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HEARING TO EXPLORE LAKE WATER DIVERSION

New York State will conduct a public hearing on the possibility of Great Lakes water diversion at 6 p.m. Wednesday in UB's Center for Tomorrow on the North Campus in Amherst.

The hearings come after a statement issued last year by the governors and premiers of Great Lakes states and provinces that looked to amend the Great Lakes Charter to provide greater protection against the possibility of diverting water from the Great Lakes basin.

While the proposal has been lauded by many environmental groups, there are also concerns about provisions that some observers think could undermine the intent of keeping Great Lakes water here.

Specifically, environmental groups such as Buffalo-based Great Lakes United are concerned that the amendment to the charter would allow for certain diversions of less than 1 million gallons a day with less review than currently required.

The groups have also questioned whether, under the revised charter, states might be giving up their current right to veto such diversions under U.S. laws.

The state will also conduct a public hearing Feb. 22 at Oswego State College.

Clarence OKs rezoning for subdivision

The Clarence Town Board approved a request Wednesday night to rezone 9.67 acres from agricultural to residential to accommodate what will be the completion of Meadow Lakes subdivision.

The plan represents the last phase of development for the posh subdivision, which currently has 950 homes. Phases 13 and 14 will add 25 lots and provide access to the community from Shimerville Road, said James B. Callahan, the town's director of community development.

Swanick to head statewide board

Charles M. Swanick, chairman of the Erie County Legislature, has been chosen to head a statewide group of his peers.

Swanick, a Kenmore Democrat, was elected president of the state's Association of Chairs of Legislative Boards at a meeting of the state Association of Counties earlier this month in Albany.

"There is great strength in numbers. The messages sent to the state level from a body such as the Association of Board Chairs is a powerful force in effectuating change," said Swanick. "I am honored to be chosen by my peers to help lead a county effort for a unified voice on state issues that impact our communities."

The mission of the association is to advance public policy and a legislative agenda that promotes an efficient, cost-effective local government service delivery system.

Daffodil orders benefit cancer patients

Orders are being taken for daffodils in advance of the annual American Cancer Society Daffodil Days in March. Proceeds benefit cancer research, education, prevention, treatment and programs for patients and their families.

Advance orders can be submitted until March 9. Daffodils can be picked up during the week of March 26 at American Cancer Society headquarters, 101 John James Audubon Parkway, Amherst. Delivery is available for orders of five bunches or more.

Fresh-cut bunches of 10 are $7. Potted flowers are $8. The Gift of Hope -- a fresh-cut bunch with a vase -- costs $15 and will be delivered to a health care facility designated by the Cancer Society. To order or to volunteer, call the Cancer Society at 1-800-ACS-2345.

Senior citizens to get school tax relief

The North Collins School Board voted Wednesday to provide tax relief for senior citizens meeting income guidelines.

The board received petitions signed by senior citizens, urging the board to increase the minimum income exemption under the state's school tax-relief program (STAR), from $12,000 to $15,000.

Anthony Rotella, the district's business administrator, said the tax relief would benefit 25 residents and put a total of $17,000 back into their pockets.

Said Superintendent Jack Mann: "I think it's a good idea, and with the pricing of fuel and everything else, we want to help those seniors keep in line with the ever-rising cost of living."

The STAR program provides an exemption from the school portion of property taxes for owner-occupied primary residences.

The board also heard from two representatives of Laidlaw Transit about providing transportation services for the district. The board also tabled a purchase order for three 65-passenger school buses and a 22-passenger school bus until later in the year.

Dog show to begin Thursday in Falls

NIAGARA FALLS -- More than 2,000 dogs and their owners and handlers will converge at the Niagara Falls Convention and Civic Center from Thursday through Feb. 25 for the Rainbow Classic Dog Show and Obedience Trials.

The Olean, Wyoming Valley and Niagara Falls kennel clubs will serve as hosts for the event, which runs from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily.

About 142 breeds will be exhibited in both conformation and obedience competition.

More than 50 junior handlers will compete for handling expertise in junior showmanship.

There will be a free educational obedience seminar next Friday in the Greek Theater and on Feb. 24, after the best-in-show competition, a couple who met and fell in love at a dog show, will exchange marriage vows in the best-in-show ring.

Proceeds from the event will benefit canine research and education, college scholarships and non-canine-related charities.

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