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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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NY-21 GOP candidate Elise Stefanik (left) and Democratic candidate Aaron Woolf. NCPR file photos
NY-21 GOP candidate Elise Stefanik (left) and Democratic candidate Aaron Woolf. NCPR file photos

No clear "North Country" candidate in NY-21 race

Congressman Bill Owens shocked the political establishment and the entire North Country when he announced last month he wouldn't seek re-election. That decision set in motion a wide-open race, with both parties scrambling to find the best candidates.

Republican party leaders are gathering around Elise Stefanik, a former aide to vice-presidential candidate Paul Ryan. Stefanik has spent much of her life in the Capital district and says she moved to Willsboro in the 21st district last year.

Wednesday, North Country Democrats surprised everyone when they endorsed Aaron Woolf, a documentary filmmaker and a political newcomer.  Go to full article
Natalie Higley, vice president for Business Affairs and Administration for SUNY Canton & SUNY Potsdam. Photo provided by SUNY Potsdam
Natalie Higley, vice president for Business Affairs and Administration for SUNY Canton & SUNY Potsdam. Photo provided by SUNY Potsdam

SUNY Canton, Potsdam vice president accused of theft

The woman in charge of finances at both SUNY Canton and SUNY Potsdam has been indicted on theft charges in Georgia. Natalie Higley is charged with stealing from the state college where she used to work.

According to the Bainbridge Post-Searchlight newspaper, Natalie Higley and three other former employees of Bainbridge State College are accused of conspiring as a group to steal college property and then lying about it.  Go to full article
Film maker Doyle Dean will help tranform the blizzard dance... Photo: David Sommerstein
Film maker Doyle Dean will help tranform the blizzard dance... Photo: David Sommerstein

Listen: In Canton, modern dancing in a blizzard

You never know what you're going to find in a snowstorm. David Sommerstein was cross-country skiing on the St. Lawrence University last week in blizzard conditions, when he came across five students prancing around in bright blue full-body spandex suits. They looked like speed-skaters. But they were students filming a dance in the fluffy snow.

Kerri Canedy is a dance professor and Jennette Tario is a senior at St. Lawrence University.  Go to full article
CSX's upgraded and faster rail crossing passes right by dozens of houses in Canton. Photo: David Sommerstein.
CSX's upgraded and faster rail crossing passes right by dozens of houses in Canton. Photo: David Sommerstein.

Ritchie: CSX "less than responsive" on rail safety in Canton

State Senator Patty Ritchie says she's still waiting for freight rail company CSX to provide more information about the hazardous materials being transported through villages like Canton and Potsdam. And she's calling for Governor Cuomo to expand his investigation into rail safety to include the North Country.  Go to full article
Route 11 passing through Potsdam. Photo: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/dougtone/6829140195/s">Doug Kerr</a>, Creative Commons, some rights reserved
Route 11 passing through Potsdam. Photo: Doug Kerr, Creative Commons, some rights reserved

DOT chief throws cold water on rooftop highway

Speaking after a budget hearing in Albany yesterday, state Department of Transportation commissioner Joan McDonald threw cold water on the idea of an Interstate linking Watertown and Plattsburgh across the North Country. "My guess is that we probably wouldn't do the highway," McDonald told New York Now. "But I want to take a look one more time."

McDonald said two separate studies in the last decade have concluded the corridor along Route 11 through St. Lawrence and Franklin counties didn't have enough traffic to merit a divided highway.  Go to full article
A train of oil tankers. Photo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/russloar/ Some rights reserved.
A train of oil tankers. Photo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/russloar/ Some rights reserved.

Government wakes up to dangerous crude oil cars

Governor Cuomo has issued an executive order calling on state agencies to review their preparedness for an oil spill or explosion from rail cars. The move comes amidst growing awareness that shipments of volatile crude oil from North Dakota are skyrocketing nationwide. David Sommerstein reports.  Go to full article
Congressman Bill Owens and farmer Richard Eakins talk about corn storage. Owens voted in favor of the Farm Bill. Photo: Sarah Harris.
Congressman Bill Owens and farmer Richard Eakins talk about corn storage. Owens voted in favor of the Farm Bill. Photo: Sarah Harris.

Farm Bill moves on to Senate

The bipartisan compromise version of the Farm Bill sailed through the House of Representatives yesterday, with 60% of lawmakers voting yes. David Sommerstein reports on the 5 year, $500 billion package.  Go to full article
Photo: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/lavagabunda/3619026326/">Sandra Cuffe</a>, Creative Commons, some rights reserved
Photo: Sandra Cuffe, Creative Commons, some rights reserved

Mohawks threaten to boycott Canadian customs

Mohawks on the Canadian side of Akwesasne say they'll boycott Canadian customs if progress isn't made in talks with the Canadian government.  Go to full article
Photo: USDA, Some rights reserved.
Photo: USDA, Some rights reserved.

What's in the Farm Bill for the North Country?

A revamped Farm Bill could reach the House floor for a vote as early as today. The massive legislation which sets agricultural and nutrition policy for the country has already been scuttled two years in a row. But bipartisan negotiators say they have a $500 billion five-year package that will pass.

David Sommerstein joins Martha Foley to talk about what the Farm Bill would mean for the North Country.  Go to full article
Richard Ball, owner of Schoharie Valley Farms. Photo: NYS Dept. of Agriculture & Markets
Richard Ball, owner of Schoharie Valley Farms. Photo: NYS Dept. of Agriculture & Markets

A vegetable farmer to head dairy-heavy NY agriculture

The people who run New York's department of agriculture and markets tend to have close ties with the state's huge dairy industry. The last commissioner, Cape Vincent's Darrel Aubertine, was a dairy farmer himself.

Governor Cuomo broke that mold when he nominated Schoharie county vegetable farmer, Richard Ball, to be the next agriculture commissioner.

Ball is a poster child for the "locally grown" movement. His roadside stand, the Carrot Barn, sells a full range of vegetables and fruits grown on his farm. It also sells local beef and dairy products, and even has a farm-fresh lunch counter. Ball also sells wholesale to brokers and restaurants in New York City.  Go to full article

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