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NIAGARA NEWS BRIEFS

Construction postponed on Kensington Expressway

Construction on the Kensington Expressway in Cheektowaga has been postponed, canceling the ramp closure and travel restrictions scheduled for today, the state Department of Transportation has announced.

The work site is near Union Road. Construction is tentatively rescheduled for next week.

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Verizon accused of bias in FiOS installations

Community and elected leaders are calling for an investigation of possible racial and economic discrimination stemming from Verizon's lack of fiber-optic service in Buffalo.

The Don't Bypass Buffalo Coalition released a letter this week signed by two dozen people -- including all nine members of the Buffalo Common Council, two Erie County legislators and three state lawmakers -- calling for an investigation of possible discrimination. Verizon FiOS Internet and high definition television services are available in many Erie County suburbs, but not in the county's largest city.

The coalition also unveiled a new billboard campaign highlighting Verizon's alleged role in exacerbating the digital divide in the region.

John Bonomo, a Verizon spokesman, said the company is focusing on delivering FiOS service to the 182 communities across the state -- including the five boroughs of New York City -- where it has franchise agreements mandating 100 percent availability within five years.

"We are not seeking any new franchises," he said. Further, he said the diverse populations of those franchise communities refutes the allegations of discrimination.

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HOME to get $100,000 in additional grant funds

Housing Opportunities Made Equal will receive an additional $100,000 for an office and housing rehabilitation project at Main and West Ferry streets because of increases in environmental remediation costs.

The Buffalo Urban Renewal Agency, the city panel that controls federal funds aimed at dealing with blight, approved the grant on Thursday by a 7-0 vote. HOME, a civil rights group, is building 10 affordable housing units and new offices for its organization at 1542 Main.

HOME, which is the primary provider of fair housing services in Erie County, already received $395,000 in aid through the agency in August.

The offices are scheduled to be completed by the end of December, with the housing units occupied starting March 1.

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CBS journalist Pitts to speak at Medaille

CBS journalist Byron Pitts will speak at 6 p.m. Oct. 3 at Medaille College's gymnasium.

Pitts, chief national correspondent for CBS News and a correspondent for "60 Minutes," will talk to first-year students at the college about his new book, "Step out on Nothing." The book was part of their summer reading selection.

The event is free and open to the public, but seating is limited. Guests are asked to register at www.medaille.edu/byron-pitts.