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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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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
Matt Volz, owner of Greyrock Farm near Cazenovia in Madison County, shows off one of his farm's meat chickens. Photo: Joanna Richards
Matt Volz, owner of Greyrock Farm near Cazenovia in Madison County, shows off one of his farm's meat chickens. Photo: Joanna Richards

Overcoming obstacles to a local foods economy

In the last couple weeks, NCPR has been looking at the local foods that have been turning up on more grocery store shelves and in restaurants in Northern New York.

In the third piece in our local food series we look at some of the challenges and obstacles to the local food economy and how farmers, retailers, restaurateurs and others are working to overcome them.  Go to full article
The new pavilion shelters vendors and shoppers from rain and sun at the Saturday farmers market. Photo: Joanna Richards
The new pavilion shelters vendors and shoppers from rain and sun at the Saturday farmers market. Photo: Joanna Richards

New pavilion houses farmers market in Watertown

The city of Watertown has built a new pavilion as part of its downtown revitalization project. It's meant to house outdoor activities, including the Saturday farmers market. Recently, the farmers market held an appreciation ceremony to thank the city for its new digs.

But the ceremony may not have been the main attraction: The market was bustling, with shoppers perusing stands offering everything from vegetables and flowers to honey and baked goods.  Go to full article
Environmental investigator Robert Bowcock speaks to a packed house about pollution at the New York Air Brake site in Watertown on Thursday.
Environmental investigator Robert Bowcock speaks to a packed house about pollution at the New York Air Brake site in Watertown on Thursday.

New York Air Brake site pollution info concealed, says Brockavich firm investigator

You may remember actor Julia Roberts' portrayal of environmental activist Erin Brockovich in the 2001 movie of the same name. The real Brockovich was scheduled to visit Watertown Thursday night. But she got sick and was unable to travel.

Instead, concerned residents who live near the toxic waste site caused by the New York Air Brake factory got to talk with Brockovich's representative. Some believe pollution in the area has caused them health problems.  Go to full article
Cooking a burger at Empire Brewing Company in Syracuse, N.Y.
Cooking a burger at Empire Brewing Company in Syracuse, N.Y.

Northern NY restaurants serve up fresh, local food

Many restaurants in our area are changing where they look for ingredients. They're sourcing more from local farmers. The second piece in our series on local foods looks at how, and why, restaurant owners in Sackett's Harbor and Syracuse, N.Y., say they've made a commitment to local producers.  Go to full article
Special displays at Wegman's in Liverpool, N.Y., highlight local produce.
Special displays at Wegman's in Liverpool, N.Y., highlight local produce.

North Country grocery stores look to the local

As fast as veggies are popping up in the garden, local foods are showing up on grocery store shelves throughout northern New York.

A new food co-op recently opened in the Jefferson County town of Clayton that showcases locally-sourced vegetables and other products. And big grocery chains like Hannaford and Wegman's are getting in on the trend, too, adding more of the region's products to store shelves.  Go to full article
You can't say no to wind, and no to solar and no to biomass and no to power plants and then say, I want jobs and a thriving economy.

Cuomo says Article X law strikes necessary balance between local input, need for power

While at Fort Drum this week talking about biomass fuel, Governor Andrew Cuomo chimed in on another energy issue, one much more likely to strike nerves in the north country: the state's new Article X law. Joanna Richards reports.  Go to full article
It's not right for government to be the only one that doesn't have to live with a budget.

Cuomo defends property tax cap at Fort Drum appearance

Governor Andrew Cuomo was at Fort Drum yesterday, touring a former coal plant that's being converted to a biomass facility. He met with reporters after the tour, and responded to questions about the statewide property tax cap.  Go to full article
Gov. Andrew Cuomo at Ft. Drum Monday. Photo: Joanna Richards
Gov. Andrew Cuomo at Ft. Drum Monday. Photo: Joanna Richards

Governor praises coal-to-biomass plant conversion at Fort Drum

Governor Andrew Cuomo was at Fort Drum yesterday, where he toured an idled coal plant that is being converted to produce power using wood biomass. He met with the press afterward. As Joanna Richards reports, the governor announced he would send a letter to Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta urging the Defense Department to draw up a contract with the plant to provide energy to Fort Drum.  Go to full article

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