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Nassau County slashes jobs to reduce deficit

MINEOLA (AP) -- The leader of one of the country's wealthiest suburban counties said Wednesday he will cut more than 500 jobs from the county payroll to close a $176 million budget gap detected by a state fiscal watchdog.

Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano, who lost a court fight last week against a fiscal control period imposed by the Nassau Interim Finance Authority, said he opted to slash the county's $2.6 billion budget rather than increase property taxes.

"This is a plan where no one is insulated," said the first-term Republican who ran on a "tax revolt" platform when he was elected in 2009. "Everybody is sharing in the sacrifice."

His plan calls for eliminating 213 county workers in virtually every department of government and not filling more than 300 vacant positions.

He also asked the control authority to freeze wages and proposed a 13-day unpaid furlough for all county employees.

Nassau residents last year paid an average property tax bill of $11,500, nearly the highest in the country.

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Trade Center steel used in Arizona monument

NEW YORK (AP) -- A piece of World Trade Center steel is being molded into an angel in memory of a girl who was born on Sept. 11, 2001, and died in a barrage of gunfire in the Tucson, Ariz., shooting rampage that injured Rep. Gabrielle Giffords.

The 5 1/2 -foot-long fragment of an I-beam was picked up Wednesday from a hangar at John F. Kennedy International Airport and will be trucked to Arizona in time for an April 1 dedication ceremony. The Freedom's Steadfast Angel of Love statue will incorporate artifacts from the Sept. 11 attack on the Pentagon and the crash of United Airlines Flight 93 in Shanksville, Pa., sculptor Lei Hennessy-Owen said.

The angel honoring Christina-Taylor Green will stand 9 feet, 11 inches tall.

The steel from the twin towers was donated by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which owns the trade center site.

Her statue will be installed at James D. Kriegh Park in Oro Valley, Ariz., where she played Little League baseball.

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Grandmother, others deny guilt in death

NEW YORK (AP) -- Two former child welfare workers and a grandmother pleaded not guilty Wednesday to charges in the death of a 4-year-old girl who was starved, beaten and drugged, while a prosecutor announced that a grand jury would be convened to look at evidence of potential "systematic failure" in the troubled agency.

Brooklyn District Attorney Charles J. Hynes said the former workers with the Administration for Children's Services didn't do enough to help Marchella Brett-Pierce, who weighed 18 pounds when she died in September.

Child welfare caseworker Damon Adams and supervisor Chereece Bell were charged Wednesday with criminally negligent homicide. The girl's grandmother Loretta Brett was charged with manslaughter.

Carlotta Brett Pierce, Marchella's mother, previously was indicted on murder and other charges.

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