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AROUND THE STATE

Gas leak resolved; residents go home

FORT EDWARD (AP) -- Hundreds of residents have returned to their homes after being evacuated when a gasoline leak at a convenience store caused explosions in the sewer system.

The Post-Star of Glens Falls said loud blasts began blowing manhole covers off roadways in Fort Edward around 8 p.m. Tuesday.

The newspaper said Washington County used its reverse 911 system and sent firefighters door-to-door to evacuate between 300 and 400 residents of the village, 45 miles north of Albany.

School buses took people to Fort Edward High School. They began returning home early Wednesday after roads in Fort Edward and neighboring Hudson Falls reopened.

Authorities said the underground explosions were caused by gas that flowed into the sewers after leaking from a pump at a convenience store in Hudson Falls.

No injuries were reported.

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College's plan to cull deer blocked by judge

BINGHAMTON (AP) -- A judge has blocked Binghamton University's plan to have sharpshooters kill 90 percent of the deer in a campus nature preserve, saying the university has to do an environmental impact study.

State Supreme Court Justice Molly Fitzgerald ruled that the university's deer-culling plan doesn't comply with the State Environmental Quality Review Act, according to the Binghamton Press and Sun-Bulletin.

Michael Danaher, an assistant attorney general representing the university, said at a hearing last week that state Department of Environmental Conservation rules didn't require an environmental impact study.

The DEC had issued a permit for the deer shooting, which was to be done over Christmas break.

A retired professor who lives near the preserve mounted the court challenge.

A university environmental committee recommended the culling plan because the overpopulation of deer is damaging the forest.

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Unions fight change to retirees' health costs

ALBANY (AP) -- Unions representing state public employees in New York have filed a federal lawsuit against the Cuomo administration, challenging an increase in the percentage of health insurance contributions for thousands of retirees.

The unions said the unilateral change raised rates another 2 percentage points for retirees who were paying 10 percent of the cost for individual coverage and 25 percent for family coverage, based on contracts when they retired.

The unions are the Civil Service Employees Association, Public Employees Federation, United University Professions, State Correctional Officers and Police Benevolent Association, the State Troopers Police Benevolent Association, State Police Investigators Association and AFSCME Council 82.

They say they represent most of the state's more than 250,000 workers.

A Cuomo spokesman said the law allows the administration to apply new contract terms to retirees.

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Isabella, Jayden are city's top baby names

NEW YORK (AP) -- Isabella and Jayden are still big names in the Big Apple, and Chloe, Jacob and Joseph are gaining.

The New York City Health Department said Wednesday that Jayden remained the most popular name for newborn boys in 2010. Isabella held steady as the top choice for girls. Both names were also No. 1 in 2009.

It takes the city a year to compile the list because many birth certificates are initially filed without names and updated later.

While the lists held pretty steady from 2009 to 2010, Chloe replaced Ashley and Jacob and Joseph bumped out Alexander and Christopher.

The Social Security Administration says Isabella and Jacob were the top baby names nationwide in 2010.

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