Jefferson County

Payne Horning / WRVO News (file photo)

The federal government is now offering funding and resources to upstate counties devastated by the flooding along Lake Ontario this year, after President Trump declared parts of the region a federal disaster area earlier this week.

Payne Horning / WRVO News File Photo

Homeowners who sustained damage from this year's flooding along Lake Ontario have until 5 p.m. Friday to apply for financial aid from the state. New York leaders appropriated millions of dollars this year to help residents recover from historically high water levels, but there may not be enough to go around.

Development Authority of North Country

Lawmakers and an advocacy group representing Fort Drum are warning about several proposed wind farm projects that are under development in the north country. They say the wind turbines could threaten operations at the military base. That's welcome news to some residents in Jefferson County, who have been fighting one of the developments since it was proposed a decade ago.

Payne Horning / WRVO News

State lawmakers say help is finally here for the property owners who have experienced damage from flooding along Lake Ontario this year. Community leaders are organizing residents as the state prepares to distribute the recovery funding.

Sarah harris / NCPR

Thousands of law enforcement officials and community members gathered at Fort Drum Saturday afternoon to mourn the loss of New York State Trooper Joel Davis.

Payne Horning / WRVO News

Hundreds lined the streets of downtown Watertown Saturday for the funeral procession of New York Ttate Trooper Joel Davis, who was killed while responding to a domestic abuse call last week. 

New York State Police

A Fort Drum soldier has been charged with first and second-degree murder for the death of his wife and a New York state police trooper. 

Payne Horning / WRVO News

A New York State trooper was shot and killed after responding to a call Sunday night at a home in Jefferson County, according to State Police. 

Cathy Goodnough

Lake Ontario is now 33 inches above its long-term average and it's not yet at its peak. That sustained flooding is threatening residents along the shorelines and scientists say it is also taking a toll on the environment.

Payne Horning / WRVO

State and local officials hope a new emergency declaration from the governor will improve their response to flooding along Lake Ontario, but the lake is already taking a toll.

governorandrewcuomo / Flickr

Powerful winds and thunderstorms are mixing with the high water levels in Lake Ontario to wreak havoc on homeowners along the shoreline. It's prompting New York state to declare a state of emergency for Oswego, Jefferson, Cayuga and other counties along Lake Ontario.

Payne Horning / WRVO News

Water levels continue to rise on Lake Ontario, and the National Weather Service has issued a Lakeshore Flood Warning for Oswego and Jefferson counties from 4 p.m. Tuesday until 4 p.m. Wednesday. 

U.S. Census Bureau / Empire Center for Public Policy

New data from the U.S. Census Bureau shows that New York's statewide population fell for the first time in a decade, largely a result of upstate population losses outpacing the gains made downstate.

Payne Horning / WRVO News

Officials from the Thompson Park Zoo in Watertown are asking the city and Jefferson County for more financial support. They say it may be necessary just to keep the zoo open.

Former zoo board member Peter Schmidt says the past ten years have not been easy. The zoo has operated at a loss eight of those years and cycled through six executive directors. That has put needed upgrades and projects on the back burner. Now, Schmidt says, the zoo is at a crossroads.

Payne Horning / WRVO News

Despite continued downsizing at Fort Drum, the base's impact on the local economy actually increased in 2016.

The northern New York army base spent nearly $1.2 billion dollars last year. That's down by about $300 million from 2015 with most of those cuts from payroll. That influx of money indirectly supported about $400 million in economic activity across Jefferson, Lewis and St. Lawrence counties.

Great Lake Ontario National Marine Sanctuary

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has lent his support to an effort to make part of Lake Ontario a national marine sanctuary. The goal is to preserve dozens of known and unknown historic shipwrecks in the southeastern portion of the lake for further study.

Oswego, Jefferson, Wayne and Cayuga counties put together an application after the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) decided to add to its current list of 14 marine sanctuaries. Now with Cuomo's approval, the counties can submit their application for further consideration. 

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The New York state attorney general's office is bringing charges against a village judge in Jefferson County over claims that he used his position to elicit sexual favors from a defendant.

Village of West Carthage Justice Delmar House is facing two felony charges for allegedly reducing a fine for a defendant who appeared before him in exchange for sexual favors. In a statement, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said the 49-year-old also paid a portion of the defendant's fines for additional sexual services. 

Payne Horning / WRVO News File Photo

Unofficial election results show a slight increase in turnout among New Yorkers this year as compared to 2012, but turnout in many northern and central New York counties decreased.

Russell wins 116th Assembly District race

Nov 9, 2016
Julia Botero / WRVO News

 

Democratic Assemblywoman Addie Russell overcame a rematch challenge from Republican John Byrne to hold on to her seat in the 116th Assembly District. She defeated Byrne 53 percent to 47 percent, or by roughly 2,500 votes, in unofficial returns. The district runs from Cape Vincent to Massena along the St. Lawrence River. Russell was seen as vulnerable after having nearly lost to Byrne two years ago.

Russell's supporters gathered inside a new business in downtown Watertown -- and indoor children's playground called Fun Escape. 

Payne Horning / WRVO News

Over the last month, the race to represent the 116th Assembly District has gone from heated to scorching. In the so-called River District in Jefferson and St. Lawrence Counties, mailboxes are overflowing with political ads from Republican John Byrne and the Democratic incumbent, Addie Russell.

One of the big issues? Russell has accused Byrne of inflating his credentials as a business owner in New York state.

Byrne doubled down during a recent debate moderated by WWNY-TV's Jeff Cole.

Julia Botero / WRVO News

 

This year's drought has left wells dry across the region. After some rain, farmers are wondering when their groundwater will be replenished. 

The good news is groundwater levels are higher than they've been in months, Cornell University hydrologist Todd Walter told farmers and agriculture leaders in Watertown Wednesday.

David Sommerstein / North Country Public Radio

The Burrville Cider Mill just outside Watertown embodies everything people love about autumn. They have warm cider donuts, crates full of fresh apples and lots of decorative gourds for sale. If you visit the mill in the mornings you might get the chance to watch apples pressed into cider.

WRVO's Julia Botero and David Sommerstein of North Country Public Radio visited the cider mill on a crisp fall day and filed this audio postcard.

The Burrville Cider Mill is open every day from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. this fall. They make cider on weekend mornings and on Tuesday and Thursdays.

Julia Botero / WRVO News

Two candidates are running against one another in the 116th Assembly District that runs along the St. Lawrence River in Jefferson and St. Lawrence Counties. Republican candidate John Byrne, a former town councilman from Cape Vincent, is challenging incumbent Democrat Addie Russell for the second time. Both exchanged heated words during the race’s first debate last night. It was hosted by WWNY-TV in Watertown. 

Julia Botero / WRVO News

Most of northern and central New York is still experiencing a drought, despite some rain this weekend. Groundwater reserves are depleted in wells across the region. Farmers are trucking in water for their livestock, people are digging new wells for their homes and towns are trying to find ways to conserve this now limited resource.

Julia Botero / WRVO News

A new law in Watertown will now require landlords to register their rental properties with the city. More than half of the homes in Watertown are rentals. Neighbors and city leaders say many of them are run down or empty. Some aren’t safe to live in. Watertown leaders say a list of property owners’ names and phone numbers will help stop the blight on neighborhood streets. 

Julia Botero

A large part of New York state is still in severe to extreme drought. The USDA will now cover the cost of new pipelines and wells for farmers in Jefferson and Lewis Counties to reach more water. But farms in other parts of the state, like the Finger Lakes, are getting more attention.  

Julia Botero / WRVO News

It’s been a long time coming, but the town of Orleans, in Jefferson County, is on its way to fresh drinking water. The state announced this week they will provide the town with $3 million to help build a pipe to bring clean water to homes from Alexandria Bay.

Jefferson County Legislator Phil Reed said he thought he’d never see the day when Orleans, a tiny town between Clayton and Alexandria Bay, would finally get help, 

“Because we kept hearing from people, maybe next year, maybe next year, maybe next year. It was very frustrating to say the least," Reed said.

Julia Botero / WRVO News

 

There are more than 150 abandoned homes in Watertown.  A report put out by the city assessor finds homes in the city can be empty for months, even years, before the bank takes them over.

Vacant homes have become such a problem in Watertown, the city council has had trouble wrapping their head around what to do.

Brian Phelps, the city assessor, visited hundreds of empty homes and poured over stacks of paperwork to figure out why these homes were abandoned.

 “As many vacant homes as there are, are as many individual stories.”

Julia Botero / WRVO News

The Pokemon Go craze sweeping the nation has hit Watertown. The city’s Public Square usually doesn’t see activity in the evening but recently, downtown is flooded with young people. They’re all staring at their phones, playing an augmented reality game that has them hunting for cartoon monsters and points. WRVO'S Julia Botero went to see what all the fuss is about and sent this audio postcard.

Julia Botero / WRVO News

Organizers of the Jefferson County Fair have barred a gun rights group from raffling off three guns to fairgoers this year.

Bob Simpson, lead organizer of the fair, said he's standing by the decision. He said had the group, SCOPE, intended to educate people about guns, rather than give them away, organizers would have rented a booth to them.

"Guns right now are a very controversial item. People are either for guns or against guns. We felt it was a very controversial issue that we didn’t want to participate in at the fair." 

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