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The City of Merritt's 11.2-million dollar budget moves a step closer to being finalized tomorrow night.

City Deputy Clerk Carole Fraser says tomorrow's regular meeting of Council will be preceded by budget business.

The regular meeting will start off with a couple items under unfinished business before moving on to bylaws and new business.

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The Nicola Watershed Community Round Table is emphasizing a need for more drought awareness.

Elizabeth Solomon deFriedberg says the Nicola Valley is in an area that is semi-desert, where there's always the possibility of drought.

Solomon deFriedberg says a newly prepared booklet contains important facts about droughts and is available online at www.nwcrt.org.

The Roundtable is also preparing a large highway sign similar to fire hazard signs posted by the Ministry of Forests.

The exact location for the sign has yet to be determined.

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More downtown beautification work can be expected this year in downtown Merritt.

Mayor Susan Roline says work will be done using Towns for Tomorrow Grant money received in 2009.

Beautification of Voght Street from the Nicola River Bridge to the City Centre is not in the cards for this year, but is still in the City's plans for the future.

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There should be no reasons for concern over access to businesses on DeWolf Way once construction begins on upgrades and changes.

Merritt Mayor Susan Roline says it shouldn't have any serious impact.

The other major project announced in the draft budget this week, airport land improvements, won't impact the taxpayer.

Roline says the cost to build the improvements will be covered by the leases and that it'll also provide a new tax base for the City.

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Japan's northeastern coast has been rattled by a strong aftershock.

The Japan meteorological agency has issued a tsunami warning for a wave of up to one meter. The warning was issued for a coastal area already ravaged by last month's tsunami.

Officials say the quake was a 7.4-magnitude and hit 25 miles (40 kilometres) under the water and off the coast of Miyagi prefecture.

The quake that preceded last month's tsunami was a 9.0-magnitude.

Buildings as far away as Tokyo shook for about a minute.

(The Canadian Press)

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