Blaze leaves six homeless

COVENTRY _ A family of six was homeless after fire destroyed a farmhouse Sunday, a fire official said.

About 75 firefighters were at the blaze at 1759 state Route 41, said Dan Clark, first assistant chief of the Coventry Fire Department. No one was hurt, he said, and an investigation indicated the cause was a chimney fire.

A passer-by reported the fire to 911 at 7:26 a.m., Clark said. As of about 1:30 p.m., when the department was back in service, Clark said details about the family including their names were still being collected. The Red Cross was helping the couple and their four children, he said.

The family arrived at the scene after crews responded, Clark said. The building was a two-story structure, he said.

Bainbridge, Afton, Greene and Harpursville crews provided mutual aid, Clark said, and Sidney was on standby in Bainbridge.

Profs endorse labor contract

ONEONTA _ Members of the union that represents most State University of New York employees have ratified a new collective bargaining agreement.

The four-year deal between the United University Professions and the state calls for a 3 percent salary increase retroactive to July 2007, followed by 3 percent increases in 2008 and 2009, and a 4 percent increase in 2010.

Other provisions include higher location stipends for downstate and Mid-Hudson regions, $500 lump-sum payments to part-time employees who complete eight consecutive years of service and a pre-tax transportation program to reduce commuting costs.

UUP represents roughly 34,000 members and about a third cast ballots in the ratification vote, with more than 97 percent voting for approval.

Assistance theft charged

NORWICH _ A Norwich man was arrested Wednesday for fraudulently obtaining child-care assistance, Chenango deputies said.

Michael P. Fuller, 30, was arrested for fourth-degree welfare fraud. He obtained $1,071 in assistance by failing to report child support payments, an investigation by deputies and county Social Services fraud investigation unit found, deputies said.

He was issued an appearance ticket to appear in Norwich City Court.

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