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Let it snow! PLEASE!

   If your children go to bed with their pajamas on backwards and ask for a spoon which they then place under their pillows, do not be alarmed. Those two superstitions are meant to ensure a snow day when wintry weather is coming.

   This is serious stuff. The snow day is one of the best days of childhood. Snow days on Fridays and Mondays are good. Snow days during exam week are very good. Consecutive snow days? They're the holy grail of chidlhood. (See the 2000 movie "Snow Day" for a further explanation.)

   That's partly why if you're of a certain age, you remember the Blizzard of '77 - 31 years ago yesterday, believe it or not - and the mythical quality that storm took on when schools were closed for an unheard of seven straight days: the day before, the day of and the week after.

   Got a good snow day memory? Share.

   --- Bruce Andriatch

Amherst spending freeze: new reality or pie in the sky?

    In Amherst's State of the Town address Friday, Supervisor Satish Mohan said he plans to introduce budgets for 2009 and 2010 that would freeze spending at this year's levels. He said he and new Council Member Guy Marlette are committed to keeping spending down.

   Though town spending has consistently gone up for nearly a decide, Mohan said he hopes to gain more Town Board support to freeze spending over the next two years.

   Has the political climate in Amherst changed enough for this to happen, or is this goal likely to be one that will remain unfulfilled?

      -- Sandra Tan

Lace 'em up!

   When the Sabres played the Ice Bowl a couple of weeks ago, the television announcers spent a lot of time talking about pond hockey and how many of today's professionals got hooked on hockey by playing outside.

   That got me thinking about Ives Pond and wondering whether the City of Tonawanda still operated it.

   It was reassuring to find out that - weather permitting - the city still floods the fields and turns  them over to the ice skaters every winter.

   Mayor Ronald Pilozzi said the city is willing to shell out the money to make the rink every year. That belief, like the rink itself, seems like a throwback to an earlier era, when communities tried to provide recreational activities for kids.

   But should they be? Is that government's role, especially in this region with this economy? Or is it, as Pilozzi says, a small price to pay?

  --- Bruce Andriatch

Today's class: Promote Williamsville


   The Williamsville Business and Professional Association will take advantage of one of the region's great resources - University at Buffalo students - to figure out how to market itself.

   If the project the marketing students develop is a success, the students will get to see how their skills work outside the classroom and Williamsville gets a little buzz at almost no cost.

   And it also might show that an uncoventional approach can be the right one.

  --- Bruce Andriatch


She shoots ...

   It should come as no surprise that in a cold, hockey town like ours, girls want to be more like Ryan Miller than Kimmie Meissner.

   But even with roughly 900 girls ages 18 and under donning the hockey skates in Western New York alone, no Upstate New York public school has sponsored a girls varsity ice-hockey team between here and Skaneateles.

   Maybe we can blame Monroe County.

   Officials with Williamsville Central Schools said Tuesday they wanted to start a team, but couldn't find any regional competition. The same night, parents and teenage girls in Amherst Central Schools asked their district to consider sponsoring a team - but they face the same problem.

   Williamsville officials say they'd let their team travel as far east as the Rochester area if other districts would pick up the challenge to sponsor girls varsity ice hockey this fall. But so far, no one has.

   Girls varsity hockey is expected to take root in suburban districts first, where more parents are likely to have the resources to get their little girls engaged in such an expensive and time-consuming sport.

   So is the time ripe for varsity girls ice hockey? If not now, when?

  --- Sandra Tan

Don't hate - consolidate

   Amherst has more than 100,000 people, but few of them live in Amherst. They live in Snyder, Eggertsville, East Amherst, Getzville, and other hamlets. It doesn't cost any of them an extra nickel to be part of that smaller community.

   But if you live in Williamsville, you have to pay more in taxes because there is a village government to support.

   Is it worth it? Couldn't Williamsville - or Kenmore or Sloan or any other village - still exist without five elected officials and the other trappings of government? Aren't we long past the time when we need that extra layer of government? Or is it, as village officials like to say, a small price to pay for that extra level of service?

  --- Bruce Andriatch


A new day in Hamburg?

   When Hamburg residents elected Steven Walters as supervisor two years ago, it's fair to say they were looking for a change.

   As noted in today's column, he was part of a trend that year, but now he stands alone as the only supervisor from the class of 2005 who should have the backing of a Town Board majority.

   Does that mean that real change is coming to a Buffalo suburb?

  --- Bruce Andriatch