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LOCAL NEWS BRIEFS

Kaleida officials promise no layoffs for employees

Kaleida Health officials promised in writing Thursday that they will not lay off any employees in response to the recommended closing and reuse of two hospitals in the Kaleida system.

Officials with the health care system and the three unions that represent the bulk of Kaleida's workers signed the employment agreement Thursday in Buffalo General Hospital.

The pact comes two weeks after a state commission recommended the closing of hospitals around the state, including Kaleida's Millard Fillmore Hospital. Further, DeGraff Memorial Hospital in North Tonawanda would be converted to a nursing home.

James R. Kaskie, the system's president and chief executive officer, delivered remarks that were carried live to all Kaleida employees Thursday afternoon before signing an agreement with representatives of the three largest unions: Local 1168, Communication Workers of America; Local 1199, Service Employees International Union; and the International Union of Operating Engineers.

Kaleida has nearly 10,000 employees, and about 8,000 of them are unionized, though the pledge applies to all Kaleida workers, said Michael P. Hughes, a Kaleida spokesman.

The commission's recommendations are set to go into effect by Dec. 31 unless the State Legislature acts to reject the report in its entirety.

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Local soldier wounded in Iraq to sign his book

A local soldier who was wounded in Iraq will sign his book, "Consider It Done . . . Miracles for a Wounded Soldier," from noon to 2 p.m. Saturday in Barnes & Noble Booksellers, 1565 Niagara Falls Blvd., Amherst.

Retired Army Spc. John R. Pirinelli Sr. will also sign his book from 3 to 6 p.m. Saturday in Wal-Mart, 5555 Porter Road, Town of Niagara.

Pirinelli was wounded July 28 near Tikrit. He fell into a coma afterward and did not regain consciousness for more than a week.

After several surgeries, Pirinelli has recovered and is living in the Town of Niagara with his wife, Katrin, and son, John R. Jr.

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Legislature OKs sale of 11 buildings to ECMC

The Erie County Legislature on Thursday approved the sale of 11 county-owned buildings to Erie County Medical Center, one of the last steps in making the hospital more independent. The county, in return, will get $5.1 million and the ability to lease six of the buildings back for $1 a year. The buildings, located on the ECMC campus, are home to the medical examiner's offices, a community health center and several county lab facilities.

Lawmakers also approved leasing private land in the Town of Evans as a new home for the Erie County Sheriff's Office helicopters. The county needs a new heliport by the end of this year. Without a new site, the helicopters would have been grounded.

The Legislature also made permanent a county law protecting the library system from midyear budget reductions. The law, known as the Library Protection Act, also requires that any county tax revenue going to the libraries appear as a separate item on residents' tax bills.

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