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Local and Regional News

by Bob LaRue


July 24, 2014

WADDINGTON – A Michigan man was apparently struck by lightning during yesterday’s early-morning storm along the St. Lawrence River in Waddington.  Authorities say Christopher Church of Dewitt, Michigan was camping with family at Coles Creek State Park when the storm rolled through around 6:30 a.m.  Lightning struck a nearby tree and left Church’s arms and legs completely numb.  He had suffered a burn mark to the shoulder and minor head injuries.  His wife Shannon, a St. Lawrence County native, and their two children were unhurt.  She contacted 911.  Church was transported to Massena Memorial Hospital for treatment, then released yesterday afternoon.  He told authorities he planned to return to the campsite to go fishing.

CANTON – A former St. Lawrence County corrections officer is reportedly considering a possible plea bargain in connection with an alleged road-rage accident that injured four family members.  33-year-old Douglas Matthews of Canton was charged with four counts of attempted murder after he allegedly rammed his SUV into a car carrying his wife, mother-in-law and two young sons along Route 310 in the town of Madrid.  The family auto went off the road and overturned with the SUV coming to rest on top of it. All four occupants were hurt, including 65-year-old Susan Latimer of Canton who  was seriously injured. Matthews’ reported plea offering includes five years of prison time with three years of post–release supervision.

CANTON – In responding papers filed with New York State administrative Judge Vito Caruso, St. Lawrence County District Attorney Mary rain says County officials are “desperate” to stop her grand jury investigation. Two weeks ago Caruso ordered Rain to halt any further investigation and grand jury proceeding against county officials into what she described as “alleged unlawful use of forfeiture funds and nonfeasance in the loss of grant money.”  Caruso ordered Rain to explain why she herself should not be disqualified from a probe of the county and a special D.A. assigned.  In her papers, Rain says County Administrator Karen St. Hilaire's request is premature because the probe has not yet begun.  Rain also claims the judge has no authority in the case.  Caruso is expected to rule in the next few days.

WASHINGTON – North Country Congressman Bill Owens applauded news that the U.S. Department of Transportation will raise safety standards for transporting volatile liquids across U.S. rail lines.  Earlier this year, Owens expressed serious concerns to federal transportation and rail officials about the hazardous materials being carried in rail cars, brakes, shipment testing and the speed at which they travel through New York’s 21st Congressional District.  The DOT said yesterday that new standards will be introduced for tank ca  rs, brakes, shipment testing and speed limits for trains carrying flammable liquids including oil and ethanol.  The new rules would also require railroads and shippers to notify State Emergency Response Commissions or other appropriate entities about the operation of trains carrying a million gallons or more of Bakken crude oil through their states. As many as 120 of these cars traveling through the Adirondack Park on Canadian Pacific rail lines every day.

CORNWALL – Two U.S. residents are facing multiple charges for allegedly smuggling alcoholic beverages at the border between Massena and Cornwall.  Canada Border Services Agency investigators at the Cornwall Port of Entry charged 24-year-old Michael Rourke of Hogansburg and 48-year-old Marnie Martin of Akwesasne, NY with failure to report goods, evading duties and taxes, and smuggling under the Canada Customs Act.  Martin is also charged with making false statements.  Authorities say when the pair arrived at Customs, Martin declared six cases of beer purchased from the duty‑free store the previous day. When Rourke appeared to seek guidance from Martin during routine questioning, border officers decided to examine their vehicle. Inside they found 96 12‑ounce bottles and 432 cans of a tea and lemonade‑flavored alcoholic beverages in a variety of sizes. The alcoholic beverages and vehicle were seized. A penalty of $643 was paid for the return of the vehicle. Both were released to reappear in a Cornwall city court on August 19th.

POTSDAM – Clarkson University will share in $3.3 million in state funds that have been awarded to seven research teams to develop technologies that add resiliency and efficiency to New York State's electric grid. The research into “smart grid” technologies will use innovative methods to enhance grid performance, reduce the risk of power outages and lessen environmental impacts and energy consumption, all while reducing the cost of power delivery.  Clarkson University will receive $381,000 for the design of a resilient underground microgrid in the Village of Potsdam. Clarkson will partner with National Grid, General Electric, SUNY Potsdam and local businesses to plan and design a large microgrid system to generate electricity for a number of entities in Potsdam. The power system would supply electricity to both colleges, Canton‑Potsdam Hospital and National Grid's Potsdam Service Center. The region has been particularly susceptible to power outages due to winter storms and flooding, and the underground system would provide a localized source of power that would be more energy‑efficient and resilient.

THOUSAND ISLANDS – The New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation will take a walking tour today through improvements made to Keewaydin State Park along the St. Lawrence River, one of four recently revitalized State Park boating facilities.  Keewaydin received nearly $1.4 million to improve its popular marina with a new waterfront comfort station which includes an enclosed, three‑season second story pavilion, improved accessibility, modernized restrooms and panoramic views of the St. Lawrence River.


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