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As Niagara Falls / Tales of the strange but true

Could have been worse

Sometimes there is just no way to control the things that go on around you. Just ask Mary Ann Wlodarczyk, secretary to North Tonawanda School Superintendent Vincent J. Vecchiarella.

Her husband, Dan, and their 6-foot rose of Sharon tree had a run-in with the bad side of Mother Nature during the recent snow disaster.

Noticing the tree's branches were bending dangerously low from the weight of wet snow on its leaves, Wlodarczyk said her husband decided to knock the snow off so it wouldn't break.

"He went outside, took a broom and very gently tapped the underside of the branches to shake the snow off," Wlodarczyk said. "He did it and the branches started to assume their own vertical shape . . . not all the way upright like they normally are, but much better than when they were laden with snow.

"He came back inside and said he was glad he did it because the tree would have snapped in half if he hadn't."

A few minutes later, there was a loud cracking noise and a huge branch from up in a neighbor's 30-foot maple tree suddenly came crashing down. It landed on the rose of Sharon, and split it in half.

Her husband observed that they might have lost a small tree, but it was a good thing he had decided to go outside when he did -- and not a few minutes later.

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Milestone events

If Niagara County Emergency Management Director James C. Volkosh is having a special family event, trouble is sure to follow.

Volkosh's son was married Oct. 14, the day after the October Surprise snowstorm. Volkosh said he took a cell phone call about the state disaster declaration "while my wife was leading me by the arm to my seat."

Questioned by Legislator Clyde L. Burmaster, Volkosh acknowledged that when his daughter was married a few years ago, "I typed out a disaster declaration in my tuxedo 10 minutes before leading my daughter down the aisle."

"We have no more children," Volkosh said, "so we won't have a plague of locusts."

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Storm load

Lewiston Village Engineer Michael Merino said his home in Wheatfield came through the big snowstorm relatively unscathed by the weather, but not by relatives.

"We weren't too hard hit out in Wheatfield, but because we weren't hit we have our in-laws living with us," Merino said during last week's Village Board meeting.

He said things were pretty hectic at home.

"In fact," he quipped, "I think this agenda is a bit too short."

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Time is relative

Town of Niagara Supervisor Steve Richards has power in his fingertips.

An attorney for 555 Holdings, whose tenant is Kushies Baby on Witmer Road, wanted an item added to the agenda at the last minute for last Tuesday's Town Board meeting.

"Watch this. Poof," said Richards, making a magic wand gesture toward the agenda.

Noting how easy it all was, Deputy Supervisor Marc Carpenter said, "Being an attorney, he's paid by the hour so he probably had to say something."

When No. 2 on the agenda, pertaining to Cingular Wireless, quickly passed without comment, board members jocularly told a company representative he had to stay for the whole meeting.

"I'm not paid by the hour," he shot back. "I'm out of here."

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No snow needed

The City of Niagara Falls was relatively snow free during the October Surprise storm, but was still unable to avoid falling trees and downed power lines on Oct. 13.

An outage was reported on the east side of Lewiston Road, near College Avenue, after a tree limb fell on a power line.

One fire official said it wasn't due to the weather, but just a dead tree branch that fell on several lines. The official called it a "normal problem on an abnormal day."

With contributions from Paul Westmoore, Thomas J. Prohaska, Nancy A. Fischer and Laura E. Winchester of the News Niagara Bureau.

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