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NCPR News Staff: Martha Foley

News and Public Affairs Director
Martha Foley joined the staff of WSLU as morning host in 1981, after a stint at The St. Lawrence Plaindealer. She helped found the news department in 1982, and has seen it grow, and shrink, and grow again. "I especially liked the 'grow again' part," she says, "it means working with really talented reporters, telling more and more stories from around the North Country."

Martha has won state and national awards for her reporting and editing. She has encouraged local news at public radio stations across the country as a member and director of Public Radio News Directors, Inc., an organization of over 100 local newsrooms. As a director of PRNDI for six years, she was responsible for The PRNDI Project, an annual training program for young reporters, and NewsWorks, training for station news departments.

Martha grew up on an Adirondack foothill in northeastern Saratoga County. She lives just south of Canton with her husband, boatbuilder Everett Smith, and her teenaged son, Emmett. Favorite pastimes: sitting, looking, and listening. E-mail

Stories filed by Martha Foley

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Life in Jefferson County? Good, not perfect

People in Jefferson County are pretty happy with their quality of life, but they have some worries. The annual Jefferson Community College survey finds 75 percent of residents think life's "getting better" or "staying the same."

Statistics students, working with the college's Center for Community Studies research staff, completed 422 telephone interviews in early April. It's a snapshot, now taken for the 15th straight year, that the college shares with the public and community leaders.

Martha Foley talked with the Director of the Center for Community Studies, Dr. Ray Petersen. What's good? Shopping, access to higher education (at the highest rate recorded since the first year of the survey), and availability of housing. And, what's not so good? The cost of energy, real estate taxes, the availability of good jobs, and the overall state of the local economy.  Go to full article
Rose chafer beetles at work. Photo: <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/50352333@N06/4647992672/">Jason Sturner</a>, Creative Commons, some rights reserved
Rose chafer beetles at work. Photo: Jason Sturner, Creative Commons, some rights reserved

First the blooms, then the bugs

Aren't the peonies lovely? And the first roses to bloom so pretty and fragrant? Along with the iris and the first day lilies, they give gardeners an early-summer shot of color and satisfaction after lots of hard work.

They also attract the first big wave of pests, including some of the most frustrating and difficult to deal with: rose chafers, flea beetles, and potato beetles. Brace yourself, as she so often does, cooperative extension's Amy Ivy says hand picking is the best remedy for the rose chafers and potato bugs.

No pesticides for rose chafers, because they attack the flower's blooms, and to dose the bloom would kill the bees and other valuable pollinators. And potato beetles? It's just more efficient to squish the eggs before they hatch on the underside of the leaves.  Go to full article

Emmy win gives "Songs to Keep" new life

A project giving a large piece of the North Country's cultural heritage new life is gaining larger recognition. A TV documentary about Adirondack song collector Marjorie Lansing Porter has won a New England Emmy.

Songs to Keep: Treasures of an Adirondack Folk Collector, was produced by Mountain Lake PBS as part of a regional project spearheaded by TAUNY - Traditional Arts in Upstate New York.  Go to full article
Some of the action at Friday night's Dairy Princess block dance. Photo: Nora Flaherty
Some of the action at Friday night's Dairy Princess block dance. Photo: Nora Flaherty

Were you at the Dairy Princess block dance? We were!

This year St. Lawrence County celebrated the 50th anniversary of its Dairy Princess tradition. Traditionally, the parade and festival are on Saturday, but by Friday noon vendors and organizations are pretty well set up, and downtown begins to orient toward the village park.

Friday night, there's a street dance, and this year a classic car show. Park Street was closed for a couple blocks between the park and the library/post office side of the street. We went. There were people everywhere: in the park, on the street, in the alleys, cruising parking lots for an empty spot.

I believe it's been 10 years that the local John Deere dealer has sponsored the street dance. That means BIG tractors, and little ones, that kids could climb into. And country music. Clusters of teenagers. Little kids running around and dancing (the evening starts with a Big Wheel race.) Clusters of teenagers. Lot of folks camped out in lawn chairs -- family groups and old friends catching up. Indeed it was an annual festival of all things dairy. Here's how it looked:  Go to full article
After removing the early weeds, mulching between rows will slow their return. Photo: <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/90738513@N00/2522983940">Linda Beaverson</a>, Creative Commons, some rights reserved
After removing the early weeds, mulching between rows will slow their return. Photo: Linda Beaverson, Creative Commons, some rights reserved

Weeds, you say? Get 'em when they're little

The tiniest weeds might just be you're most important job right now. It's like the old "pound of prevention" saying. You can deal with a million weeds in a very short time, if they're just tiny seedlings. Let them get bigger, and it isn't so easy.

That's Cooperative Extension horticulturist Amy Ivy's tip for triage in this season of the overwhelming gardening to-do list.  Go to full article
This is how small a deer tick is. Photo: <a href="http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Tick_male_size_comparison_%28aka%29.jpg">André Karwath</a>, Creative Commons, some rights reserved
This is how small a deer tick is. Photo: André Karwath, Creative Commons, some rights reserved

Where the ticks are, and what to do

Jody Gangloff-Kaufman is an entomologist with the state Integrated Pest Management Program at Cornell University. Her office is on Long Island, where the tick population and the risk of lyme disease is very high.

The Adirondacks may be the only part of the North Country where risk of the lyme disease deer ticks carry is still low. Otherwise, she says, the more deer in an area, the more deer ticks. And deer love agricultural areas, cornfields and alfalfa. She says they, and the ticks they carry, are common in the St. Lawrence and Champlain valleys, "the regions all around the mountains, really, have heavy deer populations and certainly have high incidence of lyme disease."  Go to full article
Part way done: some perennials back in place, soil amendment continues. Photo by Martha Foley
Part way done: some perennials back in place, soil amendment continues. Photo by Martha Foley

Out with the bad: taking control of the perennial garden

The first step can be the hardest when you've got a major Quackgrass infestation, or an "aggressive" perennial that's taking over. In Martha Foley's garden this spring, it was both. Sometimes you just have to dig everything up and start over.

Amy Ivy is a horticulturist with the Cornell Cooperative Extension service with Clinton and Essex County. She sympathizes, and shares tips on taking advantage of the opportunity to improve the soil.  Go to full article
Photo: <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/dannyboymalinga/4876920844"/>Dan Davison</a>, Creative Commons, some rights reserved
Photo: Dan Davison, Creative Commons, some rights reserved

How do farmers feed the world in the 21st century?

By 2050, the planet will be supporting an estimated nine billion people. That number is from The Miner Institute, an agricultural research center in Chazy. Here's another: food production will have to rise 70 percent if all those people are to have enough to eat. But increased production won't be the only measure of success. All that food will have to be raised without degrading the environment.

Dr. John Bramley is a researcher and educator. He was president of the University of Vermont, as well as director of Vermont's agricultural experiment station. He'll talk about the challenges of feeding the world at the Miner Institute tonight. Martha Foley talked with Bramley this week.  Go to full article
Taken yesterday from the Thousand Islands Bridge, looking upstream at the freighter Federal Kivalina, which had lost steering as it approached the bridge yesterday afternoon. Photo: Emmett Smith
Taken yesterday from the Thousand Islands Bridge, looking upstream at the freighter Federal Kivalina, which had lost steering as it approached the bridge yesterday afternoon. Photo: Emmett Smith

Freighter aground at Thousand Islands Bridge, salvage team on the way

Update 4:37 p.m.: The Federal Kivalina, a Hong Kong-flagged freighter carrying canola seeds, lost steering just upriver from the Thousand Islands Bridge yesterday.

Last night and this morning, a team of divers determined that the boat had run aground but is stable.

"Since then a salvage team actually arrived on the scene this afternoon," said Nancy Alcalde, director of public relations for the St. Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation. "They are reviewing the hull inspection as well as the water and weather conditions and are developing a plan for the safe removal of the vessel."

Two tugboats are on their way Montreal. The St. Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation and the Coast Guard have to figure out where they'll take the 656-foot freighter.

Shipping remains suspended until further notice.***

A Hong Kong-flagged freighter is anchored just upriver from the Thousand Islands Bridge, after it lost steering earlier yesterday. The Associated Press reports that shipping is suspended this morning.

There are no reported injuries to the crew and no reported pollution at this time.  Go to full article
Half the planets are visible right now--the back row (Jupiter and Saturn) and the front (Mars and Mercury). Aileen says five are visible, actually, if you just look down. Photo: <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Size_planets_comparison.jpg">Lsmpascal</a>, Creative Commons, some rights reserved
Half the planets are visible right now--the back row (Jupiter and Saturn) and the front (Mars and Mercury). Aileen says five are visible, actually, if you just look down. Photo: Lsmpascal, Creative Commons, some rights reserved

Planets, planets, planets: who's up and where

St. Lawrence University physicist Aileen O'Donoghue says the planets are the big news of the night sky just now. Between Mercury (just up in the northwest), Jupiter in the west, Saturn in the east, and Mars in the middle, there are four visible these nights. And Earth (just look down, she says) makes five.

This, plus how we're losing dark as spring gives over to summer next month, and much more from Aileen's monthly stop in our studios this morning.  Go to full article

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