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The Chautauqua County Legislature has approved a request to hire a part-time manager to oversee the volunteers working at the tourism information center in the new Interstate 86 rest area.

Chautauqua County Visitors Bureau Executive Director Andrew Nixon made the $14,465 request at Wednesday's meeting of the Legislature. The manager would work 24 hours a week for $10 an hour. The funds will come from the 2004 hotel occupancy tax.

The manager would stock tourism brochures and train volunteers working at the visitors center.

The only legislator who voted against the funding was Wally Huckno, D-Ellicott. He supports the idea of staffing the rest area and tourist information center, but feels that now is not the time to hire a manager.

He believes the funding for the manager should come from the Convention and Visitors Bureau's budget.

"With the $168,000 that we pay to this portion of the tourist industry, I believe they should take that money from their own budget and come back next year. I reiterate: I'm not against the principle, I'm just against the principle of spending monies because they happen to be in excess."

Legislator Maria Kindberg, D-Jamestown, who heads the county's Planning and Economic Development Committee, said, "I think that most of us have come to recognize the extreme importance and impact that tourism has on our local economy. I look forward to having this person come aboard and bring even more tourism dollars to the area."

Legislators also "met" BRAD, the county's bomb disposal robot. The acronym stands for Bomb Recovery and Disposal.

BRAD cost $150,000, which was paid for through a grant from the federal Homeland Security Department.

Besides bomb disposal, BRAD also can be used for surveillance, on chemical spills; it can even fire a weapon if necessary.

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