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Seven by Seven / Seven things you need to know by 7 a.m.

1. If there is anything that true baseball fans like as much as opening day it is talking -- and dreaming -- about the coming season. They get their chance at the Western New York Baseball Hall of Fame's Hot Stove Winter Social at 7 p.m. at Ilio DiPaolo's Restaurant, 3785 South Park Ave. in Blasdell. Retired major league pitcher Bill Scherrer, current Bisons General Manager Mike Buczkowski, New York Yankees scout Bob Miske and former Bisons General Manager Don Colpoys are among the speakers. For reservations, call Colpoys at 823-7733 or e-mail colps778@aol.com.

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2. Erie County Legislator Betty Jean Grant will be joined by Ellicott Council Member Darius Pridgen and State Sen. Mark Grisanti as she hosts a town hall meeting to talk about what city, county, state and federal programs are doing to fight poverty, crime, failing schools, unemployment and blight in Buffalo. The session will run from 6 to 7:45 p.m. in the Frank E. Merriweather Jr. Library, 1324 Jefferson Ave.

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3. The reform of New York State's Medicaid program starts today in Buffalo. Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo's Medicaid Redesign Team holds the first of seven statewide public hearings from 1:30 to 4:30 p.m. in the David C. Hohn Lecture Hall at Roswell Park Cancer Institute. The panel, which includes Dr. Nirav Shah, the Buffalo native Cuomo nominated to be the state's new health commissioner, is looking for ways to rein in costs without sacrificing the quality of care. It's open to the public. No advance sign-up is needed to speak.

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4. The most popular show on television, "American Idol," comes back for its 10th season with something of a midlife crisis. Viewership has been declining, the last few Idols have not become stars and its founder -- acerbic talent appraiser Simon Cowell -- has stepped out of the picture. Can the new judges -- Aerosmith's live wire frontman Steven Tyler and film and singing star Jennifer Lopez -- bring back the mojo? The answer unfolds in the first installment of a two-night premiere tonight (8 p.m., Ch. 29).

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5. Ballet fanciers can get a midweek treat today. On the screen at 2:30 p.m. in the Amherst Theatre, 3500 Main St. in the University Plaza, is "Giselle," live in high definition from England's Royal Ballet at Covent Garden in London.

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6. There's action on two home courts in Big Four men's basketball tonight. In the University at Buffalo's Alumni Arena, the Bulls, currently 9-6, 1-2 in conference play, take on MAC rival Kent State, 11-6, 2-1. (7:30, 1230 AM). Meanwhile, in the Reilly Center at St. Bonaventure University, the Bonnies, 9-7, 1-2 in the Atlantic 10 conference, go up against Xavier, which is undefeated in conference play so far (7, Time Warner SportsNet).

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7. PaleoJoe is back. Lewiston native Joseph Kchodl, the traveling paleontologist, dinosaur collector and book author, returns to speak on one of his favorite topics, "Trilobites," the fossilized creatures that lived in ancient seas. His talk will be at 7 p.m. in the Gateway Executive Office auditorium, 3556 Lake Shore Road, Blasdell. Many trilobites can be found in the rocks at the Penn Dixie Paleontological and Outdoor Education Center in Hamburg. Kchodl, now based in Midland, Mich., will bring along trilobite samples and copies of his pictorial guidebook on the creatures. His program is free for Penn Dixie members, $4 for nonmembers.

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