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NIAGARA NEWS BRIEFS

Community tax rates set based on budget

LOCKPORT -- County property tax rates will rise in most communities as a result of the 2012 budget passed Tuesday by the Niagara County Legislature, despite 63 position cuts and a wage freeze for most employees.

The rates, which vary because of equalization rates, are: Cambria, $7.64 per $1,000 of assessed valuation, down 2 cents from this year; Hartland, $7.64, down 80 cents; Lewiston, $9.43, up 16 cents; City of Lockport, $7.65, down 71 cents; Town of Lockport, $7.66, up 13 cents; Newfane, $7.79, up 13 cents; Town of Niagara, $13.02, up 44 cents.

Also, Niagara Falls, $8.25, up 23 cents; North Tonawanda, $7.94, up 36 cents; Pendleton, $7.79, up 13 cents; Porter, $8.40, up 32 cents; Royalton, $7.87, up 37 cents; Somerset, $10.06, up 17 cents; Wheatfield, $11.09, up 35 cents; Wilson, $8.22, up 23 cents.

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Competition involves creative works of snow art

NIAGARA FALLS -- The city and its youth bureau are encouraging residents of all ages to use their artistic skills to create works of art in snow as part of the "Kaboom Snow Creation Invitation," which runs from Monday through March 4.

Entrants should mail their snow creation photo with creation location and names of all individuals in the photo to Niagara Falls Youth Bureau, Attention: Associate Director Patricia Travis, PO Box 69 Niagara Falls, NY 14302-0069, or deliver to the Department of Public Works, 1785 New Road, Niagara Falls, NY 14304.

Photos also can be emailed to Snow.Creations@niagarafallsny.gov. Additional event information can be found on www.niagarafallsusa.org under the News and Announcements section. All contest entrants will receive an invitation to a "Snow Creation Party" to be held in March.

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Wife of Flight 3407 victim was Kmart 'Secret Santa'

Robin Tolsma wanted it to stay secret, it just didn't work out that way.

Tolsma, the Lancaster woman who lost her husband, Darren, in the Flight 3407 crash in Clarence Center almost three years ago, was quickly identified by many in her community when she appeared at a French Road Kmart store and paid for the layaway items of other people. Word quickly spread throughout Lancaster and Depew and then to area media.

Tolsma said it was an idea dreamed up by her 19-year-old daughter, Nikki.

"She said, 'How about not sending Christmas cards out this year' -- we usually send out about 200 -- and instead [how] about if we put the money toward helping other people?' " Tolsma said.

"It's kind of like in the Christmas special where the Grinch's heart grows 10 times as big. You can't explain the feeling, you just have to experience it," she said. "My husband would have definitely done this and paid it forward."

"It's the season of giving," she said. "As hard as it is hanging my husband's stocking on the mantle, it feels so good to do something for the community."

The Federal Aviation Administration played Santa on Wednesday, granting Tolsma's Christmas wish: stricter rules governing pilot fatigue to make passenger air travel safer.