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A fiery one-car crash about 9:15 a.m. Saturday in Brant killed one man and sent another to the hospital with burns over 50 percent of his body.

Erie County sheriff's deputies said Jose Cruz, 43, of Seneca Road, Lawtons, was driving a sports utility vehicle east on Route 438 and lost control while passing a pickup truck at high speed. Deputies said the car slid across a lawn and burst into flames after striking a tree. A passenger, Thomas Silverheels, 45, of Gowanda, was pronounced dead at the scene.

Cruz was flown by Mercy Flight to Erie County Medical Center, where he underwent surgery and was listed in critical condition Saturday night. He has been charged with driving while intoxicated, driving without a license and speeding, according to the sheriff's report.

Batavia school taxes up 7.9 percent

BATAVIA -- When city school district property owners open their tax bills next week, they'll face something not seen in recent years: a sizable tax increase. "Blame Albany, don't blame us," say school officials.

Because of mounting costs -- largely negotiated salaries and higher utility expenses -- and facing the loss of $400,000 in added anticipated state aid, taxes this year will be raised 7.9 percent. And there also is the likelihood of another 6.5 percent increase in the 2002-03 school year. These would be the largest increases in recent years.

Business Administrator Frank C. Nardone said the average property owner will pay about $130 more in each of the next two years. Tax bills go into the mail Monday. Of the district's $30.89 million spending plan, $12.94 million is raised through local property levies.

Agency to open youth detention home

WEST VALLEY -- New Directions Youth and Family Services will open a coed, nonsecure detention group home on Townline Road in West Valley in November.

Mark Wickerham, director of community-based group residences for New Directions, said there is already a need for more beds in nonsecure detention facilities. The agency now contracts with eight counties in Western New York.

In addition, state legislation will go into effect Nov. 1 that will allow 18-year-olds to be designated Persons in Need of Supervision, he said. Previously, the cutoff was 16.

"Everybody thinks the legislation will have a big impact on the number of kids coming into detention," he said. "We're gearing up for that."

The average length of stay for a child in a nonsecure detention facility is less than a month, according to New Directions. Children are placed there while awaiting action by a county Family Court.

Fredonia State plans homecoming

FREDONIA -- Fredonia State College will celebrate homecoming next weekend.

Events include the grand opening of the Reed Library historical exhibit "Traditions and Transitions," which features hundreds of photographs and artifacts from Fredonia's history.

Also scheduled are a barbecue, fireworks and live music Friday.

Various athletic events are planned, including the annual Athletic Hall of Fame reception at 11:30 a.m. Saturday. The art gallery will continue its exhibit of works by the visual arts faculty, and the Performing Arts Company theater production "Rumors" will be performed at 8 p.m. Friday and 2 p.m. Saturday in Bartlett Theatre.

Also Saturday, an Arts and Humanities Symposium will take place at 11 a.m. in Fenton Hall.

Ransomville woman killed in crash

PORTER -- A Ransomville woman was killed early Saturday when her pickup truck flipped over on Braley Road and crashed into a utility pole that snapped in two, Niagara County Coroner Steven A. Gerhardt said.

Jennifer Rhue, 26, of Langdon Road, was pronounced dead at the scene. The crash occurred at 5:57 a.m., when Rhue apparently lost control of her westbound truck on a curve, said Niagara County Sheriff's Deputy Matthew Cipollitti.

Delevan man sentenced in DWI case

LITTLE VALLEY -- A Delevan man has been sentenced in Cattaraugus County Court to one to three years in state prison for driving while intoxicated.

Stanley E. Sadowski, 37, of North Main Street, also was fined $5,000 for his guilty plea to DWI. He was accused of driving through the front window of a Wilson Farms store Jan. 8 in Yorkshire.

Edward A. Timblin, 54, of Great Valley, was sentenced to serve one to three years in prison and fined $4,000 for driving without a license Dec. 30 in Ashford. District Attorney Edward M. Sharkey said Timblin was also sentenced to serve a concurrent one-year sentence and fined $1,000 for his conviction for DWI on the same date.

Sentencing was set for December for others who entered guilty pleas:

Lisa A. Taylor, 39, of Jamestown, pleaded guilty to DWI and driving without a license Oct. 9 in Coldspring.

Arthur L. Mack, 37, of Ellicottville, pleaded guilty to DWI and admitted that by doing so on June 29 in Mansfield, he violated probation.

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