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LOCAL NEWS BRIEFS

St. Patrick's Day parade gets under way at 2 p.m.

Buffalo's annual St. Patrick's Day parade will step off at 2 p.m. today from Niagara Square, proceeding up Delaware Avenue to North Street.

Michael D. O'Sullivan of the United Irish-American Association is the grand marshal.

The parade will be preceded by a special Mass at noon in St. Joseph's Cathedral. Bishop Edward U. Kmiec will be the lead celebrant.

Buffalo police say they plan to strictly enforce the city's laws against open containers and unlicensed vending during the parade.

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Cell phone surcharge to support E-911 center

Cellular phone companies are being asked to add a 30-cents-a-month surcharge on a cell phone bill in Erie County to generate about $92,000 a month to support the county's E-911 Center.

The surcharge was included in the 2006 county budget. County lawmakers last week voted to impose the fee, which several other New York counties charge.

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Teachers' union to aid training program

The Buffalo Teachers Federation said it will donate $1,500 a year to the Bennett High School program that will provide instruction in teacher training.

The union also will help recruit retired teachers to serve as mentors, develop internships and curriculum, and award an annual scholarship to a student who goes on to study education in college, said Philip Rumore, BTF president.

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Drive will help people with special needs

The fourth annual Community Giving Drive to help people with special needs attend the Erie County Fair is under way.

Call the Erie County Agricultural Society at 649-3900, Ext. 510, for further information. Last year, the drive enabled 4,000 people with special needs to attend the fair.

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Town to fight seizing private land for walkway

WHEATFIELD -- Town officials plan to take a formal stand against a riverfront walk through private property with a resolution on March 29.

During a community meeting last week that attracted nearly 80 River Road residents, Niagara Greenway Commission members promised that the commission would not pursue a path along the waterfront in the town if the Town Board stated its official opposition.

Supervisor Timothy E. Demler and Town Attorney Robert O'Toole said the board needed to approve a resolution that opposed and denied any plans for the project if they included the acquisition of private property by eminent domain.

According to officials, Wheatfield is the only municipality in the project that does not have municipal access to the river. Residents have been concerned that the project would take their property without consent, and have formed the Wheatfield Waterfront Association.

The board also plans to recognize the association later this month and charge it with developing a plan to put the walkway on the north side of River Road, Demler said.