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County Executive Gorski today helped unload the first of 600 new computers going into Erie Community College computer laboratories and departments for the new school year.

He joined William J. Mariani, ECC's interim president, in lifting the bulky cartons from the delivery van in front of the downtown campus.

The county executive speculated that ECC may be unique in purchasing hundreds of new IBM Pentium computers, equipped with Windows 98 and the latest software, at the same time that it is lowering tuition by $100.

"We do all we can to enhance the education of this community college," he said.

The deliveries put the newest technology in one of the county's oldest buildings, the 101-year-old downtown college that for many years was the Buffalo post office, as well as in ECC's South and North campuses.

The college is buying the computers for about $600,000 from Ingram Micro of Amherst and will benefit from both discounts and rebates, Mariani said.

In addition, 500 existing computers will be upgraded and sent to faculty and administrative offices.

To help the college bridge a technology gap, the County Legislature authorized a new $30-per-semester technology fee for full-time students and a $10 fee for part-timers.

The fee will help secure a matching state grant for maintenance of equipment.

"The point is that we are going to plow the value of the new technical fee right back into benefiting the students," Gorski said. "It's absolutely critical that all of our students be computer literate."

Student trustee David Masse said better equipment will help ECC graduates to get better jobs.

In an upbeat atmosphere, a county legislator often at odds with Gorski showed up to note the 17-0 vote for the budget. Gorski invited Legislator Albert DeBenedetti, D-Buffalo, to join in the heavy lifting.

The county executive assured photographers and the waiting truckers that the men who usually man the delivery carts would get their jobs back as soon as the cameras left.

"You aren't mad if we take all the credit?" Gorski asked the workers.