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

1. Ground will be broken for a new indoor small-arms firing range at the Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station during an 11 a.m. ceremony. The $6.2 million facility -- part of the continuing federal investment in the base -- will not only keep personnel at the base combat-ready, but officials say it also will provide a way to save money on providing federal law enforcement agents their firearms training.

2. The Orchard Park School Board is holding a public forum at 7 p.m. in the Middle School auditorium, 60 S. Lincoln Ave., on its plans to consolidate transportation and district offices at a single location, 2240 Southwestern Blvd. The district has signed an agreement to purchase the 15-acre property, which has access to both Southwestern Boulevard and Angle Road, and already contains two office buildings, two garage facilities and a storage building.

3. Special guest at tonight's fundraising event for Erie County Executive Chris Collins is a nationally renowned Republican heavy hitter. It's GOP strategist and commentator Mary Matalin. Matalin will highlight the affair in the Rich Atrium on Niagara Street as Collins looks to build his already considerable campaign fund for his run for a second term in November. It's $1,000 per person or $1,500 per couple for a VIP reception. General admission is pegged at $200 per person and $300 per couple.

4. The navigation season begins today for the Welland Canal, three days earlier than it opened last year, with the traditional Top Hat ceremony in the auditorium at Port Colborne, Ont., High School. During the off-season, about $20 million in repairs and improvements have been completed. Meanwhile, we're still frozen here in Buffalo. Meteorologists say that Lake Erie is far too chunky for us to be thinking of removing the ice boom just yet. Last year, after a milder winter, removal of the boom started on this date.

5. At tonight's Town Board meeting, the Town of Wales, east of East Aurora, has scheduled a public hearing at 7 on a proposed law to ban hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling for natural gas. If it's enacted, Wales would be the first town in New York State to have such a measure in effect. Wales residents, who depend entirely on well water, fear that their drinking water would be contaminated.

6. The Slee Beethoven Cycle is heading into the home stretch. Tonight, which marks the fifth of the six Slee concerts, brings the celebrated Vogler Quartet from Germany to Buffalo for the first time. Formed in East Berlin, back in the days when the Berlin Wall was still standing, it still boasts its original conservatory-trained lineup. The concert, which begins at 7:30 in Lippes Concert Hall at Slee Hall on the University at Buffalo's North Campus in Amherst, features the Quartet in A, Op. 18 No. 5, and the Quartet in B Flat, Op. 130.

7. "Young Frankenstein," the Broadway musical based on Mel Brooks' 1974 film comedy, is the latest touring Broadway production to roll into Shea's Performing Arts Center and the funniest musical to visit here in many a moon. The film's zany plot and whacky characters are preserved, with scenes expanded to accommodate the musical numbers. We can't wait to see the live version of the monster singing "Puttin' on the Ritz." It opens at 8 tonight and continues through Sunday.


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