North Country

11:53am

Fri July 11, 2014
Weather

Update: Five tornadoes hit upstate New York Tuesday

Tornado damage in Smithfield, Madison County, where four people were killed.
Ellen Abbot WRVO

Update, Friday, July 11:

A fifth tornado from Tuesday's swath of powerful thunderstorms and twisters has been confirmed by the National Weather Service in Albany. This one in the eastern Adirondacks. More from the Associated Press:

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9:59pm

Thu May 29, 2014
Regional Coverage

Disabled ship freed; shipping resumes on St. Lawrence Seaway

The 656-foot Federal Kivalina blocked traffic on the St. Lawrence Seaway for two days after it ran aground.
Robert Fratangelo U.S. Coast Guard Auxillery

The St. Lawrence Seaway is back open to commercial shipping traffic after a section of it was closed for two days because of a disabled vessel.

The 656-foot Federal Kivalina had been blocking traffic through the 'American Narrows' section of the waterway since Tuesday afternoon, when it ran aground near Collins Landing, New York.

Seventeen ships were stalled while the Kivalina sat disabled, according to the St. Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation.

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3:00pm

Thu May 29, 2014
Regional Coverage

17 ships now in traffic jam on St. Lawrence Seaway

The 656-foot freighter Federal Kivalina ran aground Tuesday after loosing its steering.
Robert Fratangelo U.S. Coast Guard Auxillery

There are now 17 shipping freighters in a traffic jam on the St. Lawrence Seaway because a disabled vessel has been blocking their path since Tuesday afternoon.

The freighter Federal Kivalina has been stuck in the American Narrows section of the seaway, near Collins Landing, N.Y., since it lost steering and ran aground. It's stuck about a third of a mile up river from the Thousand Islands Bridge.

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5:24pm

Wed May 28, 2014
Transportation

Traffic on St. Lawrence Seaway blocked by disabled freighter

The freighter Federal Kivalina became disabled Tuesday afternoon and is anchored off of Collins Landing, N.Y. on the St. lawrence Seaway.
U.S. Coast Guard via St. Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation

A large freighter stuck in a narrow part of the St. Lawrence Seaway since yesterday afternoon is beginning to cause a backup of shipping traffic along the waterway.

The Federal Kivalina lost power yesterday afternoon in the "American Narrows" section of the seaway and ran aground a third of a mile north of the Thousand Islands Bridge, according to the U.S. Coast Guard. The bridge, west of Alexandria Bay, carries Interstate 81 over the St. Lawrence River.

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7:56am

Tue April 1, 2014
Business

Winter dealt a blow to some North Country businesses

The relentless snow that pounded part of the North Country this past winter kept kids out of school and people home. That also meant a hit for some businesses in the region.

Lori Wells co-owns Café Mira, a restaurant in Adams, south of Watertown. The eatery employs about a dozen people and is only open four days a week. So when Wells and her partner, Lisa Reed, had to make the call three times this winter to not open, that was a hit to their business.

They hadn’t had to close at all in the four years they’ve been owners, Wells said.

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8:11am

Tue March 25, 2014
Health

St. Joseph's in Syracuse collaborating with Lewis County General Hospital

St. Joseph's in Syracuse is working with the Lewis County General Hospital to increase health services to rural areas.
St. Joseph's Hospital

Saint Joseph’s Hospital in Syracuse is expanding it’s relationship with a North Country hospital. Agreements like the one between St. Joe’s and the Lewis County General Hospital could be the wave of future health care in more rural areas of New York state.

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8:34am

Sat March 22, 2014
Environment

How much do bass fishing tournaments hurt the fish?

Bassmaster Elite angler Randy Howell reels in a small mouth during a tournament practice session near Ogdensburg last summer.
David Sommerstein/NCPR

Last summer, the country's top professional anglers were catching hundreds of pounds of Bass in the St. Lawrence River for the Bassmasters Elite tournament. Elite series officials deemed it a big success. A study found it generated $1-3 million for the region.

But are tournaments like Bassmasters Elite bad for the fish?

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8:08am

Thu March 13, 2014
Politics

North Country Congressional candidate Aaron Woolf speaks on the issues

Aaron Woolf, Democratic candidate for the 21st Congressional District
NYS Democratic Party

The endorsed Democratic candidate for Bill Owens' seat in Congress finally broke his media silence Wednesday, speaking with several North Country media outlets. Aaron Woolf spoke with North Country Public Radio's David Sommerstein on a range of issues, from gun control and health care to why a political rookie wants to represent the region. Democratic county chairs chose Woolf to run a month ago, but he had declined interviews until now.

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8:34am

Sat March 8, 2014
Performing Arts and Culture

Audio postcard: Sackets Harbor choral group rehearses

Music Director Richard Probert conducts the Sackets Harbor Vocal Arts Ensemble during a rehearsal at Trinity Episcopal Church, in Watertown.
Credit Joanna Richards / WRVO

The Sackets Harbor Vocal Arts Ensemble is preparing for a spring concert in Watertown. Joanna Richards dropped by the group’s second rehearsal to learn about choral music, and have a listen.

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6:49am

Thu March 6, 2014
Regional Coverage

In projects big and small, Watertown’s downtown reviving – but some say city government lacks vision

The formerly vacant and crumbling Woolworth building in downtown Watertown will soon host apartments and commercial space.
Credit Joanna Richards

As with many small cities, Watertown’s downtown has been decaying for years, with boarded-up buildings and businesses dwindling.

Now, a handful of big projects are reviving the historical structures at the center of town, and some new small businesses are thriving. But some say the city could be doing more to encourage growth.

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7:49am

Mon March 3, 2014
Regional Coverage

Watertown airport switching flights from Chicago to Philly as airlines merge

Passengers wait for a 7 a.m. flight to Chicago at the Watertown International Airport.
Joanna Richards WRVO

The Watertown airport has been much busier since it started offering direct air service to Chicago rather than Albany just over two years ago. Now, the merger between American Airlines and U.S. Airways is causing a switch in destination again.

Direct flights to Philadelphia will replace those to Chicago beginning May 8.

A regional carrier for American Airlines now provides the Chicago service. American merged with U.S. Airways in December. Philadelphia, a hub for U.S. Airways, is closer, and therefore a cheaper major hub for the airline to get to from Watertown.

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6:35am

Thu February 27, 2014
Regional Coverage

Ft. Drum may fare better than other bases, but cuts still likely

A training exercise at Fort Drum in August 2012 simulates the response to a helicopter crash.
Joanna Richards WRVO

Since Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel detailed his proposal for deep military cutbacks Monday, officials in Watertown have been trying to divine what that could mean for Fort Drum. They believe the Army post is well-positioned – but that doesn’t mean it won’t take a hit.

The military is already in downsizing mode as the war in Afghanistan winds down. But Hagel’s plan calls for deeper cuts, including shrinking the Army to its smallest size since before World War II.

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7:05am

Fri February 21, 2014
Politics and Government

Green party voters may get primary race in 21st

It's been just about a week since the Democratic Party announced documentary filmmaker Aaron Woolf as its candidate for the 21st District congressional seat Bill Owens currently holds, but Woolf has yet to make a public appearance or return emails since then. A brief statement last week said an official campaign announcement would be made "in the coming days."

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6:44am

Thu February 20, 2014
Regional Coverage

Army officers anxious as they await word of cuts

A soldier trains at Fort Drum
Joanna Richards

In any company town, when the major employer is planning layoffs, people get worried. How will they earn a living if they lose their job? How will they remake their identity?

This is the picture for many Army officers stationed at Fort Drum. By early summer, some will find out they have to go.

It’s part of an overall downsizing of the military as the war in Afghanistan winds down. Evaluations this spring will determine whether some officers can stay in the service.

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3:07pm

Wed February 19, 2014
Politics

Doheny will be on the ballot again for the 21st District

Matt Doheny waving to onlookers at a local parade during one of his previous runs for Congress.
Credit Doheny4Congress.com

Matt Doheny is again adding his name to the 2014 ballot for northern New York's 21st Congressional District. Doheny, the owner of a private investment firm in Watertown, ran for the seat in 2010 and 2012, but lost both races to Democrat Bill Owens. Owens announced last month that he will retire after his term ends at the end of this year.

Doheny announced his candidacy less than two weeks after the district's 12 county Republican chairs endorsed Elise Stefanik as their candidate. Stefanik worked for former President George W. Bush and vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan.

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12:47pm

Wed February 19, 2014
Regional Coverage

Jefferson County employer Hi-Lite to create new jobs with USDA loan

Hi-Lite Airfield Services began as a highway-striping company in 1989, according to its website.
Hi-Lite

A Jefferson County company is planning to expand with the help of a loan from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. 

Hi-Lite Airfield Services, in Adams Center, plans to create between eight and 10 new jobs, according to a news release from Rep. Bill Owens’s (D-Plattsburgh) office. The company also plans to buy new equipment with the $7.1 million loan from the USDA’s Rural Development program.

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7:44am

Tue February 18, 2014
Regional Coverage

DEC proposal to kill invasive swans drawing protests

A mute swan.
Credit DEC website

Most people think swans are beautiful. But the agreement seems to end there, when it comes to a new state plan to manage them. A proposal by the Department of Environmental Conservation to kill invasive mute swans isn’t flying with some animal lovers. 

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6:45am

Mon February 17, 2014
Regional Coverage

National pressures hit Carthage Area Hospital with 73 layoffs

Carthage Area Hospital says the same pressures that are facing all hospitals these days forced it to restructure.
Credit Joanna Richards

Hospitals around the country are all under the same pressures: a turn toward outpatient and preventive care, low Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement rates, and increasing regulations. It’s the same in Carthage. 

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5:30am

Mon February 3, 2014
Regional Coverage

Fort Drum among four locations to be studied for East Coast missile defense site

A 10th Mountain Division soldier trains at Fort Drum.
Credit Joanna Richards

The Defense Department has named Fort Drum as one of four military installations to house a possible East Coast missile defense facility. 

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7:07am

Tue January 28, 2014
Regional Coverage

Gillibrand pitches paid family and medical leave in Watertown

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand responds to reporters' questions after giving her pitch for paid family and medical leave at Jefferson Community College in Watertown.
Credit Joanna Richards / WRVO

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand says the nation’s workplace policies are out of date and don’t reflect increasing women’s employment – and their roles as family caregivers. Gillibrand was in Watertown yesterday to make the case for paid family and medical leave.

Students and reporters jostled in a student lounge as Jefferson Community College president Carole McCoy introduced the senator. Gillibrand told the crowd of several dozen that her legislation would provide financial security to people dealing with the birth of a child, or sick or dying family members.

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7:58am

Mon January 27, 2014
Regional Coverage

DOT to determine scope of rooftop highway study

As Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced in his budget address, $2.5 million has been allocated to analyze the Route 11 corridor in the North Country. But state transportation officials say they have not yet determined what kind of highway study they're going to do.

When Cuomo mentioned Interstate Route 98, aka the rooftop highway, between Watertown and Plattsburgh in his budget speech last week, he acknowledged a range of opinions on the decades-old idea.

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7:46pm

Wed January 22, 2014
Energy

Downed trees from ice storm will be turned into energy

Kids play amid downed tree limbs in Watertown after last month's ice storm.
Joanna Richards WRVO

All the power lines have been fixed after last month’s ice storm, and the crystal coatings have melted off the trees, but there’s still a persistent sign of the damage: lots of downed limbs.

Yards in the northern half of Jefferson County are full of tangled branches, sunk in the snow. Extricating them is going to be a long process, but there’s a plan in the works to give them a new life as fuel.

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6:07pm

Tue January 14, 2014
The Upstate Economy

Buyout could mean growth for Watertown employer Stream

Convergys is buying out Stream Global Services in an $820 million deal.

There have been a lot of questions in the wake of an announcement that the Stream Global Services Watertown call center will be sold. The company that’s buying it says if anything, the sale should make workers optimistic.

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4:59pm

Tue January 14, 2014
Politics and Government

Owens will not seek reelection to Congress

Congressman Bill Owens

North Country Rep. Bill Owens (D-Plattsburgh) announced Tuesday that he will not seek reelection in November -- surprising the political establishment and putting the seat for the 21st Congressional District up for grabs.

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6:24pm

Mon January 13, 2014
Health

Clinic taking steps toward financial health

The North Country Family Health Center - formerly the North Country Children's Clinic - is restructuring to ensure long-term financial stability.
Credit Joanna Richards

A clinic in Watertown that serves many needy children is taking steps toward better financial health after nearly closing abruptly in October.

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10:36pm

Wed January 8, 2014
Regional Coverage

Community cared for many travelers during massive snowfall

A roomful of strangers at Jennifer Gaffney's home in Adams have fun getting to know each other. Gaffney took in five stranded motorists after the overflowing fire department put out a call for help from local residents.
Credit Jennifer Gaffney

Travelers got back on the road yesterday afternoon after Interstate 81 reopened following the massive snowfall. Many spent an unexpected night in the north country – some in hotels, some in fire halls, some in the homes of strangers. The experience might have been a lousy advertisement for the climate here, but natives seemed to be at their best as Good Samaritans during the storm.

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4:45pm

Wed January 8, 2014
Regional Coverage

Stranded drivers find welcome at Jefferson County hotels, homes

Exit 41 of I-81 in Adams, NY.
Catherine Loper WRVO

The last portions of Route 81 between Watertown and North Syracuse are open again, after lake-effect storms closed much of the highway down.

Through the storms, hardy North Country natives have been helping stranded travelers. Many people spent last night in fire halls - the one in Adams took in 150 people. Watertown hotels right off the Interstate 81 exit were full, of both drivers and staff who couldn't get out, either.

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7:33am

Wed January 8, 2014
Regional Coverage

Lake effect snow continues in North Country; many travelers stranded

Residents are trying to dig out in Adams, NY
Sarah Crisafulli

The lake effect snow warning for northern New York has been extended until Thursday at 1 p.m. as upwards of four feet of snow has fallen in some spots since Monday. A state of emergency remains in effect for 14 counties, including Oswego, Jefferson and Lewis Counties.

Forecasters predicted snow to fall at a rate of two to three inches an hour Wednesday morning in an area in the Tug Hill area.

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10:02pm

Thu January 2, 2014
Regional Coverage

Drum soldiers' housing allowance up, but rents still expected to stabilize

John Bartow, executive director of the Tug Hill Commission, says despite the housing allowance for Fort Drum soldiers rising again this year, rents are stabilizing in the region.
Credit Joanna Richards

The growth of Fort Drum and its fluctuating soldier population have always complicated the housing market around Watertown. But the Army post throws another factor into the mix: soldier’s housing allowances. They just went up.

As of January 1, the Basic Allowance for Housing, or BAH, rates across the military went up an average of 5 percent. In the Fort Drum area, it’s up around 13 percent. Junior enlisted soldiers have gone from receiving $948 per month to $1,071 per month, to cover the cost of housing and utilities.    

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5:30am

Tue December 31, 2013
Regional Coverage

Governor announces $4.5 million to boost winter tourism upstate

Governor Andrew Cuomo, at the Valley Snow Travelers snowmobile club groomer barn in Lowville, Lewis County.
Joanna Richards

Governor Andrew Cuomo visited a newly expanded snowmobiler lounge in Lowville Monday to unveil a new ad campaign to promote winter tourism upstate. Cuomo says there’s new energy in the north country, thanks to increasing economic investment. He credits the efforts of both the region and his administration in making that happen.  

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