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The Genesee County Legislature on Wednesday approved establishment of the county's first full-time public defender.

Lawmakers agreed to make part-time defense attorney Gary A. Horton a full-timer effective May 15. Horton, who has held the post for several years, will be paid $72,500 a year, a salary increase of nearly $25,000.

Action on a full-time aide, a post currently held by first assistant public defender Thomas A. Burns, was referred to committee. Horton, pointing to a 300 percent increase in his caseload since he took the job, asked to make Burns a full-time assistant at $45,500 a year.

The Legislature also approved the appointment of a highway superintendent, Timothy Hens, a native of Hamburg, who will earn $47,648 a year.

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