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GRANT ALLOWS CREATION OF TWO NEW JOBS

The Common Council has created some new jobs to deal with quality-of-life problems in the city.

The Council voted Wednesday to use federal grant funds passed through Albany to pay for a full-time community policing aide and a part-time laborer.

The $80,000 grant will fund the jobs for the rest of the year, Mayor Thomas C. Sullivan said.

The package also includes a community prosecutor, E. Earl Key, a new assistant district attorney who is on the county payroll.

The aide and the laborer will help the police and building inspectors take on minor but annoying issues such as building code violations, garbage being put at the curb too soon, and illegal parking.

"This part-time (laborer) position won't be able to issue tickets, but he'll be able to give the information to the policing aide, who can issue tickets," Sullivan said. "We're going to go up and knock on the door and be proactive."

Police Chief Neil B. Merritt said the mayor will appoint the policing aide on his recommendation. It's not a civil service job, Merritt said, saying it will be advertised in a couple of weeks.

Key said besides working in City Court every day, he will be in touch with community groups, trying to build relationships. "A lot of my time will be spent meeting with the community," he said.

Key said drug crimes will be his top priority. He said the city's own lawyers will continue to prosecute building code and other ordinance violations.

"It'll help us on complaint calls," said building inspector and County Legislator Harry J. Apolito, whose department is down to two men.

Sullivan said, "If we can make this successful, we could very well position ourselves for funding next year."

Key, a Nebraska native, is new to the area, having earned a master of laws degree at the University at Buffalo last year.

e-mail: tprohaska@buffnews.com

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