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LOCAL NEWS BRIEFS

Seneca president backs measure to transfer land

SALAMANCA -- Seneca Nation President Robert Odawi Porter gave his endorsement this week to the American Indian Empowerment Act, a bill recently introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Currently in committee, the measure would eliminate most of the federal restrictions and review processes on the use of land on Indian territories. The federal government currently holds Indian land in trust. The bill would require the Secretary of the Interior to transfer Indian land to the tribes in restricted fee status. Tribes then would have the right to lease or grant easements and rights of way across their lands.

"A key factor to the Seneca Nation's success story," Porter said, "is our land ownership and unique ability to make quick and decisive decisions about land use, free from the constraints of the federal oversight and approval system. I have no doubt that if other Indian nations had the flexibility we enjoy, they too would see a significant boost in their economic development and job creation endeavors."

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Post office branches reduce hours for holiday

All post offices in the Buffalo Niagara region will be open the morning of Christmas Eve on Saturday, but window service will close at noon in all but one of them, postal authorities report.

The exception is the Cayuga Branch, 285 Cayuga Road, Cheektowaga, which will stay open until 3 p.m. Mail will be delivered as usual on Saturday.

Post offices will be closed on Christmas Day and Monday, although Express Mail will be delivered on both days. Regular mail delivery and post office hours will resume on Tuesday.

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Community leaders in Falls address gun violence

NIAGARA FALLS -- After two homicides in less than two weeks, community leaders will gather to speak out against the city's gun violence at 3 p.m. Saturday at 21st Street and Ontario Avenue, the site of the city's most recent homicide.

Members of SNUG -- guns spelled backwards -- regularly respond to city shootings in an attempt to prevent future violence.

They met after Niagara University student Brandon Johnson, 20, of Rochester, was killed in a botched armed robbery in University Court on Dec. 8, and will meet again to speak out against the gun violence which killed Cortez Hill, 28, Monday at Ontario and 21st.

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County control board plans to reduce spending

The Erie County Fiscal Stability Authority plans to reduce its spending by about 3 percent next year.

Directors of the state-appointed county control board this week unanimously approved a $499,306 budget for 2012 that cuts spending for professional services such as attorneys and financial advisers.

The cuts make up for increases in other areas of the budget, including pension and health care costs, Executive Director Kenneth Vetter told the five-member board.