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The Amherst Chamber of Commerce recently threw its annual "Business of the Year" awards dinner in the Buffalo Marriott Inn in honor of a fast-growing company in the business of stopping pollution before it starts.

Democratic County Executive Gorski sent a high-level representative with congratulatory proclamation in hand for Recra Environmental Inc.

The state was represented by Sen. John B. Sheffer II, R-Williamsville, and Assemblyman Richard R. Anderson, R-Amherst, who also read proclamations.

But the Town Board's seven members were no-shows -- and now have been scolded by the Chamber's board of directors.

"Our members are disappointed, somewhat embarrassed and deeply concerned with the lack of attendance of our town representatives and the omission of any letters, congratulations or response," the directors wrote in a letter to the Town Board.

"Our responsibility of reflecting a positive and forward-moving atmosphere for the town is jeopardized by the apparent lack of interest of our elected town officials in our programs," the directors declared.

Some Republicans blamed the breech of decorum on the town's new supervisor, Daniel J. Ward, a Democrat who, they charged, has an anti-business attitude.

But Ward -- a member of the Chamber -- would have none of it in an interview.

Ward said he had a prior and more pressing commitment on the night of the dinner: He had to make a presentation at a meeting of the Association of Erie County Governments in Salvatore's Italian Gardens in the Town of Lancaster. The supervisor said he sent his regrets to Chamber officials. In fact, Colleen Dipirro, the Chamber's executive vice president, said Ward was the only member to notify the Chamber that he couldn't make the dinner.

Ward also said that nobody asked for a proclamation and that if they had, he would have given them one.

Republicans on the Town Board said they also had other commitments the night of the dinner.

But they agreed the board should have made sure that someone carried the town's colors at the $25-a-plate dinner.

"All I remember," said Councilwoman Jane S. Woodward, "is us making comments like, 'I can't make it, are you going?' 'No, I'm not going either,' that sort of thing.

"I'm afraid it's just one of those things that fell through the cracks, and I feel properly scolded (by the directors' letter). It certainly wasn't a deliberate snub, or anything remotely like that."

Ms. Dipirro said it was the first time in her memory that the town wasn't represented at what the Chamber considers one of its most prestigious events. "I really was surprised," she said.

"Historically, the supervisor has given the award on our behalf. It's always been a protocol sort of thing, although I understand (Ward) is new and may not have realized it," Ms. Dipirro said.

She also noted that this year's dinner was switched from its traditional Monday night to a Wednesday night to accommodate Town Board members, who meet every Monday afternoon and again on the first and third Monday nights of each month.

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