by Bob LaRue
December 16, 2014
CANTON – The St. Lawrence County Legislature voted 8-6 last night to adopt an amended plan for distribution of four-million in Mohawk land claims money from New York State. The board removed Massena Central School’s half-million-dollar allotment from the plan, so that two Democrats who are teachers in Massena could vote and provide the eight votes needed to secure the rest of the distribution plan. The board approved $750,000-a-year each for the towns of Massena and Brasher and $500,000 for the St. Lawrence Central School in Brasher where there is possible sale of property to Mohawk buyers. The land could be added to St. Regis territory and lost to the towns and schools, under a memorandum of understanding reached between the state and county last May. St. Lawrence County would retain the remaining $2 million-per-year, while also receiving a $3.5 million sign‑on bonus.
CANTON – The St. Lawrence County Legislature has approved a five-year contract with its Civil Service Employees Association. The agreement reportedly includes an $800 sign‑on bonus in 2015, then two-percent annual increases in 2016, 2017 and 2018; followed by a 2.5 percent raise in 2019. The current contract with the CSEA Local is due to expire at the end of the month. The 650 members of the local have until January 30th to ratify the agreement, or the offer expires. County lawmakers approved two-million dollars in next year’s budget to cover the wage increases.
HAMMOND – Funeral services will be held tomorrow for a longtime former member of the St. Lawrence County Legislature. Allen Dunham, a Hammond dairy farmer, was 78 when he passed away yesterday. Quiet and reserved, Dunham spent 12 years on the legislative board in the 1980s and 1990s. He was also active in the Hammond Fair and a member of both the Hammond Planning Board and the county’s Soil and Water Conservation District.
ALBANY, N.Y. — Developers hoping to open casinos in New York State have already spent upwards of $2 million lobbying the state, even though Governor Andrew Cuomo says the decision to award up to four available casino licenses will be made on the merits of the proposals and not on the basis of politics. None of the casinos are planned for the North Country, due to the existence of the current casino on the St. Regis Mohawk reservation and its exclusivity territory.
CANTON – A federal trial has been delayed until at least March 2015 for a Hermon-area couple who are accused in the August kidnapping and sexual abuse of two Amish girls. The two girls escaped a day later. Following further investigation, Stephen Howells II and Nicole Vaisey were charged with victimizing six children in all. They could face life in prison, if convicted. The pair are currently under federal custody and expected to be tried together.
MADRID – An elderly Colton woman was killed and five other people were injured in a two-car crash late Sunday afternoon on County Road 31 in Madrid. State police released details yesterday, saying 73-year-old Bonnie Knight was a passenger in a vehicle driven by her 78-year-old husband Edward, when it collided with an oncoming vehicle driven by 85-year-old Marylou Manchester of North Bangor. Mrs. Knight died a short time later at Canton-Potsdam Hospital. His condition was not immediately released. Also injured in the second vehicle were 77-year-old Francis Manchester of West Bangor who sustained a knee injury and a forearm fracture; 90-year-old Phyllis Harris with leg and head injuries; and 92-year-old Elsie Patnaude who a head injury and was later transported to the University of Vermont Medical Center in Burlington. Troopers are continuing their investigation to determine what caused the crash.
UNDATED – Depending on the track of winter storms developing, the National Weather Service says we could receive three to five inches of snow on Christmas Eve, and another one to three inches of snow on Christmas Day. A couple of other mild snowy days are forecasted ahead of Christmas in the North Country region.
MASSENA – The Massena Central School board was presented with consolidation options last evening, which could include closing two of the district’s three elementaries. Nightengale Elementary, J.W. Leary Junior High and Massena Central High School would continue to operate, under one of three options. The plan would include expanding Nightengale for pre-K through Grade 3 and moving 4th through 6th graders to J. William Leary; and grades 7 and 8 to the high school. The consolidation proposals are seen as a way of reigning in district expenses, due to current expenses that are exceeding revenues by more than $3 million.
CANTON – A 36-year-old Edwards man was indicted on kidnapping, burglary and criminal contempt charges yesterday by a St. Lawrence County grand jury. In late October, St. Lawrence County Sheriff’s deputies were called to Pestle Street Road in Russell on a report that Paul Willard had been in the residence with a .22-caliber rifle and had left with a female victim. Deputies went to Willard’s home in Edwards where they found the woman unharmed. Willard was arrested without incident. He was charged with felony counts of second-degree kidnapping and first-degree burglary. Willard was remanded to St. Lawrence County Jail on $50,000 bail or $100,000 bond. He was released on a court order on November 26th.WASHINGTON – North Country Congressman Bill Owens announced yesterday his final nomination of high school students from across northern New York to attend U.S. service academies next year. The congressman, who retires at the end of the year, nominated seven students from St. Lawrence and Franklin counties. They include Brendan Broderick of Massena to they U.S. Merchant Marine Academy in Kings Point, NY; Connor Paquin of Massena and Kathryn Fanning of Canton to the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis; Mary Young of Waddington and Chandler Gach from Saranac Lake to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, NY; and Kathryn Fanning of Canton to the U.S. Air Force Academy at Colorado Springs.