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Former President George Bush will be in Buffalo today to preside over what could rank as the most successful political fund-raiser in Western New York history -- all for his son Republican presidential candidate George W. Bush.

Erie County Republican Chairman Robert E. Davis said the proceeds from tonight's Buffalo-Rochester event at the North Buffalo home of Republican stalwarts Anthony and Donna Gioia could approach $400,000. The guest list for the $5,000-per-ticket affair includes Gov. George E. Pataki, Lt. Gov. Mary O. Donohue, County Executive Joel A. Giambra and County Comptroller Nancy A. Naples.

Also expected are state GOP Chairman William D. Powers and former Rep. Bill Paxon and his wife, former Rep. Susan Molinari.

Gioia, one of upstate New York's top Republican fund raisers, said he has also arranged for Bush to tour Roswell Park Cancer Institute, in recognition of the former president's onetime chairmanship of the M.D. Anderson Cancer Hospital in Houston.

The Roswell Park tour was expected to begin at 4 p.m. Bush was to attend the dinner at the Gioia home at 6:15 and depart at about 7:30.

Davis re-elected chairman of county GOP

Robert E. Davis was re-elected chairman of the Erie County Republican Committee during the party's reorganizational meeting Tuesday evening.

Davis will serve his third term at the helm of the local party.

Also named Thursday were Ralph J. Vanner Sr. and Carmen Vacco, vice chairmen; Frank Gaglione, treasurer; Anthony Martino, assistant treasurer; Donna McCartney, secretary; and Mary Machelor, assistant secretary.

Pastors group dedicates new headquarters

The Association of Hispanic Pastors of Western New York dedicated its new headquarters at 314 W. Ferry St. in ceremonies Tuesday.

The newly renovated facility will house not only the association's offices, but also space to be made available for community outreach services and an employment research center.

The building formerly housed a clinic operated by Kaleida Health's Columbus Community Health Center. Kaleida donated the building to the association in 1999.

The association is composed of about 40 ministers who serve 8,000 people.

Count of dead birds with virus rises to 13

Erie County's tally of dead birds infected with the West Nile virus is up to 13, with positive test results for two new birds in the county, Health Department officials said Tuesday.

The two new infected birds, both blue jays, were found on Grand Island near East River Road and in the Town of Tonawanda on Sherwin Drive, said department spokesman Kevin Montgomery.

The number of infected birds found in the Town of Tonawanda increased to four, Montgomery said. The two diseased blue jays were found earlier this month, but the results were not in until Tuesday, he said.

West Nile virus is a mosquito-borne infection that can be transmitted to humans. The virus' symptoms are flu-like. In its most extreme form, which is rare, the virus can cause encephalitis, a deadly swelling of the brain.

Warning issued on bottled water

Erie County residents should beware of the bottled water they are drinking, now that cases of contaminated bottled water have turned up downstate, Dr. Anthony J. Billittier IV, county health commissioner, said Tuesday.

"I would ask area residents to be cautious when drinking bottled water," said Billittier. "The isolated incidents of tainted bottled water emanating from the downstate region dictate the need for increased awareness here in Erie County."

The state Health Department is investigating 42 cases of contaminated water reported to health officials by state police, health officials said. The water is marketed under eight brand names, officials said.

Billittier said the bottled water found downstate had high levels of chlorine or ammonia. Erie County residents should check their water for odd odors or for broken safety seals before they drink the water or give it to a child, he said.

The county Health Department will be doing random testing of bottled water from area stores to determine if any tainted water has appeared in Western New York, Billittier said. He said residents finding impure water should call the Health Department at 858-7671.

NCCC, Daemen to offer dual admission

SANBORN -- Students hoping to save on tuition costs by attending Niagara County Community College and then transferring to a four-year school have yet another choice.

The president of the college, Antonette J. Cleveland, and Martin J. Anisman, president of Daemen College, signed such an agreement last week. This is the community college's 12th such agreement with area institutions.

Students can now apply for entrance to the dual-admissions program when they submit their applications to NCCC, or at any time before they complete 30 credits at the two-year school.

Students can select any Daemen major designated to be parallel to the NCCC program and can transfer with full junior status to Daemen.

County to join 'black light' test

County Executive Joel A. Giambra has announced that the county will participate in a pilot project to determine the effectiveness of ultraviolet, or "black," light as a substitute for chlorine in purifying treated sewage and wastewater.

The testing will take place at the Southtowns Wastewater Treatment Plant under the sponsorship of Niagara Mohawk Power Corp. in cooperation with the state Energy and Research Development Authority. URS Corp., the University at Buffalo and ESG International also are supporting the study.

Without altering the chemical makeup of the water, ultraviolet light kills bacteria and viruses in wastewater by disrupting their natural DNA, preventing them from reproducing. Chlorine creates toxic byproducts and does not kill cryptosporidium.

The study will evaluate three commercially available light systems during the next 12 months. Ultraviolet light is used in smaller plants, such as the county's Holland plant, but this is its first use in a larger plant in Erie County.

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