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County Emergency Center Closes, Parks Barricades Going Up

By Buffalo, NY

Eileen Buckley – The Erie County Emergency Training and Operations Center off Broadway in Cheektowaga has become a casualty of the on-going budget crisis.

Sixty-five workers received pink slips on Monday as part of massive county layoffs. Emergency Services Commissioner Michael Walters says as of Friday, the center is shutting down.

Walters says he has "no assurances" the layoffs will be averted. Walters says he's been working very hard to help the County Executive find his needed 10th vote in support of a sales tax increase that would avert the layoffs and service cuts.

"There are a lot of people who think it's not going to happen, that something will happen at the last minute to save it all. I can't operate that way," Walters said. "We have people who have their layoff notices that take 911 calls. It's not a healthy situation to be playing with people's lives like this."

The emergency center has become the hub of emergency operations, including homeland security.

Meanwhile, barricades are going up at county parks as the parks department prepares to shut them down. County Parks Commissioner Andy Sedita says they'll be in place Monday, though the parks themselves will not officially close until February 7th.

With layoffs looming, Sedita says he needs to use his workers now to prepare for the closing of the parks.