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Off Main Street / The offbeat side of the news

Icing on the rink . . .

No true Buffalo Sabres fans will ever forget the team's 1999 Stanley Cup finals series against the Dallas Stars -- eyes still mist up a bit at the mention of Game 6, Triple OT and Brett Hull's left foot.

But the East Aurora Ice Association is trying to focus on the positive aspects of that ill-fated match-up, buying two key pieces of equipment from Dallas' closed Reunion Arena to outfit its NHL-themed outdoor ice arena.

The group has purchased a Zamboni machine and a pair of nets used during the '99 playoffs.

"These are the nets that were on the ice when Jason Woolley scored the overtime goal in Game One of the series. 'The shot heard round the hockey world' as Rick Jeanneret called it. You have to smile about that," said John Cimperman, an association board member.

The rink equipment dealer in Colorado who brokered the deal has also lived up to his promise that the gear would arrive in East Aurora bearing no Stars logos or colors.

The new East Aurora rink, which was built using the structure from last January's Ice Bowl at Ralph Wilson Stadium, is due to get its first layers of ice this weekend. It will open for hockey and recreational skating early next month.

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What a surprise . . .

No one was more surprised than Joe Streamer to learn that the Hamburg Historical Society was about to lose $40,000 in funding from Erie County.

"We never get money from the county," said Streamer, president of the historical society.

In widely reported remarks last week, County Executive Chris Collins said he was cutting budgetary "pork," and named the group's earmark as an example.

Just one problem: The historical society doesn't get a dime from the county. Collins had meant to name the Hamburg Natural History Society as the target of the cut. That's a different group that runs the Penn Dixie fossil collection site.

The mix-up came just as Streamer's group plans its annual fundraiser this weekend, a craft sale to help maintain the landmark Dunn House. Adults get in for $1 each.

Even after Collins straightened out the mix-up, Streamer said he's still explaining to puzzled supporters that the historical society isn't gorging on county pork.

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Great shelf life . . .

The trouble with buying in bulk is that some things don't hold up well over time.

So when the Tonawanda Town Board heard about the great deal it got when buying thousands of tons of road salt for the upcoming winter, someone suggested that maybe the town should buy even more. Highway Superintendent Bradley A. Rowles, who has toured American Rock Salt in Livingston County where the salt is mined, was asked about its shelf life.

No worries there.

"I would say millions of years," Rowles replied.

***

Buffalo connection . . .

There is always a Buffalo connection.

That maxim was proven again this week in Georgia.

During the conversion of an old theater into a bookstore to serve students at Georgia College and State University in Milledgeville, a worker found a leather wallet belonging to Mary Ruth Justice.

College security officials scoured the area, put the word out to local media and eventually found some of Ms. Justice's relatives who were thrilled to have the wallet and the pictures in it. A niece said "Aunt Ruth" was born in Georgia but moved to Buffalo in 1952. She died at age 57 in 1978.

The college said Ms. Justice worked at the florist shop owned by Morris and Fann Markel on Delaware Avenue. Fann Markel, who still owns The Floristry on Delaware, said Friday that Ms. Justice actually worked as her family's housekeeper for many years.

She had not heard about the wallet mystery but had no trouble remembering Ms. Justice.

"She really was a wonderful lady," she said.

Written by Bruce Andriatch with contributions from Sharon Linstedt, Fred Wiliams and Janice Habuda.

e-mail: offmain@buffnews.com

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