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NIAGARA FALLS -- Mayor Irene J. Elia's Domestic Preparedness Task Force has embarked on a program to find ways to improve the city's ability to respond to terrorist attacks, including those involving chemical and biological agents.

City Councilman Paul Dyster, the task force chairman, said the group, which met Friday, has set both short- and long-term goals. The task force is made up of representatives of the city's Police and Fire departments and others organizations involved in emergency preparedness.

"Since Sept. 11, our emergency-response system has been at a heightened state of alert," Dyster said. "Many actions have been taken behind the scenes to increase security and preparedness. One of the task force's short-term goals is to review the measures taken, make sure they're coordinated with other levels of government, and do everything we can to further strengthen existing plans."

18 candidates will take part in forums

NORTH TONAWANDA -- Eighteen candidates for mayor, the Common Council and the Niagara County Legislature in the Nov. 6 elections will face off at two public forums to be held Wednesday and Oct. 29.

Both forums will be held from 7 to 8:30 p.m. in the Alumni Center of North Tonawanda High School, 405 Meadow Drive.

Wednesday's forum will be for City Council candidates, including two aldermen at large and three ward seats. Eight of the nine candidates for the Council will participate.

On Oct. 29, four people running for mayor, and six candidates for three seats in the Legislature, will face the public.

Running for the $50,000-a-year mayor's job are incumbent Mary C. Kabasakalian, a Republican running on the Liberal line; Republican primary winner David J. Burgio, a retired building contractor; Democratic candidate Daniel E. Brick, a local attorney; and University at Buffalo freshman Matthew J. Bova, running on his own Progressive Reform line.

The forums were organized by the Chamber of Commerce of the Tonawandas in conjunction with the League of Women Voters, which will provide the moderator, said Kurt Alverson, the chamber's executive director.

All questions from the public must be submitted in writing on cards.

Social Services slates computer camp

NIAGARA FALLS -- The Niagara County Social Services Department will hold its semiannual computer camp Friday through Sunday in the Sheraton Four Points Hotel, 114 Buffalo Ave.

The camps, funded by a state grant and operated by Instructional Access of Riverside, Calif., offer computer and software training to children of welfare families, and at the end of the weekend, the children are given a free computer.

Twenty students ages 13 through 17 will take part: 14 from Niagara Falls, four from North Tonawanda and two from Lockport. Referrals came from school counselors, Social Services caseworkers, and not-for-profit human services agencies.

The children are chosen based on academic record, school attendance and motivation. Two Social Services employees will chaperone the camp, in which the children spend two free nights in the hotel.

County travel guide is 2nd runner-up

LOCKPORT -- Niagara County's 2000 travel guide was named second runner-up this month in the annual "I Love New York" travel guide competition in Hauppauge.

The county printed 500,000 copies of the guide, which was the primary response sent to callers to the county's toll- free tourism hotline and visitors to its tourism Web site.

The guide was also offered in brochure racks at Thruway rest stops and at the tourist information center on Fourth Street in Niagara Falls.

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