by Aaron Besecker, Thomas J. Prohaska, Denise Jewell Gee

The Buffalo News

September 1, 2009

Can you hear me now?

A national not-for-profit group has bestowed an unwanted accolade on the City of North Tonawanda.

Noise Free America, an organization dedicated to fighting noise pollution, gave North Tonawanda its Noisy Dozen award for the month of August, the group said in a news release.

The culprit: loud motorcycles that roar around the city.

The award appeared to be spurred by complaints from city resident John Swigonski, who apparently has a passion for the subject.

“They cause stress, aggravation and sleep deprivation,” Swigonski was quoted as saying. “And here in Western New York, where the economy is always in recession, we certainly don’t need additional stress or any more reasons to feel down.”

His statement continued: “Just once, I’d like to hear the sound of a police siren when one of these cretins creates a disturbance late at night.”

The group has been handing out its “awards” since 2001. Visit its Web site at More painless shots

With plenty of swine flu vaccination clinics expected to deal with thousands of patients this fall, health officials are looking wherever they can to find more people to administer the shots.

One suggestion, brought up at a conference in Lockport last week, was to use veterinarians.

Niagara County Public Health Director Daniel J. Stapleton said this may be tried in Genesee County. Could Niagara County try vets, too?

“We have to find out people’s comfort levels,” said Elaine Roman, the county’s emergency preparedness coordinator.

Board of Health member Donald S. Lewis, a veterinarian, said he’d gladly sign up to give people shots.

“It would be safer. I wouldn’t get bitten,” Lewis said.

Stapleton, tongue deeply in cheek, said there were some objections to the use of veterinarians from people in Genesee County. “They didn’t want the doctor to put a strap over their mouth while they were getting the shot,” he joked.

The real deal

Niagara Falls residents grew accustomed to seeing their famous attraction on the big screen long ago.

The waterfalls have co-starred alongside Marilyn Monroe, Christopher Reeve and Laura Linney, to name a few.

The fearless crew from the NBC comedy “The Office” decided to join the group.

They boarded the Maid of the Mist last Thursday with actors Jenna Fischer and John Krasinski, and dealt with the full force of the mist from the falls.

So did seven area residents who arrived in the park before 7 a. m. to catch a glimpse of the taping, including City of Tonawanda resident Linda Sette and her daughter, Mia; Grand Island resident Lisa Dudley and her children, Kara and Eric; Grand Island resident Shelby Jankowski; and Niagara Falls resident Tim Elledge.

The early morning ride and the downpour of mist, they said, was worth it.

“I just wanted to catch a glimpse,” said Jankowski, a Buff State film major. After seeing Fischer and Krasinski, she reported, “I’m in heaven.”

Less than impressed

State Sen. George Maziarz stepped out of his district and into Niagara Falls last week to speak at a forum about sex offenders, but the discussion veered off into what ails the city.

Among the problems, Maziarz contended, is that the New York Power Authority is not sharing enough of the benefits from the Niagara Power Project with Niagara County communities.

Maziarz supports a lawsuit against the Power Authority brought by the Niagara County Legislature.

The state lawmaker, who represents all of Niagara County except for the Falls, also took a swipe at a June news conference in which Power Authority CEO Richard Kessel toured the Hyde Park ice rinks and promised to have his staff look into whether the authority could get an electric Zamboni for Niagara Falls.

“They come in here and they [promise to] spend $100,000 to buy a new Zamboni,” the Newfane Republican said, “and they think they’re doing us a big favor.”

With contributions from News Niagara ReportersAaron Besecker, Thomas J. Prohaskaand Denise Jewell Gee.