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IN AMHERST, TWO PEOPLE ON THE GO

Why did Kim Basinger make me think of Colleen DiPirro when she accepted the Oscar for her work in "L.A. Confidential" Monday night?

You see, about the only time I see Colleen DiPirro is early in the fall, when she is helping to stage the Buffalo Bills Charity Golf Weekend.

And here I will note that if weren't for Mrs. DiPirro's efforts, that golf weekend, which has grown bigger each year, would have died aborning.

Each time I write about that weekend, I say that it is a "liniment sniffer's dream come true." Then I define a liniment sniffer as "a person who would rather spend an hour with a pro athlete than an hour with Kim Basinger."

Anyway, that is why Kim Basinger caused me to think of Colleen DiPirro, who, along with Amherst Police Chief John Askey, will honored for community service by the Daemen College Associates Sunday at the Park Country Club. It is not because of the reason Mrs. DiPirro gave on Tuesday when she said, "It must be a slow news week for you to choose me as a subject."

By that time I had learned more about Mrs. DiPirro. Yes, I had learned that when she joined the Amherst Chamber of Commerce 16 years ago, it had one staffer, a membership of 180 companies and a budget of less that $2O,000.

How does it stand today? "We have seven full-time staffers," Mrs. DiPirro answered. "We have a membership of 2,018 and a million-dollar budget." Certainly that was good to hear in Western New York's economic climate.

But the big thing, in my book, was the move to spacious quarters on Essjay Street in Williamsville. It was a far cry from the small place on Main Street where we met many times for the football story.

Early on, I found that Mrs. DiPirro is a widow who was helped through some bad days by the Bills players she now helps. I did not know anything about her sons, Kevin, 22, and Keith, 23.

I also learned that she is on the board of directors of the Greater Buffalo Convention and Visitors Bureau. If I had known about that connection, I would have told her the Ambassador's Ball at the Sheraton Airport Inn was a first-class event. Along the way, Mrs. DiPirro has been named Sales and Marketing Executive of the Year and Daemen College Citizen of the Year. She was founder and first president of the Western New York Chamber Alliance. And she has won many other honors that will be listed at the ceremony Sunday.

One of these days I am going to tell her that she belongs in public relations, that she is one of the people who can wipe away the bad image of Western New York.

The second honoree Sunday will be Amherst Police Chief John B. Askey, and he knows why I call the police "the infantry of civilian life." Yes, Askey knows full well, because he is a fellow member of Amherst Township Veterans of Foreign Wars Wars Post 416.

That's a rough-and-tumble group with little time for sentiment. But they were very proud of Askey even before the Daemen group honored him.

And his epitaph could read, "On his watch Amherst became recognized as the safest place in the country."

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