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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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Crescent moon with Venus and Jupiter near. Photo: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/harshanm/3073301812/">harshanm</a>, Creative Commons, some rights reserved
Crescent moon with Venus and Jupiter near. Photo: harshanm, Creative Commons, some rights reserved

Heads-up, star-gazers! Venus is back

Lots of news from St. Lawrence University astronomer Aileen O'Donoghue this morning. She stopped by the NCPR studios to share the monthly update with Martha Foley.

Item: Venus has popped back up in the morning sky.

Item: You can still see the moons of Jupiter with binoculars, in the west after dark.

Item: Groundhog Day's roots go deeper than a hill in Pennsylvania; it marks the midpoint between the winter solstice and the spring equinox.

Item: Why it's so easy to see the young crescent Moon this time of year.

And more...  Go to full article
"Day-Neutral" strawberries give a longer harvest season. Photo: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/51035796924@N01/3654599083/">Wayne Surber</a>, Creative Commons, some rights reserved
"Day-Neutral" strawberries give a longer harvest season. Photo: Wayne Surber, Creative Commons, some rights reserved

Thinking ahead for strawberries

Strawberries are a good fruit crop for home gardeners to try, and now's the time to be thinking ahead and placing an order for young plants.

According to Cooperative Extension's Amy Ivy, there's one key choice to make first: June-bearing? or day-neutral?

She tells Martha Foley June-bearing strawberries come in a rush at the beginning of summer. Day-neutral plant bear for most of the summer and into fall, but require more attention.  Go to full article
Potsdam Mayor Steve Yugartis. Photo courtesy Steve Yugartis.
Potsdam Mayor Steve Yugartis. Photo courtesy Steve Yugartis.

Is Cuomo taking power away from local government?

Steve Yurgartis has been mayor of the Village of Potsdam for two years. He calls the governor's strategy for government consolidation outlined in his budget address "meddling," and he's worried about the state-local balance of power.

Yurgartis talked at length with Martha Foley shortly after Gov. Cuomo delivered his budget address. Yurgartis says the governor is right when he argues that when people complain about taxes, they complain most loudly about property taxes, But he says it comes down to an underlying trend that's led to an over-dependence on local property taxes, for all kinds of state-mandated costs.

(note: there's no transcript of their conversation. Hear the full audio above.)  Go to full article
Home heating systems can make it hard to provide humidity for houseplants in winter. Photo: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/spaceamoeba/4171028387/">spaceamoeba</a>, Creative Commons, some rights reserved
Home heating systems can make it hard to provide humidity for houseplants in winter. Photo: spaceamoeba, Creative Commons, some rights reserved

Keeping houseplants healthy in harsh winter conditions

With the bitter cold outside, the heat will be turned up inside the house. That means dryer air will be rising right towards the houseplants on the windowsill. It's tough times for those houseplants.

Martha Foley discusses options with Amy Ivy, horticulturist with Cornell Cooperative Extension Service of Clinton and Essex Counties.  Go to full article
Potatoes rising. Photo: Ellen Rocco
Potatoes rising. Photo: Ellen Rocco

Planning for potatoes

It isn't the growing season yet in the North Country, not by a long shot, but it is planning time. Catalogs for seeds, gardening supplies and gadgets are the first signs of spring in many households. The potential looks limitless...and overwhelming.

Amy Ivy, horticulturist with Cooperative Extension, shares a fun idea for a summer project that can work even for non-gardeners: potatoes.  Go to full article
The view from the porch in Adams, NY this morning. Photo: Catherine Loper
The view from the porch in Adams, NY this morning. Photo: Catherine Loper

The view from smack in the middle of the snow belt

Last week when the Tug Hill was getting several feet of snow, we called out to long time veterans of life in the lake effect belt to hear how you actually cope with a sudden dump of that much snow. Their response? Keep shoveling.

That's exactly what WRVO News Director Catherine Loper and her fiancee were trying to do at their home in Adams this morning. But they weren't making all that much progress.  Go to full article
Jupiter and the four Galilean moons. From left: Europa, Jupiter, Io, Ganymede, Callisto. Photo: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/jpstanley/497884413/">Jeremy Stanley</a>, Creative Commons, some rights reserved
Jupiter and the four Galilean moons. From left: Europa, Jupiter, Io, Ganymede, Callisto. Photo: Jeremy Stanley, Creative Commons, some rights reserved

News of the cosmos: perihelion, Jupiter's moons and more

In the deep, deep of winter, we've lost our view of Venus, but we're gaining daylight. St. Lawrence University astronomer Aileen O'Donoghue reminds Martha Foley of the good news about spring: as ever after the Solstice, the new season is technically on the way.

And she notes some of the highlights of the January night sky. It's a great time to take a look for Jupiter in the east in the early evening. And with good binoculars, she says, you can see the four moons Galilieo found in January, 1610.  Go to full article
Red wigglers raised on coffee grounds and other kitchen scraps. Photo: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/13359925@N02/3217409170/">Marc Tyler</a>, Creative Commons, some rights reserved
Red wigglers raised on coffee grounds and other kitchen scraps. Photo: Marc Tyler, Creative Commons, some rights reserved

Welcome the red wrigglers for indoor composting

Worms? In your kitchen? Eeeew! But wait... Cooperative Extension horticulturist Amy Ivy tells Martha Foley a little bin of red wigglers under your sink (or, in her case, your desk) makes a great project for kids, as well as a supply of compost for houseplants and garden.

True, it's a small-scale operation probably not suited to handling all your vegetable-y food waste, but still, she says it's fun, and NOT smelly.  Go to full article
Ice storm, December 2013. Photo by Mark Kurtz
Ice storm, December 2013. Photo by Mark Kurtz

What to do for ice-covered trees

Trees and shrubs are bent and broken under the weight of the icy mix of rain, sleet and snow that fell over the weekend. So the topic of today's yard and garden conversation is no surprise.

Cooperative Extension's Amy Ivy shares what to do, and what NOT to do for ice covered limbs and branches. First, she says, do no harm: be gentle. It's tempting to try to knock the ice off a tree or branch that's bent low with ice, but Amy says that can do more damage, possibly even break the branch altogether. Her advice is to prop up a limb if you want to try and help.

There's no hurry, she says. Don't risk life and limb to do any yard work, it's OK to wait till the ice is gone and the footing is better for working. Waiting won't make things worse for the tree or shrubs. When you DO decide to prune broken tree limbs, she says, make a clean cut, and it's best take the whole branch.

Finally, she says, she'll be waiting till spring to tackle shrubs that need pruning.  Go to full article
The poster for Luciano Pradal's memoir, reflecting Ottawa's busy Byward Market. Photo by Martha Foley
The poster for Luciano Pradal's memoir, reflecting Ottawa's busy Byward Market. Photo by Martha Foley

Roasting chestnuts warm the heart and hand

It's bitter cold this morning. And so was Friday a bitter day to be out on the streets of Ottawa.

But tucked in a doorway just next to a popular downtown Italian grocery was a little island of heat: a cheery guy with a big kettle-like grill, roasting chestnuts. After roasting, he packs a soup can-full of chestnuts into a paper bag and tucks them, hot, into your pocket. He's our Heard Up North.  Go to full article

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