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Niagara Legislature approves pamphlets to warn of Lyme disease

LOCKPORT – With the county Health Department having received word that ticks carrying Lyme disease are present in the county, the Niagara County Legislature ordered the immediate printing Tuesday of pamphlets instructing residents how to avoid the ticks.

Victoria A. Pearson, deputy public health director, said test results on local ticks were received late last week. Of a sample of ticks collected last fall and tested by the state Health Department, 80 percent were positive for Lyme disease, she confirmed.

The Legislature appropriated $1,000 in Seneca Niagara Casino money to print a two-page pamphlet that will carry information about precautions needed to avoid ticks, and steps to be taken if a tick attaches itself to a person or pet. The pamphlet is to be distributed by the Health Department, the Social Services Department, the Office for the Aging, and the Youth Bureau. The Legislature ordered that the pamphlets be printed within a week after the design is completed.

Also Tuesday, recipients of the county’s annual awards to foster parents and a senior citizen were recognized by the Legislature.

Steven and Jennifer Lohr, of Niagara Falls, were chosen Foster Parents of the Year by the workers of the Social Services Department, while Jane Schroeder, of Niagara Falls, was chosen Senior Citizen of the Year by the Office for the Aging.

The Lohrs have fostered six children since joining the program in February 2010. They have adopted two of them, girls now 6 and 7 years old, and are in the process of adopting a 4-year-old boy. They have two children of their own, ages 18 and 16. “It’s emotional. It can be trying,” Jennifer Lohr said. “The joy of helping the kids outweighs the hard parts.”

Burt J. Marshall, county social services director, said that there are 84 foster homes in the county. They are supervised by Child Protective Services caseworkers such as Nicole Hohle, who was honored Tuesday as Caseworker of the Year in a vote by the foster parents.

Hohle has worked for the department for five years, the last two as a CPS caseworker, with a caseload of 30 children. “Once I place the call, I continually follow up,” she said.

Schroeder was honored as Senior Citizen of the Year for her active volunteerism in a wide range of activities, including about 300 hours a year at Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center, where she has donated her time since 1986.

Schroeder, 71, said there are many senior citizens who do more than she does. “It is an honor, it is a privilege to represent my peers in Niagara County,” she said.

A resolution sponsored by the Legislature’s Democratic minority, which would require welfare clients to give 15 days’ notice when they move out of rental property, was sent to committee for study.

Minority Leader Dennis F. Virtuoso, D-Niagara Falls, said the state Real Property Law requires tenants to give 30 days’ notice, but Social Services Commissioner Anthony J. Restaino said that applies to all renters. He said the state Social Services Department requires only 10 days’ notice, so the county’s 15-day policy would be more strict.

He said the reason for the 15-day rule would be to minimize the chance that a sudden move would result in the county sending out duplicate rental allowances to the old and new landlords for a welfare client.