Controversial truck stop mascot gets approval in upstate New York

| Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Attention, residents of Schodack, NY – fire up your welcome wagons. Betty Beavers is coming to town.

After months of public outcry, the city’s Planning Board has finally granted a special permit to Vincent Gramuglia, the owner and rather, um, colorful spokesperson for Betty Beavers Truck Stop.

“We hope they get the fever and come fuel up with the beaver,” Gramuglia, discussing the victory for his company, Countryside Management Corp., with the Albany Times Union.

What’s the fuss over Gramuglia’s new 2,400-square-foot travel plaza? For once, it’s not engine noise or pollution that’s got the townspeople angry – it’s the truck stop’s rather chesty mascot.

Enter Betty – a scantily clad, curvaceous cartoon beaver that adorns the chain’s signs in front of the stop. Dressed in a red, white and blue waitress apron with one hand on her hip and a come-hither look in her eye, the model – who has a couple three-dimensional assets – has caused quite a bit of controversy in the town.

In early August 2005, residents began protesting the truck stop – a chain that already has half a dozen stores in New York and Vermont – from moving in on the land of a former truck stop near Exit 12 off of Interstate 90.

“The ‘Dukes of Hazzard’ wouldn’t stoop that low,” resident Joe Korghage told the Times Union. “It’s not funny at all. It’s lewd and indecent and insulting to women.”

But Gramuglia told the Times Union that Betty is far more innocent than she is made out to be.

“There is nothing provocative about Betty Beaver,” Gramuglia said. “It’s not as bad as Hooters, and remember that the registered (New York) state animal is the beaver and if they all looked like Betty, the woods would be full of hunters.”

To help appease the angry residents, Gramuglia has agreed to post signs reading “Countryside Fuels” near the roadway, and will only hang the controversial sign on the side of the building, the Times Union reported.

This is not the first time Gramuglia has taken heat for his truck stops. In 1990, the New York Supreme Court ruled that, for safety reasons, he had to remove a tractor-trailer that was perched above a truck stop on an old, empty fuel tank as an advertisement.

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