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A man who is listed in the state's sex offenders registry has been charged with sexually abusing a young girl, state police said.

John Terry, 61, of Queensbury, was arrested by state police late Friday and charged with first-degree sodomy and first-degree sexual abuse for allegedly forcing a girl under age 18 to have sexual contact with him several months ago.

Terry has prior sex crime convictions in Warren and Washington counties that require him to register under the state's sex offender law, police said. Terry was classified as a highest-risk offender.

State Police Investigator Bud York said police began an investigation Thursday after receiving information from the child protective services agency in Saratoga County. Terry was acquainted with the victim, police said.

Terry was arraigned in Chester Town Court and sent to Warren County Jail for lack of bail.

In October 1999, Terry was charged with first-degree sodomy and first-degree sex abuse in connection with the abuse of a 19-year-old, according to police.

Bush pressed by Schumer
for more heat financial aid

NEW YORK (AP) -- Sen. Charles E. Schumer urged President Bush on Sunday to back a $600 million increase in financial aid to low-income natural gas users and called for expanded exploration and drilling to counter climbing natural gas prices.

The New York Democrat told a news conference that new data shows an "alarming increase" in costs over a year ago -- 40 percent higher in New York City, Long Island and Westchester County, and likely to rise again if severe cold strikes the area.

"These price hikes are breaking the bank for seniors and families on tight budgets," Schumer said. "No one should have to choose between heating and eating."

Some 2 million people in the region rely on gas heat and paid an average of just over $700 during last year's relatively mild winter. This year the costs have risen to about $1,000 in New York City, $988 in Long Island and $980 in Westchester, on average 40 percent more, he said.

Schumer said New York State has used up its emergency funds allocation for the winter, and many people who did not apply for the funds last fall now need help in paying the bills.

Fears of flu epidemic
seemingly unfounded so far

ALBANY (AP) -- A shortage of flu vaccine had caused concerns about a potential epidemic, but this winter's flu season has turned out to be milder than usual so far.

Only five confirmed outbreaks of flu have been recorded in the state, compared with 164 at this time last year, according to the state Health Department.

The only confirmed outbreaks have been in New York City and Fulton, Suffolk and Monroe counties, as well as in a Central New York nursing home, said Kristine Smith, a Health Department spokeswoman.

"From what we can gauge, it's a much milder flu season," Smith told the Albany Times Union. The flu season normally peaks in mid-January, Smith said.

Health officials had been worried about potential flu epidemics because of national delays in distributing the vaccine last fall. The vaccine became widely available to the public in January, at least six weeks later than usual.

The most common symptoms of flu are high fever, headache, muscle aches and upper respiratory problems. The disease is blamed for 20,000 deaths a year in the United States.

Hornell shaken up a bit
by a small earthquake

HORNELL (AP) -- Some residents felt the shaking of a mild earthquake Saturday afternoon.

The quake measured 2.9 and was centered 15 miles northeast of Hornell, according to the National Earthquake Information Center. It hit at 3:15 p.m., just hours after a 2.5- to 2.8-magnitude earthquake shook southern Connecticut.

Yale University geologist Jeffrey Park said the Connecticut quake was centered in the shoreline town of Guilford, about 10 miles east of New Haven.

That quake began at about 12:50 p.m. and ended a brief time later.

William Walfe of Wallace told Elmira television station WETM he felt the New York quake was enough to shake his home.

There was no damage or injuries reported.

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