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City may pursue litigation over road project stalemate

NIAGARA FALLS -- The city has suggested for the first time that it may pursue litigation to break the stalemate on the stalled Lewiston Road reconstruction project.

In a news release issued late Tuesday, Mayor Paul A. Dyster said the city recently contacted Hanover Insurance, the company that issued the bond for the project for contractor Man O'Trees.

The city is urging the company to complete the project, Dyster said, adding that the city will "pursue other remedies" if it does not do so, including hiring a new contractor or pursuing litigation.

Man O'Trees has been locked in a dispute with the city over a number of issues on the $7.7 million project, and residents in recent months have expressed their frustration with the inaction.

Dyster said the city expects to receive a response from Hanover later this week.


Niagara County wins another Medicaid reimbursement suit

LOCKPORT -- Niagara County, undefeated in lawsuits against the state Health Department over Medicaid reimbursements for mental health services, won another round last week.

The Appellate Division of State Supreme Court ruled unanimously that the state must pay the county $62,831, as it was ordered to do last year by Justice Ralph A. Boniello III.

It was the second time this year the Appellate Division has upheld a Boniello order that overturned the state's refusal to reimburse the county for past mental health services for Medicaid clients. In February, the appeals court ordered the state to pay $252,185.

The county has won five lawsuits, originally filed against the Health Department on the issue between 2007 and 2010, netting $1.47 million.

The appeals court did shoot down Boniello's attempt to restrict the state's options in considering future claims, calling that "an improper advisory opinion."


Falls to get $2.6 million for housing, development

NIAGARA FALLS -- The city will receive more than $2.6 million through three separate federal grants for community development and affordable housing, U.S. Sen. Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y., announced Tuesday.

The grants are:

*$2,121,101 in a block grant for community development from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

*$198,056 in a grant for emergency shelters.

*$347,028 in a HOME grant for affordable housing.

The block grant will help to pay for neighborhood improvements including demolition of dilapidated buildings, facade improvements for downtown businesses, youth mentoring and neighborhood police stations.

Emergency shelter funds may be used to renovate and operate shelters and to provide case management, child care, education, employment help, job training, substance abuse treatment and legal, mental health and transportation services.

HOME grants support affordable housing.