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As Niagara Falls / Tales of the strange but true

A very good year

Keeping up with the discussion at North Tonawanda Common Council workshops often requires a certain amount of knowledge about the city's history.

But 1st Ward Alderman Phillip "Russell" Rizzo tried to push that requirement to new heights at a recent work session.

During a discussion about plans to take back property on Tonawanda Island from Niagara County, officials talked about some missing information on the deed to the property, which was transferred in 1966.

"Who was the city attorney in '66?" the 74-year-old Rizzo asked.

Upon hearing the question, some around the table were a little taken aback.

"What were you doing in '66?" City Clerk Thomas M. Jaccarino popped back at Rizzo.

"Some of us were busy being born," quipped Council President Brett M. Sommer, who was born on Jan. 18 of that year.

The answer to Rizzo's question -- Robert E. Nicely.


Open, to a point

Niagara Falls Detective Patrick Stack offered some in-depth analysis of the local marijuana market on the witness stand in Niagara County Court last week.

Stack was conveying the thoughts of murder suspect Clyde A. Anderson, an admitted pot dealer who has served time for marijuana possession. Stack was testifying in a hearing on whether Anderson's statements to police should be admitted as evidence in his upcoming trial on charges of taking part in the shooting death of Orlando McClain of Niagara Falls last year.

"He was honest with us," Stack said of Anderson, a Boston, Mass., native. "He said . . . he preferred Niagara Falls because it was slower for selling pot."

Despite Niagara Falls' laid-back vibe, things apparently heated up when McClain and two other people, who have never been identified, entered McClain's Weston Avenue home.

During his account of the interview with Anderson, Stack said he tried to put himself in the defendant's shoes.

"I knew Orlando forever and he was a big guy," Stack said. "Six-six, 350 [pounds] probably, and if he was coming after you, what are you going to do if you had a gun in your hand?"

Anderson's response to that? "He kind of rolled his eyes and that's when he said, 'I'll get my lawyer and you get your people,' " Stack said.


No bones about it

Niagara County Judge Sara Sheldon Sperrazza had a barbed comment for a Niagara Falls teenager when she appeared in court -- finally.

Arielle D. Bones, 17, of Augustus Place, had pleaded guilty back in July to attempted second-degree robbery for taking part in the armed heist of a man at Seventh and Niagara streets in Niagara Falls Nov. 29.

However, sentencing had been put off several times because Bones either didn't show up, showed up late, or left court before her case could be called. Finally, an arrest warrant was issued.

Sperrazza had one suggestion for the girl's lawyer about getting his client to court. "I think maybe she should move in with you," the judge said.

But then she came up with another plan.

Sperrazza decided to deny Bones any bail before her next scheduled sentencing date, Nov. 21.


Google this

Students returning to Cornell University this semester would have learned from the student newspaper that Niagara Falls State Park is the oldest state park in the country.

And University of Arizona students who read the campus Arizona Wildcat newspaper last month would have learned the Niagara Falls stopped flowing for 30 hours on March 29, 1848, because an ice jam blocked the Niagara River.

The Arizona item was one of several fast facts listed in the paper.

Our favorite didn't have anything to do with the falls, per se.

In 1899, the paper said, the U.S. Patent Office declared that "everything that can be invented has been invented."

If that was true, you wouldn't be reading this right now. We found the fast facts online.

With contributions from Aaron Besecker, Thomas J. Prohaska and Scott Scanlon of the News Niagara Bureau.

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