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Free for whatever crops up

The grocery business in Lockport may never recover now that Alderman Sean M. Smith has left the produce department at Jubilee Foods' Chestnut Street store.

Smith, 23, had been working at the supermarket for seven years, mostly nights and weekends, even through his two terms on the Common Council.

Smith said his new day job at HSBC Bank in Buffalo will allow him to pursue many enjoyable nighttime activities.

Such as?

"I can now attend Planning and Zoning Board meetings," Smith said. "And the City Democratic Committee has always met on Thursday nights. I was never able to attend those meetings working at the store."

Whatever turns you on, Sean.

Panel displays light touch

When approaching the Town of Niagara Board to seek funding and in-kind services to pay to decorate a portion of Military Road for the Christmas season, the head of the town's Beautification Committee had a kind way of condensing just how minimal the electric bill would be for the two months of the project.

Robert Bucci, chairman of the committee, compared the project with what he felt the cost that Councilman Wallace W. Blake Jr. pays during the winter months to showcase the plethora of lights and displays in his yard on Sunnydale Drive.

"Its got to be less than what Wally's paying on his house," said Bucci.

The Military Road display will be seen from Nov. 18 through Jan. 6. We're not sure of the time line that Blake plans for his own yuletide display.

Music eases the discord

The Niagara County Legislature was squaring off to debate the continuation of the election commissioner pay cut investigation last week.

It was a tense partisan standoff. Voices were rising, tempers starting to flare, civility starting to crack.

Just then, a high-pitched snatch of electronic music cut through the air.

It was Minority Leader John S. Tylec's cellular phone ringing, and the goofy little song it played brought laughter to the tense room.

"I vote yes," the North Tonawanda Democrat told Chairman Clyde L. Burmaster as he dashed out of the room to take the call.

A few minutes later, Tylec, having returned to his seat, rose to speak on another topic.

"I'll make this brief. The phone might ring again," he said.

Some things never change

Lawyer and sometimes developer John P. Bartolomei and the City of Niagara Falls are tangling again. This time it's over rights on some undeveloped properties in the downtown area. Bartolomei claims he owns the rights -- and, therefore, controls the properties. The city and its lawyers say he doesn't. When the city last week wanted to give a 25-year parking agreement to a group buying the Jefferson Apartments, it bumped up against Bartolomei's claims once again and decided to have a judge decide the niggling question once and for all.

Bartolomei made a rare -- for these days -- appearance in City Hall to watch the Urban Renewal Agency vote to take him to court. He didn't speak during the meeting but provided each agency member a letter advising them of their "tenuous position" accompanied by an inch-thick package of contracts, exhibits, maps and letters. All the legal briefs and filings certain to be exchanged over the next few months ought to keep the paper suppliers happy.

Councilman Paul A. Dyster predicted the question won't be decided anytime soon. But, he said, even if it takes a couple of years, it's a step that had to be taken.

Judging from past, prolonged legal wranglings between the parties, Dyster probably can take that one to the bank.

A word to the wise

Meanwhile, Dyster said he's learning a lot. Like the word "bollards." In a flurry of correspondence last month with community development counsel Richard I. Zucco, Bartolomei claims the city took the "bollards," or concrete traffic barriers, and gazebos from the splash park.

Dyster figures a word like bollards has to come in handy some wintry Sunday working on the New York Times crossword puzzle. He's sure it will impress his wife, Becky.

Webster's says the word is a nautical term for a vertical post on which cables or ropes are made fast.

Sorry, Paul, now everyone knows.

Letting down his guard

Bartolomei said he had plans for those roughly three-foot high and wide posts. He was going to paint them to look like squat palace guards in keeping with this year's Festival of Lights magical kingdom theme and line them up outside Falls Street Faire to create booths for vendors.

"That's all I want to do is clean it up, honest, help the city out," he explained.

One scary thought

Following up on the success of Lockport's Towpath Trolley tourist transportation service this summer, vehicle owner Bill Timkey is planning something new.

Mayor Thomas C. Sullivan said at a Common Council meeting that Timkey is proposing a Halloween promotion, the "Haunted Trolley."

Corporation Counsel John J. Ottaviano said he knows a good way to haunt the trolley.

"Just have my wife drive," he said.

He has no reservations

With the summer over and the City of Lockport parks without attendants, the Common Council has come up with a way to allow the use of park pavilions anyway.

The Council passed a resolution recently allowing groups that reserve pavilions during the fall to obtain a key to the restrooms with a refundable $10 deposit.

"I call this my 'save the trees' resolution," commented Council President John T. Pitrello.

Freeze no match for fire

On Aug. 15, the County Legislature passed a freeze on equipment purchases for the rest of the year.

That didn't last long.

The Finance Committee since has heard the request of Fire Coordinator James C. Volkosh to use $25,000 in revenue from fines charged for chronic fire or burglar alarm malfunctions for improved emergency communications gear. The Finance Committee is empowered to grant emergency exceptions to the freeze.

Volkosh said the alarm money was originally designated for emergency services use.

"This is the first one," said Legislator Malcolm A. Needler, R-North Tonawanda. "What happens with Number Two? Number Three? Number Four?"

The vote was called, and Volkosh got his communications equipment. The vote was unanimous, including Needler.

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