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NCPR News Staff: Sarah Harris

Reporter and Producer

Sarah Harris was a sophomore in college when the radio bug bit. She spent the year producing audio narratives of students' journeys to Middlebury (where she went to school) through the Middlebury Fellowship in Narrative Journalism. A long-time public radio listener, Sarah thought she might've found her niche. She spent the money she earned from the fellowship on equipment and promptly headed abroad to the Maldives and Nepal, where she did a ton of interviews and spent a month at Community Radio Madanpokhara, South Asia's first rural-based community radio station.

Upon returning to the United States, Sarah decided she needed to learn how to do radio for real. So she called NCPR on a Friday afternoon and proceeded to pester station manager Ellen Rocco until she agreed to give Sarah an internship. Sarah spent the following summer interning at the station and living on Ellen's DeKalb farm. She's been producing stories for NCPR ever since -- first covering the Champlain Valley in Vermont and New York, and now covering St. Lawrence County. 

Sarah's work has aired on Morning Edition and All Things Considered and has been published in The American Prospect and Slate. She reported on cement production in Chanute, Kansas through the Middlebury Fellowship in Environmental Journalism and contributed to the award-winning NPR/Center for Public Integrity collaborative series "Poisoned Places." Sarah assistant taught the first session of the Transom Story Workshop in fall 2011. She lives with her partner Joe, a cat named Louie, and soon, two llamas. E-mail

Stories filed by Sarah Harris

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This push for drivers licenses is not just about a piece of plastic but really about equality and trust for our communities.

Vermont considers driver's licenses for migrant workers

The dairy industry in Northern New York and Vermont relies heavily on migrant labor. A lot of the farm workers are undocumented. That causes problems when the workers have to do simple tasks that involve driving, like going to the grocery store or visiting the doctor. But Vermont legislators are discussing a bill that may change that. Sarah Harris reports.  Go to full article
The interior of the Strand Theater
The interior of the Strand Theater

Two downtown spaces bring art to Plattsburgh

Plattsburgh is a city in transition. There's a lot of effort to attract new families and businesses and rebrand the lakeside city as a destination. As Sarah Harris reports, a key part of that revitalization means bringing the downtown back to life and building the arts scene.  Go to full article
President Barack Obama, speaking at the University of Vermont. Photo: VT Digger
President Barack Obama, speaking at the University of Vermont. Photo: VT Digger

For Burlington, a visit from the president

President Barack Obama visited Burlington, Vermont last Friday for a fundraiser and campaign event. The state hasn't been visited by a sitting president since Clinton's trip in 1995. Obama arrived on Air Force One around 11:30 a.m. He met with Vermont politicians, lunched with high paying campaign donors, then spoke to a crowd of supporters at the University of Vermont. Sarah Harris was there and has our story.  Go to full article
Brett McLeod over the evaporator
Brett McLeod over the evaporator

Neighbors gather for a warm-weather "boil"

The unusually warm weather this March hasn't been great for sugar makers. Maple syrup yields across northern New York and Vermont have been low, and a lot of producers are pulling their taps. But in spite of the strange temperatures, sugaring traditions remain alive and well. Sarah Harris went to an Adirondack "boil" and sent this audio postcard.  Go to full article
Tarry Tatro and Irene Clarke in front of the People's United branch
Tarry Tatro and Irene Clarke in front of the People's United branch

In Alburgh, Vermont, citizens recruit a bank

When you drive across the bridge from Rouse's Point, New York, into Vermont, the first town you hit is Alburgh. It's a small community, about 2,000 people. And its geography is unusual: it's on a peninsula that borders Quebec, is surrounded by Lake Champlain, and doesn't touch any land in the United States.

Alburgh may be small and isolated, but the People's United branch has been on Alburgh's Main Street for as long as most people can remember. And when the local bank announced it would close, townspeople decided that was just too isolated. Sarah Harris has our story.  Go to full article
Tara Liloia in front of Isle La Motte town offices. Photos: Sarah Harris
Tara Liloia in front of Isle La Motte town offices. Photos: Sarah Harris

Town meeting day: VT voters decide issues big and small

Vermont's Champlain Islands are smack in the middle of Lake Champlain's northern end. Isle La Motte is the westernmost of those islands. It's isolated and rural. Living there, you might travel to New York State to see a doctor, or go to the grocery store.

But, Isle La Motte joins other towns across Vermont in town meeting day, when citizens come together to have their say on issues big and small. Sarah Harris spent town meeting day on the island and has our story.  Go to full article
Miro Weinberger, incoming Burlington mayor.
Miro Weinberger, incoming Burlington mayor.

Miro Weinberger: Burlington's first Democratic mayor in 30 years

Burlington has a new mayor, Democrat Miro Weinberger. He's the first Democratic mayor of Burlington in 30 years. Republican candidate Kurt Wright conceded just before 7:30 last night as votes were being counted. Sarah Harris was at Weinberger's election party in downtown Burlington and has our story.  Go to full article
City Hall in Burlington. Photo: TripAdvisor.com
City Hall in Burlington. Photo: TripAdvisor.com

In Burlington, electing a new mayor

Town meeting day in Vermont is one of the few examples of direct democracy in our country. It's a state holiday, and townspeople turn out to elect municipal leaders and approve local budgets.

This year local issues at town meeting reflect national debates. In Franklin, Vermont, voters will determine whether prayer should be allowed at town meeting. And 52 towns will vote on whether to pass a constitutional amendment overturning the Supreme Court ruling on Citizens United.

In Burlington, the state's largest city, Vermonters are headed to the polls to elect a new mayor. Sarah Harris has more.  Go to full article
Tempers are kind of flaring in a way that you donít often see in Vermont politics, especially local Vermont politics.

Burlington mayor's race: a primer

"Politics" are different in Vermont's largest city. Since 1985, a successful third party, the Progressive party, has dominated local government there. Progressive voters essentially sent Sen. Bernie Sanders to Congress after re-electing him mayor of Burlington for successive terms.

But for the first time in almost 30 years, there's no Progressive running for mayor this year.

Paul Heintz covers politics for 7 Days, an alternative weekly newspaper based in Burlington. He says this race isn't so much about issues as personalities and shifting loyalties. And he says that even though there's no Progressive on the ballot, those votes will still make a difference.

He told Sarah Harris there's a history of bad blood between Progressives and Democrats, and this race is a bit of a turf battle.  Go to full article
Erica Macilintal
Erica Macilintal

Away from glare of politics, one woman's struggle to balance faith and sexuality

This week, North Country Public Radio has been talking to religious leaders and politicians in our region about the national debate surrounding birth control and sexuality. It's become a big issue for Republicans in the 2012 presidential primary.

Republicans in Congress are also advancing national legislation that would allow all employers, not just religious groups, to deny health insurance coverage for things like contraception if those services violate the beliefs of the company's owners.

These culture-war debates could shape big races here in the North Country this November, including the battle for the 23rd district congressional race. Republican challenger Matt Doheny has accused Democratic congressman Bill Owens, of working "to violate the free exercise of religion."

Republican Assemblywoman Janet Duprey from Peru is also expected to face a strong primary challenge, in part because of her support for same-sex marriage, which is now legal in New York.

This political debate may, at times, seem disconnected from the reality of modern American life. According to the widely-respected Guttmacher Institute, roughly 90% of fertile, sexually active women in the United States are using contraception. But for some women, religious teachings play a profound role in shaping and defining their sexuality. Away from the glare of politics, faith and intimacy can be closely intertwined.

Our Plattsburgh correspondent Sarah Harris sat down recently to talk in-depth with Erica Macalintal. She's a 22-year-old nursing student at SUNY Plattsburgh who will graduate this May. Macalintal is a devout Roman Catholic who says her sexual life has been deeply influenced by the theology of her Church.  Go to full article

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