Watertown

Woolworth Building now accepting applications

Nov 14, 2014
Julia Botero

The historic Woolworth Building in downtown Watertown is accepting applications for tenants. After years of talks and renovations, work to transform this architectural landmark from an eyesore to an asset is coming to a close. The apartment building will be ready for tenants to move in by mid-January. 

The Woolworth Building apartments will fill a deep need in the Watertown community - affordable housing for people who need it most. The apartments are spacious, clean and for those moving in this winter, totally new.

Gino Geruntino

Fort Drum near Watertown is one of a handful of sites being considered as an East Coast missile defense site. A meeting was held Tuesday at Carthage High School to gauge the community's interest on the potential project.

Lt. Col. Chris Snipes, with the Missile Defense Agency, says the study being performed right now looks at a variety of factors when it comes to where the prospective site might go.

WWNY-TV

The two candidates vying for the Republican Party's nod in the 21st Congressional District showed a lot of similarities during an hour-long primary debate held Thursday in Watertown. The debate between Matt Doheny and Elise Stefanik was broadcast on WWNY in Watertown and North Country Public Radio and public television.

Both candidates want to repeal the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, and repair the medical care system for veterans.

Schumer vows to fight troop reduction at Fort Drum

Mar 20, 2014
David Sommerstein / NCPR

New York Sen. Chuck Schumer says he’s not afraid to use his political might to protect Fort Drum from cuts to the military budget. Schumer held a press conference at Watertown City Hall Wednesday as the Pentagon prepares to axe up to 100,000 Army troops.

The possibility of an Army downsizing to 1940s levels is fraying nerves in military communities nationwide. But on Monday, concern deepened. The Army circulated a sort of worst-case scenario report – and it included assessing the loss of nearly 90 percent of the troops stationed at Fort Drum.

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.

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.

Clinic taking steps toward financial health

Jan 13, 2014
Joanna Richards

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

The Stream Global Services call center in Watertown will change hands when its parent company is bought by a rival, according to Reuters. It’s not clear what effect that might have on the 700 employees who work there.

Don Alexander heads the Jefferson County Industrial Development Agency. He says Stream’s significance to the area’s economy can’t be overstated and the company has been a good employer.

Joanna Richards

The lights are coming back on in Jefferson County after the ice storm left most residents in the dark for some period over the weekend. National Grid says it expects to restore power to nearly all customers by midnight tonight.

Sixteen-hundred field workers from as far away as New Jersey and the Ohio Valley are helping to make that happen. Despite the progress, the utility says some customers could be in the dark through Christmas.

North Country scraping its way out of blanket of ice

Dec 23, 2013
Joanna Richards

Updated at 3:40 p.m.

Joanna Richards

The North Country Family Health Center, in Watertown, is still working to gain long-term financial stability after nearly closing in October. Now, another Watertown health care provider is getting a bailout to stay afloat. This time, it’s Family Counseling Service of Northern New York. 

Ski season gets underway

Dec 12, 2013
Joanna Richards

The winter sports season is underway in the north country. Thanks to the pre-Thanksgiving snowstorm, some skiers in Jefferson County got an early start this year. 

A snowboarder twists and slides to a stop at Dry Hill Ski Area in Watertown. He unclips his boots and dashes into the clubhouse to warm up.

Josh Askins and a friend cozy up to the big stone fire pit.  “We were snowboarding, then we came inside to sit next to the fire. It smells really nice,” he says.

Askins teaches snowboarding lessons here.

Work begins on Watertown's Woolworth building

Dec 5, 2013
Joanna Richards

Work has begun to revive a long-vacant eyesore at the center of downtown Watertown.

Soldiers pitch in to help needy celebrate Christmas

Dec 1, 2013
Joanna Richards

The Watertown Urban Mission is busy around the holidays. Along with running its regular programs like the food pantry and thrift store, it also distributes warm winter coats and Thanksgiving turkeys, puts on a craft fair, and holds a sale of Christmas items. Fortunately, it's gotten some help from a small army of volunteers – literally.

Black Friday alternative at Watertown craft sale

Nov 29, 2013
Joanna Richards / WRVO

On Black Friday, people cram into stores, treating shopping like a full-contact sport. Others hold off for a calmer experience in front of their computer screens on Cyber Monday. But some people still want a fun, communal holiday shopping experience – minus the chaos.

Watertown's annual holiday craft fair is a good option for less competitive shoppers, or people searching for a few unique items. This Sunday, two floors of the Dulles State Office Building will fill with local vendors.

Work begins soon to bring Watertown landmark back to life

Nov 19, 2013
Joanna Richards

The state of Watertown's historic Woolworth building tells you a lot about the health of the city. And for years, the message hasn't been good. But the vacant eyesore is on track to re-emerge as evidence of the downtown's steady improvement.   

If you put a nose to the building's front window, you can see the story of decline. A big vault door surrounded by moldy clothing shows how a grand bank lobby gave way to a junk shop. And even that business is long gone. Water drips from the ceiling, pooling onto a mess of old merchandise on the floor.

JCIDA

Entrepreneurs in Jefferson County are going to have a harder time finding startup money, now that a loan fund meant to help them is running low. That's good news and bad news.

Here's the bad news: The Industrial Development Agency's micro-enterprise loan fund is down to about $31,000. That means the next successful applicant is going to drain it dry.

"At some point, someone is going to come to the loan fund for dollars for their business, and we won't have any to lend," says Don Alexander, IDA chief.

Winter crows invade Watertown

Nov 11, 2013
Joanna Richards

Every winter, Alfred Hitchcock's classic horror movie, “The Birds” gets a replay in Watertown. But not on the silver screen. Thousands of crows fly in from the countryside to roost overnight. The city's trying to evict them. 

Joanna Richards

Watertown's City Council contest pitted two fiscally conservative incumbents against two political newcomers who want city government to think more broadly about its role. The voters went for one of each.

Small business owner Teresa Macaluso led the pack by a comfortable margin to keep her seat for a second four-year term. She says good budget management will always be her top priority. "Without a budget, a balanced budget, we don't get any of the services that we want, things fall behind, and then before you know it, you're in trouble," she said. 

Joanna Richards

Watertown's City Council hopefuls got one final chance before tomorrow's election to make their case at a meet-the-candidates event last week. The four opponents advocate different roles for city government. 

The race pits two incumbents who see a limited role for city government against a pair of political newcomers with broader visions for what the council can do to improve residents' lives. 

Justin Sorenson, Watertown Daily Times

Earlier this week, a researcher from the state Health Department met with Watertown residents from the neighborhood near the New York Air Brake plant. The Health Department has agreed to study the area’s disease patterns because residents suspect that pollution from the plant has made people sick.

Joanna Richards/WRVO

Last week was a rough one for the North Country Children's Clinic in Watertown. As the non-profit confronted mounting financial problems, it announced that it had to close. Then, on Thursday, local lawmakers jumped in to keep the center open for at least another month. Now, the clinic says it has secured funding for another six months.

When the North Country Children’s Clinic announced its closure last week, it was really bracing for the worst.

FDRHPO

A last-minute deal was struck Thursday to rescue a long-standing health care safety net for needy north country children. The North Country Children's Clinic in Watertown announced Tuesday that it would close suddenly, at the end of the week, because of dire financial problems. Now, the clinic has gotten at least another month of life.

Four of the six candidates running for Watertown City Council, including the race's two incumbents, are moving on to the general election in November, following Tuesday's primary election.

Incumbent candidates Teresa Macaluso and Jeffrey Smith took the top two spots, with 575 and 454 votes, respectively. Challenger Stephen Jennings also had a strong showing, falling only two votes shy of Smith. Cody Horbacz also moves on to the November election.

Jasmine Borreffine and Rodney LaFave received the lowest totals and were eliminated from the race.

Watertown meets primary candidates for City Council

Sep 6, 2013
Joanna Richards

Watertown is holding a primary election next Tuesday for two seats on the City Council. The election is non-partisan, so all six candidates are running for the chance to move on to the general election in November. A Meet-the-Candidates event was held Thursday at the city's Italian-American Civic Association.

 

The candidates weighed in on issues ranging from economic development, to fluoride in the water supply, to making Watertown a more welcoming place for dogs during the two-hour question-and-answer session. Several dozen people came to listen.

Comptroller DiNapoli: Watertown in good fiscal health

Jun 13, 2013
Joanna Richards

State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli came to Watertown on Wednesday to commend the city's leadership on its sound financial stewardship. DiNapoli's office is rolling out a program of annual fiscal “stress tests” for municipalities and school districts. And the comptroller said Watertown sets an example for prudent financial planning. 

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