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NCPR News Staff: Julie Grant

Reporter and Producer

Stories filed by Julie Grant

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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
Sheep at Downing Acres in Burke
Sheep at Downing Acres in Burke

Trading the dairy for sheep farming

Today there are half the number of dairy farms in the North Country than there were twenty years ago. In recent years dairy farmers have been hit especially hard by record low milk prices.

While some farmers are completely leaving the field, others are trying new ways to make it in agriculture.

Producer Julie Grant recently met Patrick and Elizabeth Downing of Burke. They tell their story - of getting rid of the cows, and almost inadvertently finding their way into the sheep market.  Go to full article
This will not cost the state a nickel. This will not cost these individuals a nickel.

St. Lawrence seeks sales tax hike

Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed bills this week to extend sales tax increases for a dozen counties. The measures are sponsored by legislators from the regions and passed by the Assembly and Senate.

Franklin and Essex counties are on the list. But St. Lawrence County isn't. Local officials want to raise the county's share of the sales tax to help fill a multi-million dollar deficit in the county budget. But they're having trouble getting the state's OK. Julie Grant reports.  Go to full article

Government revising diet guidelines as obesity rises

Last week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported the obesity epidemic in America continues to get worse. In nine states - all in the South or Midwest - a third of the population is obese. Not a single state had a rate of adult obesity below 15 percent, the goal set by federal government's Healthy People program.

The Northeast is slimmer than other parts of the country. But, still, a quarter of all New Yorkers are obese.

Jeffrey Levi of the Trust for America's Health calls obesity "one of the biggest public health challenges the country has ever faced."

Some people say the government is partly to blame for America's obesity problem - because of the federal dietary guidelines. Julie Grant reports on efforts to improve how the government offers nutritional advice.  Go to full article

Tough times in the cafeteria

These are challenging times for people who run school lunch programs. A national TV show this spring took on the school food system.

Leaders in Washington are debating how much money the country should spend on childhood nutrition. And new concerns about nutrition are an eerie echo of the origins of the public school lunch. Julie Grant reports.  Go to full article

Fixing the organic label

They cost more, but sales of organic foods are rising. Even in this down economy, organic food sales are going up three times faster than other foods. As Julie Grant reports, that's happening as the government is working to make sure everything that's labeled organic actually is organic.  Go to full article

Personal care products play role in behavioral disorders?

The Vermont Senate is expected to take a final vote this week on a bill that would phase out the chemical bisphenol-A in some types of packaging. The bill would ban use of the chemical in reusable food and beverage containers, as well as infant formula and baby food containers. Planned Parenthood of Northern New England says BPA has been linked to a high number of health problems, including infertility, miscarriage, and breast and prostate cancer. The American Chemistry Council, an industry group, maintains that it is safe and helps keep food safe by keeping it fresh.

There's been a rise in reports of behavioral disorders in kids over the past decade or so. Some researchers say genetics, lack of sleep, and chaotic households all contribute to things like ADHD. Now researchers say another cause could be personal care products. Julie Grant reports.  Go to full article

"Smart Grid" designed to prevent major blackouts

Remember that huge blackout in the summer of 2003? 45 million people in the Midwest and Northeast US, as well as 10 million in Canada, lost power. Government and utilities are spending billions of dollars on what's called a "Smart Grid," in part, so we don't have more large scale blackouts. But there's a lot more to the emerging system. Julie Grant has more.  Go to full article

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