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AROUND THE STATE

Strapped orchestra launches fund drive

SYRACUSE (AP) -- The 50-year-old Syracuse Symphony Orchestra is struggling to survive and has started an emergency campaign to raise $1.75 million by August.

The orchestra performs more than 130 concerts a year and has 99 employees.

Like other arts organizations, it has suffered as government and corporate funds have dried up during the recession.

Vicky D'Agostino, a spokeswoman, said the orchestra is the largest arts organization in Central New York and would be sorely missed if it goes under.

The approved budget for the 2011 season was $6.9 million, down from $7.4 million last season.

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Snowblower stolen from helpful neighbor

NEW YORK (AP) -- A good neighbor who likes to clear the snow off his entire street in New York City has been rewarded with the theft of his snowblower from the back of his pickup truck.

William Hebner, 67, of Staten Island, picked his wife up from her job at a department store Thursday and then got to work on the foot and a half of snow that had fallen overnight.

He took a break to warm up and put his snowblower in his truck's flatbed. His daughter alerted him later that the snowblower was gone.

Neighbors told the Daily News that Hebner helped the whole block.

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Teacher seniority rules must ease, mayor says

NEW YORK (AP) -- New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is warning that unless teacher seniority rules are changed, the city could have to lay off nearly every teacher hired in the last five years.

Bloomberg said Sunday that the New York State budget is expected to contain deep cuts, especially to schools.

Bloomberg said the city may be forced to lay off teachers -- and under state law, the layoffs would be governed by seniority. The mayor reiterated his call for changes to the law that protects teacher seniority. Under state law, the most recently hired teachers must be laid off first. Bloomberg wants merit taken into account.

United Federation of Teachers President Michael Mulgrew said the mayor should be working with the union to prevent layoffs.

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Snowmobiler killed in crash during race

BOONVILLE -- A 43-year-old man has died after being thrown from his snowmobile while he was competing in a race at a weekend snow festival.

Oneida County Sheriff Robert Maciol said Sunday that Peter Scouten of Forestport lost control of his sled at about 11 a.m. Saturday during a three-lap race at the Boonville Snow Festival II, 50 miles northeast of Syracuse.

Scouten slid headfirst into a snowbank. He received immediate medical aid and was later pronounced dead in St. Elizabeth Medical Center.

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