays from 3 to 4:30 p.m. and on Wednesdays from 5 to 7 p.m. through the end of March. Taxpayers must have a household income of $58,500 a year or less to qualify for the assistance. Consumer Credit Counseling Service’s Niagara office can be reached at 299-0911 and the free tax preparation software can be accessed by visiting www.consumercreditbuffalo.org.

In addition, students from NU’s College of Business Administration will help members of the Niagara Falls community file their state and federal income taxes this spring. Assistance will be provided from 5:45 to 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday and Thursdays at Niagara University (St. Vincent’s Hall, Room 205). No appointments are needed to participate in this free service. For more information, please call 286-8050 or visit www.niagara.edu.