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NIAGARA NEWS BRIEFS

Higgins supports plans to begin Busti demolitions

A congressman is backing the Peace Bridge Authority's plans to demolish seven properties it owns on Busti Avenue to make way for an expanded bridge plaza.

Rep. Brian Higgins, D-Buffalo, came out on Saturday in support of razing the properties, in response to Mayor Byron W. Brown's appeal to the governor to intervene and halt demolition. The mayor in recent a letter called the plans for demolition "premature" and expressed the fear "unnecessary public conflict" will result if they are carried out."

"The Peace Bridge project has been stalled without good reason for two decades. Inaction and inertia is no longer an option," Higgins said in a prepared statement.

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Ceremony to mark opening of outpatient surgery center

LOCKPORT -- Great Lakes Surgical Associates will hold a ribbon-cutting at 5:15 p.m. Tuesday for its new $1.8 million outpatient surgery center at 160 East Ave. An open house will follow until 7 p.m.

In 2010, the Niagara County Industrial Development Agency granted the project, owned by surgeons Jeffrey J. Schratz and Robert W. Hodge, a 10-year property tax break.

The center moved its offices from Elizabeth Drive May 18, but the procedures that can be carried out in the office are still limited, office manager Susan Lougen said.

Representatives of the Joint Commission on Accreditation are to visit the facility Friday; fee negotiations with insurers are not yet complete; and the state Health Department is still reviewing the center's certificate of need application.

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Militello quartet booked for Plaza Event Series debut

Jazz saxophonist Bobby Militello and his quartet will kick off the 43rd Annual Plaza Event Series at noon Monday on the south end of the plaza in front of M&T Bank's corporate headquarters in downtown Buffalo.

The longest-running corporate-sponsored event of its kind in the nation, the free series will run from noon to 1 p.m. Monday through Friday until Aug. 31. Each week will feature a variety of performers and guest hosts. The schedule for the first week of the series also includes the Westminster Community Charter School Drama Club on Tuesday, the Celtic and world music band Stone Row on Wednesday, country-rockers Ricky Lee & the Mustangs Thursday and the Larry Salter Big Band Friday.

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Niagara USA slates forum on state mandate relief

LEWISTON -- The Niagara USA Chamber will hold a forum on state mandate relief for businesses and local governments from 3 to 4:30 p.m. Tuesday in the Power Vista at the Niagara Power Project, 5777 Lewiston Road.

Government Affairs Director Kory Schuler said speakers at the event will include Brian Sampson, executive director of Unshackle Upstate; Heather Briccetti, president and chief executive officer of the Business Council of New York State; Tom Stebbins, executive director of the Lawsuit Reform Alliance of New York State; and Kenneth Adams, president and chief executive officer of Empire State Development.

Because of limited space, reservations are required. Call 285-9142.