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Reporters' notebook: Bits & pieces of news ...

OLAF FUB SEZ: A thought for Earth Week from playwright Thornton Wilder, born on this date in 1897, "The planting of trees is the least self-centered of all that we do. It is a purer act of faith than the procreation of children."

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FLOWER POWER -- As big as a small tree is the blossom of Amorphophallus titanum, an exotic bell-shaped flower that grows up to nine feet high. Not only is it extraordinarily tall, but it's also very rare. Only 21 of them have flowered in botanical gardens around the world since 1989.

Currently, the Niagara Parks Commission in Niagara Falls, Ont., has not one, but two of them growing in the Floral

Showhouse, just south of the Horseshoe Falls at 7145 Niagara Parkway, and they're expected to bloom in three to five weeks.

Once they're ready, you'll be able to tell from the smell. Noted for having the odor of a dead animal, they're known as the corpse flower. The Floral

Showhouse is open daily from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is $5. Updates will be posted on the Niagara Parks website at www.niagaraparks.com.

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EMERALD ISLANDERS -- Erie County Historian Doug Kohler will give a program on the "History of the Irish in Western New York" at a meeting of the Cheektowaga Historical Association at 7 p.m. Thursday in the Cheektowaga Senior Center, 3349 Broadway. Refreshments will be served. It's free and open to the public.

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JACKIE'S JOURNEY -- A benefit for Jackie Gallagher O'Neill, a lifelong resident of South Buffalo and 1982 graduate of Mount Mercy Academy, who has breast cancer, will be held from 2 to 6 p.m. Saturday in Ironworkers Hall, 196 Orchard Park Road, West Seneca.

Tickets are $25. For tickets or to donate gifts for basket raffle, call Sheila Gould at 982-1492 or Joann Horrigan at 228-5443. Checks can be sent to Jackie's Journey, P.O. Box 903, Buffalo, NY 14220.

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HORSE SENSE -- Saturday is opening day and volunteer training day at Rivendell ReCreation Center, a horseback riding facility for challenged children and adults at 12469 Warner Hill Road, South Wales. Volunteers are needed for the riding program and to help in the barn and the office. Helpers must be at least 14 and be able to volunteer on Tuesday and Thursday evenings, as well as Saturdays. Reservations are required for volunteer training day. Call Barbara Oship at 525-0269 or Trish Dudek at 457-3365. For info, visit www.rivendellrec.org.

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FINE LINE -- A class on basic drawing techniques for those 16 and older will be held at 6:30 p.m. Thursday in the Carnegie Art Center, 240 Goundry St., North Tonawanda. Instructor is Cindi O'Mara. Fee is $16 for museum members, $24 for nonmembers.

O'Mara also will lead a class in exploratory drawing with charcoal, pastels and watercolors, at the same time April 26. Call 694-4400.

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GET SMART -- On one of the desks here at The Buffalo News sits the trophy given last year to Buffalo's Smartest Company. It will be up for grabs at 6 p.m. April 26 in Salvatore's Italian Gardens, 6461 Transit Road, Lancaster, in the Sixth Annual Buffalo's Smartest Company Trivia Competition. Proceeds will benefit Cradle Beach.

Teams of five, which collect pledges prior to the competition, will compete in a multiple-choice electronic-based trivia game. Prizes will be awarded to the top fundraisers.

For information on sponsoring or participating in the competition, visit www.cradlebeach.org or call Diane Martorana at 549-6307, Ext. 201, or email her at dmartorana@cradlebeach.org.

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HAPPY BIRTHDAY -- Jacqueline Shanks O'Neill, Joan Lawrence, Jacqueline Trace, John Kirsits, Melanie Mahoney, Mary Kate O'Connell, Doug Gaston, Karen Safe, Collette Tyler, Angela McCabe, Michael Lojacono, Mary Jane Sledz, Bob Bauer, Judy Franger, Helena Mueller, Micheala Mueller, Ken Transki, Diana Kloss, Tom Matheny, David Kasprzyk, Arlene Spink, Perry Miceli, Lou Monte, George Ryszka, Bob Steasio, Dick Dombrowski, Aidan James Recktenwalt, Connor Thomas Recktenwalt, Daniel LaGrow and Melissa Quinones.

email: olaffub@buffnews.com