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NCPR News Staff: Brian Mann
News Reporter and Adirondack Bureau Chief

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A rash of potholes in Westport, NY, is pretty typical of damage across the North Country. Photo: Brian Mann
A rash of potholes in Westport, NY, is pretty typical of damage across the North Country. Photo: Brian Mann

Cuomo says pothole rescue is on the way

If you feel like the shock absorbers on your car are giving out this spring-- you're not alone. The harsh winter did massive damage to roads across the North Country and that's made driving tough in many communities.

Now New York state says it will help local governments make repairs, adding tens of millions of dollars to grants for resurfacing roads and bridges. In a statement issued last week, governor Cuomo announced that $40 million would be added to the grants made available to local governments to help them with what he called the "exceptionally harsh winter."

That's about a 10 percent increase in state support for local transportation infrastructure - money that goes to counties, towns and villages.  Go to full article
Governor Andrew Cuomo has pursued an aggressive prison reform agenda in his first term. NCPR File photo: Mark Kurtz
Governor Andrew Cuomo has pursued an aggressive prison reform agenda in his first term. NCPR File photo: Mark Kurtz

Cuomo: "We must raise the age" juveniles are tried as adults

Gov. Andrew Cuomo yesterday named a new commission to look at whether teenagers should be tried in adult courts in New York. Last year, more than 30,000 16- and 17-year-olds were tried in adult courts in New York.  Go to full article
Robin Nagle, from Saranac Lake, is the anthropologist-in-residence in the New York City Sanitation Department.  Photo: Brian Mann
Robin Nagle, from Saranac Lake, is the anthropologist-in-residence in the New York City Sanitation Department. Photo: Brian Mann

America's never-ending war against garbage

We've all had the experience of being told that it's our turn to take out the trash. Or sort the recycling. Or make the weekly trip to the dump.

More and more of us are trying to reduce the amount of waste we produce, by composting and buying stuff with less packaging.

But Americans still produce massive amounts of garbage.

And the way we deal with it shapes our lives and the future of our communities and our environment.  Go to full article
Chateaugay Correctional Facility, source of 110 jobs in northern Franklin County, is slated to close in July.  File photo.  Brian Mann
Chateaugay Correctional Facility, source of 110 jobs in northern Franklin County, is slated to close in July. File photo. Brian Mann

Chateaugay prison closure will hurt local business, town supervisor says

The town of Chateaugay in northern Franklin County is still reeling from news that their local correctional facility will close in July of this year. That news was confirmed last week in the budget deal hammered out in Albany.

Don Bilow, Chateaugay town supervisor, says the prison closure will hurt the community's wider business community.  Go to full article
Brian Fischer led New York's corrections department for seven years from 2007 until 2013, a time when nine state prisons were mothballed.  Photo:  Brian Mann
Brian Fischer led New York's corrections department for seven years from 2007 until 2013, a time when nine state prisons were mothballed. Photo: Brian Mann

The man who led a revolution inside NY prisons

For decades, New York has maintained one of the largest -- and fastest growing -- prison systems in the country.

At its peak, more than seventy thousand men and women were held in state correctional facilities, many on lengthy mandatory drug sentences.

But over the last few years, the prison system has begun to shrink dramatically, with thirteen facilities closed or in the process of shutting down.

That quiet revolution was led in large part by former Corrections commissioner Brian Fischer, who stepped down last year after seven years in the post.  Go to full article
At a rally in March, workers from Chateaugay Correctional Facility protested the Cuomo administration's decision to close the prison in July. Photo provided by NYSCOPBA.
At a rally in March, workers from Chateaugay Correctional Facility protested the Cuomo administration's decision to close the prison in July. Photo provided by NYSCOPBA.

How America's drug war sparked the North Country prison boom

This week, North Country Public Radio is looking in-depth at how New York's 40-year prison boom changed two very different neighborhoods, Brownsville in New York City and Chateaugay in Franklin County. Check out these stories and many more in our Prison Time Media Project.

This week, the tiny North Country town of Chateaugay learned that their local prison -- operated by the state Corrections Department -- will close in July.

The decision was made final in New York's state budget.

Town supervisor Donald Bilow told the Plattsburgh Press-Republican that he is "devastated" by the closure.  Go to full article
The Environmental Protection Fund is used to make key land purchases in the Adirondacks.  A view from the water on Boreas Ponds, part of the big Finch Pruyn conservation deal. Photo: Brian Mann
The Environmental Protection Fund is used to make key land purchases in the Adirondacks. A view from the water on Boreas Ponds, part of the big Finch Pruyn conservation deal. Photo: Brian Mann

Budget deal boosts green projects in NY

Green groups say they're pleased that the final budget approved yesterday includes more money for the Environmental Protection Fund.

Lawmakers devoted just over $160 million dollars to the fund, which is used to pay for park land purchases and to fund clean air and water projects.  Go to full article
Chateaugay Correctional Facility, source of 110 jobs in northern Franklin County, is slated to close in July.  File photo.  Brian Mann
Chateaugay Correctional Facility, source of 110 jobs in northern Franklin County, is slated to close in July. File photo. Brian Mann

Budget deal closes two North Country prisons

A budget deal worked out over the weekend appears to lock in plans to mothball two North Country prisons, including facilities in Chateuagay in Franklin County and Mt. McGregor in Saratoga County.

According to a report in the Auburn Citizen newspaper, a total of four prisons statewide will be closed in July.

Prison guards and local officials from the North Country rallied earlier this month in Albany, demanding that Governor Cuomo keep at least some of the correctional facilities open.  Go to full article
Governor Andrew Cuomo Photo:  Mark Kurtz
Governor Andrew Cuomo Photo: Mark Kurtz

Budget deal in Albany reshapes NY education, taxes

Governor Andrew Cuomo announced on Saturday that lawmakers in Albany have hammered out a deal that would mean major changes to education in New York.

The agreement would delay implementation of controversial new "common core" standards, while also adding funding for pre-K education.

The deal also aims to rein in property taxes, which Cuomo has described as the highest in the US.  Go to full article
North Country Olympians, with Bill Demong at left, ride in a float own Saranac Lake's main street on Wednesday.  Photo:  Mark Kurtz
North Country Olympians, with Bill Demong at left, ride in a float own Saranac Lake's main street on Wednesday. Photo: Mark Kurtz

Another North Country Olympic parade, then what?

A boisterous crowd turned out in Saranac Lake Wednesday afternoon to celebrate Olympians from the North Country who competed in Sochi.

A small parade marched down Broadway. Then people gathered in the town hall for one last celebration, with music singing and autograph signing. Mayor Clyde Rabideau also recognized athletes who competed in past Olympics.

This marks the end of the drama surrounding the 2014 Winter Games. But many of these athletes are already back on the professional World Cup circuit, competing and trying to earn a living through their sport.  Go to full article

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Brian Mann. Nancie Battaglia photo

Brian Mann
grew up in Alaska, where he fell in love with public radio. In 1999, Brian moved to the Adirondacks and helped launch NCPR's news bureau at Paul Smiths College. "I love the chemistry of water and mountains," Brian says. "But I'm also pretty crazy about village life in the north country. It's the kind of place where you know your neighbors." Brian lives in Saranac Lake with wife Susan and son Nicholas. He's a frequent contributor to NPR and also writes regularly for regional magazines, including Adirondack Life and the Adirondack Explorer.

Recent Brian Mann stories carried by NPR:

AP
January 2, 2014 | NPR · Parts of the Northeast and New England are expected to be hit the hardest today and Friday. More than a foot of snow may fall on Boston. The wind chill may plunge to 40 degrees below zero in the Adirondacks. Flight delays and cancellations are piling up along with the snow.
 
AP
December 16, 2013 | NPR · Forty seven people died in July when a freight train derailed and dozens of tanks carrying oil exploded and caught fire. Much of Lac-Megantic was leveled. For the first time since then, freight cars will travel through this week. Officials say they'll only carry "dry goods." Residents are worried.
 
October 29, 2013 | NCPR · With just a hundred days to go before the Winter Olympic Games open in Russia, even many gold medalists are still fighting for a place on Team USA. Justin Olsen, a bobsledder from San Antonio, Texas, helped the U.S. win a historic gold medal four years ago in Vancouver, but he's struggled to overcome injuries in the lead-up to Sochi.
 
September 10, 2013 | NPR · New York adopted one of the toughest gun control laws in the U.S. — banning the sale of assault rifles and banana clips. Many of the state's county sheriffs hate the law and some say they won't enforce it. The fight over gun rights and gun safety has become a hot issue in sheriff races, as local law enforcement officials seek re-election in rural counties.
 
July 26, 2013 | NPR · More than two weeks after a fiery train crash left 47 dead in Lac-Megantic, Quebec, the town's center remains in shambles, while a criminal investigation and lawsuits are underway.
 
Reuters /Landov
July 11, 2013 | NPR · Twenty bodies have been recovered so far. Authorities hold out little hope that any of the 30 other people missing after Saturday's train derailments and explosions are still alive.
 
July 11, 2013 | NPR · In Lac Megantic, Quebec, locals are waiting impatiently for answers following Saturday's train explosion that left 50 people dead. The provincial government in Quebec is blasting the railroad at the center of this disaster for responding too slowly — and requesting more aid from Canada's federal government to help the rural town rebuild.
 
November 4, 2012 | NPR · As New York City's first responders begin to show fatigue, and in many cases deal with losses of their own homes, replacement crews of firefighters are getting ready to roll into Manhattan and Long Island. Among them are a group of firefighters from a small rural fire station in the mountains of upstate New York.
 
istockphoto.com
April 30, 2012 | NPR · The Obama administration backed off a proposal to restrict kids under 16 from working on farms after a major push by conservatives and farm state Democrats. But farmers themselves weren't too happy about the restrictions, either.
 
February 18, 2012 | NPR · U.S. bobsled racers triumphed at the 2010 Winter Olympics, but it's been tough sledding ever since. The American team has lost big sponsors and struggled to win big races. This weekend, the world's top sled teams face off in Lake Placid, N.Y., for the world championships. North Country Public Radio's Brian Mann reports that American athletes hope the home-track advantage will give them a shot at a medal.