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Niagara County backs Falls Memorial in cardiac lab request

LOCKPORT – The Niagara County Legislature last week passed a resolution endorsing a request from Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center for state permission to open a cardiac catheterization lab, to be operated in partnership with Kaleida Health.

“Cardiac disease is the No. 1 killer in Niagara County. About one in three residents will have it,” Dr. Gerald Gorman, Memorial’s director of emergency services, told the Legislature. He said Niagara County appears to be the largest county in the state without such a facility.

Also endorsing the request was the Rev. Mark Perkins of the Niagara Ministerial Council, who said poor residents find it nearly impossible to get to cardiac facilities in Buffalo, because they lack their own vehicles, and public transportation from Niagara Falls to Buffalo is indirect and time-consuming.

Perkins endorsed “having something right there in the heart of where the population is.”

Also Tuesday, the lawmakers scheduled public hearings for May 5 on two local laws. One would renew for three years the 4 percent “bed tax” on hotel and motel bills of lodging outside the boundaries of the three county’s three cities. The money is contributed to the Niagara Tourism and Convention Corp., the countywide tourism promotion agency.

The other law would create an official “tow list” of towing companies the Sheriff’s Office could call to remove disabled vehicles. The sheriff would divide the county into zones and compile a list of towing companies in each. Tow truck operators would have to submit a formal application with proof of insurance.

Also last week, county lawmakers urged the State Legislature to alter the regulations on electronic waste to restore year-round, free curbside collection of e-waste.

The legislatures of Niagara and Orleans counties, under the banner of the Niagara-Orleans Regional Alliance, are working to try to obtain free, or at least inexpensive, e-waste disposal options.

Lynne Johnson, vice chairwoman of the Orleans County Legislature, attended the Niagara County meeting and praised “two counties working together to save costs to the taxpayers to dispose of e-waste, which many of your highway superintendents have been finding in their ditches.”

Also last week, the Legislature voted to create four jobs – one building attendant and three cleaners – to maintain the buildings at 111 Main St. and 20-40 East Ave., which the county just purchased after leasing them for more than a decade. The attendant will be paid $29,623 a year and the cleaners $21,765 each; all four jobs will be part of the blue-collar union, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees. The cost of the jobs will be $196,875 for the rest of the year, including benefits, and will be taken from the money the county had budgeted to pay the leases on the buildings.

The Legislature also approved four grants of Seneca Niagara Casino money: $2,500 for Artpark family and children’s programming, $2,000 for the North Tonawanda Football Hall of Fame and $1,500 each for the Lewiston Peach Festival and Jazz Festival.