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AROUND THE STATE

Plan issued on control of Lake Ontario levels

ALBANY (AP) -- A new plan for controlling Lake Ontario water levels is intended to restore diversity in shoreline plant and animal communities by permitting greater fluctuations.

The International Joint Commission, a treaty organization of the United States and Canada, released the regulatory plan Monday. The panel said the lake would be allowed to be a few inches higher, on average, in spring and fall than the current regulations allow.

Similar proposals in recent years were withdrawn after protests from shoreline residents and businesses.

The water levels of the lake and the St. Lawrence Seaway are controlled by releases from the Moses-Saunders Dam in Cornwall, Ont.

Public hearings will be scheduled in late spring and comments taken until June 15.

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State's homicides fell in 2011 to 37-year low

ALBANY (AP) -- The number of homicides in New York dropped last year to the lowest level in decades to roughly 750, or about one-third of the killings in 1990, the deadliest year on record, officials said Monday.

Sean Byrne, the state's acting criminal-justice commissioner, told a legislative committee that preliminary data shows all crime, including violent crime, declined in 2011. That included a drop of more than 10 percent in homicides compared with 2010.

"Homicides will be at the lowest number reported since statewide crime reporting began 37 years ago," Byrne said. They peaked at 2,606 in 1990.

Byrne noted several factors, including better crime analysis and follow-up. He told lawmakers that one of the best methods of reducing recidivism is helping former offenders get jobs, and there is proposed program funding for that next year.

Authorities also say the expanded database of offender DNA samples has helped cut crime. Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo has proposed roughly doubling the program.