North Country

U.S. Army

The federal government's across-the-board spending cuts known as the sequester are set to kick in Friday, barring an agreement between Congress and the president. That means a big impact for defense spending, including for Fort Drum, an important regional economic driver.  

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.

Joanna Richards

Until recently, the only way to drive between Route 11 and Interstate 81 near Fort Drum was a two-lane road, Route 342. As the Army base grew, local businesses flocked there to serve the increasing traffic. But the state built an $87 million bypass to ease traffic and give military vehicles a direct route to Fort Drum’s main gate. I-781, as it’s known, opened last December. Local shop owners have had mixed reactions to the new road.

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.

Democratic Assemblywoman Addie Russell, of Theresa, thinks the current state school aid formula is broken, benefiting wealthier districts at the expense of poorer ones. She says legislation she's introduced would make the formula more equitable.

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.

The U.S. military is in the process of cutting almost half a trillion dollars from its budget over ten years. The Pentagon says the cuts will lead to a more agile force with a new strategic mission. A new Army report weighs alternatives for restructuring that could affect Fort Drum. Under one scenario, the post could see an increase of 3,000 soldiers, but under another, it could lose up to 8,000 soldiers and 15 percent of its civilian workforce.

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta is expected to announce Thursday that a ban on women serving in combat roles in the military will be lifted over the coming years. Around heavily-deployed Fort Drum, soldiers generally welcomed the news – with some caveats.  

Fort Drum Public Affairs

More than half a million people gathered on the National Mall in front of the Capitol to be a part of President Barack Obama's second inauguration. Among them were about 10 wounded warriors who have been recovering at Walter Reed hospital in Washington. Among that group were four Fort Drum soldiers. One, Specialist Jacob Owens, spoke with a reporter after a long day full of ceremony.

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.

Nearly all of Fort Drum's soldiers are at the post right now, not on deployments – and that's a first for the region since the installation's expansion in 2001. That has tightened the region's housing market, for soldiers, who have fewer choices, and for civilians, who don't receive housing assistance like soldiers do and are looking for affordable housing.  

Joanna Richards / WRVO

With the outbreak of World War Two, the Army installation then known as Pine Camp expanded, to become Camp Drum and eventually Fort Drum today. In the process, it swallowed up several villages, including their cemeteries.  Fort Drum researchers have created a database and new maps that will help family members of those buried at the cemeteries to find and visit their loved ones' gravesites, both in person and online.

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. 

Joanna Richards

While lots of industries turned to information technology long ago to improve efficiency, accuracy and collaboration, until now, health care has lagged behind. Now, a big project has aimed to leverage IT in the health care in the state’s rural North Country.  

Capt. Michael Greenberger, Department of Defense CC some rights reserved via Flickr

Fort Drum's 2nd Brigade Combat Team is preparing for a January deployment to eastern Afghanistan. The deployment marks a shift for troops from combat to advising and assisting the Afghan security forces. 

Fort Drum connector road to I-81 opens

Dec 6, 2012

The highway project that creates a direct connection between Interstate 81 and Fort Drum's main gate opened Thursday.

New commanding general takes helm at Fort Drum

Dec 3, 2012

Major General Stephen Townsend has taken over command of Fort Drum and the 10th Mountain Division following a ceremony at the post yesterday morning.  

Sarah Harris / NCPR

Over the last decade, new wind farms have changed America’s landscapes – and its power sources. The growth has been spurred by a production tax credit wind companies get in exchange for producing energy. But the credit is due to expire at the end of the year if Congress doesn’t renew it.

Owens holds on to North Country congressional seat

Nov 7, 2012

Democrat Bill Owens survived one of the most costly and bitter political campaigns in North Country history last night. He defeated Republican businessman Matt Doheny by about 4,000 votes.

Joanna Richards

As the wind began picking up Monday afternoon in Jefferson County, residents and officials were preparing for the high winds and water along shorelines expected from Hurricane Sandy.

Owens and Doheny face off in a televised debate

Oct 26, 2012
Amanda Morrison / Watertown Daily Times

The two major party candidates met for the last debate in the North Country's Congressional race last night in Watertown. Incumbent Democrat Bill Owens and Republican Matt Doheny sparred on well-trodden ground, like tax cuts, the deficit, and Medicare. They also differed, sharply at times, on a range of other issues.

Construction of the giant hydropower dam near Massena in the 1950s forever tamed the once wild St. Lawrence River. It allowed engineers to harness the river’s natural ebb and flow for energy production and to protect homes and ports at the same time. But in the process, it hurt the indigenous plants and animals that depend on those highs and lows to survive. The environmental group Save The River has been leading a charge to persuade the agency that controls water levels to return more natural ebbs and flows to the St. Lawrence. One way is by giving the younger generation of River residents a hands-on lesson.

Mark Kurtz

“Forever Wild” is the term in New York’s constitution used to describe state forest preserves in the Adirondacks. Community leaders in and around the park have used that term to inform their vision for economic development. Their slogan – and the name of a conference held annually at Clarkson University in Potsdam – is “Forever Wired.” The fourth conference continued a push to expand broadband internet access, and economic opportunity, in the Adirondacks.  

Local food economy overcomes obstacles

Aug 28, 2012
Joanna Richards/WRVO

Recently, local food has been turning up on more grocery store shelves and restaurants in upstate New York. But the local food economy still faces challenges to bringing agricultural products from farm to table.

Joanna Richards / WRVO

The remains of a Fort Drum soldier killed in Afghanistan earlier this month returned to home of the 10th Mountain Division on Sunday, and his funeral was held yesterday in Carthage, in Jefferson County.

At 28 years old, Staff Sergeant Daniel Rodriguez had a wife and three children – and four combat tours under his belt after 10 years of service in the Army.

Those who knew him said Rodriguez will be remembered for his humor, the love he had for his family, and the commitment he had to his military career.  

It's a national tradition for naturalization ceremonies for new U.S. citizens to be performed on Independence Day. This year,  a Fort Drum soldier participated in a ceremony at the White House on July 4.

Earlier this year, the American Lung Association unveiled an unpleasant surprise for Jefferson County residents. In a report on air quality across the country, the association gave the rural north country county a grade of "F" for ozone pollution, commonly known as smog. 

Army worms invade Jefferson County farms

Jun 30, 2012

A pest has invaded farm fields throughout Jefferson County. Army worms – actually caterpillars that transform into moths – migrate up from the south every year to Northern New York. But this year a major outbreak of the worms is causing a widespread threat to crops, and big financial losses to some farmers. 

Emergency services suffering from lack of volunteers

Jun 18, 2012

Recently, a local volunteer department was late responding to a fire in the town of LeRay in Jefferson County. The mutual aid system was activated and a nearby department responded to the blaze; fortunately, no one was hurt. But the incident did highlight a persistent and growing problem among the north country's primarily volunteer emergency services: a lack of manpower.

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