Jefferson County

Members of an anti-drug nonprofit  in Watertown head to Capitol Hill this week. The group wants U.S. Senators Kirsten Gillibrand and Chuck Schumer to help fight the heroin crisis and the ways its affecting Jefferson County. 

Since 2011, there have been 79 deaths caused by heroin and opiate overdose in Jefferson County.

Anita Seefried-Brown’s own son died of a heroin overdose a day after he turned  33. He left a young daughter behind.

She says addiction is a disease, and it hurts more than just friends and families of the addicted.

Jonathan Greenwald / Flickr, Creative Commons

At least every couple of years – in the middle of the winter – federal officials try to count how many people are homeless in the U.S.

Agencies who work with the homeless give out a survey called the point-in-time count, and that’s what’s happening all this week.

It’s bad timing in the North Country, according to advocates for the homeless. They say a lot of people are skipped over, leading to inaccurate numbers.

Julia Botero / WRVO news

If Gov. Andrew Cuomo has his way, New York’s minimum wage will rise to $10.50 by the end of this year, and to $15 an hour in five years.

It would be the highest statewide minimum wage in the country, matching the minimums in cities like Seattle and San Francisco.

Many small businesses in the North Country are having a hard time seeing this big raise as a good thing, even when they recognize how hard it is for minimum wage workers to get by now.

Watertown Dog Park Facebook page

For nine years, Watertown resident Scott Gates has pleaded with the city council to approve a dog park in Watertown’s iconic Thompson Park. But the city’s new mayor, Joe Butler, was very blunt with Gates at the most recent council meeting on Monday. Butler told Gates he had no interest in approving a dog park.

Gates acknowledges there are lots of issues in Watertown that need attention, and many think constructing a dog park isn't one of them. But Gates says he’s not asking for much.

Julia Botero / WRVO News

Samaritan Medical Center  in Watertown will soon have a new maternity ward. Hospital officials are planning a $10 million expansion that they say will address the changing needs of the community.

 The hospital is now moving forward with their plan to transform the inside of that building into a wing of the hospital with its own entrance. The third floor will be devoted to a pediatric center and a new maternity ward. 

Samaritan Medical Center's CEO, Thomas Carman, says this means women in labor will have easier access to the hospital.

Watertown Police Department

The Watertown Police Department is asking for the public’s help in locating two missing teenagers. Katie Loffler and Austin Eggleson, both 16, were reported missing from the Jefferson County Children’s Home in Watertown last month. Police believe both are in Ogdensburg.

Lt. Joe Donoghue with the Watertown Police says the St. Lawrence County Department of Social Services has responsibility over the two teenagers.

Julia Botero / WRVO News

An energy developer out of Albany is considering building a 32-turbine wind farm on Galloo Island, six miles offshore, on Lake Ontario. But residents in the Jefferson County town of Henderson, on the shores of the lake, say all they would get out of the project is a ruined view.

If you’ve ever visited Henderson you know that the homes along the harbor are big and beautiful, with sweeping views of Lake Ontario. The town is small and quiet. 

Julia Botero / WRVO news

John Rogers grew up adjacent to Butterfield Lake in Redwood. That’s in the Indian Lakes region in Jefferson County.  When his grandparents passed they left him 100 acres of pristine wetland and grassland. Now, Rogers has transformed his backyard into a tourist attraction.

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The candidates for district attorney in Jefferson County agree that heroin is the biggest issue facing law enforcement in the area today. The choice voters make on Tuesday may hinge on which candidate voters believe can put a dent in the heroin epidemic.

Julia Botero / WRVO news

This weekend is expected to be another beautiful one -- sunny with temperatures in the 70s.  For many that means getting in one last swim of the season. WRVO's Julia Botero takes us to her favorite swimming hole, about a half hour west of Watertown in Robert Wehle State Park near Henderson in Jefferson County.

Julia Botero / WRVO News

State Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan toured Fort Drum Wednesday for the first time since becoming a state lawmaker in 2002. Flanagan was elected Senate majority leader in May when former leader Dean Skelos resigned due to his arrest on federal corruption charges. Flanagan's visit was part of a day-long tour of the North Country. 

Jefferson County

The Watertown International Airport will soon have a longer runway. A federal grant for the project will pave the way for larger jets.

The runway at the Watertown Airport will be extended by a 1,000 feet thanks to a $3.5 million grant from the Federal Aviation Administration. Right now, American Airlines, which operates two flights a day from Watertown to Philadelphia, switches from a 50-seat jet down to a smaller propeller plane in the winter. With the longer runway, American Airlines will be able to stick with their larger planes all year. 

Julia Botero / WRVO News

Coyote Moon Vineyards in Clayton is the first winery in the North Country to put their wine in a can. With canned wine, no corkscrew or wine glasses are required. Just throw the wine in a cooler or bag and when you're ready to drink, just pop the top. 

Amy Wort, from Governour, says in her experience, when she first introduces people to wine in a can, they're skeptical.

"When I’m at parties people are like what is that? I'm like, it's wine. And they’re like in a can? Yes, try it!” Wort says.

Jay Colesack visibly recoils at the thought of drinking canned wine.

Julia Botero / WRVO news

City councilman Joe Butler and incumbent Jeff Graham earned the most votes in Watertown’s mayoral primary. Both candidates will go on to compete to be Watertown's next mayor in the November general election. 

At the end of Thursday, results showed Butler with a total of 903 votes, inching ahead of incumbent Graham by just one vote in the non-partisan race. Graham says this means the upcoming general election for mayor will be exciting.

Julia Botero / WRVO News

In Watertown, two candidates are challenging incumbent Jeff Graham to be the city’s next mayor. Thursday’s primary will narrow the race down to two candidates who’ll go on to compete in the November election.

What Councilman Stephen Jennings lacks in political experience, he says he makes up in vision. Jennings has served on the city council for two years. He went to school in Albany but has lived in Watertown for 20 years working with the city’s public health department.

Liz Truskowski

Eight thousand acres of pristine wetlands just north of Watertown in Jefferson County are open to visitors until Sunday. For most of the year, the Perch River Wildlife Management Area is off-limits to the public. The area is a breeding and nesting ground for threatened and endangered birds like bald eagles and black terns.

kristen_a / Flickr

Primary voting day for New York will be held on a Thursday this year instead of the traditional Tuesday. 

This change is important for the city of Watertown. Voters are expected to choose which mayoral candidates will move onto the general election that day. Watertown city officials hope the date switch won’t keep people from the polls.

With two of the Tuesdays in September falling during the Jewish holidays Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur,  Gov. Andrew Cuomo approved changing the primary voting day to Thursday, September 10. 

Watertown Airport

A new building and hangar at the Watertown Airport has opened to serve the growing needs of the local business community.

There are two parts to the Watertown Airport just outside the city -- there’s the commercial side where passengers board the two American Airlines flights to Philadelphia each day, and there’s the side that caters to private businesses. Jim Nabywaniec is a Jefferson County legislator who helps oversee projects at the airport.

Julia Botero

Eating locally grown vegetables and driving a hybrid car – these are ways to limit your  carbon footprint. A family in Lorraine, a small town near Adams in Jefferson County, has gone a lot further. They’re building a house made out of old tires and recycled wine bottles.  It’s called an Earthship and there are houses just like it all over the world.

WRVO / File Photo

Updated at 2:20 p.m.

The official press release from Fort Drum confirms the post will lose 28 military positions.  Today's announcement from the Army does not include any reductions to civilian employees. A source says that announcement will come in the fall.  The reduction of the size of the Army is expected to be completed by fiscal year 2017.

Updated at 11:30 a.m.

Julia Botero / WRVO file photo

The Pentagon is expected to announce major cuts across the entire Army Thursday morning. Local officials and those who live in Fort Drum’s surrounding communities are waiting anxiously for news on what specific cuts will be made to the base.

Julia Botero / WRVO News

 

When Steven Winkler’s hogs are full grown and ready for slaughter, he loads them into his truck on his farm in Rodman and drives 70 miles to a processing plant in Rome. From there, his pork is shipped to stores in Syracuse. 

“I’m very loyal to the customers and the processes I utilize down there. They do a great job.  But this is my home,” Winkler said.

Winkler wants to sell his meat close to home and he wouldn't mind a shorter trip to place that can make that happen.

BlackRiverny.com

 

The Adirondacks and the St. Lawrence River are top-notch destinations for people looking to fish and boat in the summertime. The Black River, which winds through Lewis and Jefferson counties, doesn’t enjoy that reputation.

Towns along the river want to change that, but they have a big job ahead of them. For a century the river has been used for industry, not tourism. Now, the river is the process of a transformation. 

Julia Botero / WRVO News

The race for mayor in Watertown is heating up. Three candidates have thrown their hat in the ring to run against incumbent Jeff Graham in November's election. 

Stephen Jennings, Joseph  Butler and Mayor Jeffrey Graham work together on a weekly basis. Both Jennings and Butler are city council members.  Both believe the city needs a new leader at the top.

“There is no vision to me. That is my great frustration and I feel that the things I envision are not going to be enacted in this current council. I think we need a change,” Jennings said.

Julia Botero / WRVO News

A group from Jefferson and Lewis Counties has helped set a new world record... by planting a whole bunch of trees in just one hour.  Groups all over North America joined in the challenge in their communities. More than 200,000 trees were planted in nearly 30 different places across the continent. 

At the Sand Flats State Forest in the Tug Hill, people were racing to get new saplings into the ground.

Zach Hirsch / NCPR

This summer, Army officials say they’ll pull the plug on a post-traumatic stress treatment program for Fort Drum soldiers. It’s the program at the River Hospital in Alexandria Bay, about a half hour away from the base. Under the Army’s orders, it’ll be replaced with mental health services on Fort Drum.

North Country Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-Willsboro) says she’s urging the Army to reconsider.

Julia Botero / WRVO News

Clayton welcomed a slew of new visitors last week. A luxury cruise ship on its maiden voyage from Montreal stopped at the town’s docks. The ship was filled with nearly 200 tourists from France, and most on board were seeing the Thousand Islands for the first time.

The MS St. Laurent drifted down the St. Lawrence River and came to rest in Clayton just around 9 on Thursday morning. The ship is an eye-catcher, docked in the center of the village, its royal blue hull contrasting with the colorful row of Adirondack chairs facing the river,  

David Sommerstein / NCPR

Wind farms have been popping up in rural areas of Northern New York. Wind energy  doesn't burn fossil fuels or emit greenhouse gases.  But while wind farms  may be a positive step for the environment in one way, they also can kill birds and bats.  Now, the company behind a wind farm in Copenhagen is working with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to determine how to prevent deaths of these winged creatures before they occur.

401(K) 2012 / Flickr

We all know that every time we buy something in a store we pay a percentage of the cost of that item in tax. That sales tax goes toward helping the county pay for anything from road repairs to staffing the local police departments. For the past two years, the money that Jefferson County earns through sales tax has been in a slow decline. County legislators are getting worried after seeing an even bigger drop at the beginning of the year.

Linda Garett / Fort Drum ACUB Program

Fort Drum has grown tremendously over the last decade. There are more soldiers working – and training – on its grounds. Fort Drum planners have been concerned new development just outside the base may come into conflict with that training mission. The base is paying property owners to keep their land undeveloped. A family dairy farm in Rutland, just south of Fort Drum, has struck the largest deal yet.

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