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LOCAL NEWS BRIEFS

>Winners are announced in holiday essay contest

OLEAN -- Sarah Lang, a Boardmanville Elementary School pupil, captured the $50 gift certificate first-place prize in this year's Santa Claus Lane Holiday Essay Contest.

Maddy Terhaar, also a Boardmanville pupil, took second; Courtney Martin, EastView Elementary, third; and Brianna Curtin of Boardmanville and Richard Heap, honorable mention.

More than 120 children in third through fifth grades submitted essays on what the holidays mean to them. The winners are invited to participate in the annual Santa Claus Lane Parade, which gets under way in downtown Olean at 7 p.m. Friday.

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>Riverkeeper group gets Power Authority's help

Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper, a regional environmental group focused on area waterways, will receive nearly a half-million dollars from the New York Power Authority, officials announced Wednesday.

The money will be used to hire staff and help implement habitat-improvement projects for the Niagara River Basin. The amount, $485,389, is part of a settlement agreement reached in exchange for support of the authority's recent bid for a renewed federal operating license for the Niagara Power Project.

In a statement, the authority's president and chief executive officer, Roger B. Kelley, commended the Riverkeeper organization for its work, calling the Niagara River a major economic, environmental and recreational asset.

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