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Celebrate Earth Day and Arbor Day by volunteering in the community

Here in Central New York, April brings days of spring rain, sprinkled with a few glimpses of the summer sun. The changing weather reminds us that Earth is a beautiful place, and we need to be doing everything we can to keep it that way. This year, Earth Day is April 22, and Arbor Day is April 25. While these commemorations bring us together to revitalize our community after a long, bitter winter, they are also important reminders of the conditions and vulnerability of the world around us. There is a critical need for ongoing education, action, and change when it comes to our environment. This year’s Earth Day theme is “Green Cities.” By improving conditions in our cities, we can improve conditions for future generations around the world.

Sure sign of spring: robins’ eggs in Christmas wreath

When former Liverpool Mayor Jon Zappola and his family returned from a recent sojourn in the Sunshine State, he went to remove the Christmas wreath from the house, and discovered a mother robin had laid five eggs in a nest she’d fashioned in the wreath. No wonder the Zappolas’ holiday wreath will remain up for a while on their First Street home! A former baseball coach and art teacher, Zappola now serves as chairman of the Liverpool Village Housing Authority, which oversees the House at 807 that has provided affordable housing for elders since 1999. The House at 807 on Oswego Street currently has two vacancies. If you’re interested in an apartment there, visit house-at-807.org,‎ or call 457-1334.

Compassion and awareness are the first steps in understanding autism

Last month, I read an article in The New York Times entitled “Reaching My Autistic Son Through Disney,” by Ron Suskind (nytimes.com/2014/03/09/magazine/reaching-my-autistic-son-through-disney.html?_r=0). As the title suggests, the article chronicles Suskind’s experience with his son, Owen, a lover of Disney movies who was diagnosed with autism. At the time of his diagnosis, Owen, 3 years old, was non-verbal. But through memorizing the dialogue and inflections from the various Disney characters in the movies he loved, over the course of a number of years, he created his own language that he used for communicating and connecting with others. As a parent of a child with special needs, I found his story to be moving and very inspirational. The article is an excerpt from Suskind’s book that was released this month called “Life, Animated.” The timing seemed particularly apt since April is Autism Awareness Month in New York.

Tease photo

Painter Maureen Lemko loves local landmarks

They may not be many, but the five oil paintings that comprise Maureen Lemko’s ongoing exhibit are certainly memorable. The artist colorfully depicts a quintet of familiar scenes in her work hanging through April at the Liverpool Public Library lobby. All artists aspire to show us our world through a new pair of eyes, and Maureen succeeds as she brings a fresh perspective to Old First, the village’s iconic burnt umber brick edifice. Other local landmarks Lemko rendered include Liverpool United Methodist’s famous purple door, an old willow basket barn, Liverpool Cemetery and Baldwinsville’s Abbott Farms.

Education aid and tax relief needed for CNY

Times are tough, and families are doing everything they can just to make ends meet. The particularly harsh winter didn’t help, driving utility bills through the roof and making the cost-of-living even less affordable. Central New York families have struggled for long enough. That’s why I fought for a state budget that includes funding for vital programs and initiatives to relieve the burden on hardworking families.

Tax incentives are being misused

It is no secret that New York’s residents and businesses are over taxed. For years, businesses and residents have been leaving New York for tax-friendly states. The fiscal problems the State of New York faces are no different than other states across the country; yet, New York continues to over spend and goes so far as to ask local municipalities to shoulder much of the financial burden from those decisions. Local representatives at the state and federal level are desperately trying to change the business climate in New York by offering tax credits and incentive packages for relocating businesses to New York, creating jobs, and improving the skill level of employees. As an advocate for the free market approach to business, I applaud the intent underpinning these programs (the encouragement of business activity in New York state), but I am apprehensive about the precedent and disparate treatment the tax credits and incentives are creating.

LETTER: Village services make taxes worth it

To the editor: I would like to respond to the article in the March 26 edition of The Post-Standard [“Cuomo: Curbing property taxes most important part of NY state budget”]. [The article quoted] Cuomo saying, “Do the hard thing,” and our county executive regarding consolidation. I am a lifelong resident of the village of Liverpool, because that is where I choose to live. Does it cost me more in taxes to live here? Yes. What am I paying for?

In spring a young man’s fancy turns to…baseball!

Ready or not, here comes baseball. Syracuse Chiefs groundskeeper John Stewart and his crew worked overtime last week scraping ice out of the dugouts at NBT Bank Stadium, where the local International League entry hopes to open its season at 2 p.m. Thursday, April 3. The top farm club of the Washington Nationals, the Chiefs will face New York Yankees Triple-A affiliate, the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Railriders, who remain in town for games at 5 p.m. Friday, and 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday; 474-7833; syracusechiefs.com.

Next year, where will village put its piles of snow?

After that withering winter, especially that season-ending two-day blizzard March 12 and 13, most of us would like to forget about snow for the next six months or so. But Bill Asmus can’t afford to forget. He’s already worried about winter 2014-15. The superintendent of the village Department of Public Works since 1996, Bill needs to find a place to dump all the snow his crews plow from our streets and sidewalks.

LETTER: Greet Honor Flight veterans

To the editor: I was one of the 62 privileged veterans on the last Honor Flight Syracuse on Oct. 5, 2013. Some veterans wrote to express the amazing experience and to thank all of the volunteers, and I will never forget the emotions, just overwhelming. Honor Flight Syracuse Mission is due to leave Syracuse on April 5, and I would encourage as many people as possible to greet these veterans at Hancock Airport when they return from Washington, D.C.

Eye-catching color enhances new church bulletin

Less than three years after linking parishes, St. Joseph the Worker and Immaculate Heart of Mary Roman Catholic churches have also linked their weekly bulletins, and it’s an impressive new eight-page publication. Bathed in a royal purple of Lent, the cover of the March 16 edition includes drawings of the two church buildings on either side of a photographed sculpture of Jesus with his welcoming arms outstretched. Not only does color celebrate the season, it also helps differentiate the individual projects and programs and schedules at each of the two facilities. St. Joe’s events are generally listed in orange while Immaculate Heart is represented by blue.

Erie Canal Museum to be renovated

The Erie Canal Museum is the official museum of the Erie Canal, located in the only remaining weighlock building in America, on Erie Boulevard in downtown Syracuse. The weighlock building was originally built in 1850 and was saved from demolition in the 1950s. The weighlock building served as one of the five stopping points on the Erie Canal where the State weighed the boat’s freight and charged a toll. The building was converted to the Erie Canal Museum on Oct. 25, 1962. The museum is owned by Onondaga County, and at our recent legislative session, we unanimously approved a resolution that will advance the funding to upgrade and redesign the first floor of the exhibition.

Get rid of the GEA now

According to Gov. Andrew Cuomo, New York is looking at a $2 million budget surplus. Cuomo has talked a lot about the surplus and his plans for it. Unfortunately for him, it’s not his money to spend.

LETTER: Thanks to NAVAC Ambulance crew, North Syracuse police

To the editor: Two weeks ago, on an early Thursday morning, my brother-in-law Tony found his wife on the floor, sitting. She was unresponsive, no heartbeat, and as her son called her, “Smurf blue.” Tony laid her on the floor and started CPR. No response at all.

Why I still do this

State finals remind writer of joys inherent in covering sports

So you want to know - after all these years spent jotting illegible things down in notebooks, doing hundreds of interviews, writing thousands of stories, covering untold numbers of contests both mundane and meaningful, and then hammering it out in front of an inanimate computer screen, why keep doing it?

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