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NIAGARA NEWS BRIEFS

Burial set today for veteran killed in roller coaster fall

Sgt. James T. Hackemer, the Iraqi war veteran thrown to his death last month from a roller coaster, is being buried in a military funeral this morning in historic Arlington (Va.) National Cemetery.

The 29-year-old father of two died July 8 when he was lifted out of his seat on the Ride of Steel coaster at Darien Lake Theme Park Resort during a family outing.

Hackemer, of Gowanda, had lost his legs to a roadside bomb in Iraq in March 2008. A military police officer, he had served in the Army since 2000 when he graduated from Gowanda High School. He had been released from Walter Reed Army Medical Center in March after three years of rehabilitation.

State Labor Department investigators blame operator error for the accident. The ride requires patrons to have two legs.

Hackemer's family is now suing Darien Lake. The wrongful-death case is pending in federal court in Buffalo.

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Forum set on urban farms and community gardens

A free public forum at 4 p.m. Tuesday by the Parntership for the Public Good will examine the potential of community gardens and urban farms to serve Buffalo's refugee community.

Participants will view a community garden developed by PUSH Buffalo that's mainly tended by Burmese refugees.

Speaking will be Chris Ryan, PUSH's neighborhood redevelopment director; horticulturalist Josh Smith; Chelsea Wagner of Journey's End Refugeee Services; and Dorian Ralston from Partnership for the Public Good.

The forum will take place at PUSH's community garden on Hampshire Street, between Lawrence and 15th streets on Buffalo's West Side.

If it rains, the location will switch to PUSH headquarters, 271 Grant St. To R.S.V.P., email megan@ppgbuffalo.org.

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Heat Fund grant is open for more applications

National Fuel Gas Distribution Corp. is reminding customers that its "Neighbor For Neighbor Heat Fund" is still open and accepting applications for assistance to qualifying Western New Yorkers to receive a onetime grant of up to $400.

The fund, established in 1983, is a first-come, first-served home-heating assistance grant program, is open to provide assistance to elderly and disabled Western New Yorkers to pay for energy-related expenses.

To qualify, applicants must be at least 55 years old; or a member of their household must be handicapped or have a disability that reduces the household's income; or they must have a certified medical emergency.

Applicants must reside in National Fuel's service territory but are not required to be National Fuel customers.

Eligible families or individuals are encouraged to contact the following to find the nearest agency::

Salvation Army, 883-9800, Ext. 230.

Catholic Charities, 856-4494, if younger than 60, or 896-6388, if older than 60.