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As Niagara Falls / Tales of the strange but true

Making a splash

More than 80 eighth-grade students from Rosemont Middle School in Los Angeles were in Niagara Falls over the weekend to take two plastic jugs of water from the Niagara River.

After seeing the sights in the Niagara area, they boarded a tour bus for New York City, where they will pour one of the jugs into the mouth of the Hudson River.

It's all part of an educational class trip to recreate the "Wedding of the Waters" ceremony conducted by then-Gov. DeWitt Clinton during the opening of the Erie Canal in 1825.

The other jug of water will be flown back to Los Angeles, where the students will pour it into the Pacific Ocean in a symbolic gesture of bicoastal unity.

It's just as well that the students didn't take too much. Water is becoming the world's most precious commodity, often referred to as the oil of the future. That's just an expression, by the way -- don't pour that second jug into your parents' SUV.

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Enrollment boost sought

Student enrollment in the Niagara Falls School District has plummeted by 1,400 during the the past five years.

It dropped under the 8,000 mark this year for the first time since 1930, ending up with 7,666 students.

Deputy School Superintendent Cynthia A. Bianco aims to change that.

Bianco just became the proud granny of a second grandson.

"My family is trying its best to increase enrollment at the schools," she told members at a special budget meeting Thursday.

Bianco said her son's wife gave birth Wednesday to baby Santino. Asked about the very Italian name, Bianco said, "That's to go along with his brother, Vincenzo."

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Hidden agenda

Lockport Mayor Michael W. Tucker recently made it perfectly clear that he wants the Common Council to hold all future work sessions an hour later, at 6 p.m., instead of the previous 5 p.m.

But Council President John Lombardi III has his own agenda. He held Wednesday's meeting at 5 p.m. anyway.

Lombardi said a resolution passed by Council on April 4 changing the meeting time doesn't take effect until April 18. Not to mention that most Council members prefer the earlier time.

"Is this one of those passive-aggressive things?" an As Niagara Falls correspondent asked Lombardi.

Lombardi laughed, but didn't deny it.

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Susan and Joe

Lockport's former Artique-Gras is undergoing a name and theme change. The July 14-15 event in Packet Park will now be known as the Erie Canal Heritage Festival.

"We thought it was important that Lockport should take the lead in canal heritage festivals, since there are none," organizer Kathy O'Keefe told the Common Council.

Among the historical events will be a re-enactment of Abraham Lincoln's funeral procession, church services featuring local pastors in a portrayal of the Second Great Awakening, and a woman playing suffragette Susan B. Anthony.

"Joe dated her," cracked Council President John Lombardi III, referring to well-seasoned Alderman Joseph C. Kibler.

With contributions from Paul Westmoore, Bill Michelmore and Thomas J. Prohaska of the News Niagara Bureau.

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