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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.

No good movies playing? No way! Check out your local arts cinema

The spring and summer months after the Oscars come out can be a difficult time for American movie goers. It seems like all of the well-crafted, interesting movies have gone into hiding and in their place have arrived jarring blockbusters and action flicks designed solely to overstimulate the senses. While those movies can sometimes be fun (Thor, I'm thinking of you here), overall they don't offer much satisfaction to people who see cinema as an art form on par with great literature or painting.

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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.

OPINION: Teaching to Greatness

Since moving to Syracuse from the Boston area in 2012, I have been captivated by the impassioned public push back here in Central New York on state-mandated accountability testing – high stakes testing that is lately driven by an approach to elementary and secondary education known as the Common Core Standards.

LETTER: We lost one of the ‘Last of the Mohicans’

Letter to the editor from the April 9 edition of the Skaneateles Press.

Along the Lakeshore: A New York history lesson

Along the Lakeshore column from the April 9, 2014 edition of the Skaneateles Press.

Who is John Katko?

At the request of the Dewitt Republican Committee, I met with John Katko to discuss his views on a number of issues related to the 24th Congressional race. The committee, and even our non-political neighbors, have been concerned that candidates are too often being defined by the negative ads and sound-bites provided by their opponents. This is an effort to have Katko define who he is and how he will represent the people.

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: Open house showed enthusiasm for STEM programs and equipment

Letter to the editor from the April 2, 2014 Skaneateles Press.

LETTER: What the town needs to consider about town hall move

Letter to the editor from the April 2, 2014 edition of the Skaneateles Press.

On the Move: Using walking aids

Physical therapists, who are experts in restoring and improving motion, recommend that elderly adults who use canes and walkers as walking aids be properly assessed and fitted by a physical therapist to avoid fall-related injuries.

Along the Lakeshore: Yacking geese; high power bill

Along the Lakeshore column from the April 2, 2014 Skaneateles Press.

LETTER: Minoa trustees thank residents

To the editor: John Champagne and I would like to express our sincere gratitude to the residents of the village of Minoa for re-electing us to the office of trustee.

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?