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LOCAL NEWS BRIEFS

Festival of Lights boasts many displays

The Winter Festival of Lights kicked off in Niagara Falls, Ontario, Saturday.

The festival runs through Jan. 7.

The festival includes more than 125 animated lighting displays and 3 million tree and ground lights. There is no admission fee to view the lights, but donations are gratefully accepted, with proceeds used to enhance the lights and displays.

New additions to the festival this year include Zimmerman Fountain, the Misty Kids and 28 illuminated snow flakes and perimeter lighting that "comes alive" to festive music at the Parks Police Building every 30 minutes.

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Ambulance providers need help, says Schumer

Ambulance providers across Western New York are receiving inadequate Medicare payments, leaving them without enough money to buy life-saving devices such as GPS tracking systems and upgraded respiratory devices, according to Sen. Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y. Currently, only 5 percent of Western New York ambulances have GPS tracking systems, Schumer said.

The senator is scheduled to be in Buffalo Monday to unveil legislation that will increase funding to Western New York ambulance providers by $1.7 million. James McPartlon, president of the American Ambulance Association, and Al Lewis, president of the United New York Ambulance Network, as well as representatives from Western New York ambulance companies will join Schumer at a news conference at the Rural Metro Ambulance station in Buffalo.

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Workshop set Monday on rising gang activity

Growing gang violence in Western New York cities and suburbs will be discussed at a workshop Monday for local police, mental health and social service providers and school personnel.

The workshop is sponsored by New Directions Youth and Family Services with the Buffalo Police Department and other local law enforcement agencies.

"Whether it's in the city or suburbs, gang activity will grow unchecked if people aren't aware of it," said Margaret D. Flannery, clinical director of Wraparound Services at New Directions. "Service providers often aren't aware that the graffiti they see is gang related. Or they see graffiti and think it is gang related when it's just tagging, which is more of an artistic expression. When people aren't aware, they aren't safe."

The workshop, being held in the Harlem Road Community Center, 4255 Harlem Road in Amherst, required prior registration, and is at capacity. No additional registrations are being accepted.

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