Based in Watertown, Joanna files reports and feature stories of specific interest to listeners in the North Country. Her reports are heard during regional news breaks aired in Morning Edition and All Things Considered.
Every winter, Alfred Hitchcock's classic horror movie, “The Birds” gets a replay in Watertown. But not on the silver screen. Thousands of crows fly in from the countryside to roost overnight. The city's trying to evict them.
Each fall, thousands of salmon swim upstream along the Salmon River and nearby creeks, trying to return to the state's Salmon River Fish Hatchery in Altmar, where they were born. The fish head home to spawn. But they face a gauntlet of fisherman in the waterways around Pulaski, drawn by the fishes' large sizes and numbers. In this audio postcard, Joanna Richards spoke with local Pulaski resident and 30-year-fisherman Jose Fernandez along a small stream, where he was stalking salmon and escaping the crowd.
The local food trend in the North Country is starting to fill a new niche: alcoholic beverages. And not only are brewers and winemakers crafting their products there, but they're also taking advantage of the rural region to double the local appeal, with homegrown ingredients. Several of these businesses just opened in Jefferson County.
Earlier this week, a researcher from the state Health Department met with Watertown residents from the neighborhood near the New York Air Brake plant. The Health Department has agreed to study the area’s disease patterns because residents suspect that pollution from the plant has made people sick.
The North Country Children's Clinic has had a tumultuous week. It announced on Tuesday that it would cease operations Friday, but a last-minute deal with Samaritan Medical Center and the state Department of Health will keep it open for at least the next month.
A last-minute deal was struck Thursday to rescue a long-standing health care safety net for needy north country children. The North Country Children's Clinic in Watertown announced Tuesday that it would close suddenly, at the end of the week, because of dire financial problems. Now, the clinic has gotten at least another month of life.
Dan Wasneechak didn't know how bleak the North Country Children's Clinic's finances were when he was hired as its chief in August. On Tuesday, he announced the clinic would temporarily close to try to resolve its fiscal issues.
When Dan Wasneechak took the helm of the North Country Children's Clinic in August, he had no idea that less than two months into his tenure, he'd be announcing its temporary closure. But he did that yesterday afternoon, after a frantic week of trying to sort out the clinic's finances to keep it running.
Fort Drum is among the many arms of the federal government dealing with furloughs as a result of the government shutdown. Workers deemed non-essential were sent home midday yesterday.
A division spokeswoman said the timing is bad for the post, because because it comes on top of a nearly two-year hiring freeze that has many departments already down to bare bones staffing. And this is a busy time for Fort Drum, with multiple units preparing for imminent deployments, and others returning and going through reintegration.
Soldiers participate in a homecoming ceremony at Fort Drum.
Fort Drum may be facing personnel cutbacks as a result of the federal budget reductions known as sequestration. The post submitted recommendations to the Department of the Army about how it would want to make the cuts, if needed.
People climbed up the bleachers in the grandstand at the Lewis County Fairgrounds in Lowville on Saturday for a rally opposing the New York SAFE Act. More than 400 people turned out to condemn the controversial package of gun control measures passed by the state Legislature in January.
A big redevelopment project is getting underway in the village of Clayton. The first pieces of equipment have been at work on the former Frink Snowplow Factory site in recent weeks. This represents the beginning of an aggressive construction schedule that aims to bring the Clayton Harbor Hotel to life by Memorial Day 2014.
Kristi Dippel, head of the Clayton Local Development Corporation, says it's gratifying to see all the planning on the project coming to fruition.
"After over 10 years that this has been in the making, and we finally have activity on site, it's definitely the talk on the street, it's the talk of the town. People are very excited to see something happening over there," she said.
An unusual pair of “battle buddies” is about to deploy to Afghanistan from Fort Drum. Michael and Miranda Mogg are a father-daughter pair of soldiers with the 10th Combat Aviation Brigade of the Army's 10th Mountain Division.
Dr. Dan Mitchell, a psychologist at the North Country Children's Clinic, demonstrates his practice's new electronic medical record system at the clinic's offices in Watertown.
While lots of industries turned to information technology long ago to improve efficiency, accuracy and collaboration, until now, health care has lagged behind. Now, a big project has aimed to leverage IT in the health care in the state’s rural North Country.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo recently announced New York would invest $250 million to develop smart grid technologies to modernize the state's energy grid. At Clarkson University, the highly regarded science and engineering school in St. Lawrence County, a professor working on smart energy grid systems was just awarded a grant by IBM. The $10,000 prize will help him continue his research, and develop coursework for students to train the next generation to use this hot technology.
Marital fidelity is a sensitive subject for many in the military. Relationships are stressed by distance, frequent moves and the dangers of war. Gen. David Petraeus's admission that he had an extramarital affair has led some Fort Drum families to reflect on the difficulties of keeping their personal relationships whole – and their image among a public that often doesn't understand their culture.
Marital fidelity is a sensitive subject for many in the military. Relationships are often strained by distance, frequent moves, the dangers of war. Gen. David Petraeus' admission that he had an extramarital affair has led some military families to reflect on the difficulties of keeping their personal relationships whole. Reporter Joanna Richards spoke with families from the Army's 10th Mountain Division, based at Fort Drum, in upstate New York.
Construction of the giant hydropower dam near Massena in the 1950s forever tamed the once wild St. Lawrence River. It allowed engineers to harness the river’s natural ebb and flow for energy production and to protect homes and ports at the same time. But in the process, it hurt the indigenous plants and animals that depend on those highs and lows to survive. The environmental group Save The River has been leading a charge to persuade the agency that controls water levels to return more natural ebbs and flows to the St. Lawrence. One way is by giving the younger generation of River residents a hands-on lesson.
Town officials and community members from the Jefferson County towns of Cape Vincent and Lyme gave energy company BP a clear signal at a meeting last night in Cape Vincent: a wind farm isn't welcome there.
With a wind project proposed by BP, the town of Cape Vincent recently passed strict new regulations for commercial wind turbines. Then BP began seeking state review under the Article X law. That process could bypass local laws, if they're deemed “unreasonable.” Now the company has called a meeting with town officials, scheduled for Tuesday night.
Right now, county jails – and ultimately, local property taxpayers – are footing the bill for housing state parole violators while they wait for the state to pick them up. State Senator Patty Ritchie (R-Heuvelton) has proposed a solution to the problem.
For the first time since Fort Drum's expansion after the terrorist attack of 9/11, all of its three brigade combat teams are back home at the post. After multiple deployments in two wars spanning 11 years, the soldiers' needs for mental health services are unprecedented, and complicated. Fort Drum and the surrounding community are cooperating to respond to those needs.
“Forever Wild” is the term in New York’s constitution used to describe state forest preserves in the Adirondacks. Community leaders in and around the park have used that term to inform their vision for economic development. Their slogan – and the name of a conference held annually at Clarkson University in Potsdam – is “Forever Wired.” The fourth conference continued a push to expand broadband internet access, and economic opportunity, in the Adirondacks.
The Watertown International Airport has seen huge growth in the past year, with a switch from nine-seater to 44-seater planes and direct connections to Chicago. Now the airport will be able to catch up on some overdue infrastructure, with a $2 million grant from the federal government.
A toxic waste site in Watertown is drawing renewed attention from residents and city leaders. New York Air Brake's chemical dump on the north side of town was cleaned up in the 1990s. State environmental officials say it's been monitored since then and they're convinced it's safe for neighbors and wildlife. But people who live nearby believe they have health problems traceable to the site. And they fear it still poses a health risk.