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Legislators to start year Wednesday

Cattaraugus County legislators will meet Wednesday to reorganize and transact their first business for 2011, with one change in leadership and no raises for themselves.

The new year will bring to an end the four-year terms for all lawmakers, including several who can't seek re-election because of term limits.

Last month, legislators met in separate caucuses to choose leaders who will be sworn in by County Judge Larry M. Himelein when the session opens at 3 p.m. in the County Center.

Legislator Michael T. O'Brien, R-Portville, as chosen in caucus, will begin his second term as chairman. A retired school superintendent, O'Brien will earn $23,710. Legislator positions are considered to be full-time. They have not had raises in three years.

The vice chairman's post will be filled by Jerry E. Burrell, R-Franklinville. A former sheriff, he replaces Carmen A. Vecchiarella, R-Salamanca, passed over in caucus because Vecchiarella publicly endorsed Andrew M. Cuomo for governor.

Burrell also will head the Finance Committee.

Other chosen are Majority Leader Norman L. Marsh, R-Little Valley, and Minority Leader Mark J. Ward, D-Great Valley.

Burrell, Marsh and Ward will each earn $13,729. For remaining legislators -- there are 21 in all -- their salaries will be $12,481.

Also serving in leadership roles are: E. James Ellis, R-East Otto, assistant majority leader; William Aiello, R-Olean, majority whip; William E. Sprague, R-Yorkshire, assistant minority leader; and Kenneth W. McClune, D-Salamanca, minority whip.

One new legislator will be seated. Linda M. Edstrom, R-Olean, a former Olean City Council member, defeated Leo J. Nenno in November.

Also, Paula J. Stockman, R-South Dayton, will take office to fill the remaining year of the seat formerly held by Crystal Abers, who now heads the Planning Department.

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