Saturday, June 18, 2011

The 'public hearing that wasn't' story has been posted

READING CENTER, Town of Reading, New York, USA - The story I wrote about here Friday, kind of wild story to write (and chase) has already been posted by The Observer newspapers, a two-newspaper chain for which I write several stories per week.

Reading planning board member
I've been following a controversy over a proposal to store liquid propane gas in salt caverns. The company that wants to do it (Inergy of Kansas City, MO) says it is as safe as can be.

Opponents are terrified of potential accidents, plus, rumbling propane trucks aren't really complimentary to the tourist industry here at Seneca Lake.

Here is a link to the story, photo and video.
Public told: Go away

And the brief video can be seen below, too.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Covering local government - there's always a surprise lurking

READING CENTER, Town of Reading, New York, USA - What was supposed to be a routine, go-to-meeting, take-notes-at-meeting, write-story-of-meeting evening turned into a major imbroglio that sent me to the law books, put me in contact with a lawyer specializing in open meetings and forced me to turn up the heat on some local politicians to get some answers.

And those politicians? They don't like heat very much.

Actually, not at all.

Chairman of the board
I can't report too much about it in this space right now. I filed a story, photo and video with a local newspaper (as their on-the-spot correspondent). But the story is basically that a long-planned presentation got canceled, precisely at the moment it was supposed to start.

Not very polite to the presenters, some of whom had driven some distances to attend and hear about the dangers of storing propane in salt caverns. Politics involved? Hoo-boy, yes.

When the presentation was canceled by the planning board, many of the attendees opted to head off to a Brewfest where money was being raised for their cause - keeping the propane storage project from being built.

The Brewfest was certainly better than going home and crying in a beer, for sure.

I retreated home to start the grinding process of contacting people for the story. But while I missed out on the Brewfest, I had Dr. Reisling to keep me company.

Tuesday, I will post the story, video and photos here, along with some commentary about how I put the package together.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

The one-hour rule, pared down to fit a crazy summer schedule

WATKINS GLEN, New York, USA - When things get too complicated (too many things to do, seemingly not enough time), I revert to what I call the one-hour rule.

For one hour, I focus entirely on whatever task/issue/job I choose. And during that time, no checking emails, (or Facebook, Twitter or Linkedin). No going outside to check on the status of the slowly growing tomato plants. No endless trips to the teapot for just a little more beverage.

It is amazing what can be accomplished in a focused hour.

But that rule does take, well, an hour to implement and so today, an experiment is underway: do the same thing, but in half-hour chunks.

That leaves me approximately 22 minutes to finish this blog. That's an endless vista, almost.

On the writing front, here in upstate New York, I have been successful in publishing a dozen pieces in two local newspapers, the Elmira Star Gazette and the Watkins Glen Review and Express. Neither would be confused with the New York Times, but then, the vast majority of people in this town do not read the NY Times.

But they do read these local papers. And they read them closely.

Other good writing news: a national magazine - Dog Fancy - has taken a piece from me about our Mexican foster dog Mia, currently living with our amiga Laura outside Guadalajara, Mexico.

Even my half-written novel (The Talking Mime) is on the to-do list, with an August finish date, a half-hour at a time.

And one new book (long in planning) has crept into a priority position: 18 Hours to Madrid.

But that's a topic for another column.

I only have 15 minutes left, and I need to throw a few graphics in this piece.

The half-hour rule, rules.