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YORKSHIRE -- Six eighth-grade Pioneer Middle School math teachers have presented a plan with administrators meant to improve state test scores.

For the second straight year, the state Department of Education has placed the middle school on notice for "substandard" scores on the state exams in eighth-grade math, school officials said. This year, Pioneer's middle school English-language arts scores were also reported below state benchmarks.

Among the measures proposed by school leaders are improving academic intervention services, schedule changes to enhance student learning, the restructuring of the middle school into a sixth- to eighth-grade facility and improving teacher instruction.

School officials said Pioneer Middle School will also continue developing a local assistance plan for math and English/language arts, which is required by the state.

Computer network problems traced

YORKSHIRE -- Recent computer network problems in the Pioneer School District were attributed to a January 2000 power outage and an electronic virus, district leaders were told.

Jill Holbrook, Pioneer's technology director, told school officials that the power outage has harmed protections meant to prevent potential computer problems tied to Y2K. School officials said the network system has been plagued with down time, slowdowns and inconsistency.

"Our department has been tested by these problems," Holbrook said. "We have not been broken."

School officials said steps are being taken to solve network problems while keeping network costs under control.

"Wizard of Ice' a hit at Mayville event

MAYVILLE -- A week after a 60-degree day threatened construction of its centerpiece, the annual Ice Castle Extravaganza ended a successful three-day run Sunday afternoon.

Aside from the structure, made from several hundred ice blocks cut out of Chautauqua Lake, another type of ice art -- sculpting -- captured a lot of attention.

Professional ice carver Randy Ruppert was too busy at times to notice the dozens of people watching him fashioning a Cinderella's carriage and two horses. Ruppert, whose work was shown in the movie "Groundhog Day" starring Bill Murray, said his work requires a special kind of ice.

"They're all made out of Klineville Ice, specially frozen icy, crystal-clear. It doesn't look so right now because it's frosty," he said. "(But), later on when I get the thing finished, I'll fire a flame-thrower on it, and that'll clear it all up real nice, and it will look totally different than the castle."

Ruppert, who is known as the "Wizard of Ice," carved out the carriage and horses from 19 blocks of ice, each weighing about 300 pounds.

Firemen to convene in Cattaraugus

ALLEGANY -- Two Cattaraugus County volunteer fire departments will join forces in July to host the 102nd annual convention of the Western New York Volunteer Firemen's Association.

The Kinney Hose Company and the Allegany Fire Department will host the convention in Allegany from July 25 to 28.

James Boser, publicity chairman, said plans include a parade July 28 offering nearly $10,000 in cash prizes to bands, marching units, drum corps and drill teams. Those wanting to participate can contact parade chairman Dave Elling at 373-5830.

Cattaraugus boards set joint session

LITTLE VALLEY -- A joint session of the Cattaraugus County Planning and Agricultural and Farmland Protection boards is set for Thursday to discuss a countywide agricultural and farmland protection plan.

The Agriculture and Farmland Protection Board and Agriculture Committee of the Planning Board have been discussing a plan and have learned some state money is available to implement one. The two boards must now meet and make a joint decision on how to proceed.

The boards will hold a joint session at 7 p.m., after which each board will hold a separate meeting at 8, all in the County Center.

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