Column: Purple Loosestrife -- Pretty, but invasive

‘Tis late summer, and our highways and byways and wetlands are rimmed with purple loosestrife (Lythrum salicaria). This showy wildflower is actually an invasive species that threatens native flora and fauna in our wetlands.

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FROM THE ASSEMBLY: Improvements to the state fair will boost our local economy

For over a century, the state fair has had tremendous success in attracting visitors from all over the country to Central New York. This year was no exception. Recently, I joined state leaders as we announced plans to build on the fair’s success and economic impact by making it a world-class destination for conventions and other events all year-round.

Column: FAFSA changes – Evening the playing field

Effective 2016-17, the federal government will no longer require students applying for financial aid to list all colleges to which they are applying on their FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid).

Column: Who can see the elephant in the room?

The phrase, “the elephant in the room,” or sometimes it's an “800-pound gorilla in the room,” is overused, but it is a metaphor I adore. The concept of a huge, weighty presence in the room, without anyone who will acknowledge it, describes a behavior that is all too common in contemporary time. Political correctness, or a fear of offending someone, probably explains many occurrences of the invisible elephant our contemporary rooms and offices.

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FROM THE ASSEMBLY: As school starts, remember to be safe on the roads

Summer vacation is winding down, and parents are gathering supplies and preparing to send their children back to the classroom for another productive year. Very soon, our communities and our morning commutes will be buzzing with buses filled with children on their way to and from school. It’s an exciting time, but it’s also an opportunity for all of us to think about safety. Below are some tips and reminders that can help ensure a safe and happy back-to-school season.

Column: Aftermath of a high school reunion

Quick research gives no clues as to when the whole idea of class reunions began. The only historical reference found is that they may have begun (in the U.S., at least), sometime after the Civil War, and that is for Princeton University.

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FROM THE ASSEMBLY: Women’s Equality Day is Aug. 26

In 1852, activists gathered in Syracuse to fight for equality at the third national Women’s Rights Convention. New York has remained at the forefront of the women’s rights movement ever since, but, despite significant gains, many women still lack full equality. On Aug. 26, I hope you’ll join me in observing Women’s Equality Day, which reminds us not only of the strides we have taken in securing full and equal rights for women but also of the importance of continuing the fight.

Column: Wither our water?

Abundant, plentiful fresh water is a blessing found in Central New York. Supplied with lakes — large, medium and small — rivers, streams and even canals, we have little to complain about when it comes to our water.

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Theater review: Humor dark as deceit

Bittersweet ‘White Liars’ and broad ‘Black Comedy’ draw laughs at CNY Playhouse

Two one-act comedies — “The White Liars” and “Black Comedy” by renowned British playwright Sir Peter Shaffer — are drawing chuckles, guffaws and a few groans at CNY Playhouse this month.

Column: Advice to college students on substance abuse

One of the subjects seldom discussed before students head off to college is the use and abuse of substances. Parents can try to convince themselves, “not my kid,” but the reality is that most college age students experiment with alcohol and drugs. College is a time of growth, exploration and independence. While we may not like it, most students will go to parties, drink and try other substances.

Movie review: Another reboot and reroute – ‘Fantastic Four’

I’ve never been particularly fond of reboots or rewrites of character histories, yet more and more seem to pop up on the big screen every year. Let’s see. They’ve retold and rewritten Wolverine’s story more than once.

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Volunteer of the Month August 2015 : Janelle and Jeff Fields – David’s Refuge

In order to better understand this column I think we can first agree that there is not a more daunting, emotional task for a parent than caring for a child with special needs or a life threatening disease.

Column: Feeling the backlash

It all started with the killing of Cecil the lion, but he is the topic here, only indirectly. His loss and the manner of his death provoked a reaction of outrage, which I shared with many others. In expression of my dismay, I created a small collage of photographs depicting Cecil's life in Zimbabwe, and the individuals involved in what became an international incident, then I posted it both on Facebook and Pinterest.

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FROM THE ASSEMBLY: State fair combines new attractions with old favorites

For many of us in Central New York, the summer season wouldn’t be complete without a visit to the Great New York State Fair. For over a century, the fair has been a statewide tradition and fixture in our community, bringing families from all over the country to Central New York. With programs for everyone from small children to seniors, New Yorkers of any age can enjoy time spent with friends and loved ones while taking part in traditions old and new.

In the Earth Column: Native copper boulders

The most famous native copper boulder is the Ontonagon Boulder. This solid mass of natural copper weighs 3,708 pounds and is now in the collection of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D. C. However, a much bigger boulder, weighing 17 tons just went on permanent display at the A. E. Seaman Mineral Museum in upper Michigan, which has prompted this column. Basalt is an igneous rock that has come to the surface as a liquid — that is, as lava.