Matt Richmond

Reporter, Innovation Trail, Southern Tier

Matt Richmond comes to Binghamton's WSKG, a WRVO partner station in the Innovation Trail consortium, from South Sudan, where he worked as a stringer for Bloomberg, and freelanced for Radio France International, Voice of America, and German Press Agency dpa.  He has worked with KQED in Los Angeles, Cape Times in Cape Town, South Africa, and served in the Peace Corps in Cameroon.  Matt's masters in journalism is from the Annenberg School for Communication at USC.

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Today is Cornell University’s 150th anniversary. Its charter was signed in Albany in 1865. One of the school’s founders, Ezra Cornell, was a farmer and made veterinary science a priority. This is the story of the career of the first doctor of veterinary medicine to graduate from Cornell.

Matt Richmond/WSKG

The NBA playoffs begin this weekend. And while big city teams like Oakland, Cleveland and Atlanta are the favorites, sixty years ago the league looked much different.

In 1955, the Syracuse Nationals took home the title, beating the Fort Wayne Pistons in seven games. One of the guards on that team was Binghamton resident Bill Kenville, known during his playing days as Billy the Kid, and Kenville followed a surprising path to the NBA.

Broome County

 

Among the issues up for discussion in budget talks this year is an overhaul of New York’s Brownfield Cleanup Program. It offers tax breaks for the development of contaminated industrial sites.

Matt Richmond / WSKG News

A Tompkins County-based group of investors is nearing completion of an unlikely project -- an industrial-scale wind farm. It would be made up of seven turbines and produce up to 12 megawatts of electricity, enough to power a few thousand homes.

Marguerite Wells is the project manager of Black Oak Wind Farm, which at this point is just a field with a wind measuring tower outside of Ithaca. But, according to Wells, the hard part of getting a wind farm built there is already behind them.

Matt Richmond / WSKG News

New York’s Department of Environmental Conservation has been working with IBM to clean up a chemical spill in the Southern Tier town of Endicott for years now. At a public meeting recently, officials from the DEC gave an update on one of the contaminated areas identified for cleanup.

According to New York’s Department of Environmental Conservation, the cleanup of the so-called toxic plume in Endicott is proving successful.

Matt Richmond / WSKG News

The future of the Cayuga coal-fired power plant in Tompkins County remains up-in-the-air, almost three years after plans to close the plant were announced.

The local utility, NYSEG, opposes a proposed conversion to natural gas and wants to invest in their transmission system instead. Either way, the cost will be added to ratepayers’ bills.

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For the first time since the 1970s, New York state will issue permits for new liquefied natural gas storage facilities. The new regulations will require a permit for every new facility, with each one capped at 70,000 gallons.

That’s enough to fill six or seven fuel tankers, says Russ Haven of the New York Public Interest Research Group. Haven says capping them at a small size is a good way to keep out heavy industrialization, but the limit can be removed after five years.

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In his annual budget, Gov. Andrew Cuomo is proposing to make changes to the state’s power grid.

The changes to utility regulation are meant to make it easier for local, small-scale producers to get their power to customers. In Cuomo’s budget is a 10-year $5 billion investment in a Clean Energy Fund.

Solvejg Wastvedt / WSKG News

Incumbent Rep. Tom Reed heads back to Washington after a win against Democrat Martha Robertson in New York’s 23rd Congressional District.

The newly reelected congressman wiped away a few tears as he greeted supporters in Corning on Tuesday. Reed returns to the House after what turned out to be a comfortable victory over Democrat Martha Robertson.

Bosc d'Anjou / Flickr

 

In a decision released last week, the highest court in New York ruled that local governments can ban drilling within their borders. And while hydrofracking remains on hold in the state, the ruling is expected to have a huge impact on the industry in New York if fracking is eventually permitted.

 

The dean of the law school at Cornell University, Eduardo Penalver, helps explain the court's ruling

upholding local bans on gas drilling in New York.

 

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In a 5-to-2 ruling, New York’s highest court has upheld the right of local governments to ban hydrofracking within their borders. The decision comes after a nearly three-year court battle over bans passed in the Towns of Dryden and Middlefield. Fracking opponents hope to now spread the bans to towns that were waiting for the court’s final ruling.

Ryan Delaney / WRVO file photo

Rep. Richard Hanna is all but guaranteed a third term in the House of Representatives after he beat back a challenge from the political right in Tuesday's Republican Party primary.

Hanna, R-Barneveld, came out on top in a challenge from the more conservative Claudia Tenney, a state assemblywoman. She said Hanna was too moderate.

Matt Richmond / WSKG

Like many in Endicott, Wanda Hudak has a long history with IBM.

There’s a clear view of the company’s campus, now the Huron campus, from the garden in her backyard. She’s lived in Endicott her whole life, and worked at IBM as a nurse during the 1970s before becoming the town’s representative on the county legislature.

“I’m a real hard-nose 'I love Endicott' girl, ok?" Hudak said. "My dad worked in the Endicott-Johnson factory. My mom was a wonderful seamstress, made a good living doing that. I went to school at Union-Endicott.”

http://norseenergycorp.no/index.php?name=About_Norse_Energy_Corp

New York’s hold on high-volume hydrofracking has entered its sixth year. Norse Energy first tried to stay afloat until fracking was approved, but then gave up and converted to Chapter 7, a complete shutdown of operations. The company and fracking supporters cited the state’s de facto moratorium as the obvious culprit.

Norse’s former chief legal officer Dennis Holbrook says drillers just can’t compete anymore using the drilling methods still allowed in New York.

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A Binghamton researcher is launching a study that he hopes will help with early diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease. David Shaffer is looking for Alzheimer’s patients so he can record their voices. Shaffer believes if he can get enough samples and enough funding, he could pinpoint how a deteriorating brain reveals itself in speech patterns, because so much of the brain is involved in speaking.

Federal officials visited BAE Systems near Binghamton recently to announce $13 million in grants for fuel cell-powered mass transit. The grants went to a range of manufacturers and transit agencies across the country.

At a refurbished IBM plant in Endicott, BAE’s Sean Murphy explained the zero emissions engines that are now being made there.

“The four components are a generator, so we need to generate electricity, being an electric motor that drives it.”

As Congress begins to debate a resolution to authorize United States military action in Syria, members of the New York congressional delegation are expressing their opinion publicly about what should be done.

Rep. Tom Reed, a Republican who represents parts of the Finger Lakes and Souther Tier regions, has been conducting a listening tour in his district to gather opinions from his constituents.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO, file photo

The challenges to local hydrofracking bans in New York are one step closer toward their last day in court, as the state’s Court of Appeals agreed to consider two challenges of lower court rulings allowing municipal fracking bans in the towns of Dryden and Middlefield.

The plaintiffs had to apply to the Court of Appeals because the lower courts were unanimous in deciding against them.

Opponents of hydrofracking are lining up against plans to convert a Tompkins County power plant from coal to natural gas, making it the newest front line in the fight against gas drilling in New York.The state’s Public Service Commission (PSC) is considering a proposal to convert the Cayuga Power Plant or shut it down, while the proposal’s opponents are calling the process too secretive.

At a press conference in Ithaca on Monday, Dryden resident Joe Wilson held up the version of the repowering proposal that was made public.

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A coalition of New York state environmental groups filed a lawsuit against the state’s environmental regulators in July. The groups claim that the Department of Environmental Conservation violated environmental law when it loosened the regulation of dairy farms. The result is that the state’s very public support of the yogurt industry may have hit a roadblock.

During a highly publicized Yogurt Summit last year in Albany, Gov. Andrew Cuomo praised the spirit behind the industry in New York.

“When you see an opportunity, grab it and get it done,” Cuomo said.

Matt Richmond/Innovation Trail

Johan Jelsma is taking me on a tour of his garden on the West Side of Binghamton. He rattles off the names of plants in just one small patch of his yard:

“Eggplants, Brussels sprouts, a little bit of remnants of peas left and cucumber, melon.”

Jelsma's entire yard is taken over by a garden of vegetables, fruit trees and flowers. He says some passersby describe it as the wild yard.

“I didn’t like grass per se. I mean I like laying on it, I like running but I definitely don’t enjoy mowing.”

Southern Tier-based Endicott Interconnect Technologies filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy last week. The Broome County high-tech manufacturer, which employs approximately 600 people, plans to continue operations as it reorganizes.    

WSKG

Once every week, a freight train loaded with coal makes its way through Ithaca to the coal-fired power plant north of town in Lansing, on the shore of Cayuga Lake. Those shipments may stop soon.

The state’s Public Service Commission is considering the future of the Lansing plant. The pending decision has sparked a local debate that says a lot about the challenges New York will face if it’s serious about switching to new sources of power.

At a rally Tuesday in Albany, labor advocates protested Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s latest economic development program. The program, Tax-Free NY, is a new spin on an old economic tool.

“I think tax-free zones are a horrible idea right now. I think that these programs have been tried in the past. We’ve called them empire zones, job incentive programs, we know through history that these simply do not work,” said Ron Deutsch from the left-leaning New Yorkers for Fiscal Fairness.

Matt Richmond/Innovation Trail

Since 2006, honey bees have been abandoning seemingly healthy hives in large numbers, raising alarm among beekeepers, farmers and researchers. But, the industries that are dependent on honey bees are finding ways to manage the losses.

Matt Richmond / WSKG

As lawmakers in the Senate's Judiciary Committee debate the immigration reform bill released last month, farmers in New York State are hoping to find enough workers to fully staff their operations. It's a yearly struggle in New York and nationwide and according to a report by Farm Credit East, more than 1000 farms in New York could close or shrink by two-thirds if immigration laws were fully enforced.

Court upholds 'home rule' over drilling laws

May 2, 2013
Marie Cusick / Innovation Trail

In two separate rulings Thursday, New York's appellate court, the state's second highest court, ruled that the state's Oil, Gas and Solution Mining Law (OGSML) does not preempt municipal land use laws.

Matt Richmond/Innovation Trail

The City of Elmira is just seven miles from the Pennsylvania border. And for four years, the natural gas boom in Pennsylvania’s Northern Tier crossed over the border and boosted Elmira’s economy. But that boom has slowed down.

Matt Richmond/Innovation Trail

In New York’s central region, there are hundreds of farms selling meat and produce directly to the public, and a Binghamton group is working to connect restaurants with those farms. The downtown Binghamton restaurant Lost Dog Café recently held a "Meet the Farmer" event. Sixty people attended a catered dinner in the back of the busy restaurant.

In March, the federal government awarded Chenango County, northeast of Binghamton, foreign trade zone status. That means county businesses can import goods without paying a tariff. They also pay a lower tariff if those goods are sold within the United States and no tariff if the final product is exported.

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