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NCPR News Staff: David Sommerstein

Reporter/ Producer
David Sommerstein, NCPR's roving St. Lawrence Valley/Fort Drum/Tug Hill reporter, began his career in radio, strangely enough, as a high school Spanish teacher in Buffalo. While drilling verb conjugations and teaching a love for Latino culture during the day, he sat in as a late night jazz and Latin DJ at Buffalo's NPR affiliate, WBFO. The radio bug bit, and David found his way to southern Colorado/northern New Mexico (the Taos/Santa Fe area) where he was Program Director, Music Director, Volunteer Coordinator, and "Just About Anything Else You Can Think Of" Director at NPR affiliate KRZA.

Since joining NCPR's news department, David has reported from the chilly deck of a St. Lawrence icebreaker, the power-chord filled stage of the High School Rock Band Festival, and the tense Albanian street market of post-war Kosovo with soldiers from Fort Drum. David also gets to fulfill his passion for music of all kinds when he spins world dance and groove music on editions of The Beat Authority. E-mail

Stories filed by David Sommerstein

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The food council and people who addressed it hope to draw more consumers to places like the pavilion at the Watertown farmers market. Photo: Joanna Richards
The food council and people who addressed it hope to draw more consumers to places like the pavilion at the Watertown farmers market. Photo: Joanna Richards

In the quest for local food, plenty of roadblocks

A state panel that reports to Governor Cuomo on the obstacles to getting healthy food on people's plates met in Potsdam Wednesday. The New York State Council on Food Policy held one of four listening sessions it's organizing around the state this year.

Farm and food leaders told the council tough obstacles are slowing down the farm-to-table movement in the rural North Country.  Go to full article
Governor Cuomo with county and tribal leaders signing the land claim MOU Wednesday in Albany. Photo provided by St. Regis Mohawk Tribe
Governor Cuomo with county and tribal leaders signing the land claim MOU Wednesday in Albany. Photo provided by St. Regis Mohawk Tribe

Mohawks, St. Lawrence Co. reach deal on land claim

Wednesday in Albany, tribal chiefs and St. Lawrence County officials joined Gov. Andrew Cuomo to sign a memorandum of understanding to resolve the more than three-decades old Mohawk land claim lawsuit.

The deal would allow Mohawks to buy up to 4,800 acres of land from willing sellers in northern St. Lawrence County and add it to the Akwesasne reservation.

St. Lawrence County would get a compensation package of $2.5 million from New York State, $1.5 million from the tribe, and then $4 million annually in perpetuity.  Go to full article
Elise Stefanik and Matt Doheny are vying for the Republican line in the 21st Congressional district.
Elise Stefanik and Matt Doheny are vying for the Republican line in the 21st Congressional district.

NY-21: Stefanik, Doheny vie for North Country roots in first debate

The two Republicans seeking to represent the North Country in Congress came out swinging Tuesday night in their first debate before the June 24 primary. The one-hour debate was broadcast on Time-Warner Cable and taped in Albany.

Elise Stefanik and Matt Doheny carved out few differences on policy. But they disagreed sharply on what's become the defining issue in this campaign - who can claim the deepest North Country roots.  Go to full article
Workers beginning to lay out the landscaping and sidewalks outside the future Thousand Islands Harbor Hotel. Photo: David Sommerstein.
Workers beginning to lay out the landscaping and sidewalks outside the future Thousand Islands Harbor Hotel. Photo: David Sommerstein.

Luxury hotel in Thousand Islands nears completion

The luxury hotel in Clayton is getting close to completion. And local officials hope it will draw a new kind of tourist to the region.

Two Buffalo-area developers are building the 105-room Thousand Islands Harbor Hotel on a former hazardous waste site right on the St. Lawrence River.

The new construction is transforming Clayton's waterfront.  Go to full article
GOP candidates for the NY-21 congressional seat: Elise Stefanik (left) and Matt Doheny
GOP candidates for the NY-21 congressional seat: Elise Stefanik (left) and Matt Doheny

NY-21: GOP primary heats up, but who's paying attention?

Believe it or not, the primary election in New York is just a month away. It's long been held in September, but the date was moved up this year, in part to get a jump on the national political calendar.

But the timing is pressurizing primary contests, including the Republican primary race for the North Country's Congressional seat. There's news from both Matt Doheny's and Elise Stefanik's campaigns. Reporter David Sommerstein joined Martha Foley to talk about the latest in the race.  Go to full article
Kate Ebbing takes inspiration from the real clouds on a beautiful day in Clayton. Photo: David Sommerstein
Kate Ebbing takes inspiration from the real clouds on a beautiful day in Clayton. Photo: David Sommerstein

Hairdresser in Clayton applies artsy side to patriotism

It's Memorial Day weekend. Villages across the North Country are adding a patriotic flare to their Main Streets.

Just down Riverside Drive from the new hotel in Clayton, a hairdresser at River Day Spa & Salon was decorating their window front with an American flag motif on Tuesday. Kate Ebbing has been cutting hair there for two and a half years.  Go to full article
Elected officials and Alcoa leaders broke ground at the Massena East plant last July, but Alcoa still hasn't committed to completing the construction project. The plant has since closed, at least temporarily. Photo: Julie Grant
Elected officials and Alcoa leaders broke ground at the Massena East plant last July, but Alcoa still hasn't committed to completing the construction project. The plant has since closed, at least temporarily. Photo: Julie Grant

Is Alcoa committed to its future in Massena?

One of the North Country's largest private sector employers, Alcoa, is stepping back on its commitment to Massena. But the aluminum giant still got a $30 million discount from the state on its electricity bill. That's the crux of a story WWNY-TV broke earlier this week.

Since Alcoa shuttered its East plant in Massena in January, state officials have been scrambling to rework a deal that would have guaranteed 900 jobs in exchange for cheap electricity from the hydropower dam New York owns on the St. Lawrence River. The company also said it would invest $600 million to modernize the East plant with a new high-tech smelter. But Alcoa's board has yet to sign off on that plan.  Go to full article
Soldiers in the River Hospital program created these "PTSD masks", now on display at the Antique Boat Museum. Photo: David Sommerstein
Soldiers in the River Hospital program created these "PTSD masks", now on display at the Antique Boat Museum. Photo: David Sommerstein

St. Lawrence River as therapy for Ft. Drum soldiers with PTSD

A new collaboration in the Thousand Islands will allow Fort Drum soldiers with post-traumatic stress disorder to harness the healing qualities of the St. Lawrence River.

River Hospital in Alexandria Bay runs the nation's first outpatient therapy program for active-duty servicemen and women. 30 soldiers, many of them veterans of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, spend every weekday at the hospital. They use group therapy and art therapy to learn to cope with the after effects of war.

Now the soldiers will display their art work at the Antique Boat Museum in nearby Clayton.  Go to full article
Darrel Aubertine as NYS Commissioner of Agriculture in 2012. Photo: NYS
Darrel Aubertine as NYS Commissioner of Agriculture in 2012. Photo: NYS

Aubertine denies link to vote trading allegations

Allegations surfaced in the New York Post this week that longtime North Country politician Darrel Aubertine traded votes for campaign cash in 2008. The Cape Vincent Democrat denies the claims.

Martha Foley spoke with David Sommerstein to sort out who's saying what.  Go to full article
Yard signs like this have kept the Garrett Phillips case in the public eye.   Photo: Julie Grant
Yard signs like this have kept the Garrett Phillips case in the public eye. Photo: Julie Grant

Suspect arrested in murder of 12 year-old Potsdam boy

Two and a half years after 12-year-old Garrett Phillips was found murdered in Potsdam, a suspect has been taken into custody. Potsdam police arrested Oral "Nick" Hillary, Clarkson University's soccer coach, Thursday afternoon. Hillary was charged with second degree murder after a sealed indictment was delivered to St. Lawrence County court. The suspect pleaded not guilty and is in county jail without bail.  Go to full article

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