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Off Main Street / The offbeat side of the news

Appalachian spring

Attorney General Eliot Spitzer caused a ruckus recently when he compared economically troubled parts of upstate New York to "Appalachia."

Some Republicans charged that Spitzer, a Democratic candidate for governor, had slurred the region by comparing it to a part of the country that symbolizes abject poverty.

But at least one part of Appalachia is booming, and its success hits close to home.

An ad that's been running in national magazines touts an ever-expanding Toyota manufacturing plant in Buffalo -- West Virginia, not New York.

While our automotive manufacturing sector is on the decline, the ad tells "The Story of the Plant That Never Stopped Growing" in Buffalo, W.Va.

Toyota has invested $920 million since 1996 in the plant, which has 1,150 employees, according to the State Journal in Charleston.

If that's the Appalachian economy Spitzer was referring to, where do we sign up?


Patriot pride

When word spread that Buffalo's new deputy mayor for operations had succumbed to March Madness, some assumed it stemmed from her crazy schedule setting up a new CitiStat program.

Angela D. Joyner will supervise the computer tracking system, which measures the effectiveness of city departments and employees, and she has put in long days since her arrival from Oakland, Calif., in January.

But CitiStat challenges haven't prevented Joyner from savoring the stunning hoops success of her alma mater.

She received degrees in government, politics and public administration from George Mason University, which is the talk of the college basketball world.

The No. 11 seed is one of the lowest-ranked schools ever to make the Final Four.

The Patriots will face the favored University of Florida in Indianapolis tonight, but Joyner thinks the team from Fairfax, Va., has a real shot at making history.

"Those kids really have heart," she said.


Call waiting

The federal Transportation Security Agency plays a crucial role in all kinds of important, around-the-clock national security matters.

When a Buffalo News reporter needed to confirm whether Irish nationalist Gerry Adams had been taken off a terrorist watch list, that's where he went.

Color us a bit unsettled by the voice-mail message he got last Monday: "We are closed for the weekend. Please call back when we reopen Monday."



Satish Mohan fans are everywhere. And if Chris Byrd has his way, they soon will be even easier to spot.

Byrd, a self-described East Side activist, was checking out the "Got Milk?" Web site recently when he got an idea to boost the Amherst town supervisor and his political hero.

The result can be seen on Byrd's Web site, "In Da Buff." There, with a few clicks and $16.99, you can purchase a T-shirt with the inscription, "Got Satish?"

Other items for sale will be bumper stickers, buttons and so on, all bearing the same inscription, Byrd said.

The last time political passions reached these heights, former Buffalo Mayor James D. Griffin was the subject, and the slogan was "Gimme Jimmy."

But what if the "Got Satish" slogan doesn't catch on? Byrd has a fallback: "Satish: Not your father's politician."

Written by Stephen T. Watson with contributions from Brian Meyer, Thomas J. Dolan and Douglas L. Turner.


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