Watertown

Julia Botero / WRVO news

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s daughter, Chelsea Clinton, stopped in Watertown Monday to stump for her mother before New York's primary Tuesday.

Chelsea Clinton, who is expecting her second child this summer, told a room full of supporters at the IBEW Local 191 union hall, this will be the first presidential election she’ll be voting in as a mother.

Jason Smith / WRVO News

Former President Bill Clinton has spent the last several weeks campaigning in New York for his wife, ahead of the state's primary April 19.

Payne Horning / WRVO News

At a rally in Watertown Saturday, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump touched on his familiar campaign promises to secure the borders and boost military funding.

Trump told an enthusiastic crowd that the flow of heroin and other illegal drugs into the country would end with his proposed wall along the Mexican border. Under his administration, Trump said Watertown will get jobs back and heroin out.

Julia Botero / WRVO News

North Country voters got a chance to ask Ohio Governor John Kasich questions Friday in Watertown. The presidential candidate's town hall event attracted more than 500 people.  The crowd ranged from older voters, to high school students gearing up to vote for the first time. 

Outside the Bruce Wright Memorial Conference Center in Watertown Friday morning, the mood was calm as people waited in line to see and hear from Kasich in person. There were no protestors at this event, but a few supporters made sure to wear red hats reading Kasich 2016.

Julia Botero / WRVO news

Two weeks ago, more than 150 workers at the Climax Packaging plant in Lowville were told not to come to work the next day. The plant was closing immediately and everyone would lose their jobs. Thursday, a job fair in Watertown attracted many former Climax workers looking to get back on their feet.

It was hard to find a place to park outside the Bruce Wright Memorial Conference Center. Inside, people milled around a room sometimes stopping to introduce themselves to a local employer looking to hire.

Julia Botero / WRVO News

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is introducing a new Hunger Games-style competition, this time aimed at downtown revitalization. Struggling communities in regions across the state will compete for their share of $100 million. Watertown’s mayor thinks his city has what it takes to compete.

A shrinking population? Check. A struggling economy? Check.

But Watertown’s' downtown development hasn't been all doom and gloom. Quite the opposite. The old Woolworth building was renovated into apartments. Mercy Hospital was torn down and a mixed-use building is going up in its place.

Brit Hanson / NCPR

It was a cold night in Watertown’s Thompson Park. The sun had already set and the park closed by the time Betsy Rogers and her mom arrived. They were there for what felt like a bittersweet celebration: Betsy’s 30th birthday.

 

She knelt on the ground shivering, trying to light a paper lantern. It had a red number 29 painted on its side. Darlene, Betsy’s mom, stood trying to shield them from the wind. For Betsy, the ritual was about more than turning 30 — she was also celebrating six months clean.

 

Julia Botero / WRVO News

 

Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY), sporting protective ear plugs to block out the whirling of machines, shakes hands with workers on the factory floor of New York Air Brake in Watertown. It's the senator's first visit to the company, which has made brake systems for the railroad industry for over a century.

As Schumer pauses to study the heavy metal contraptions that make trains stop and slow down, company officials explain what he’s seeing. 

Brit Hanson / North Country Public Radio

Bedbugs, those creepy crawly pests that embed themselves into mattresses and furniture, are a problem in big cities across the country. The bugs have managed to find their way to smaller cities in the North Country.

Watertown is now dealing with the pests and the stigma that comes with them.

Back in September, a friend told me she was dealing with a serious bed bug issue. Her name is Kris Rusho and I gave her a call a few weeks ago to get the whole story.

Julia Botero / WRVO news

Watertown celebrated St. Patrick’s Day a little early this year with a beard contest at their annual Irish Festival last weekend. But he competition begins before that. On January 1, men come to Watertown for a clean shave. They have until the Irish festival in mid-March to grow the fullest, longest beard they can.  WRVO's Julia Botero went to the  Donegal Beard Competition in Watertown to see the winner. 

North Country Baseball League Facebook page

The sun refuses to set on professional baseball in Watertown. After the North Country Baseball League folded late last year, a new corporate-sponsored league is taking its place. The Watertown Bucks will open another season throwing their first pitch at the city fairgrounds this summer.

Eddie Gonzalez is a professional baseball player who coached one of the Watertown Bucks' biggest rivals — Road City. As he watched his team take the field every day, he remembered his own struggles trying to make it big in baseball.

Petroglyph / Flickr Creative Commons

Eight skunks in Jefferson County have tested positive for rabies this winter. County Health officials say this is number is unusually high. They're urging more pet owners in rural areas across northern New York to vaccinate their pets to stop the spread of the fatal disease to humans.

Faith Lustik remembers the first time this winter she got a call about skunks. Two were spotted in a Watertown neighborhood acting strangely.

"One of the skunks actually chased a woman and she subsequently was bitten by it," Lustik said.

Fort Drum Mountain Community Homes

There’s a glut of housing in towns surrounding Fort Drum. With thousands of troops deployed, many houses and apartment complexes in the area are empty, including the homes on base. Now, housing on Fort Drum is available to all civilians, even those who don’t work on post.  Anyone who passes a background check is welcomed to rent a home on Fort Drum.

Joe McLaughlin is working on his sales pitch. For a thousand dollars a month, he says you can get a 2-bedroom house with an attached garage, electricity and heat included.

Rande Richardson / NNY Foundation

A prominent social club closed its doors last year after more than 100 years as a Watertown institution. Everything in the building from the bar stools to the kitchenware was sold at auction in December. The Black River Valley Club was a second home to its members, and the last remnant of Watertown's gilded history. WRVO's Julia Botero recorded memories of the club’s heyday and took a tour of the building on auction day.  
 
In this audio postcard, you'll hear from auctioneer David Johnson and former club members James Hearsey, George Couch, Deb McAtee.

Gino Geruntino / WRVO

When a high school student is not admitted to a college or university, they receive a rejection letter. But at SUNY Oswego, that process is changing to let some denied applicants have another shot.

The college rejected about 2,500 freshmen applicants last year, according to Dan Griffin, director of admissions at SUNY Oswego. The response to those students was the same.

"We’re sorry, we can’t help you out as a freshman," Griffin said. "If you go someplace else for a couple of semesters, maybe you should reapply and we'll do our best to accommodate you."

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.

North Country Baseball League

The North Country Baseball League has folded.  The owner of The Watertown Bucks, the city’s first pro-baseball team in twenty years, has announced the team won’t be returning.

Back in January, news spread that pro baseball was on its way back to Watertown. The plan was The East Coast Baseball League would have 16 teams including the newly minted Watertown Bucks. But by the spring, the owner of the league pulled out. Bucks owner Bruce Zicari and team manager Matt McClusky acted fast with a plan to save baseball.

Julia Botero / WRVO news

Watertown is looking at cities like Syracuse and Rochester for a new way to handle abandoned homes. City officials say a land bank can help get properties back on the tax roll. 

Out on the corner of Coffeen and Waltham Streets in Watertown, the windows on a red brick house are broken.

Local elections were held around the country last Tuesday, and while the Syracuse region did not contain the drama of the Kentucky governor’s race or the Houston equal rights ordinance, there were nonetheless some local results of note, and some tea leaves embedded in the details of expected outcomes.  This week on the Campbell Conversations, host Grant Reeher mines those with two local political reporters, Teri Weaver of the Syracuse Post-Standard and Ellen Abbot of WRVO Public Media. 

Julia Botero / WRVO news

Voters in Watertown have selected Joe Butler Jr. as the city's next mayor. Tuesday's vote ends Jeff Graham's 20 year tenure as Watertown’s mayor.

Julia Botero / WRVO News

On November 3, Watertown voters will choose the city’s next mayor. Incumbent Jeff Graham is competing against two-term councilmen Joe Butler for the chance to lead Watertown into the next four years. Long-standing mayor Jeff Graham could be ousted out of a position he’s held for 20 years. As the candidates push to convince voters they’re the right kind of leader, mud is flying.

Julia Botero / WRVO news

There’s about three weeks to go before Watertown voters will decide who will be the city’s next mayor.  City Councilman Joe Butler, Jr. is challenging incumbent Mayor Jeffrey Graham for Watertown’s top job. Both candidates have a lot to lose in this race. If Graham isn’t re-elected, his 20-year tenure as the city’s mayor will be over. If Butler is defeated, he’ll lose his city council seat.

The two candidates hashed out where they stand on the city’s most pressing issues Wednesday afternoon in the race’s only debate.

Julia Botero / WRVO News

If you’re looking to rent or buy a home near Fort Drum, now would be a good time. Apartment complexes in surrounding towns are offering special deals in hopes of filling empty units. Recent deployments at Fort Drum has help create an abundance of housing.

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.

Today is primary day in New York state

Sep 10, 2015
programwitch / Flickr

Today is primary day in New York state and there are some high profile races to watch.

Three Democrats are vying for the nomination for a Syracuse-area Assembly seat. The 128th District is open because Democrat Sam Roberts left the Assembly for a job in the Cuomo administration.

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.

Robert S. Donovan / Flickr

Developers hoping to build a slaughterhouse in Watertown will have to go back to the drawing board. This comes after the Car Freshner Corporation has objected to the developer's plans. 

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