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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7:56pm

Mon June 18, 2012
Regional Coverage

Emergency services suffering from lack of volunteers

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.

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8:26am

Fri June 15, 2012
Regional Coverage

Congressman Owens says Cuomo administration “noncommittal” on new water levels plan

Jamie Henderson Flickr

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.

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11:12pm

Tue June 12, 2012
Regional Coverage

State funding seekers get questions answered at forum in Watertown

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.

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10:34am

Wed June 6, 2012
Regional Coverage

DEC surveys waterbird populations on Little Galloo Island

DEC staff work counting gull nests on Little Galloo Island in Lake Ontario.
Joanna Richards WRVO

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.

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5:07pm

Fri June 1, 2012
Regional Coverage

Watertown welcomes new city manager

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.

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9:28am

Fri May 25, 2012
Regional Coverage

Village of Chaumont ponders pros, cons of dissolution

Faced with increasing costs, aging equipment and the prospect of big tax savings for residents, the village of Chaumont is considering dissolution.

But the issue isn't that clear-cut and has become a contentious subject, pitting neighbors and friends against each other in this small community.

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5:00pm

Sat May 19, 2012
Woodcocks

Singing American woodcocks announce spring in the north country

Paco Lyptic via Flickr

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.

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8:06am

Fri May 18, 2012
National Guard Flights

Military training flights over Watertown, Adirondacks proposed

Charles McCain via Flickr

The Vermont Air National Guard is proposing to start taking training flights over the Adirondacks and Watertown with F-35 aircraft.

The big, loud planes would replace the smaller, quieter F-16s the National Guard is using now —but not until at least 2015.

The Guard has issued a draft environmental impact statement – and it has held public hearings  around the area. The planes would take off and land in Burlington, Vermont. A meeting there drew more than 500 people.

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7:00am

Thu May 10, 2012
-School Budget Series

School Budget Series: State aid cuts outpace declining enrollments at rural schools

Many rural school districts rely heavily on state aid because of a relative lack of property wealth in their regions, so the past few years of deep state aid cuts have hit them hard. Rural districts also have experienced declining enrollments that have helped dull the pain. But two school districts in southern Jefferson County say the decline in their student populations isn't keeping pace with the rapid reductions from the state that make up most of their budgets.

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8:39pm

Wed May 2, 2012
Regional Coverage

Attorney for Sheriff's deputy describes alleged harassment on the job in $50 million suit

A female Sheriff's deputy has filed a $50 million lawsuit against the Jefferson County department, over racy photos she says were taken of her as part of an online pedophile investigation. The lawsuit is about to proceed to the next phase, and the deputy and her lawyer are calling for an independent investigation.

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10:38am

Fri April 27, 2012
Regional Coverage

Fort Drum eyed by House Republicans for new missile defense site

High angle view of the ramp at Wheeler Sack Army Airfield, Fort Drum, New York (NY), during the Hawgsmoke 2002 Competition, showing US Air Force (USAF) Air National Guard (ANG), maintenance personnel preparing A-10 Thunderbolt II aircraft for competition.
Aniks the 1 via Flickr

Fort Drum is being eyed as a possible location for a new East Coast missile defense site. Republicans in the House Armed Services committee called this week for a study on the issue.

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12:48pm

Sun April 22, 2012
Regional Coverage

Fort Drum contributes $1.6 billion to region's economy in 2011

Everyone in the north country recognizes that Fort Drum plays a huge role in the region's economy. Just how big is the subject of a report the post puts out every year, called the annual economic impact statement. This year's report says Fort Drum contributed over $1.6 billion dollars in spending in the 2011 fiscal year.

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10:15pm

Tue April 17, 2012
Regional Coverage

Sheriff's deputy files suit against Jefferson County department over topless photos

A female sheriff's deputy in Jefferson County filed a $50 million state Supreme Court lawsuit against the department, its leadership and a detective Monday, claiming a male detective took topless photos of her in 2006, saying they were for use in an online pedophile investigation. The suit claims the deputy never learned how the photos were used and the detective failed to return them when she asked for them. 

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10:00pm

Wed April 11, 2012
Regional Coverage

Jefferson County officials oppose offshore wind in Lake Ontario

A group of Jefferson County legislators has for the second time in two years expressed opposition to offshore wind turbines in Lake Ontario. Almost two years ago, the New York Power Authority proposed an offshore wind turbine project, which Jefferson County rejected. Now the county may move to oppose federal overtures in that direction. 

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12:08am

Tue April 10, 2012
Regional Coverage

Watertown Daily Times closes its Washington bureau

 

An era in North Country – and national – journalism came to a quiet close at the end of March. The Watertown Daily Times closed its Washington, D.C. bureau, laying off the last of its capitol beat reporters, part of a tradition that stretches back more than 60 years.

 

The closure is part of a steep decline in regional newspapers providing their own eyes and ears on the ground in Washington, looking out for their readers' and their regions' interests as federal policy is made.

 

Joanna Richards has more.

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4:53pm

Thu March 29, 2012
Regional Coverage

State health commissioner bans sale of synthetic marijuana

New York State has banned the sale of synthetic marijuana products. Marketed as “herbal incense” and sold under names like Spice and K2, the fake pot has been popular with people across the North Country—including Fort Drum soldiers. The post near Watertown recently announced it would ban soldiers from spending money at any businesses that sell synthetic pot. But it now seems that won’t be necessary.

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3:14pm

Thu March 22, 2012
Regional Coverage

Clayton officials say development projects fill gaps in tourist town

There's a lot of development just around the corner in Clayton, a summer tourist destination on the St. Lawrence River. Town and village officials – and local business owners – are excited about several projects in the works that could put back to use a former industrial site along the river.

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7:15am

Fri March 2, 2012
Regional Coverage

Fort Drum Unit given poor review by Dept. of Defense's Inspector General

A unit at Fort Drum charged with helping wounded soldiers transition to civilian life was given a scathing review in a report by the Department of Defense Inspector General's Office. According to the report, the Warrior Transition Battalion was seen as a “dumping ground” rather than a place to help soldiers heal. Medical recommendations were ignored, and morale was low, with some soldiers saying they'd rather be in jail or being “shot at in Iraq” than in the battalion. 

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7:55am

Thu February 16, 2012
Health

New hospice center set to open in Watertown

Hospice groups provide care and comfort to patients facing the end of their lives. Hospice of Jefferson County has a new building – but it’s more than that, since it represents a big upgrade in the kind of care it can offer to dying patients. 

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7:11am

Fri February 3, 2012
Regional Coverage

Could next round of base closures affect Fort Drum?

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta announced last week that the military wants to close some installations as its reduces its force size and winds down the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The process is called BRAC – for “base realignment and closure.” A spokeswoman for Fort Drum said the post isn't commenting on the announcement, but Carl McLaughlin, executive director of the Fort Drum Regional Liaison Organization in Watertown, about how Fort Drum may fare as the BRAC process takes shape.

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8:01am

Mon January 23, 2012
Regional Coverage

Watertown officials hopeful for redevelopment of the Woolworth building

Woolworth Building in Watertown
Joanna Richards

Watertown officials have been excited about the possibility of a redevelopment project for the Woolworth building downtown for several years.

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7:14am

Wed December 14, 2011
Regional Coverage

Ft. Drum soldier receives medal for heroism after Thruway bus crash

Fort Drum soldier Sergeant Jacob Perkins was awarded the Soldier's Medal Tuesday afternoon at the installation. The medal is given to soldiers for heroism outside the battlefield. Sergeant Perkins came to the aid of a group of Canadian tourists in July, when their tour bus collided with a semi trailer on the Thruway in Waterloo, New York, between Syracuse and Rochester. 

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7:00am

Wed December 14, 2011
Education

Legislation to Change School Districts' Wealth Measurement

Russell, a Democrat from Theresa, has introduced legislation that will adjust the way school districts' wealth is measured.  Generally speaking, the poorer a district is, the more aid it gets. But it’s not a true sliding scale at the top and bottom ends.

Right now, the poorest districts are all lumped together in the same category, even though some may be much poorer than others. The same is true of the richest districts – they're all seen on equal footing, even though some may be much richer than others.

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7:14am

Fri November 25, 2011
Regional Coverage

New fee on Canadian tourists could hurt local tourism

New York Senator Charles Schumer was in Watertown this week to announce he'll fight a new fee that can be charged to Canadians crossing into the U.S. by boat or by plane.  

The new $5.50 fee was tucked into a Colombian Free Trade Agreement recently passed by the Senate. Schumer said the fee is likely to discourage tourism by Canadians in the north country. 

"The federal government may as well be putting stop signs up at every waterway, at every crossing, at every airport," said Schumer. 

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6:25am

Tue November 8, 2011
Politics and Government

Watertown mayoral candidates show similarities

The mayor's race in Watertown pits long-time incumbent Jeff Graham against a challenger with similar longevity on the City Council, Jeff Smith. Graham has said the city's doing well and he has the experience, knowledge and contacts to continue to keep Watertown on a good track. Smith says his candidacy represents new leadership and a new vision for the city. Both candidates for mayor have years of experience on City Council, and both are small business owners who say they're committed to fiscal discipline. 

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7:28am

Fri October 14, 2011
Regional Coverage

174th Fighter Wing in Syracuse to begin operating unmanned aerial vehicle out of Fort Drum

MQ-9 Reaper
Photo from the U.S.Air Force

The 174th Fighter Wing based at Hancock Field in Syracuse is about to begin operating an unmanned aerial vehicle, the MQ-9, out of Fort Drum. The 174th already conducts MQ-9 flights in Afghanistan, flights which are controlled from an operations center at Hancock Field. The partnership with Fort Drum will allow the unit to train Air Force and Air National Guard troops from around the country on flying the MQ-9.

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6:52am

Tue October 11, 2011
Regional Coverage

Fort Drum soldier talks about life both before and after Don't Ask Don't Tell

WRVO's Joanna Richards meets with "Ryan" and his partner, "Billy", who speak about life in the military before and after the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell.

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3:40pm

Thu September 29, 2011
Regional Coverage

State Attorney General's Office Issues Fraud Alert in Watertown

The office of New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman Wednesday issued an alert about a phone scam targeting residents of Watertown. A spokesman says three victims so far have contacted the office and have each lost between $300 and $700 to the scam. 

The scam offers consumers a loan, then asks them to wire the company hundreds of dollars – a supposed “application fee” or “loan insurance.”

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4:55pm

Wed September 28, 2011
Regional Coverage

Postal Service Workers Protest in Watertown

A group of postal workers and retirees rallied outside of Representative Bill Owens's office in Watertown Tuesday, urging him to pass a bill that would help save the Postal Service from its current financial worries. If the bill passes, it could save local post office branches from closing. 

About 18 postal workers gathered with signs reading, “Save the postal service” in downtown Watertown on Tuesday. They approached passersby with petitions, and waved their signs to many honks from passing cars.

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8:00am

Fri September 9, 2011
Regional Coverage

After 9-11: The Effects of 10 Years of War on Military Families

WATERTOWN, NY (wrvo) - We take a close look at life at the tip of the spear. America has been at war for nearly 10 years now.

While the changes brought about by the 9/11 attacks have affected us all, the effects have been the harshest for members of the military and their families.

WRVO's Joanna Richards spent time this wee with soldiers and their families at Fort Drum in Watertown to talk about ther lives in the years since 9/11.

© Copyright 2011, wrvo

 

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