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A quick look at what's happening today

It looks like autumn will give us a big wet farewell kiss today. The National Weather Service says we're due for up to half an inch of rain before it trails off sometime tonight. Temperatures are supposed to flirt with the 50-degree mark, then fall back through the 40s as the wind picks up.

Things should quiet down after the winter solstice arrives at 12:30 a.m. Thursday. Forecasters say that the rains ought to stop sometime during the morning, the wind is expected to diminish and temperatures should climb back into the low 40s. If only the whole winter could be like that.

But it won't. There's a chance of snow showers overnight Thursday, when the low is expected be around freezing. Light rain is likely to replace the snow Friday when afternoon temperatures rise to the mid to upper 30s. It shouldn't be a problem for holiday travelers.

As for a white Christmas, meteorologists now are saying there might be a bit of snow all across the Northeast on Sunday morning, but not much more than a thin covering here. That big Midwestern storm? It won't affect us.

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The Buffalo Board of Education starts sizing up the people today who want to fill the unfinished term of departing at-large member Chris Jacobs, who has been elected Erie County clerk. They begin interviewing the applicants at 3 p.m. in Room 801, City Hall. The interviews are open to the public. The board hopes to choose an at-large member by next Wednesday. If the board does not appoint someone by Jan. 6, then, under state law, Mayor Byron Brown will have 30 days to fill the seat.

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To die homeless is to die forgotten. About 50 homeless people die in Western New York every year and often their bodies go unclaimed and their families have no idea what's happened to them. Remembering them the first time today is the Western New York Coalition of Homeless Providers, which will unveil a memorial stone at 4:30 p.m. in a garden at the Matt Urban Center on Paderewski Drive, across from the Central Terminal.

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Challenging property tax assessments is the topic of a workshop for homeowners at 6 p.m. in the Merriweather Library, 1324 Jefferson Ave. at West Utica Street, under the auspices of the We Are Women Warriors Group and Erie County Legislator Betty Jean Grant. Officials from the City of Buffalo Department of Tax Assessment and attorney Michael Hughes, an expert in real estate and tax laws, will lead the session. For good measure, homeowners will have a chance to fill out the application form they need to challenge their assessments. Last day for challenges in Buffalo is Dec. 31.

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More than 500 parents and children are expected to attend as the teaching staff at West Hertel Academy holds a holiday party in the school at 489 Hertel Ave. from 5 to 7 p.m. The party, part of an effort by the teachers to promote an alliance with parents and the community, will include pizza, cookies, a sing-along, live llamas, gingerbread house-building, postal letter carriers to assist in writing letters to Santa and a visit from Santa himself. He'll give a gift to every child.

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Kids will be taking home books from the Library of Congress soon when they leave the Erie County Family Court Children's Center. Rep. Kathy Hochul is donating the children's books when she stops into the YWCA of Western New York office at 1005 Grant St. this morning. The YWCA operates the center and looks after the youngsters while their parents or guardians are taking care of business in Family Court. The center serves about 6,000 children each year.

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Kenny Rogers fans will have it both ways tonight. The superstar country singer plans to sing his hits -- songs like "The Gambler," "Ruby" and "Islands in the Stream" -- in the first half of his Christmas show in Kleinhans Music Hall. Then, for the second half, he'll do the holiday songs. Music starts at 8 p.m. Tickets are $45 to $80.

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"The Holiday Guys" are Broadway actors Jeffry Denman and Marc Kudisch, two modern song-and-dance men who want to restore some integrity to yuletide theater. When they bring their cabaret-style show to MusicalFare Theatre, 4380 Main St., Snyder, they want to evoke that old warm and happy holiday feeling, using plenty of Christmas song classics. "It sounds cliche, but it's family, friends and, in some instances, your hopes and dreams about what you want," says Denman, who's a Western New York native. It opens tonight at 7 for the first of two performances. The other one is Thursday night.

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Sabres great Gil Perreault makes a special holiday appearance at 6 p.m. at the BlueCross BlueShield Ice Rink at Old Falls Street and Rainbow Boulevard in conjunction with the Niagara Holiday Market in Niagara Falls. The French Connection star will greet fans and sign autographs. There's no admission charge. He's sponsored by KeyBank.

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"The Adventures of Tintin," Steven Spielberg's digitally animated film, opens across the U.S. today and it promises to be the biggest of the holiday blockbusters. The tale of a young reporter and his dog, drawn from the beloved Belgian children's comic book series, already is a huge hit overseas. It's one of two Spielberg films that will show up during the holidays. Due to arrive on Christmas Day is his World War I epic, "War Horse."

[Published: 1:09 AM]

[Updated: 7:32 AM]

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