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Buffalo Still An All-America City

By Joyce Kryszak

Buffalo, NY – Many would say Buffalo suffered from an inferiority complex, long before the city was humbled by a control board. And since only a handful of cities are able to claim that dubious distinction, it's reason enough for embarrassment.

But city promoters say residents shouldn't forget Buffalo has earned some positive associations, such as its designation as an All-America City.

Buffalo's once glorious past is often championed as hope for its future. Its industrial heritage long ago turned to rust.

But that didn't keep area promoters from getting the region honored nationally - twice - as an "All-America City."

Large signs posted at the outskirts of the city confirm it. They proclaim to all who enter, "Welcome to Buffalo - an All-America City."

Phil Haberstro, one of those who worked to gain the status, said they can't take that away from you.

"Nice thing about the All-America City award is it's a lifetime designation," said Haberstro. "You know you see the big signs on the thruway. The reason being that people did those things and they earned it, and it was valid, and it was real.

He added, "It's not necessarily the symbol of being the glitziest and the most fancy city in the world. But it is definitely a symbol of civic excellence, and the good things that can happen when people work together."

The region has been submitted for consideration eight times, and been a finalist six. It won the designation in 1996 and for 2002.

And Haberstro said, control board or not, they plan to go for it again.

And he said the current fiscal shadow, cast by the state imposed control board, could actually help.

Haberstro said cities are rated based on evidence that citizens are able to work together to identify problems, try to solve them, and measure results.

"It can happen," said Haberstro. "I mean the control board can be a mechanism for opportunity, a mechanism for creating the kind of pressure, positive pressure if you will, for change."

Applications for the next All-America City awards aren't due until spring. But Haberstro said they are already busy building another all American resume.