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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 Moses-Saunders power dam near Massena. Photo: New York Power Authority
The Moses-Saunders power dam near Massena. Photo: New York Power Authority

St. Lawrence County towns seek more compensation from NYPA

Ever since the giant hydropower dam was erected across the St. Lawrence River 55 years ago, the towns that lost part of their riverfront have felt short-changed.

And even though the state agency that runs the dam has given the towns millions of dollars, those towns say they deserve more.

Negotiations have gone on for decades. The latest chapter ended last week when talks between the towns and the New York Power Authority broke down.  Go to full article
It was a tense game to watch in the Winston Room at St. Lawrence University. Photo: David Sommerstein
It was a tense game to watch in the Winston Room at St. Lawrence University. Photo: David Sommerstein

Soccer fans savor victory in Canton

American soccer fans are rejoicing after their team slipped through the so-called "Group of Death" in the World Cup. Even though USA lost to Germany, 1 to 0, on Thursday, the team exceeded expectations and moves on to the elimination round.

The World Cup is a far cry from, say, the Super Bowl as far as American sports viewing events. But David Sommerstein found a decent sized group watching yesterday's match at St. Lawrence University in Canton.

Click listen to hear Chris Custer, Eileen Coyle, Emily DePoy, Caroline Crandell, all involved with soccer at St. Lawrence University.

The USA soccer team moves on to the elimination round and will almost certainly face a powerful Belgian team next Tuesday at 4pm.  Go to full article
Igor Cordeiro, Brazil, and Dan Kent take a break outside the cucumbers high tunnel. Photo: David Sommerstein.
Igor Cordeiro, Brazil, and Dan Kent take a break outside the cucumbers high tunnel. Photo: David Sommerstein.

A mini United Nations on a St. Lawrence County farm

The last time we checked in with organic vegetable farmer, Dan Kent, it was April, and there was still three feet of snow on the ground. Dan predicted he'd have to plant two weeks to a month late, and he was spot on.

"Even our highest and driest fields were muddy weeks beyond the time when we expected them to be in a condition that we could work and plant,"Dan says. "So, for some crops we were only two weeks late. For others, we were a month late."

It's finally full-on summer. And this week is a big one for Kent Family Growers. They're shipping out the first produce to their approximately 120 CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) members. The deliveries start with spinach, zucchini, and strawberries. "That's always a really, really nice way to kick off the harvesting, with those really sweet red orbs."

Another thing came late this year. The Kent's three foreign workers had to change their flights a week later because of the late start.

This year, David Sommerstein is reporting regularly from Dan and Megan Kent's in the town of Lisbon. In today's episode of A Year on the Farm, this little organic vegetable farm in St. Lawrence County becomes a mini United Nations.  Go to full article
Instructors Brett McLeod and Bob Brhel teach the students how to saw down a tree. Photo: David Sommerstein
Instructors Brett McLeod and Bob Brhel teach the students how to saw down a tree. Photo: David Sommerstein

Summer school, lumberjack style

The Adirondack woodsman is a North Country archetype - brawny, independent, deeply versed in the ways of the North Woods. There are still loggers working in the forests of the Adirondacks and Tug Hill Plateau, though most are aided by chain saws and huge machinery today.

At Paul Smiths College, a summer school program is keeping the skills and ethos of the Adirondack woodsman alive. The program's 5th year starts next month.  Go to full article
Republican Matt Doheny poses with Carol Enslow, left, and Chris Whitmarsh, two women who run the Am Vet post 11 Ladies Auxiliary Wednesday lunch. Photo: David Sommerstein
Republican Matt Doheny poses with Carol Enslow, left, and Chris Whitmarsh, two women who run the Am Vet post 11 Ladies Auxiliary Wednesday lunch. Photo: David Sommerstein

NY-21: Does Doheny have a likeability problem?

Three of the four candidates for the North Country's seat in Congress will take questions at a public forum tonight in the Warren County town of Hague. Republicans Elise Stefanik and Matt Doheny and Green party candidate Matt Funiciello plan to attend. Democratic candidate Aaron Woolf is not scheduled to be there.

The Republicans will face off again tomorrow night in Watertown in a debate that will be broadcast here on North Country Public Radio. Stefanik and Doheny face a GOP primary election on June 24. In advance of the debate, David Sommerstein joins Martha Foley to offer a profile of Matt Doheny (you can find our profile of Elise Stefanik here.)  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: Negative attack ads manipulate media coverage

The Republican candidates for the North Country's seat in Congress continued their campaigning this weekend. Elise Stefanik was going door to door in Warrensburg and Fort Edward. Matt Doheny crisscrossed the district from Chaumont to Inlet to Warrenburg.

The two are careening towards an early primary on June 24, just 15 days from today. Voting in party primaries is usually low; the two candidates are doing their utmost to get the rank and file voter's attention.

Meanwhile, the ad war hit a new level of nasty, drawing complaints from the local media in the process.

David Sommerstein and Martha Foley sort through what's going on with the ads and the developing race.  Go to full article
St. Regis Mohawk chiefs Ron LaFrance, Beverly Cook, and sub-chief Eric Thompson are hoping to build support for the land claim settlement among tribal members. Photo: David Sommerstein.
St. Regis Mohawk chiefs Ron LaFrance, Beverly Cook, and sub-chief Eric Thompson are hoping to build support for the land claim settlement among tribal members. Photo: David Sommerstein.

Mohawk chiefs: "The most important thing is our land"

Mohawks in Akwesasne are trying to absorb the terms of a deal to end their historic land claim.

Last week, tribal chiefs signed a framework agreement with New York State and St. Lawrence County. It would allow the Mohawks to buy almost 5,000 acres of land and add the parcels to the reservation. In return, the Mohawks will pay a share of their casino revenue to New York. And St. Lawrence County and the towns of Massena and Brasher will share a payment of $4 million a year.

Talks are ongoing with Franklin County, where several thousand more acres are part of the 32-year-old land claim lawsuit.

The proposed settlement is huge news in Akwesasne. And it's very controversial. David Sommerstein and Martha Foley sort out why.  Go to full article
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

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