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Seven By Seven / Seven things you need to know by 7 a.m.

1. It's the final week for this year's M&T Plaza Event Series, the free outdoor performances at noon in front of M&T Bank headquarters in downtown Buffalo across from Main Place Mall, and the schedule involves an all-star lineup of local talent. Today it's jazz singer Barbara Levy Daniels & Friends, followed by Mark Mazur and the Little Big Band on Tuesday, David Kane's Them Jazzbeards on Wednesday, Taylor Made Jazz on Thursday and blues-rock singer Billy McEwen for the season-closer on Friday.

2. For most kids, it's tough enough contemplating the return to classrooms in two weeks, right after Labor Day. But for the more than 1,650 students from kindergarten through 12th grade in Buffalo's Charter School for Applied Technology, that day is today. The school at Kenmore Avenue and Vulcan Street, the largest charter school in the state, is one of several local charters with an extended school year -- 190 days -- and a longer day -- 7 1/2 hours. If it's any consolation for the students, this first day of school will be a shortened one.

3. The Buffalo Board of Education, having made final arrangements with departing School Superintendent James A. Williams, still has plenty on its plate. Board President Louis Petrucci has called a special meeting at 4:30 p.m. in Room 801 of City Hall to discuss the budget, staffing and restoring teachers and aides who were laid off under the original budget plan.

4. It's also the final week of summer programs at Chautauqua Institution. The morning lecture series in the amphitheater, having looked at contemporary topics such as the economy, espionage and Iran, finishes the season by looking back to the 19th century. This week's topic is "The Path to the Civil War." Kicking it off at 10:45 a.m. is Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Gordon Wood, professor emeritus at Brown University.

5. Fans headed for Artpark in Lewiston on Tuesday to hear George Thorogood and the Destroyers are likely to run into an unexpected delay. Starting today, the Niagara Thruway (I-190) will be reduced to a single lane in each direction between Exit 23 (Packard Road) and Exit 24 (Witmer Road). The reason? Highway and bridge construction. Motorists also can expect complications this morning in Buffalo if they plan to go northbound through the Delaware Avenue S-curves in Delaware Park between 9 and 11 a.m. Traffic will be detoured over Forest Avenue to Elmwood Avenue. It won't affect drivers exiting the Scajaquada Expressway onto Delaware northbound.

6. Twenty-five years after they started, three former Buffalonians are expected to arrive on their bicycles in front of Buffalo City Hall at 5 p.m., completing a 8,141-mile ride around the country to raise funds for what is now the Seneca-Babcock Community Center. Two of them, Dave Cywinski and Tony Glosek, were struck by a pickup truck in Seguin, Texas, back in 1986 and couldn't finish. The third, Dan Alexander, finished the trip alone. Last month, they flew to Texas to complete their final miles across the states along the Gulf of Mexico, then through major East Coast cities, including the heart of Times Square in New York City.

7. Like their counterparts in Erie County, who just approved a measure to continue getting a local share of the sales tax, the Niagara County Legislature is holding a special meeting at 7 p.m. 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.

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Don't miss on BuffaloNews.com:

Join News Staff Reporter Charlie Specht for a live chat at 11 a.m. about his Sunday cover story on Niagara Falls battalion chiefs making more money than the fire chief.