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NCPR News Staff: Natasha Haverty

Reporter and Producer

Natasha Haverty has an English degree from Brown University and got her radio training at the Salt Institute for Documentary Studies in Maine.

From Maine she went to work at The Moth, a nonprofit in New York City devoted to the art of live storytelling, where she was the coordinator of the community outreach program that teaches workshops to schools and community centers and brings storytellers to the Moth stage (and the radio). She also helped produce the first two seasons of Peabody Award-winning Moth Radio Hour (now playing on NPR stations across the country).

Tasha returned to her home state after receiving the Massachusetts Foundation for the Humanities’ “Liberty and Justice for All” grant to create an oral history of the Norfolk Prison Debating Society, which had an outstanding record against top college teams in the Forties and Fifties. She recently premiered her original 'improvised audio drama' The Yankee City Series at a live listening event at Harvard University. Tasha arrived in the North Country on April Fool's Day, 2012. E-mail

Stories filed by Natasha Haverty

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Brenda Brue was a nurse at the prison. She was a big voice in the fight to keep the prison open and she says she really loved her job.
Brenda Brue was a nurse at the prison. She was a big voice in the fight to keep the prison open and she says she really loved her job.

When a North Country prison closes, what happens to the town?

This morning, we visit a community that for the past year has been fighting to keep its local prison. Chateaugay Correctional Facility is just a few blocks outside of the village--a fifteen-minute walk down the main road leads you to an unimposing campus, set back from the road. Chateaugay was the newest facility in the system--one point community members used in their argument not to close the prison.

But despite the community's hard work, the state did not reverse its decision to mothball Chateuagay Correctional--and at the end of this month, the prison's doors will officially close.  Go to full article
The seal of St. Lawrence County rendered in stained glass at the county building in Canton. Photo: Mark Kurtz
The seal of St. Lawrence County rendered in stained glass at the county building in Canton. Photo: Mark Kurtz

After two months, Hillary bail hearing set to resume

The bond hearing for Oral "Nick" Hillary is set to continue in St Lawrence County Court Monday. Hillary is charged with the 2011 murder of Garrett Phillips, a 12-year-old boy from Potsdam.  Go to full article

Thousand Islands want help on what's scenic

This summer, the Thousand Islands region is on a mission: to prove to the State of New York that it deserves recognition as an area of "Scenic and Statewide Significance." And today, leaders of the effort have launched a website where they're asking people to help make the case.  Go to full article
Chateaugay Correctional Facility, now on the NYS surplus property list. Photo: Empire State Development Agency
Chateaugay Correctional Facility, now on the NYS surplus property list. Photo: Empire State Development Agency

How to close a North Country prison

A few weeks from today, New York state will close four more of its prisons, including two here in the North Country: Chateaugay Correctional Facility in Franklin County and Mt. McGregor in northern Saratoga County.

It's a controversial decision, deeply painful to many people in those communities.

But how do you actually close a prison?  Go to full article
A group of students and staff from St. Lawrence University's Kenya Semester Program in 2013. Photo courtesy St. Lawrence University
A group of students and staff from St. Lawrence University's Kenya Semester Program in 2013. Photo courtesy St. Lawrence University

St. Lawrence University suspends its 40-year-old Kenya program

Earlier this month, we reported on one of the longest running study abroad programs to Africa, based right here in the North Country: St. Lawrence University's Kenya Semester program, which celebrated its 40th anniversary this year. Over 2000 students have travelled to Kenya with the program.  Go to full article

SPJ Winner: Dying inmates in NY struggle to get home

This spring North Country Public Radio's news team has been honored with several awards for some of the work we've brought you over the past year. Much of that recognition has gone to our Prison Time Media Project, which over the year and a half has been looking in-depth at the growth of the prison industry here in our region, across New York and around the country.

Tonight in Washington DC, one pair of investigative reports from the Prison Time project will be honored by the Society of Professional Journalists. In her two-part series, Natasha Haverty looked at how the soaring numbers of men and women behind bars for low-level crimes over the past few decades have effected the life cycle--asking questions like, "what happens when a woman enters prison pregnant?" and "what systems are in place for when an inmate ages, or gets fatally ill?"

This morning, we'll revisit one of those reports, and learn how despite recent reforms to the system, many terminally ill inmates are forced to remain behind bars even when they no longer appear to be a threat to society. Even some prison officials think the process for allowing inmates to die at home needs fixing.  Go to full article
Tri-Town Processing co-owner Tom Liberty. NCPR file photo: David Sommerstein
Tri-Town Processing co-owner Tom Liberty. NCPR file photo: David Sommerstein

Tri-Town Processing will close "short term" to USDA-inspected slaughter

For newer updates on this story see: Tri-Town in negotiations with USDA

Update, 6/20/14, 10:30Tri-Town and the USDA plan to talk today about the situation. The USDA declined to comment on the situation yesterday.

Update, 6/19/14, 3 PM: We're continuing to report on this story and have this information as of this afternoon. The USDA did not shut down Tri-Town Processing. The USDA did suspend Tri-Town on Tuesday, but the plant was allowed to resume operations on Wednesday. Of their own accord, co-owners Tom and Jeff Liberty decided to suspend the part of their processing facility that allowed Tri-Town to put the USDA-inspected stamp on its products. The Libertys say they are frustrated with USDA inspectors, and are prepared to do only "custom" processing - or processing meats that are not for resale. Tri-Town and the USDA are still in negotiations. We'll have more later today.

***
It looks like one of the North Country's only slaughterhouses will be closing its doors to much of its business: Tri-Town Processing, a family-owned plant in Brasher Falls has been open for 37 years. But as of yesterday, its owners say that while they'll still be taking on custom animals, they will no longer be able place that USDA-inspected stamp on their product.

Jeff Liberty owns the Tri-Town Plant with his father Tom. "Over the last few months, the current staff from the USDA has made it so difficult to operate that we've decided in the short term to forgo any federally inspected slaughter."

Yesterday morning, Liberty and his father had to call many of their customers, local farmers, who have relied on them to process their animals, that for now, they'll have to bring their animals somewhere else. "This is the first day that I woke up and I didn't really want to come to work."  Go to full article
St. Lawrence County Correctional Facility. Photo: Office of the Sheriff, St. Lawrence County
St. Lawrence County Correctional Facility. Photo: Office of the Sheriff, St. Lawrence County

Proposal to un-crowd county jails waits in the Assembly

Today is set to be the last day of New York's legislative session. Two bills in front of the Assembly, put forth by State Sen. Patty Ritchie, aim to ease overcrowding in our region's county jails. The bills would require the Department of Corrections to assume responsibility for men and women caught violating parole within ten days of receiving their violation warrant. Richie says too many of those men and women are instead held in county jails, at local taxpayers' expense.  Go to full article
Michael Powers, speaking at a rally in Albany to save the Ogdensburg Correctional Facility. Photo from Powers' website, used by permission
Michael Powers, speaking at a rally in Albany to save the Ogdensburg Correctional Facility. Photo from Powers' website, used by permission

North Country corrections officer could be next to lead the union

Next month, New York will close four more of its prisons. Among them: Chateaugay Correctional Facility in Franklin County and Mt. McGregor in Saratoga County. The closures come as part of Governor Cuomo's pledge to "reduce the madness of an incarceration society." And the Department of Corrections has reported empty beds in their prisons--they estimate the recent series of closures will save taxpayers $184 million.

The loudest voices fighting to keep those prisons open are members of New York's prison guard union--NYSCOPBA--which is set to elect their next president next month. One of frontrunners in the race to head up the union hails from the North Country.  Go to full article
Photo courtesy of Amy Moulton
Photo courtesy of Amy Moulton

What it takes to be Dairy Princess

This year St. Lawrence County celebrates the 50th anniversary of its dairy princess tradition--tonight in Madrid, at the annual pageant, a new princess will be crowned, and tomorrow morning she and her court will star in a parade through downtown Canton.

For the past half century, a group of judges has been selecting a wholesome young woman from the community to be the face of the local dairy industry. To become the dairy princess a girl has to be between 16 and 21 years old, and has to compete in a pageant where she is judged on her public speaking ability, her general poise, and her knowledge of dairy products.  Go to full article

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