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NCPR News Staff: Julie Grant

Reporter and Producer

Stories filed by Julie Grant


Owens wants to know cost of Lake Ontario-St. Lawrence water level plan

U.S. Representative Bill Owens says environmentalists shouldn't be concerned about his stand on a new water level plan for Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River.

The International Joint Commission started controlling high and low water levels in the 1950s. While that's kept a stable water level, the agency now says it's bad for the environment. The new plan allows water levels to reach higher highs and lower lows.

The IJC has yet to release all the plan details. Congressman Owens recently wrote to the agency, urging closer attention to shoreline property damage along Lake Ontario. He says that damage could exceed $3 million annually.  Go to full article
I feel really, very, very honored that the committee has selected the 23rd district for this type of event.

Saranac Lake to host 1 of 4 hearings on the U.S. Farm Bill

U.S. Representative Bill Owens says it's a big deal that Saranac Lake was chosen to host a Congressional hearing on the 2012 Farm Bill. Owens says it's a chance for farmers and others to influence re-authorization of federal agriculture policy, which hasn't been done since 2008.

"I feel really, very, very honored that the committee has selected the 23rd district for this type of event. There's only going to be four or so of them around the country. So this is very significant. This is an opportunity for us to talk about the issues that affect the north country."

The Saranac Lake hearing is Friday morning at North Country Community College. The others are scheduled in Illinois, Arkansas, and Kansas in the coming weeks.

Owens says there are good reasons for Congress to choose this location for the northeast meeting:

"That was picked because they were trying to get to a location that was part of a large agricultural district, the 23rd. But also because it is the northeast hearing, you're covering really New Jersey, New York, portions of Pennsylvania, Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont. This is a very significant geographic area, and they tried to pick somewhere that was relatively speaking, centrally located."

The hearing will give Members of the House Agriculture Committee the opportunity to hear firsthand how U.S. farm policy is working for farmers and ranchers in advance of writing the Farm Bill.  Go to full article
Ryan Martin, CHS sophomore, faxing legislators while we wait. Photo: Carol Pynchon
Ryan Martin, CHS sophomore, faxing legislators while we wait. Photo: Carol Pynchon

Students say advocacy trip to Albany was persuasive

Three busloads of students and parents from Canton Central Schools are recovering today from a roundtrip to Albany yesterday (Wednesday). They were among 600 rural school advocates there from around the state to lobby for a bigger share of the state budget.
Martha Foley has more.  Go to full article
Students from Canton's AP Government class after an assembly to explain state aid cuts to other students.
Students from Canton's AP Government class after an assembly to explain state aid cuts to other students.

Canton students led the way to Albany advocacy trip

What started as a field trip for a Canton Central School Government class has become a live-issue that has busloads of students, parents, and school officials headed to Albany Wednesday.

They're worried that Governor Andrew Cuomo's proposal for school aid this year will mean huge cutbacks to their programs.

Cuomo has called himself the lobbyist for students. These were his comments during his budget proposal speech last month, talking about refocusing education on student needs, "This was not supposed to be about the adults, it was supposed to be about the children. It was supposed to be the best way to educate children, and respecting the tax dollar to do it."

Cuomo has proposed a 4.1% hike in education funding. But that still leaves Canton Central with a $2.5 million shortfall.

The students want the Governor to see how his budget is affecting kids in poor, rural districts. Julie Grant reports.  Go to full article
Sue Stebbins  (Photo: SUNY Potsdam)
Sue Stebbins (Photo: SUNY Potsdam)

Diversity expert among critics of NYPD surveillance of Muslim students

New York civil rights advocates want a meeting with Gov. Andrew Cuomo following a decision by the attorney general's office not to investigate the New York Police Department over its monitoring of Muslim students following the Sept. 11 attack.

The Associated Press reports that in a letter yesterday, the New York Civil Rights Coalition refuses to accept the decision by Attorney General Eric Schneiderman.

Schneiderman's office said there were legal obstacles that prevented the probe.
The coalition writes that the governor must direct state authorities to investigate the surveillance.

The Associated Press reported last week that the New York Police Department kept close watch on websites and blogs maintained by Muslim student associations across the northeast U.S., including at SUNY Potsdam and Clarkson University.

The surveillance reportedly took place in 2006 and 2007. Mayor Michael Bloomberg has faced a firestorm of criticism. But he continues to defend the police department, saying the city needs to be vigilant against terrorism.

Susan Stebbins is an anthropology professor at SUNY Potsdam. She's also special assistant to the president for diversity. The surveillance reportedly took place in 2006 and 2007. But Stebbins tells Julie Grant the college is just finding out about it now. (NCPR did request an interview with the New York Police Department, but didn't hear back for this story.)  Go to full article
Leslie Howard and Linda Jobes, in Mr. Howard's home.  Februrary 2012.
Leslie Howard and Linda Jobes, in Mr. Howard's home. Februrary 2012.

Warm winter doesn't lower heating bills

Funding for the federal program that helps people pay heating costs was cut dramatically this winter. St. Lawrence County social services says more than one-fourth of households in the county get money through HEAP - the home energy assistance program.

Last October, we visited with Linda Jobes and her 85-year old father Leslie Howard. They live in separate houses on the same property in DeKalb. At that time, Jobes and Howard were worried about the coming winter. But it hasn't been as cold as most people expected.

Julie Grant went back to visit with them this month...  Go to full article
It's not just about the economy tanking, it's a formula that's unfair.

Schools struggle with shortfalls; parents, students prep for lobbying fieldtrip

More North Country school have declared fiscal emergencies. Beekmantown Central School in Clinton County has unveiled a plan that would slash 43 jobs and the district's entire interscholastic sports program.

The Plattsburgh Press Republican reports the district faces a $3.2 million shortfall. Superintendent Scott Amo told a gathering Tuesday evening that "reductions in people are inevitable."

In Jefferson County, Lyme Central School officials have appealed to Gov. Cuomo change the way the state distributes school aid to give more to rural schools. In a letter quoted in the Watertown Daily Times, Superintendent Karen Donahue wrote, "I've witnessed great reductions in state aid, federal aid, and now a capped tax our students are suffering. They face the unfortunate circumstances of living in the wrong zip code."

More than 100 parents, students, and teachers gathered at the Canton High School auditorium last night. At least three busloads of them from Canton, Potsdam, and possibly other school districts are heading to Albany next week. They were meeting to learn what they'll do when they get there.  Go to full article
Tomato pie chart graphic: American Farmland Trust
Tomato pie chart graphic: American Farmland Trust

Farm Bill workshop leads into town hall forum with Congressman

The Farm Bill is up for reauthorization this year in Congress, and North Country residents can have their say about it this weekend. Congressman Bill Owens will be in Potsdam Saturday for a town hall forum on the Farm Bill. It's hosted by the League of Women Voters.

Aviva Gold is director of a non-profit organization called GardenShare. She says agriculture is a big part of the north country economy, but the Farm Bill is such a huge, multifaceted proposal, it can be overwhelming to try to understand it.

That's why GardenShare is hosting an informational workshop on the Farm Bill BEFORE the forum with Representative Owens.

Correction: The audio of this story reports the beginning of the workshop as 9:30 am. The correct start time is 9:00 am. We regret the error. NCPR

Gold spoke with Julie Grant.  Go to full article

IJC wants water levels to consider eco-system costs

When spring comes, water levels rise. The spring thaw naturally fills-up lakes and rivers. But you might not know it by looking at Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River. For fifty years regulators have been tempering extreme high and low water levels. And shoreline property owners, shippers, and dam operators like it that way. They don't like big fluctuations.

But now a new proposal by the International Joint Commission recommends a more natural approach. Julie Grant reports.  Go to full article
The fire at SUNY Canton, Friday, February 10. Photo: Thomas Quant, Jr.
The fire at SUNY Canton, Friday, February 10. Photo: Thomas Quant, Jr.

Arson ruled out in SUNY Canton fire

Investigators have determined that a fire that broke out last Friday at SUNY Canton wasn't caused by "an intentional or criminal act."

Students were evacuated, and the campus is shut down this week as local fire and police departments look into what started the fire. In a press release, the Canton Fire Department said Tuesday that the fire had started in a chemistry prep and storage room.

College spokesman Randy Sieminski says they're waiting for test results to make sure it's safe to reopen academic buildings and residence halls. He says the school is still hopeful that classes will resume on Monday. He told Julie Grant everyone's glad arson has been ruled out as a cause.  Go to full article

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