Sarah Harris

Reporter, Innovation Trail, North Country

North Country Public Radio/Champlain Valley reporter for the Innovation Trail

Sarah Harris covers the Champlain Valley for Innovation Trail. She was an assistant teacher for the first class of the Transom Story Workshop in Woods Hole, Massachusetts.  Sarah's work has aired on NPR's All Things Considered, Morning Edition and Weekend Edition. Sarah is a 2010 recipient of the Middlebury Fellowship in Environmental Journalism, has lived abroad in the Maldives and Nepal, and is a graduate of Middlebury College.

Ways To Connect

Roy Saplin / Creative Commons, some rights reserved

Three North Country communities were awarded grant money from New York state yesterday to address contaminated sites called brownfields.

The village of Lyons Falls in Lewis County received over half a million dollars to figure out a plan for 4 sites – including the old abandoned paper mill in the center of town.

Katie Liendecker is mayor of Lyons Falls. She says the mill is in pretty bad shape.

"Looking over at the paper mill you can see how some of the buildings have just collapsed. And thank goodness from our main street we’re not looking at that."

Robert S. Donovan / Flickr

Farmers in the Champlain Valley often use tile drains in their fields. They help the region’s clay soil drain faster and produce higher crop yields. But for years, Lake Champlain has had high levels of phosphorus pollution, which can result in toxic blue-green algae blooms, and farm runoff is one of the primary contributors.

Now scientists are trying to figure out whether there’s a link between tile drainage and phosphorus pollution.

adirondacknorthway.com

Jonathan Slater teaches communications at SUNY Plattsburgh. It’s the end of the work day, and he’s headed out to his car to go home.

But Slater’s commute involves an international border. He lives on the south shore of Montreal, and commutes to Plattsburgh every day.

"Next stop is the border – and that should take no more than a minute or two, and then home to an evening with my daughter," Slater says as he packs the trunk of his car and drives off.  

Sarah Harris/Innovation Trail

The Lois McClure is a replica of an 1862 canal schooner that's also a floating museum. This summer she's commemorating 19th century transportation history by traveling from Lake Champlain, across the canal system to Buffalo, down the St. Lawrence river to Montreal, and back again.

Sarah Harris/Innovation Trail

St. Lawrence County may be losing population, but there's one group that keeps growing: Old Order Amish. They've moved to northern New York because of cheap, available farmland. But in order to maintain their lifestyle, the Amish need a market for the milk the produce. So they've turned to an unlikely partner: dairy co-op Agri-Mark. 

Drive down some roads in the county, and it’s like stepping back in time. Traffic comes from buggies, not cars. Children in dark clothes and straw hats and bonnets play in neatly kept farm yards.

Sarah Harris/NCPR

Lake Champlain is about to get a little cleaner. A new boat — a sort of waterborne honey-wagon — that collects sewage from boaters' tanks was christened yesterday in Burlington.

It’s pouring rain at the Burlington waterfront. But that doesn’t stop about 20 people from coming to watch the launch of Lake Champlain’s newest service boat.

It’s called Champlain’s Ark. And its job isn’t pretty: hauling and disposing human waste so boaters don’t empty their tanks directly into the lake.

James Ehlers, director of Lake Champlain International, says it's a challenge.

A Massachusetts company wants to build an underwater transmission line from Plattsburgh to Burlington, Vt. that could give New York energy producers access to a new market.

Sarah Harris/Innovation Trail

Most of the time, Eric Andrus is a beef and rice farmer. But lately, he’s learning to be a boat builder. On this day, he’s in the barn, sanding the hull of a big wooden barge.

“We’re about to apply the second layer of plywood,” Andrus says.

Sarah Harris/Innovation Trail

Dairy farms in northern New York and Vermont have faced a major labor shortage, which means that migrant laborers from Mexico and Guatemala are now milking many of the region's cows. But farm country here is not an easy place to be a migrant worker: It's rural, hard to get around, and there's not a big Latino population. But a new law means that migrant workers in Vermont will soon be able to drive legally.

chpexpress.com

The Champlain Hudson Power Express, or CHPE, is the name of a proposed underground transmission line that would bring hydropower generated in Canada under both Lake Champlain and the Hudson River, and into New York City. Now, the project is one step closer to becoming a reality, following approval by the New York State Public Service Commission Thursday.

Sarah Harris/Innovation Trail

People packed into the high school auditorium in Hinesburg, Vt. last week, to voice their opinions on a proposed natural gas pipeline before the Vermont Public Service Board.

Courtesy Hydro-Québec

In Québec, electricity is cheap. Hydro-Québec, a state-owned utility, has over 60 generating stations that use the province’s rivers to produce power. One of them is Beauharnois, southwest of Montreal on the St. Lawrence River.

governorandrewcuomo / Flickr

Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced earlier this week that IBM and New York state are teaming up to provide science and technology education, otherwise known as STEM, to high schoolers.

SUNY Adirondack in Queensbury and the Board of Cooperative Educational Services, or BOCES, serving the surrounding counties are partnering on a new science and technology program for high school students.

Sarah Harris/Innovation Trail

At a public meeting in Hinesburg, Vt. last month, residents crowded into the town hall to ask questions about a natural gas pipeline that might be going through their community.  

Mark Ames wasn’t too happy. "I’m not interested in having a gas line either through in front of my house, 20 feet in front of my house, or behind my house, through my fields," he said.

Sarah Harris/Innovation Trail

If you’re buying a gun, chances are you can find what you want at big box stores like Gander Mountain, Dicks, and Walmart. But New York state is also home to over 1,800 small gun retailers, who are trying to adjust to the state¿s new gun laws.

Sarah Harris/Innovation Trail

The North Country Sustainability Plan was unveiled last week. It tackles energy, land use, transportation and water and waste management across seven counties.The Adirondack North Country Association, Ecology and Environment Inc., and Essex County spent much of the past year compiling the plan. They enlisted the help of another 200 people from around the region for the working groups.

New York Electric Motor Service, a small motor company based in Glens Falls, changed hands at the beginning of the year, and additional hiring is likely to follow.

Sarah Harris / NCPR

The last-minute fiscal cliff deal brought good news for the wind industry. Congress agreed to extend production tax credits for wind energy producers until the end of 2013.

Sarah Harris / NCPR

For wind energy producers, the looming expiration date for the production tax credits, or PTCs, is getting even closer. 

Sarah Harris / NCPR

On a Monday afternoon in December the Moreau Family Health Center, just south of Glens Falls, is packed. The doctor’s seeing patients back-to-back - and so is care coordinator Jessica Casey.