by Bob LaRue
May 27, 2015
CANTON – With trial scheduled soon, St. Lawrence County Court Judge Jerome Richards denied a prosecution’s request for signature samples from 43-year-old Robert Bartlett Jr., accused in 2011 death of 82‑year‑old Betty Babcock at her May Road residence near the Stockholm-Potsdam town line. Bartlett allegedly stole and cashed Social Security checks and state retirement checks belonging to Babcock and her husband Alvin. Their bodies were found buried in the back yard of Bartlett’s property in March 2014. District Attorney Mary Rain requested the signatures “to compare the known to the unknown on the checks.” Four months ago, Bartlett refused a plea deal of 25 years in state prison in satisfaction of all charges against him, if he also admitted to killing Alvin Babcock.
POTSDAM – Potsdam Central School faculty and students found a temporary police presence on campus yesterday, after the district discovered an anonymous online threat late last week. Authorities say the threat was posted on both the New York State Police and Potsdam Police Facebook pages Thursday night, just after school broke for Memorial Day weekend. Similar to a threat several months ago at SUNY Canton, the threat warned parents to keep their children home from school, as the female intended to “shoot up” school buildings in Potsdam. Parents were given notice of the threat and plans for police presence in an email on Monday. The FBI is also involved in tracking for the perpetrator.
GOUVERNEUR – Gouverneur police say a 15-year-old Gouverneur Central school student has been identified as being responsible to dumping eight animal brains near railroad tracks in the village last week. In a press statement yesterday, police said veterinary experts later identified them as sheep brains that had been preserved in formaldehyde that were part of an Agriculture Department exhibit stolen the high school. School officials say they are handling “ disciplinary action with the student.” Police say they expect to file a petition in the case with St. Lawrence County Family Court.
NORFOLK – A Massena man is facing charges after a domestic dispute in a vehicle along State Route 56 in Norfolk earlier this week. State police say 21-year-old Joshua Gurrola was a passenger in a vehicle driven by Nicole Caskinette, when the two became involved in an argument. Troopers say Gurrola allegedly reached over and grabbed Caskinette by the neck, causing her to briefly swerve into oncoming traffic. Police say there was a four-year-old child in the car at the time. Gurrola was arraigned on charges of second‑degree harassment and endangering the welfare of a child. He was remanded to the St. Lawrence County jail in Canton on $1,500 bail or $3,000 bond, pending a June 10th appearance in Norfolk Town Court.
AKWESASNE – The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services will be conducting an Oral Rabies Vaccination drop for raccoons in Franklin County, including the area of Akwesasne, next Tuesday and Wednesday, June 2nd and 3rd. The program uses fixed‑wing aircraft to distribute baits over large geographic areas, while flying approximately 500 feet above ground level. It is expected that the flight over the region will take one to two days. The baits resemble fast‑food ketchup or mustard packets coated with fishmeal and oil to make it more attractive to the raccoons. The vaccine and bait are not considered to be dangerous to humans, pets or other wildlife. However, the public is asked to leave the bait alone. If you should touch or move the bait, handle with a glove and wash hands thoroughly as it smells quite bad.
MASSENA— The New York Power Authority’s Frank McCullough-Hawkins Point Visitors Center and Boat Launch are now operating on its expanded summer schedule. The admission‑free center, part of the NYPA’s St. Lawrence‑Franklin D. Roosevelt Power Project, is open daily 9 a.m.‑5 p.m. The visitors center offers many hands‑on exhibits on energy, electricity, history and the environment. Visitors can also enjoy panoramic views of the project’s power dam from Hawkins Point. Last year, NYPA welcomed more than 25,000 visitors to the Hawkins Point facility.
WASHINGTON – Former New York Governor George Pataki is expected to announce tomorrow that he will throw his hat into the already-crowded Republican race for President of the United States. The New York Post said yesterday that Pataki, who served 12 years as governor, is expected to make the announcement in New Hampshire. Pataki is hoping for a strong enough showing in the New Hampshire primary to continue in the presidential race. However, polls indicate that Pataki barely registers so far with voters, as he has been out of politics for nearly a decade.
ALBANY – MaryEllen Elia has been appointed New York state’s new Education Commissioner. Elia spent several years as a former high school Social Studies teacher in Upstate New York, before most recently a school superintendent in Florida. However, North Country State Senator Joe Griffo said while he is pleased that the Board of Regents moved quickly to appoint the commissioner, he is disturbed that the process appeared to be rushed and secretive when the process should have been deliberative and transparent. Said Griffo, “The fact that all of the Regents were alerted over the Memorial Day weekend to be in Albany for a special personnel meeting, these rapid developments do not create the impression that the full Board of Regents has thoughtfully considered a number potential candidates before choosing the person who’s best for the future of the state’s education system.