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LOCAL NEWS BRIEFS

>Italian-American group honors attorney Alessi

Calling him an ambassador for the Buffalo Italian-American community, the Federation of Italian-American Societies of Western New York named attorney Donald Alessi Person of the Year for 2008.

Alessi was honored by the group Sunday at its annual Columbus Day Dinner in Salvatore's Italian Gardens, Lancaster.

A native of Buffalo's West Side, Alessi is a graduate of Canisius College and the University at Buffalo Law School. He also studied at the University of Brussels, Belgium. After law school, he served in the U. S. Army during the Vietnam War era.

His legal career included work as an assistant public defender and as counsel to two congressmen, Thaddeus Dulski and Henry J. Nowak. He was also counsel to the Clarence Industrial Development Agency.

Alessi was also instrumental in the 100th anniversary of the Italian-American Federation and its documentary film, "La Terra Promessa."

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>Wildlife Center opening habitat to public Oct. 25

Hawk Creek Wildlife Center in East Aurora, a sanctuary for more than 90 mammals and live birds of prey, will open the habitat to the public from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Oct. 25.

The program, dubbed "Here Be Dragons," is a rare opportunity to learn about the "real dragons of the world," according to Hawk Creek officials, who note the habitat is home to eagles, hawks, owls, falcons, vultures and wildcats, as well as two bobcats, a Siberian lynx, African servals, a North American ocelot, river otter and a caracal, which is a member of the lynx family.

Visitors are encouraged to arrive in costume for a Halloween costume contest.

Admission is $5 for adults and $4 for senior citizens and children younger than 12. Visit www.hawkcreek.org for more information.

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>Schumer, Clinton ask more tree-removal time

WASHINGTON -- Amherst is still struggling to remove damaged trees from the surprise October 2006 snowstorm after a local contractor defaulted on its agreement to do the work.

This has prompted Sens. Charles E. Schumer and Hillary Rodham Clinton, both D-N.Y., to ask the Federal Emergency Management Agency to grant Amherst a 60-day extension for tree removal; otherwise, the town would have to pay for the trees' removal without any federal assistance.

"If this deadline extension isn't granted, the town and local taxpayers will be hit with an expensive bill. Removing these trees is necessary and important, and we will see this project through to the end," Schumer said in a statement.

"New circumstances beyond their control has caused a major roadblock on the road to completion," Clinton said in a news release, referring to Amherst officials. "I urge FEMA to grant this short extension to give the town the time it needs to resume their work of removing the damaged trees."

Amherst has been working for two years to cut down thousands of damaged town-owned trees. The Town Board voted last Monday to seek bids on completing the work.

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