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LOCAL NEWS BRIEFS

>Momentum on the upswing for weather museum

A grass-roots push to build a weather museum on the downtown waterfront gained momentum Thursday when two local firms volunteered to do a feasibility study and perform legal work for free.

The EI Team, an architectural and engineering firm owned by Hormoz Mansouri, will prepare the feasibility study. Such a document is deemed critical in an effort to find public or private funds for a high-tech Weather Discovery Center.

The study will look at numerousissues, including possible sites, revenue and tourism projections.

Meanwhile, the law firm of Underberg and Kessler has volunteered to prepare legal documents that would turn a local steering committee for the project into a not-for-profit entity.

Advocates hope to find the money to build an architecturally stunning facility on the downtown waterfront that will showcase various types of weather phenomena using interactive exhibits.

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>Grant will give students hands-on experience

Students at three Erie 1 Board of Cooperative Education Services career and technical centers have received a $10,000 grant for improvement projects at Buffalo Central Terminal.

The grant from Lowe's Charitable and Educational Foundation andSkillsUSA -- a partnership of schools and industry representatives -- will allow students at the Harkness, Kenton and Potter centers to tackle projects such as mural design and restroom renovation.

"This community service project is a great way to get students involved and gain hands-on experience outside the classroom," said Bob Mroz, teacher at the Potter center.

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>City drops 'blue flu' injunction lawsuit

The city has discontinued a lawsuit that sought a court injunction against illegal job actions by Buffalo police officers.

Mayor Byron W. Brown's office said it ended its "blue flu" court case largely because there is no evidence officers plan future job actions. The mayor also said the city remains hopeful a new contract can be negotiated with the police union.

Brown pointed to the control board's lifting of the wage freeze effective Sunday as also influencing the city's decision to end the court fight. The move will allow officers to receive small longevity payments, but most will not see any increase in their base salaries.

Only 55 officers who have not yet reached the highest salary tier will receive one-step increases, based on a legal interpretation of the wage freeze by state attorneys.

The court fight was launched days after the city accused 24 officers from the Northwest District of taking sick leave between March 15 and 18 as part of a job action to protest a wage freeze.

The police union argued that there was no evidence that the officers weren't ill when they called in sick during the first day of the NCAA basketball tournament in Buffalo and on the day the city hosted its annual St. Patrick's Day Parade.

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