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NCPR News Staff: Joanna Richards

Watertown Correspondent

Joanna Richards grew up in Louisville, Kentucky but feels like a true north country native now that she owns winter boots rated for temps down to forty below zero. She worked for an alt weekly paper, as an associate editor for the NPR series This I Believe, and as a staff writer for an arts and entertainment weekly in Louisville, before moving to Watertown in 2008 to work as a reporter for the Watertown Daily Times.

She's thrilled to be working in radio again as the Watertown correspondent for North Country Public Radio and especially enjoys doing stories about intriguing local subcultures. Outside of work, she is a regional explorer, vegetarian cook, and regular volunteer for various community groups, as well as a voracious reader, aspiring pool shark and an orange belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu. E-mail

Stories filed by Joanna Richards

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BP's Richard Chandler answers questions from Cape Vincent and Lyme town officials at a meeting Tuesday evening in Lyme. Photo: Joanna Richards
BP's Richard Chandler answers questions from Cape Vincent and Lyme town officials at a meeting Tuesday evening in Lyme. Photo: Joanna Richards

Cape Vincent meeting message to BP wind: "Go Home!"

Town officials and community members from the Jefferson County towns of Cape Vincent and Lyme gave BP a clear signal at a meeting Tuesday night in Cape Vincent: a wind farm isn't welcome there.  Go to full article
Matt Regan, researcher with SUNY's College of Environmental Science and Forestry, helps students churn up the dirt to expose the seed bank after removing cattails from a plot at Eel Bay, on Wellesley Island. Photo: Joanna Richards
Matt Regan, researcher with SUNY's College of Environmental Science and Forestry, helps students churn up the dirt to expose the seed bank after removing cattails from a plot at Eel Bay, on Wellesley Island. Photo: Joanna Richards

Kids study water levels' impact on St. Lawrence wetlands

Construction of the giant hydropower dam near Massena in the 1950s forever tamed the once-wild St. Lawrence River. It allowed engineers to harness the river's natural ebb and flow for energy production and to protect homes and ports at the same time. But in the process, it hurt the indigenous plants and animals that depend on those highs and lows to survive.

The environmental group Save The River has been leading a charge to persuade the agency that controls water levels to return more natural ebbs and flows to the St. Lawrence. One way is by giving the younger generation of River residents a "hands-on" lesson.  Go to full article
Photo: David Sommerstein
Photo: David Sommerstein

Cape Vincent, Lyme to meet with BP on wind project

After the energy company BP proposed a new wind project that would affect the Jefferson County towns of Cape Vincent and Lyme, the town of Cape Vincent passed strict new regulations for commercial wind turbines.

Now BP has begun seeking state review under the Article X law. That process could bypass local laws, if they're deemed "unreasonable." The company has called a meeting with town officials, set for Tuesday night.  Go to full article
State Senator Patty Ritchie meets with law enforcement and elected officials at her office Monday in Watertown. Photo: Joanna Richards
State Senator Patty Ritchie meets with law enforcement and elected officials at her office Monday in Watertown. Photo: Joanna Richards

Counties face costs of jailing state parole violators

Right now, county jails, and ultimately, local property taxpayers, are footing the bill for housing state parole violators while they wait for the state to pick them up. State Senator Patty Ritchie has proposed a solution to the problem.  Go to full article
A "welcome home" for returning 10th Mountain troops. Fort Drum is working with the local communities to provide improved mental health services for returning soldiers.
A "welcome home" for returning 10th Mountain troops. Fort Drum is working with the local communities to provide improved mental health services for returning soldiers.

Fort Drum works with community on soldier mental health

For the first time since Fort Drum's expansion after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, all of its three brigade combat teams are back home at the post.

After revolving deployments in two wars, the need for mental health services in the 10th Mountain Division is unprecedented, and complicated.  Go to full article
A panel on "Connectivity Success Stories" at the Forever Wired Conference at Clarkson University. Photo: Mark Kurtz
A panel on "Connectivity Success Stories" at the Forever Wired Conference at Clarkson University. Photo: Mark Kurtz

ADK leaders seek telecommuters inside Blue Line

"Forever Wild" is the term in New York's constitution that describes state forest preserves in the Adirondacks, and community leaders in and around the park are also using that term to inform their vision for economic development.

Their slogan, and the name of a conference held annually at Clarkson University in Potsdam, is "Forever Wired." At the fourth conference, they continued a push to expand broadband internet access, and economic opportunity, in the Adirondacks.  Go to full article
Photo: Jefferson County
Photo: Jefferson County

Watertown Airport to receive $2 million federal grant

Watertown International Airport has seen huge growth with direct flights to Chicago. Now a $2 million federal grant is helping it keep up with growing infrastructure needs.  Go to full article
People receive these fliers in the mail...and they're upset that their tax dollars are paying for it.

NY Sen. candidate Tresidder questions Ritchie campaign on state funds use

Amy Tresidder, the Democratic candidate running against Republican state Senator Patty Ritchie, is accusing the incumbent of misusing taxpayer funds to boost her campaign. Tresidder appeared at a press conference Monday in Watertown.  Go to full article
The New York Air Brake industrial site was cleaned up in the late 1990s, but neighborhood residents fear chemicals from the site may be the cause of their illnesses.
The New York Air Brake industrial site was cleaned up in the late 1990s, but neighborhood residents fear chemicals from the site may be the cause of their illnesses.

DEC looks to calm fears over chem dump site health risks

A toxic waste site in Watertown is drawing renewed attention from residents and city leaders.

New York Air Brake's chemical dump on the north side of town was cleaned up in the 1990s. State environmental officials say it's been monitored since then and they're convinced it's safe for neighbors and wildlife. But people who live nearby believe they have health problems traceable to the site. And they fear it still poses a health risk.  Go to full article
Synthetic drugs are marketed as "bath salts" or "plant food." This product is thought to mimic Ecstasy. Photo: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/people/666_is_money/">Raquel Baranow</a>, cc <a href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/deed.en">some rights reserved</a>
Synthetic drugs are marketed as "bath salts" or "plant food." This product is thought to mimic Ecstasy. Photo: Raquel Baranow, cc some rights reserved

Bath salts drug cases down in Watertown area

This summer, the synthetic drugs known as bath salts alarmed emergency responders in Jefferson County. They dealt with unstable, violent users several times a day. But lawmakers and law enforcement at the local, state and federal levels have been responding with crackdowns on the drugs. Now, both police and hospital officials in Watertown say cases are down sharply.  Go to full article

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