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Community mottos need uniqueness

Orchard Park, according to its Web site, is "a great place to live, work and play."

For years, signs in the Town of Tonawanda advised passers-by that it was "a great place to live, work, play and grow." A cursory Google search indicates that Port Jervis, N.Y.; Nampa, Idaho; and Harbor Bay, Calif., each says that it's "a great place to live, work and play."

This is the problem with community mottos and slogans: Too many of them are nonspecific.

A motto should say something about a community that can't be said about anyplace else. A motto should have that most elusive quality: uniqueness.

Of course, sometimes a motto can be too specific. Grand Island for years called itself the world's largest freshwater island until being alerted to the bothersome fact that it isn't. The motto morphed from the objective "largest" to the more subjective "best."

Now a sign that greets visitors says Grand Island is "a grand place to live." Catchy and a good play on words, yes, but surely the people in Grand Rapids, Mich.; or Grand Junction, Colo.; or even Grand Island, Neb., could say the same.

So perhaps it's time to rethink the town and village mottos to both accurately reflect life in those places and reflect the community's identity.

Consider these suggested new mottos for some local communities:

Alden: "If you're looking for Batavia, you're getting closer."

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Amherst: "Pay no attention to the cracks in our basement walls. Or those puddles."

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Angola/Evans: "Also open January through May and September through December."

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Boston: "No, not that one."

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Cheektowaga: "After a while, you don't even notice the airplanes."

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Clarence: "If you think the garages are big, you should see the houses."

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Depew: "When you can't decide between Cheektowaga and Lancaster."

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East Aurora: "Quaint and charming and willing to go to court to prove it."

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Eden: "If it was good enough for Paul Maguire, it's good enough for you."

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Elma: "Where Transit still almost seems like a country road."

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Farnham: "Don't blink or you'll miss us."

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Grand Island: "Four bridges, no waiting. OK, maybe a little waiting."

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Hamburg: "The hamburger probably wasn't invented here, but it sure is a good story."

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Kenmore/Town of Tonawanda: "Go ahead and speed. We dare you."

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Lancaster: "Sprawl? Never heard of it."

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Newstead: "Still some farms among all the golf courses."

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Orchard Park: "Parking on the lawn is encouraged during football season."

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City of Tonawanda: "The Tonawanda between the Town of Tonawanda and the City of North Tonawanda."

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West Seneca: "Flooding a lot less often than it used to."

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Williamsville: "Tearing up Main Street every couple of years until we get it right."

e-mail: bandriatch@buffnews.com

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