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LOCAL NEWS BRIEFS

BlueCross BlueShield union schedules ratification vote

A ratification vote is scheduled at 10 a.m. today for about 390 BlueCross BlueShield union workers who were locked out of their jobs Monday after their contract with company expired.

Members of Local 212, Office and Professional Employees International Union, held a rally Wednesday outside BlueCross BlueShield's downtown offices, where the union's business representative, Deana Fox, confirmed the ratification vote.

The union said negotiations for a new three-year contract had stalled over issues that included job security and the ability of the company to outsource or subcontract work now done by the bargaining unit. Local 212 union members constitute slightly less than a third of the health insurer's 1,400 employees in Buffalo. They provide customer service, process claims, reproduce documents and do other clerical and support work.

Meanwhile, BlueCross BlueShield spokeswoman Julie R. Snyder said the company had not been officially notified of the ratification vote.

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Event tailored for residents who have exhausted benefits

A session to apply for help under the Home Energy Assistance Program will run from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. today at Kensington-Bailey Neighborhood Housing Services, 95 Kensington Ave.

The session is for residents who have either exhausted their regular and first-emergency benefits this season or who have received a shut-off notice, according to County Legislator Betty Jean Grant, D-Buffalo.

Applicants must bring their standard financial information. For more information, contact Grant at 894-0914 or 536-7323.

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News columnist Singletary to keynote Bennett gathering

Nationally syndicated financial columnist and author Michelle Singletary, whose column appears in The Buffalo News, will keynote the Financial Fortitude Summit on Saturday in Bennett High School, 2885 Main St.

Registration and a continental breakfast begin at 8:15 a.m., followed by Singletary's presentation. The free event, sponsored by Delta Sigma Theta sorority, also will include financial workshops for teens and adults on topics including paying for college, establishing credit, buying your first home, managing your estate, planning for retirement and elder care.

Singletary's "The Color of Money" column appears in more than 100 newspapers.

Summit chairwoman Thomasina Stenhouse called the forum an opportunity "to help teens and adults become financially empowered to build and maintain wealth."

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Brighton, Sheridan courses officially open for season

Brighton and Sheridan, The Town of Tonawanda's two golf courses, open for the season today.

The Brighton Park Driving Range is open for the season from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. and the adjacent Paddock Golf Dome will remain open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. through May.

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