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LOCAL NEWS BRIEFS - Niagara

Draft budget airing scheduled next Tuesday

CAMBRIA -- The tentative 2006 budget will be presented to the Town Board during a special meeting at noon Tuesday in Town Hall, 4160 Upper Mountain Road.

The 2005 budget is $4.7 million, with an overall town tax rate of $3.68 per $1,000 of assessed valuation. The major areas of possible increase in next year's budget include health insurance, which could climb 16.8 percent over this year, and retirement, Supervisor Wright H. Ellis said.

After the tentative spending plan is presented, the board will hold a series of budget workshop meetings through October.

Times and dates for the meetings have not yet been determined. The public hearing on the budget will be held at 8 p.m. Nov. 10.

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Rescued seal takes up residence in aquarium

NIAGARA FALLS -- A new Atlantic harbor seal, rescued while floating off the coast of Maine about a year ago, is the newest resident of the Aquarium of Niagara.

Because of vision problems, determined to be a birth defect by the Marine Mammal Lifeline, the young seal, named Cady, could not be released into the wild.

Jennifer Humphrey, Marine Mammal Care supervisor at the aquarium, heard about her and contacted the National Marine Fisheries Service to let the agency know the aquarium could provide rehabilitation and a home.

Cady arrived in January, but was quarantined from the other aquatic residents in case she had anything contagious.

She was put on a healthy diet of herring and capelin (smelt), monitored by the marine mammal staff and taught certain behaviors to help her adjust to her new surroundings, and "roommates."

She is now on display in the main pool with the aquarium's three female California sea lions.

"It's not unusual for seals and sea lions to share space since, in their natural environment, these two species coexist," Humphrey said.

The aquarium, at 701 Whirlpool St., is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily until Oct. 31, when it will close at 4 p.m. through the winter.

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City's new master plan earns award for Anello

NIAGARA FALLS -- Mayor Vince Anello received an award Friday from the American Planning Association for the City of Niagara Falls Strategic Master Plan, which was presented to the public in September 2004.

The Upstate New York chapter of the association presented the award at a luncheon held during a two-day joint conference with the American Society of Landscape Architects at the Hyatt Regency Buffalo.

Anello accepted the award from the nonprofit public interest group for "Outstanding Comprehensive Planning," for the city's new master plan, which identifies several downtown neighborhoods to be revitalized with themes of history, culture and entertainment.

City Senior Planner Thomas DeSantis also led a session during the conference that featured Niagara Falls' strategic planning efforts.

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