North Country

Julia Botero / WRVO

Fort Drum held a ceremony Monday to commemorate the 10th Mountain Division's 13-year involvement in Afghanistan. Gov. Andrew Cuomo made a last minute appearance, joining Secretary of the Army John McHugh and other state and national leaders who were there.

The 10th Mountain Division was the first to be deployed to Afghanistan after September 11, 2001. Within the last year and a half, every brigade of the 10th Mountain Division has been deployed to the country.

Sarah Crisafulli

Officials in Jefferson and St. Lawrence counties issued travel warnings yesterday as lake effect snow created potentially dangerous conditions.

But a few workers in Watertown were out in the storm. City bus driver Matthew Muñoz shoveled snow at the bus stop in front of the Woolworth building. He didn't seem phased.

"I think it's annoying," Muñoz said. "Typical Watertown weather. But I'm sure it'll go down, and then come back again and go down and come back again."

Catherine Loper/WRVO

North Country residents are seeing their first major snowfall this season. Heavy lake effect snow is expected to continue around parts of Jefferson, Lewis and Oswego Counties throughout the day and into tomorrow morning. Up to three feet of snow could fall in some areas by Wednesday evening.

Brian Mann / NCPR

It was a triumphant night for Republican Elise Stefanik, the 30-year-old Republican who moved last year to Willsboro in Essex County.

She’ll go to Washington DC as the youngest woman ever elected to Congress. She built a juggernaut campaign, promising bipartisanship and new ideas.

She's where all of us were when we were thirty years old. She sees the way it could be, the way it ought to be

A Handy win in a strong GOP year

Bocciolatt Campaign/O'Neill Campaign

Democrat Colleen O'Neill may become the first woman to be elected sheriff in New York state. O'Neill and Republican challenger John Bocciolatt ran a very close race for Jefferson Country Sheriff last night. With all districts counted, O'Neill inched ahead with a 670 vote lead.

But Bocciolatt is not conceding, and 1,500 absentee ballots still need to be counted.

In a speech at the Democrat headquarters in Watertown last night, O'Neill thanked her staff and says she is confident she'll be the next sheriff. 

Bocciolatt Campaign/O'Neill Campaign

Jefferson County will select a new sheriff Tuesday. Republican John Bocciolatt and Democrat Colleen O'Neill have both spent 28 years working in law enforcement, and each says they have the right kind of experience for the job. 

John Bocciolatt says he knows the duties of county sheriff mostly take place behind a desk. 

"It's really about your ability to communicate and team build," Bocciolatt said.

Joanna Richards / WRVO file photo

When voters go to the polls in the 116th Assembly District, it will be a referendum on Democratic incumbent Addie Russell who is running for her fourth term.

The so-called River District covers western Jefferson County and northern St. Lawrence County. Republican challenger John Byrne and Conservative candidate Russell Finley say Russell's yes vote on the controversial SAFE Act shows her views conflict with those she represents. 

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:

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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?

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.

Audio postcard: Sackets Harbor choral group rehearses

Mar 8, 2014
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.

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.

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.

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.

Green party voters may get primary race in 21st

Feb 21, 2014

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."

Army officers anxious as they await word of cuts

Feb 20, 2014
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.

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.

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.

DEC proposal to kill invasive swans drawing protests

Feb 18, 2014
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. 

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. 

Joanna Richards

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

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.

DOT to determine scope of rooftop highway study

Jan 27, 2014

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.

Downed trees from ice storm will be turned into energy

Jan 22, 2014
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.

Buyout could mean growth for Watertown employer Stream

Jan 14, 2014

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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