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LOCAL NEWS BRIEFS

Bishop urges giving as Appeal nears its $10.5 million goal

Buffalo Catholic Diocese Bishop Edward U. Kmiec is urging Western New Yorkers to give to the 2011 Catholic Charities Appeal so it reaches its fundraising goal, with just a week to go before the fiscal year closes.

The organization needs just under $100,000 to achieve its $10.5 million goal.

"I am inspired by the fact that we are so very close to achieving our goal," said Kmiec, in a statement from Catholic Charities.

Donations can be made through local parishes or directly to Catholic Charities at its headquarters, 741 Delaware Ave; by calling 218-1400; or by visiting its online website at www.ccwny.org.

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Wendt, Bennett beaches open daily for the season

Erie County's Wendt and Bennett beaches are now open for the season and staffed with lifeguards seven days a week, from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.

County Executive Chris Collins said that as a safety precaution, dirt and grass berms will surround picnic and playground areas to keep out vehicles.

The Erie County Health Department will inspect water at both beaches in the Town of Evans at least twice a week, and more frequently during and after heavy rain.

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$15,000 in grants at stake among local organizations

The Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo will award $15,000 in grants to the environmental nonprofit whose video receives the most votes on Facebook.

Fifteen organizations have submitted short videos to compete for the $10,000 first-place and $5,000 second-place prizes. Among the videos are barn owls singing "Bohemian Rhapsody," a day at sea with the Spirit of Buffalo and an examination of "green thumb outbreak" throughout the region.

To vote, go to GrowWNY.org and click the contest tab, or go to facebook.com/GrowNNY. Voting up to twice a day is permitted through Sunday, the end of the contest.

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Critical supplies dropped to soldiers in Afghanistan

Airdrops of 20,000 pounds of critical supplies to U.S. soldiers stationed in southern Afghanistan were carried out earlier this week by members of the local New York Air National Guard and another unit from Alaska.

A crew from the 107th Airlift Wing in Niagara Falls, flying one of the C-130 Hercules cargo planes assigned to the base, conducted the mission on Wednesday with another C-130 from the Alaska Air National Guard.

Food, fuel, water and ammunition were dropped into forward operating bases in the Afghan province of Oruzgan, alleviating the need to deliver the supplies by way of potentially hazardous ground transportation, military officials said. Since last month, 80 members of the 107th Airlift Wing and two aircraft have been deployed to Afghanistan.

"We delivered about 10 containers per aircraft at about 1,000 pounds per container," said Master Sgt. Timothy Griffin, a C-130 loadmaster from Buffalo.

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