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

1. The 43rd Annual Plaza Event Series kicks off at noon today with a concert by jazz saxophonist Bobby Militello and his quartet in front of M&T Bank headquarters across from Main Place in downtown Buffalo. The longest-running corporate-sponsored event of its kind in the nation, the free summertime outdoor series will run from noon to 1 p.m. Monday through Friday until Aug. 31.

2. Has Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo's popularity suffered from recent revelations about gambling and other big-money interests contributing to the Committee to Save New York, which supports Cuomo and his policies? The answer may turn up this morning when the latest Siena College Poll is released. The Siena Research Institute also asked voters their opinions on Sen. Kirsten E. Gillibrand and her potential Republican opponents.

3. A new program will be introduced today to give survivors of domestic violence extra help in building new lives. Details of Project Fresh Start, established with a $100,000 grant from the Verizon Foundation, will be announced in a news conference at 11 a.m. in the offices of Everywoman Opportunity Center, 237 Main St. The program will provide education and coaching for women to enable them to start their own businesses.

4. An alarming increase in the number of babies born addicted to prescription drugs is prompting Sen. Charles E. Schumer to call for federal action. He comes to Sisters Hospital, 2157 Main St., for a 1 p.m. news conference to present statistics on the problem and urge a three-point plan to provide better information on the dangers of prescription drugs to expectant mothers and their babies, along with more research on how to prevent addiction.

5. The Senecas have been tight-lipped on the details about their big announcement today regarding the Seneca Niagara Casino, the one they say will "change the Niagara Falls skyline." But we can speculate. Since the casino's 26-story hotel already is the tallest in upstate New York, it might be one of three things -- another tall hotel, a freestanding tourist-related tower or something on the top of the existing hotel. Workmen last week were erecting a metal frame on roof of the hotel.

6. This week's major traffic headache begins at 9 a.m. today on the Youngmann Highway. The westbound lanes for the entire length of the I-290, all the way from the Mainline Thruway to the Niagara Thruway, will be closed intermittently between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. for the next three days so that work crews can seal cracks in the pavement. The state Department of Transportation reassures us that at least one lane will remain open at all times.

7. It's been 100 years since the last burial took place in the Niagara County Almshouse Cemetery on Niagara Street Extension in Lockport. The final resting place for more than 1,400 poor, disabled and insane people from the Niagara County Almshouse between 1830 and 1912, it's overgrown with vines and brush, but it's about to undergo a restoration, thanks to People Inc., which has done three similar cemetery projects. James M. Boles, president of People Inc., will give a presentation on the project at 8:30 a.m. today in a conference room at the Niagara County Sheriff's Office in Lockport to an audience that will include a Buffalo State College anthropology class.


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