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From the state senate: Support Cell Phones for Soldiers

I have kicked off my seventh-annual Cell Phones For Soldiers collection drive to help our soldiers serving overseas stay connected with their loved ones back home, especially during the holidays. You can support this important cause by donating your gently-used mobile phones to any of my designated collection sites throughout Onondaga County and the city of Auburn. 

What to Read: Books and the Reading Life: Holiday Wish List: Books for Christmas

Looking for that perfect gift? Books are always the right size. They’re simple to wrap and never go out of style. They’re also relatively easy on the wallet. My favorite Christmas presents are always books. I make sure my family knows what’s on my wish list. But I also like surprises. Here’s a list of books for a range of readers on your Christmas list. Recommended by Cazenovia Public Library staff, the selection includes fiction, non-fiction, young adult and children’s picture books.

LIBRARY FOCUS: Check out BPL’s holiday programs

Whatever the season we’re here to make your life better, be sure to take advantage of some of our special holiday themed services, classes and entertainments this December. First and foremost, stay off the spammers’ radar by sending your Santa letters the old fashioned way in our special Santa Express box. Drop them off by Dec. 20 and you should get a reply by Christmas. You can also save shopping trips by picking up some calendars chock full of historic B’ville photos for just $10 or buying your stocking stuffers from the Friends of the Library’s nut table full of delicious and reasonably priced snacks and hostess gifts.

Looking forward to Skä·noñh — Great Law of Peace Center

After going dark for more than three years, the old French Fort’s fixing to rekindle its fires more brightly than ever. The facility, which has been known as Saint Marie Among the Iroquois for the past two decades, will now be known as Skä·noñh — Great Law of Peace Center thanks to a joint effort by the Onondaga Historical Association, Onondaga County, the Onondaga Nation and local colleges.

Volunteers make holiday efforts possible

This time of year, there are a number of foot soldiers out there working to make someone’s holiday special. Whether it’s adopting a family to make sure they have presents under the tree or working at a local community dinner to ensure that people have a warm holiday meal in good company, many volunteer their time to give back to their community.

Chiefs predict more fireworks on and off the field

New Syracuse Chiefs General Manager Jason Smorol, who lives in Liverpool, delivered a Rockne-like pep talk at the annual shareholders’ meeting last Tuesday, Nov. 18, at NBT Bank Stadium.

State offers scholarships, assistance with higher ed

Fall is the time of year when many graduating high school seniors start to look toward the future. According to the New York State Education Department, in 2010, 82 percent of high school graduates in New York entered postsecondary education which includes either two- or four-year institutions.

It’s time to get excited about Onondaga Lake

On Nov. 3, Honeywell announced that they have completed the court ordered dredging and removal of 2.2 million cubic yards of contaminated material on the western shore of Onondaga Lake, a year ahead of schedule.

One-on-one help for your new tech toys

If your holiday wish list includes a new tablet, e-reader or mp3 player, then you’re going to want to add a one-on-one tech session NOPL to your list, too. Not only can we help you learn to use your new device, but we can show you how you can borrow e-books, audiobooks and magazines, stream music, television shows and movies, and even download songs — all with your library card.

Thanking our veterans

This column is dedicated to our veterans. I am pleased to host the CNY Veterans Parade and Expo held at the New York State Fairgrounds. Each year, this event gets bigger and better and this year was no exception. Fair officials estimated that more than 8,000 spectators and participants came through the gates to salute and honor the extraordinary service that our Central New York men and women in uniform have contributed to defending America’s freedoms.

LIBRARY FOCUS: Give thanks for BPL programs

Give thanks this week brings us a brief break for reflection before the holiday madness reaches full speed. In the meantime we have resources to help you cope, help you profit or help you get out of the way of the prevailing insanity.

Supporting our veterans

Last week, we saw many celebrations and ceremonies to honor our veterans and those currently serving in our military. I had the pleasure to participate in the Cicero American Legion’s open house on Veterans Day and was honored to speak with many local veterans. They have done so much for us and deserve our respect and support.

Meteorologist Carrie Cheevers actually loves lake effect

Well, we’ve endured the first lake effect snowfall of the year. A few inches blanketed lawns and landscapes from Oswego to Ithaca after flakes began falling at noon Friday, Nov. 14, and continued on and off for a couple days. The unusual mid-day squall was offset by intermittent appearances of blue skies and sunshine, as though Mother Nature couldn’t quite make up her mind.

What freedom, independence and Veterans Day mean to me

As conflicts continue today and our armed forces face adversaries on multiple battlefields, I would ask if, in our current conflicts, on this Veteran’s Day we are fighting toward the altogether same insurgent “pyrrhic” victory with modest gains whose cumulative effect does not significantly change the strategic state of the current 12-year Afghanistan “siege”? Most importantly, a “victory” in which the cost (the loss of so many lives) far outweighs the benefit? I want to believe the cost was and is worth it, but history will be the judge.

Get your flu vaccine

Have you had your flu vaccination yet? You’re going to get one, right? We’re enjoying unseasonably warm weather, the fall colors are beautiful and the flu is far from our minds, but the truth is, the flu season is here; now is the time to act. Those beautiful fall colors are our first reminder to protect ourselves from the flu, and the flu vaccine is the best way to get that protection. Public health officials recommend the flu vaccine for everyone over the age of six months. I realize that many people equate the flu with the common cold, but that’s not true. The flu is serious; it can put you in the hospital and is a killer. Every year thousands die from the flu.