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NCPR News Staff: Julie Grant

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Stories filed by Julie Grant

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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 levy...now 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

blood libel Murrow entry

A new novel re-imagines what happened when a little girl went missing overnight in Massena, NY. It's based on an incident in 1928. The town's small Jewish community was accused of kidnapping her for a ritual murder. Julie Grant set out to find out what really happened. She found that after 80 years, it's not easy to parse the truth from rumors and memories.  Go to full article
Articles written in 1928 about the incident at Massena.
Articles written in 1928 about the incident at Massena.

Massena's history still tied to 1928 "blood libel" incident

A St. Lawrence County community is being reminded, again, of an 80 year-old rumor many people would rather forget.

A new novel re-imagines what happened when a little girl went missing overnight in Massena. It's based on a true story from 1928. The town's small Jewish community was accused of kidnapping her for a ritual murder.

Julie Grant set out to find out what really happened. She found that after 80 years, it's not easy to parse the truth from rumors and memories.

But she did find that people from cultures around the world brought together in America's "melting pot" were easily pulled apart in a time of crisis.  Go to full article
Staff and students evacuated from two buildings at SUNY Canton watch the fire which originated in a chemistry lab. Photo: Thomas Quant, Jr.
Staff and students evacuated from two buildings at SUNY Canton watch the fire which originated in a chemistry lab. Photo: Thomas Quant, Jr.

Fire at SUNY Canton

Crews from ten fire departments were at SUNY Canton today, after a reported explosion and fire. A spokesman for the school says it happened in a chemistry lab, on the north end of the Cook Science Center.

No injuries had been reported.

NCPR was on the scene at around 12:30 this afternoon, and ran into John Stafford of Canton Fire and Rescue...

"Cooke, there's a fire in Cook Hall. There's toxic fumes. So they need to stay out of there... we've got fire departments from all over, rescue squads, everything going here."

Stafford was wearing a yellow mask over his head and mouth to protect him from the chemical smoke. The campus center was closed, and officials were stationed along campus roadways, preventing people getting too close.

Surrounding buildings were evacuated. Student Jeremy Coleman was walking around campus looking a little dazed. A few minutes earlier, he'd been asleep in his dorm...

"They came banging on the door, saying everyone has to leave, the building is being evacuated."

Fire officials said all firefighters will have to go through a decontamination process.
It is not known whether anyone was in the lab when the fire began. Arson investigators are reportedly looking into the matter.  Go to full article
It's 52 degrees outside right now and there's no snow and it's February in upstate New York - it's very strange

DEC hosts national meeting on adapting to climate change

New York is hosting a meeting of federal agencies, northeastern states, and tribal groups this morning in Albany to talk about adapting to climate change.

Pat Riexinger, director of the division of fish, wildlife, and marine resources at the New York Department of Environmental Conservation, says we can see the weather changing: the intense storms last year, and the mild winter, with little snowfall. She says 16 federal agencies collaborated to write a strategy and action plan to deal with changing weather patterns.

Today's meeting is one of four to be held around the country to discuss the plan. She spoke about it with Julie Grant.  Go to full article

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