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State trooper from Grand Island aims to be the sole ‘Survivor’

Kelly Remington of Grand Island has an impressive and varied résumé as a state trooper who has been a bartender and has served in the Air Force.

With a little video accompaniment, that résumé helped her land a spot on the reality series “Survivor,” premiering at 8 p.m. Wednesday on CBS (WIVB, Channel 4).

Remington, a 44-year-old state trooper and Bradford, Pa., native, will gather at a Buffalo bar with 60 to 70 of her closest friends to watch herself compete with 17 other people in the 90-minute, Season 30 premiere of the series set in Nicaragua, “Survivor: Worlds Apart.”

“A lot of people who have never watched ‘Survivor’ will be watching it,” said Remington, who will be among the few Western New Yorkers – and the first since Buffalo basketball legend Cliff Robinson last year – to appear on the ratings behemoth.

Remington said she has watched all the previous “Survivor” editions since its debut in 2000, which led to her putting together a video shot by the daughter of one of her neighbors to compete in the latest edition.

“I went down by the river and shot the video,” she added. “I said to (host) Jeff Probst ‘if I can survive on Grand Island. I know I can survive on your island.’ I had my military uniform on, told him a little bit about being in the military. I took it off and I had my bathing suit underneath …

“I said I’ve been in the military. I did all this training. I took my military uniform shirt off and put my State Police uniform on and said I’ve been in the New York State Police for 18 years. I know how to meet people. I know how to interview people. I know what makes people tick and I know I definitely could be the sole ‘Survivor.’ ”

Whatever she did, it worked.

She was selected as one of six members of the Blue Collar team in a competition divided into White Collar professionals and executives who supposedly make the rules, Blue Collar workers who supposedly follow the rules and No Collar free spirits.

When asked why she wanted to join the fun, Remington sounded like a “Survivor” news release.

“The challenge of going out there with 18 different individuals and living on this island together and try and co-habitate and get along and ultimately try to be sole survivor and plus obviously winning the million dollars,” said Remington. “That’s obviously a bonus. Just the excitement, the adventure, just trying to get along and outwit and outplay everyone. Watch people from different parts of the world trying to survive.”

In a way, Remington has done 29 seasons of research to take part in “Survivor.” She has learned while watching that it was better to identify herself to fellow contestants as a bartender and member of the military rather than reveal that she is a state trooper.

Remington said she learned a few things about herself while playing the game.

“Anything is possible when you put your mind to it,” said Remington. “You can do your dreams if you set your goals to it. … I wanted to see if I could outwit and outplay these 18 people. If I was smart enough to fit in, go under the radar to win the million bucks.”

Her “under the radar” strategy is evident in the first episode, which was available for preview. People watching with her Wednesday night shouldn’t expect to see much of her. She is barely seen or heard from in the episode, which illustrates that she isn’t the only contestant who has learned some lessons from watching “Survivor” for years and that it is dangerous for any contestant to think otherwise.

Remington said her experience learning to listen to people when she moved from Bradford at age 21 and became a bartender in South Buffalo was a benefit in playing “Survivor.”

She hasn’t seen how she is portrayed on the show, which was shot in late June to early September when she was on leave from the State Police.

“I don’t want to come off as … arrogant,” she said. “I hope to come off that I played a good game, that I made good alliances, that I trusted, that I played 100 percent. I hope they portray me as knowing how to play the game well and fits in with all kinds of different people. Not let my cop instincts overtake me.

“Not to be telling people this is exactly how it is going to go, don’t control the situation, just go with the situation. As police officers, we take control. Something is happening, we have to fix it. I had to put my job on the back burner and go out there Kelly the Bartender and get along and not Kelly the Cop. I was using my state trooper skills out there. But they didn’t know it.”

Actually, Kelly the Bartender was persuaded to become Kelly the Cop at age 27 by some state troopers she used to serve drinks to at JJ Muggs in South Buffalo.

“The reason I wanted to be a state trooper is because a lot of the state troopers would come to the bar I worked after they finished work,” explained Remington. “I realized the camaraderie, how much fun they had. They enjoyed their job, they enjoyed each other. I said, ‘Oh, I would love to do what you guys do and still be as close as you guys.’ And they said, ‘Why don’t you take the state police exam?’ That’s what I did.”

She said her two partners in the State Police, Rob Anderson and Becky Gibbons, have been very supportive. But naturally, there is some good-natured ribbing since Remington will be roaming the island in a bathing suit.

“It is kind of intimidating because you work with a bunch of guys and they are all going to see you on TV,” said Remington.

Of course, Remington can’t reveal the big question on everybody’s mind: How long does she last? She can’t even offer a clue, which became obvious when she declined to say how much weight she lost filming.

“You could gauge how far I went,” she said in declining to answer.