You gotta problem with my lilacs?

The Mrs. publicly attacked me for aggravating her allergies by bringing a bouquet of lilacs into the house.  Sales of her favorite essential oil recipe for relief skyrocketed as she took to Facebook to blame my thoughtful gesture for her swollen eyes.  Never mind the tree pollen storm that just descended upon our quiet village (my car is now yellow – I have a yellow car), the small bunch of lilacs were the root of the problem, she was sure.

So let’s set the record straight.  Thanks to our friends at TheSpruce.com, I can confirm what I already knew and the Mrs. chose to ignore: though sometimes extremely fragrant, the lilac is low in allergy-inducing pollen.  Among the lilac’s partners in the fragrant but not-likely-sneeze-worthy category: “gardenia, hyacinth, jasmine [and lilacs]. (Many of the French hybrid lilacs and the white or yellow varieties are not as highly scented.)”  \

And furthermore, over to the good people at PollenLibrary.com, where we either learn a new word or they just made one up: Allergenicity.

Allergenicity: No allergy has been reported for Common Lilac (Syringa vulgaris) species.

So there you have it – I’ll wait for my public apology now.

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Where are the town police?

In recent months, local police have been behind such initiatives as “high-five Fridays,” with officers enthusiastically greeting school children in the morning.  The #CopsLoveLemonadeStands hashtag has thrived on social media, with some police departments even encouraging parents to “report” their child’s lemonade stand in advance so cops can use the opportunity to interact with kids between emergency calls.  Officers and kids come together to “shop with a cop” for school supplies purchased with donations for those in need.  Some young kids are even occasionally selected to have breakfast with a local officer, then get a first-class ride to school in a radio car.

None of these things happened in the Town of Montgomery, NY.

Nearly seven months into the school year and I have yet to see a police officer at Berea Elementary School during the morning drop-off or afternoon dismissal.  My wife hasn’t either.  When I queried school teachers at Berea, I was not surprised to hear that they rarely see police officers at the school outside of an occasional lock-down drill or when called because someone is using the school parking lot for “something crazy.”

There are too many precious opportunities missed.

Sadly, my emails and phone calls to Town of Montgomery Police Chief Amthor have gone unanswered.  The only strong public outreach I have noticed from the department recently has been an amnesty program for heroin addicts.  I recognize the epidemic and surge in overdose deaths, and I support efforts to curb it.  But the fact is that keeping a kid from taking a pill in the first place – and ultimately shooting up –should be just as high of a priority as helping someone get clean.  Much of this begins with opportunities to introduce our kids to our police – frequently, and in a positive setting.

Our area is blessed with outstanding local police officers – genuinely engaging and dedicated to the task.  I can only hope that the town leadership sees that we are failing our kids with virtually no police presence where it is needed most – at our schools and with our youth.

This letter originally appeared in the Wallkill Valley Times, March 22, 2017

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The State of the Media and How You Can Help

IACP Blog

Guest Blogger: Katie Nelson, Social Media + Public Relations Coordinator, Mountain View, California, Police Department

It’s no secret that currently, the journalism industry is struggling in ways that it has never seen before. The effort to transition from print publications to a “digital first” mindset has set some of the biggest and most widely distributed news organizations into a tailspin.

News organizations are looking for ways to not only stay afloat financially, but to proactively publish first in an environment that is focused heavily on breaking news to the masses on social media. As the younger generations of journalists – who also happen to be digital natives – grow in the digital sphere, and as the rise of social media gives voice to anyone who has access to an account to report or comment on news, the question that looms large is: how can you partner with media representatives to reflect…

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