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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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Volunteer firefighters at work in Carthage. NCPR file photo
Volunteer firefighters at work in Carthage. NCPR file photo

Emergency services suffering from lack of volunteers

Questions were raised a few weeks ago about emergency services in the north country when a local volunteer department was late responding to a fire in the town of LeRay in Jefferson County. The mutual aid system was activated and a nearby department responded to the blaze; fortunately, no one was hurt. But, as Joanna Richards reports, the incident did highlight a persistent and growing problem among the north country's primarily volunteer emergency services: a lack of manpower.  Go to full article

Congressman Owens says Cuomo administration "noncommittal" on new water levels plan

The new water levels proposal for the St. Lawrence River and Lake Ontario has garnered some criticism from a group of state lawmakers along the lake's southern shore. This week they asked the governor to oppose the plan.

Last week, Congressman Bill Owens came out in favor of the proposal and said he'd ask for Governor Cuomo's support. As Joanna Richards reports, Owens and environmental advocates say the opposition's arguments aren't based on the facts of the new plan.  Go to full article
They need to show how their project relates to the plan and that somehow it's consistent with the plan.

Regional economic council fields funding questions

The North Country Regional Economic Development Council is preparing for an influx of funding applications this July. Regional councils are part of Governor Andrew Cuomo's plan to distribute economic development aid throughout the state using a community-based, bottom-up approach to building New York's economy.

NCPR's Joanna Richards attended a public forum by the council in Watertown last night and has this report.  Go to full article

DEC surveys waterbird populations on Little Galloo Island

Every 10 years or so, the Department of Environmental Conservation goes out to Little Galloo Island, which is 20 miles off the coast of Cape Vincent in Lake Ontario, to survey waterbird populations there.

The island, with a few dead trees, some grass and a rocky shoreline, is a haven for colonial waterbirds. It has nests of Caspian terns, herring gulls and tens of thousands of ring-billed gulls, the standard seagull seen throughout the north country.

It's a wildlife management area owned by the DEC. Reporter Joanna Richards accompanied the state biologists out to the island this spring to get a look at this special nesting ground and see how the DEC does its work.  Go to full article
I think this particular candidate will do a great job concentrating on leading and managing the workforce.

Watertown welcomes new city manager

Watertown will welcome a new city manager on July 16. Sharon Addison is a Schenectady native who spent 27 years working for the National Security Agency before putting her name in the hat for the city manager position in Watertown. Joanna Richards reports.  Go to full article

Village of Chaumont ponders pros, cons of dissolution

Faced with increasing costs, aging equipment and the prospect of big tax savings for residents, the village of Chaumont is considering dissolution. But the issue isn't that clear-cut and has become a contentious subject, pitting neighbors and friends against each other in this small community. Joanna Richards reports.  Go to full article

Song and dance: woodcocks announce spring

Every spring, a Department of Environmental Conservation biologist drives along north country highways at dawn or dusk, stopping every so often to pull over and listen. They're listening for the distinctive "peent" of the singing American woodcock, a brown speckled bird a little larger than a songbird with a long, narrow beak for pulling earthworms out of the ground.

The little game bird is under threat New York state, and the survey each year is meant to get a handle on what population trends are in this region. DEC regional spokesman Stephen Litwhiler is the happy host to several of the birds in his backyard in southern Jefferson County. He says the birds' appearance each year is his personal "harbinger of spring."

For this Heard Up North, reporter Joanna Richards donned camouflage and hid behind the birds' favorite tree in Litwhiler's backyard to get a close-up look - and listen.  Go to full article
F-35A fighters such as these may be in use by the Vermont Air National Guard by 2015
F-35A fighters such as these may be in use by the Vermont Air National Guard by 2015

VT Guard plans F-35 training over Adirondacks, Watertown

The Vermont Air National Guard is proposing to start training flights over the Adirondacks and Watertown area with F-35 jets.

The big, loud planes would replace the smaller, quieter F-16s the National Guard is using now --but not until at least 2015. The Guard is accepting public comments on the plan until June 1. It's held public hearings on the proposal in the Burlington area, and last night in Watertown. Joanna Richards reports.  Go to full article
It has been, just, honestly, the saddest period for us in a long time...

State aid cuts outpace declining enrollments at rural schools

Many rural school districts rely heavily on state aid because of a relative lack of property wealth in their regions, so the past few years of deep state aid cuts have hit them hard. Rural districts also have experienced declining enrollments that have helped dull the pain.

But two school districts in southern Jefferson County say the decline in their student populations isn't keeping pace with the rapid reductions from the state that make up most of their budgets. Joanna Richards reports.  Go to full article
Her superiors did know that he was engaging in conduct that is clearly sexual harassment, and Detective Cote has not been disciplined.

Attorney for Sheriff's deputy describes alleged harassment on the job in $50 million suit

A female Sheriff's deputy has filed a $50 million lawsuit against the Jefferson County department, over racy photos she says were taken of her as part of an online pedophile investigation. The lawsuit is about to proceed to the next phase, and the deputy and her lawyer are calling for an independent investigation. Joanna Richards has more.  Go to full article

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