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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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People gathered in Ogdensburg City Hall for the hearing. Photo: Sarah Harris
People gathered in Ogdensburg City Hall for the hearing. Photo: Sarah Harris

Ogdensburg says keep inpatient services at SLPC

New York's Office of Mental Health hopes to consolidate the state's 24 inpatient hospitals into 15 regional facilities called "centers of excellence."

But the plan has been met with strong resistance in Ogdensburg, where the St. Lawrence Psychiatric Center has been a major presence for over 100 years.

Yesterday the legislature held a hearing to see how the plan would impact Ogdensburg. Practically everyone who testified said getting rid of inpatient services is a bad idea.  Go to full article
St. Lawrence Psychiatric Center in Ogdensburg, NY. Photo: Lizette Haenel
St. Lawrence Psychiatric Center in Ogdensburg, NY. Photo: Lizette Haenel

Legislature to hold hearing on future of Ogdensburg psychiatric center

New York's Office of Mental Health plans to close 65 inpatient beds at the St. Lawrence Psychiatric Center in Ogdensburg.

It's part of a larger plan to reshape the state's mental health care system, downsizing some, and expanding others to create what the state calls "centers of excellence." And in the Ogdensburg area, it's sparked angry opposition.

The state legislature is holding hearings in communities affected by the plan -- including one in Ogdensburg tomorrow.  Go to full article
Walter Shyne is in his last season at the Canton Farmer's Market. Photo by Sarah Harris
Walter Shyne is in his last season at the Canton Farmer's Market. Photo by Sarah Harris

Listen: A good run

It's the end of the growing season, and farmers are in their final weeks of big business. It's also the peak of apple season.

For Walter Shyne of J & W Orchard in Norfolk, this will be his last one. Shyne is a regular vendor at the Canton Farmers' Market, and he's retiring. For today's Heard Up North, Sarah Harris caught up with him as he was closing up his stand.  Go to full article
Annie Rutsky leads nurses and their supporters in a picket line. Photo: Sarah Harris
Annie Rutsky leads nurses and their supporters in a picket line. Photo: Sarah Harris

Nurses protest EJ Noble dissolution

Nurses and their supporters protested outside EJ Noble Hospital in Gouverneur yesterday.

The financially troubled hospital is slated to close later this fall and re-emerge in a new regional healthcare partnership with Canton-Potsdam Hospital.

Leaders from both hospitals say EJ Noble has been mired in debt for years. Last fall the small hospital shut down temporarily after the state Department of Health closed its lab because of safety concerns.

Two hundred-sixteen people work at EJ Noble. The protesting nurses are skeptical about the coming change, wondering what it means for their jobs.  Go to full article
EJ Noble board chairman Michael Burgess, left, and Canton-Potsdam Hospital CEO David Acker, right, discuss the future of the Gouverneur hospital. Photo: Sarah Harris
EJ Noble board chairman Michael Burgess, left, and Canton-Potsdam Hospital CEO David Acker, right, discuss the future of the Gouverneur hospital. Photo: Sarah Harris

What's happening to EJ Noble Hospital in Governeur?

North Country healthcare leaders gave more details on the decision to dissolve EJ Noble Hospital in Gouverneur and form a two hospital system with Canton-Potsdam.  Go to full article
Looking down on the action at Airborne Park. All photos: Sarah Harris
Looking down on the action at Airborne Park. All photos: Sarah Harris

Almost airborne at Airborne Park Speedway

Fans, friends and families have been coming to Plattsburgh's Airborne Park Speedway for stock car racing since 1955. Since those old days stockcar racing has become a national phenomenon, one of the nation's favorite spectator sports.

But on this popular regional track, the passion is more personal. The cars are mostly homemade and the drivers range from teens to retirees.

"Stock" doesn't really say it all about these cars, or the people who love them. Sarah Harris went to the track and sends this postcard.  Go to full article
Essex, NY, seen from a pier in Lake Champlain. Photo: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/34715542@N02/4083583139/">Raymond Johnston</a>, Creative Commons, some rights reserved
Essex, NY, seen from a pier in Lake Champlain. Photo: Raymond Johnston, Creative Commons, some rights reserved

George Davis learns community from life in Essex

For George Davis, life in Essex, New York has been a lesson in community. He's become a cheerleader for the little town -- serving on boards, restoring a historic property, and even tweeting and blogging about life on Lake Champlain. Sarah Harris interviewed Davis in his boathouse right by the Essex-Charlotte ferry for today's Heard Up North.  Go to full article
Guy Palardy in front of a roll of drainage pipe. Photo: Sarah Harris
Guy Palardy in front of a roll of drainage pipe. Photo: Sarah Harris

Are tile drains bad for Lake Champlain?

Farmers in the Champlain Valley often use tile drains in their fields. They help the region's clay soil drain faster and produce higher crop yields.

But for years, Lake Champlain has had high levels of phosphorus pollution, which can result in toxic blue-green algae blooms. And farm runoff is one of the primary contributors. Now scientists are trying to figure out whether there's a link between tile drainage and phosphorus pollution.  Go to full article
A new bridge for the Champlain Valley, seen at dawn this morning. Photo:  Brian Mann
A new bridge for the Champlain Valley, seen at dawn this morning. Photo: Brian Mann

Lakeside living on Lake Champlain

Bill Howland is director of the Lake Champlain Basin Program, an organization that "works in partnership with government agencies from New York, Vermont, and Québec, private organizations, local communities, and individuals to coordinate and fund efforts that benefit the Lake Champlain Basin's water quality, fisheries, wetlands, wildlife, recreation, and cultural resources."

Sarah Harris sat down with him to discuss the geography of the Champlain Valley -- and what it means for people living near the lake.  Go to full article
Signposts along the way. Photo: Sarah Harris
Signposts along the way. Photo: Sarah Harris

Defining the Champlain Valley

Lake Champlain is a lot of things: It's a border between Vermont, Quebec, and New York. It's where people go to fish, swim, and boat. People cross it to get to work or see their families. It's even a drinking water supply. Last week reporter Sarah Harris drove around the lake, asking people what it means to live in the Champlain Valley. Here's what she learned.  Go to full article

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