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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Recently, a local volunteer department was late responding to a fire in the town of LeRay in Jefferson County. The mutual aid system was activated and a nearby department responded to the blaze; fortunately, no one was hurt. But the incident did highlight a persistent and growing problem among the north country's primarily volunteer emergency services: a lack of manpower.
The new water levels proposal for the St. Lawrence River and Lake Ontario has garnered some criticism from a group of state lawmakers along the lake's southern shore. This week they asked the governor to oppose the plan.
Last week, Congressman Bill Owens came out in favor of the proposal and said he'd ask for Governor Andrew Cuomo's support. Both Owens and environmental advocates say the opposition's arguments aren't based on the facts of the new plan.
The North Country Regional Economic Development Council is preparing for an influx of funding applications this July. Regional councils are part of Governor Andrew Cuomo's plan to distribute economic development aid throughout the state using a community-based, bottom-up approach to building New York's economy. A public forum was held by the council in Watertown last night.
Every 10 years or so, the Department of Environmental Conservation goes out to Little Galloo Island, 20 miles off the coast of Cape Vincent in Lake Ontario, to survey waterbird populations there. The island, with a few dead trees, some grass and a rocky shoreline, is a haven for colonial waterbirds, with nests of Caspian terns, herring gulls and tens of thousands of ring-billed gulls – the standard seagull seen throughout the north country.
Watertown will welcome a new city manager on July 16. Sharon Addison is a Schenectady native who spent 27 years working for the National Security Agency before putting her name in the hat for the city manager position in Watertown.
Every spring, a state Department of Environmental Conservation biologist drives along north country highways at dawn or dusk, stopping every so often to pull over and listen to the nature sounds.
She's listening for the distinctive “peent” of the singing American woodcock, a brown speckled bird a little larger than a songbird with a long, narrow beak for pulling earthworms out of the newly thawed ground.