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As Niagara Falls / Tales of the strange but true

>One ingredient too many

Sweet potatoes, eggs, nuts and flour were part of a concoction Jeff Stewart simmered last week in the Niagara Parks Butterfly Conservatory -- and dried scorpions, water beetles, bamboo worms and red Amazon ants.

Stewart, a professor at the Niagara College Culinary Institute in Niagara Falls, Ont., was carefully creating a concoction called Chupe de Hormiga -- ant soup.

There are 2,000 butterflies in the glass-domed building and they were flying around at will. They landed in the hair and on the shoulders of various media people attending Stewart's cooking demonstration.

Stewart was stirring his ant soup in a pan over a hot plate when an adventurous butterfly fluttered by, and -- splonk -- dive bombed into the gooey mix.

"Oh-oh," said Stewart, "that's not supposed to be in here."

He picked up the sodden, dazed and possibly dead butterfly in his fingers and cast it to one side.

The butterflies in the conservatory live anywhere between two to three weeks, says curator Leslie Foster.

Sometimes not even that long.


>A caveman can do it

Some folks in Somerset who oppose the tax break recently handed to AES Corp. have come up with one way to express their displeasure with the Niagara County Industrial Development Agency.
A Web site called has been posted by Merrill Bender, a former Barker School Board president turned blogger, with assistance from Paul McAfee, a spokesman hired by the Town of Somerset (pro bono, he asked us to point out).
The purpose of the site is to make the point that any business should be able to obtain a payment-in-lieu-of-taxes, or PILOT, plan from the county IDA, just as AES did.

"Based on the new precedent set by the NCIDA for the AES Somerset coal-fired power plant, you should not need to promise to invest in new construction or new jobs, and you should not need to be at risk of closing or leaving the area," the site says.
AES says it plans some new investment, but its tax break wasn't contingent on that, and at any rate the company president said its new possibilities, such as a port or a wind power project, were under development before it received the tax break that will cost local governments and Barker schools at least $43.4 million over the next 12 years.
"To be certain that your application is for the same assistance as AES received, you must write the following: 'Revenue Preservation PILOT,' " the Web site says. "This apparently means that you are making a profit, and you want to preserve more of that profit, rather than pay county, town, and school property taxes."
Of course, the IDA's application, to which a link is helpfully provided, specifies that the applicant must pay a $1,000 application fee and pick up all costs for the mandatory public hearing.


>Best left forgotten

The old District 3 schoolhouse on Chestnut Ridge Road in the Town of Lockport, closed since 1956, is being considered as a new headquarters for the town historian's office.
The building needs a rest room to be usable under modern building codes.

Supervisor Marc R. Smith said he wants to preserve the historic ambience, though. "I'm reluctant to put up partitions for a rest room," he said.
We hope that doesn't mean the only alternative is an outhouse. Some things are better left to history.


>First is last

The Niagara County Legislature recently recognized highway workers from the towns of Lewiston and Porter for their good work during the October Surprise snowstorm.
On the night of the meeting, the county was recovering from an ice storm. Legislature Chairman Clyde L. Burmaster said, "We've got all these Highway Department workers here. With all this ice, how'd you get here?"
"We let your road go," one of the men replied.
"You mean, like always?" Burmaster shot back.

With contributions from Bill Michelmore and Thomas J. Prohaska of the News Niagara Bureau.

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