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As Niagara Falls / Tales of the strange but true

>Cross-country connections

Niagara Falls native Paul Harris isn't a sure bet to make the Utah Jazz, but when it comes to geography, maybe he does have a leg up on the competition.

Harris is one of two rookie prospects who will go to Salt Lake City later this month to try out for the team. Harris left Syracuse University a year early last spring with hopes of landing an NBA gig, but went undrafted.

The Desert News reported last week that Western New York already has been good to the Jazz.

Frank Layden, the retired team president, general manager and coach of the Jazz, is from our neck of the woods -- and played and coached at Niagara University. His son, Scott Layden, also grew up in upstate New York and is currently one of Jazz coach Jerry Sloan's assistants.

Here's hoping Syracuse's loss is Utah's gain.

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>The dog ate 'em

There's one thing more than anything else that Niagara Falls City Council members consistently agree to dislike: late agenda items.

So when Council members returned from their August recess to discover 10 items that needed their approval had missed the deadline for the meeting agenda, they were none too happy.

They did receive the proposals several days before the meeting, but it was the principle of the missed deadline that annoyed the five councilmen.

Niagara Falls Council Chairman Chris A. Robins, a former middle school teacher who is now dean of students at Niagara Street Elementary School, played the disciplinarian for the Council.

Robins peered down from his podium and sternly asked city department heads why the items were late. Then, one by one, he went through nearly every item and asked for an explanation.

We wouldn't want to be sent to Mr. Robins' office for forgetting our homework.

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>Round and fast

It's hard to believe it's been almost 15 years since someone tried to go over Niagara Falls in a barrel -- not that we or our Canadian neighbors are trying to give anyone ideas for a slow news day.

We just wanted to point out that some of the "authentic, banged and bashed up" barrels used by daredevils to go over the falls are on display in the lobby of the IMAX theater on the Ontario side of the Falls.

The barrels include those used by stuntman Karel Soucek, who survived his trip over Niagara Falls on July 2, 1984, with only minor injuries. The Hamilton man died about six months later after a barrel-drop stunt at the Houston Astrodome.

The exhibit features Soucek's red barrel and seven others used by daredevils including Annie Taylor, a school teacher who went over in 1901, and Steve Trotter, a bartender who did it twice. His last time was in 1995, the last time anyone had the nerve to take such a plunge.

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>Hard to handle

Frank Rose, of High Street, addressed the Lockport Common Council earlier this month on the topic of Fire Department staffing.

Rose believes that having only two firefighters on an ambulance call is inadequate. He thought there was a chance of the crew injuring themselves if they had to pick up a heavy person on a stretcher.

"Two guys are usually sufficient," Mayor Michael W. Tucker answered. "Now, if they have to pick me up . . ."

"That's what I was going to use as an example," Rose said, drawing laughs from the Council.

"That's not a good example," replied the plus-sized mayor.

Rose said, "I was going to use myself as an example. I'm a big guy, too."

"Real men," Tucker agreed.

With contributions from News Niagara Reporters Denise Jewell Gee and Thomas J. Prohaska, and the Canadian Press.

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