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Plans unveiled for business district Wi-Fi

The Lewiston Town Board announced plans Monday to bring wireless Internet services to Center Street in the business district.

Town Supervisor Fred Newlin, former chairman of the town's cable commission, said officials had hoped to negotiate Wi-Fi services with Adelphia but were unable to do so once Adelphia went bankrupt.

"Late last year, Assemblywoman Francine DelMonte announced state funding [$50,000] for Lewiston and other communities, including the City of Niagara Falls, Youngstown and Wilson to provide wireless service. The money will be used to pay for antennas and hardware," Newlin said.

The supervisor said that town officials would like to see a wireless service, similar to programs in Buffalo, up and running by the fall on Center Street and that the service would allow visitors with laptops and personal digital assistants to see what is available in Lewiston and also will allow residents who are dining out to take advantage of the service.

Newlin said officials envision eventually expanding the wireless service to the Sanborn business district.

Newlin told board members that the town would be responsible for a monthly Internet service fee of $40 to $50 but hopes that the town could sell ads on an Internet home page to make the service self-supporting.

In other business, the board voted, 4-0, to ratify a four-year contract with the Teamsters union, which represents 26 workers in the Water and Highway departments. Councilman Al Bax was absent.

Union members will receive a 2.5 percent retroactive salary increase for 2005 and then 3 percent annual increases for 2006 to 2008. Councilman Sean Edwards said a new health care plan, Teamsters Select, will save the town $1,000 per employee each year and said new hires will pay a 20 percent co-pay for health insurance.

The board also discussed the recent Niagara Power Coalition audit, which found overpayments to former coalition director Mark Zito.

"We have been asking for an audit for the past 10 years," Councilman Michael Johnson said. "Proper procedures should have been enacted a long time ago."

e-mail: nfischer@buffnews.com

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