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FERRARO ON TRACK FOR JOB AS IDA CHIEF

WHEATFIELD -- Niagara County Planning and Development Commissioner Samuel M. Ferraro appears on track to add "Industrial Development Agency director" to his title.

Ferraro met in executive session with the IDA board's Personnel Committee Wednesday. He declined to comment.

"I guess we agreed to proceed to the next step," said Carmen A. Granto, IDA co-chairman and Niagara Falls school superintendent. "There's no reason not to proceed."

Legislature Chairman Sean J. O'Connor, D-Niagara Falls, who attended Wednesday's meeting, said he expects the matter to go before the full IDA board on June 19.

O'Connor said salary considerations need to be worked out. He said Ferraro would continue as planning and development commissioner while also heading the IDA. He said Ferraro would be paid a stipend for IDA duties on top of his current county salary, $66,246 a year.

The IDA's last executive director, John R. Simon, earned $80,477 a year; the board forced him to resign March 26.

Ferraro's department includes a business development and retention program headed by Deputy Commissioner Michael A. Casale.

The department also included the county tourism office before it was abolished March 31. However, the Legislature voted Tuesday to bring back sports fishing promotion as a county program, and O'Connor said that will be part of Ferraro's department again.

State audit of Niagara IDA sought

LOCKPORT -- The Niagara County Legislature voted unanimously Tuesday to ask for a state audit of the financially troubled Niagara County Industrial Development Agency's finances since 1998.

"We need to restore the integrity of the IDA as well as the economic development initiatives that will take place in the future," said Legislator Clyde L. Burmaster, R-Ransomville.

He will ask for an audit of the Niagara Airport Development Corp. at the next Legislature meeting. That entity, created by the IDA, is trying to gain control of the Niagara Falls International Airport.

Legislator James W. Ward, R-Newfane, said the IDA had failed to develop the former Inducon Industrial Park. The county continues to pay special district taxes to Wheatfield on the unsold lots.

Ward criticized the IDA's decision "to use these county monies for personal airport initiatives. We've got to remember the statements that were made, 'Just give us the property and we'll have it filled with business within a year.' "

Democrats have controlled the IDA since January 2002. The Inducon deal was made in 1999.

Niagara County wants say in NFTA board

LOCKPORT -- Reopening an issue that crops up every few years, the Niagara County Legislature on Tuesday reiterated a past request to the state that it be allowed to appoint two members to the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority board of commissioners.

The NFTA's service area includes Niagara and Erie counties. While Erie County is allowed to recommend two commissioners, one by the County Legislature and one by the county executive, Niagara County has never been allowed to select any. The 11 commissioners are appointed by the governor.

Niagara County is also asking the State Legislature to amend the law to guarantee that four commissioners will be Niagara residents. At the moment, three commissioners live in Niagara County. David L. Ulrich is stepping down June 30, David N. Greenfield's term expires in 2004 and Henry M. Sloma's in 2005.

Pawenski reappointed to NCCC board

LOCKPORT -- Edward J. Pawenski of North Tonawanda, who has served on the Niagara County Community College board of trustees since the college was founded in 1962, was appointed Tuesday to another 10-year term by the County Legislature.

In another appointment, Thomas W. O'Shea of Lockport was named to a seat on the Government Reform Task Force. O'Shea, a retired elementary school principal, also serves on the city Fire Board and Civil Service Commission.

Bridge construction contracts awarded

LOCKPORT -- Yarussi Construction of Niagara Falls has won a $499,369 contract to rebuild Haight Road Bridge over Golden Hill Creek in Somerset.

The Niagara County Legislature awarded the contract Tuesday. Yarussi was the lowest of three bidders for the job.

The Legislature also voted to appropriate $224,000 to pay for engineering and design work for the planned reconstruction of the Wheeler Road Bridge over the east branch of Eighteenmile Creek in Hartland. Earlier this month, the county came up with $90,000 for similar uses toward the expected reconstruction of the Stone Rod Bridge over Eighteenmile Creek in the Town of Lockport.

Firefighters Ball set for fairgrounds

LOCKPORT -- The 78th annual Lockport Firefighters Ball will be held at 6 p.m. Friday in the Farm and Home Center at the Niagara County Fairgrounds.

The Stoll Brothers will provide live music after dinner. Tickets are $25 and are available from the Fire Department at 439-6724.

No tickets will be sold at the door.

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