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A Countywide Neighborhoods Conference originally scheduled for June 30 at the Erie Community College City Campus has been rescheduled for Sept. 22.

The conference, sponsored by United Neighborhoods, is geared toward offering information to block clubs and other community activists.

This year's theme, "Into the Light -- Neighborhoods Rebuilding the City of Light," encompasses workshop topics such as crime prevention, graffiti abatement, vacant-land use, community policing, faith-based community relationships and disaster preparedness.

Registration is $5 per person. For more information, call 882-7814.

Job vacancy accounts underfunded

Erie County has more job vacancies than expected this year, and that is causing a budget shortfall of $750,000 in the accounts designed to handle job turnover, County Comptroller Nancy A. Naples said.

Naples said she has issued advisory warnings to the county's budget department to keep an eye on the projected shortfall, as well as to eliminate positions that will not be filled.

"What we're saying is, eliminate vacant positions that you're not going to fill, and set up the turnover account accordingly," said Naples, a Republican.

The comptroller's report compared vacant positions funded in the 2001 budget with those in the 2000 budget. According to the report, 431 full- and part-time jobs included in the 2001 budget were not filled as of April 8.

In comparison, 296 full- and part-time jobs were vacant in 2000, the report stated.

"Eliminating vacant positions, which will not be filled, will result in the budget more accurately reflecting the number of needed positions and the true costs for personnel," Naples said.

County mortgage tax receipts up 3.8%

The state mortgage tax receipts collected in Erie County over the past six months are up about 3.8 percent compared with the same period last year, Erie County Clerk David J. Swarts said.

Swarts said the tax receipts distributed to cities and towns in the county went up from under $5.1 million last year to $5.28 this year, an increase of nearly $200,000.

"One measure of how the local economy is doing is to review mortgage activity, and the collection of this state tax in Erie County is a good indicator of that," Swarts said. "The most recent results show that the economy and falling interest rates have led to a modest increase in mortgage tax receipts."

Swarts noted that the amount that individual towns and cities receive in state tax receipt income depends upon the transactions that take place in each municipality. Of the 28 towns and cities in the county, 16 saw increases in their payments this year compared with last year, he said.

Police academy to graduate 49 officers

Forty-nine people representing eight local police agencies will graduate Tuesday from Erie County's Department of Central Police Services Law Enforcement Training Academy.

Graduates will have completed 21 weeks of specialized law enforcement education and training. Special awards will be presented to those with the highest averages in proficiency skills and academics, and the highest overall average.

The Buffalo Police Department has 34 graduates; Cheektowaga police, four; Erie County Sheriff's Department, three; State University at Buffalo, Amherst and Town of Tonawanda, two each; and Lackawanna and Kenmore, one each.

Graduation ceremonies will begin at 4 p.m. at Erie Community College North Campus, Gleasner Hall Auditorium, 6205 Main St., Amherst.

Water main break snarls traffic

A break occurred in a water main at Elmwood and Kenmore avenues Sunday afternoon, tying up traffic during repairs.

The problem occurred shortly after 3 p.m. on the southwest corner, and Buffalo municipal workers came to the scene while Buffalo police directed traffic.

On the Kenmore side of Kenmore Avenue, village police also put up traffic barriers, in case the gushing water undermined the roadbed. Normal traffic flow was restored by evening.

'Fandango' benefit set in Lackawanna

The Lackawanna Junior Chamber of Commerce will give a $350 push to the high school class valedictorian's drive to accumulate $11,600 for her first year of college.

Ashley Maguder, 17, also class secretary, will be honored at the Chamber's annual high school benefit.

The Chamber will use proceeds of "The Island Fandango," set for 5 to 9 p.m. next Monday in the parking lot of Curly's Bar and Grill at Ridge Road and Electric Avenue, for next year's scholarship.

Maguder's 98-plus average so far has won a $5,000 Hilbert College scholarship and five other scholarships that now total more than $8,000, a which will go toward her tuition at Hilbert.

A Lackawanna High cheerleader, Maguder played three sports, belonged to two clubs, worked on the newspaper and yearbook and was admitted to the National Honor Society.

Summer solstice event planned

RainbowSpirit Rising will present its fourth annual summer solstice event at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Central Terminal railroad station on Paderewski Drive.

The event will feature the Celebration of Spirit Choir, the Kukumbuka Ye Ye Dance Troupe and the Presbyterian Women Sacred Dancers.

It is described as a spiritual event for the area's gay and lesbian community.

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