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Proposed study for training site awaits final OK by legislators

A feasibility study for a new public safety and fire training facility won additional approvals this week.

A measure to provide $32,000 for the study made its way out of three Cattaraugus County Legislature committees. If approved Wednesday by the full Legislature, the study by Wendel Duchscherer Architects and Engineers of Amherst could begin immediately and be completed by Aug. 31.

The measure was approved by the Public Safety, Public Works and Finance committees during Wednesday night's committee meetings.

The Public Safety Committee has for months discussed building a new training center near the centrally located county Department of Public Works facility on Route 242, expecting that it would be used by all the volunteer and paid fire departments and police agencies in the county.

Some legislators wanted to consider a portable training facility, and legislators agreed to include that option in the study.

Also under consideration is an alternate location on the border of Chautauqua County or Allegany County.

The study in being paid for from an award from the Empire State Development Corporation.

The legislation is sponsored by Public Safety Committee Chairman Michael T. O'Brien, R-Portville.

In other committee action, Kevin C. Burleson, Democratic Board of Elections commissioner, discussed progress in getting new voting machines to comply with the Help America Vote Act.
"It behooves us to be early and not late," said Burleson about his hopes to obtain 80 electronic touch-screen voting machines at $1,000 each.

Use of the lever-style machines will be prohibited in 2007, he said.

He said Help America Vote funding assures 95 percent reimbursement of the cost of the machines and training of election officials. But he warned that state elections officials believe it is unlikely any of the counties will use their new machines this year.

If vendors have the new machines certified by May 30, the state comptroller will authorize procurement.

"If procurement is ready in May, we wish to proceed and will conduct public training through July," said Burleson, adding that he hopes state elections officials will use Cattaraugus County's early preparations to sell the program to the rest of the state.

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