Watertown

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. 

In the last several years, about 140 communities across the country have decided to stop added fluoride to their water supplies. In November, the village of Pulaski's water board voted to no long put fluoride in their water. Earlier this week, the Watertown City Council heard arguments that they should do the same thing. Communities like these worry the element could be harming their citizens, corroding their pipes or feel like it's just a government intrusion. This trend comes despite dentists and the Centers for Disease Control calling fluoridation of water a major public health advancement of the last century. Lorraine Rapp and Linda Lowen, hosts of WRVO's weekly health and wellness show "Take Care" recently spoke about this controversial issue with Dr. William Bowen, a dental health expert and professor at the University of Rochester Medical Center, who has also worked for the Food and Drug Administration and the CDC.

Joanna Richards

After a long career devoted to documenting – and shaping – North Country life, John Johnson Jr. is far from calling it quits. But he is stepping down from daily oversight at the Watertown Daily Times and its parent company, Johnson Newspapers, helping to make way for a new generation of family leadership.  

Joanna Richards

After founding his first stores elsewhere, Jefferson County’s Frank Winfield Woolworth bought the building in Watertown where he got his start in the dry goods business, intending to raze it and build one of his own stores. Woolworth died before he could see it, but his company realized his plan and the building’s a central part of the early history of the five-and-dime chain. After years of vacancy, two developers have plans to revive the landmark.

North Country Arts Council brings out kids' creativity

Mar 31, 2013
Joanna Richards

The North Country Arts Council has been a growing force for cultural activity in the Watertown area since its inception in 2009. The group aims to spotlight the work of regional artists, but it also hopes to draw more community members into arts activities too. Over the schools' winter break this year, the organization offered a day full of different art workshops for kids at its home on Public Square. 

City of Watertown

The Watertown City Council has received a lot of pushback and even ridicule in the media recently for passing what's being referred to as a “roommate ban.” Last month, in response to a neighbor dispute, the City Council removed language from the zoning code that allowed the renting out of rooms in single-family homes. But city planning officials say the regulatory change is completely unenforceable.

Joanna Richards

Many 16-year-olds might dream about starting their own business. But it takes a special kind of teenager to turn an operation launched in his parents' basement into a six-figure profit earner in just four years. After succeeding wildly with his web development and design company, North Shore Solutions, Clarkson University junior Matthew Turcotte, now age 20, is embarking on his second venture: commercial real estate.

Watertown scares away nuisance crows

Jan 15, 2013
Joanna Richards

It's an eerie sight – every winter, around dusk each night, a flock of between 20,000 and 30,000 crows gathers in the trees around the Black River in Watertown. They can be a neat sight against the white winter landscape, but the city wants them gone. That's because they squawk and poop and generally annoy a lot of city residents. The city has hired a wildlife management company to disperse the birds.

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.  

Fashionistas in the Watertown area got a treat recently: a stylish – and affordable – one-day clothing boutique at the Black River Valley Club, to benefit the Watertown Urban Mission. 

Vets Peer-to-Peer Outreach Center opens in Watertown

Dec 12, 2012
Joanna Richards/WRVO

A new center to help veterans through mental health problems opened Friday in Watertown. Veteran volunteers will help their peers get the services they need.

Joanna Richards / WRVO

At a packed public meeting November 7 in Watertown, state environmental and health officials began a dialogue with members of the public concerned about pollution on the city's north side, with the New York Air Brake plant at the center of concern. Now, Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) officials talk about what they'll do with the new information from the meeting, and what might come next.

The New York Air Brake industrial site in Watertown has been the subject of resurgent concerns among residents of the city's north side neighborhood. Some have come forward about illnesses they say are linked to pollution at the site. The state departments of Health and Environmental Conservation are holding a community meeting Wednesday, November 7 in Watertown to hear those concerns.

Joanna Richards/WRVO

Right now, county jails – and ultimately, local property taxpayers – are footing the bill for housing state parole violators while they wait for the state to pick them up. State Senator Patty Ritchie (R-Heuvelton) has proposed a solution to the problem. 

Watertown Airport recieves federal grant for improvements

Sep 28, 2012

The Watertown International Airport has seen huge growth in the past year, with a switch from nine-seater to 44-seater planes and direct connections to Chicago. Now the airport will be able to catch up on some overdue infrastructure, with a $2 million grant from the federal government.

Joanna Richards / WRVO

A toxic waste site in Watertown is drawing renewed attention from residents and city leaders. New York Air Brake's chemical dump on the north side of town was cleaned up in the 1990s. State environmental officials say it's been monitored since then and they're convinced it's safe for neighbors and wildlife. But people who live nearby believe they have health problems traceable to the site. And they fear it still poses a health risk.

This summer, the synthetic drugs known as bath salts alarmed emergency responders all over upstate New York, including in Jefferson County. In Watertown, they dealt with unstable, violent users several times a day. But lawmakers and law enforcement at the local, state and federal levels have been responding with crackdowns on the drugs. Now, both police and hospital officials in Watertown say cases are down sharply. 

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