Where there’s smoke …

When a Kaisertown resident spotted thick, gray smoke billowing up from Cable Street on Wednesday evening, he called 911 to report a possible house fire.

The three fire trucks and two police cars that raced to the call found some Boy Scouts and members of the Church of St. Casimir burning palms in the parking lot for an Ash Wednesday Mass.

The Rev. Czeslaw Krysa, the church’s rector, said the responders were “gentlemen” who thanked Krysa for giving them a chance to stretch their legs.

Before they went on their way, a couple of Catholic firefighters mentioned they hadn’t yet received their ashes marking the first day of Lent.

“I said, ‘Come on in,’ ” Krysa recalled.

Car talk

Anyone who commutes in and out of downtown on the Metro Rail is well aware of the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority’s plans to tear down the Theater District station. And for more than a week now, NFTA drivers have been good about alerting travelers to Monday’s scheduled closing.

And while most drivers have done so with little or no commentary, one guy apparently felt compelled to offer his take on the notion of cars returning to the key downtown corridor. “In the infinite wisdom of the City of Buffalo,” he announced this week, “they’re bringing traffic back to Main Street.”

That’s the kind of passion we want in our public transportation advocates.

‘D’ is for DWI

A Newfane woman wasn’t happy when Niagara County sheriff’s deputies stopped her after she drifted back and forth on Ridge Road in Newfane and struck a snow bank early Monday.

The Newfane woman got out of her pickup and yelled, “Why the hell are you pulling me over?” deputies reported.

Questioned about the odor of alcohol on her, the woman said it was her perfume. (Labatt Blue Velvet?)

When deputies asked where she had been, she replied, “That’s pretty personal – it is none of your business.” And when they attempted to conduct a field sobriety test, the woman said, “I’m not playing your stupid alphabet games.” She faces multiple charges.

Bagging lady

Gina Traniello didn’t finish in the top five at the national “Best Bagger Competition” in Las Vegas last weekend, but she got an education in how intensely competitive the event gets.

The New York state champ, a Medaille College graduate student and a Tops Markets employee, went up against 22 other finalists from around the country.

Traniello was struck by her rivals’ noisy, sign-toting fans, and the level of preparation some of her fellow competitors had put in.

She and about half of the other entrants got tripped up by a tiny Slim Jims package they overlooked on the counter in their rush to fill the reusable bags, hurting their scores.

Don’t count Traniello out for 2014. “Everybody keeps saying, ‘There’s always next year,’ ” she said.

Spit take

When Romello D. Desso went before Niagara County Judge Sara Sheldon Farkas the other day for sentencing on a series of robberies, Farkas greeted him with an immediate, blunt question: “Are you going to spit on me?”

Desso, 17, of Niagara Falls, had been accused of spitting on an officer at the County Jail the night before. “Those are false accusations,” Desso said.

“So I’ve got a police officer who lied? That’s going to help your sentence,” Farkas said sarcastically.

“There’s a lot of corruption that goes on in the County Jail,” Desso replied.

Farkas said she could order a hearing on the incident, postponing the sentencing, but defense attorney Anthony J. Lana said Desso didn’t want a delay.

Farkas warned him the officer’s story would be assumed true if there was no hearing. Desso, hanging his head, mumbled his agreement. Farkas then sentenced him to three to five years in prison.

By Stephen T. Watson with contributions from Matt Gryta, Phil Fairbanks, Nancy A. Fischer, Matt Glynn and Thomas J. Prohaska.