Joanna Richards

Reporter, Innovation Trail, North Country

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.

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9:26am

Tue October 23, 2012
Regional Coverage

BP to meet with towns of Cape Vincent & Lyme about wind power project

Strict new regulations for commercial wind turbines aim to send a clear message to BP.
Martin Abegglen Flickr

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. 

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10:12am

Tue October 16, 2012
Regional Coverage

Patty Ritchie on cost of housing state parole violators in county jails

State Senator Patty Ritchie held a meeting Monday in Watertown with law enforcement and elected officials.
Joanna Richards/WRVO

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. 

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4:00am

Thu October 11, 2012
Regional Coverage

Ft. Drum and community work to provide mental health services

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.

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8:54am

Tue October 9, 2012
Regional Coverage

Broadband in the Adirondacks: leaders want new community of telecommuters

A panel discusses "connectivity success stories" at the fourth annual Forever Wired conference at Clarkson University in Potsdam.
Mark Kurtz

“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.  

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12:15pm

Fri September 28, 2012
Regional Coverage

Watertown Airport recieves federal grant for improvements

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.

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8:50am

Wed September 26, 2012
Politics

Opponent accuses Patty Ritchie of using taxpayer dollars to campaign

Amy Tresidder, the Democratic candidate running against Republican state Senator Patty Ritchie, is accusing the incumbent of misusing taxpayer funds to boost her campaign. 

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8:57am

Fri September 21, 2012
Environment

DEC tries to calm fears over industrial site's health effects

The New York Air Brake industrial site was cleaned up in the late 1990s, but neighborhood residents fear chemicals from the site may be the cause of their illnesses.
Joanna Richards WRVO

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.

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4:04pm

Tue September 18, 2012
Regional Coverage

Police, hospital say bath salts drug cases down in Watertown area

This summer, the synthetic drugs known as bath salts alarmed emergency responders all over upstate New York, including in Jefferson County. In Watertown, they dealt with unstable, violent users several times a day. But lawmakers and law enforcement at the local, state and federal levels have been responding with crackdowns on the drugs. Now, both police and hospital officials in Watertown say cases are down sharply. 

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7:00am

Tue August 28, 2012
Regional Coverage

Local food economy overcomes obstacles

Matt Volz, owner of Greyrock Farm, near Cazenovia, shows off one of his farm's meat chickens.
Joanna Richards/WRVO

Recently, local food has been turning up on more grocery store shelves and restaurants in upstate New York. But the local food economy still faces challenges to bringing agricultural products from farm to table.

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9:08am

Mon August 27, 2012
Regional Coverage

New pavilion part of downtown Watertown's revitalization

Shoppers and vendors shelter from the sun under a new pavilion at the Saturday Farmers Market in Watertown.
Joanna Richards/WRVO

The city of Watertown has built a new pavilion as part of its downtown revitalization project. It's meant to house outdoor activities, including the Saturday farmers market. The farmers market held an appreciation ceremony to thank the city on Saturday.

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9:28am

Fri August 24, 2012
Regional Coverage

Erin Brockovich's firm speaks out against industrial pollution in Watertown

Environmental investigator Robert Bowcock speaks to a packed house about pollution at the New York Air Brake site in Watertown on Wednesday.

You may remember actor Julia Roberts’ portrayal of environmental activist Erin Brockovich in the 2001 movie of the same name. The real Brockovich was scheduled to visit Watertown last night. But she got sick and was unable to travel.

Instead, concerned residents who live near the toxic waste site caused by the New York Air Brake factory got to talk with Brockovich’s representative. Some believe pollution in the area has caused them health problems.

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9:37am

Fri August 17, 2012
Regional Coverage

Restaurants are serving up more fresh, local ingredients

A cook makes a local, grass-fed beef burger at The Hops Spot in Sackets Harbor, in Jefferson County.
Joanna Richards WRVO

It's a busy Sunday morning at Empire Brewing Company in Syracuse. Behind the line, cooks shout brunch orders and the dining area is filling up with customers. A blues band is setting up for a set, a weekly tradition here.

Company president David Katleski sits in a big booth near the kitchen. The sounds are like any other busy restaurant, but there's something different going on here.

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11:00am

Thu August 16, 2012
Regional Coverage

Retail stores offering more food from local producers

An in-store display at Wegman's in Liverpool showcases locally-grown produce.

As fast as veggies are popping up in the garden, local foods are showing up on grocery store shelves throughout northern New York.

A new food co-op recently opened in Clayton, in Jefferson County, that showcases locally-sourced vegetables and other products, but big grocery chains like Hannaford and Wegman's are getting in on the trend, too, adding more of the region's products to store shelves.

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5:32pm

Fri August 10, 2012
Regional Coverage

Cuomo says Article X strikes right balance on power issues

While at Fort Drum this week talking about biomass fuel, Governor Andrew Cuomo chimed in on another energy issue – one much more likely to strike nerves in the North Country: the state's new Article X law.

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3:30pm

Tue August 7, 2012
Regional Coverage

Cuomo defends property tax cap

Governor Andrew Cuomo was at Fort Drum yesterday, touring a former coal plant that's being converted to a biomass facility.  He responded to questions from reporters about the statewide property tax cap.

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9:33am

Tue August 7, 2012
Regional Coverage

Governor praises coal-to-biomass plant conversion at Fort Drum

Governor Andrew Cuomo spoke to the press yesteday after touring an idled coal plant that is being converted to a wood biomass facility on Fort Drum.
Joanna Richards WRVO

Governor Andrew Cuomo traveled to Fort Drum Monday, where he toured an idled coal plant being converted to produce power using wood biomass.

Cuomo says he is going to send a letter to Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta urging the Defense Department to draw up a contract with the plant to provide energy to Fort Drum.

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10:22am

Mon August 6, 2012
Regional Coverage

Lewis County to consider synthetic drug ban

Like many other local governments in New York responding to the bizarre behavior of people using the drugs known as “bath salts,” Lewis County is considering a ban on many of the compounds used in synthetic drugs.

The ban would outlaw bath salts and synthetic marijuana, sold under the brand names Spice and K2, among others.

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9:36am

Fri August 3, 2012
Regional Coverage

Division-wide training exercises at Fort Drum stretch soldiers' skills

Soldiers fire into a mock Afghan village at Fort Drum during division-wide Mountain Peak training exercises.
Joanna Richards/WRVO

From July 23 until today, Fort Drum has been holding its biggest training exercise in a decade. WRVO Reporter Joanna Richards donned body armor and a helmet to observe the maneuvers – and find out how they prepare soldiers for war.

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11:55pm

Tue July 31, 2012
Regional Coverage

Family, friends remember Sgt. Daniel Rodriguez as community turns out for Carthage funeral

Joanna Richards WRVO

The remains of a Fort Drum soldier killed in Afghanistan earlier this month returned to home of the 10th Mountain Division on Sunday, and his funeral was held yesterday in Carthage, in Jefferson County.

At 28 years old, Staff Sergeant Daniel Rodriguez had a wife and three children – and four combat tours under his belt after 10 years of service in the Army.

Those who knew him said Rodriguez will be remembered for his humor, the love he had for his family, and the commitment he had to his military career.  

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8:30am

Fri July 27, 2012
Regional Coverage

Community meetings take aim at “bath salts” drugs

Jefferson County Sheriff's Detective David Pustizzi speaks to dozens of community members gathered at South Jefferson High School in Adams on Wednesday.

Community meetings are popping up as fast as the bizarre stories surrounding a drug known as bath salts or glass cleaner. The drugs are sold in head shops and convenience stores – they are not typical bath products or window cleaners. Three meetings in Jefferson County this week aimed to address the growing drug problem.

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4:32pm

Thu July 26, 2012
Regional Coverage

Nationwide police action targets synthetic drug makers, sellers; Watertown, Syracuse shops raided

A first-ever nationwide raid on the synthetic drug industry was conducted yesterday, and hit stores in Watertown, Syracuse and around the area. The raid follows a new federal law that bans many of the chemical compounds used to make synthetic drugs like bath salts.

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9:23am

Thu July 26, 2012
Regional Coverage

Watertown airport reaches 10,000 passenger milestone

Passengers wait for a 7 a.m. flight to Chicago at the Watertown International Airport.
Joanna Richards/WRVO

Watertown International Airport swapped its 9-seater flights to Albany for 44-seater flights to Chicago back in November. So far, passengers and officials seem to agree it's been a big success.

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6:38am

Fri July 20, 2012
Regional Coverage

Northern New York crash kills six

Joanna Richards WRVO

Six people died Thursday in a crash with a tractor-trailer on Route 11 in the town of Antwerp, in Jefferson County.

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4:21pm

Wed July 18, 2012
Regional Coverage

Dry weather threatens hay, corn crops

The hot, dry weather is taking a toll on crops in the region. Scattered heavy rains have brought some relief to some areas, but overall, production of field crops like hay and corn is suffering. In the North Country, it's been decades since the area experienced a summer so dry.

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9:29am

Wed July 11, 2012
Regional Coverage

Cape Vincent mulls new rules governing wind development

Joanna Richards WRVO

The town of Cape Vincent has been torn over the prospect of a wind farm for years. A local committee has just completed a proposed new zoning law. Local officials hope that those rules – and not the state's new Article X process – will govern future wind development in the town.

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4:07am

Fri July 6, 2012
Regional Coverage

Gillibrand says economy requires investment to stimulate growth

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand is flanked by MetalCraft Marine officials Thursday in Cape Vincent.

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand is traveling around New York making her case for Democratic economic policies. Thursday she did so at a boat manufacturing facility in Cape Vincent.

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11:43pm

Tue July 3, 2012
Regional Coverage

Fort Drum soldier becomes U.S. citizen at White House ceremony

It's a national tradition for naturalization ceremonies for new U.S. citizens to be performed on Independence Day. This year,  a Fort Drum soldier participated in a ceremony at the White House on July 4.

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11:20pm

Sun July 1, 2012
Regional Coverage

Why does Jefferson County receive a "failing grade" for air pollution?

Earlier this year, the American Lung Association unveiled an unpleasant surprise for Jefferson County residents. In a report on air quality across the country, the association gave the rural north country county a grade of "F" for ozone pollution, commonly known as smog. 

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7:00am

Sat June 30, 2012
Regional Coverage

Army worms invade Jefferson County farms

Michael Hunter, of Cornell Cooperative Extension, and Ron Robbins, owner of Robbins Family Grain and partner in Old McDonald's Farm, inspect army worms they found in a wheat field on Robbins' property.

A pest has invaded farm fields throughout Jefferson County. Army worms – actually caterpillars that transform into moths – migrate up from the south every year to Northern New York. But this year a major outbreak of the worms is causing a widespread threat to crops, and big financial losses to some farmers. 

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9:46pm

Wed June 27, 2012
Regional Coverage

Horse vaccination clinics against deadly EEE virus to be held

Gravitywave via Flickr

Last year the mosquito-borne virus Eastern Equine Encephalitis killed at least a dozen horses and a four-year-old Oswego County girl. This week, state Senator Patty Ritchie is hosting two clinics in the North Country where horse owners can have their animals vaccinated for free.

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