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    I'll admit that my approach to snow removal is different from most, having learned long ago that no matter how much we get, it will all be gone by May, June at the absolute latest. So I shovel only as much as I absolutely have to.    Apparently some of you are a little more unhappy and stressed about it, and take out your fr…

   Shortly after I left the luncheon at Charlotte Avenue Elementary School that I described in my column today,  I got an email from board member Matt Dills. Dills said he walked away from the event a "better person."    Quoting from him: "I hope through your column that other boards will borrow on our small idea and start a &qu…

   The way Joyce Gramza related what happened to her dog appears to paint a picture of a heartless cop in a nasty suburban department imposing an arbitrary rule on behalf of an uncaring neighborhood. And it's easy to understand her grief, having lost her canine companion of 13 years.    The reality is a little more complicated. It always is. But th…

   It's possible to look at the Town of Tonawanda's plan to spend $1.3 million on a new building for its recreation department as an example of how government should operate. Rather than continuing to throw rent money down a black hole, town officials want to do something that in the long run should save taxpayers money.    But Councilman Dan Crangle u…

   In my column today, I took a few light-hearted stabs at what 2009 has in store for us. (As grim as some of the more reality-based predictions are, I thought light-hearted would be a good change of pace.)    How about you? Care to take a guess at what awaits us in the coming 12 months?    --- Bruce Andriatch

  Ice is a hot topic in Hamburg.    Nearly 100 residents turned out for a meeting about a proposed new rink on Wednesday, the first official look at an idea that has been discussed for more than a year.    A partnership consisting of ex-Sabre star Dave Andreychuk and Hamburg resident Jeff Walker is the sole bidder. They propose to build a compani…

   Every year, school boards fall over themselves applauding their efforts to keep tax rate increases down to 3 or 4 percent. A budget proposal that will keep the programs in place and increase you tax bill by "only" $20 or $30 is cause for celebration.    Those will indeed seem like the good old days in May.    Barring an economi…

   There are 17 public schools in Western New York that offer boys varsity ice hockey.    Yet despite the hundreds of girls who strap on helmets and skates for community recreation leagues throughout the region, not a single school-sponsored varsity ice hockey program is available to public school girls.    Not fair, say female hockey player…

   You only appreciate a good night's sleep when you stop getting it.    The people complaining about the noise coming from restaurants that operate drive-through windows that are open 24 hours a day understand this all too well.    Williamsville is considering banning them, but that is a proposed law that seems unlikely to withstand the exp…

   Amherst is starting up a pilot program to see how much it would cost the town to assume responsibility for clearing residents' sidewalks along the busiest major roadways in Amherst.    The program might ultimately lead to the creation of sidewalk districts in Amherst, which would essentially result in homeowners being charged a fee or tax in exchang…

In compliance with a resolution passed earlier this year, the Amherst town Web site has posted all employee's salaries.  The workers' names aren't included, which is OK. What Amherst taxpayers are getting is transparency — solid information about how their money is being spent. Because, let's face it, it is hard to gauge whether you are getting your money's worth i…

   If you live in the suburbs, chances are you fall into one of two categories:    A) The person who thinks deer are precious woodland creatures and gets a little zing of pleasure every time you manage to spot one in your backyard or grazing near the road.    B) The person who is tired of having the family garden reduced to a Bambi buffet an…

   Thanksgiving is here and, as if we needed to be reminded, more and more people need the kind of help churches and food pantries can provide.    At The Tabernacle in Orchard Park, volunteers spent their day Monday getting boxes of food together  to provide a Thanksgiving day full of meals for needy residents of Western New York. Many took pains …

In a move that is oh so European, New York is encouraging transportation planners to consider using roundabouts to solve traffic problems in congested areas. The advantage is that, unlike multi-arrowed traffic signals, roundabouts keep traffic moving. They also are expected to reduce the number and severity of collisions. Western New York recently began seeing the fruits…

   I find myself thinking and writing about sidewalks a lot lately. Partly that's because when I run, I find myself contending with the dangers of cars that don't see me running toward them on streets that have no sidewalks. Partly it's because within the past month, three local people have been killed walking in the street in areas where there are no sidewalks. …