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I'm not homesick for Buffalo. Well, maybe a little bit! I've lived and traveled throughout the United States. Most of you already know you live in a nice place, but for those of you who aren't convinced, consider this:

Education: My two kids attended school in Erie County. Regents exams and schools of excellence are nice criteria. I was a teacher, so I looked at it from both sides of the desk.

Where I live now, the school board just overturned a proposition that all high school seniors must pass a G.E.D. test before receiving their diplomas.

Hospitality: I give it an A . When I moved to the Niagara region from the Midwest, the transition went smoothly because I felt at home. Strangers would start up conversations in the grocery check-out lines. Here, people are more standoffish.

When I moved here, they refused to give me a library card unless I gave them a name and phone number of a neighbor. I hadn't met my neighbors yet. The library system in Erie County is 30 years ahead of its time in books and services.

The 20-minute rule: Buffalo and its suburbs are unique. Anything is accessible in 20 minutes.

New England has breathtaking scenery. But they also have long, winding roads through rural areas and treacherous mountain roads.

Clean: I didn't think Buffalo was clean until now. Tree trimmers, garbage pick-up and street cleaners were efficient.

I must admit our taxes are lower here, but so are our services. I would pay more for some of the things I took for granted in Western New York.

Infrastructure: Here, there are many rotaries -- traffic circles that converge and then splinter off into three or four outlets -- and they are unsafe. Many trees and natural obstructions cause poor visibility.

Snowplowing is often subcontracted out. And sand, not salt, is used to melt the ice, which doesn't work as well. I'll take a Buffalo snowplow any day.

I could rate Western New York's sports teams, cultural events, universities and restaurants, but I'll leave something for you to brag about.

After all, it's your home.

Marge Jesberger Chicopee, Mass.

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