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LOCAL NEWS BRIEFS

Largest graduating class ever at GCC receives degrees

Genesee Community College's largest graduating class ever received associate degrees during commencement ceremonies Sunday in the college's Anthony B. Zambito Gymnasium in Batavia.

James Sunser, the college's recently inaugurated president, gave the commencement address.

The class of 2012 consisted of more than 900 graduates, including students who earned degrees in August 2011 and January 2012.

Also on Sunday, Ted Pietrzak delivered the commencement talk at Villa Maria College's 48th annual commencement exercises in the college auditorium on Pine Ridge Road in Cheektowaga.

About 80 graduates received either a bachelor's or an associate degree.

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Madigan launches campaign for seat held by Higgins

Mike Madigan, a Grand Island businessman and tea party activist, announced his candidacy for Congress in the 26th District on Sunday as he celebrated the opening of his new campaign office at 1104 Kensington Ave. at Bailey Avenue.

Madigan, a senior program manager for Life Technologies, a global biotechnology company, is seeking the seat held by Rep. Brian Higgins, D-Buffalo. Madigan wants to improve inner-city schools with the use of tax credits, vouchers and vocational training. He also wants to lower taxes, cut government spending and reduce regulations on business.

He is a University at Buffalo graduate and a Grand Island Republican committeeman. He also is vice president of the Frederick Douglass Foundation of New York, a Rochester-based conservative group focused on public policy and education.

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Overnight vigil protests razing of Bethlehem building

A group of historians and preservationists staged an overnight vigil Sunday outside the Bethlehem Steel North Administration Building on Fuhrmann Boulevard, Lackawanna, to protest plans to start demolishing the massive Beaux Arts-style structure this morning.

The group, led by local artist and historian Dana Saylor-Furman, hoped to convince Lackawanna officials and the owners of the building, Gateway Trade, that demolition after neglect is unacceptable and that new uses can be found for the old steel company executive offices.

Preservationists have appealed to Lackawanna officials to postpone plans to raze the structure, designed by noted New York City architect Lansing C. Holden and built in 1901, citing its importance in the area's industrial history.

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City's immigrants, refugees will be focus of program

The Buffalo & Erie County Historical Society will provide local residents an opportunity to learn more about members of the city's immigrant and refugee communities.

A free screening of the 30-minute documentary "My City Limits: Buffalo, a Home for Refugees" is scheduled for 6 p.m. Wednesday at the Historical Society, 25 Nottingham Court.