Watertown

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. 

kristen_a / Flickr

Primary voting day for New York will be held on a Thursday this year instead of the traditional Tuesday. 

This change is important for the city of Watertown. Voters are expected to choose which mayoral candidates will move onto the general election that day. Watertown city officials hope the date switch won’t keep people from the polls.

With two of the Tuesdays in September falling during the Jewish holidays Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur,  Gov. Andrew Cuomo approved changing the primary voting day to Thursday, September 10. 

Julia Botero / WRVO News

A group of anti-abortion protestors greeted Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) as she arrived at a meeting with business leaders in Watertown on Monday. The protestors asked Gillibrand to address the efforts in the Senate to defund Planned Parenthood.

The Republican-led senate voted on a bill Monday to stop federally funding the organization in response to undercover videos that appear to show executives of the organization discussing the sale of fetal tissue for medical research. The bill was blocked.

Watertown Airport

A new building and hangar at the Watertown Airport has opened to serve the growing needs of the local business community.

There are two parts to the Watertown Airport just outside the city -- there’s the commercial side where passengers board the two American Airlines flights to Philadelphia each day, and there’s the side that caters to private businesses. Jim Nabywaniec is a Jefferson County legislator who helps oversee projects at the airport.

Livestock & Poultry Environmental Learning Center / Flickr

One dairy cow produces close to eight tons of manure a year. On big farms, that poses a serious, and regulated, waste disposal problem. In the spring and summer, farmers can spread manure on their fields before planting. But in the winter, all that manure has to be stored somewhere.

Milk Street Dairy in Jefferson County has more than 1,000 dairy cows. The owners are constructing a seven-million gallon lagoon to hold liquid manure. The site is on Ridge Road in the town of Rutland. It overlooks the Black River, and Watertown city officials aren’t happy.

Julia Botero / WRVO News

Watertown's City Hall celebrated its 50th anniversary Friday. The city commemorated the day by opening a time capsule sealed and hidden in the wall of the building since 1965.

Watertown Mayor Jeff Graham and former Mayors Tom Walker and Joseph Butler slowly opened a rectangular metal box in front of a crowd outside City Hall. 

“Not sure what to expect here but we’ll grab a corner and pull it off," said Graham.

Julia Botero / WRVO News

The race for mayor in Watertown is heating up. Three candidates have thrown their hat in the ring to run against incumbent Jeff Graham in November's election. 

Stephen Jennings, Joseph  Butler and Mayor Jeffrey Graham work together on a weekly basis. Both Jennings and Butler are city council members.  Both believe the city needs a new leader at the top.

“There is no vision to me. That is my great frustration and I feel that the things I envision are not going to be enacted in this current council. I think we need a change,” Jennings said.

Julia Botero / WRVO News

Professional baseball fans in Watertown rejoice. After nearly 20 years, the sport has returned to the city. The Watertown Bucks are an independent pro team with players from all over the country.  The team may not be affiliated with a major league team, but the players could still be picked up by one. In Watertown, fans are overjoyed to have a baseball team they can call their own again.

401(K) 2012 / Flickr

We all know that every time we buy something in a store we pay a percentage of the cost of that item in tax. That sales tax goes toward helping the county pay for anything from road repairs to staffing the local police departments. For the past two years, the money that Jefferson County earns through sales tax has been in a slow decline. County legislators are getting worried after seeing an even bigger drop at the beginning of the year.

Ryan Delaney / WRVO

The Syracuse VA Medical Center is seeing more than nine in 10 patients in a timely fashion, according to a review of six months of patient appointment records, but an “anomaly” in one area of care shows veterans waiting more than three months to be seen by a doctor.

Julia Botero / WRVO News

It’s the time of year again for tuxedos, long dresses, high heels and  corsages. Prom season is approaching and that means teenagers are thinking about what they’re going to wear.  But buying a tux or dress and accessories to match can get expensive. To help with the high price tag, the Urban Mission thrift store in Watertown is selling donated formal wear.  Its just one thing the non-profit  does to help North Country residents survive on a tight budget. 

Olivia White isn’t totally sure what she’s looking for in a prom dress.

Watertown, NY official website

An audit released Tuesday by the State Comptroller Thomas Dinapoli found the Watertown police department lost track of confiscated drugs, weapons, and two vehicles.

The report indicated the actual location of these items did not match up with inventory records. Forty-four drug items such as bags of marijuana, pills, and cocaine, were missing. Only nine have been accounted for. Most of the seized drugs in inventory did not have proper documentation.

Brian Hoffman / via Flickr

Watertown was the coldest place in the lower 48 states yesterday, reaching -36 degrees on President’s Day morning. 

But around lunch time it had warmed up to a balmy -3 degrees.  It’s the kind of temperature that car engines hate. Still, people were driving around in their cars. But a few brave souls were out on foot.

Watertown is hosting the first Snowtown Film Festival this weekend. It's one of the few indoor events in a series of winter activities that are part of this month’s Snowtown USA festival. Fourteen films with winter themes will be screened in a full day marathon this Saturday. A majority of them are written and directed by local filmmakers.

Abortion opponents protest with prayer in Watertown

Jan 29, 2015
Julia Botero / WRVO

Opponents of abortion have been gathering around the nation this month. They are protesting the January 1973 Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion, Thousands of protesters converged in D.C. last week as the House of Representatives passed a bill baring federal spending on abortions.  But anti-abortion activists also come together to pray on this issue every January all over the country.

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.

Doheny, Stefanik debate local and national issues

Jun 13, 2014
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.

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