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LOCAL NEWS BRIEFS

Improvements planned for sidewalks, streets

New sidewalks and streets are coming to the Fruit Belt.

Construction is expected to begin in the next month or two on 10 roads around the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus, and could be finished by the fall if the weather allows.

Sidewalks will be improved in some areas, and streets will be in others. Some thoroughfares will see both types of improvements.

The Buffalo Urban Renewal Agency's board of directors this week awarded a contract for $723,751 to Destro Brothers Concrete Co., which had the lowest of five bids the agency received.

The sidewalk and street repairs are funded with federal community development grants.

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Grant to Catholic Charities bolsters family programs

A $310,000 grant from the state Office of Children and Family Services will allow Catholic Charities of Buffalo to restore one program for children through next April and continue another one.

Revived will be the Kinship Caregiver Program, discontinued last June due to budget cutbacks, which now will be offered in Erie and Niagara counties. It offers support, case management, advocacy and referrals for relatives caring for children. Continued will be the Therapeutic Supervised Visitation Program, which provides court-referred services for families with broken homes.

"These services are essential to families in the Buffalo Niagara area, many of whom are low income and often not aware of the support available to them," says Catholic Charities Chief Executive Officer Dennis C. Walczyk. "Kinship caregiver services also can help to keep children in relative homes, sparing the greater expense of foster care."

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Mental health programs at hospital to be redesigned

NIAGARA FALLS -- Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center received a state grant of nearly $2 million Friday for the restructuring of its mental health programs.

The redesign of the hospital's behavioral health services under the new Niagara Connection project is expected to save state, federal and private insurance plans about $1 million per year, with most of the savings realized by Medicaid.

It includes a short-term psychiatric program, an enlarged adult mental health center, a smoother referral process to community-based service providers and renovation of the hospital's outpatient mental health facilities.

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Legislature plans hearing on proposed budget for ECC

The Erie County Legislature will hold a public hearing at 5 p.m. Monday in Old County Hall on a proposed $111 million budget for Erie Community College for the 2012-13 school year.

Erie County's contribution toward the college would remain flat at $17.4 million under the proposal, which must be approved by the Legislature.

Tuition would increase by $300 to $3,900 under the proposed budget.

The hearing will be held in the fourth-floor Legislature Chambers in Old County Hall, 92 Franklin St.