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LOCAL NEWS BRIEFS

>GOP wants bed tax to boost area tourism

The Erie County Legislature's three Republicans say they want all of the money raised by the county bed tax to go to the Buffalo Niagara Convention and Visitors Bureau to beef up its efforts to promote tourism.

The Republicans say officials should create the 2008 budget with that goal in mind. Their proposal would give the CVB the more than $6 million a year from the 5 percent tax on hotel rooms booked in Erie County.

The bureau historically has received a portion of the bed tax, about $2 million in recent years, while county government kept the rest to balance its books and retire the debt on the Buffalo Niagara Convention Center.

Republicans John J. Mills of Orchard Park and Michael H. Ranzenhofer and Barry A. Weinstein, both of Amherst, said the CVB draws tourists and money into the region. In a resolution they will ask the full Legislature to adopt, the three cite figures also used by the Buffalo Niagara Partnership of business leaders: $150 million in hotel revenue created by tourism and $650 million in direct visitor spending.

The Legislature this year agreed to give the CVB the additional bed tax revenue that exceeded last year's expectations -- about $782,000.

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>Conference set today on veterans issues

The Cheektowaga Veterans Affairs Committee will host a conference on benefits and the state of health care for veterans in Erie County at 6 p.m. today in the first-floor Council Chambers in Cheektowaga Town Hall, 3301 Broadway.

Speakers will include Lou Palma, Erie County's director of veterans services. Topics will include the Walter Reed scandal, conditions and outpatient care in Buffalo Veterans Affairs Medical Center, veterans' benefits and veterans' exemptions.

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>Telethon given $45,690 from Valu Home centers

Valu Home Centers contributed $45,690 to the annual Kids Escaping Drugs telethon that aired Saturday on WGRZ-TV.

The money was raised over the past six weeks from the chain's customers, who were asked to donate pocket change to Valu Home Centers' "Help Make a Change" fundraiser.

The Valu Home Centers contribution was part of $680,000 raised for Kids Escaping Drugs over the past year and during Saturday's telethon, said Stacy Roeder, who produced the telethon.

The charity's Renaissance Campus is the only facility in this area available for treating chemically dependent teens.

The money raised for Kids Escaping Drugs included a $1,100 bid by Northeastern Publications and owners Jeff and Sheryle Sanders for a complete set of Buffalo News Sabres medallions.

"It really wasn't about the medallion set, although we are die-hard Sabres fans. This is just a cause that my wife and I really believe in," said Jeff Sanders, who lives in North Tonawanda.

The medallion sets have been extremely popular since their release last week.

"It's exciting because the money is going to a good cause," News President Warren T. Colville said.

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