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

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Brett Lawson, superintendent at NYCO Minerals' Lewis mine, points in June 2013 toward a 200-acre parcel of state-owned land, above and behind the rock wall, where the company wants to mine Wollastonite. Also pictured, from left, are NYCO employees Dawn Revette and Brian Shutts. Photo by Chris Knight, Adirondack Daily Enterprise
Brett Lawson, superintendent at NYCO Minerals' Lewis mine, points in June 2013 toward a 200-acre parcel of state-owned land, above and behind the rock wall, where the company wants to mine Wollastonite. Also pictured, from left, are NYCO employees Dawn Revette and Brian Shutts. Photo by Chris Knight, Adirondack Daily Enterprise

Some green groups turn to courts in Adirondack fight

Four environmental groups say they plan to sue in state court to stop a mining project proposed for the Jay Mountain Wilderness in the Adirondacks.

NYCO Minerals already has mining and processing operations in the Champlain Valley towns of Lewis and Willsboro.

They hope to conduct a series of test drills this summer, searching for a new vein of a mineral called Wollastonite. But green groups say state officials need to do a more thorough environmental review before digging begins.

This latest lawsuit reflects growing tension between some environmental activists and the Cuomo administration over management of the Adirondack Park.  Go to full article
The driver "reportedly became drowsy" before the fatal accident.

Watertown: infant's death blamed on fatigued driving

State police say a car accident on I-81 near Watertown early Saturday morning claimed the life of a five-month-old child.

According to a statement, officials are blaming the accident on "drowsy" driving.

"Investigation revealed that 21 year old Quartez Smith...reportedly became drowsy," police said. "His vehicle, a 2003 Chevy Trailblazer, left the roadway and traveled into the median striking an earth embankment."

After flying airborne, the vehicle struck a portable DOT sign, then overturned several times before coming to a rest in the median.

Smith and two adult passengers were transported to Samaritan Medical Center, where they were treated for minor injuries, according to police.

The infant was airlifted to a hospital in Syracuse, but was later pronounced deceased.

The family, from Virginia, was traveling through the North Country after visiting relatives in London, Ontario.

According to State Police, an investigation of the accident is still underway. They say they were asisted by Jefferson County Sheriff's officers, the Watertown Fire Department, as well as other emergency crews.  Go to full article
NYCO's Mark Buckley points to the border between mine-owned lands and the state forest preserve.  Photo: Brian Mann
NYCO's Mark Buckley points to the border between mine-owned lands and the state forest preserve. Photo: Brian Mann

Green groups plan to sue over NYCO Adirondack mining

A coalition of green groups, including two based in the Adirondacks, say they will file legal action to block "exploratory drilling" in the forest preserve.

The groups planned to hold a press conference Friday afternoon in Albany to detail their concerns.  Go to full article
Gore Mountain is an anchor for Warren County's winter economy. Photo: Gore Mountain website
Gore Mountain is an anchor for Warren County's winter economy. Photo: Gore Mountain website

Comptroller: Olympic authority needs "fiscal balance"

A new report issued this week by New York's state Comptroller office is aiming fire at the business and accounting practices of the Olympic Regional Development Authority.

That's the state-owned enterprise that operates sports and tourism venues in the Adirondacks and Catskills.

The audit found that ORDA is losing money and is often forced to borrow cash to pay for basic operations.  Go to full article

Adirondack train route to rail-trail conversation

There was dramatic news yesterday afternoon from Albany. State officials announced that they will formally reopen the unit management plan for the historic rail corridor that stretches through the Adirondacks from Old Forge to Lake Placid.

But the Cuomo administration also took a surprise step, proposing a concept that would effectively divide the corridor in half. The section from Old Forge to Tupper Lake would be maintained as a tourism railroad, with new investment from New York state.

The section from Tupper Lake to Lake Placid, however, would be converted into a multi-use rail-trail for hikers, skiers and snowmobile riders. Martha Foley and Brian Mann talked about the plan Thursday morning on the 8 O'clock Hour.  Go to full article
If the concept unveiled today by state officials is adopted, trains would no longer run to Saranac Lake's station (seen here) or to Lake Placid.  Train service might eventually be offered as far north as Tupper Lake.  Photo:  Susan Waters
If the concept unveiled today by state officials is adopted, trains would no longer run to Saranac Lake's station (seen here) or to Lake Placid. Train service might eventually be offered as far north as Tupper Lake. Photo: Susan Waters

State may convert section of Adirondack train route to rail-trail

State officials say they plan to reopen the planning process for the historic railroad track from Old Forge to Lake Placid.

In a statement released Wednesday afternoon, state Transportation and Environment commissioners also said they would consider converting a large segment of the historic train route to a "rail-to-trail" system.

If the proposal goes forward, tracks along the stretch from Tupper Lake to Lake Placid, via Saranac Lake, would be removed and replaced with a trail surface.

"In response to public interest, we are reopening the Unit Management Plan, providing new opportunities to engage local communities and support the regional economy as we plan for the corridor's future," said DOT Commissioner Joan McDonald in a statement.  Go to full article

Hudson rafting company troubles

The Glens Falls Post Star is reporting this morning that the brakes may have failed on a tubing company tour bus over the weekend, leading to the death of a 15-year-old boy.

According to the newspaper, the man driving the bus told authorities that the brakes failed as he tried to slow on a turn.  Go to full article
Andre LaFlamme, a paramedic in Lac-Megantic, remembers July 6 2013 as "hell."  He stands on a ceremonial boardwalk outside the destroyed area known as the "red zone."  Photo:  Monique Cornett
Andre LaFlamme, a paramedic in Lac-Megantic, remembers July 6 2013 as "hell." He stands on a ceremonial boardwalk outside the destroyed area known as the "red zone." Photo: Monique Cornett

One year later: sorrow, hope and hard work in Lac-Megantic

Early Sunday morning in a small town in eastern Quebec, thousands of local residents held a midnight vigil for the victims of one of North America's deadliest train accidents.

One year ago, an American-owned tanker train carrying crude oil from North Dakota derailed and erupted in Lac-Megantic. The flames incinerated the community's downtown. Forty-seven people died.  Go to full article
The bus owned by the Tubby Tubes Rafting company was carrying 31 customers and 3 employees.

Tourism bus crashes in Adirondacks, killing 15-year-old

State police say a bus accident Saturday afternoon in Lake Luzerne has left one 15-year-old dead and injured another. The accident took place just after midday.

The bus owned by the Tubby Tubes Rafting company was carrying 31 customers and 3 employees. They were traveling to make an excursion on the Hudson River.

According to police, the bus overturned, apparently because of mechanical problems.

"A fifteen year old river guide employed by Tubby Tubes was ejected from the bus and died at the scene," according to the State Police statement.

A customer who suffered an ankle injury was transported to Glens Falls Hospital. An investigation of the one-vehicle accident is underway.  Go to full article
A painting in Lac-Megantic's St. Agnes Church by Louise Latulipe commemorates the oil train fire storm and the 47 people lost in the disaster.  Photo:  Brian Mann
A painting in Lac-Megantic's St. Agnes Church by Louise Latulipe commemorates the oil train fire storm and the 47 people lost in the disaster. Photo: Brian Mann

Quebec town struggles one year after oil train fire storm

This weekend the small town of Lac-Megantic, Quebec is preparing to mark the one year anniversary since that deadly train derailment, when a U.S. tanker train exploded killing 47 people.

Brian Mann has been covering this story since last July when the disaster first occurred and he's back in Quebec today. He spoke with Martha Foley.  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:

July 6, 2014 | NCPR · Thousands of locals gathered early Sunday morning in Lac-Megantic to mark one year since a deadly train explosion in the small Eastern Canadian city killed 47 people.
 
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.
 
NCPR
August 28, 2013 | NPR · For the last four decades the Rockefeller Drug Laws have been impacting many in upstate New York. North Country Public Radio undertook an ambitious reporting project to tell this national story throughout this year, which marks the 40th anniversary of the Rockefeller Laws.
 
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.
 
Getty Images
February 14, 2013 | NCPR · Forty years ago, New York enacted tough laws in response to a wave of drug-related crime. They became known as the Rockefeller drug laws, and they set the standard for states looking to get tough on crime. But a new debate is under way over the effectiveness of such strict sentencing laws.
 
Courtesy of Yvonne Prendes
February 14, 2013 | NCPR · George Prendes was 23 when he was sentenced under New York's Rockefeller drug laws — tough mandatory sentencing guidelines for nonviolent drug crimes. The 15 years Prendes served for a drug transaction still reverberate for him and his family.
 
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.
 
August 29, 2012 | NCPR · New York Governor Andrew Cuomo is expected to decide soon whether to allow natural gas companies to use the controversial drilling technique known as hydro-fracking. New Yorkers are sharply divided on the issue. Industry groups and activists are campaigning hard to shape how the decision will be received.
 
May 28, 2012 | NCPR · Farm worker advocates and top Obama administration officials have been pushing hard for new regulations that would improve safety for teenagers working on farms. But facing fierce opposition from the agriculture industry and its allies in Congress, the Department of Labor abruptly withdrew a set of rules that advocates said could save dozens of lives every year.