>Wanna buy a bridge?
A desperate Bronx resident who dabbled in Niagara Falls real estate reached out to the New York Daily News last week for help.
The anonymous investor complained he had purchased two homes in the city "not knowing how depressed the area was."
Now, he wrote, he can't find a buyer.
"Don't throw yourself in a barrel and go over the falls," wrote Daily News columnist Barbara Corcoran. "Although the Niagara market has slowed recently, it still is appreciating a healthy 4 percent this year. Your options are to sell your houses or rent them."
Next time, the investor may want to do his homework before trying to make a quick buck off the Falls.
>Descent from the north
How driven are those Canadian cross-border shoppers? This driven: Three tour buses of Ontario residents pulled into the Fashion Outlets Mall on Military Road at the end of Thanksgiving, and out poured about 60 shoppers from each bus.
Even before that convoy arrived, people started lining up at 6 p.m. Thursday for the mall's first "Midnight Madness" opening at 12:01 a.m. Friday.
Thousands of vehicles -- many sporting Ontario plates -- filled the main parking lot and three overflow lots across the street and on the nearby property of Opportunities Unlimited.
They weren't all Canadians, but many, many, many were, said Julie Clark, the marketing director.
"It was unbelievable," said Clark, who was on duty from 9 p.m. Thursday to 12:30 p.m. Friday. "The atmosphere was so festive and very family-oriented."
Most of the midnight shoppers stayed until 4 or 5 a.m. Friday, she said, helping give "Black Friday" the color of Canadian money.
>Excuses sicken judge, lawyer
Niagara County Judge Peter L. Broderick Sr. wasn't in a good mood last week when two of defense attorney James J. Faso's clients didn't show up for court.
Melissa M. Moore, 31, of the Town of Niagara, is due to be sent to state prison for her second recent drug possession felony. Faso said Moore didn't make it because she is in the hospital and will need surgery.
Broderick demanded written proof that Moore couldn't have the surgery while she was an inmate. "It's probably just her way of avoiding the inevitable," the judge said.
Another defendant facing trial on a drug charge, Sylvester Scott Sr., 61, of Niagara Falls, didn't show up, either. Faso presented the judge a letter from Scott asserting he had chest pains.
Broderick said to Faso, "Chest pains? Everybody has chest pains."
"I have them now, judge," the sorely tried Faso replied.
>Now that hurts
It was a case of adding insult to injury.
Roger A. Haseley said he called police for help after hitting a pothole driving his motorcycle at Chestnut Avenue and Lewiston Road.
The 32-year-old Pine Avenue man said he wasn't injured, but hitting the pothole caused his back to spasm, so he pulled over and called for help.
Help, in the form of the Niagara Falls police, came, and Haseley was helped -- and charged.
Police found Haseley's registration had expired at the end of April, so he was ticketed and then taken by Rural/Metro Ambulance to Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center.
>Ringing up volunteers
Maj. Jerry Stinson of the Salvation Army in Niagara Falls has a slogan that seems to work in getting more money during the kettle campaign, which runs in front of area stores through Christmas Eve.
"I would rather have your time than the money," Stinson said, arguing that he can make much more money by having one potential donor instead choose to stand as a bell ringer in front of Tops or Wal-Mart.
Volunteers can call the Salvation Army at 283-7697. Bells are provided.
With contributions from Denise Jewell Gee, Bill Michelmore, Thomas J. Prohaska, Nancy A. Fischer and Pam Kowalik of the News Niagara Bureau.