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As Williamsville's maverick School Board member, Ken Smith has his critics. And now, they're suggesting summer school for their longtime nemesis.

Smith recently submitted some questions to the Town of Amherst about the possibility of using a nunnery the town is buying for classroom and office space.

Just the fact that Smith and some of his tax-cutting colleagues would approach the town without full board approval sent board members into a tizzy.

To make matters worse, the spelling on some of Smith's typewritten questions was atrocious. Of the five queries, only one didn't have a spelling error.

There was "feasablity" (we assume that was feasibility) and "posibility" and "posibilty" (maybe it was a typo or two) and "talanted" (no comment).

"Forgive me for my spelling. Just call me Ken S-M-Y-T-H-E," Smith joked. The board member said he was in a hurry and didn't have time to do a spell-check before submitting his questions to Town Hall. The town's response to Smith, by the way, was apparently spell-checked.

We found no errors.

The Comet still riding high

We're No. 1 -- sort of.

American Heritage magazine, in its current issue, ranks the top 10 roller coasters in America.

Topping the list is one a lot of folks here have had bump-and-bruise contact with: the old Crystal Beach Comet.

"The Comet is a blazingly fast double out-and-back that literally flies through some of its dips," writes roller coaster aficionado Eric Griswold.

Of course, the Comet isn't at Crystal Beach anymore. It's at the Great Escape amusement park in Lake George. It was saved and transported there after Crystal Beach closed in what Griswold called "one of the most significant coaster preservation efforts of all time."

Anybody for a road trip?

Booting a political football

Dennis Gorski was going door to door in South Buffalo last week when he found himself face to face with a young, angry, upstart voter-to-be.

"Hey, Mr. Gorski, we're going to kick your butt," said the teen-age boy.

Now, South Buffalo may be home to rough-and-tumble politics, but even Gorski seemed a bit taken aback by this sudden attack.

Good news. Turns out the boy is the son of David Comerford, Gorski's deputy public works commissioner.

It also seems the boy was simply yanking Gorski's chain about the upcoming Bishop Timon-Cheektowaga Central High School football game.

The two teams play next week, and the younger Comerford plays for Timon. Gorski's oldest son plays for Central.

Gorski, of course, is prepared to rise above this petty rivalry.

"If Timon beats Cheektowaga," he said with a smile, "Dave Comerford is out of a job."

Terry on the cutting edge

Anti-abortion rabble-rouser Randall Terry might not win his bid to unseat Rep. Maurice Hinchey of Saugerties, but he already has won one distinction in his race for Congress.

He probably has spent more on swords than any candidate since the 16th century.

Campaign spending reports show that Terry's political committee spent $1,350 on swords from a Louisiana company in April and May.

Fear not. Terry is not about to take his civil disobedience to a new level. A Scottish history buff, Terry says he gives a copy of the sword made famous in the movie "Braveheart" to anyone who gives his committee $1,000.

"We've gone through 60 or 70 of them already," he said.

Terry is the head of Patrick Henry Men, a group of ultra-conservative activists running for Congress as Republicans.

Twirling to beat the band

It has been nearly three decades since Police Commissioner Rocco Diina walked a beat, but he hasn't lost his touch.

He recently gave a demonstration of his ability to twirl a police baton given to him by Lt. Jake Ulewski of the Burglary Task Force.

Ulewski said many coppers like to say they walked the beat, but the only way of knowing for sure is if they can twirl.

"It's something that doesn't come natural," he said. "It takes a lot of practice. You get it out walking the beat late at night."

Holding the hickory stick by its leather thong, the commissioner, who walked the beat on Chippewa Street, showed off his mastery with dizzying dexterity.

"Once you learn it, you never forget," Diina said.

Off Main Street is written by Phil Fairbanks with contributions by Lisa Haarlander, Donn Esmonde, Jerry Zremski and Lou Michel.

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