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Watertown Dog Park Facebook page

For nine years, Watertown resident Scott Gates has pleaded with the city council to approve a dog park in Watertown’s iconic Thompson Park. But the city’s new mayor, Joe Butler, was very blunt with Gates at the most recent council meeting on Monday. Butler told Gates he had no interest in approving a dog park.

Gates acknowledges there are lots of issues in Watertown that need attention, and many think constructing a dog park isn't one of them. But Gates says he’s not asking for much.

Comparing health insurance plans can be a confusing and complicated process. PPO, HMO and EPO may seem like they’re part of a foreign language. But this week on WRVO's health and wellness show “Take Care,” hosts Lorraine Rapp and Linda Lowen speak with Erin Singleton of the Patient Advocate Foundation. She helps decipher the meaning and importance of things like co-pays, deductibles and shared costs.

Matt Coulter / Syracuse University

Note: The full interview will be broadcast on The Campbell Conversations, Saturday at 6 a.m. and again Sunday at 6 p.m. Audio and transcript of the full interview will be posted online Saturday morning. 

kristen_a / Flickr

Not even a week into the job and officials in the town of Scriba are already trying to fire the new superintendent of highways.

Superintendent Mike Barry was arrested in July 2015, registering a blood alcohol content of .14, his second DWI charge in recent years. Then in November, Barry was elected as the town's next superintendent of highways in Scriba. Scriba town Supervisor Ken Burdick said that only happened because the town was unaware of the charge until after the election.

governorandrewcuomo / Flickr

The New York State Senate held a hearing on raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour. While Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Assembly Democrats support the phase in to a higher wage, many senators remain uncommitted.

Luke H. Gordon / Flickr

Some Syracuse Common Councilors still have no access to the city’s computers. The legislative body begins a new year with some new members, and their computer access still in the hands of the courts.

Common Councilors filed a second lawsuit asking the city to turn on computers in early December, and it has languished there since.

Common Council President Van Robinson says he is doubtful a local judge wants to rule on the case, which asks that computer access be restored to councilors, their staff and the city clerk’s office. 
 

Simon Wheeler / The Ithaca Journal

Seventeen miners were rescued this morning after spending about 10 hours stuck overnight in the Cayuga Salt Mine elevator shaft 900 feet below the earth in Lansing. Law enforcement and fire safety officials said they are thankful the rescue went smoothly.

Matt Coulter / Syracuse University

WRVO Public Media will air the first joint interview with Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner and Onondaga County Executive Joanie Mahoney this weekend during "The Campbell Conversations." This is the first joint interview between Mahoney and Miner since a public dispute (and lawsuit) over county tax breaks given to a developer the city of Syracuse alleges it had previous arrangements with.

Nuclear Regulatory Commission

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), which regulates nuclear power plants, is allowing the public more time to weigh in on how nuclear power plants are shut down as it considers changes to how the plants close, or decommission. It's a lengthy process that can take decades as the fuel decays and funds to pay for the shut down build up. 

Karen DeWitt / WRVO News

The opening day of the legislative session featured talk of ethics reform, but Gov. Andrew Cuomo chose to be elsewhere, putting off his traditional State of the State message for another week, and giving speeches in Syracuse and New York City instead.

The Senate and Assembly convened  for the first time since both leaders of the legislature were convicted of multiple corruption charges in late 2015 and now face potentially decades in prison.

Julia Botero / WRVO News

Samaritan Medical Center  in Watertown will soon have a new maternity ward. Hospital officials are planning a $10 million expansion that they say will address the changing needs of the community.

 The hospital is now moving forward with their plan to transform the inside of that building into a wing of the hospital with its own entrance. The third floor will be devoted to a pediatric center and a new maternity ward. 

Samaritan Medical Center's CEO, Thomas Carman, says this means women in labor will have easier access to the hospital.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO News

The city of Syracuse’s Department of Neighborhood and Business Development is asking the Common Council to approve a year-long contract with a software company to monitor the hiring practices of the city’s contractors. The goal is to continually gather information on who is benefiting from city contracts.

The proposal would require new contractors to use the software to track information on who they employ. The information would include workers' gender, ethnicity, pay rate and where they live, something that Councilor Jean Kessner said is important.

Doug Kerr / via Flickr

Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s 2016 agenda includes more spending on transportation infrastructure and a plan to ease tolls on the the New York State Thruway for some New Yorkers.

Cuomo unveiled the latest peek into his plans for the coming year in Liverpool yesterday, proposing $22 billion for fixing roads and bridges upstate over the next five years, in what he calls the biggest ever transportation capital plan.

Watertown Police Department

The Watertown Police Department is asking for the public’s help in locating two missing teenagers. Katie Loffler and Austin Eggleson, both 16, were reported missing from the Jefferson County Children’s Home in Watertown last month. Police believe both are in Ogdensburg.

Lt. Joe Donoghue with the Watertown Police says the St. Lawrence County Department of Social Services has responsibility over the two teenagers.

governorandrewcuomo / flickr

President Barack Obama announced yesterday that he plans to tighten gun control measures using his executive authority. That move drew mixed reviews here in New York, a state with some of the toughest gun regulations in the country.

Some activists said government officials were infringing on their right to own and carry firearms, but others said New York should go even further to restrict access to guns and ammunition.

The shooting that changed the debate

governorandrewcuomo / Flickr

Gov. Andrew Cuomo says he’ll increase funding to environmental projects as well as state parks, in his 2016 budget. The news was applauded by environmentalists, as well as some business leaders.

Cuomo is releasing parts of his 2016 agenda in the days leading up to his speech. In a speech on Long Island, he said that he’ll increase the state’s Environmental Protection Fund, which languished during the long recession and slow economic recovery.

Payne Horning / WRVO News

Anger was palpable at Oswego's Common Council meeting Monday evening over an increase in sewer and water rates. 

Many in the crowd voiced their displeasure with the Council for its December vote that increased flat water rates by $212 a year and metered rates by $152 a year. Some residents feel the cost of living in the city is becoming too high.

Sidsel Overgaard / WRVO News File Photo

Onondaga County Legislature Chairman Ryan McMahon was already in the midst of learning about the connection between deer and Lyme disease last summer, when he noticed a bulls-eye rash on his son’s back.

"And I freaked out and I went to urgent care and I knew more what I was talking about than some of the folks did there. So I’ve seen on all ends of the spectrum how this can impact from a concerned parent, to talking with parents who’ve had their children with this issue, to talking with adults who’ve been bitten and have Lyme disease,” said McMahon.

The third time wasn’t a charm for Onondaga County CSEA workers, as members of the county’s largest union have again rejected a contract offer.

The vote wasn’t close: 1057 workers were opposed to the agreement, only 747 agreed with it. 

This is the third negotiated deal between Onondaga County and employees of several departments, including the district attorney’s office, the Department of Social Services and OCC.   

Alex Crichton / WXXI News

Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) says terrorist organizations are using social media to recruit members, so the federal government must double down on its efforts to monitor their online recruiting methods.

He was in Rochester Tuesday to push for passage of the Combat Terrorist Use of Social Media Act, which has already passed the House.

Broome County teacher declares candidacy for Hanna seat

Jan 5, 2016
Bret Jaspers / WSKG News

Republican George Phillips of Broome County announced Monday he will run to replace retiring Rep. Richard Hanna in Congress. 

Phillips is a history teacher at Seton Catholic High School in Binghamton. He lost a tight race for Congress against longtime Democratic Rep. Maurice Hinchey in 2010, before district lines were redrawn.

Speaking to reporters at Rec Park in Binghamton, Phillips said he plans to focus on the economy in his campaign.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO News

An executive order from Gov. Andrew Cuomo that will require homeless people to be taken to shelters when the temperature is freezing goes into effect today. Homeless organizations and shelters in central New York still have unanswered questions about how the order will work.

governorandrewcuomo / Flickr

Gov. Andrew Cuomo won’t be giving his State of the State speech for another week, but he has already begun laying out his 2016 agenda. On Monday, he held a rally to raise the minimum wage for all New York workers to $15 an hour.

Cuomo has already begun a piecemeal attempt to increase the minimum wage through executive actions to phase in an increase for state workers and fast food workers to $15 an hour over the next several years.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

An attempt to reverse pay raises for some Onondaga County elected officials is still alive, but barely. Republican Legislator Kevin Holmquist railed against the 15 and 30 percent raises for legislators and Onondaga County Executive Joanie Mahoney when they were voted on last month. Now, he's trying to get those raises rescinded.

Holmquist couldn’t get the votes to consider it at the Legislature’s organizational meeting this week and had to settle for potentially taking it through the committee process.

Ryan Delaney / WRVO News File Photo

As 2016 gets underway, Rep. John Katko (R-Camilius) is embarking on his second year in Washington, representing the 24th Congressional District. The former federal prosecutor had never held political office before winning the seat in 2014.

While Katko said he went to Washington with his eyes open to the dysfunction and the partisan politics of the Capitol,  things weren’t as bad as he expected.

Payne Horning / WRVO News

The state of New York's energy market changed dramatically in 2015. As natural gas and renewable sources took center stage, nuclear power sources like Oswego County's FitzPatrick Nuclear Plant were squeezed.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News File Photo

Authorities are hoping 2016 is the year New York state gets a handle on a growing drug problem -- the increased use of synthetic cannabinoids, also known as spike or spice, which led to hundreds of hospitalizations in New York state last year. One downstate lawmaker hopes the answer lies in copying a federal law that’s been on the books since 1986.

Solvejg Wastvedt / WSKG News

Recent college grads in New York can now get some help paying off their loans with the state’s new student loan forgiveness program.

There are quite a few boxes you have to check to be part of the program:

Village of Lyons dissolves

Jan 4, 2016
lyonsny.com

The village of Lyons, along with its government and police force, will no longer exist as of the New Year.

That’s because voters in March voted in favor of dissolution, and the village will now come under the auspices of the Town of Lyons.

But village Mayor Terry Van Stean says many residents were under the assumption that there would be a townwide police department when they voted in favor of the dissolution plan.

"Unfortunately, the way the dissolution law is structured in New York state, the town isn't required to follow the dissolution plan."

Students, faculty reflect on a turbulent term at SUNY Potsdam

Jan 1, 2016
Brit Hanson / NCPR

The first hate letter came last spring. Since then, a total of three threats have arrived at SUNY Potsdam, singling out a professor, then adding in other minorities and the LGBT community.

Those notes sparked deep concern at the college. Students and faculty said it was a hard fall semester, filled with fear and stress, and questions about diversity and fairness on campus. There are signs of progress. But there’s also a need for some kind of reset before the conversation resumes in January.

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