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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
Innovation Trail is a collaboration among six public media outlets - WRVO; WNED, Buffalo; WXXI, Rochester; WMHT, Albany/Schenectady; and WSKG, Binghamton, and NCPR, North Country Public Radio- covering issues affecting the Upstate New York economy.
WATERTOWN, NY (August 2, 2011) - An arts organization is trying to bring more opportunities to artists in Watertown and surrounding areas, and more cultural events to residents.
The North Country Arts Council was born out of a declining artists' guild a few years ago. Now with a space in downtown Watertown and some successful fundraising behind it, WRVO's north country correspondent Joanna Richards tells us the group is becoming an active force in the community.