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FIREFIGHTERS GATHER TO DRAW ATTENTION TO NEEDS

Firefighters lined up their trucks Wednesday outside the County Center to draw attention to their need for firefighting equipment and training.

Firefighters came from Dayton, Cattaraugus, Randolph, Perrysburg, East Randolph, Little Valley, Hinsdale and Salamanca.

County legislators, meeting inside, were given letters from members of the Cattaraugus County Fire Service asking their support for a list of needs being prepared by the Fire Advisory Board.

"This list will be for projects we feel are essential to the needs of the fire service for coming years. Many are the same needs presented to past sessions of the Legislature," the letter stated.

Tonight, the advisory board will meet in Mansfield and may discuss the issue, said Chairman William Pratt of East Otto.

The board's Five-Year Planning Committee has been preparing information and quotes on items it would like to have, including $750,000 for a fire training center, $40,000 for a new van for the Cattaraugus Fire Investigation Team, and $10,000 for computers and training equipment for firefighters and new radios for the fire departments.

Murray Haines of Kill Buck, a member of the advisory board, said, "They should have waited until all the figures were together and the Fire Advisory Board, fire chiefs and all were in agreement on decisions."

Some committee members have visited training centers in other areas of Western New York, Haines said. There have been talks with the county about using land off Route 353 near Little Valley as the site of a training center.

There is a fire training center near Olean at Gargoyle Park available to all county fire departments. However, it has deteriorated, several firefighters said, and is no longer useful for training.

County Fire Coordinator Stuart Lexer said firefighters may have been motivated by recent publicity over placing a county museum in Machias and news about the county receiving more tobacco settlement money.

"I think they jumped the gun," said Pratt. "We have a plan and know what we want. These people just went off on their own."

In other business, the Legislature:

Accepted high bids for properties sold in the annual property tax sale May 17.

Bids for the 50 or so parcels sold totaled $444,255, with $246,617 due in unpaid taxes. New owners will be issued quitclaim deeds.

Approved for Public Defender Mark S. Williams a full-time confidential law secretary effective Monday to be paid up to $14.18 per hour. He will now have two secretaries.

Set a public hearing for 3 p.m. June 11 on a local law to increase the annual income eligibility level for senior citizens ages 65 and older to receive property tax exemptions of $17,500.

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