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Seven By Seven / Seven things you need to know by 7 a.m.

1. There's just one thing on the agenda when the Buffalo Fiscal Stability Authority holds a special meeting at noon in the Market Arcade, 617 Main St., but it's a big one -- a $2 million budget modification to buy vehicles and equipment for the city's Parks Department. The meeting in the first-floor conference room is open to the public.

2. Looking for an early sign of spring? Look no farther than the Niagara River. Today, a State Power Authority crew will start removing the 1.7-mile ice boom. Work will take about a week. Last year, they didn't begin until April 6. Earliest removal date ever was March 5, 1998, after a winter when Lake Erie didn't freeze.

3. A new "Dancing With the Stars" competition begins today (8 p.m., Ch. 7) with a wide-ranging cast of famous folks. Among the 11 celebrities are astronaut Buzz Aldrin, poster girl Pamela Anderson, temperamental actress Shannen Doherty and gold medal skater Evan Lysacek.

4. Husband and wife architects Sheila O'Donnell and John Tuomey, who have one of Ireland's leading architectural practices, come to the University at Buffalo to present the annual Martell Lecture at 5:30 p.m. for the School of Architecture and Planning in 301 Crosby Hall on the South Campus. They are leaders in the revival of Dublin's historic Temple Bar district as a cultural center. Their talk is free and open to the public.

5. Still going strong after 42 years is the horn-based Bay Area soul and funk band Tower of Power. Still led by its original saxophonists -- Emilio Castillo and Stephen "Doc" Kupka -- the group has always been a favorite here. It pays a return visit to the Tralf Music Hall, 622 Main St., for not one, but two performances -- 7:30 and 10 p.m.

6. What's it worth to live in a village instead of merging with the larger town that surrounds it? According to many folks in Williamsville, it's worth every penny of the extra $170 in taxes they pay per year. The figure was determined by a survey taken by two graduate students and an associate professor at the University at Buffalo. But downsizing advocate Kevin Gaughan says it's more expensive than that. He cites an earlier study putting the figure at more than $500. Story on Page B1.

7. The winning teams from Buffalo's piece of March Madness are headed elsewhere now -- Syracuse is going to Salt Lake City for the West Regionals, while West Virginia is booked into Syracuse for the East Regionals. But their stay here will linger on in the warm memories of their fans. Many folks here for the games in HSBC Arena came away favorably impressed with the Queen City. Story on Page A1.

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Don't miss on buffalonews.com:

Hear Amherst poet Gunilla Theander Kester read two of her poems about Flight 3407 at video.buffalonews.com

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