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NIAGARA NEWS BRIEFS

Hospital union to picket if contract isn't settled

MEDINA -- The union representing employees at Medina Memorial Hospital and affiliated health care agencies in Orleans County announced Thursday that it will picket the hospital next week if no new contract is settled in talks set for today and Saturday.

Local 1199, Service Employees International Union, United Healthcare Workers East, has held 18 bargaining sessions since Dec. 13 with Orleans Community Health. Three separate contracts for units totaling 325 members have been extended three times since they expired Dec. 31.

"Both sides have expressed a desire to resolve the dispute, but the parties remain far apart on a number of basic issues that include job security procedures, legal rights, health insurance, wages and other economic items," the union said in an announcement that it plans informational picketing for next Thursday.

"We feel we'll be able to settle this," said Mary Williams, hospital human resources director. "We are down to the economic proposals, which are always the hardest ones."

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Fundraising under way to save feral cats

NEWFANE -- Fundraising efforts began Thursday for dealing with the feral cat colony in Olcott.

An account called "Save the Olcott Cats" was opened at the Bank of America branch in Newfane. Kenneth and Elizabeth Allore of Lockport said an anonymous donor has agreed to give $1,000 if public donations match that amount.

Town Supervisor Timothy R. Horanburg said at a meeting Wednesday that he's willing to let animal rescue groups trap, spay or neuter, and return the cats as long as there's no cost to taxpayers. The sterilization operations would be done at Operation Pets in Lackawanna.

Donations would pay for that and for feeding stations that presumably would keep the cats away from Olcott Marina and nearby cottages, where they are annoying boaters and renters.

Donations for account number 483039712436 may be made at any Bank of America location or mailed to Bank of America, 2700 Main St., Newfane, NY 14108.

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Community Garden project sets orientation meeting

LOCKPORT -- An orientation meeting for Lockport residents interested in becoming part of the Community Garden project will be held at 2 p.m. Saturday in Second Presbyterian Church, 71 Van Buren St.

The Community Garden will provide soil and at least 20 raised beds that are 4 feet, by 11 feet, by 8 inches each on land next to the church.

Barbara Cattrall Wallace, chairwoman of the garden planning team, said the mission is to help people grow and share fresh produce, to be an active resource for sustainable organic gardening and to help build community in Lowertown Lockport.

The project is named in honor of the late Raymond C. Betsch, four-term mayor of Lockport and lifelong member of Second Presbyterian Church.

To reserve a space, call the church at 550-3706, leave a note at the church or email 2ndPresLockport@gmail.com.