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LOCAL NEWS BRIEFS

Ride of Steel coaster closed for the season

The roller coaster from which a Iraq war veteran fell to his death last month has been shut down for the remainder of the season, officials with the Darien Lake Theme Park Resort announced Thursday.

"While we regret to inform our guests that the roller coaster will be down for remainder of the season, we still have a large variety of rides and attractions for all ages to enjoy," said Christopher Thorpe, general manager of the park in a statement posted on the park's website.

The roller coaster, Ride of Steel, was closed for two weeks after James T. Hackemer, a double amputee, was ejected from the ride on July 8. It reopened but was shut down again on Aug. 11, after a mechanical failure that stranded 32 passengers.

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2 Southern Tier counties designated disaster areas

Allegany and Cattaraugus counties have been designated as primary natural disaster areas by the U.S. Department of Agriculture due to damage and losses caused by heavy rain, violent storms and cool temperatures between March and May. The declaration makes farmers in those counties eligible for federal low-interest loans.

Farmers in four other contiguous counties -- Chautauqua, Erie, Livingston and Wyoming -- also qualify for disaster assistance, federal officials say.

Farmers have until April 16 to apply for low-interest emergency loans to cover part of their losses. For information, farmers may contact their local USDA Service Center or visit disaster.fsa.usda.gov.

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Interest-free loans to aid water treatment upgrade

BROCTON -- The Village of Brocton will receive nearly $4.8 million in interest-free loans to upgrade its waste water treatment plant and the pumping station for its sewer system. The loan was approved earlier this week by the board of directors of Environmental Facilities Corp., a state public benefit corporation.

The project will install a new UV disinfection system, more aerobic digestion capacity and an energy-efficient pumping system. It will increase reserve capacity for the nearby Lakeview Correctional Facility and be able to handle possible sewer line extensions to the nearby hamlet of Portland and several mobile home parks.

About one-third of the project costs -- $1.8 million -- will be covered by a service agreement with the state Department of Correctional Services. The village also has received a $150,000 grant for the project through the Appalachian Regional Commission.

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Special meeting Monday to extend 8% sales tax

LOCKPORT -- A special meeting of the Niagara County Legislature has been called for 7 p.m. Monday to extend the county's 8 percent sales tax for two more years.

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo has signed a bill giving the county permission to continue charging the extra 1 percent. The county is required to use the proceeds of the eighth percentage point exclusively to pay for Medicaid.