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As Niagara Falls / Tales of the strange but true

>Caught red-handed

Niagara Falls Mayor Vince Anello recently got a lesson in border crossing.

The mayor picked up a bottle of Canadian wine at the duty-free shop on his way back from Ontario. He then proceeded to whiz through the Nexus lane on the Whirlpool Rapids Bridge, which is reserved for frequent cross-border commuters.

What Anello didn't know is that you can't bring back goods purchased in Canada if you use the fast lane. Even his NF1 government-issued license plates didn't impress Customs officials.

Border agents thoroughly searched the mayor's car before letting him go.

The incident even made news in the Toronto Star, as a sidebar to an article titled "Tourism's troubled waters."

Now, Anello is sharing his new knowledge. "It's important to note," Anello said, "if you have the Nexus card, you're not supposed to be bringing anything across."

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>Name dropper

The Barenaked Ladies may have a new hit.

The hugely popular band from Toronto, known for its hit "If I Had a Million Dollars," filled Lewiston's Artpark theater to capacity earlier this month and kept audience members on their feet for most of the two-hour show.

Lead singer Ed Robertson then started humming a new ditty and threw in words such as Cheektowaga, North Tonawanda and Artpark.

Robertson said he was "inspired by Artpark magic" to make up the new song. "This one is for those dancing in the lawn seats," he said.

After several encores, Robertson said BNL didn't just stand for Barenaked Ladies, but also Buffalo, Niagara and Lewiston, an observation the cheering audience overwhelmingly agreed with.

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>Head up high

Wilson High School senior Matthew Wendt provided the most uplifting moment at his class graduation ceremony Saturday.

As his father, School Superintendent Michael Wendt, handed him his diploma, the muscular son took his father by surprise, bearhugged him and lifted him way off the ground for several seconds.

The superintendent smiled and shrugged to the audience in a fatherly way while Principal Daniel Johnson, the master of ceremonies, let everyone savor the moment.

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>Summary judgment

Mark J. Gabriele, attorney for the Niagara County Industrial Development Agency, is a nice guy -- so nice that he's missed when he's not around.
As was the case at last week's IDA board meeting, when Gabriele was absent and another attorney from the Harris Beach law firm, Robert G. Murray, was on hand as agency counsel.
Murray recommended that the board take an extra vote on the proposed tax break application for Kissling Interests, the company transforming the former Remington Rand plant in North Tonawanda into upscale lofts.
Murray opined that because the terms of the deal showed a deviation from normal policies, the board ought to vote on sending North Tonawanda officials letters reflecting that.
IDA Chairman Henry M. Sloma was a tad put out. He said the agency had never taken such a vote before. He told Murray, "Mr. Gabriele's much easier than you are."
"I am much better looking, though," Murray replied.

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>Dennis, Holly & Henry

Dennis F. Virtuoso, D-Niagara Falls, County Legislature minority leader, criticized a proposal by the Republicans last week to make former First Assistant District Attorney Timothy R. Lundquist a private contractor instead of a part-time employee in his retirement.

"That amendment doesn't make much sense," Virtuoso said.

The same view was taken by Second Assistant District Attorney Holly E. Sloma, who said the plan wouldn't work.

For those who joined us late, Virtuoso has expended a lot of energy this year trying unsuccessfully to fire Sloma's father, IDA Chairman Henry M. Sloma.
That's why Holly Sloma told the Legislature: "I can't believe someone with the last name of Sloma is agreeing with Mr. Virtuoso."

With contributions from Denise Jewell, Nancy A. Fischer, Paul Westmoore and Thomas J. Prohaska of the News Niagara Bureau.

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