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NCPR News Staff: Julie Grant

Reporter and Producer

Stories filed by Julie Grant

Canton Central School.
Canton Central School.

Schools worry about the costs of Race to the Top

Schools are getting ready to open for the year. And this fall most have some new obligations. New York was awarded nearly $700 million from the federal government as part of President Obama's Race to the Top education program. Now districts are gearing up to put the new mandates into practice.

Stephen Todd is assistant superintendent of the St. Lawrence and Lewis BOCES, which serves 18 school districts in Lewis and St. Lawrence counties. He says there are three major pieces to Race to the Top.

First, changing the core curriculum in math and English classes. "Instead of trying to teach a mile wide and an inch deep, let's teach what's essential and teach it really, really well. Instead of trying to read everything under the sun, let's make sure what we are reading, we are reading carefully and closely and deeply."

Second, says Todd: data analysis. In the past, he says, schools kept statistics about students and classrooms, but the analysis came only after the school year was over.

Todd says that's about to change: "Instead of doing an autopsy, let's do a physical. Part way through the year, we'll look at the patient. The individual student, the collective group, whether it be classroom or building. Let's see what's working, what's not working. Let's make mid course corrections, that allow us if there are problems to fix those and save the patient. So we're not doing an autopsy later, we're treating the patient as it goes along."

The third major piece of race to the top has to do with keeping closer track of teacher performance. Julie Grant visited the Canton Central Schools to find out what's changing with evaluations, and she found that both teachers and administrators are concerned about the cost in time and money.  Go to full article
Most recreational boaters don't have expensive navigation tools. (Photo: Julie Grant)
Most recreational boaters don't have expensive navigation tools. (Photo: Julie Grant)

Security complicates boating along the border

It's been a year of uncertainty for boaters along the St. Lawrence River. The U.S.-Canada border snakes down the St. Lawrence through the Thousand Islands past Massena, NY. When Canadian border agents seized an American fishing boat earlier this season, they upset a long held understanding of U.S. boaters. Roy Anderson hadn't docked or anchored. He had simply drifted across the international border.

Canadian border agents said Anderson hadn't checked in at a port of entry. They forced him to pay $1000 or have his boat seized. American boaters were shocked. They didn't know they needed to check in with Canada when drifting.

Anderson has since gotten most of his money back from the Canadian government. And politicians on both sides of the border are trying to provide some clarity about what is and isn't OK. Charter boat captains hope something can be done. They say the dispute is bad for business. Julie Grant went to Clayton to see firsthand the challenges of boating the border.  Go to full article
SUNY Provost David Lavallee talks with SUNY Canton and Potsdam councils
SUNY Provost David Lavallee talks with SUNY Canton and Potsdam councils

SUNY apologizes, but still plans one president in Canton and Potsdam

State University officials from Albany apologized to representatives from SUNY Canton today for removing the college's popular president without first informing school leaders. Still, SUNY officials said the plan is for one president to lead the SUNY colleges in Canton and Potsdam. Julie Grant was there, and files this report.  Go to full article

Flavor Fest at the Wild Center in Tupper Lake

If you're interested in eating locally, the folks at the Wild Center in Tupper Lake are setting up a feast of information and food today. Stefanie Ratcliffe is director of the Wild Center. She says they hold a farmer's market every Thursday, but they wanted to do more to help people find ways to eat locally and to find local food and beer producers.  Go to full article
Some fear SUNY's Canton and Potsdam campuses could be merged.
Some fear SUNY's Canton and Potsdam campuses could be merged.

SUNY says new initiative will consolidate administration, maintain student programs

Media reports and rumors have been rampant this week about the future of SUNY Canton and SUNY Potsdam...particularly after the official announcement Tuesday that long time Canton college president Joseph Kennedy would be stepping down from that position. SUNY is now working to dispel rumors and clarify the situation.  Go to full article
Word on the street is that Joe Kennedy has been singled out for this kind of treatment because he was doing too good a job.

Canton says it'll fight a SUNY merger

After several days of media speculation, SUNY's Chancellor announced yesterday that Canton College President Joseph Kennedy will retire at the end of this coming academic year. After that, he will become special advisor to the Chancellor.

SUNY officials say they are looking to save money, and promote collaboration among campuses, but some are seeing this as a step down the road to consolidation of the Canton and Potsdam SUNY campuses.

The loss of Kennedy angered some in the local Canton community, and the town board has voted to fight a possible merger of the two colleges. Julie Grant speaks with Canton Town Supervisor David Button.  Go to full article

Fate of HSBC bank branches in the North Country unclear

First Niagara Financial Group has purchased 195 HSBC bank branches, including 71 in western New York, and a dozen in the north country. Julie Grant reports that it's unclear what will happen to those northern HSBC branches, customers, and employees.  Go to full article
They know there’s contamination and the people who own it have just stopped paying taxes on it and just let it go.

St. Lawrence County wants tax money from polluted properties

St. Lawrence County officials say they're owed nearly $600,000 in unpaid property taxes, mostly from old gas stations. The county wants the money, or the property.

But there's a hitch. As Julie Grant reports, the county doesn't want to be on the hook for a major environmental clean-up.  Go to full article
Photo: David Chanatry.  The Maple Ride Wind Farm in Lewis County has had a positive effect on property values, unlike projects in other counties.
Photo: David Chanatry. The Maple Ride Wind Farm in Lewis County has had a positive effect on property values, unlike projects in other counties.

Study shows wind turbines have mixed affect on property values

Wind power projects have been controversial in the North Country ever since the Maple Ridge Wind Farm started turning in Lewis County more than five years ago. One of the big questions remains: how do wind turbines affect the local economy?

Now a team of researchers at Clarkson University has some answers. Assistant professor Martin Heintzelman and PhD student Carrie Tuttle found that wind projects can depress property values by as much as 17-percent. But, they can also have a positive effect on real estate.

The researchers collected information about 10,000 property sales in three counties, including Lewis, between the years 2001 and 2009. They mapped the sales of these properties. They mapped all the wind turbines. And they considered every factor they could think of that might be a variable in the sales price: the size of the property, the house, whether it's in a village, what was happening with the general real estate market. Professor Heintzelman spoke with Julie Grant about what they found.  Go to full article
Comlinks food distribution warehouse in Malone
Comlinks food distribution warehouse in Malone

Food gleaning program returns to its roots

It's been a tough year for the community action agency Comlinks in Malone. It made headlines in February when the former Comlinks director was indicted for theft. And now, its program to distribute to food pantries and soup kitchens is facing steep budget cuts from the state.

This week, Comlinks announced it will need to cut services, and will no longer be making food deliveries west of Massena.

Julie Grant recently visited the Comlinks food distribution warehouse in Malone, and found that the organization is trying to get back to its roots.  Go to full article

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