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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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David Acker, CEO of Canton-Potsdam Hospital. Photo by Martha Foley
David Acker, CEO of Canton-Potsdam Hospital. Photo by Martha Foley

Coming now: the future of health care in the North Country

In December, New York's health department commissioned a thorough assessment of the North Country's health care system.

The report in April had lots of bad news: there are too many hospital and nursing home beds, but not enough preventive and primary care capacity. And there are serious access issues with facilities scattered over a vast geography.

Hospitals have chronic difficulty recruiting all types of practitioners, particularly doctors. Finances are bad: 13 of 16 hospitals are in the red. There's lots of debt and lack of access to capital is a serious problem.

When North Country Public Radio spoke with David Acker, the CEO of Canton-Potsdam Hospital in Potsdam, New York, over a year ago, he ticked off those same problems and said hospitals would soon have to collaborate and consolidate care, or they wouldn't survive.  Go to full article
A crew from New York state builds a fuel break in a fire in Washington state. Photo: NYS DEC
A crew from New York state builds a fuel break in a fire in Washington state. Photo: NYS DEC

Big Western fires pose challenge and opportunity for NYS crews

This summer we've been hearing about those big wildfires raging out of control in the western United States. Drought conditions have left California and parts of Oregon and Washington state particularly vulnerable.  Go to full article
Not quite ripe tomato. Photo: <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/40385177@N07/5930737649/">Cristina</a>, Creative Commons, some rights reserved
Not quite ripe tomato. Photo: Cristina, Creative Commons, some rights reserved

Lots and lots of healthy but unripe tomatoes

It's been a good year for healthy tomatoes. Disease is scarce, plants are healthy and fruit is abundant.

Just one problem--the long stretches of unseasonably cool weather has kept them from ripening. And more cool temperatures are in the forecast. What can you do?

Cooperative Extension horticulturist Amy Ivy says "wait."  Go to full article
The North Country's traditional above-ground electrical grid is vulnerable in winter weather. Photo: Joanna Richards
The North Country's traditional above-ground electrical grid is vulnerable in winter weather. Photo: Joanna Richards

How to keep the power on during a weather disaster?

New York is partnering with Clarkson University, National Grid, General Electric, SUNY Potsdam and other local businesses to design what's called a "resilient microgrid" for the Village of Potsdam.

The region is particularly susceptible to power outages during winter storms and flooding. The new grid would provide electricity to essential services, including the two colleges, Canton-Potsdam Hospital and National Grid's Potsdam Service Center.

Tom Ortmeyer is professor of electrical and computer engineering at Clarkson, and is one of the researchers that will lead the Clarkson team.

Martha Foley reached him at the annual meeting of the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineering, in Maryland. He said the problem of supporting local services during disasters was high on the conference's agenda, especially the idea of "resiliency."  Go to full article
A mess o' zucchini. Photo: <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/wallyhartshorn/2680766261/">Wally Hartshorn</a>, Creative Commons, some rights reserved
A mess o' zucchini. Photo: Wally Hartshorn, Creative Commons, some rights reserved

Keeping ahead of the zucchini and other harvest tips

The garden is now progressing faster than you can eat it. What to do with all that zucchini? When to harvest dried beans, when to plant cold season crops, what to do when the cucumbers poop out--Amy Ivy of Cooperative Extension of Clinton and Essex Counties has the all skinny on what to do when the garden is getting fat.  Go to full article
<em>Popillia japonica</em>, commonly known as the Japanese beetle. Photo: <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Japanese_beetle#mediaviewer/File:Popillia_japonica.jpg">Bruce Marlin</a>, Creative Commons, some rights reserved
Popillia japonica, commonly known as the Japanese beetle. Photo: Bruce Marlin, Creative Commons, some rights reserved

Japanese beetles!!? What to do!?

Japanese beetles own a particular place in the gardener's journal. They are destructive. They come en masse. They are very hard to get rid of. So they are in that group of insect pests that is at the top of the dreaded-scourges list.

And this year, they are in Cooperative Extension horticulturist Amy Ivy's garden: her willows, her marigolds, her corn. Everywhere. So she shares her advice on what to do about them with particular feeling.  Go to full article
Healthy porcelain garlic, after a successful growing season..
Healthy porcelain garlic, after a successful growing season..

How to harvest and keep garlic

Garlic is easy to plant, and doesn't usually require a whole lot of attention as it grows. It comes up, nice and green, first thing in the spring, like daffodils. Timing the harvest is trickier, though. And treating it right can help keep the bulbs fresh and firm for months.

Cooperative Extension's Amy Ivy has the do's and don'ts.  Go to full article
Phosphorus used in gardens can contribute to algae blooms in lakes, like this one in 2012. Photo: Lake George Waterkeeper
Phosphorus used in gardens can contribute to algae blooms in lakes, like this one in 2012. Photo: Lake George Waterkeeper

For lawn and garden: the do's and don'ts of fertilizing

It's illegal to fertilize a lawn with phosporous in New York State. The Department of Environmental Conservation sent a press release around last week with that reminder (more information on this here.

There are exceptions, dependent on a soil test. Cooperative Extension horticulturist Amy Ivy has lots of good information this week about that, and about fertilizers and fertilizing in general.

Top takeaways: don't fertilize your lawn till September anyway; do fertilize vegetables if they looked peaked; do fertilize flowers; don't fertilize woody herbs like thyme, sage and such; and as always, know your soil. Here's more information from Amy Ivy.  Go to full article
Observing the moon. Photo: <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/nasamarshall/6276653210/">NASA</a>, Creative Commons, some rights reserved
Observing the moon. Photo: NASA, Creative Commons, some rights reserved

Let the moon be your guide

So much to see in the sky these nights, including a view into the center of our galaxy. That's where radio astronomers can see a bunch of stars orbiting the big black hole at its heart.

St. Lawrence University physics professor and astronomer Aileen O'Donoghue gives Martha Foley the low down on the summer sky. Planets: Mars, Saturn and Venus; constellations: Scorpius and Sagittarius; and stars: Antares, Arcturus, Zubenelgenubi and Zubeneschamali, among others.

She says the Moon is our guide for lots of the highlights, once the evening light fades. It lingers long these days. Enjoy while you can; we're just past the latest sunset of the year and we should notice a real "gain" in darkness in the coming weeks.  Go to full article
Invasive wild parsnip. Avoid contact; avoid a nasty rash. Photo: <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/dmills727/3644070846/">Douglas Mills</a>, Creative Commons, some rights reserved
Invasive wild parsnip. Avoid contact; avoid a nasty rash. Photo: Douglas Mills, Creative Commons, some rights reserved

Beware the invasives; and small strawberries are good too!

Right about now, the roadsides can look more like flower gardens than some gardens do. Wonderful abundant mixes of color, texture, height: all the qualities you look for. Driving the back roads is more of a pleasure than ever.

But beware of a nasty, if beautiful, invasive plant that's taking over the verges in more and more areas. Wild parsnip looks kind of like a tall, yellow Queen Ann's Lace. But don't pick: it reacts with sunlight to produce a painful, scarring rash. Cooperative Extension horticulturist Amy Ivy says it's a great idea to mow it down to control it's spread, but make sure all your skin is covered when you do. It's bad.  Go to full article

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