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LOCAL NEWS BRIEFS

Crackdown set on sales of tobacco to minors

The Erie County Health Department announced Friday it plans to increase enforcement of the state's law banning the sale of tobacco products to minors.

The effort will include unannounced visits to stores, where underage operatives will attempt to buy cigarettes or other tobacco products, said Health Commissioner Dr. Anthony J. Billittier IV.

Merchants found to be violating the law will receive a citation and fine ranging from $300 to $1,000 for a first violation. The fine increases to $500 to $1,500 for subsequent violations and may also include suspension or revocation of the tobacco dealer's registration and lottery licenses.

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Photo display of park will debut Sunday

A historic photo display of Beaver Island State Park will debut at 2 p.m. Sunday at River Lea, home of the Grand Island Historical Society.

"Before Beaver Island State Park" is a collection of photographs showing the area of the park before the state took over the site in 1933. Featured are mansions built as summer homes by the Sidway, Spaulding and Allen families in the 1800s.

The display, put together by Grand Island Historic Preservation Committee, will travel to Town Hall and Grand Island Memorial Library during May, June and early July and return to River Lea for the Niagara River Greenway's "Paddles Up" Event on July 28.

Refreshments will be served at the unveiling, which will conclude at 4 p.m. River Lea is at the southern tip of Beaver Island State Park.

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Pro-choice body seeks to fund youth activity

The Pro-Choice Foundation, a new advocacy group in Western New York, is seeking to fund grass-roots projects from young pro-choice advocates and organizations.

The foundation will consider grants for up to $1,000. Visit www.prochoicefoundation.org or call Bernadette M. Hoppe, board president, at 228-7260 for more information.

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Policy change to aid housing authorities

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has agreed to a policy change that will result in $177 million in savings for housing authorities nationwide, according to Rep. Brian Higgins, D-Buffalo.

The savings for housing authorities in Buffalo, Niagara Falls, Jamestown, Lackawanna and Kenmore are projected at $8.7 million. Housing authorities statewide would save $83 million, Higgins said. Under the policy change, HUD has agreed to extend the deadline for housing authorities to be in compliance with the agency's new assessment management rules.

Housing authorities were supposed to have 12 to 18 months to implement the new system, but the deadline originally set by HUD gave them only seven months.

Higgins and Rep. Eliot Engel, D-Bronx, led the fight to push back the deadline.

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