Latest Local & Regional News
May 23, 2013
WASHINGTON – The House Appropriations Committee yesterday unanimously passed an amendment, introduced by North Country Congressman Bill Owens, that would stop the proposed study of a “border fee” between the United States and Canada. Owens introduced the amendment to bar the Department of Homeland Security from using any funding to study or implement border crossing fees for passenger vehicles and pedestrians at the northern border. The proposal to study a border fee was included in the Department of Homeland Security’s 2014 budget request. Owens said, “The idea of charging a border fee is wrong-headed, and the damage done to economic development and tourism along the border would cost more than the government could ever collect through fees.”
AKWESASNE – Representatives of the St. Regis Mohawk Tribe say that reviving their land claims near the reservation is next on the agenda with the Cuomo administration. Mohawk chiefs Randy Hart, Ron LaFrance and Paul Thompson were joined by several sub-chiefs yesterday in discussing this week’s agreement reached over gaming issues and exclusivity rights. Mohawks say the long-standing issue of land claims will now be the key focus, because the reservation is running out of space for new homes and businesses. Negotiations are expected to get underway within the next ten days. The issue of taxing cigarette sales to non-native customers is not currently part of the negotiations with the governor.
MASSENA – U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood is slated to be in Massena this afternoon, to visit with employees of the St. Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation and to tour Seaway facilities. LaHood has recognized the significance of the Seaway's Asset Renewal Program for Seaway infrastructure rehabilitation and will observe many of the critical improvements that have been made in the locks and facilities this past winter. The crucial infrastructure investments help create jobs in the region and ensuring that the Seaway system continues to meet the needs of the future.
WATERTOWN – North Country Assemblyman Ken Blankenbush says he will hold a Legislative Oversight Hearing next week on the controversial passage of Governor Cuomo's Gun Control Law. Blankenbush says he is concerned with the protection of private personal health records of gun owners, confiscation of firearms and how the governor's law is impacting law-abiding citizens. Blankenbush has invited county clerks, sheriffs and law enforcement professionals, county mental health directors and others from St. Lawrence, Franklin and other North Country counties, along with representatives from the Division of Criminal Justice Services, Department of Health and the directors of Public Health and Community Services. Testimony will be focused on the implementation of Gov. Cuomo's gun control law. The hearing will be held May 31st, at 11 a.m., at the Italian American Civic Association in Watertown.
POTSDAM – The Potsdam Police Department says it is seeking the female operator of a dark-colored Sport Utility Vehicle with driver-side door damage which was struck by a bicycle at the intersection of Elm and Grant street between 6 and 7 PM on Tuesday. Police said yesterday that the operator needs to contact the Potsdam Police Department so an accident report can be completed. Anyone with any information is asked to contact the Police Department at (315) 265-2121.
CANTON – SUNY Canton has honored a longtime supporter of the college and community volunteer with the 2013 Distinguished Citizen Award. Certified Public Accountant John Gray Jr., was recognized for decades of public service and dedication to the area's economic development. Gray helped develop long-range economic development goals for the village of Canton through his work on the Canton Economic Development Steering Committee. He continues to lend financial expertise to the Canton Chamber of Commerce while serving as treasurer since 2004. Gray has sponsored numerous traditional arts exhibits with the non-profit agency TAUNY, and he was instrumental in transforming an abandoned building in downtown Canton into professional offices and luxury condominiums.
ALBANY -- Governor Andrew Cuomo unveiled a new "Tax-Free NY," an initiative designed to transform SUNY campuses and university communities across the state into tax-free communities that attract startups, venture capital, new business and investments from across the world. Cuomo says Tax-Free NY will entice companies to bring their ventures to Upstate New York by offering new businesses the opportunity to operate completely tax-free – including no income tax for employees, no sales, property or business tax – while also partnering with the world-class higher education institutions in the SUNY system. The tax-free communities will include all campuses outside New York City, including the SUNY Potsdam, Canton and Plattsburgh campuses, and North Country Community College in Saranac Lake. Up to 200,000 square feet surrounding the campus will included in the tax-free community.
CANTON – An Ogdensburg city police officer has pled not guilty to a harassment charge for allegedly beating and kicking a door at a home on Nickerson Street in Canton earlier this month, attempting to get inside. 26-year-old Corey Maxner of Canton appeared yesterday in Canton town court to answer a harassment charge. Police said Maxner was “highly intoxicated” and disoriented at the time of the alleged incident on May 11th, and did not even know the woman inside the house. The officer was reportedly placed on temporary administrative leave two weeks ago, but was allowed to return to work last Thursday. His next court appearance on the charge is June 19th.
POTSDAM – A Potsdam man who was critically injured in a train-pedestrian accident on Sunday night is reported to be improving at a Syracuse Hospital. Officials at Upstate Medical Center say 45-year-old Kevin Seig has improved from critical to serious condition. Seig was found laying along the railroad bed just off Sissonville Road in Potsdam. St. Lawrence County Sheriff’s deputies say he was struck by a CSX locomotive and suffered severe head and internal injuries. Police believe the man was walking the rail line as a short cut to his home on Pleasant Valley Road. The cause of the accident remains under investigation.
CORNWALL – A 32-year-old Cornwall man has been arrested for his alleged involvement in a “grandparent scam.” Cornwall City Police say 32-year-old Dean Madore was arrested on the strength of an outstanding Toronto Police Service warrant alleging the victim was a 91-year-old Toronto woman. In typical grandparent scams, the perpetrator usually calls an elderly person, pretending to be a grandchild or other relative in some kind of trouble, often in another country, and needing immediate financial help. Madore was located by Cornwall City Police and turned over to Toronto law enforcement. He was being held in custody until court proceedings in Toronto.
ALBANY -- The New York Independent System Operator says
that electricity supplies in New York state are expected be
adequate to meet forecasted demand this summer. The Systems
Operator forecasts that New York's summer 2013 peak demand
will reach 33,279 megawatts (MW). The forecast is 840 MW
higher than the 2012 summer peak, but still below the 660 MW
of the record peak in 2006. Peak demand is a measurement of
the average total electric demand by consumers for a
one-hour period. Systems President and CEO Stephen Whitley
says, “While the retirement of several power plants has
decreased the state’s total supply, we have sufficient
statewide generating capacity and other resources to address
expected peak usage."
ALBANY – Governor Andrew Cuomo announced late yesterday a
sweeping agreement between New York State and the Saint
Regis Mohawk Tribe to resolve a three-year dispute over
gaming issues and money to local counties and
municipalities. Of the $30 million payment, 25% will be
divided between St. Lawrence and Franklin counties,
providing $3.75 million to each county, including payments
to the towns of Massena, Brasher, Fort Covington and Bombay.
The Tribe will resume making on-going revenue-sharing
payments, according to the regular schedule, as defined in
the compact. Under the agreement, the State will remove the
eight-county Saint Regis Mohawk exclusivity zone from the
proposed casino-siting legislation, namely Clinton, Essex,
Franklin, Hamilton, Jefferson, Lewis, St. Lawrence and
Warren counties. The Tribe will immediately pay $30 million
of payments owed and 25% of future gaming revenues to the
State. The agreement also initiates discussions between the
State, the Tribe, and St. Lawrence and Franklin Counties to
resolve unrelated disputes involving land claims and New
York Power Authority issues.
MASSENA -- Governor Andrew Cuomo announced yesterday that Alcoa’s Massena East smelter modernization project will be kicked-off next month with the relocation of a transmission-line necessary to accommodate a new substation and aluminum production equipment. The New York Power Authority Board of Trustees yesterday approved more than $3.7 million for the relocation of the transmission line, which it operates. The Governor said, “There may be no more important development for the region’s economy than the overhaul and upgrade of the Massena East smelter, for which work will get underway this summer.” Alcoa East Plant Manager Bob Lenney noted, “The relocation of the power lines several hundred feet to the south of their current site location is necessary for installation of a new transmission substation that will feed electricity to a new aluminum production potline.” The power will be provided to Alcoa over a 30-year contract that includes a 10-year option to extend service beyond 2045.
UNDATED – Some good news in the New York State jobless
rates. St. Lawrence and Franklin counties saw a sizeable
improvement in the jobs picture last month, and are no
longer in the state’s Top Five for unemployment. The St.
Lawrence County rate dropped from 10.8 to 9.8 percent last
month. The figure is four-tenths of a percent better than a
year ago. Franklin County’s unemployment figure improved
from 10.6 to 9.7 percent, equal to last April’s jobless
rate. However, neighboring Lewis and Jefferson counties are
still sporting high double-digit jobless rates of 12.3 and
11.5 percent respectively.
UNDATED -- Skies got dark quickly and thunderstorms overspread the North Country early last evening, downing trees and power lines. About 4,000 people were knocked out of power in Colton, Russell and DeKalb. Another 1,800 lost electricity in the Potsdam area. One hundred others were affected in the Canton area, due to a downed tree on Park Street. A house fire was reported on Emeryville Road in Gouverneur. However, National Grid crews worked into the night to restore electricity to most of those customers by this morning.
UNDATED – All school budgets across the 24 school districts in the Section X area passed, except in Tupper Lake yesterday.
Among the biggest stories in yesterday’s school voting, three incumbent school board members were defeated at Clifton-Fine where there have been ongoing controversies. Michelle Durham, Richard Hitchman and Robert Tebow III were defeated. Christopher Cooper, Christopher Westbrook and Robert Lachut were elected. Along with the budget passage, the bus proposition was also approved.
Massena’s $46.7 million budget passed 463-263. Lori MacKenzie was elected to the school board.
Canton voters said yes to their budget, 422-154. The bus and library funding plans also passed. Keith Rosser, Angelique Santimaw and Janet Favro won school board elections.
Colton-Pierrepont budget was approved 169-60. Incumbent Joann Roberts lost to Scott Baxter.
Edwards-Knox’s budget got thumbs up 205-55. The three-bus proposition passed. Incumbent Tom O'Brien won reelection, but incumbent Amanda Fuller lost to Thomas Whitmarsh for the other seat.
Gouverneur got overwhelmingly supported its budget, 274-72. Incumbents Laurie Roberts and Berry Smith were elected to the school board, along with newcomer Lisa McGregor.
Hammond passed its school budget 54-12. Bernard Martin was unopposed for the school board seat.
Harrisville’s budget was passed 135-61. Propositions to buy a school bus and funding for the Harrisville public library passed. Denise Avallone and Cynthia Bancroft were reelected to the board.
At Hermon-DeKalb, the budget passed 146-46. The bus bond was approved. Incumbent Crystal Simmons and newcomer Jill Davis were elected to the school board.
Heuvelton’s budget was approved 153-95, along with a bus buy. Darcy Backus and Michelle McGraw won school board seats.
Lisbon voters passed their budget 135-55. Nancy Addison was endorsed for the school board.
Madrid-Waddington passed its budget 172-45. The bus bond and kitchen equipment purchases were also approved for bonding. Gerald Molnar and Andrew Bracy were elected to the school board.
Morristown’s budget passed 135-49. A bus bond passed. Mary Anne Bailey, Lawrence Kring III and Darrell Merkel were elected to the school board.
The Norwood-Norfolk spending plan passed 213-102. The bus bond passed. John Hazen and Suzanne Fiacco won election to the school board, along with write-in candidate Mary Ellen Todd.
The Ogdensburg budget was approved 360-100. James King topped incumbent Fred Bean for the board.
Parishville-Hopkinton voters said yes to their budget 85-32 and approved a bus bond. James Young and Daniel Taylor were elected to the school board.
Potsdam’s spending plan with virtually no tax increase passed 618-148, along with the bus proposition. Incumbent Ralph Fuller and newcomers Rachel Wallace and Judith Hinman were elected to the board.
The St. Lawrence Central budget passed 183-44, along with the three-bus preposition. James Lattimer and Bethany St. Hilaire were elected to the school board.
UNDATED – In Franklin County, voters at Brushton-Moira approved the budget 177-110, along with a bus proposition. Joe St. Mary and George Martin were elected to the school board.
Chateaugay voters have a budget 168-41, along with a bus buy. Susan Jones-King, John McCormick and Tony Martin was elected to the school board.
Malone’s budget passed 418-135. Five buses will be bought. Christine Crossman-Dumas, Edward Rockwood and David LaPlant on the school board seats.
Salmon River’s budget passed 359-350, along with a bus proposition and a measure to have a non- voting student member of the school board. Roger LaPage and Peter Ghostlaw were elected to the school board over two incumbents.
St. Regis voters said yes to their budget 116-35. The bus proposition passed. Mickey Smith and Harry Ratcliffe were elected to the school board.
The lone budget defeated was at Tupper Lake, 685-512. The
bus vote also failed 750-426. Incumbent Dawn Hughes was
reelected, but Patricia Unrig defeated board President
Daniel Mansfield by nearly 100 votes.
POTSDAM – A Potsdam man remains in critical condition following a train-pedestrian accident along Sissonville Road near his home. St. Lawrence County Sheriff’s deputies said 45-year-old Kevin Seig was located on the railroad bed near the train, which stopped following the accident. Investigators indicated that the conductor and engineer tried to stop the train when Seig was spotted laying on the tracks, but were unsuccessful. It’s believed that Seig was attempting to take a shortcut along the tracks to his home on Pleasant Valley Road, just off State Route 56. However, it’s uncertain if alcohol or some other factor might have played a role in his laying on the tracks. Currently, Seig is in critical condition at Upstate Medical Center in Syracuse.
CANTON – An Ogdensburg city police officer has been arrested on a harassment charge in Canton. Village police say 26-year-old Corey Maxner of Canton was allegedly highly intoxicated when he beat and kicked a door at a home on Nickerson Street in Canton earlier this month, attempting to get inside. Maxner was charged with second-degree harassment. The officer was reportedly placed on temporary administrative leave last week, but was allowed to report back to work last Thursday. Maxner is due to appear in Canton village court tomorrow to answer the charge. An order of protection was also issued for the alleged victim.
CANTON – A Canton man was arrested for allegedly assaulting the woman that resided with him. Canton village police say the woman sustained serious injuries to the right eye and left shoulder. Police arrested James Regan on felony counts of obstruction of breathing and second-degree assault, along with unlawful imprisonment, harassment and unlawful possession of marijuana. He was arraigned in Canton town court and remanded to St. Lawrence County jail on $3,000 bail. A court order of protection was also issued for the victim.
POTSDAM – A Norfolk man was arrested yesterday on a bench warrant from the Potsdam village court and executed by the Potsdam police department. Authorities say 59-year-old Mark Black was taken into custody for allegedly failing to pay a fine in connection with a 2009 petit larceny charge. Black was arraigned and remanded to St. Lawrence County Jail on $300 bail, pending further court action.
AKWESASNE – The St. Regis Mohawk Tribe yesterday presented a check for $179,700 to members of the Hogansburg-Akwesasne Volunteer Fire Department for the operations. The fire department operates out of three fire stations, has 62 volunteer firefighters on its roster and has 16 pieces of equipment including ladder trucks, pumpers, pick-up trucks and rescue boats. In addition to fighting fires on the reservation, they provide mutual aid to other communities, assist with rescue operations and educate the public on fire prevention. Tribal Chief Rudy Hart noted the department has “been in business for 59 years and it’s impossible to say how many lives they have saved.”
ALBANY – Governor Andrew Cuomo unveiled yesterday the New York State Master Teacher Program, a new statewide initiative proposed in the 2013 State of the State Address, designed to reward the state's highest performing teachers, ensure the best and brightest to stay in education and encourage the state's best teachers to share their expertise with peers. Under the NYS Master Teacher program, high-performing secondary science and mathematics teachers who make a commitment to mentor other teachers will receive $15,000 annually over four years. An initial group of 250 teachers will be selected from North Country, Mid-Hudson, Central and Western New York this coming fall. The program will launch in the remaining six regions next spring. The NYS Master Teacher Program was formed with a partnership between the State University of New York and Jim Simons’ Math for America Program. The SUNY campuses hosting the first four groups of master teachers include SUNY Plattsburgh, Buffalo State, SUNY New Paltz and SUNY Cortland. Applications for the program will be available on July 1st and due by August 1st. The first round of Master Teachers will be announced on September 1st.
MALONE – A 64-year-old Fort Covington woman who stabbed her 63-year-old live-in boyfriend with a paring knife last July, has been sentenced to spend the next five years in state prison on an assault charge. Joan Terrell was convicted of stabbing Wayne Henault, who suffers from Alzheimer’s disease. She will also be required to face three years of post-prison supervision. An order of protection was also issued for Henault through April 2026. He currently lives in a nursing home.
ALBANY – New York State officials say nearly 3,200
potentially dangerous drivers have been kept off New York’s
roadways since last September as a result of a multi-pronged
initiative launched last year to keep drivers with a history
of repeat alcohol- or drug-related driving convictions off
the road. Last September, Governor Cuomo announced that New
York would put in place among the toughest protections in
the nation against motorists who persistently drive under
the influence of alcohol or drugs. Since the new DWI
regulations, the State Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV)
has reviewed 3,891 applications for relicensing from
individuals with more than two such offenses on their
record. Of those applications, 3,164 have been denied
relicensing permanently or for an additional five years.
POTSDAM – A Potsdam man was badly injured in a train-pedestrian accident late last night on the CSX rail line just off the Sissonville Road in Potsdam. St. Lawrence County Sheriff’s deputies say they received a phone call regarding the possible accident around 10:00 p.m. Deputies and Potsdam Police responded and located 45-year-old Kevin Seig on the railroad bed near the train with severe head and internal injuries. Deputies say Seig had been struck by a CSX locomotive. Seig was transported by Potsdam Rescue to the Potsdam Airport, where he was airlifted by Lifenet helicopter to Upstate Medical Center in Syracuse where he is listed in critical condition. CSX officials were on scene for approximately four hours overnight assisting with the investigation, before the train was released. The cause of the accident remains under investigation.
CANTON – A man reported to be a St. Lawrence County dispatcher was ticketed by St. Lawrence County Sheriff’s deputies, after it was determined that he continually drove on a suspended license. The discovery came after an anonymous complaint to the Sheriff’s Department. The caller advised that Michael Leclair would be leaving work in Canton and driving home to Waddington. A check with the Department of Motor Vehicles confirmed that Leclair’s driver’s license was suspended due to a previous DWI arrest. Deputies stopped Leclair around 11 PM on Saturday as he drove out of the county’s 9-1-1 complex. He was issued an appearance ticket for second-degree aggravated unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle. He will appear in Canton village court to answer the charges at a later date.
POTSDAM – SUNY Potsdam marked a day of new beginnings at the 2013 Commencement Ceremony held yesterday on campus. Potsdam awarded 753 baccalaureate degrees and bid farewell to outgoing President Dr. John Schwaller, who is leaving the College after seven years of service. The graduates received their diplomas and turned their tassels outdoors in the Academic Quad in the shade of the Satterlee Hall clock tower. Dr. Schwaller thanked the students, faculty and staff for their time together on campus. He and his wife were presented with a commemorative chair for their office by Student Government Association President Ryan Williams. The college bestowed 138 master’s degrees to students in a separate ceremony on Saturday.
CANTON – A total of 548 degrees were awarded during commencement exercises yesterday at St. Lawrence University. There were 519 candidates for bachelor's degrees and 29 candidates for master's degrees. The five most popular majors at St. Lawrence this year were psychology, government, biology, performance and communication arts, and history. With family and friends looking on, the students received their diplomas outside yesterday morning on the campus.
POTSDAM – The Potsdam Humane Society is seeking a new executive director – one who can wear several hats. Former Director Anne Smith resigned from the position on May 9th. The new director will be responsible for overseeing the management of approximately 1,000 animals brought to the facility each year, along with staff, volunteers and the constant fundraising effort to keep the animal shelter financially stable. About 45 percent of the shelter’s budget comes from donations. The remainder is supplied by local towns and villages that use the shelter to help with animal control. Currently, three veterinary technicians, staffers and an office manager are keeping the shelter going.
OGDENSBURG – Ogdensburg City Police are reportedly investigating to determine if an accused forger had inside help, after the alleged theft and cashing of nine checks that belonged to the resident of St. Joseph’s Home on Linden Street. On Friday, police arrested 34-year-old Jesse Austin of Ogdensburg on nine felony counts of second-degree criminal possession of a forged instrument and third-degree grand larceny. He allegedly stole nine checks and cashed them for a total of nearly $17,500, between December 2012 and last month. The nursing home was alerted after the alleged victim’s checks began to bounce. Austin was ordered held in St. Lawrence County Jail on $3,000 bail or $6,000 bond.
POTSDAM – A Franklin County man was arrested by Potsdam police after he allegedly issued six bad checks to a Potsdam business within a period of five days. Police charged 39-year-old Scott St. Dennis of Bangor with issuing a bad check. St. Dennis is accused of cashing six bad checks totaling over $550 in late February at the IGA supermarket on Elm Street. He was issued an appearance ticket and was released for a later court appearance.
CANADA -- Today is Victoria Day in Canada. It is a national public holiday observed across Canada on the next to the last Monday in May, providing a long holiday weekend, to honor the birthday of Britain’s Queen Victoria, whose birthday falls on May 24th. Canada is still a member of the Commonwealth of Nations of which the queen is head. The weekend is celebrated as the unofficial start to the summer tourist season in Canada. The holiday always falls one week before Memorial Day, which is next Monday and the unofficial start of the summer tourist season in the United States. This year, a group of Canadian actors, writers and politicians is pursing a national effort change the name of Victoria Day to honor Canada's First Nations communities as well as the monarchy.
ALBANY -- Governor Andrew Cuomo has sent the Legislature
a bill that would create a Financial Restructuring Board for
distressed local governments. Cuomo said the restructuring
plan will be individual for each locality in the state. He
said the plan will be to bring representatives of each
community in, work with them and come up with a plan. Local
government leaders from across New York State have voiced
their support for the Governor’s proposed Financial
Restructuring Board to help structure a way to relieve
MALONE – A Malone attorney, who expressed strong interest in entering the Republican primary and challenging incumbent St. Lawrence County District Attorney Nicole Duvé, has decided to withdrew his name from consideration. In a letter to County Republican officials, Peter Dumas says splitting the Republican party with a primary could put the potential GOP candidate at a disadvantage. Former County Public Defender Mary Rain announced two months ago that she planned to seek the party nod to run against the two-term incumbent Democrat. Duvé says she “absolutely plans” to seek reelection.
MASSENA – Massena Memorial Hospital is hosting its big daylong, 24th annual Radiothon and Auction today on 1340 WMSA Radio. This year’s theme is “A Guiding Light in Changing Times,” with auction items valued at over $23,500. The majority of the items were donated by local merchants, with the proceeds going toward the hospital’s planned purchase of a Horizon Cardiology stress test machine, items for the veterans clinic and a portable ENG machine. The event continues till 7:00 p.m. To make a bid, pledge or donation today, call 769-4MMH.
GOUVERNEUR – The New York State Health Department has given approval for the E.J. Noble Hospital in Gouverneur to expand laboratory analysis and services. The financially-troubled hospital has spent the last eight months trying to reorganize with help from Canton-Potsdam Hospital, after the health department closed down the laboratory due to 19 serious deficiencies last September. The state’s approval now allows the hospital to give test results more quickly. This will allow physicians to diagnose and treat patients more efficiently, especially those in emergency care. In a news release, the hospital said, "This approval was granted following a rigorous analysis by the State's laboratory experts and reflects the very hard work our staff members have done to establish quality protocols that meet the State's stringent requirements."
NORFOLK – A Norfolk woman was arrested yesterday for alleged welfare fraud. St. Lawrence County Sheriff’s deputies say 52-year-old Anne Louissaint was arrested following an investigation by the County Department of Social Services. Louissaint was also charged with two counts of first-degree offering a false instrument. It’s alleged that the woman submitted applications for Medicaid and food stamps that contained false information which allowed her to obtain $9,170 in public assistance to which she was not entitled between April 2010 to September 2011. Louissaint was arraigned in Norfolk town court and remanded to the St. Lawrence County jail on $10,000 bail or $20,000 bond, to await further court action.
MASSENA – A Potsdam man was arrested for public lewdness at a grocery store in Massena. State police say 41-year-old John Allison allegedly rubbed a packaged pepperoni stick on his exposed privates, then returned it to the store shelf at the Hannaford supermarket in the St. Lawrence Plaza in Massena. Troopers say the alleged incident was observed by a staff security officer and captured on video surveillance. Allison was also charged with fourth-degree criminal mischief, as the store was no longer able to sell the product. Allison was arraigned in Massena town court and ordered held in St. Lawrence County jail on $1,000 bail or $2,000 bond, pending further court action.
MALONE – In a rare move, a Franklin County grand juror was arrested yesterday for allegedly leaking secret grand-jury information. Police say 21-year-old Paul Jock Jr., of Bangor allegedly telephoned people who were part of a drug surveillance investigation, based on information that was shared during a grand jury proceeding. Jock was arrested in the grand jury room in front of the other members of the panel, following State Police investigation. He was charged with a felony count of disclosing grand jury information. If convicted, he could face a prison term of up to four years. Meanwhile, Franklin County officials say two other people, who were not members of the grand jury, are being sought by state police on conspiracy charges in the case.
CANTON – A Massena teen was back in court yesterday for allegedly failing to abide by pre-trial release conditions that included substance-abuse counseling. Eighteen-year-old attempted-kidnapping suspect Miranda Green has been released to probation supervision with orders from St. Lawrence County Court Judge Jerome Richards to abide by the conditions. Green and 25-year-old Patrick Lloyd, also of Massena, allegedly tried to kidnap a 17-year-old Massena girl three months ago in what was described as a growing turf war over drug sales in Massena.
NORWOOD – The Norwood village board has begun advertising for bids for the final cleanup of the former Norwood Elementary School on Prospect Street. The 124-year-old historic school was destroyed by a suspected arson in 2009. After numerous legal and financial delays, cleanup of asbestos- contaminated materials were removed last year. Now the village is seeking contractors to clear away the remaining ruins, including the front wall of the building, which still remain. The contractor is expected to be selected and the cleanup process started by late this summer or early fall.
POTSDAM – The SUNY Potsdam volleyball team recently
donated money they raised to benefit the Canton-Potsdam
Hospital and the Potsdam Humane Society. The Bears raised
$2,600 during recent high school playoffs and donated $1,300
towards the Pediatrics Division of the hospital. A second
$1,300 check was presented to the Humane Society to help
cover the cost of heartworm treatments for a beagle named
Cooper, who was housed at the shelter. The students said
they wanted to donate to the two organizations because
members of their team had personal interactions with them
and wanted to give back.
OGDENSBURG – About 80 people spoke yesterday at a well-attended rally to save the St. Lawrence Psychiatric Center in Ogdensburg from being downsized or potentially closed under plans from New York State Office of Mental Health officials. OMH has suggested consolidation of mental-health services into Centers of Excellence. More than 300 people attended yesterday’s state listening session at the psychiatric facility. North Country State Senator Patty Ritchie presented acting OMH Commissioner Kristin Woodlock with a petition containing over 2,000 signatures from supporters. Local officials and residents noted that the center is the only one of its kind north of the State Thruway and critical to the North Country region. The center provides jobs to more than 500 people. They noted that it has all of the elements necessary to become one of the state’s Centers of Excellence.
IROQUOIS – A high school teacher in Iroquois, Ontario, on the Canadian side of the St. Lawrence River, is said to be conscious in a local hospital and feeling okay after being struck by lightning yesterday while escorting his children back into a school building. Authorities say the Seaway District high school students were not injured. Reports say the teacher was leading an outdoor education activity, when he noticed the clouds starting to thicken and get really dark. As the teacher was bringing students back inside he was struck by the single bolt. The name of the teacher was not immediately released.
MALONE — A Malone man was arraigned and pled not guilty to six counts each of rape and child- endangerment in Franklin County Court in Malone. 20-year-old Christopher Joiner was indicted on charges in connection with two alleged incidents last fall. Joiner is charged with raping a 14-year-old female in Constable last October and November. Then in a separate case, we allegedly had sex with another 14-year-old girl in November and December in Malone. Joiner was arranged on the charges and remanded to Franklin County Jail in Malone on $10,000 bail or $20,000 bond, pending his next court appearance on June 13th.
ALBANY – Over 18,000 teenagers will have jobs this summer through New York State’s Summer Youth Employment Program. The state is distributing $25 million in funding to all 62 counties to bring local youth into the workforce, acquire skills that can help them improve in school and future employment. Youth ages 14 to 20, whose families are recipients of public assistance, or have a family income below 200 percent of the federal poverty level, or $38,180 for a family of three, are eligible. Last year, 122 youth participated in St. Lawrence County and 41 were hired in Franklin County. This year, the state is making available over $263,000 for the program in St. Lawrence County and $85,000 in Franklin County. The funding can be used to subsidize wages, to support education and training activities, counseling and employment-related services, such as transportation to and from work or training. Youth interested in participating can contact their local department of social services.
ALBANY – Governor Andrew Cuomo kicked off a new third round of the Regional Economic Development Councils yesterday, hosting council co-chairs and local economic development officials in Albany to officially launch the 2013 competition. Over the past two years, the North Country has received over $193.4 million in state assistance for 152 economic-development and job-creating projects in the region. In the third round of the project, a total of $760 million in state funding and tax incentives will be awarded. All ten regions will continue to compete against each other, with the top five regions receiving $25 million each and the remaining regions to compete for the balance of $25 million. Each region is also eligible for up to $10 million in tax credits. Projects from each region are due to the state by September 24th.
FRANKLIN-CLINTON – The New York Department of Environmental Conservation says it is developing a large-scale forest management plan spanning eight towns across nearly 60,000 acres in Franklin and Clinton counties. The territory, being called the Chazy Highlands Complex, involves nearly 500 square miles across 34 large tracts in the northern Adirondacks and are located in the Franklin County towns of Bellmont, Duane and Franklin and the Clinton County towns of Altona, Black Brook, Dannemora, Ellenburg and Saranac. The plan includes recreation management for hiking, camping and fishing; boat launches, public easements, lake use and other management, which would be implemented over the next five years. A public discussion session on the proposed management plan is being held next Thursday, May 23rd at 6:30 p.m., at Saranac High School.
LAKE ONTARIO – New York researchers are participating in a joint US-Canadian project that launches two robot submarines in Lake Ontario to produce extensive data for analysis of near-shore and offshore interactions, fish productivity, changes to the lower food web and algal abundance. The high-tech, sonar, remote-controlled subs that resemble torpedoes will also provide information about how the thermal bar - a seasonal/spring temperature barrier - impacts nutrients in the near-shore aquatic environment. The research on Lake Ontario is part of the Cooperative Science Monitoring Initiative between the United States and Canada called for under the Clean Water Act of 1972.
ALBANY – North Country State Senator Joe Griffo is
calling on New Yorkers to sign his new online petition
urging Federal officials and the White House to reject an
unfair proposal to increase taxes by an average of $4,500 a
year. Griffo says New Yorkers already pay high taxes to
Washington. Now the administration wants to end a
longstanding policy of allowing taxpayers to deduct their
state and local tax liability, including property taxes,
from their Federal taxes. Griffo says, if enacted, the
“Double Taxation’ measure would result in a nearly $15
billion tax increase for New York families, translating to
an average increase of 30 percent for affected taxpayers.
MASSENA – In response to an order by the International St. Lawrence River Board of Control, the New York Power Authority will lower the gates at the Iroquois Dam near Waddington, starting today, due to increased water levels on Lake St. Lawrence. The order to lower the gates was issued yesterday to NYPA and Ontario Power Generation, which jointly operate the international Robert Moses-Robert H. Saunders Power Dam between Massena and Cornwall. The gates of the Iroquois Dam are being lowered to help prevent Lake St. Lawrence, the section of the river located between Waddington and Massena, from rising too high. The lowered gates at the Iroquois Dam will require recreational boats to use Iroquois Lock to pass through the dam. The gates will be lowered until further notice.
MASSENA-CORNWALL – A peaceful protest is being planned for this Friday at the international border crossing between Massena and Cornwall which, according to authorities could disrupt traffic on the international bridge. The protest has been organized by the Mohawk Nation of Haudenosaunee and is designed to “let all know that we shall continue to exercise our inherent sovereign and indigenous rights and uphold them for future generations.” The organizers are calling for a meeting with the Canadian government to improve relations between the two nations. Cornwall city police say the 9:30 AM protest could disrupt the normal flow of traffic between Massena and Cornwall. Police say, in the best interest of those involved, the bridge as well as in the area of the traffic circle will be closed upon the protest commencing.
MALONE — While St. Lawrence County legislators took action this week to formally seek New York State approval of an increase in the local portion of the state sales tax from three to four percent, Franklin County legislators will vote tomorrow on whether to seek state approval for extension of their county’s collection of the four-percent sales tax. A public hearing on the extension is slated for tomorrow at 10:30 a.m. Franklin County has been charging eight percent on sales of goods at the checkout counter since June 2006.
CANTON -- Incoming SUNY Canton President Dr. Joseph Hoffman will be making his first campus appearance tomorrow since being appointed to the position two weeks ago. Hoffman is visiting campus to meet with administration, faculty, staff and students before beginning his position on June 1st. He is replacing Interim President Carli Schiffner, who will be starting her new position as vice president of instruction at Wenatchee Valley College in Washington State. Hoffman has worked at SUNY Maritime since 1977.
MALONE — The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Office in Albany says it will be closing the veterans’ outpatient clinic in Malone at the end of this summer, forcing approximately 700 North Country veterans to get care someplace else. In a letter from the Stratton VA Medical Center in Albany, veterans were told that “significant privacy and space limitations, as well as a lack of infrastructure for enhanced services” in Malone, led to the decision to close the local outpatient clinic. But the decision also came down to numbers, with enrollment declining to just under 700 in Malone. Many veterans are expected to transfer their enrollment to the Saranac Lake branch.
WASHINGTON – North Country Congressman Bill Owens says reports this week that IRS officials inappropriately targeted Conservative political groups with investigations related to their tax exempt status, is completely unacceptable. Owens said the fact that it happened within the IRS should be taken to task. The congressman says he supports the call for an investigation. Owens said if it is found that individuals within the IRS intentionally committed this targeted activity, they should be swiftly removed from their position. Owens noted that bipartisan support of an investigation is growing, with President Obama stating that he has no patience for such activity and Republican leadership requesting additional information reports.
OGDENSBURG – Political and public-concern groups will muster forces today in support of the continued state operation of the St. Lawrence Psychiatric Center in Ogdensburg. State health officials are coming from Albany to host a public “listening session” from 10:00 a.m. till 1:00 p.m. at the psychiatric center’s Unity Center. North Country State Senator Patty Ritchie is planning to deliver more than 2,000 signatures and statements from local residents in support of the facility. People from as far away as California, Texas and Alaska have signed Ritchie’s online petition with stories about the care that they or a loved one received at the Ogdensburg center. Today’s listen-in session is the last of 12 sessions across the state in the Albany’s efforts to consolidate or downsize services, which could include closure of some of the state’s mental health facilities.
ALBANY – New York State’s two-month ban on outdoor burning is officially over as of midnight, but fire and emergency officials are strongly cautioning that outdoor conditions are still dry and susceptible to flames that could quickly get out of control. Officials say the recent warm, dry stretch of weather has left the ground fairly dry, despite some modest rain over the weekend. State Department of Environmental Conservation officials say open burning is the single-largest cause of wildfires in New York State. They say the best advice is not to burn, unless you have to, because you could be held liable for any damages if the fire gets out of control. They say use extreme caution and contact the local fire department to advise them before any plans to burn.
PLATTSBURGH — North Country Congressman Bill Owens
co-sponsored a bill, now signed into law, that removes an
obsolete federal mandate that affected automobile dealers.
Under the law, dealers are no longer required to keep copies
of the booklet called “Relative Collision Insurance Cost
Information” on hand for distribution to customers who
request it. North Country auto dealers say no one has ever
come in and asked for the materials. Failure to provide the
booklet had been punishable by a fine of up to $1,000. The
mandate had been in effect for 21 years.
WINTHROP – A Winthrop man is the victim of a drowning incident, as reported yesterday by New York State police. Troopers say 42-year-old Jarred Donalis went searching for his dog early Sunday afternoon. By evening, when Donalis had not returned home, family members contacted authorities. His body was later found by a volunteer searcher in approximately three feet of pond water, about a quarter-mile from his home. Officials say Donalis had a physical condition that limited his mobility. The death has been ruled “an accidental drowning.”
UNDATED – After nearly two weeks of above average temperatures in the 70s and 80s, parts of northern New York and southern Ontario got a last peek at winter-like weather yesterday. Sports games for Clifton-Fine Central School teams in Star Lake were postponed, after townsfolk woke to a light blanket of snow on the ground and temperatures in the 30s. Snow was also found in other parts of southern St. Lawrence County, as well as sections of Lewis County.
UNDATED – After several weeks of low water levels, strong southwest winds and high precipitation in the Midwest this past week have caused levels on Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River to reach near historic levels. The International St. Lawrence River Board of Control says the phenomenon has affected the entire river region. Many docks and riverfront property along the St. Lawrence are reported to be underwater. High levels started last Friday and got worse over the weekend. Considerable erosion was reported. Water levels also forced St. Lawrence Seaway officials to advise ship operators to temporarily reduce speeds in the vicinity of Eisenhower and Snell locks in Massena till further notice. The Board of Control is taking appropriate steps to balance the river levels.
AKWESASNE -- The St. Regis Mohawk Tribe has sworn in members for the first Ethics Commission on the reservation. Ethics Officer Peter Garrow gave the oath of office to Sally Hamelin, Alma Ransom, Minerva White, Wanda Ann Patterson and Barbara Lazore. Mark Martin was unable to attend the initial meeting, but was sworn in as commissioner later yesterday. Garrow said, “Our first priority will be to recommend amendments to the current St. Regis Mohawk Tribal Ethics Ordinance (TCR 2007-61).” The amendments will allow the commission to be an effective oversight of elected tribal officials and to hear complaints when necessary. The commission will bring forward the amendments to tribal membership for approval at a series of three public meetings.
ALBANY – The New York Farm Bureau said yesterday that a vote in support of the so-called “Farm Worker Fair Labor Practices Act” is a vote against New York’s hard-working farm families and employed farm workers. The legislation is up for a vote this week in the New York State Assembly. In a statement yesterday, the Farm Bureau said, “the advocacy groups behind this legislation include unions, college students and downstate members of the Legislature who do not understand the realities of providing food for our tables.” The Bureau says an overwhelming majority of farm employees routinely return to the very same farms every year to make a good wage and receive fair treatment, and that they are not the ones demanding changes to the law that would restrict their hours and limit new opportunities. They say numerous state and federal regulations already exist that mandate fair labor, health and safety standards, farm-worker agreements and employee protections, all of which State Farm Bureau supports.
MASSENA – An Emergency Department nurse at Massena Memorial Hospital, Helen LaPage, was recognized yesterday as the 2013 Nurse of Distinction. LaPage was honored as part of this week’s kickoff to National Hospital and Nurses Week. She was touted for her care and compassion in addressing patients who come into the emergency room and with fellow employees. Meanwhile, the hospital also honored Barbara Kennedy as Auxilian of the Year. This year’s theme for the 92nd annual Hospital and Nurses Week is “A Guiding Light for Changing Times.” The week will conclude with the 24th Annual Radiothon, live on WMSA this Friday.
NORFOLK – The Norfolk Town Council has added its voice to the long list of county and local governments and agencies that have expressed their opposition to New York State’s Gun Control Law, referred to as the NYSAFE Act. Norfolk residents who spoke at last night’s town council meeting criticized Governor Andrew Cuomo for ramming the bill through the state legislature, while undermining the democratic process and ignoring the rights of law-abiding gun owners. The Norfolk town council said the state legislation has many issues and is full of loopholes to effectively protect New Yorkers.
CANTON – Meeting in special session yesterday, St. Lawrence County Legislature formally approved a measure to request New York State Senate and Assembly passage of a bill that will allow St. Lawrence County to raise its local portion of the sales tax from three to four percent. Last week, North Country State Senators Patty Ritchie and Joe Griffo finally relented and agreed to introduce the measure, after county legislators developed a five-year plan that included a pledge to use the extra sales-tax revenue to reduce property taxes.
UNDATED – A reminder that local schools are hosting
budget hearings this evening, one week in advance of public
voting on the spending plans. School officials in every
local district will make budget presentations, then take
public comment and question on the proposed financial plans
for the 2013-14 school year. Voters will go to the polls
next Tuesday to cast ballots on budgets, any additional
spending propositions and school board candidates.
POTSDAM – More than 700 Clarkson University students from 28 states, 19 countries and 56 New York state counties were granted bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees at commencement exercises over the weekend. The weekend was also marked by the commissioning of U.S. Army and Air Force officers. Seniors Jared Smith of Bay Shore, N.Y., was awarded the Levinus Clarkson Award, and Marty LaFleur of Potsdam received the Frederica Clarkson Award. Both are $1,000 prizes given to "a student who demonstrates the best combination of scholarship and promise of outstanding professional achievement." Laura Ettinger, an associate professor of history in Clarkson’s School of Arts & Sciences, was awarded the Distinguished Teaching Award "in recognition of superior teaching." U.S. Senator Charles Schumer was also at the ceremony.
UNDATED – New York State’s public school districts are in the home stretch of preparing their budgets for the next school year. Schools are hosting budget hearings this week, most of them tomorrow evening locally. School officials will make budget presentations, then take public comment and question on the proposed spending plans for the 2013-14 school year. Voters will go to the polls next Tuesday to cast ballots on budgets, any additional spending propositions and school board candidates.
MASSENA – Massena village police say the investigation is continuing after weekend reports of gunshots in the village. Police Chief Tim Currier said the Massena Police Department received numerous complaints of multiple gunshots being heard on Stoughton Avenue. Police converged on 107 Stoughton and eventually talked two occupants from the residence to come outside. Both young males were taken into custody without incident. Upon further investigation and a search of the residence, police recovered a .22 caliber long rifle and spent .22 caliber shell casings. Police arrested 18-year-old William Rochefort on charges of discharging a firearm within 500 feet of a dwelling, reckless endangerment and tampering with evidence. The second subject taken into custody was released without charges filed. Reports say the two were firing at squirrels and that the gun had been found hidden in the basement of the home. Fifteen members of various police departments assisted at the scene.
FOWLER – A 25-year-old Gouverneur woman was arrested yesterday for allegedly sending harassing text messages to another person after being instructed by the St. Lawrence County Sheriff’s Department last month to have no further contact with that person. Deputies say 25-year-old Ashley Neuroth was charged with a misdemeanor count of second-degree aggravated harassment. She was arraigned in Fowler town court and released the supervision of the County Probation Department, pending further court action.
GOUVERNEUR – A Gouverneur man is facing a menacing charge, following an investigation into a domestic incident over the weekend. St. Lawrence County Sheriff’s deputies say 25-year-old Timothy Masone, Sr., was charged with third-degree menacing, following the alleged incident. He was arraigned in Gouverneur town court and released to Fort Drum military police, pending further court action.
GOUVERNEUR – St. Lawrence County Sheriff’s deputies arrested a Gouverneur man, following a routine traffic stop, after discovering that he allegedly had in his vehicle a 32-year-old female passenger who held a current stay-away order of protection against him. Deputies arrested 26-year-old Joshua Phippens for aggravated unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle and criminal contempt. He was issued appearance tickets for Fowler town court at later date.
OGDENSBURG – A Brooklyn woman was arrested over the weekend for allegedly bringing a razor blade into the Riverview Correctional Facility in Ogdensburg. Police charged 37-year-old Nekeda Smith with first-degree dangerous contraband and fourth-degree criminal possession of a weapon. She was arraigned in Ogdensburg city court and remanded to St. Lawrence County jail on $5,000 bail.
ALBANY – The New York State Assembly will formally vote on a new Farm Labor Fair Practices Act this week, but two North Country lawmakers say they don’t support the proposal. The bill would bring farm workers into some of the same regulations as other industries. For example, the measure calls for extending some collective bargaining rights to farm workers, mandate they have a full day off each week and require employers to pay overtime. However, North Country Assemblyman Ken Blankenbush noted that farming is not run by the clock. He said farmers need work hands when the cows need milking and crops are ready for harvest. Fellow Assembly representative Addie Russell said there is a bigger issue of immigration reform to make easier to get and maintain migrant farm help.
CANTON – A 27-year-old Canton man was jailed after he allegedly used a stolen credit card to make multiple purchases. State police say Thomas Delosh allegedly found the credit card that had been lost by David McAdoo and made several purchases in McAdoo’s name. He was charged with criminal possession of stolen property and forgery. He was arraigned and ordered held in St. Lawrence County Jail on $10,000 bail, pending further court action.
CANTON – St. Lawrence County government has formally
announced its summer hours, which will begin following
Memorial Day weekend and continue through the end of August.
Summer business hours will be conducted an hour earlier,
from 8:00 a.m. till 4:00 p.m., beginning on May 28th. That
includes the satellite offices in Massena and Ogdensburg.
The Department of Motor Vehicles in Canton will operate from
8 a.m. till 5 p.m. Office hours at all sites will returned
to normal 9:00 to 5:00 operations after Labor Day weekend on
Tuesday, September 3rd.
ALBANY – Governor Andrew Cuomo unveiled a comprehensive resort gaming destination plan yesterday, which he says will create jobs and boost tourism in upstate New York. The governor says his plan capitalizes on the economic gains in resort gaming. Cuomo says the plan also details a nonpolitical independent process for citing resort gaming destinations, new specific criteria for selecting gaming operators and a breakdown of revenue distribution as a way to benefit state, local counties and municipalities. Under the Governor’s plan, upstate New York would be divided into six regions. Three resorts would be bid out with only one resort eligible to be located within region. Currently, three regions in the state have Indian gaming, including the St. Regis Mohawk reservation. Cuomo said any Indian nation’s zone of exclusivity will honored by the state when citing new resorts, as long as the compact between the nation and the state is in good standing. If the compact is not in good standing, the governor said, the region would be eligible for a commercial, non-Indian gaming resort.
AKWESASNE – The St. Regis Mohawk Tribal Council hosted a formal opening of its casino expansion project last night, officially rebranding the facility as the Akwesasne Mohawk Casino Resort. The $74 million expansion project has been 18 months in the making and came in on-time and on-budget. Meanwhile, the Tribe made no comment on Governor Cuomo’s announcement regarding new regional gambling facilities. Over the past 2½ years, the Tribe has withheld approximately $59 million in revenues from the state and local governments due to a complaint that their regional exclusivity rights were violated by gaming operations at the nearby Mohawk reservation in Altona, near Plattsburgh.
ALBANY – St. Lawrence County’s two state senators have finally relented, and agreed to submit the county’s request for a one-percent increase in the sales tax to help the county resolve its financial problems. North Country State Senators Patty Ritchie and Joseph Griffo have decided to drop their opposition to the increase from seven- to eight-percent, following a five-year county spending plan which and a pledge from county lawmakers to reduce property taxes. This past week, the New York State Comptroller issued an audit of county finances that stated “St. Lawrence County is walking a financial tightrope.” Ritchie is taking the lead in sponsoring the bill, which is identical to legislation in the Assembly, sponsored by Assemblywoman Addie Russell.
ALBANY – A new state grant program will offer 24 upstate counties, including Franklin and Jefferson counties, a total of nine million in funds for call centers that will responsible for answering emergency calls and dispatching police, fire or ambulance emergency services to the public. Governor Andrew Cuomo said the grants provide critical support to local governments to improve, streamline and consolidate emergency communications systems to allow them to respond more effectively and efficiently to any emergency situation.” St. Lawrence County has already consolidated many of those services at the Emergency Services Building in Canton. Under the program, Franklin County will receive $365,000 for consolidation. Jefferson County will receive $295,500 in sustainment grant funding.
ST. LAWRENCE RIVER – The International St. Lawrence River Board of Control says, after reviewing recent conditions in the Lake Ontario-St. Lawrence River system, they will continue to store water on Lake Ontario for future critical needs. Recently, the board has been responding to below-average Lake Ontario levels by prescribing lake outflows well-below average for this time of year. Since mid-April, conditions downstream have permitted only a limited amount of additional water to be stored on the lake. The water-storage strategy will provide environmental and recreational benefits of higher water levels upstream on Lake Ontario, while the extra water stored can also be released later in the season to benefit commercial navigation and boaters in the lower St. Lawrence River. The board meets again soon to decide release levels to match summer and fall conditions.
MASSENA – A 65-year-old Massena man was arrested yesterday on 22 counts of misdemeanor animal cruelty. Massena-based state police say the charges stemmed from an investigation and execution of a search warrant at the Patrick O’Neill residence. It was alleged that 22 horses were not properly cared for and one horse had to be removed from the scene. Massena-based state police were assisted by the Massena Humane Society. All of the animals were examined by a local veterinarian. O’Neill was arraigned in Massena town court and released in his own recognizance answer the charges at a later date. The investigation is ongoing.
NORFOLK – A St. Lawrence County grand jury has indicted a Norfolk man in alleged connection with the theft of several weapons from a home on County Road 39 in Norfolk last August and September. 30-year-old Jason Morgan was indicted on three burglary counts, two counts of criminal possession of a weapon and four counts of criminal possession of stolen property. Police said they found four loaded .22 caliber pistols in Morgan’s possession at the time of his arrest last September. In a separate indictment, 19-year-old Kyle Simon of Brasher was charged with second-degree rape involving a 14- year-old female last November. He was additionally charged with endangering the welfare of a child for allegedly providing her with marijuana. Both men face further court action.
POTSDAM – When Clarkson conducts its 120th commencement
on Saturday, the university will debut new attire for the
ceremony. The new robe, cap and hood which will also be worn
by the University’s trustees and other ceremony
participants, has been a year in the making and was designed
to embody the life and legacy of businessman Thomas S.
Clarkson, for whom the University was founded in 1896. The
black robe will symbolize Clarkson’s work ethic, vision and
integrity. The green velvet and gold trim on the robe and
hood are the school colors which represent the goldenrod,
Clarkson’s favorite flower. An eight-sided tam signifies the
Clarkson values of teamwork, caring, integrity, vision,
diversity, service, growth and diligence. The University’s
seal is embroidered on the front of the robe. Clarkson
officials say the new regalia is a distinct combination that
“enhances Clarkson’s image as a world-class research
institution...and affirms our place among those institutions
that value research."
OGDENSBURG – An Ogdensburg city judge has ruled that there was enough evidence to hold a Norfolk woman over for grand jury action after she allegedly scammed a former Waddington-area priest, parishioners and other victims out of more than $300,000. 36-year-old Bobby Jo Zeller, who is being held in St. Lawrence County jail without bail, allegedly swindled Monsignor Robert Lawler and several parishioners after claiming that she had a sick child and needed money for assistance. However, there was no sick child. The priest was one of three people who testified at a preliminary hearing yesterday in Ogdensburg. Zeller was returned to St. Lawrence County jail, without the privilege of bail, pending further court action.
NORFOLK – A 31-year-old Norfolk man is facing several charges and was jailed yesterday after allegedly reporting a home invasion that never occurred, as a cover story to his wife for damages to their home while he was reportedly drunk. State police say Nathaniel Dodson allegedly caused damage inside the home. However, he told his wife that two men had broken into the residence, attacked him and caused the damage. Police say the wife relayed that information to a 911 dispatcher. Before authorities arrived, Dodson allegedly destroyed several marijuana plants grown inside the home. He is facing several charges including third-degree falsely reporting an incident, issuing a false written statement, unlawfully growing marijuana and possession of marijuana and tampering with physical evidence. He is currently in St. Lawrence County jail on $15,000 bail pending further court action.
CANTON – The St. Lawrence County District Attorney’s Office is losing two assistant DA’s. Chief Assistant DA Amanda Nissen will end her service tomorrow to accept a position with the New York State Police Counsel’s Office. Just this week, Nissen completed prosecution of three Ogdensburg men charged with murder. One of the men was convicted, while the other two were acquitted. Also leaving at the end of May will be assistant DA Jonathan Becker who will begin work as an attorney in Otsego County. St. Lawrence County District Attorney Nicole Duve is expected to take steps soon to find replacements. However, the county is under a hiring freeze and any new hires would still have to be approved by the County Legislature.
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Charles Schumer urged the Department of Defense yesterday to choose Fort Drum to host an East Coast missile defense system, should the Pentagon determine that such a system is cost effective and necessary for national security. The Pentagon is commencing a mandated environmental study, which will help determine if a missile interceptor on the East Coast is viable to deal with threats from nations like Iran. Reports say a missile defense site could take the form of a $3.6 billion investment with at least 20 anti-missile interceptors. Schumer highlighted an advisory report from the National Research Council which recommended Fort Drum and the former Griffiss Air Force Base in Rome, NY as two as three potential locations for East Coast Missile Defense sites. The Defense Department has not yet officially selected their top sites.
UNDATED – Governor Andrew Cuomo yesterday announced the launch of New York’s largest tourism campaign in decades, committing nearly $60 million to grow the industry, create jobs and attract more visitors to the Empire State. The effort will include new Welcome Centers at U.S.-Canada Border and Interstate Crossings with information about the State’s tourism assets and attractions. Other efforts include new Taste NY Marketing efforts, overseas tourism campaigns in Asia and South America, new Tourism Information for Decision-Makers, a sports and special-events tourism commission, and an I Love NY Gay and Lesbian tourism initiative. The Governor’s announcement came at the conclusion of the New York State Tourism Summit in Albany, where hundreds of tourism experts gathered to discuss ideas and new ways to bring tourists to every corner of the state.
MASSENA – At a special meeting yesterday, the Massena town council formally approved a $353,000 renovation project at the Massena town hall. The project includes $185,000 for improvements to the facade and front steps, while another $168,000 will be spent on parking lot improvements. As we reported recently, the mortar in the building has deteriorated and chunks of mortar have been falling from the side of the structure. The St. Lawrence River Valley Redevelopment Agency recently announced a $75,000 grant and a $75,000 low-interest loan to help fund the repairs.
POTSDAM – SUNY Potsdam announced yesterday that it has reached a new transfer agreement with North Country Community College in Saranac Lake. Potsdam Director of Academic Transfer Services Susan Manfred says the agreement will provide students with the necessary resources and information needed to select the appropriate courses at NCCC to make a seamless transition to SUNY Potsdam and graduate with a baccalaureate degree in a timely manner. College officials say the campus-to-campus agreement is in keeping with the State University of New York’s seamless transfer initiatives.
BRUSHTON – The laying of the Enbridge-St. Lawrence Gas pipeline from Norfolk to Chateaugay has hit a snag as it goes through Brushton. The Massena-based company received information from a local resident that the property had been part of the former St. Mary’s Cemetery that was used through the late 1800s. Officials say due to inadequate record keeping, it is uncertain if decades-old remains were removed from the site to the current St. Mary’s cemetery on Gale Road. Church officials and some local residents say they believe the relocation was completed in the 1940s. However, the digging on the site has been curtailed until the company can use a “ground-penetrating radar” to determine if there are still graves on the property.
UNDATED -- Apple orchards across the state are currently
at or near full bloom, and the New York Apple Association
reports a “textbook season” so far. In the days and weeks
ahead, more than 11.3 million apple trees will progress from
bud to bloom to fruit. A blanket of white and pink blossoms
are already covering all 55,000 acres of New York orchards.
The weather is also providing ideal flying conditions for
the bees the industry relies on to pollinate its crops.
Growers say bud counts this year are high, and trees are in
good health after a relatively mild winter.
CANTON – A St. Lawrence County jury found one man guilty and two men not guilty in the 2010 death of.83-year-old Ralph “Gene” Lawton. The jury found 32-year-old Anthony LaLonde guilty of second- degree murder and robbery. LaLonde was the only one of the three men who had been tied to the crime scene by a glove that was found with his DNA on it. However, acquitted were 26-year-old Michael Thorpe and 30-year-old Michael Durand. The nine-man, three-woman jury announced its verdict around 1:45 p.m. yesterday after several hours of deliberation. Thorpe was released from custody. LaLonde will be sentenced on July 8th and could face up to 25 years in prison. Durand was sent back to St. Lawrence County jail to be sentenced on May 20th on unrelated burglary charge.
MASSENA — The Massena Memorial Hospital opened its doors to a new medical building yesterday, providing additional space for new doctors and services. The two-floor, 20,000-square-foot facility, on Maple Street across from the hospital, will house the hospital’s new physicians and surgeons and will offer leased space for outside medical practitioners. Hospital Administrator Charles Fahd tells us about the benefits of the new building. Hospital officials said the new facility will immediately open at 75% capacity. There’s additional room for two more practitioners. The lower floor of the facility is currently open and available for creating new office spaces based on the future need of new doctors to the facility.
WASHINGTON – North Country Congressman Bill Owens is applauding Vermont Senator Patrick Leahy for an amendment to the so-called Border Security, Economic Opportunity and Immigration Modernization Act that would bar the creation of a any new fee to cross the U.S.-Canada border. Congressman Owens already expressed his opposition to proposed border fees earlier this year. The Department of Homeland Security wants nine months to complete a study on the new free. Owens said,“Senator Leahy’s work to block proposed border fees is spot on and a reflection of the value Northern Border communities place on our relationship with Canada.”
CANTON – The State University of New York Board of Trustees yesterday appointed Dr. Joseph Hoffman to be Acting President of SUNY Canton effective June 1st. SUNY Chancellor Nancy Zimpher said, "Dr. Hoffman comes to SUNY Canton with an extensive history as a powerful and productive campus leader at SUNY Maritime College since 1997." She said, "Students, faculty and staff at SUNY Canton are certain to benefit from Dr. Hoffman's experience and leadership as acting president." Hoffman most recently has served as the college's Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs. He will succeed Dr. Carli Schiffner, who has served as Interim President since September 2012. Dr. Schiffner will step down as interim president May 31st to become Vice President of Instruction at Wenatchee Valley College in Washington State.
UNDATED – Citing high taxes, onerous regulations and high costs of living, business CEOs still rank New York State as one of the most difficult places to do business, according to Chief Executive magazine’s annual Best & Worst States for Business Survey, released yesterday. For the ninth year in a row, CEOs rate Texas as the #1 state in which to do business. Florida, North Carolina, Tennessee and Indiana also made the top five. The states rated worst for business are California, New York, Illinois, Massachusetts and New Jersey. The rankings are crucial, as CEO sentiment drives investments in offices, factories and other facilities that bring jobs to a region. One CEO said, “California, Illinois and New York are simply awful states to operate facilities or employ people.” A common theme among CEOs was the burden of constantly changing regulations. “Business is too hard without dealing with piles of regulations that are constantly changing,” said Rick Waechter, CEO of Boston Magazine. He said, “I believe there have to be controls, but keep them simple and straight forward—and most importantly, don’t make it a moving target.”
CANTON – The finances are coming together for a new St. Lawrence County Fire Training Facility. The county has not had a live fire-training simulator since the previous facility in West Potsdam was condemned five years ago. The new structure is expected to cost $450,000. St. Lawrence County Legislators have agreed this week to provide $4,300 this year and a total of $90,000 over the next decade to support the facility. Earlier this year, North Country Assemblywoman Addie Russell and State Senator Patty Ritchie each obtained $100,000 to support the training center.
FULTON — The Adirondack Landowners Association has initiated a three-part education program to reduce the spread of aquatic invasive species. In a press release yesterday, the associations says it has urged the Department of Motor Vehicles to include in all mailed renewals for boat and trailer registrations an educational insert about how to prevent the spread of invasive species. Landowners Association President Tom Williams said the next prong of the educational effort involves the cooperation of private-sector businesses and local government. The association will work with North Country business owners and government officials to have posters and handouts displayed throughout the Adirondacks. The group represents about 3,500 members who collectively own almost 250,000 acres of private land in the Adirondacks.
ALBANY – Governor Andrew Cuomo announced yesterday that
he has directed the Department of Financial Services to
launch an investigation into “pension advances” – which are
financial products that allow companies to harvest a
retiree's pension payments in exchange for a lump-sum
payment that amounts to just pennies on the dollar. At the
Governor’s direction, DFS sent subpoenas to ten companies
engaging in pension advances. The governor said, “These
companies are literally harvesting the-hard earned pensions
of seniors, military veterans and other hard working New
Yorkers,” said Governor Cuomo. “Using deceptive practices to
cheat people out of their pensions by enrolling them in
backdoor high-interest loans will not be tolerated in our
state. Superintendent of Financial Services Ben Lawsky said,
“These pension advances hit financially strapped retirees
with sky-high interest rates and hidden fees are simply
unacceptable. It's especially disturbing that military
veterans – who earned their pensions defending our country –
are apparently being targeted through these abusive
STORMONT – Canadian Conservative MP Guy Lauzon, who represents the Stormont-Dundas-South Glengarry region along the St. Lawrence River, says he strongly opposes a fee to cross the U.S.-Canada border by land, as proposed by the U.S. Office of Homeland Security in next year’s budget. Lauzon called the fee “very ill-advised as it would hurt the $1.9-billion in trade that flows over the border every single day, including the significant trade and shipment of goods at the Cornwall-Massena crossing.” Lauzon, in a press statement, said, “Our government believes that the proposed U.S. border fee would be bad for jobs and bad for the economy on both sides of the border. It would certainly have a very negative affect on all the progress made in Canada on growing the economy and creating jobs” in a fragile global economy. Lauzon said he is working with Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and other ministers to urge Washington lawmakers to drop the fee idea.
CANTON – The jury will return to St. Lawrence County Court in Canton this morning to continue deliberating the fate of three Ogdensburg men, accused in the November 2010 death of an elderly Ogdensburg man during an alleged drug-related home invasion and robbery. After closing statements by attorneys and the judge’s final instructions yesterday, the jury was given the task of deliberating a verdict at 3:15 p.m., but adjourned for the evening without an decision. The three men – 32-year-old Anthony Lalonde, 26-year-old Michael Thorpe and 30-year-old Michael Durand – are all accused of murder in the death of 83-year-old Ralph “Gene” Lawton, who suffered when an aneurism burst, as a result of a scuffle with the men during the break-in.
GOUVERNEUR – An active duty soldier was arrested early this morning for aggravated driving while intoxicated and criminal possession of a weapon in his vehicle, during a traffic stop on East Main Street in Gouverneur. St. Lawrence County Sheriff’s deputies say 23-year-old Ryan Travis of Gouverneur was in alleged possession of a loaded .40-caliber handgun without a valid New York State pistol permit. Travis was also found to have an alleged blood-alcohol content of .24 percent, three times the legal limit. He was also charged with DWI and failure to dim headlights. He was issued appearance tickets, then turned over to military police, due to current active duty, pending further court action.
GOUVERNEUR – A garage in Gouverneur was heavily damaged, but the quick response of Gouverneur firefighters stopped flames from potentially destroying a nearby home on Cambray Street. St. Lawrence County Fire Control says Christina Latta was home alone yesterday when she smelled smoke. Upon investigation, she found the garage on fire and called 9-1-1. Flames had scorched one bedroom when firefighters arrived and extinguished the flames. In addition to fire damage to the bedroom, there was some fire and smoke damage to the rest of the house. No injuries were reported. Firefighters are focusing their investigation on a possible electrical start in the garage.
POTSDAM – Just as the blooms begin to pop out on a short-lived lilac season in the North Country, a new nursery has opened in Potsdam, specializing in raising more than two dozen varieties of the fragrant springtime bush. Moore’s Hill Lilacs has been established at a historic farm, established by Truman Moore in 1832, on Route 11 between Potsdam and Canton. Janice Westerling, who co-owns the operation with her husband Cliff, says the plants “have proven they can handle a North Country winter." In addition to the traditional lavender and darker French lilacs, the business is also offering other varieties usually not seen in the North Country – such as pink, white and blue – and plants that are early, late and even repeat bloomers.
MASSENA – Only four people have applied for the job as the next Massena Central School superintendent. As a result, the Massena school board wants to put out the call for more candidates and could delay a decision while choosing an interim superintendent from two candidates who have applied for the job. Current Superintendent Roger Clough informed the school board earlier this year that he did not intend to renew his contract when it expires at the end of next month. He is expected to present a formal resignation to the school board within the next month.
POTSDAM – An eleven-member Greek Life task force at SUNY Potsdam held a community forum last evening, with mostly all college students attending, to discuss their recommendations and the potential future of fraternities and sororities recognized by the college. The task force wants to rein in repeated incidents of reported alcohol abuse and hazing. Among the possible options are abolishment of all fraternities and sororities. The task force has been studying the issues for the past three months and plans to issue its recommendations this summer.
CANTON – St. Lawrence County’s financial woes continue to deepen while the chances dim in Albany of getting home-rule legislation for an increase in the sales tax this year. The legislation has been introduced in the State Assembly, but has not been introduced yet in the State Senate, with the legislative session expected to close for the summer by the end of next month. Without approval soon, county lawmakers estimate St. Lawrence County will lose over three million in sales revenue this year. Meanwhile, the county has recently hired a Syracuse law firm to advocate on its behalf in the ongoing three-year battle over held revenue from the St. Regis Mohawk casino compact.
AKWESASNE – The St. Regis Mohawk Tribe took third place
in the third-annual Drinking Water Contest, sponsored by the
United Southern and Eastern Tribes, Inc., held in Nashville,
Tennessee. Eleven tribes across the nation submitted
drinking water samples from their respective reservation
water systems and sources. The samples were tested and
inspected by a panel of seven judges for clarity, odor and
taste. Technical Assistance Specialist Scott Williams said,
All of the water samples appeared to be good drinking
water.” He said the Tribal water systems are improving and
operators are gaining more training.
MASSENA – Massena Memorial Hospital has plans to open a new medical office building tomorrow, to provide additional space for new doctors and services. A ribbon-cutting ceremony is planned for tomorrow at the new two-story, 20,000 square-foot building on Maple Street, across from the hospital. The structure can accommodate up to a dozen medical practitioners, along with a waiting area, conference room, sunlit atrium and phlebotomy area for blood and urine testing. It is already expected to open at three-quarters capacity. Construction on the new $3.9 million facility began a year ago this month to provide more services and additional revenue for the hospital.
MASSENA – A Massena man was arrested late last night for allegedly trying to break into an auto sales location on State Route 420 in Massena. State police say 26-year-old Adam Deleel is accused of using a hammer to pry open the door to J-and-J Auto Sales. However, the owner’s son was working inside, heard noises and called state police. Deleel was located nearby a short time later and taken into custody. Deleel was charged with burglary and possession of burglars tools. He was arraigned and ordered held in St. Lawrence County Jail on $2,500 bail, as he awaits further court action.
CANTON – A Massena man has been indicted by a St. Lawrence County grand jury for an alleged sexual relationship with a teenage girl. 53-year-old Robert Pitts was charged with second-degree rape, endangering the welfare of a child and second-degree course of sexual conduct against a child. Pitts was arrested last October, after cell phone messages led police to discover the alleged affair, which they said had been ongoing with the now-15-year-old girl over a two-year period. He is currently being held in St. Lawrence County jail without bail, to await further court action.
MADRID – A Madrid woman was arrested yesterday after she allegedly menaced another person, fled the scene before police arrived, later tried to flee authorities and was finally subdued after she was Tasered. State police say they responded to a report that 26-year-old Erin White had tried to gain entry to a home on Dailey Ridge Road while armed with a baseball bat. When U.S. Customs officials arrived, she had already fled the scene, but was located a short time later on State Route 310. After police pulled her over, she then allegedly backed her car into the state police cruiser and tried to flee again. She was taken into custody when jolted by the stun gun. Troopers say White was charged with assault with a weapon, menacing, reckless endangerment, criminal mischief, harassment and criminal possession of a firearm. She was arraigned in Norfolk town court and remanded to St. Lawrence County Jail on $10,000 bail or $20,000 bond, pending further court action.
EDWARDS – An Edwards man was arrested, following a report of a fight in progress at a residence in Edwards. St. Lawrence County Sheriff’s deputies say Terry Gordon III allegedly entered another residence and caused damage inside and physically harassed another person in front of three young children. Gordon was charged with second-degree criminal trespassing, harassment, endangering the welfare of a child and third-degree criminal mischief. He was arraigned in Edwards town court and sent to St. Lawrence County Jail in lieu of $1,500 bail or $3,000 bond, pending his next court appearance.
POTSDAM – Clarkson University says it will bestow diplomas on more than 700 students this coming Saturday. Bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees will be granted at commencement ceremonies on Saturday, at 2:30 p.m. in the Cheel Arena. The weekend will also be marked by the commissioning of United States Army and Air Force ROTC cadets on Friday. A number of awards will also be handed out to students, with several faculty being honored for research and distinguished teaching awards. Commencement speakers Wanda Austin, president and chief executive officer of the Aerospace Corporation, and Mark Sarkisian, director of seismic and structural engineering at Skidmore, Owings and Merrill LLP, will also receive honorary degrees.
CANTON – St. Lawrence County Planning officials say they are accepting applications from farmers and property owners who are interesting in adding land to County Agricultural Districts 1 and 2. Requests can also be made to remove property from the districts, but only during a district’s eight-year review period. The next review for Ag District 2 is next year, while the next review in District 1 is in 2016. Application forms are available from the St. Lawrence County Planning Office through May 30, by visiting the county’s website at www.stlawco.org or calling their office at 379-2292.
BOMBAY – An eleven-year-old Bombay girl is reported to be a finalist in the 2013 Miss New York in the pre-teen division. Gina Seward is the daughter of William and Elizabeth Seward and a student at the Salmon River Central School in Fort Covington, NY. In a press statement today, her family said, “Under a referral, Gina has been selected to participate in the 2013 National American Miss Pageant for the State Title. She attended Open Call for information and a short interview. A week later she was accepted to be a finalist at the State competition in Rochester, NY. NAM is a pageant competition for young ladies under the age of 18 with National Pageants held in California. There is no make-up or swimsuit requirement in her age group! However, Gina must present herself in Poise and Presentation in Formal Wear (30%), Personality during an Interview (30%), Onstage Personal Introduction (30%), and a Community Involvement Project (10%).
UNDATED – Governor Andrew Cuomo joined thousands of New
Yorkers yesterday in participating in the second annual "I
Love My Park Day." Volunteers attended 77 state parks and
historic sites across the state to help clean up the parks
and prepare them for the 2013 summer tourist season.
Volunteers went to their local parks to help, join their
neighbors in the effort and learn more about their local
parks. Good weather statewide helped encourage more people
to volunteer. The governor rolled up his sleeves and helped
at the Franklin Roosevelt State park in Westchester County.
MALONE – With the first phase of a $41 million natural-gas pipeline progressing toward completion, Enbridge-St. Lawrence Gas of Massena is about to open an office to sign up customers in Franklin County. Work began last fall on the 48-mile pipeline starting in Norfolk. The first phase has generally followed an old railroad bed and continue through to Malone. The work is currently in Moira and expected to move into Malone this summer. The second phase will link Malone to Chateaugay. The company will begin by signing up large-scale industrial customers including schools, hospitals, prisons and industries such as McCadam Cheese and North Lawrence Dairy. Nearby homeowners will also be added. Service is expected to start by the end of the year. The company’s Franklin County office is expected to open soon on Route 11, across from McDonald’s restaurant in Malone.
CANTON – St. Lawrence County is coping with cash flow difficulties and a sharp decline in surplus funds, according to an audit issued yesterday by State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli. The audit notes the county’s weakening fiscal health has resulted in program cuts, tax increases and a potential operating deficit. Dinapoli said, “St. Lawrence County is walking a financial tightrope.” He said, “Recent budget decisions may leave the county without sufficient cash available for managing unforeseen events or closing budget shortfalls.” The comptroller said, “Before the county gets in a financial bind, officials should develop a comprehensive long-range financial plan that will help identify operational and capital needs, monitor revenue and expenditure trends, and develop new financing sources.”
CANTON – One of three defendants in a robbery and murder trial in St. Lawrence County Court in Canton, took the witness stand yesterday to testify in his own behalf. 26-year-old Michael Thorpe was on the stand for approximately a half hour, admitting that he had visited Ralph “Gene” Lawton’s apartment earlier on the day of the alleged murder in November 2010. However, Thorpe said he was only there to buy prescription drugs. The other two defendants in the case – Anthony Lalonde and Michael Durand – are not expected to testify. Trial resumes today in St. Lawrence County Court in Canton, with rebuttal witnesses expected to testify for the prosecution.
MALONE – A missing Norfolk woman, who was wanted in connection with an alleged scam in Waddington, was located and arrested yesterday at a motel in Malone. State police accused 36-year- old Bobbi Jo Zeller of duping a former Waddington priest into soliciting money from parishioners on her behalf for a sick child. However, police said, there was no sick child. Zeller is accused of stealing approximately $300,000 from then Msgr. Robert Lawler and 20 parishioners. She also allegedly swindled $14,000 out of three other people. Zeller is facing seven charges including felony counts of criminal possession of a forged instrument, third-degree grand larceny, fourth-degree grand larceny and one count of first-degree identity theft. She was ordered held in St. Lawrence County jail without bail pending further court action.
CANTON – A Niagara Falls man was arrested following investigation by the St. Lawrence County Sheriff’s Department, after allegedly possessing a small amount of cocaine and bringing it into the county jail in Canton. Sheriff’s deputies say 40-year-old Gilbert Murdock of Niagara Falls was charged with felony promoting prison contraband and misdemeanor criminal possession of a controlled substance. Murdock was arraigned in Canton town court and remanded to county lockup on $500 bail or $1,000 bond to await further court action on May 6th.
MALONE – The Franklin County Legislature has approved a 5% occupancy-tax law, or bed tax, to be charged against those who stay overnight at a motel, hotel or other lodging facility in the county. The measure now goes to the New York State Legislature and Gov. Andrew Cuomo for approval. Franklin County lawmakers also approved members of a tourism advisory committee who will recommend how the funds will be spent. Opposing lawmakers say the new law places an unfair reporting burden on small mom-and-pop lodging owners and gives too much policing power to the Franklin County Treasurer.
CANTON – St. Lawrence County’s ban on smoking or use of tobacco products on all county-owned or leased property will begin tomorrow. Starting Saturday, it will be illegal to light up on county property, even outside buildings and in employee’s own cars, if they are on county property. It is estimated that 25 to 35 percent of county employees smoke. They will have to find other locations off county property. The ban will also affect recreational areas such as beaches, hiking trails, forested lands, parks, playing fields and other property the county owns. The county will be posting signs regarding the ban. Violators could be fined up to $50 for the first offense and up to $100 for additional offenses within 12 months.
UNDATED – A new study says New York State’s suicide rates among middle-aged New Yorkers is still among the lowest in the nation. However, the rate increased 42-percent in the first decade of this century – an increase that is 14-percent higher than the rest of the country. The report, reviewing suicide rates from 1999 to 2010, was released by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Experts say several factors might include tougher economic times and the greater difficulty in getting mental health care.
ALBANY – New York State’s highest court is changing the
usual negligence standards for farmers and animal owners
when their animals are involved an accident or other
liability. The New York Court of Appeals yesterday
overturned lower-court rulings that previously used an
animal’s reputation for aggressiveness. However, the judges
ruled that an owner or landowner can be held liable for
damages or injuries, such as in motor-vehicle accidents,
when animals are "negligently allowed to stray" from the
property where they have been maintained.
ALBANY – Governor Andrew Cuomo said yesterday that he wants to postpone a proposed referendum on allowing new large-scale casinos at three new locations, not on Indian reservations in New York State. St. Lawrence County officials have been putting together a proposal and have suggested land near the border in Ogdensburg as a potential site for one of the three casinos. The governor originally suggested putting the issue up for referendum on the upcoming November ballot. However, without other state races also on the ballot in a so-called “off-year election,” the governor says that could significantly reduce voter turnout and support for the proposal which he says would boost jobs and economic development in New York State.
CANTON – St. Lawrence County Legislators will apparently proceed with a lawsuit to get the money it is owned, but remains unpaid under the New York State tribal casino compact. St. Lawrence and Franklin counties, along with the towns of Massena, Brasher, Bombay and Fort Covington have not received payments since late 2010, when St. Regis Mohawks cut off the shared funds in a breach-of- exclusivity agreement dispute. The St. Regis Tribe said slot machines operating on another nearby Mohawk reservation at Altona violated the exclusivity agreement. St. Lawrence County officials say they want to get the money they are owed, while the tribe works out its dispute with the state.
ALBANY – National Grid says it will immediately embark on some $1.6 billion in infrastructure improvements in upstate New York to provide world-class reliability and safety to its energy-delivery network, as provided for under a new three-year rate agreement with the New York State Public Service Commission. National Grid says the new agreement will “provide immediate and ongoing savings to most of electric and natural gas customers. The company will host a free online webinar next week outlining the details about the rate agreement.
ALBANY – New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli says the overtime paid last year by state government rose to $529 million, or nearly 11 percent, compared with the previous year – continuing a costly pattern since budget workforce cuts that began at the beginning of the recession four years ago. The biggest increases were in the offices of People With Developmental Disabilities, Mental Health and agencies that run prisons and parole. Governor Cuomo has held state spending increases to under a two-percent cap for the past three years, saving billions of dollars in expense, in order to confront deficits and waste.
OGDENSBURG – The City of Ogdensburg and surrounding areas could be in for another fight with Albany to save a state-run facility from closing under the state budget cuts. The St. Lawrence Psychiatric Center, established in the 1890s, could be on the state’s chopping block, while lawmakers work to reorganize mental-health facilities and create regional centers for psychiatric treatment. The Ogdensburg facility current cares for nearly 200 children and adults in a 13-county region of northernmost New York State. It currently provides employment for more than 500 people. So far, state officials have not indicated which psychiatric centers could be closed. State health officials announced last month that they will seek public input at a listening forum in Ogdensburg on May 15th.
MASSENA -- The Massena Memorial Hospital in conjunction with the National Kidney Foundation of Northeast New York will host the first-ever Massena Walk for Kidneys – a non-competitive, fundraising walk and 5K run focusing on education and prevention of kidney and urinary tract diseases and awareness of the need for organ donation. This Sunday will mark the first Massena Walk for Kidneys. starting at the Whalen Park in Louisville. Registration begins at noon with the event to kickoff at 1 p.m. Cost is $20 prior to event and $25 day of event. Sidney the Kidney, the Dialysis Divas and Dr. Care Bear will lead the walk. The event will follow a free kidney screening being offered at the Massena Memorial Hospital Dialysis Center on Sunday from 9 am to 12 noon.
CANTON – The prosecution could be winding up its case today against three Ogdensburg men who are accused in the November 2010 attempted robbery and subsequent death of an elderly city resident. Anthony Lalonde, Michael Durant and Michael Thorpe are on trial for murder and robbery in St. Lawrence County Court in Canton, in alleged connection with the death of 83-year-old Ralph “Gene” Lawton. Yesterday’s trial focused on evidence and DNA samples in the case. Testimony resumes today.
FORT COVINGTON – The geothermal well field, used to collect energy and heat the Salmon River Central School in Fort Covington, is reportedly being reviewed by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, after one of 160 wells was reportedly found to be leaking ethanol, used as a coolant in the system. State officials reportedly indicated that an investigation is underway and that enforcement action could be taken, but have not given any further specifics. The wells were tested over break last month. When the leak was discovered, the well was dug up and deactivated. The district is reportedly following DEC recommendations for remediation. Meanwhile, the school is still providing bottled drinking water.
MASSENA – The Massena Electric Department has issued an
alert of a potential scam being reported by several of its
customers. MED reports that customers are being phoned by a
person or company offering potential savings on electric
bills. MED Superintendent Andrew McMahon issued a statement
saying, “people claiming to represent Massena Electric or
provide an alternate electric provider have claimed to be
offering rebates on electric bills.” He said MED “is not
affiliated with these callers and does not engage in this
type of solicitation.” McMahon urged MED customers not to
give out any private critical information to prevent being
CANTON – A jailhouse informant was the latest testify in the high-profile murder trial of three Ogdensburg men in St. Lawrence County Court in Canton. Shawn McGregor was questioned about conversations he had with one of the accused, Anthony Lalonde of Ogdensburg, saying he and the defendant discussed the alleged crime. MacGregor claims Lalonde indicated the trio went to the home of 83-year-old Ralph “Gene” Lawton to get drugs, but not to commit murder. MacGregor also said Lalonde talked about a missing glove left at the scene, which is considered a key piece of evidence at the trial. Also standing trial are Michael Thorpe and Michael Durand. All three are accused of robbing Lawton at his Ogdensburg home in 2010. During a struggle that broke out, Lawton was allegedly struck in the chest several times. According to the autopsy report, Lawton allegedly died when an aortic aneurysm burst during the struggle.
POTSDAM – A Potsdam man turned himself in to police yesterday, shortly after returning to the area, to face charges in alleged thefts at a local store. Potsdam village police say 23-year-old Edward Gonyeau IV was observed on video footage from a local store on March 13th, allegedly stealing medications. Paperwork was filed in Potsdam village court four days later. However, the defendant had left the area. Gonyeau was charged yesterday with petit larceny. He was issued a criminal summons for Potsdam village court on May 17th.
CORNWALL – Police are warning of another fraudulent check-cashing scam. Cornwall city police issued a public alert yesterday regarding the new local fraud. Police say the Consolidated Bottle Corporation was recently targeted in the scam in which individuals receive checks and instructions in the mail claiming to need help in marketing research or other types of survey work. Consolidated Bottle says it has not initiated any such request or program. Police say the advanced checks are fraudulent and no attempt should be made to cash them. Anyone who is contacted in such a scam is urged to call their local police department.
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand announced yesterday a $28,612 grant for the Ogdensburg city fire department to upgrade dispatch and portable radios as well as replace outdated personal protective equipment. City fire officials say the grant couldn’t come at a better time when budgets are spread thin. They say the new radios and gear will help the department in running more effectively and efficiently during emergencies.
EDWARDS – The Town of Edwards will be getting a $45,000 reimbursement check to cover the expenses related to the dissolution of the village of Edwards last year. Voters in Edwards approved the dissolution at voting two years ago. The village was officially dissolved at the end of 2012. New York State provided grant money as an incentive for municipalities to reduce taxpayer costs by dissolving one layer of government. The New York Department of State Citizens Re-Organization and Empowerment Grant will help Edwards pay for property and equipment transfers, along with the costs of forming water, sewer and lighting districts.
POTSDAM – Sergi’s Italian Restaurant in Potsdam is about to return home to its 10 Market Street location. The Pizzeria and Banquet Hall were heavily damaged during a wind shear that ripped through Potsdam last July 19th. Wind gusts over 80 miles an hour ripped the roof off the Italian eatery and damaged several nearby businesses in the downtown district. Now the renovations are nearly complete and the building stabilized so that the restaurant can be reopened sometime in May. The banquet hall is expected to reopen in June.
UNDATED – Several local agencies will receive grants and/or loans from the St. Lawrence River Valley Redevelopment Agency and the St. Lawrence County Industrial Development Agency for community or economic development projects. The town of Massena was granted $75,000, along with a $75,000 loan for renovations to the Massena town hall and its facade. Waddington will get a $30,000 grant to develop handicapped access facilities for its former town hall, and $45,000 to support the Bassmaster Elite Series. The town of Louisville will receive a $40,000 grant and $16,000 loan for renovations to its community room. Madrid was given a $50,000 for a dam improvement project. Another $60,000 will go toward construction of a new St. Lawrence County Fire Training facility.
ALBANY – New York Governor Andrew Cuomo says there is no truth to speculation that he is having discussions about a possible presidential run in 2016 or in the midst of developing any such strategy. During the Public Radio program “Capitol Pressroom,” Cuomo said he is focused on a 2014 run for second term as governor. While the Governor’s poll numbers have fallen recently from record highs, he is still considered a potential candidate for the 2016 presidential race. While Hillary Clinton is considered a potential contender as well, Cuomo says he’s not waiting to see if she decides to run.
ALBANY – In order to encourage greater voter
participation, shorten waits and lines at polling places,
and expand voting access for all New Yorkers, the New York
State Assembly and Attorney General Eric Schneiderman have
announced legislation instituting early voting in New York
State. The measure, which is expected to pass the Assembly,
would institute early voting for all General, Primary, and
Special elections in New York. Under the provisions of this
legislation, a 15-day early voting period for general
elections and an eight-day early voting period for primary
and special elections would be established.