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LOCAL NEWS BRIEFS

NFTA looking at other sites for bus terminal

TOWN OF NIAGARA -- Amid mounting opposition from town officials and residents, the NFTA said Thursday it will reconsider building a bus terminal on the site of John's Flaming Hearth restaurant.

The Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority is preparing to buy the restaurant, which is shutting down this week after decades as a Military Road landmark and meeting place for business people and politicians.

"We're going ahead with the purchase, while also looking at other sites for the bus station," said NFTA spokesman C. Douglas Hartmayer.

Town Supervisor Steven C. Richards said the NFTA didn't notify the Town Board about the proposed land deal.

He called the site a "terrible location" for the terminal, saying it would "remove a valuable piece of property from the tax roll, intrude on the nearby residential neighborhood and deter other businesses from locating in the Town of Niagara."

Richards said the Town Board has provided the NFTA with a list of alternative sites.

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Waivers of smoking ban weighed for Falls bars

LOCKPORT -- The Niagara County Board of Health decided Thursday that bars in Niagara Falls might be able to get waivers from the state indoor-smoking ban by using proximity to Seneca Niagara Casino, where smoking is allowed, as a special circumstance without having to demonstrate revenue declines of 10 percent because of the ban.

The latter is the usual reason for a smoking law waiver. However, the criteria for waivers, adopted when the smoking law was passed in 2003, always allowed for "exceptional circumstances," which were not defined. Such bars still would need to set up separately ventilated smoking rooms, as the rules require.

Also Thursday, the board fined Big Ugly's Pub on West Avenue in Lockport $1,000 for violating the smoking law. It was the fourth time the bar has been fined, said Assistant County Attorney J. Michael Fitzgerald.

Also, Fitzgerald ruled that smoking waivers are transferable to a new owner if a business that has one is sold. Smoking waivers will be automatically renewed by the Health Department staff without Board of Health action, unless an inspection discloses some violation at the business. The waivers were good for two years, and the first ones -- issued in early 2004 -- are now expiring.

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Two area nursing homes cited by state inspectors

ALBANY -- Two Western New York nursing homes are among 15 across the state cited for providing substandard care or putting the health of residents in jeopardy.

The homes must take corrective measures, including hiring consultants, providing service training, or in some cases, having a state monitor oversee their quality of care.

Nursing homes are inspected twice a year by the state Health Department. Homes that repeatedly fail to comply with citations are referred to the federal government.

Cited were Eastside Nursing Home, Warsaw, inspected on Oct. 7; and North Gate Health Care Facility, North Tonawanda, inspected on Sept. 30.

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