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>Batt apparent winner in Family Court race

LOCKPORT -- Niagara County Family Court Judge John F. Batt apparently has clinched re-election.

A Buffalo News tally, based on Tuesday's counting of absentee ballots from Royalton, Somerset, Pendleton and the City and Town of Lockport, showed Batt with a 544-vote lead over Linda M. DiPasquale.

The Board of Elections has not posted its own revised totals, although it has made results from individual districts available for review. They show that so far, Batt has received 857 absentee and affidavit votes to DiPasquale's 739. Batt, a Lockport Republican who was running for his second term, has 20,963 confirmed votes to 20,421 for DiPasquale, a Wheatfield Democrat.

Only about 400 paper ballots remain uncounted, making it mathematically impossible for DiPasquale to overcome Batt's lead.


>Holiday lighting event gets turned on today

NIAGARA FALLS -- Holiday Lights of Niagara will kick off at 5:45 p.m. today in Hyde Park with fireworks and a lighting ceremony.

The United Way event, which features winter wonderland displays and animated holiday themes, will run each day from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. through Dec. 31. It is free and open to the public.

The ceremony will be held near the ice pavilion in Hyde Park.


>Wal-Mart foes manage large write-in turnout

LOCKPORT -- A hastily organized write-in effort by a new group hostile to Supervisor Marc R. Smith garnered at least 126 votes in the Nov. 6 election, with almost one-third of them coming from the area abutting the planned Wal-Mart supercenter project, which Smith supports.

Incomplete figures at the Niagara County Board of Elections Tuesday showed it was the largest write-in in Niagara County in recent memory.
Taxpayers for Accountable Government, which was named only a week before the election, distributed flyers the weekend before the vote, urging write-ins for the group's leaders against the otherwise unopposed Republican slate for supervisor and councilman.
Smith polled 1,950 votes on the machines, while Newfane Board of Education President Donna Pieszala has been credited with 126 write-ins, with 10 of the town's 14 districts counted.

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