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. 

New pavilion part of downtown Watertown's revitalization

Aug 27, 2012
Joanna Richards/WRVO

The city of Watertown has built a new pavilion as part of its downtown revitalization project. It's meant to house outdoor activities, including the Saturday farmers market. The farmers market held an appreciation ceremony to thank the city on Saturday.

You may remember actor Julia Roberts’ portrayal of environmental activist Erin Brockovich in the 2001 movie of the same name. The real Brockovich was scheduled to visit Watertown last night. But she got sick and was unable to travel.

Instead, concerned residents who live near the toxic waste site caused by the New York Air Brake factory got to talk with Brockovich’s representative. Some believe pollution in the area has caused them health problems.

Watertown airport reaches 10,000 passenger milestone

Jul 26, 2012
Joanna Richards/WRVO

Watertown International Airport swapped its 9-seater flights to Albany for 44-seater flights to Chicago back in November. So far, passengers and officials seem to agree it's been a big success.

The North Country Regional Economic Development Council is preparing for an influx of funding applications this July. Regional councils are part of Governor Andrew Cuomo's plan to distribute economic development aid throughout the state using a community-based, bottom-up approach to building New York's economy. A public forum was held by the council in Watertown last night.

Watertown welcomes new city manager

Jun 1, 2012

Watertown will welcome a new city manager on July 16. Sharon Addison is a Schenectady native who spent 27 years working for the National Security Agency before putting her name in the hat for the city manager position in Watertown.

Charles McCain via Flickr

The Vermont Air National Guard is proposing to start taking training flights over the Adirondacks and Watertown with F-35 aircraft.

The big, loud planes would replace the smaller, quieter F-16s the National Guard is using now —but not until at least 2015.

The Guard has issued a draft environmental impact statement – and it has held public hearings  around the area. The planes would take off and land in Burlington, Vermont. A meeting there drew more than 500 people.

A group of Jefferson County legislators has for the second time in two years expressed opposition to offshore wind turbines in Lake Ontario. Almost two years ago, the New York Power Authority proposed an offshore wind turbine project, which Jefferson County rejected. Now the county may move to oppose federal overtures in that direction. 

Joanna Richards

Watertown officials have been excited about the possibility of a redevelopment project for the Woolworth building downtown for several years.

Watertown mayoral candidates show similarities

Nov 8, 2011

The mayor's race in Watertown pits long-time incumbent Jeff Graham against a challenger with similar longevity on the City Council, Jeff Smith. Graham has said the city's doing well and he has the experience, knowledge and contacts to continue to keep Watertown on a good track. Smith says his candidacy represents new leadership and a new vision for the city. Both candidates for mayor have years of experience on City Council, and both are small business owners who say they're committed to fiscal discipline.