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Off Main Street

A gubernatorial gift

It had to be like giving a hammer to a carpenter, an ax to a lumberjack or a wrench to an auto mechanic.

Southtowns native Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul received a spiffy snowmobile helmet from Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo when he introduced her at the governor’s Wednesday morning Cabinet meeting.

“This is going to be the first piece of equipment you need,” Cuomo told Hochul.

Said the ever-smiling Hochul, who in a little more than a decade has ascended from the Hamburg Town Board up to Erie County clerk and to the U.S. Congress before being elected to the state’s second-highest office: “I can’t wait to hear about this one.”

The sleek and shiny black helmet Cuomo gave her is specially designed to allow her to breathe in conditions down to minus-20 degrees.

The governor said it’s for the state’s annual snowmobiling tour on the bitter-cold Tug Hill Plateau.

We’re sure Hochul will put it to even better use whenever the politics in Albany turn chilly.

Fire and ice

Could it be possible that someone at Billboard Central has gotten their natural disasters confused?

Driving south from the city along Route 5 and again on the Niagara Thruway bordering South Buffalo – areas that were heavily blanketed during the November snowstorms – we spotted billboards broadcasting the warning that we should be aware of possible wildfire hazards around our property, illustrated with an image of a rustic cabin in the woods (not a Buffalo bungalow).

And yes, wildfires are a big problem – in other parts of the country.

Of the 45,468 fires reported in the United States in the first 10 months of this year, burning 3,402,075 acres, exactly zero here in Western New York.

It looks like the billboards are working.


Erie County sheriff’s deputies milked a bizarre incident that occurred in Marilla last week for some udderly ridiculous puns.

Deputies responded for a report of a cow loose in a field on Jamison Road at Eldridge Road.

The cow first head-butted a four-wheeler in the field, then it charged at a patrol car driven by the aptly named Deputy Makowski, causing damage to the passenger side mirror.

Sheriff’s officials said the cow was not believed to be hurt and was safely corralled.

But that was only the beginning for Makowski, who has herd a number of “cowments” since then, including:

Don’t cry over spilled milk; he should get a letter of cowmendation; the deputy should have taken a better “de-fence-ive” position; the farmer gets an award because he was “out standing” in his field; I find this story udderly ridiculous; at least he wasn’t a coward; Car 38 should have “moooved” before the cow hit him.

C’mon guys, don’t have a cow.

Pumped up about gas

If gas prices drop further below $3 per gallon, or even go back up again, Kevin Turner might not even notice.

The Westfield resident was recently named one of 10 winners nationwide in Sunoco’s “Free Fuel 5000” contest. He won $5,000 in gasoline, with his winnings dispensed through gift cards.

To participate in the contest, drivers had to have a Sunoco bumper sticker on their vehicle, fuel up at a Sunoco station, and be spotted doing so with that decal in July or August.

Drivers who were spotted got $10 gift cards and were entered to win the grand prize.

Sunoco reports Turner, 64, is an ideal winner: the Chautauqua County resident drives about 1,200 miles per week after coming out of retirement to work as a courier for the community blood bank in Erie, Pa.

He’s also planning to use some of his free fuel on a motor home road trip with his eldest daughter that they have planned for years.

Off Main Street is written by Harold McNeil, with contributions by T.J. Pignataro, Melinda Miller, Joseph Popiolkowski and Matt Glynn. email: