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NCPR News Staff: Brian Mann

Adirondack Bureau Chief
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. E-mail

Stories filed by Brian Mann

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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
Raquette Lake could be near the end of a century-old land dispute with New York state.  Photo: <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Raquette_Lake,_New_York.jpg">DzikieKwiaty</a>, public domain
Raquette Lake could be near the end of a century-old land dispute with New York state. Photo: DzikieKwiaty, public domain

Settlement to century-old Adk land dispute in the mail

New York state is sending hundreds of letters to homeowners in Long Lake offering to settle land claims as part of the "Township 40" deal approved by voters last November.

The move is part of an effort to resolve boundary disputes around the tiny community of Raquette Lake that date back to the 1800s.

In all, more than 1,000 acres of land around Raquette Lake are affected by the boundary dispute, which was sparked originally by conflicting title claims, decades of lawsuits, and poor survey maps.  Go to full article
The Washington County home of Asa Fitch Jr., an entomologist in the 1800s, has been proposed for listing on the historic register.  Photo: <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Fitch_Asa_1809-1879.jpg">unknown</a>, public domain
The Washington County home of Asa Fitch Jr., an entomologist in the 1800s, has been proposed for listing on the historic register. Photo: unknown, public domain

Five North Country properties proposed for historic recognition

A state board is recommending that 21 new properties across New York be added to the register of state and national historic places.

The designation is designed to help preserve historic sites, many of them held in private hands, through tax credits. Five of the proposed landmarks are here in the North Country.  Go to full article
The Adirondack Scenic Railroad. Photo: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/people/39017545@N02/">Matt Johnson</a>, CC <a href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/deed.en">some rights reserved</a>
The Adirondack Scenic Railroad. Photo: Matt Johnson, CC some rights reserved

Understanding the Adirondack Scenic Railroad controversy

This week, North Country Public Radio has been looking in-depth at the fierce debate over the future of the 90-mile rail corridor that stretches from Old Forge to Lake Placid. Train boosters hope to see the state of New York invest millions of dollars reviving the entire line into a world-class seasonal tourism railroad, likely operated by the Utica-based non-profit Adirondack Scenic Railroad.

But a growing number of critics, including many local government leaders in the Park, want the state to consider reinventing the corridor as a year-round multi-use "rail-to-trail" destination.

Brian Mann and Martha Foley spoke about where all this goes next.  Go to full article
Adirondack Scenic Railroad train in Old Forge. Photo: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/72644361@N06/8183206757/">Brad O'Brien</a>, Creative Commons, some rights reserved
Adirondack Scenic Railroad train in Old Forge. Photo: Brad O'Brien, Creative Commons, some rights reserved

As rail debate simmers, big questions for Scenic Railroad

For more than twenty years, the Adirondack Scenic Railroad has struggled to create an excursion train from Utica to Lake Placid, an attraction that advocates hope will one day serve as a major draw for tourists, carrying passengers through some of the most rugged and scenic terrain in the East. "We view an asset like that as something you would never want to rip up," Bill Branson, the ASR board president, said in an interview last year.

But a nearly month-long investigation by the North Country Public Radio and the Adirondack Explorer has revealed stark and long-lingering questions about the non-profit railroad's financial stability, its professional staff, and its ability to scale up what remains a largely shoestring operation that still carries passengers over only short stretches of the historic corridor.  Go to full article
A rail-trail bridge on the Katy Trail sy stem in Missouri.  Photo:  <a href-"http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Katy_Trail_bridge_and_bikers.jpg">Kbh3rd</a>, Creative Commons, some rights reserved
A rail-trail bridge on the Katy Trail sy stem in Missouri. Photo: Kbh3rd, Creative Commons, some rights reserved

Adirondack Rail Trail plan leans on state agencies

This is the second part of a two-part series on the Adirondack Rail Trail. Hear the first part here.

State officials say they'll decide soon what to do with the controversial rail corridor that stretches from Old Forge to Lake Placid.

For more than two years, a growing group of activists and local government leaders in the Adirondacks have urged the Cuomo administration to end decades of financial support for the Adirondack Scenic Railroad.

The group called Adirondack Recreation Trail Advocates, also known as "ARTA," hopes to see the ninety-mile corridor converted into a year-round multi-use trail. They say a Rail Trail would provide a bigger tourism draw and could be built quickly with little additional financial support from taxpayers.

But a detailed review by North Country Public Radio in partnership with Adirondack Explorer magazine found that big questions remain about how the trail would be paid for and who would operate it.  Go to full article
Public hearings on the future of the rail corridor were held last fall.  What comes next and when?  No one's certain. Photo: Brian Mann
Public hearings on the future of the rail corridor were held last fall. What comes next and when? No one's certain. Photo: Brian Mann

Adirondack rails-trails debate still stuck "in limbo"

Eight months have passed since New York state officials announced that they were opening a review of the future use of the historic rail corridor between Old Forge and Lake Placid. The move followed growing pressure from local government leaders and activists critical of the Adirondack Scenic Railroad, which now operates seasonal excursion trains on sections of the line.

Supporters see the railroad as a potential tourism attraction that could draw visitors from all over the world. Critics say the project has been a boondoggle and should be replaced by a multi-purpose trail. The debate has sharply divided communities and interest groups in the park.  Go to full article
A train of oil tankers. Photo: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/11072040@N08/6184231577/">Russ Allison Loar</a>, Creative Commons, some rights reserved
A train of oil tankers. Photo: Russ Allison Loar, Creative Commons, some rights reserved

Local officials want more answers about rail-oil safety

At a meeting this week in Elizabethtown, in Essex County, Canadian Pacific refused to disclose its emergency response plan in case of a major rail tanker disaster on its line in the Champlain Valley.

According to the Plattsburgh Press-Republican, CP spokesman Randy Marsh cited security concerns in declining to tell local government leaders and first responders about the company's response plan.  Go to full article

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