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The offbeat side of the news

Bipartisan pals

In the days more representative of a “bipartisan lovefest,” as Assemblyman Ray Walter puts it, Andrew Cuomo would always invite him when the Democratic governor traveled to Western New York.

Those days have been gone for awhile, the Amherst Republican said. So Walter was a bit bemused when his cellphone rang Tuesday night at 9 with an aide inviting him to attend an event at the University at Buffalo in Amherst with Cuomo touting broadband internet infrastructure plans. The only problem was Walter was in Albany preparing for a hearing the next morning when he – as the ranking Republican on the Assembly economic development committee – and other GOP and Democratic lawmakers would grill Cuomo’s economic development czar, Howard Zemsky, on problems they see with Cuomo’s job-creation programs. Did the administration think Walter was going to drive the nearly 300 miles back home to serve as part of the smiling and clapping corps? Nice to be loved?

“Yes,” Walter laughed of the invite. “I was glad to be included.”

Hammered to his door

Shawn Marshall was not bothered over the lack a nameplate on his office door as Lancaster village code enforcement officer.

“I never asked for one, and never bothered to have one,” Marshall said. “I knew where my office was.”

Still, when he walked into work just after the July 4 weekend, there was a surprise waiting for him. Affixed to his door and rimmed with a gold-like finish, was a wooden name plate that read: Shawn “The Hammer” Marshall.

The nameplate grew from a quote Marshall gave to The Buffalo News in late June that appeared in story about a Lancaster family that had decorated their village home in Redskins mascot décor. In the story, Marshall referred to when he “laid the hammer down,” as in clamping down on the, um, overzealousness of the effort.

How does he like the nameplate and his new nickname “The Hammer?”

“It’s very nice. I laughed,” he said. “I like it. It’s fine.”

Labor of sisterly love

He realizes it sounds like the plot from one of those silly, madcap movie comedies. If he hadn’t seen it with his own eyes, Bob Convissar would have a hard time believing such a thing could happen.

But it really did happen to the family of Convissar, a well-known Buffalo attorney, and his wife, Susan.

On Aug. 2, their two daughters – Kathryn Korff and Allison Convissar – both gave birth to baby girls. Yes, two sisters giving birth on the same day – and in the same hospital and same hospital room.

Clara Jean Korff, 7 pounds and 14 ounces, was born at 4:52 a.m. in Birthing Room 5 at Sisters Hospital.

Dolores Jean Convissar, 8 pounds and 2 ounces, was born in the very same birthing room at 9:39 p.m., just under 17 hours after her cousin.

“The whole thing was just surreal ... it’s still hard to believe,” Convissar said. “Our two daughters had been given different due dates. Kathryn’s baby came a week early and Allison’s came two days later than expected. But that morning, once Kathryn had her baby, I told my wife, ‘You watch, Allie’s going to have hers today.’ ”

Everyone involved is healthy, and Convissar said his family appreciates the efforts of nurses and doctors.

“Everyone kept telling us, ‘We’ve never had this happen before – two sisters on the same day,’  ” Convissar said.

Off Main Street is written by Harold McNeil, with contributions by Tom Precious, Karen Robinson and Dan Herbeck. email:

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