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LOCAL NEWS BRIEFS

Fire Dept. to be paid for calls to Reservation

Rep. Kathleen C. Hochul announced this week that the Alabama Fire Department will be reimbursed $69,000 per year for the next five years for fire calls to the Tonawanda Indian Reservation.

"Today, I'm proud to announce that my office was able to help work out an agreement between our local first responders and the Bureau of Indian Affairs that ensures this fire department will be fairly compensated for their service," Hochul said.

While the Alabama department has protected the Tonawanda Indian Reservation for 60 years, it has never been reimbursed for the costs of responding to a call. The typical fire response costs the Alabama department approximately $600. In 2011, the department responded to 115 calls from the reservation.

Hochul said her office has been working on the issue since September.

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Journey Behind the Falls to be limited for 2 weeks

NIAGARA FALLS, Ont. -- The Journey Behind the Falls, a tourist attraction that provides views from behind and beside the base of the Canadian Horseshoe Falls, will be closed to visitors or will have limited access during the next two weeks as the Niagara Parks Commission conducts its annual spring maintenance along the rock wall of the Niagara River gorge.

Members of the parks staff will be lowered in a cage over the decorative parapet wall and into the gorge 13 stories below to scale off any rocks that have become loosened by the cycles of freezing and thawing during the winter.

Rocks that became loose during the winter are chiseled out and allowed to fall into the gorge where they either are removed or left in place, depending on where they land. Otherwise the rocks could fall onto the lower observation deck and become a hazard to visitors.

For the safety of visitors, access to the Journey Behind the Falls will be limited next week and the entire attraction will be closed April 23-27. For those who have bought the Niagara Falls Adventure Pass, the Whirlpool Aero Car and Butterfly Conservatory will be substituted for the Journey Behind the Falls during the closure.

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Agency OKs remediation of 21 acres at outer harbor

Remediation of 21 acres on the outer harbor was approved by Erie Canal Harbor Development Corp. this week.

The work will prepare the land for eventual public access in a shoreline setting and potential private development. It will begin on the parcels -- a former Cargill property and adjacent land formerly owned by the New York Power Authority -- after the completion of the city's Brownfield Opportunity Area.

Also, the board announced 426 events and activities are planned this summer at Canalside and approved an agreement that keeps Buffalo Place providing operation, maintenance and programming services.

Programming will include a weekly archaeological dig under the direction of Douglas Pirelli of the University at Buffalo's archaeology department; a working artisan/vendors market; a series of performances detailing African-American history; and the Buffalo Irish Festival, with a theater production celebrating the history of the Irish in Buffalo.