SPRING CLEANING: Hundreds of volunteers spent their Saturday morning cleaning up Niagara Falls. From high school students who were working on John B. Daly Boulevard to members of the Niagara Tourism and Convention Corp. picking up trash on Buffalo Avenue, it was great to see the community come together again. We particularly echo Lana Debaccco’s sentiment. “I love my city, Niagara Falls, and would do anything to make it better.”
SMILE YOU’RE ON COP CAMERA: This year, Niagara Falls police debuted a new in-car camera program. That’s good news for police and the public, but bad news for criminals. So far, only 15 patrol cars are equipped with the dashboard-mounted cameras, which were purchased with a federal grant and police officials said if more money becomes available, they’ll equip additional cars, including unmarked vehicles.
GETTING A JUMP ON SWINE FLU: The Niagara County Health Department is getting ahead of a potential pandemic. While there have been no official cases in Western New York — two people are currently being tested — county workers are advising the public to take the same precautions like they would during the flu season. Also, on Tuesday, the department was contacting area farms that employ migrant workers — providing farmers with information about the flu. Signs and symptoms of swine flu infection are similar to seasonal flu, with fever greater than 100 degrees, headache, sore throat, body aches, but may also include nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.
MEDICAID REFORM: State lawmakers have been promising Medicaid reform for several years. To date, they have yet to deliver. This means that Niagara County legislators are likely to ask the state to extend a 1 percent sales tax to cover the local share of the program. Without the extra sales tax, County Manager Gregory Lewis said the county would be left with one of two choices to cover its Medicaid share: Increase county property taxes by 37 percent or cut funding for non-mandated items. Either option is not good. However, there is another option: REFORM. It’s a not a new concept, but in Albany, it would be revolutionary. Maybe that’s what we need in New York.